Using creativity in activities and communication at North Regional Library

This week at North Regional Library, students did the new activity Marketing a New (Old) Product, where they had to create a new consumer product based on an object in the room that I selected for them. But there was a catch– their product’s function could not be the actual function of the object! In other words, if I gave the group a pencil as their object, the function of the consumer product could not be to write. Therefore, students had to get very creative with their objects, in order to create a brand new function for them!

In our group, the students who participated worked very well together. They did a wonderful job of bouncing ideas off of one another and using their time very effectively. They were also natural public speakers– they did not even need to rehearse or write down their commercial, and they were even able to improvise new, func aspects of the commercials by themselves. They were completely in sync as well, improvising and adding features of their commercial together. Here’s an insight into how these students tackled the activity:

The students were given three different objects one at a time, and the third time around, there was a little twist on their instructions. Their first object was a styrofoam cup. The students created a product that could be decorated and customized. Their product was one where you could carry cereal around, and use with heated water as a foot bath (how creative!). The students came up with a commercial that highlighted all the important features of this object, including that it won’t break when you drop it, and that it is environmentally friendly and reusable. It was nice to see them comparing this function to other things, in order to emphasize why their product was unique/better (such as saying it won’t break when you drop it.)

The students’ second object was a pair of children’s fairy wings in the classroom (probably for Halloween). The students stuck with a theme of decoration, highlighting that these wings could be things children use to decorate. However, this was only an addition to the function of their product, which was to actually make children fly! They made their product include moving sensors to make the wings move along with a person’s hand motions, and included a metal portion of the wings to be heavy enough to lift a child up. It was very interesting to see their take on this product, since they were able to take the actual function to a new level by making this a product that could make children actually fly. I also didn’t even know about the motion sensor thing, so it was very interesting to see the students pull from other objects they had seen about on tv.

The third object for the students was a hairbrush. The students were getting very good at this activity, so now it was time to add the twist. This time, only one of the students could talk/write, and the other student could not use their words or write. The students were very good at communicating with each other, so I wanted to see how this would play out if students were not able to communicate in conventional ways. I made the person who was originally writing down the ideas unable to write or verbally communicate, and she had to result to acting things out and using hand gestures to get her ideas across. I could automatically see a difference in communication when this came into play. At first, the students found it hard to get on the same page, with them both expressing different ideas. But then, the person who was able to talk began guessing instead of just assuming what the non-verbal communicator was saying, and this create a much more positive dialogue, with both of the students making sure they were on the same page with their ideas. The non-verbal communicator did a great job of acting out sequences to think of the product ideas, and also pointing to me to emphasize other features of the product. Interestingly enough, the non-verbal communicator was the one who came up with the overall idea, and the student who could talk was confirming these ideas through her use of words. I think this had to do with the fact that the student who was talking had to spend extra time to make sure she was correctly understanding the non-verbal communicator’s actions, and this took up extra time and effort. But once I asked them to review what they had so far, the student who could talk began adding important features as well. Once it was time for the presentation (where both students could talk again), it was clear that they were indeed on the same page about their idea. Their hairbrush would shoot moisturizing agent out to help with dry or brittle hair, or would also be in a hair store to provide wigs for people.

Although we did not have time for the reflection period, I was very impressed with the communication I saw in the group. Both of these students are very talented and creative. Of course, the twist in the third situation made things more difficult and maybe even shifted the dynamic a bit about how the students were coming up with the ideas, but the students were quickly able to adapt to this and find ways to constructively work together to get on the same page. If we had more time in our session, it would have been interesting to do one more product, but this time switching who was talking and who was not, so that we could see how the dynamic shifted again. I often enjoy adding this twist to activities, so that students can practice the idea of working with different types of people, or people who have different methods of communication. Especially in this situation, where the two students were already friends and knew they worked well together before we even started our session. Therefore, it was very interesting to see how this played out in this week’s session!

I am excited to continue working with these students, and seeing how their participation and reflections continue to impress me throughout the school year!

