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MCC Hero: Lacey Plichta ’06

| Category: MCC Heroes

Self-portrait: Lacey Plichta

Every Teacher Is a Hero!

Lacey Plichta ’06 teaches second grade at Princeton Charter School. After graduating from MCC Lacey earned her BA in Education from Rutgers University and her Ed.M in Special Education from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. Her teaching experience includes: a combined Kindergarten/First grade class, and a Third/Fourth/Fifth grade combined special education class. As an educator, Lacey believes it is of the utmost importance to make learning exciting and interesting.

During these challenging times many teachers have had to adjust to new methods of learning. Lacey, reflects on how she and her second grade classes at Princeton Charter School overcame the challenges of remote learning to conduct research through a digital library (Sora), visited virtual museums and hosted a virtual dance party and Q&A with a Hip Hop DJ.

How did your teaching experience changed during COVID-19?
After school closed on March 10th, I had to completely reevaluate how I was going to approach teaching. I had to think about the best way to engage my second graders virtually and keep them motivated. I also had to spend a lot of time researching new online programs and quickly had to learn the ins and outs of each one to make my virtual learning experience as successful as possible. It is so hard not being able to be there in person to help my students or to give them words of encouragement. So I created a Bitmoji that looks like me, and I put it on their work everyday to cheer them on! I also leave them comments in their Google Slides and Docs to give them advice and answer questions.

How did your students responding to this new form of teaching?
My students were upset that school had to be closed and did not want to learn virtually; they wanted to be back in the classroom! They were also upset about missing book clubs, so my second grade teammate and I figured out a way to do virtual whole- class book clubs. We also designed creative, engaging Google Slides to make virtual math more engaging. They slowly began to become more engaged, and they also enjoyed coming to our Zoom “office hours” to hang out and chat.

They were most disappointed about missing out on our field trip to Waterloo Village, our Lenape Museum, CJ Luckey’s concert, our crayon letter writing activity, and our Wax Museum. I told my students we would exercise our growth mindset and figure out a way to make most, if not all of it happen virtually.

Here is how we did it!

  • We were able to complete our Lenape Museum virtually! The students received research through Google Slides on their topic and then wrote a summary. After they wrote their summary, they recreated their topic’s artifact and took a picture. Then they submitted their artifact picture and a video of themselves reading their summary. Once all the work was complete, I organized it into a virtual museum with Google Slides and we had a grand opening party onZoom!
  • Although we were not able to go on our fieldtrip, I was able reach out to Waterloo Village, and they made some videos about the Lenape for me to share with the class.
  • We designed a lesson on persuasive writing through Google Slides and instructional videos to teach the book The Day the Crayons Quit. After reading the book, the students created their own crayon character and wrote a persuasive letter to themselves from their crayon’s perspective. The students had to make sure their crayon’s opinion was clearly stated using persuasive, friendly, language with strong reasons explaining why they felt happy, sad, frustrated, lonely, etc. They then had to end their crayon’s letter with a call to action to explain what they need to make their life as a crayon better.

What do you miss the most about being in the classroom?
I miss seeing the excitement on my students’ faces when they learn a new concept, and seeing them beaming with pride when they successfully achieve their goals. I also miss their funny stories every morning when they walk in the classroom! I am so proud of the work my students have accomplished and their ability to persevere through these challenging times.