Families across West Virginia have had the opportunity to get a hands-on look at what their children are learning in school, thanks to statewide partnerships and the Remake Learning program, originally started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Joining forces with the West Virginia Public Education Collaborative (WVPEC), Intermediate Unit 1, Marshall University June Harless Center, West Liberty University Center for Arts and Education and the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Remake Learning Days brought 25 programs in the state this month aimed at creating future-ready, innovative learning for youth of all ages. Featured learning themes include the arts, makers, outdoor learning, science, technology, youth voice and professional development.
The June Harless Center provided mini grants to organizations in Cabell, Lincoln and Mingo counties to bring seven different free programs to the community. It was the first year the Harless Center participated in the event, but Tarabeth Brumfield, program development officer at the Harless Center, said the programs were so successful they plan to participate again next year.
In Cabell County, programs were held at Heritage Farm, the Huntington Museum of Art and Milton Elementary/Pre-k school. The Harless Center also had events in Chapmanville and Gilbert, West Virginia.
Driven by technology, rapid cultural and societal shifts mean that children are absorbing and using information differently. The Remake Learning network launched Remake Learning Days in 2016 in response to the need to provide opportunities for parents to connect with the new, innovative learning happening in kids' classrooms. In addition, the network wanted to bring these opportunities to a broader socioeconomic demographic of audiences. Since its launch, more than 53,000 youth, parents and caregivers have participated in 600-plus Remake Learning Days events - the majority of which were free.
Brumfield said all the events took place in the evening, with the exception of Heritage Farm which had an event on Saturday so the whole family could participate.
"It's important to get families involved because you start building relationships with the families of the children you are working with," Brumfield said. "Children see family members learning and being creative and engaging in things based on what they are learning in school. It's motivating for them."
Brumfield said with the busy schedules of all families nowadays, it can be harder for educators to build these relationships with families, which is why Remake Learning Days is such a benefit to the community.
"It has to be intentional," Brumfield said of activities aimed at families. "Technology is important. It has to be something unique. If it's engaging, they will want to be there. Families want the best for their kids, and if they have the chance to have something meaningful, they will be there."
Some of the activities the Harless Center helped plan included student art shows, building and launching rockets, learning about coding, engineering and outdoor scavenger hunts.
The Remake Learning Days - West Virginia effort is generously supported by The Grable Foundation, Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, Google, UPMC, PNC Foundation, EQT, The Buhl Foundation and Covestro. The national Remake Learning Days Across America effort is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Grable Foundation and Schmidt Futures and led by national co-hosts Remake Learning, PBS Kids and Digital Promise.