Learning can be hard. Help your kids love it!
“Celebrate the hard stuff.” What does that mean? That means when a student struggles to understand something or they are missing a skill, I celebrate. I let them know that I am celebrating. I celebrate like it is the best day of my life. I celebrate like it is game 6 of the World Series and the Royals have just shut out the Giants 10-0. I celebrate like I just skied down my first run without falling. I celebrate like it is the first day of summer vacation. Why is it the best day? Because I get to be the one who teaches that child. I even have an “I’m so excited that you don’t know that!” dance. It looks a little something like this…
Seriously. My nieces were mortified when I showed them the dance. I believe they said, “Auntie, you don’t REALLY do that in your class, do you???” I do. It causes kids to smile. It is a smile that says, “You are the weirdest person that I know!” AND “Are you really happy that I DON’T know that?” Then, my excitement rubs off on them (a little) and suddenly it becomes sort of okay that they do not know. The first time we go through the process, I am perfectly happy with them being “sort of okay” because I know this will change.
Post dance comes the really fun stuff. I start tracking what they don’t know. That’s right. We celebrate by writing it down. I have used different things for this. I have used plastic hard hats with dry erase markers. I LOVE this for small groups! Anecdotal notes have never been so fun. However, my hard hats quickly got full, so last year I tried something new. I created a grid on my white board (I’m lucky enough to have 2) and every child had a square. Any time that I noticed a child struggling, we wrote the skill in their square. When they mastered the skill, they erased it off the board and wore a hard hat for their hard work. The hard hat screams to the rest of the class “I have new knowledge!”
It is important to pick a small skill for this. I do not put “letter sounds” on the board. I put things like sh, u, counting on, or capitals at the beginning of a sentence. The smaller the skill, the faster the skill gets mastered. Then comes the real celebrating.
The first time a child gets to wipe something off of the board is a monumental moment. From that point on, the sky becomes the limit. They did it! They know they can do it again. All of a sudden, they try to figure out things that they DON’T know. They want me to write it on the board for all to see because they believe that soon they will be wipe it off and we will celebrate their new knowledge. I can’t ask for anything more than that as a teacher. This is the moment that I no longer have students in my class – I have learners.
This year, I am bringing a Celebration Station into my class. I am so excited about this! It has always been hard for me to communicate the little celebrations to parents. That is going to change. With a quick picture and an email, parents will be part of our celebration. At first, I was going to create a photo booth type situation. However, I just got some awesome tech training on using Pic Collage in the classroom. This inspired me to use their stickers instead of purchasing or printing/ prepping props. Here are some collages of the pics I was able to create:
Here are step by step directions for how I did it on my iPhone.
1. Download Pic Collage…it is FREE!
2. Download Teachers Pay Teachers app…it is FREE!
3. Buy and download my Photo Props pack…it is almost FREE! It is $1.25. You could easily create your own sayings. However, I have gone through Pic Collage’s stickers and created sayings that match. Save yourself time. Here is the link: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Photo-Props-to-Celebrate-Learning-1931356
4.) Screen shot the different sayings once the Photo Props pack is downloaded.
5.) Crop the sayings.
6.) Take a picture of your student and the picture of the saying that you want and insert it into pic collage. (Choose “create a new collage” and then tap the screen to add pictures)
7.) Hit the + again to add stickers. I did purchase the Father’s Day stickers because I wanted the mustache and nose. All the other stickers were free.
8.) If you want a hat, just search mobile images. The background will disappear on most images that you choose.
9.) You can insert a background or text if you want. Just hit the + sign again.
10.) Email your adorable picture to parents with a note about what their child did.
Done, done, and done. You didn’t use ink. Your learners will be ecstatic. Their parents will love the communication.
All of the sudden the hard stuff is the fun stuff! Celebrate it!