Shaun Brown, a Shawnee Mission North High School senior, woke up every Friday this fall excited for something unexpected.
He spent time each week guessing with friends where in the city their orchestra teacher, Anna Cook, would be teaching. “It’s a nice surprise to wake up and think, ‘Boom, it’s Friday. What’s new?’” Brown shared. “Every week we’re trying to guess where in Kansas City she might be.”
While teaching remotely, Cook turned the Kansas City metropolitan area into her classroom. Click here to see a video.
Students found her at locations like KC Strings, where students learned about how their orchestra instruments were made.
They learned about jazz history and musical styles when she visited the American Jazz Museum. They studied “Carnival of Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens as she taught from the Kansas City Zoo.
Fridays gave the students shared experiences they otherwise might not have had, Brown said. “It’s not like only one person got to go to 18th and Vine,” he noted. “Everyone is in the same situation and we’re learning because Ms. Cook does a great job of teaching and making it fun.”
Inspired to use the new, remote learning opportunity in innovative ways, Cook arranged the trips she and her students otherwise might never have been able to make.
“I wanted to get us out of a bubble and realize how much Kansas City has to offer,” she said. “I’m bonding with the students as we learn and explore together. It’s been so fun to learn about these topics.” Brown said he is taking away a lot more from the field trips beyond the surprise element.
Each lesson has helped him become a better musician and connect with his classmates, he said. “We’re still having the same experiences together. Building relationships will help us when we are playing music together as a group,” Brown said.
You can read more about remote learning experiences that have taken place this fall in the current issue of Inside Shawnee Mission School District.