Seniors’ Day: Taking a Peek Into the Schools of Today
Every year, the Louis Riel School Division puts on a Seniors’ Day where we invite students’ grand-parents (or senior friends or relatives) to join us in order to take a closer and more personal look inside the schools of today. Today was the big day, and my students and I were so excited to welcome our special guests! Our groups of seniors either joined us for a 45 minute block of time in the morning, or in the afternoon.
Our afternoon block offered less flexibility since my students were scheduled to go to the library, but they loved to show our guests how things have changed in school libraries. Gone are the days where we can’t say a word and have to be as quiet as a mouse when we enter. The library is a place filled with wonder, creativity, imagination, and excitement. We then went back to class and had 15 minutes left to show our seniors how we play in our literacy work stations (no worksheets!).
As we welcomed our guests in the morning, we were thrilled to have more time to share with them how learning isn’t limited to our four classroom walls anymore, like it probably was when they went to school. It was interesting for students to hear that their grand-parents didn’t have the Internet while growing up and that they had to sit in desks that were lined up perfectly and neatly. They shared with us how their job as students was to listen to the teacher and do as they were told. How interesting then for my students to lead the rest of the morning while I mostly stood on the sidelines. I briefly set the stage by explaining to the seniors that we’ve had many opportunities this year to connect and collaborate with experts and other classrooms around the world in order to learn and grow, and then I stepped aside and let my students do the rest.
First, one student explained all about how we created and hosted a week of Growth Mindset Read Aloud, where every week for four weeks, one class would make a video of a Growth Mindset book to share with the world, include questions, and have a slow chat on Twitter where anyone around the world could participate. Students explained what having a growth mindset means and we showed the seniors part of the read aloud video our class had made. (For more info on Growth Mindset Read Aloud, click here.)
The next student shared how we had a Pirate Day, which was kicked off by Dave Burgess reading to us via Google Hangouts. With Teach Like a PIRATE in hand, he explained how this book by Dave was written for teachers in order to help them learn and grow, but that Dave had read them a different pirate themed book. Through this book, students began to understand that the true treasures in life are books because they, and your imagination, can take you anywhere! (To read more about Pirate Day, click here.)
A third student came up with Be REAL in hand and explained that this book was also written for teachers by Tara Martin. This author also read them a book via Google Hangouts and helped them create their own #REALyouSnaps on Seesaw. (Not sure what #REALyouSnaps are? Check out ours here.)
Finally, students explained to the seniors how Seesaw works and how this tool is just incredible to share their learning, their progress, and their day to day activities with their families.
Before we moved onto the big activity, I had a special surprise for our seniors AND my students. I went on to say how fortunate we are to live in a world where it’s so easy to connect with people even when they are far away. I continued on by saying that two of our students are currently on vacation, and one of them had e-mailed me pictures and we were going to look at them together! What joy to bring his trip to Hawaii into the classroom and to see what he was up to while we were in school!
My students were then ready to take our seniors on an adventure by playing Mystery Letter (which is similar to Mystery Skype except here we are trying to guess the other class’s mystery letter instead of where they live) with Tamara Letter, Joy Mays and their students in Virginia! A few students introduced each class, and then the game started! Question after question, we eliminated letters. I absolutely loved that our seniors joined in on the fun, took risks, and one even went up to the camera and asked a question! Both classes guessed each others letters and we had so much fun in the process! Before saying goodbye and taking a group photo, each class gave the other a kindness challenge! We challenged our new friends in Virginia to make kindness bookmarks and hide them in books for others to discover, and we were challenged to make uplifting posters to hang around the school. Stay tuned for those to come in the next week or so!
All in all, we had such an incredible day getting to show seniors what we do day in and day out in school. Some things have changed, that’s true, and many seniors were so impressed by the opportunities that our students have these days because of technology, but as one grandma pointed out, kindness is so very important and she was glad to see that this was part of our classrooms today. Some things will never change (and should never change)… kindness looks good on everyone!
A special thank you to all of our senior guests that joined us today! We truly enjoyed giving you a glimpse into our school reality! We’d also like to thank Tamara, Joy and their students for helping us show our seniors, in live time, what it’s like to connect with others around the world to learn and have fun together!