Yesterday at North Regional Library, the students did two things: a leadership discussion about Leadership at Schools, and an activity called A Leader Is… These students are always so attentive, talented, and filled with interesting ideas.
During our discussion, students talked about ways that leadership could be better incorporated into their school. The students had incredibly interesting ideas. Their main idea was to have more opportunities for students to lead in the classroom. For example, they mentioned that there could be an assigned leader for the day, and that person would take roll for the teacher, make sure that all of the students are focused, help read things out loud for the class, take the lunch pass to the office, and more. They noted that this would be a great way for students to have the opportunity to act as a leader, while also doing important tasks in the classroom and allowing students to feel like they were really making a difference in class. Students also mentioned that they would like to see more opportunities for academic clubs at school, which they thought would encourage students to address ideas such as leadership and school in more detail after school hours. They also mentioned the idea of a debate team, pointing out that having the opportunity to sit and debate/discuss different topics with their friends after school could make some of the more timid students feel more comfortable coming out of their shell and speaking up around their peers. All of these ideas had a common theme of involving students and giving them more opportunities to participate and serve as leaders in the classroom. They also mentioned that it could be important/useful to have more opportunities to learn about students’ cultures at school, and that this could also help students to feel more comfortable expressing themselves in the classroom. Opportunities to explore culture through student organizations, food, and more were all suggestions mentioned by these students. I was very impressed to see how well in depth the students had thought about leadership and ways for everyone to feel more comfortable speaking in the classroom. Since both of these students are naturally louder/feel comfortable expressing their ideas at school, I was also happy to see that they had thought about their other friends who are more quiet too.
Then, students conducted the A Leader Is… activity, where they came up with a short poem about what it means to be a leader. They did a great job of taking turns and thinking about characteristics of leadership that are not very obvious, but that are very important to make sure that someone not only is respected, but that the person respects and cares for others with humility and kindness. Their full poem can be found below:
What it means to be a leader
Is like counting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Here are the steps to
Becoming a leader
Step 1: Build self-confidence
Step 2: Give respect/gain respect
Step 3: You gotta rise above
Step 4: Gotta be the bigger person
Step 5: Do fun activities
Step 6: Don’t become
possessive, be FUN!!
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.
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!
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:
- Draw a forest with a bird on a tree, a lake on the left side, and a dog on the right side.
- Draw a school with a school bus on the left side, a kid playing basketball on the right side, and JayZ in the middle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!
The 2019-2020 school year of Leaders UNITE began at North Regional library today! We are excited to partner with North Regional Library for a second year in a row, and we were excited to meet many new faces at the library today. This is one of our locations that we will blog about this school year, so stay tuned for reflections and news from this location!