The role of attitudes and emotions in teaching and learning is paramount, and it is notably so in times of adversity. Positive feelings have the power to counteract the emotional anxiety and cognitive stress brought on by uncertainty and insecurity. This helps – time and again – to put well-being at the heart of education.
I am Daniela Bunea, a teacher of English as a Foreign Language in Sibiu, Romania. My students this year are lower-secondary students, the youngest in school. My lessons for them, in these challenging times, have been particularly constructed towards fostering an emotional environment conducive to solid learning.
Well-being at the heart of education
I have prepared learning units targeted at practising gratitude, for instance. I have used best-learning moments caught in a particular class – good opportunities to intensify and sustain their learning. Also, from time to time, I have extended the teaching-learning-evaluating process with enriched realities in order to effusively engage them. These lessons have continuously increased my students’ ability to focus in class, and brought about improvements in relationships and learning. One such lesson was inspired by Karoliina Mutanen’s learning scenario entitled “What would they say”.
Feelings and emotions in the virtual classroom
“What would they say” was one of those lessons that took place in the carefully chosen virtual learning environment of Google Classroom, as such locations offer exquisite remote participation and exploration, more often than not in the form of trips back in time or into the future. Europeana is at its best in offering support for the back-in-time endeavours, and Nearpod has established itself as the ideal setting for technology-enhanced lessons in my classroom.
The work my students were involved in during this imaginative lesson helped me once again to maintain the state of preparedness I deem so important nowadays. It has also constantly encouraged my students – and me – to be more aware of the learning taking place, while teaching all of us to remain resilient while facing difficulties, of any kind they may be.
The process of implementation
Within the structure provided by the Nearpod app, I followed the Finnish teacher’s thread, and added some twists suitable for my framework. At the same time, I dispensed with a few of her steps, which I regarded as not feasible in my context. I started the lesson with questions about how my students were doing that day, and urged them to try not to just think, “I’m fine…”, but give it some thought – how they really felt right then: happy, content, excited, worried, sad… On a typical day, our emotions can run the gamut from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows. We can be happy to see, or hear from, a friend, and later be sad when we learn about some bad news. A situation all too common these days, unfortunately.
Then we watched 2 short video clips Opening Scene and Guessing the feelings from the film “Inside Out” (2015), an animated masterpiece, set in the mind of a young girl, where five personified emotions try to lead her through life as she and her parents adjust to their new surroundings after moving house. This inventive, gorgeously animated, and powerfully moving story was the perfect lead-in. Then we worked with the cards of different emotions. Subsequently, I brought back a word cloud we did together a fortnight before when studying another learning unit; it did verify – once more – my approach and proved its value.
After being taught the steps of making the final product – choosing at least one photo from this Europeana collection: https://nl.pinterest.com/europeana/children/, downloading it, opening it in Microsoft Paint, adding at least a speech bubble and writing inside of it about the children’s emotions and feelings using capital letters –, my students saved their images and collected them in a virtual exhibition on Padlet. They worked either in pairs, or individually. Here you can see some of their work:
Photos edited by students to express feelings
Do you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the learning scenario?
Have a look at other interesting stories of implementation:
- ‘Food tests’, implemented by Natalija Budinski;
- ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover. Or can you?’, implemented by Alexandra Duarte;
- ‘Newspapers and reports’, implemented by Sandra Troia.
Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.