For more information, or to schedule an interview, contact:
Marcia Spector, Executive Director - Seeds of Health, Inc.
Seeds of Health teachers took creativity and innovation to new levels for the virtual start to the school year
MILWAUKEE (October 2, 2020) - Innovative practices and creative instruction are nothing new at Seeds of Health (SOH) schools. After all, Seeds of Health is a thought leader committed to continuous improvement and innovation in all its schools. So it comes as no surprise that teachers at Seeds of Health’s Tenor High Schools (with locations on Jackson Street and South 1st Street), Veritas High School, and Seeds of Health Elementary (SOHE) are doing amazing things in the online space as they embrace technology and develop creative ways to inspire and connect with students.
Making sure students feel safe and connected is a top priority in all SOH schools. School counselor Charmin McGlaston of Tenor’s South 1st Street offers students a safe online space to do centering activities with the principal or McGlaston. “After four days of rigor, students have some choices to even things out.” A virtual calming room is also in the works, addressing the social emotional needs of students during these stressful times.
Creating connections is especially important at the beginning of each school year, even more so in a virtual environment. SOH teachers knew that without face-to-face contact, special measures were needed to establish relationships. Social studies teacher Alex Funk used video to connect with his students. Instead of writing his daily agenda, Funk uses WeVideo to create video announcements so that students can get to know him better. He also asks students for feedback and recommendations for food, music, and entertainment and then records his reactions on his YouTube channel.
English teacher Leslie Monagle has also found a way to get to know students virtually. They are required to produce a short video introduction of themselves and share it on the platform Flipgrid. Another English teacher, Melissa Heriitsch, uses Pear Deck to monitor student stress levels. With Pear Deck, students can post questions and concerns without having to worry about asking in front of other students.
At Veritas High School, English teacher Kelly McCann is engaging her students in discussions on Google Meet. McCann and her students talk about literature, offer reviews, and give their thoughts on class and life. McCann says it’s nice to see (hear) students communicate like they would if we were in the classroom.
Even though we’re all staying close to home, Tenor teachers are taking their students out and about - online. Social studies teacher Nick Olsen takes students on virtual tours of Milwaukee, highlighting the culture around the city. Students then create a video that describes the places they visit. Another social studies teacher, Luke Johnson, normally teaches a course focused on the Making of Milwaukee. Since he can’t take students to various parts of the city as he normally does, he’s created a Milwaukee Virtual Tour to allow students to see their city.
As history unfolds around us, English teacher Lori Salinsky uses technology (Google Docs & Hangouts, and Padlet) to have students create timelines of their lives. These timelines serve as launching pads for writing assignments. Jacob Vanderkin’s English class students use Google Meet to brainstorm ideas for an assignment that asks students to take a topic on which they feel they’re an expert and expand on it in 18 different ways. English teacher Rachel Froehlich wants to make sure that students who miss her live sessions don’t miss the lesson, so she provides links and assistance to students so they can catch up.
In Todd Smith’s Principles and Elements of Design class, staying close to home is part of the curriculum. Smith asks students to go out in their neighborhoods in search of a house they particularly like. Using design and architectural principles, students then write about the house they have chosen.
Science teacher Shari Berett asks her students to test the scientific method, Mythbusters style. Students use the principles of the scientific method to prove or bust various myths. Annelise Mankowski asks her science students to research an environmental conflict using the Atlas of Environmental Justice in a collaborative virtual project. Students then use a shared slideshow to create slides and review each other’s work.
Math can be also fun in a virtual environment, thanks to activities designed by teacher Fernando Muñiz. Students in his class break out into virtual groups and are given “Discussion Diamonds” with an equation to solve. Each student needs to solve a problem and then discuss with group members. Math teacher Zach Longo incorporates the popular virtual reality game Beat Saber to teach angles to his students. To help students understand, Longo shared a video of himself playing the game. Math teacher Jesse McCann makes test review more exciting with the popular game-based student learning platform “Kahoot!” Math teacher Pam Scaffidi also gets innovative with her use of Saber.
At Veritas, math teacher Rob Clark has been working hard to revamp his lessons to make them digital. He created special assignments to ensure he does not lose the visual thinking part of Geometry that’s developed by using manipulatives in class. In addition, Clark has replaced tests in Pre-Calculus with a new and improved portfolio. For Personal Finance, he designed a “living on minimum wage” simulation where students are taught to use formulas in Google Sheets to take care of the computing. Another math teacher at Veritas, Dan Starr, also uses technology in his instruction. Starr pushes out a video of himself as a talking head somewhere on the screen while simultaneously demonstrating the math content. Students then complete a form about the content covered that day. In his Transitions Class, Star asks his students to "present" a college/career project.
Teachers at Seeds of Health Elementary (SOHE) are also working hard to keep their students engaged and connected. Elementary students begin the day with mindfulness practices and take five-minute workout breaks during their morning sessions. Each workout is different, ranging from boxing to yoga to HITT.
SOHE teachers use Pear Deck for interactive math lessons, keeping students engaged and actively involved in their own learning. Aside from daily instruction, we know that field trips are a big part of elementary school activities. SOHE teachers are not giving these up - they’re simply taking the excursions online. SOHE partnered with the Urban Ecology Center to offer 5th and 6th graders virtual field trips and outdoor learning experiences.
7th and 8th graders are getting to know the 50 states and are building solid research skills in the process. Students learn fun facts about each state and gain a broader knowledge of the country.
Seeds of Health teachers are proud of the hard work of their students and appreciate the support of their families during these unprecedented times. As SOH schools plan to transition to hybrid learning in early October, the staff and teachers are ready to help their students return to in-person learning. Seeds of Health families know that online or in-person, Seeds of Health truly has students covered. The schools are ready with COVID-19 safety protocols in place. SOH makes education and safety of its children and their families their absolute priority.
About Seeds of Health, Inc.
Founded in 1983, Seeds of Health, Inc. is the only K4-12 charter school agency in the state of Wisconsin serving approximately 1,300 students in four high schools and a K4-8 elementary program. The five individual and unique education programs serve a broad range of student needs – from at-risk to the college bound. Seeds of Health is Milwaukee’s innovative “home grown” answer to imaginative, collaborative and cutting-edge education options, with the vision to positively impact the growth and development of urban children. For more information, please visit www.seedsofhealth.org.