Leaders UNITE flyers at Southwest Regional Library!

Last week at our visit to Southwest Regional Library, we were so excited to see Leaders UNITE flyers up at the front of the library! It was exciting to see Leaders UNITE as a regular activity at this library, and to see the flyer we made last year alongside other fun library activities. Some people even heard about the club from these flyers, so that was great!



Working through new things for the student and the teacher

Our first official meeting at Southwest Regional library took place last week. Although we had a meeting before, this was the first one where we actually did a Leaders UNITE activity. We started with our The Newest App activity, to give people an idea of how the club works, and the kinds of things people would have to do. And today, we were faced with a new situation: the person participating in the activity was not really into technology. This was the first time this had happened to me: no matter the age group, I had never had someone unfamiliar with apps in our club. This particular student loved to read, but was not really into technology: she did not use her computer much and did not have a smartphone. Usually, the premise of the activity assumes the participants’ general knowledge of apps or some sorts of interactive websites. And to make matters more complicated, this students was the only one participating in this activity.

My first thought when this happened was to do a different activity. “Should I change the activity to make it something she relates to more? After all, the purpose of Leaders UNITE is to make leadership fun by integrating things that everyone enjoys, so if she doesn’t like/know apps, she probably won’t enjoy this.” However, my first instinct, and the one I chose to go with, told me to still do the activity. I knew that one purpose of this activity was to create an app that interested the person participating. So I decided to work off of this. I asked the student what she was interested in. She loved books, Kindle, and YouTube. I knew that if we dug hard enough, we could create an app or website that someone like her would even be interested in.

Since this student was the only one participating and it was her first day, I served as a bit more than just the sounding board for the activity. I made it my own personal mission as well to try to help her create an app that she would like. I asked her more details about her interests: What she liked about Kindle, how she could make this more applicable to the broader audience, what other features she wished book websites had, and more. Through this, we were able to come up with a website that had some features of a Kindle, but included even more. The app had a separate area for Children’s Books, a price matching system, location services, a book club/discussion forum, and audio books for children. This creative product even had a creative name: LiveBooks, with a logo that included a tree and the app’s features whooshing out of the tree.

As I conducted my reflection with the student after the activity, I felt super proud of her. She noted that although she felt frustrated at points while creating the app, her end product was something even she would turn on her computer for. I was also proud of myself. I was happy that I stuck to my instincts and kept doing this activity with the student. I was proud at myself for getting to know the student on a more personal level, and using this to actually help her create an app that she would be interested in. I was also happy that I was able to push boundaries and make connections that seemed like a big leap, but in the end really helped to tie the whole app idea together. I was proud to have stuck to my instinct, and I enjoyed taking on this inquisitive approach as the club leader.

At the end of our reflection, I asked the student why she though I stuck with this activity even after I found out the student was not interested in apps/technology. I told her that there were a few reasons. First, I wanted to challenge her. I wanted her to take on the role of adapting to a new situation, since that often happens in leadership or working in a team. Although Leaders UNITE aims to incorporate leadership in comfortable settings, it is still important to take these small steps outside of our comfort zone in the club to help prepare people to do so in real situations. Second, I actually thought she might bring a unique perspective to this activity. Sometimes when I do this activity, some students make an app exactly like something that already exists. But the goal of the app (aside from teamwork and public speaking) is to think outside the box, synthesize information, and create something new. I knew that someone who was not familiar with apps might be able to make something completely outside the box, or something that could be interesting to someone who is not too interested in the mainstream apps. And because of this, she was indeed able to think outside the box and create something completely different than any other student had before in the club.

All in all, this was a very interesting session on both ends, and I look forward to seeing how this student progresses over the school year!

Working together at the International Preschool of Raleigh

This week, the students did the activity Story Pieces, where they each had to take turns making a sentence to create one large story*. The students did a great job of taking turns and thinking outside of the box about their stories. They also did a great job of remembering different parts of the story and coming back to them if other people did not. For example, one student brought a unicorn into the story and the next three people did not mention it. However, the fourth person noticed this and made a point to include the unicorn again. This definitely got better as the story progressed. The students who went first and last also really got a chance to practice starting and ending stories.

