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A new way of learning for everyone

DARLINGTON – We have all had to make some sort of adjustment during this coronavirus pandemic that is happening all over the world. To keep the next generation safe, schools have had to shut down. That has caused some teachers to get creative in ways to teach their students, by reading to them via Facebook videos or showing them ways to cope with their emotions via YouTube. Two Darlington teachers are the masterminds behind those ideas.

ashley mccarville
Ashley McCarville, a fourth grade teacher at Darlington Elementary/Middle School, created the ‘Story time with Mrs. McCarville’ on Facebook, where she does live readings of books.

“I am reading a wide variety of picture books. I have simply been selecting a variety of books that I am familiar with and have enjoyed in the past,” McCarville said.

She got into contact with Candi Fitzsimons at the Johnson Public Library in Darlington to help make her selection and then has a live reading Monday thru Friday at 11 a.m.

Anyone can join the Facebook group and watch the videos as they come on live or re-watch them at a later date.

“It is a public Facebook group. This is not just limited to Darlington students. My cousins from California and Ohio like to watch as well as many other friends and family around Southwest Wisconsin,” McCarville said.

All one has to do is request to join and then enjoy the fun.

McCarville really looks forward to reading each day as a way to stay connected to her fourth grade students and provide a fun story or two each day to many families.

“My goal in setting this group up is to provide students with a break during the day and an activity that students can do related to the story,” McCarville said.

She has received an abundance of positive feedback from parents and students and loves getting on and saying ‘hi’ to everyone.

“I also enjoy getting pictures of the students watching the live reading and their completed activities,” McCarville concluded.

Listening to a story can help one unwind from the stress of the day. Another way is to listen to the teachings from Jamie Hartwig, a special education teacher at Darlington, who teaches students mindfulness lessons.

jamie hartwig
Hartwig has been teaching mindfulness lessons with DEMS students in second and fourth grade for the last two years. Because they are unable to be in school together to have their ‘mindfulness time’, she created a YouTube channel so she can still connect with the students and they could still practice mindfulness at home.

“There is usually a lesson about mindfulness on Friday, like ‘puppy mind’ or ‘flipping your lid’ and then Monday through Thursday is a breathing strategy we practice to help us be more mindful and focused,” Hartwig said.

There are also special guests like other teachers at DEMS, her puppies and her chicken. She usually dresses up in a silly hat or costume, an inspiration from her son Carson, who passed away on March 2 from his long courageous battle with Osteosarcoma.

“And I end each video reminding everyone to be kind,” Hartwig said.

Her content is for all ages. Students and adults can learn what mindfulness means and some breathing strategies to help them be mindful.

“Being mindful can help with attention and focus when people are learning, working on a task, or just having a conversation with someone. Mindfulness breathing strategies can also help when people are having strong emotions like being anxious, angry, or over excited,” Hartwig said.

She has received a lot of positive feedback, especially from adults who are trying it.

“I have had lots of families tell me they enjoy doing mindfulness together.  If I can make family time more enjoyable and a learning experience too, that makes me happy.”

You can find these lessons by going to YouTube and typing in ‘Jamie Hartwig’ and check out her latest videos.