Working with many teachers and school communities allows me to witness lots of wonderful things. Innovative practices. Camaraderie. Inspirational teachers. Engaged students. There are times, though, when it all comes together to gel into a more powerful experience than its individual pieces. You can't always plan for these instances, but it's very obvious when it happens...
For the month of January, McKay Elementary staff and students embarked on a shared journey with the theme of Mystery at its core. Students and staff were all engaged in reading books with a mystery theme, creating a common experience for everyone. This theme was also integrated into other classroom practices such as writing. But perhaps the cornerstone of this journey was the case of the missing Pikachu mug...
It seems that during the holiday break, Mrs. deSully's prized Pikachu mug had gone missing! As staff and students returned in January, the investigation began. Everyone became a detective. Who was the culprit? Who could have done such a thing? Would Mrs. deSully's beloved Pikachu mug ever be found and returned? Through clever daily updates, evidence and clues were uncovered and investigated. The McKay wolf mascot became Detective Wonder, and engaged the students further. One by one, staff members were cleared and the suspect list was narrowed. Every day, in the hallways, in the classrooms, and even on the playground, students were abuzz about each day's developments throughout the month-long investigation.
To rewind just a moment, in early January I came into McKay and did a whole-staff Breakout EDU activity, which involved the staff working in teams to solve puzzles-allowing them to gain entry into the Breakout box. After the activity, a few staff members approached me and wondered aloud if we could do a similar activity, simultaneously, in every classroom as a culmination for solving the mystery of the missing Pikachu mug. And so we did...
On the last day of the investigation, each class had a Breakout EDU box locked with 5 locks. Inside each of the boxes was a half-letter...and when all combined the letters would spell out the name of the perpetrator. But first each class had to solve a series of problems using clues related to the mystery books being read in class. Students worked collaboratively with these clues, and as each problem was solved, they received a combination to one of the locks.
The clues were in different locations in the building, so students hurriedly moved from place to place and back to the classroom to deliver them. As classes were successful in breaking into the boxes, they had just a portion of the final solution-and predictions were made about which one of the final four suspects might be the culprit. I was in the hallways and classrooms during this activity, and that's when the power of the experience hit me. At that moment, every single student and staff member at McKay were on a shared mission-and the excitement and energy was quite evident and infectious!
It culminated in a whole school assembly, where representative students from each class lined up, holding their half-letters and ordering themselves to spell out the name of the culprit-Mr. Nazareno! After a heart-felt explanation and apology to Mrs. deSully-complete with a hug, the mystery was solved!
Students and staff had worked together to solve a problem (and had lots of fun while doing it!) Everyone had ownership. There was a strong sense of shared purpose that permeated every corner of the building. School camaraderie was evident and greatly enhanced the positive climate at McKay. But perhaps most important of all, students and teachers felt good, really good, about being at school as a part of a warm, welcoming community. The positive benefits of this activity will be felt for a long time at McKay.
I'm Interested In...
These blog posts will be compiled by the team to show our current interests, and what we are doing around the district!