Marketing a new (old) product

You are currently working at a startup company who wants to create a new consumer product. You must create a new product based on one item in the room, and you will create a pitch about to show on a tv commercial. Your instructor (aka the head of your company) will tell you which item you must create a pitch about. Here’s the catch: the function of your consumer product must be different from the actual function of the object you are given! For example, if you are given a pencil, the function of your new product cannot be to write, or if you are given a cup, the function of the new product cannot be to drink from it. So be creative in coming up with the function of your new product.

After creating your product, you must create a pitch for a tv commercial, including the name of your product, its function, any special features, and where people can buy this product. Each person in your team must speak in your commercial.

Your team will have 15 minutes to create your product and commercial.

 

Notes for instructors: If students complete this quickly, give them another object. You can also give them another object and make it so one person in the group is not allowed to talk or write anything down.

For a similar version of this activity, see our Commercial activity.

Leadership in movies and TV

This week in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students had a discussion about leadership in the media through their Leadership in Movies activity. Students first talked about how leadership is manifested in students’ favorite tv shows and movies, thinking of examples where someone acts as a leader in these examples. Some of the examples students came up with were Peppa taking initiative to take care of her younger brother George, Ironman working to bring all of the Avengers back and together, Spiderman training and guiding Miles Morales, Blippi staying up all night to watch over and take care of everyone, princesses helping their family and leading their country, and a cowboy from PJ Masks using his own talents to help a friend.

Based on this discussion, students then made a list of important qualities that a leader should have, which included helping people, helping people if they are hurt, training/leading others, using their talents to help other people, taking care of their family and others, and standing up for their friends. Finally, students drew pictures of scenes in their favorite movies and TV shows where people used leadership.

It was great to see students understanding that leaders can do more than just “lead,”— understanding that leadership can manifest itself in many different ways such as helping others do things that they cannot do on their own, and taking care of others. It was also great to see students taking more from their favorite TV shows and movies, understanding how even entertaining movies can use examples of leadership. It is great to see these students becoming more conscious about how leadership is part of people’s daily lives, and that there are examples of leadership everywhere you look.

Here are some pictures from this activity. The first one is a student’s drawing of Peppa Pig acting as a leader by taking care of her younger brother George!

Leading in their own way at Southwest Regional Library

This week at Southwest Regional Library, we had some new students come to participate in our club. We are always happy to have new and returning students in our club and watch students conduct our activities while getting to know other members of our club. This week, students did the activity The Newest App, but did a website instead. Our former student was also there, but when she did the activity, she did it by herself, so it would be interesting to see how the dynamic was different as she redid the activity with other people.

An interesting thing happened in this session, which reinforced the mission and goals of Leaders UNITE. The first was as follows. While the students conducted the activity and worked together to create their own app, it was clear that all of the students were leaders in different ways, and contributed different things to the group. While going through our post-activity reflection, I spoke with the students about this aspect. One of the students took initiative, she was the one who came up with the app idea, and the person who quickly moved the discussion in a specific direction. It was clear that this student was creative and was serving as a leader, as she created the idea, wrote down everything for the group, and continued to pitch good ideas and reasoning to the group.

One of the other students began to speak up more as the activity continued. And while she was not the person who came up with the ideas, she was just as much of a leader in her own unique way. This student did not come up with the original app idea, but was continuously keeping ideas in check. She would ask, “What is the purpose of that?”, “Couldn’t we do it this was?”, and more questions that steered the website idea into something more concrete, practical, and useful. The dialogue that she added to the conversation was just as important, as it made sure the website the students create was sound, had necessary features, and that everything added to the idea made sense and was feasible. Without this person creating these questions and stopping points for the group, the website might not have ever become as specific or as practical as needed.

