Posts Tagged ‘identity day’

So, I’ve been thinking about conversations I do or don’t have with my students. Two events got me thinking about this.

First, I was at school a few Saturdays ago for an open house event. This year there were a number of 5th graders there too. They were adding a student perspective, which I thought went well. Anyway, I had a 5th grader in my room as we waited for the tour groups to come by. We had quite a bit of time to chat. This student is not in my section and so I don’t teach her directly. Well, we had such a nice conversation. It began with movies, turned to books, then desserts, and finally candy. There was a little horseback riding talk in there too. How great to get a chance to know this students.

Second, my daughter had a friend over last Friday for a sleep over. (It was almost just an over as there was very little sleeping. I personally believe that no one needs to be playing with LEGO at 5 am, but that’s just me.) Anyway, my daughter and her friend are in 3rd grade and are both pretty good readers, meaning that they are reading some of the things that I read with my fifth graders or that I read to keep up with the fifth graders, though I am sure with a different level of sophistication. We had a lovely conversation over spaghetti about the books we have read recently. We each had some to suggest to someone else. We compared Harry Potter to Percy Jackson. (FYI, the girls thought Percy Jackson was a better series, due to Harry Potter’s frustrating perfection! My daughter and I are recommending Project Mulberry. I also suggested Cosmic.) Everyone was excited and enthusiastic.

Last Conversation Piece

cc flickr photo by Cliff1066

These two events got me thinking about the conversations I could have with my students. I would love to be able to have such intimate conversations with them. We began this process of getting to know each other with our 5E Identity day and students are blogging about topics of their choosing, but after the two conversations I just described I am reminded it’s time to pick up the conversation. Of course, there would have to be many more topics of discussion as not everyone wants to talk about books. I’m fine with that. As I think about my students, I suspect I would need to brush up on some sports stats, a bit about Mars, construction practices, swimming, and geology for a start. I’m ready for yoga, skiing, horseback riding, eggs, art, dessert, books, and general sports.

Now, how to make it happen? I am really committed to this. Thinking about how to work the schedule, I’ve always got the option of small lunch gatherings in the room. Hmmm. The wheels are turning, the smoke is coming out of my ears. I’ll keep you posted.

Any ideas on logistics are more than welcome.

So, I’m still thinking about 5E Day. (see earlier posts here and here).

I followed the same format as before. I showed the Daniel Pink book trailer video for Drive which asks “what is your sentence?”. I gave some examples. I allowed about a week of think time. I waited.

Once again, great success. This time I even had time to make an animoto video with a picture of each child and his or her sentence before back to school night so that I could show it to parents. I don’t know what is going on with my photography skills, but they need work.

There is nothing like hearing about your students’ interests, on day 8 of school, in a real, in-depth, but not heavy, way with props included. This year we even had someone bring in a short video clip. I have three new students and for them it was a great way to catch up on common knowledge about returning students, become known themselves, and become part our shared story right away. And, I think that is the key. For a classroom or any learning community to become a real community there has to be some shared story to connect all those spinning parts into something.

Here are we are in all our 1 sentence glory:

  • She’s a swimmer.
  • I am interested in all things mechanical and finding out how things work.
  • He loves to play sports and math.
  • She likes to make cookies with her mom.
  • I like rocks.
  • She loves the Phillies and sports.
  • He likes reading.
  • I am creative.
  • I love reading.
  • Violin is my specialty.
  • The more eggs the merrier.
  • She likes to read, laugh, act, and play soccer.
  • I love baseball.
  • She likes sports.
  • I love horseback riding.
  • I love skiing.
  • I like activities.
  • I like karate.
  • I love baseball.
Some highlights of the discussion:
Q: What made you get into the Phillies?
A: Well, you can’t just sit there and just eat the food. You have to get interested.
After lots of oohs and aahs over the rock collection:
Q: Which ones did you find?
A This one’s a good skipping rock. I found this one in my creek.
Q: What made you start to get into it?
A: Well, I like archaeology so I started collecting rocks.
Student sharing an egg-head pin, “I would share this everyday if I could.”
Q: When did you start liking eggs?
A: 2 years ago. I didn’t really show if off last year.
Student who likes riding, “this is my helmet. It has all these dents from falling off. Don’t be scared. If you’re going to do it, it will happen.”
“What got me hooked on reading was Harry Potter.”
“I’ve been making things around the house.”
Q: What was the first thing you built?
A: A Lego ferris wheel. Then I had a remote-controlled car and took apart the weed whacker and put the engine in the car. I got in trouble and had to put it back.” (Lots of appreciative oohs and aahs here!)
“I have lots of medals (for swimming) at home, but I don’t like to take them out of the house because they’re so special to me.”
“Good luck for testing on your black belt in April.”
“I think it’s really cool that you do so much creative stuff. I didn’t realize you had so much talent.”
“I like making cookies with my mom. She’s the only one I really do it with. I love chocolate chips and I just go in the closet and eat them sometimes.”
We are individuals. We are 5E.

