I visited Webster for the second time this past Wednesday. With all the construction on campus, the teachers are still playing musical classrooms, but I only got lost once. Here is what we talked about:
4th Grade – Goal Boosters
My first STAR topic with the 4th grade this year involved picking good friends. I started explaining to the children how important it was to occasionally evaluate the kids they choose to hang out with. I told them to ask themselves:
- Do I have good friends?
- Do I hang out with good people?
- Do I have people in my life that always cut me down or that I always get into trouble with?
Most elementary school kids get along with each other, but as these kids get older and move on to larger schools (Malibu MS/HS or elsewhere), the group each kid surrounds themselves with becomes more and more important. During my years in the STAR Program, I have seen numerous students help themselves by having a good group of friends through middle school and high school, and I have seen kids put into bad situations over and over again just because they were hanging out with the wrong people.
To emphasize this message, I have two skits for the class act out. I am the narrator, and the students have to act out the actions that I announce (for example, if I say that the student enjoys playing the violin, the actor must mimic playing a violin). The skits are about a boy named Gunther, and how his friends react to him as he tries to accomplish a personal goal. Some of his friends mock him, some try to distract him and some are helpful. Its a simple idea, but I want the kids to understand that they should treat their peers with respect and they should be respected and supported as well. The punchline of the 2nd skit suggest a possible date for Gunther, and it always brings down the house and turns some faces red (which is always fun).
5th Grade – Communication
I started my visit with the 5th grade with an admonition about using their electronic devices. By 5th grade, the vast majority of kids have their own cell phones and/or computers, tablets, video game consoles or some other online device, and not every kid understands what a big responsibility using those devices has become.
There are at least two or three examples of inappropriate behavior using electronics every year at the various schools I teach at, and I shared with the kids a few of these stories and the consequences that ensued. Whether its an inappropriate picture, a disrespectful or outright mean message or some other inappropriate behavior, the kids need to understand that anything sent out electronically has the potential to be seen by anyone and everyone. They also need to know there are consequences for inappropriate use of electronics that could include restrictions, suspensions, expulsions and even arrests. With that in mind, I gave the students the following rules:
- If you have something important to say, say it in person (if at all possible).
- If you wouldn’t say something to a person face to face, you shouldn’t send it electronically.
- Don’t send any pictures or messages that you wouldn’t be comfortable showing your parents, grandparents or teachers.
After our discussion, I gave the kids a communication exercise. The students paired off and interviewed each other on a couple of set topics. The first interview involved a famous person that they would like to have lunch with, and the second asked about a fictional planet of their creation. After the interviews were completed, some of the kids came up to the front of the class and shared their interviews.