Last Spring, as a Kindergarten teacher, I organized a field trip to iFly , integrating STEM and the habit of mind of taking responsible risks. Before students stepped into the indoor wind tunnel students learned the importance of his or her safety gear and also the mechanics of flying inside the tunnel. After gathering all the knowledge students were able to take a responsible risk and try something new and exciting.
Take Responsible Risks
In order to grow as readers and writers students need to feel comfortable taking responsible risks. Interchangeably, responsible risks allow students to grow and develop new skills. Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick state, "students will be more inclined to take risks in an environment that is safe; free from judgement; and accepting of all ideas, human differences, and points of view" (Costa & Kallick, 2009, p.61). In the book Ish by Peter H. Reynolds the main character is nervous to take risks as a writer and illustrator and this interferes with his ability to think and express himself freely. At the beginning of each school year, I encourage my students to take responsible risks in my classroom as growing readers and writers, by reading Ish by Peter H. Reynolds and incorporating an arts and writing activity to follow. The lesson template below for "Ish" by Peter H. Reynolds highlights the points of taking responsible risks teaching and student internalization and action throughout the lesson.
In my classroom, my data wall is titled the Growth Mindset Wall because it is my belief that all my students will be successful if he or she allows him or herself to take responsible risks as a reader and writer, expressing him or herself freely in the process. In the beginning of the school year, following the Ish lesson, I display student artwork and title it the crumpled art gallery creating a visual display, which encourages imperfections, mistakes and student risk as an integral component of student growth and learning. After the first month of school individual pieces are returned to students from our crumpled art gallery and our data wall is displayed encouraging student growth overtime.
Reinforcement Over Time
Example #1: Creative Writing Journals
Daily creative writing journals are a way for students to continue to practice ishful writing, writing freely and expressing their thoughts. Each day students receive a daily creative writing prompt as a part of their literacy warm-up. Students receive 10 minutes to write in paragraph form, silently, while listening to classical music, to answer the prompt. Following, 10 minutes two students share his or her response with the class. This activity reinforces a classroom environment in which all students thoughts and ideas are valid, encouraging students to write and express themselves freely.
Each day students listen to classical music as he or she takes a responsible risk as a writer and completes the daily creative journal writing prompt. The video above illustrates the writing process for students as he or she writes quietly and listens to classical music for 10 minutes before sharing his or her writing, if the student elects.
The video displays two student daily creative writing journals. During daily creative writing students are encouraged to write "-ishfully" and take responsible risks as writers, letting their thoughts and ideas flow freely. Following daily creative writing, students are encouraged to share their thoughts with their classmates. This activity, encourages students to feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and writing their thoughts freely without apprehension. Additionally, daily creative writing encourages students to be open to other students thoughts, ideas, and interpretations following each prompt.
Example #2: Freedom & Democracy School Elections - Public Speaking
In the Fall, we host student elections for grade and homeroom level representatives. Students are nominated in his or her classroom and are tasked with taking a responsible risk and sharing his or her school campaign vision and promises with the entire school community in the form of public speaking. Students prepare his or her vision in a written document and share their speech with the entire school community, in hopes of capturing his or her grade level attention for election.
In the video, a pair of nominated students are sharing their speech with the school community and reasons why the two students should be elected as homeroom representatives. Students are taking a responsible risk sharing his or her thoughts about why the pair should be elected to serve their classroom community.
Example #3: Scary Story Writing Projects
This October, students are reading Hoodoo by Ronald L. Smith a local Baltimore children's author. In tandem with reading Hoodoo students are assigned the Halloween Scary Story Project displayed below. Each student is expected to write a scary story using a format of his or her choosing and share the scary story with a 3rd grade NACA I scholar on Halloween day.
Similar to students daily creative writing journals this project encourages to take a responsible risk, writing a story and sharing his or her writing and illustrations with a neighboring school peer.
Fourth grade students shared their Scary Story Halloween Projects with their fellow third grade scholars. Third grade students had the responsibility of grading their fourth grade scholar using the rubric displayed above.
Student Project Example #1:
In the student project example #1, the student chose to take a responsible risk and create a video for his project. When the student received the prompt he asked, "Can I make a scary story video for my YouTube channel?" Instantly, excited about the student's internalization of responsible risks, I replied "yes!" Consequently, for student project example #1 the student created a video and written story for his project. As a result of the student's responsible risk to make a video for his Halloween project he took advantage of an opportunity to grow as a videographer.
Parent or guardian permission is granted for each student displayed in the video.
The student posted his video on YouTube by the project deadline and submitted the written story below for grading. The student's video was a hit and all students excitedly watched his story come to life on his video.
When the student shared with third grade scholars, he first read his story to the third grade scholar and then showed the video. The two third grade scholars were inspired by the student's responsible risk and began thinking of ideas for their own scary videos.
'Third grade scholars took a responsible risk, in this project as well, playing an unfamiliar role as the assessor of student projects. The two students, which assessed student project example #1, greatly appreciating the student's responsible risk. The student's wrote the fourth grade student "is a good reader, a good story maker." Demonstrating the students greatly appreciated the student's responsible risk as a story maker and videographer. As a result, of his peers and teacher's positive response to the student's responsible risk with the project the student will be more likely in the future to take a responsible risk and continue to practice his skills as videographer in the context of school and his YouTube channel.
Student Project Example #2:
In student project example #2, the student chose to create a storybook. The student in this project took advantage of the opportunity to take a responsible risk and grow as a budding children's book writer and write her own scary story. By taking this responsible risk the student began to realize her potential as a storybook writer and illustrator.
After taking the responsible risk of sharing her story with her third grade peers. The third grade scholars positively reinforced her ability to take a responsible risk by sharing praise stating, it "was good because I like that she put a [doll] in the story...and it was scary." The positive reinforcement from peers and her success in sharing her story began the student's understanding of herself as a capable writer and illustrator.
Student Project Example #3:
In student project example #3, the student chose to create a storybook. The student in this project took advantage of the opportunity to take a responsible risk and grow as a budding children's book writer and write her own scary story. By taking this responsible risk the student began to realize her potential as a storybook writer and illustrator.
The third grade feedback for student example #3, again provides positive reinforcement for the student's responsible risk as a story writer. The third grade reviewers agreed the story was scary and one reviewer stated that she enjoyed the ending, that everything the character had heard was in her imagination. The third grade students positive feedback encourages the student to continue to take responsible risks and gives the fourth grade student growing confidence in herself as a story writer and illustrator.
Costa, A. L. & Kallick, B. (2009). Habits of mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.