I was happy to see students’ teamwork increase this week, and to see them thinking outside the box! Here is the story they created (remember, each person made one sentence of the story):

Once upon a time, there was a little boy. There was also a little girl with a crown. The boy had a Santa Claus hat. A bad guy comes in! The boy and the girl eat lunch together. A spider comes in the house. The girl with the crown fights the bad guy and he leaves. A person comes in and the spooky spider comes in the room. A zombie comes in and fights the boy and girl, but her parents come in to save them. The mom comes outside and grabs the trash can and puts it inside the house, puts the zombie inside, and goes to work. A unicorn comes in. Then a T-rex comes to eat the zombie. The mom comes home from work, puts the trashcan away, and calls the dad and siblings to eat breakfast. Another bad guy comes in and the grandpa comes in while the zombie tries to eat the brother. A dragon comes out. A big fairy comes in to save the day. The spider comes in the girl and boy’s noses. A girl comes to eat with the boy and girl, and they go to ride the unicorn. A big T-rex comes in. The dinosaur comes and says, “woah!” to everyone, the dinosaur screams, and their parents save them. Then a ghost comes in and scares the whole family, but the mom and dad save them. A banana comes in and goes through the ghost. The ghost goes inside the window. 

*We were supposed to do a different activity this week, corresponding with Day 7 on the International Preschool of Raleigh schedule. However, we had some issues with the internet, so we did Story Pieces instead.

You are Special (YAS) at International Preschool of Raleigh

Yesterday for Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, the students did the YAS (You are Special) activity, where they wrote cards to other people in their program to tell them why they are special. The students learned that a leader should appreciate all of his/her team members, knowing why they are special as a person and what unique traits they can bring to a team. The students were so great at selecting different people in the class- even people they didn’t know that well. They gave each other wonderful compliments: calling them nice, beautiful, kind, fun to play with, and many more! Then they drew cards for one another to represent why their friends are so special. Some of the students even hugged their friends who gave them cards to say thank you! The students kept wanting to make more and more cards for their friends. I even made some for the students. Way to spread positivity!


Excitement, active participation, and surprises at North Regional Library

Last week, we conducted our second session at North Regional Library in Durham. We were very excited to see students show up enthusiastically for our second session. As I walked into the building, I even heard one of the students say, “Oooh! Leaders UNITE!” Even though we had skipped a week because of the hurricane, and I had only told the students the name of the club once, I was so happy to hear them excited to participate! Even the boy who began participating at the end of our previous session was actively participating for our whole session today. It was very exciting to see! The students also seemed much more comfortable with me.

Today, we did the Hand Signs activity, and the students loved it! In this activity, one person is the assigned leader, and sees a description of a scenario/scene, which I have typed out for them. They must describe the scene to the other students, who all work together to guess and draw the scene correctly! However, there is one catch: the person describing the scene is not allowed to speak! In a way, this is like charades.

It was very fun and interesting to see how students chose to portray key words in their scenarios. I was very happy to see all of the students immediately and enthusiastically volunteering to be the leader for the activity, and even working together without hesitation with people they did not usually work together with. We did three new scenarios (the students worked together with me to craft fun, exciting scenarios!), and students rotated out who was the leader for the activity.  The three scenarios were as follows:

  1. Draw a forest with a bird on a tree, a lake on the left side, and a dog on the right side.
  2. Draw a school with a school bus on the left side, a kid playing basketball on the right side, and JayZ in the middle.
  3. Draw me at home eating dinner with a rabbit, while my brother is talking on his cellphone.

Here are some notes about how our activity went, which stood out to me as main ideas from each scenario.

