Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Now Trending in Elementary School

As both an elementary school parent and teacher I watch with interest the trends that come and go for my K - 4 students.  I am reminded of my days as a second grader when we collected stickers (that might be odd now when stickers come in bulk for very cheap) and everyone desired  that one gasoline scratch and sniff sticker! (I finally got one after trading my friend a whole set of iridescent unicorn stickers!)  This year I have seen a huge increase in bracelets..made with tiny rubberbands. 

I have had fun making these with my own kids, and I realized that I could use this interest and enjoyment and bring it into the enrichment classroom.  This week students in third grade have selected teams which they will work with over the course of the next six weeks as we 'race around the world' learning geography skills and teamwork! Before students were given their first clue, they had to establish a team name, a team color and a team motto.  This may sounds easy.....but imagine working in a group of four and trying to make decisions that impact everyone----it is hard work! We spend a lot of time discussing how to compromise and how to discuss ideas! Once they had their team established....their next challenge was to design and create team bracelets!

I had hoped that this activity would be engaging.....but what I did not realize is how awesome a tool it would be to support a variety of great learning.  I watched as students offered to teach other students how to make the bracelets.  When one student struggled to make their bracelet I observed another team talking to them about the importance of perseverance....that they too thought it was hard, but now they could do it and they just knew if this student tried that they would figure it out too!  I also saw students who might not have had bracelets before light up when they realized that through our class together they too would be in on the trend! When one team got all of their bracelets made, they didn't move on.....they checked in with others to see how they could be helpful. Students found joy in the activity, but also in helping one another!

If you pass my class and wonder why we are making tiny rubber band bracelets----please know that we are also learning to be student leaders, team players, communicators, and supportive peers while having fun!  I am so grateful that RES gives me the opportunity to take time with students to work on these important skills using student interests. I believe strongly that student engagement and joy is a key component of learning and I am happy to be able to use the latest 'trends' to learn. I wonder what we will be making next?!

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