The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and that means educators across the globe are still finding inventive and innovative ways to support and teach students in classrooms, during hybrid instruction, and in virtual settings.
Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.
Here, eSchool News highlights the Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy–one of its K-12 Hero Awards finalists. Keep reading to discover how this district keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.
Nominee: Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy
Nominated by: Wacom
What makes this nominee a hero?
As a ninth grade STEAM teacher at Brooklyn Emerging Leaders Academy (BELA), Celina Bertoncini was assigned the task of creating and teaching a brand-new STEAM program–during the height of COVID-19. BELA is an all-girls public charter school located in Brooklyn, New York, which provides a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. To meet the needs of students and the restrictions of teaching during a pandemic, Celina created a STEAM Pathways program for her school.
The school offers three pathways for students: Computer Science & 3D Design, Biomedical Science & Anatomy, and Digital Media & Art. Celina’s 9th grade students take courses that introduce each pathway to students and let them explore each topic to determine which pathway they’d like to select for 10th-12th grade. During this school year, Celina’s classes were a mix of remote and traditional learning, so she knew she would need to find virtual alternatives to the traditional lessons she taught and how she interacted with students. She was determined to find solutions that worked in any scenario, whether it was hybrid, completely virtual, or in-person.
One example of the many creative lessons she created to engage students, no matter the learning environment, is the “Dream Room” lesson for teaching about 3D printing. Students create their own sketch of their dream room using a drawing app and their Wacom Intuos tablet. They then have to calculate measurements to make the room and objects proportional. Students create a 3D printable model of the room in the app Tinkercad, and Celina can then 3D-print their designs with the printers in the school. This lesson teaches students about math, design, and coding, and the technology tools used had them enthusiastically completing the lesson. For example, with the Wacom tablet, they are able to draw graphics, diagrams, and sketches and annotate their work digitally. It has been a helpful tool for students online and in the classroom during a school year of hybrid learning.
Throughout the school year, Celina continued to develop innovative and creative ways to engage students and promote collaboration in a mix of traditional and online learning. Like for many educators, Celina juggled switching from virtual to hybrid to in-person learning throughout the school year. Even with these challenges, she never stopped showing up excited to teach her students creative lessons that engaged them in their learning.