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Posts Tagged ‘adapt’

Photo: Max Tapogna
As a way to overcome resource challenges, Lisa Adams has taught students at her Portland, Oregon, elementary school how to make their own instruments.

I’ve been learning recently, both from my daughter-in-law and online, that parents frustrated with the imperfections of pandemic school are complaining about the problems to teachers even though it’s mostly not something teachers can control.

Meanwhile, teachers adapt. They’ve been going beyond the extra mile to make everything work. An ESL teacher I work with often spends long, unpaid hours solving technical problems, and my husband’s orchestra-teacher niece in North Carolina rarely finishes her day before 10:30 pm.

Max Tapogna writes at Oregon Artswatch about what arts teachers in his state are doing with limited resources for remote instruction.

“One by one, students pop into the classroom, each in a respective Zoom window. Trisha Todd, a drama teacher at Portland’s Grant High School, waits a few minutes until everyone in her Beginning Theatre class has arrived. Todd is teaching from her office at Grant, which is full of theater tchotchkes: a turquoise folding screen, a poster for Sarah Ruhl’s play Orlando, and what looks like poor Yorick’s skull. Todd’s students, however, are scattered around the city. …

“Class begins, inconspicuously, with a warmup. First some stretching. Then Todd asks the students to go around and share the musical artists they’ve been listening to recently. More than one student mentions Billie Eilish; another says he’s been blasting a lot of classic rock.

“ ‘I’m doing whatever I can to keep them engaged,’ Todd says. ‘We’re just hoping to keep them with us until they get back.’ …

“When classrooms were shuttered due to the coronavirus. Arts educators, especially those with subjects in the performing arts, were forced to grapple with ways to reach students from a distance.

“ ‘It was really hard,’ says Lisa Adams, a music teacher at Duniway Elementary School. … ‘Participation was not required. There wasn’t a unified way that every school was handling it.’

“ ‘Spring was very doomy gloomy,’ says Laura Arthur, a music teacher on special assignment for the district. ‘I feel like the fall is the second, third stage of grief. We’ve reached acceptance and solutions.’ …

“Mary Renaur, a visual arts teacher at Mt. Tabor Middle School … created online tutorials on how to make art supplies at home, like glue and paint, from materials that could be found in a kitchen or recycling bin. …

“Similarly, Adams has taught her students at Duniway to craft their own instruments from household objects, like a ‘guitar’ made from a berry container and rubber bands. One student, Adams says, filled a paper towel tube with beans and fixed tape to the edges. …

“Of course, the technology comes with its complications. On the day I spoke with Renaur, she described how a student’s Chromebook unexpectedly had stopped working.

When she learned the computer wasn’t working, Renaur hopped in her car and drove to school, picked up a new computer, dropped it off at the student’s home, and drove back to her house in time for her next class.

“ ‘Between classes, I had forty-five minutes,’ Renaur says. …

“Other adjustments have been less stressful. Chris Meade, who teaches drama and music at Lent K-8, says, ‘I did a whole assignment on taking silly selfies just to get students used to using a camera.’

“At the beginning of the school year, Meade surveyed his students to get a sense of their preferences for learning music virtually. ‘The majority of my kids were really uncomfortable singing by themselves into a computer,’ Meade says. …

“Instead, Meade shifted his focus to emphasizing music appreciation and literacy. This fall, for example, students are learning about the various musics of Latin America. District-wide, arts classes are now structured around themes like emotional resilience and racial equity. That change, Meade says, has been welcome.

“He says, ‘It’s nice to [explore] all these other aspects of music that kind of get glossed over during the regular school year.’

“For theater, Todd says her goal is less forcing her old curriculum into a new format than tailoring her subject to online learning. ‘We can look at history, we can look at Shakespeare, we can look at the Greeks,’ Todd says. ‘We could just read plays for a semester.’

“Instead of directing a fall play, Todd is organizing a 24-hour devised theater piece. The festival will showcase a play written, directed, and acted entirely by students. ‘It’s supposed to happen really quickly,’ says Todd. ‘You go with your instinct. You don’t have set limitations. You create them.’ ”

Read at Oregon Artswatch, here, how the typical isolation of arts teachers has been altered by pandemic isolation, which in at least one district has led to a collaborative way of working that will likely outlast lockdowns.

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It’s amazing what you can learn from DNA. Recently, scientists have been collecting insights from camel DNA about how camel ancestors were used on ancient trade routes.

Victoria Gill writes at the BBC, “Scientists examined DNA samples from more than 1,000 one-humped camels. Despite populations being hundreds of miles apart, they were genetically very similar. Scientists explained that centuries of cross-continental trade had led to this ‘blurring’ of genetics.

“The findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“One of the team, Prof Olivier Hanotte, from Nottingham University, explained that what made the dromedary so biologically fascinating was its close link to human history.

” ‘They have moved with people, through trading,’ he told BBC News. ‘So by analysing dromedaries, we can find a signature of our own past. … Our international collaboration meant we were able to get samples from West Africa, Pakistan, Oman and even Syria.’ …

” ‘People would travel hundreds of miles with their camels carrying all their precious goods. And when they reached the Mediterranean, the animals would be exhausted.

” ‘So they would leave those animals to recover and take new animals for their return journey.’

“This caused centuries of genetic ‘shuffling’, making dromedaries that are separated by entire continents remarkably similar.

“Crucially, this has also ensured that the animals maintained their genetic diversity — constantly mixing up the population. This means that dromedaries are likely to be much more adaptable in the face of a changing environment. …

” ‘The dromedary will be our better option for livestock production of meat and milk. It could replace cattle and even sheep and goats that are less well-adapted.’ ”

More at the BBC website, here.

Photo: Mark Payne/Gill/NPL
Ships of the desert: camels provide transport, milk and food in arid, hostile environments

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