In this season, our thoughts often turn to giving.
When I visit schools, I observe our children and their teachers offering their services in support of those who are less fortunate or whose circumstances prevent them from accessing community activities. This week while at B.F. Yancey Elementary, children were conducting a fundraiser for the SPCA by marketing handmade products to the school community. Their hard-earned eighty-eight dollars goes to supporting animals in need at the shelter. Learning in our schools extends well beyond working on Virginia Standards of Learning content. We also are committed to realizing our values in the work of young people as they acquire the competencies of lifelong learning – regardless of the season.
Teachers work year-round with children to learn what it means to take care of each other in the community. We want the community norm to be that our children show positive care and concern for each other, take responsibility to keep each other safe, and be kind. After listening to a radio show on this topic, Mimi Fitzpatrick at Brownsville Elementary decided to introduce her children to the Newtown Kindness Organization and engage them in creating and producing their own video to the tune Nothing More, challenging them to bring positive energy to their own sense of community responsibility.
Ms. Fitzpatrick teaches her children to use contemporary communication tools as a part of developing literary. Her classroom functions using the Responsive Classroom approach which is implemented across the division in elementary schools.
Her reflective post on what her third graders learned from this project follows:
As it turns out, the band called The Alternate Routes created their song Nothing More in an effort to support the Newtown Kindness Organization. This organization has taken on the mission of fostering and spreading kindness throughout the world by starting with children. The Alternate Routes put out a request for people to sync their own home videos to the song, and pass it on to spread the message. Once I saw this it helped me figure out what our work with this song might look like in the classroom.
The kids’ first exposure to the song was during our morning meeting. We thought about what the lines might mean and visualized what they could look like in our lives at school and at home, and in the world around us.
I also typed up the lyrics and put them into our reading centers this week. Students worked on reading the lyrics fluently, paying attention to phrases and reading with emphasis and expression. They also worked on an educational art project at another reading center, in which they chose their favorite line, and drew what they visualized when they thought about that line. Our readers are constantly working on improving their fluency and comprehension, so these activities fit in seamlessly. We are also lucky to have an amazing resource at our school called the Innovation Lounge, where the kids were able to collaborate and create short video clips using iPods. While they worked together to act out and record what they visualized, I got to stand back and record the real thing– kids working together, and solving problems together! Wooohooo!!
When we thought more about the song and what different lyrics meant, it seemed that opportunities continued to pop up for teachable moments. We all started noticing small things we do each day to keep the cycle of kindness going, like holding the door for the person behind us, helping someone when they fall over, or asking someone new to play.
We were also able to use it to help us solve problems in better ways. After a touchdown celebration was taken too far at recess, we were able to say, “It’s like that line: To be humble, to be kind. Let’s see if we can think of a better way to do that.” Also, after feelings were hurt in the lunchroom, the line “to be bold, to be brave,” came to mind when the boys decided to stand up for their friend. The possibilities are endless!
With all of the contributions from the kids, and the candid videos I shot throughout the week, I was able to slap together a video that we have all been quite proud of. It can be seen here. We hope you enjoy it!
You can find out more about the Newtown Kindness Organization and The Alternate Routes’ song on their website or on YouTube.
To read more from Ms. Fitzpatrick’s blog, you can find her writing here.