  1. In the first scenario, directions were hard at first. It was hard to think about left and right in a context where students were speaking about more tangible words, such as forest or lake.
  2. Although I thought the second scenario would be the easiest, since all of the students go to school together, it was not as easy as I thought. Since the students had different things in common aside from school, and were not anticipating talking about school, it took a while to get school and school bus.
  3. In the third scenario, there were two difficult parts. First was eating dinner with a rabbit, specifically the idea that the rabbit is eating dinner with the students. While the rabbit part was easier to distinguish, the dinner was a bit harder, since it involved both food and a relative time of day. From there, the idea of “with” when saying the rabbit is eating “with” the person was difficult to portray and guess. Another hard one was brother. Again, since students had other things in common, “brother” was often mistaken for ethnicity, friend, partner, and more. After working together, continuing to persevere, and thinking of new out-of-the-box ideas while guessing and portraying the scene, our group was able to get the right answer!

It was exciting to see these students take on such an active role as leaders in our activity, and we are excited to continue giving them opportunities to practice their teamwork and leadership throughout the school year!


Advanced thinking at International Preschool of Raleigh

Leaders UNITE has been a huge success at the International Preschool of Raleigh thus far! During our session last week, students participated in the Creating Your Own Language activity. At first, I was a little bit nervous to do this activity with the younger students, since it was a bit advanced in the instructions. But this turned out to be a session that demonstrated huge growth, teamwork, and advanced thinking in the students at the International Preschool of Raleigh.

Since this was these students’ first non-drawing activity (though they drew on the paper a bit at first), I held the paper for them and helped them get started with the teamwork. One student began the activity, thinking of a really funny and interested way to say, “paper”– Tinko! I was very happy to see her think outside of the box and take initiative. Following that, many of the students had ideas for our next few words (“cat” and “flower”), but once we got to “toy,” the children had two ideas. One person wanted to call it “Kinger,” while another student wanted to call it, “Train.” To encourage teamwork and show students how to respect and appreciate everyone’s ideas, I suggested we combine both words to make the word for “toy,” leading us to call “toy” Kinger Train! Once we got to the next word, “friend,” I didn’t need to say anything about combining words- the students did it all by themselves! The second that two students had different ideas for a word for “friend,” one of the students suggested that we combine the two words. As we continued, the students kept combining their ideas, and even told one another, “That’s a great idea!” The students even wanted to keep doing the activity once time was up, and wanted to think of words for “crown,” “airplane,” and more! We loved to see the students working together, using advanced thinking, encouraging one another, and participating!

Creating Your Own Language IPR


Leaders UNITE Locations

We are proud to have many schools and libraries associated partnering with Leaders UNITE. Use the dropdown menu to see posts from a few of our locations, which talk about activities, reflections, and other information from Leaders UNITE at these locations. If you are interested in starting Leaders UNITE at your school, library, or after school program, contact us here on at leadersuniteclub@gmail.com .

Here are a list of our current and previous partners:

Current partners:

  1. Duke University (Durham, NC)
  2. International Preschool of Raleigh (Raleigh, NC)
  3. North Regional Library (Durham, NC)
  4. South Regional Library (Durham, NC)
  5. East Regional Library (Durham, NC)
  6. International Preschool of Raleigh’s Partner School (Beijing, China)
  7. Jordan High School (Durham, NC)
  8. Durham Nativity School (Durham, NC)

Former partners:

  1. North Hills School (Pilar, Argentina)
  2. Cary Academy (Cary, NC)
  3. Enloe High School (Raleigh, NC)
  4. Chesterbrook Academy (Cary, NC)
  5. Cleveland High School (Johnston County, NC)
  6. Smithfield-Selma High School ((Johnston County, NC)
  7. West Johnston High School (Johnston County, NC)
  8. South Johnston High School (Johnston County, NC)
  9. Archer Lodge Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  10. Riverwood Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  11. McGee’s Crossroads Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  12. Benson Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  13. Clayton Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  14. Smithfield Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  15. Selma Middle School (Johnston County, NC)
  16. Meadow Middle School (Johnston County, NC)