It has been a long time since I was able to post but I am thrilled to share about our Kindness Club Challenge. The Kindness Club meets once a week. Students elected to be in the club. The purpose of the club is to spread kindness to others. This is such an admirable challenge for our students. Mrs. Losey is the club's sponsor and she has done a great job with inspiring the club to spread kindness to others. In discussing the club with her, we decided to tackle a large challenge that students would complete over the course of a few weeks. Since it had been a long time since I was able to help with a Design Challenge, I was eager to implement this with the Kindness Club. We decided to have students create a book for children in early elementary school. In doing so, we were able to connect English/Language Arts (ELA) standards as well. While the connection to content standards was not an initial goal, it was awesome to be able to connect what students where learning in their ELA classes to a real world, authentic challenge that encompassed kindness and empathy.
We immediately recruited our dynamic literacy coach to assist with plot diagrams and story boards. Mrs. Pembroke was outstanding and pushed our students to create books that were extraordinary. We worked in helping our students examine children's literature books and determine what devices were effective and ineffective in them. We then compiled a list of these practices to consider implementing in our creation. Our students were eager and committed. As we journeyed through the creation process, we had several obstacles to overcome. The largest obstacle was that of time as we approached Thanksgiving and the Winter Holiday break. We also had several interruptions which kept the club from meeting each week. Additionally, we had to contend with students being pulled out for remediation during this time. However, the Kindness Club did not let this discourage them from creating their children's books. Instead. they worked hard outside of the club period and completed some amazing products that exceeded expectations.
We partnered with our nearby elementary school, China Grove Elementary School. The Media Coordinator, Mrs. Litke, arranged for the Kindness Club to share their creations with the entire 2nd grade. This was no small feat as it was the week before Winter Holiday break where time is a challenge. Our students were initially nervous about sharing their creations as I think that any creator, designers, author, and illustrator would be. But once they got started, they rose to the occasion and the 2nd grade authentic audience loved it! The 2nd graders loved meeting authors who looked like them and our students shared about their design process to the younger students.
I was so proud of our students for taking this opportunity to design an authentic product that will positively influence younger students. I am also pleased that our Kindness Club students learned that they can be designers, authors, illustrators, and creators. The process of design lies in the ability to change paradigms. Our students also were challenged to examine assumptions that they may not have realized. I asked them if they had ever thought of themselves as authors and most replied "no." Upon deeper conversations with the students, they began to realize that they could be authors, designers, creators, or anything else they wanted to be. This experience served to liberate our students from many of the assumptions that they held about what they could be in the future. Additionally, we discovered that many of our students are natural storytellers, a fact that was readily apparent in our 2nd graders attention to the authors.
I am deeply appreciative that our Kindness Club was able to share their amazing creations with others. I hope that during this season in which we often espouse love and peace that our Kindness Club shared these with others. I cannot wait to see what many of our students will do in the future as a result of learning the transformative power of design. During January, we will have creations on display in the CGMS Media Center. I invite you to come and check them out.
The ideas shared here are my own and do not necessarily represent my employers, associations, or organizations. These thoughts are entirely my own.