Working together, acting, and dancing at North Regional Library

Two weeks ago at North Regional Library, the students participated in two Leaders UNITE activities. In the first half of our session, the students conducted the A New End to a Movie activity, where they had to think about a movie ending that was unfair or unjust, and act our a new way to end the movie. The students selected a horror movie, and chose to make the antagonist talk out his problems with the protagonist, as opposed to becoming bitter and turning against the family. The students did a wonderful job of selecting a movie together and acting it out. The students bounced ideas off of one another well.

The second activity that students conducted was It’s Dance Time!, where they had to come up with a dance/choreography to 1 minute and 30 seconds of a famous song. I let the students select the song. Since a few of the students were all skilled dancers, they had to work together to think about how they could combine their interests in dancing and their different dance moves into one dance. There was another student who was not a dancer, but he still had some great opinions about the type of dancing that he wanted to include in the dance, and I was happy that the students also incorporated that type of dancing into their choreography. Their dance was very sharp, and I was happy to see all of the students work together. All of these students are natural performers, and seemed to derive more confidence and energy from one another’s presence.

Public Speaking and Toy Talk at the International Preschool of Raleigh

Today in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, the students did an activity called Toy Talk, where they got the opportunity to practice their public speaking. This was the first time we introduced the concept of public speaking directly to these students, relating it to situations in class, such as when a teacher is talking in front of the whole class. We first brainstormed some qualities that a person should have when speaking in front of others, and students mentioned quite a few: not fidgeting too much, looking at everyone in the audience, and talking loud enough for everyone to hear or using a microphone if the room is very big.

Then, we spoke about qualities an audience member should have while listening to someone speak, and students mentioned being respectful, listening to the person speaking, making eye contact, and staying quiet while the other person is talking.

After this, students took turn standing in front of the whole class and speaking about their favorite toy (the name of the toy, what it looks like, and why they student likes this particular today). After each student gave his/her presentation, we discussed together as a class some of the good qualities that this person used in his/her presentation, specifically based on what we discussed earlier about public speaking (ex. The student didn’t fidget too much, the student used clear words to articulate his/her thoughts, the student did a good job explaining the toy to the class, etc.), The students did a great job of listening to one another, complimenting one another on their public speaking, and speaking in front of their friends!

We also had a new student today, who came from our youngest classroom at the school. She did an amazing job with this group, did a great job with her public speaking, and was so well poised. We are so happy to have a new very talented leader in our program, and that more students are finding value in participating in Leaders UNITE!

Sweet moment at International Preschool of Raleigh

Yesterday in Leaders UNITE at the International Preschool of Raleigh, students did a Halloween related activity, which you can learn more about at the following hyperlink: Halloween Discussion and Positivity at the International Preschool of Raleigh. Part of the activity included drawing a picture of themselves in their Halloween costume, based on some of the compliments that they received from their friends. One of the students actually gave me her picture after school, as a gift. She dressed up as a ladybug for Halloween, and made sure to draw her costume’s beautiful wings, headpiece, and striped outfit as well, which her friends It was very sweet, and I will treasure this picture!

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Halloween Discussion and Positivity at the International Preschool of Raleigh

For Leaders UNITE yesterday at the International Preschool of Raleigh, we took advantage of the fact that it was Halloween. Students did a Halloween-related activity that worked on their public speaking, inquisition, discussion, and encouragement skills. To practice their public speaking, students took turns presenting their Halloween costumes as well as why/how they selected that particular costume. It was very interesting to learn more about students through their costumes, and their reasons for selecting a particular costume.

Then to practice their inquisition and discussion skills, students asked their classmates questions about their costume, which ranged from question about where the person stores the Halloween costume and whether their sibling are wearing similar costume to questions about personal stories behind the students’ choice of costume. I was very impressed with the caliber of students’ questions, as well as the personal touches their questions added.

To encourage positivity and kindness among students, everyone then went around the room and said something they like about their friends’ costumes. The students had much to share, and complimented various aspects of their classmates’ costumes, such as the sparkles, capes, skirt, dress, hair bow, and more.

To end our session, students drew pictures of themselves in their costumes, with a particular emphasis on features that their classmates liked. For example, students liked one person’s costume because it was sparkly, so in her picture of her costume, she made sure to include tons of sparkles. Another student’s costume was admired for its beautiful wings, so that student made sure to spend time drawing the wings in her drawing. It was wonderful to see how students remembered what their classmates liked about their costumes- a little compliment could go a long way!

The students did an amazing job with their discussion today, with everyone waiting patiently for their turn, raising their hand, listening to their friends, and waiting patiently until it was their turn to share. It was amazing to see how focused everyone was on learning about one another’s costumes and their enthusiasm for asking questions and complimenting their friends.

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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.

Proving that anyone can be a successful leader