So, I’ve been thinking about our class climate. In the beginning of the year I had what I called “5E Day” with my class, which was loosely based on George Couros’ Identity day. (Read about it here and about its impact here.)

One of the comments to my description of the resulting class tone wondered if we would need “booster shots” or any sort of redo. So far, I have to say that I think my class this year is a very supportive and cohesive group. Yet, I felt like this idea of a periodic booster might be worth remembering. And now I think I have a booster activity.

We are switching the book we read before winter break this year and it turns out that my new plan is in many ways a 5E Day booster. So here’s the plan:

  • We have listened to, read, and discussed in some detail both Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and President Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address” (ask not what your country can do for you).
  • We have been reading and listening to a selection of “This I Believe” podcasts from NPR (chosen by me with a wide variety of themes that are not too heavy).
  • We have been collecting “I believe. . .” statements in a jar in the room.
  • We are about to write a “This I Believe” essay as a book character.
  • I will collect, write-up, and the put into wordle our 5E beliefs.
  • I will make a podcast or Animoto video of our beliefs before winter break, no promises on this one, but it would be super.
  • Everyone, me included, will write a “This I Believe” essay (or poem or song) and create a podcast.
  • We will all listen to or read each other’s essays.
  • And, we’ve also read some short pieces that are somewhat related and totally entertaining.

I have to say I did not set out to create a 5E Day booster unit. I set out to plan a new unit that had some good pieces of what I have done in the past (King and Kennedy’s speeches) and some things I have been meaning to do (“This I Believe” essays). But, oh happy day, I have a feeling it’s going to be both a decent unit and act as a 5E Day refresher.

How many days are there until break?

So, I’ve been thinking about my class version of George Couros’ “Identity Day.” I heard him describe it at part of the Reform Symposium. (Catch the archived version here.)

Let me give a little background. I showed this video as a start to our conversation about ourselves. The video is a book trailer for Daniel Pink’s newest book Drive. The key thing for our discussion is that it asks the question: What is your sentence. This is what we used to begin.

After some discussion I gave some possible examples for myself and these directions:

On Friday we will each share a little something about ourselves. You should begin by coming up with your sentence. Remember the video we watched? What is your sentence right now? It doesn’t have to be your sentence for life, just your life at the moment.

On Friday each person will have his or her sentence on a sentence strip (I will give you a strip) and a small display on his or her desk. This display could be pictures, small items, a poster, books, whatever you want that helps us understand your sentence. I will share my sentence and make a small display as well.

Each of you will get a few minutes to share this special interest or with our class.

I can’t wait to hear about each of you!

Then, I waited.

To say that I was unprepared for the response does not even begin to describe the day. This was the last thing we did on a Friday, the second week of school. Not prime time. It was the only time I had what I thought was a long enough block of time.

Here are our sentences:

  • She likes to make all kinds of things.
  • She loves Paris, France.
  • You can call me crazy, because it’s true.
  • I have many bright ideas for our armed forces.
  • I like baseball, basketball and long multiplication.
  • Lax is my thing and I like to sing.
  • I love to swim.
  • She loves to be creative and likes to be herself.
  • I live and breathe tennis.
  • I enjoy doing puzzles with my brother.
  • I want to be in the Olympics, a lot.
  • (Name) is about soccer, math, and a laugh.
  • I like to compete in math and sports.
  • I like doing fun stuff.
  • (Name) likes to play soccer, cook and have fun. (a boy)
  • I like to make cool projects.
  • All day I think about soccer.

The sentences were interesting. They brought little displays to share.

I live and breathe tennis.

I like to make cool projects.

But what was the most amazing was how much attention, interest, and care they showed. Each person shared his or her interest and collection of items. Students asked questions of everyone. They were respectful of all interests and genuinely interested in what others were doing. There was no wiggling, giggling (except at jokes), eye rolling, sighing, or wandering. For a few students I had to cut off questions so that we wouldn’t run out of time. All told, it was easily 75+ minutes of just sharing. That doesn’t include the time we spent walking around looking at things up close before beginning.

I was blown away.

I want to be in the Olympics, a lot. have many bright ideas for our armed forces.

Here are a few of the things I heard:

  • Q: Do you feel you have pushed the boundary of crazy? (totally serious question)
  • A: I haven’t yet, but I feel I may soon. (also serious)
  • Q: What is the hardest thing you ever made (cooking)?
  • A: That would have to be when I tried putting chocolate then cheese over bacon.
  • Q: You must have a lot of patience (to student talking about 1,000 piece puzzles)
  • A: My mom can’t take it. If she doesn’t get a piece in like a minute, she quits. My brother and I, we have a lot of strategies.
  • I love to laugh, I do it a lot. They say I’ll live longer, so that’s a good thing.
  • I know that’s really hard because I tried it and kept falling into
    walls and stuff.
  • I personally love Snoopy, but that’s just me.
  • I got into it when I was really little and I’ve liked it ever since.

I cannot adequately express what a great afternoon this was. Not only was it a fantastic event, I think it will set a tone for the rest of the year.