The learning project that could save your life and help your students thrive.

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Remember when the biggest fears of going back to school was whether your classroom was organized or your child had all the right supplies?   This year the questions are tougher:

Will returning to school sicken or kill you, your students, their parents or grandparents?

 If we don’t return, will our students lose the social interactions, safety, nutrition and learning which they need to grow?

If our goal as educators is to help protect and nurture our children, (and not die), we need to redesign how we engage our students.  We have to stop teaching subjects and start helping students solve problems.  As we switched to distance learning, some teachers joined together to create fabulous online lessons and projects for their students.  Some teachers have found ways to engage their students in social interactions, stress reduction, and ensured that they received food, computers and internet connections.   But way too many teachers have simply been trying to simply replicate their old classroom lessons online.  And way too many students are simply not showing up.

For years, we have talked about the benefits of student projects which span multiple subjects, of teaching to the whole child, of improving the health of our children because these things help our children thrive.  These were great ideas before COVID-19, they are absolutely vital now.

The COVID-19 pandemic is the ultimate breakout room exercise.  We have to solve a myriad of complex problems to be able to escape to safety.   No need to pay hundreds of dollars to get locked in a room with your team needing to solve problems–we are already in lock down.   

Been searching for an authentic learning project for our children and for educators?  How’s this one?

How can we improve our health and safety and thrive as learners and problem solvers?

During distance learning, here are steps that can help you and your students thrive.

  • Engage students in talking about their needs and wants during the pandemic.  What type of services, learning and contacts do they need? 
  • Create a dialogue and charting for a variety of success factors for students.  Nutrition, sleep, exercise, social contacts, volunteering.   By focusing on the factors that determine student performance, we will set up students for lifetime health and success.  Healthy students and teachers are less likely to catch and transmit COVID-19 and far less likely to die if they do contract it. 
  •  Engage students in learning how to improve the health and learning conditions at their homes. Baltimore’s childhood asthma rate is nearly twice the state average.  Learning how to improve the home air quality, how to create a study schedule, and how to create an effective study space can help students succeed.
  • Engage students in learning and communicating proper health behaviors to their peers.  Students more likely conform to a social norm from their peers than a rule by a school official. 
  • Share information on social and emotional resources: food, medical services, COVID-19 testing, where those with COVID-19 can go to isolate from their families.
  • Create teacher teams to produce the best lessons and the best social/ emotional support for students.  Frankly, some teachers are great at presenting material, and some are better at nurturing, guiding and supporting their students.  Distance learning enables teachers to work in the roles where they are most successful.
  • Engage students in teams to increase social interactions and learning as they study and solve complex problems together.
  • Engage students in talent and show and tell performances for their peers. 
  • Engage students in peer tutoring and knowledge exchange. 
  • Engage students and experts in health, building engineering and operations, data science, and social policy in understanding and improving factors that influence their health, safety and success.  (i.e. technology equity, resources, transportation and health care).
  • Collaborate with these same experts and students in developing a plan to reopen schools with safe behaviors and operations.  Students would prepare a plan for safe transportation, social distancing, disinfection of touch points, air ventilation and air flow, and alternative outdoor classes when appropriate.  Students and teachers would learn how to monitor health and safety factors for their school environment and operations. 

As schools reopen, students would monitor the health and safety factors at their schools and collaborate with school officials to offer suggestions and innovations to increase health and safety for students and school staff.

Let me know if you would like some help in doing this.



  • Yin-Yang-Covid-19-1 by .

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yin yang cornona virus by .
The Covid-19 pandemic changes health outcomes in both negative and positive ways. Working from home may reduce Mary’s risk of death from a car accident, and lower her likelihood of catching Covid-19 or a cold. But while he may never contract Covid 19, how will her health be affected if she can’t see her doctor, afford and obtain her medicine, or talk with a mental health professional about her depression? While we are drawn to focus on the death count and positive tests for Covid-19, we also need to consider the impacts of this crisis on the wider population.

Covid-19 has laid bare the inadequacies and inequalities in our social, economic and health systems. If we can shift our
health resources and adjust our emergency responses and our health and social system to care for all, then the lessons of this terrible and dangerous pandemic may save many lives.

Celebrating Earth Day Gifts

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Die-In Wheelabrator 2020-13 1200x by .
Protesters urge Mayor Young to file a legal appeal to protect the Baltimore Clean Energy Act during a Die In on Earth Day. They held the protest near the Wheelabrator garbage incinerator in Baltimore to draw attention to the health effects of the air pollution produced by the plant. Wheelabrator is the largest single source of air pollution in Baltimore. The City filed their appeal on the same day.

Happy 50th, Earth Day

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earth-day-1140px by .
Funny, how you’ve been around for 4.543 billion years and we’ve just now started celebrating your birth five decades ago. And mostly we’ve started counting because we’ve noticed that we’ve been rough on you.

So here is a toast to you and all that you give us, like life, breath, beauty and the caress of wind and waves. Maybe this next year. we will try harder to be worthy of you and worthy of ourselves. Love to you, Mother Earth.

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Going Viral, how our health care, economic and political systems will adapt to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the globe, the virus seems to have been as lethal to our health care, economic, and political systems as it has been to individuals. How will we adapt our lives and our systems as we move through this pandemic?

Can Math=Fun?

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Ever fill a high school cafeteria on a beautiful Saturday morning with 5th graders looking forward to 4 hours of math?  The Ingenuity Project in Baltimore, Maryland did.

The genius was to use Mathopoly  and math competitions to challenge the students to solve problems while they were having fun.

In the high school gym a wrestling takedown tournament was challenging students to throw their opponents to the mat.  Here in the cafeteria, students were wrestling with their understanding of math operations and concepts with the sharp concentration and competitive eagerness of athletes.  

Enjoy watching their concentration and jubilation.