Sunday, August 9, 2015

Post Play-doh Lesson Recap: How did it go?

Berry says we need to find what
 makes us feel like royalty.
Here in the Central Valley of California we go back to school EARLY, so August 6th was my first day with students: I met my 110 junior/senior combo Speech Communications students. They were very, very cute - in a tall, tired, teenager kind of way.

I took a chance on the Play-doh lesson (described two blog posts ago) and here is a recap, with photos.

1. Greeting the kids at door with color cards.
I played my Spotify Speech Communications playlist, opening with “Safe and Sound” by Capital Cities (With very little effort, music really sets a tone for you - blog post to come).
The color cards ended up being funny, because, of course, the macho dudes would get “sea-foam green” or “darkish coral” - their little perplexed faces made the whole thing worthwhile. Then I noticed something really cool: a couple of the kids picked up on their confusion and started to walk around the room and help them decipher play-doh colors. The bonding had begun.
I busted eight of my new rascals trying to “swap play-doh” so they could sit with their friends. I arrested them and they had to go to “play-doh prison” and become greeters with me at the door. We laughed about it. This was valuable information for me: these kids will need lots and lots of love and attention. They are used to manipulating situations and are pretty good at it, so I need to keep them close to soften their rough edges.
2. Getting kids settled
Once everyone found their “ohana pod” I had to do some feng shui to balance out groups-lots of changes the first few days, gotta stay flexible with class sizes and morphing rosters. Right now my class sizes are at 38, 36, 37...big and boisterous.
Name tents came first:
  • piece of 8 ½ by 11 paper
  • tri-fold to make table tent
  • in dark marker - FIRST NAME LARGE (very important that it be the nickname or name they prefer - ie Nick for Nicholas)
  • in 4 corners: favorite app, favorite candy, favorite food, favorite sport or music
  • Give kids 10 minutes to complete
  • Roundrobin-style have kids introduce themselves to their pods letting teams know they are to actively start memorizing names of their ohana.
  • After introductions, ask if anyone wants to volunteer to say their team’s names while the team hides nametents.
  • A few brave souls will usually volunteer and then it will probably catch on and a few more will try. (I try not to push kids on the 1st day in regards to performing...that comes later.)

3. Finally, on to the Play-doh…
See previous blog post ( for full Play-doh instructions.
Once they started, I walked around the room with a clipboard and my seating chart to take notes. It was really a telling glimpse into their personalities. Wow. Here’s a snapshot of some of the actions I observed:
Eyan was going for a
bright, cheery design.

  1. Some jumped right in and knew exactly what they wanted to make.
  2. Others didn’t want to ask for the three other colors from their teammates.
  3. Some just sat and kneaded the play-doh like bread or made perfect orbs that they rolled around the table.
  4. Some talked the whole time, others were mute.
  5. Some found “tools” around the classroom to imprint, cut, measure, and sculpt while others just “wanted to be done” and laid out a cursory flat blob.

This sort of info is like nuggets of gold for a teacher. Most importantly, I’m making notes as to who my extroverts are compared to my introverts. These two subsets need to be taught very, very differently yet honored equally (blogpost to come on this one!).

4. The Works of Art
Once most kids were done, the pods shared Round Robin style once again with their own pods. Since we were running short on time, I then asked for a volunteer from each group with one stipulation: they must WANT to present. I don’t like to push on the first day. There is plenty of time for that...but not on the first day. You may lose your introverts that way if you push too hard, too soon.
Miriam said she feels "weighed down"
by life.
A hero emerged from each pod for each class. They came up to the front and put their creation under the document camera and shared what inspired them. Photos show a sampling of some we heard from.
Edith focuses on positive.
It was a beautiful, enjoyable day. The kids were a mix, some didn’t do much yet were able to observe and watch the more boisterous kids; others committed fully and shared openly, enjoying their time in the spotlight. I was able to see what kind of attention each student is craving/needing this school year and to see who interacted naturally with many  and who squirmed just talking to one other person. We played music, my Spotify Speech Warm up playlist as they created and laughed and talked and, most importantly, enjoyed our first day of school. 

I repeat, we enjoyed our first day of school.  

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