| Andrew Miller

Breaking the Ice in AMS Virtual CAP Class

Imagine that you are trying to give a sales presentation and you are in a video meeting staring at twenty-three icons. You make a joke—trying to break the ice, get a reaction. The icons are unwavering. This is virtual teaching in a COVID autumn. What you are selling is engagement with peers, connection to each other, with learning and with the planet. You keep trying. Another activity, another icebreaker. And one day, one of the icons turns into a real face, and a microphone goes on and one after another, the icons become engaged human beings, laughing, joking and asking questions.

Fall Virtual Programs / Thrival KitsTeaching CAP through a virtual platform was a complete mind shift. Suddenly the former job of engaging students seems ridiculously easy in comparison. Students were so disappointed not to be together in person. But at Angevine Middle School we concentrated on all of the amazing activities that we could do from home that we couldn’t do at school. We designed and cooked backpacking meals. We focused on making the outdoor environment around each student’s home as inviting as possible to humans and to nature by building bird feeders and shelters for animals. We monitored what animals came to visit by building track tunnels. To teach outdoor skills we set up compass courses at parks within walking distance of each student’s home and built tarp shelters, tied knots and hung bear bags.

This fall wasn’t what any of the students expected, but the students of Angevine’s CAP Outdoor classes ended up having a great time and really connected with each other. Sometimes it was difficult to tell how much the students enjoyed the class, but parents made a point of letting us know how much their students got out of it. One parent said that the class was the best part of their son’s day and he was always excited to log on for the day because of the class. Another parent called the school to tell the office that this was the best teacher their student had ever had. And another parent said during conferences that this was their child’s favorite class ever and now he wants to be a park ranger. The parent, an elementary school principal working from home, listened to the class and watched their child participating and was thrilled. Online learning is definitely a new challenge, but we’re glad to be able to connect to students however we can.

Written by CAP Instructor Erin Angel

CAP at Angevine Middle School is made possible in part by a grant from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) through the Nature Kids/Jovenes de la Naturaleza program. Click here to learn more!

Categories: Angevine Middle School, CAP, Community Adventure Program

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