Friday, August 15, 2014

Calling All SuperKids!

I spent part of this past week attending new teacher training. While I am not new to my school district, I have a new position mentoring first and second year teachers. The motivational speaker who spoke was wonderful! His message really hit home-- we have to know our students. At the presentation, seven students participated as a student panel responding to questions about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences from the presenter and the audience. One of the questions was, "How many of you feel like your teachers know what you are passionate about?" Surprisingly, none of the students raised their hands. Wow!

With this in mind, I wanted to share a First Week activity with you. Last year I looped with my class and wanted a really unique theme for the year. Since my students had made such huge gains during the previous year, I decided to call them SuperKids to encourage them to take their attitude, behavior, and achievement to the next level. In an effort to kick off the school year with the theme, I asked them to create their own SuperKid character.

I adapted this idea from another one I sometimes use at the start of the school year. I start by reading The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. The book contains a bunch of poems about different things in our world. It's pretty simple and written for a younger audience, but I just use it as a model. We then discuss the format the author uses to create each poem.

It generally goes, "The important thing about ___________ is that it is__________." Then it gives more details about the object. It concludes with, "But, the important thing about ___________ is that it is__________ (repeated from the first line)." I ask the students to create a poem in this format about themself. For the Superkid edition, I asked them to say, "The important thing about (first name) is that (she or he) is a/an super ___________." They then give some details about their super persona. They end with, "But, the important thing about (first name) is that (she or he) is a/an super ___________(repeated from the first line)."

Now for the fun part, I ask the students to create a model of themself using construction paper. This is always an interesting task because some of the students really struggle to make their person proportional. Sometimes, the torso is big and both the arms and legs are small. It's quite comical at times! For the Superkid edition, I asked the students to create a Superkid. Basically, this meant that their person should look a little more superhero-like than human-like. As an example, I made one for myself too. I called her SuperTeacher.

This turned out to be such an awesome activity! It really gave me a glimpse of what my students were most passionate about! I learned a lot about my students from this activity and I'd already been acquainted with these kids for a entire school year.

To finish, I post all of the student posters in the hallway with a sign that says "Meet the Superkids." It's a great display for the start of the year and for Open House.