The other student, the student who had done this activity a few weeks ago by herself, also took on a very important role in the group in her own unique way. The students’ website idea was similar to Quizlet, but for a broader variety of subjects and with more features, such as a study break feature, combining words to make sentences feature, and more features for learning Language Arts. However, this student loved Khan Academy, and the features that that program had to offer. While the other two students didn’t know what Khan Academy was, this student took initiative to bring in ideas from that program to give the rest of her team ideas of how to broaden their website and include even more features. Again, although this might not have seemed like a stereotypical leadership role, this student was also serving as a leader by integrating other information to fill in holes in the website idea. It was also great to see this student work with others on this new website idea, which was very different than the one she had created when she did this activity on her own.

This day was a perfect example of what Leaders UNITE stands for and why I created the club in the first place. Everyone leads in different ways, and no one needs to be exactly one type of mold to be a leader. People can take on different roles in a group that are all equally important and contribute different things to the overall idea and group dynamic. And while these may manifest themselves differently in different people, the goal of the club is for students to discover how they lead, and then to become comfortable leading in their own unique way. I was proud to be able to reiterate this idea with students during our group reflection, and I was thrilled to be able to witness this taking place from an observer perspective. It is not bad to be the one who doesn’t come up with the idea. It is also not bad to be the one that does come up with the idea. The goal of the club is not say you can’t be the loudest person in the room, but instead that you don’t have to be. The idea of the club is to foster communication and teamwork while also taking into account people’s individual leadership skills. And while I will continue to work with this group on teamwork and different aspects of leadership, it was great to see them all take on their own unique, important leadership roles in a team.

Synthesizing ideas to create a videogame

Last week at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students did a new activity called The Newest Videogame, which is based off of one of our most used activities, The Newest App. At this session, students were first asked to list topics that they loved that were featured in their favorite videogames. They mentioned many different things, such as space/the planets, princesses, spider webs (like from Spiderman), rocketships, and lunch/food. While students knew the activity was going to be about a videogame, they did not tell them what they would be doing with the list of activities that they created. After this, students were told they would have to work together to create a new videogame, specifically using the words they mentioned before.

Together, students worked to create a videogame that incorporated all of the features they mentioned before, and they did a wonderful job. Students seemed to really begin grasping the concept of synthesizing ideas and building off of someone else’s idea. While one student suggested that the game be to build bricks, the next student added onto that with ease, noting that the game should use spiderwebs to knock down some of the bricks. Students continued to build on this idea, creating a game where you build bricks and stack food ontop of the bricks, while spiderwebs can shoot out and knock down bricks, and planets and princesses can work together to knock down spiderwebs. It was great to see students really understanding and utilizing the concept of combining different ideas/topics into one videogame.

This is also a point where I began to see huge growth in the students. Since working through the Story Pieces activity a few weeks ago, students have greatly improved their ability to synthesize ideas together, and have done a wonderful job of basing their ideas off of a concept that someone else mentioned. It was so wonderful to see this growth after one of our activities, and it is great to see these skills shine through in these students, and at such a young age!

The Newest Videogame

Congratulations! You have been selected to create the newest videogame! In this activity (which is similar to The Newest App activity), students will work together to create their own videogame and then will create a commercial pitch to sell their videogame to the “audience”. Students must include the game logo, purpose, rules, and features in their commercial pitch, and every person in the group must speak in their presentation.

For younger age groups or for a fun twist, teachers, start by asking the students to name seven things they like in their games (without telling them that they will be creating a videogame). Then once they list their seven things, tell them that they must combine these seven things together to make a brand new videogame. See how they work together to combine these things!

Groups will have 15 minutes to create their videogame and their commercial pitch!

You are Special (YAS) on Leaders UNITE instagram page

We kicked off our Fall YAS initiative a few weeks ago at the International Preschool of Raleigh by doing our YAS (You are Special) activity, where students made You are Special cards for their classmates and celebrated their classmates’ unique qualities. This week, we are doing our first online YAS campaign of Fall 2019! We posted this EdWordle on our Instagram page showing a few (of many) words you could use to tell someone that they are special. Feel free to use these words as an inspiration to tell others why they are special to you!

Like our post on instagram to receive a YAS (You are Special) shoutout from Leaders UNITE!

You are Special