Thursday, August 28, 2014

Being the Change

5th Graders Start the School Year Off with Gestures of Kindness

Being a Choose2Matter classroom in a new grade level on a new campus, it was important for me, the teacher, to ignite the passion for making a difference in the world from day one.  TODAY.  Today is the day to be the change you want to see in the world.  
This first week of school, the entire 5th grade, chose to matter to the rest of the students on our campus.  Each day, we focused on making a difference in the lives of our friends.  Monday, we focused on Kindergarten.  In order to encourage our kinder friends to love reading and to feel supported by us, we created popsicle stick word pointers.  On the stick, we wrote inspirational quotes to remind them that they are important to us.  

The kindergartners were so excited to have "the big kids" share something that the 5th graders made special for them.   Each 5th grader approached a kindergartener by saying something to the effect of, "I made this special for you. You are important to me and this school and I expect greg things from you!  You matter in this world!"  The smiles on ALL of the kids' faces told me that this idea would be a success.

On Tuesday, we focused on our first graders.  We created bead and string abacus as a way to support their math thinking.  We strung colorful beads onto string and tied the string off so that the beads could be easily moved back and forth in a variety of sets.  Using these manipulatives, students can count, add, subtract, and even write multi-addend equations!
Giving these abacuses to the first graders brightened their days and told them in a small way (maybe bigger!) that we want them to be successful.  It showed them that we are here to encourage them and their learning matters to us too!

On Wednesday, we set our hearts on second grade.  We wanted our second graders to enjoy reading, to find a passion and love for reading.  We wanted them to be reminded of our support and encouragement for them as readers.  We created corner page bookmarks that looked like googly-eyed monsters!  
These adorable bookmarks actually inspired many of the second graders to go home and read just so that they could use their bookmarks!  On the back of their monsters we added an inspirational saying to remind them that reading is important and so are they!

Thursday and Friday we created ribboned bookmarks with inspiring quotes and sentiments for our third and fourth graders.  Again, this week was all about creating a sense of belonging and community among the entire school.  Students need to feel that not only are they important to their own classroom teacher, but to every adult and child on campus.  Our fifth graders may have been the ones giving of their time and creativity this week, but we received so much in return.  

Here are quotes from some of the 5th graders about what they experienced in this exercise in compassion:

"What I do matters in this world.  And it is better when you consider others instead of just yourself.  It feels good to help others because it is the right thing to do to help others." --Jacob

"Doing for others actually helped me to believe in myself.  I felt good because caring for others means something." --Ebony

"I realized that I can make a difference in the world.  I could't believe that my little craft could actually mean so much to someone else.  It made me think that if I do bigger things it will mean even more."  --Alliyah

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