Category Archives: Memorable Moments

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!

Halloween IPR Summer

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.

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!

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

 

Making leadership fun and helping people work together

Two wonderful things happened during Leaders UNITE’s first day of the 2019-2020 school year volunteering at North Regional Library.

Today’s group had 9 students. Two of the students were arguing during the first twenty minutes of the club. I ended up assigning them to be in the same group for the group activity, and both girls were very upset by this, and continued to argue. They were doing The Newest App Activity. Although they began by arguing, I noticed that once the girls realized they had similar ideas for an app and created a name, the two started working extremely well together. They shared their paper, divided up the presentation, and continued to brainstorm together. When I pointed out how well they worked together after the activity, they high-fived and talked about what good partners they made. I even saw them talking after leaving the classroom. It was so rewarding to see what a thirty-minute club activity could do to make these students feel more comfortable and less hostile towards one another. I could also see how working and brainstorming together helped the students see that they were actually more similar than they previously thought.

Another student did not participate much in the beginning of the activity. However, once I asked that group a question about their app and he responded with a very thoughtful answer, he continued to become more involved in the process. I could see how he was able to draw on his style of thinking through the process of working out kinks in the group’s app, and the encouragement helped him continue to brainstorming and contributing to his group.

During the beginning of the club meeting, the students were unsure about the club, and some were only participating because of the free snacks afterwards. However, as the activity began and they became more involved in it, I saw them enjoy themselves. Afterwards, they told me that the club was surprisingly fun, and were happy when I said I was returning next week. The librarian even told me that they left the classroom talking about how surprisingly fun the club was. This made me feel so happy, since one of the goals of Leaders UNITE is to make classroom leadership more fun.

I am excited to continue working with these students for the 2019-2020 school year and can’t wait to see how these students continue stepping up as leaders during club activities!

Fulfilling a Long-Term Goal

I can’t believe I’m going back. The joy of returning to Pilar, Argentina took even me by surprise. After our exchange trip with our school for two weeks at the end of the school year, we all fell in love with the people and culture of Argentina. Even I couldn’t believe the words that came out of my mouth when I told my Argentinian friends over Skype that I would be returning to visit them at the end of May. Sheer happiness engulfed my being.

Yes, I’m thrilled to go back, revisit all of my friends, to experience Argentinian culture for the second time, and to practice my Spanish, if you know me at all, you know that I can’t bring myself to go on a vacation without getting any sort of work done during the trip. I have always dreamed of doing my club activities at the North Hills School in Pilar, but after receiving a rejection for adding the club to their school on a regular basis, I thought this dream was gone. However, after emailing some of the teachers and headmasters about my upcoming visit, they gladly allowed me to do some of my club activities during one afternoon for the students in Secondary School. I was beyond thrilled to hear this.

Although I do not have much allotted time during the school day to perform club activities, I plan on doing whatever I can with the club while on my vacation. During the school day, students in Pilar have multiple short breaks and a break for lunch- granted, their school day goes from 8am to 5pm. I plan on completing as many creative projects as I can during my visit and will do my best to bring about talk of leadership during the school day. One of my best friends, Gaston, who was keen on starting and leading club activities at his school, is eager to help me with my independent studies regarding leadership in the Pilar and North Hills community. Although the entirety of this project is not complete yet, I am excited to see where this project takes me and how I can make the most of my visit.

Saludos,

Ivana

Working Around Their Handicaps

The first activity in the first Leaders UNITE conference tuned out to be a bigger success than I expected. Well, that is partially because we altered the activity right before the students arrived. We were planning on just doing “A Leader Is… (Creativity Project)”, but one of my student ambassadors, Jonathan, had a better idea. “Why don’t we give each group a restriction? Like one group won’t be able to talk in their presentation, one group can only have two people talk, and the other needs everyone to talk.” I paused for a second. That was genius! The activity was so broad, and while that would be good in some situations, we would have already finished three discussions and lunch before the first activity. Being broad did not need to be a restriction. So we did it. We made Jonathan’s group unable to talk during their presentation (they could talk during the planning period, just not while presenting the final product), my group restricted to two students talking and everyone else participating in a non-verbal form, and Miriam and Julia’s group restricted so that every member of their group had to speak during the presentation. And I had to admit, I did not expect the results that were formed. They were even more creative than I could have imagined. Here were some of the highlights:

In Julia and Miriam’s group, the students wrote a poem together. The poem reflected qualities of a leader and how people can depend on the leader of a group. The final product was what astounded me. The students lined up in order, and each student recited one line from the poem. The poem was exactly long enough for each of them to recite a line. The finished product was beautiful, and well- executed. And did they work around their handicap and still produce an adequate product? Yes.

In Jonathan’s group, the students took the route that I expected- a skit. However, the skit they put together was simple, yet it got the message across more deliberately than a complex play. Some students, the bullies, began by throwing crumpled papers at one girl in the middle. However, two students came in from outside the classroom, dispersed the crowd, and helped the poor girl. The skit was short, yet it got the point across. Did they work around their handicap? Yes.

In my group, the students also went the route I expected- they performed a skit with two narrators and everyone else as actors. The narrators explained the scene as two math teachers taught the students how to multiply numbers together. The most extraordinary part of this presentation was that both of the students that volunteered to be narrators had not spoken once (unless directly called up) during the whole session. Both students said they felt more comfortable speaking than acting, and they quickly volunteered to speak during the presentation. Did this group work around their handicap? Yes.

All of the groups were astounding. Seeing 6th and 7th grade students use their creative abilities to push forward in the presence of an obstacle was quite a sight to see. The students were all proud of their final products, and all of them played an active role in its creation. This is one of the reasons I love these activities. They give everyone the opportunity to participate in some way, and the handicaps allowed students to use their creative abilities to make more than just a generic product.