Monday, December 10, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: December 3rd - 7th

Hi all!

Last week was a productive one as we worked on our final semester projects and worked through our lesson on Hot Buttons.

On our Monday and Tuesday block days we spent time in class checking grades, following up with teachers, and then working on our final projects. Students mostly worked on their Google Slide presentations, saving their write up/essay for next week. This will be a big task to complete next week with our due date being next Friday with presentations taking place afterwards.

Wednesday and Thursday we had our lessons on Hot Buttons. We began by reviewing the belief cycle from our previous lesson and discussing what hot buttons are, how they present themselves, and how to manage them. From there students began to identify their own hot buttons through both our discussion and a questionnaire followed by our pendulum activity. Using examples from their own lives, students identified ways to turn their hot buttons into cool buttons and adjusting their reactions. Most of our triggers are pretty natural so it certainly takes hard work to be conscious enough to control your reaction and behavior and students discussed practical ways to address this.

We wrapped up the week by taking a quiz over the recent material from the past two weeks, doing our Fishbowl activity, and working on our projects. Overall it was a pretty productive week which is a good sign as we head into the final regular week of the school year. Stay tuned! -Ben

Monday, December 3, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: November 26th - 30th

Hi all!

Last week we had a busy one as we worked on our lessons about Belief Systems.

We started the week by checking our grades, looking over our work, and meeting with our teachers. From there students were given some time to start their final project for the semester. The project asks for students to pick three topics and then to complete a Google slide presentation, a 5 paragraph essay, and a 5-10 minute class activity. I wanted to give them time to work on this during our class so we will dedicate the remaining Mondays and Fridays this semester to do it - basically two class periods per product. On the week of finals students will either present their Google slides or their activity.

On Wednesday and Thursday we spent the class teaching about Belief Systems. Students reviewed the vocabulary and terms and from there we played a fun game of Musical chairs. Although our classroom is small, we were able to set it up in a way to make the game work for everyone. I wrote down different terms and words on individual Post-Its and placed them at each seat. The students then landed on a seat and wrote down how that particular thing made them feel. Afterwards we discussed what their responses were - positive or negative - and then how our belief systems are formed. We then went over the Belief Cycle and limiting and empowering beliefs by discussing examples from our own lives and how to turn the limiting beliefs into empowering actions. This is one of my favorite lessons as it is applies to all of us and is important to understand in making decisions about ones own life. Students seemed to enjoy both the activity and the discussion afterwards.

Friday we wrapped up the week by doing a quick quiz followed by our Fishbowl activity. I also informed the students of my departure at the end of the semester. I put off the announcement to the end of class in order to delay too many emotions. Students had questions which I answered and I reassured them that whoever takes my place, our classroom community that they have created will continue to be strong. I am looking forward to helping them finish their projects as we wrap up the semester and end on a strong note. Until next week! -Ben

Monday, November 26, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: November 12th - 16th

Hi all!

We had a fun week before Thanksgiving break as we had our Apple Pie lessons!

Monday and Tuesday students had their normal study hall and work time with grade checks, meeting with teachers, and individual conferencing with myself and Ms. Patricia. We also had them write down some of the upcoming vocabulary for the unit in order to get a jump start on the lessons for Wednesday and Thursday. After this, the students were asked to create to do lists to help fix grades that are a C or lower and then work on completing this list. We really want students to take advantage of this time in the coming weeks as we near the end of the semester.

Wednesday and Thursday were Apple Pie lesson days. We discussed the metaphor between an apple pie and our relationships. Different types of relationships and pie eaters - controlling, balanced, victim and whole, balanced, and pie crumb eaters. The students liked and understood the metaphor but more importantly seemed to like the pie! We bought mostly apple and pumpkin pie for the students to enjoy on the day of the lessons which also fell on our last day before break.

Friday was an interesting day with no classes for high school students due to them taking the PSAT and getting out at lunch time. Middle school students had normal school so we did our fishbowl activity and played a fun Kahoot! game to wrap up before break.

With only 3 weeks left until finals the next few weeks will certainly be busy! Stay tuned! -Ben

Monday, November 12, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: November 5th - 9th

Hi all!

We were back to normal last week and were able to get quite a bit accomplished over the course of the week!

On Monday and Tuesday we spent the class focusing on grade checks, study hall, meeting with our teachers, and conferencing with Ms. Patricia. Students created to do lists with their mentors, were taken to classes to follow up on missing work, and had a chance to meet with Ms. Patricia to discuss if they need any support or help outside of school. It was a productive couple of days and I'm glad to see students take advantage of this time as we near the end of the semester.

Wednesday and Thursday classes were spent discussing Gratitude. We started by introducing the concept and vocabulary through a couple videos. From there we had our Gallery Walk where students went around the room and wrote out things they are grateful for in various categories such as: Places, Health, People, etc. It was nice to hear all of the ways in which students were grateful/thankful and many students caught on to the concept quite quickly.

Friday we wrapped up the week by taking a quiz over the major concepts of Gratitude as well as some other items we talked about in the past couple of weeks: 6 universal emotions, negativity bias, and some random questions over the midterm elections on Tuesday. Students then played a Kahoot! and then finished our Fishbowl discussion for the day. It was a good way to wrap up the week. Next week we will be having the Apple Pie lessons, just in time before Thanksgiving break. Stay tuned!

Monday, November 5, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: October 29th - November 2nd

Hi all!

We had a fun and busy week here with both Halloween and Dia de los Muertos celebrations taking place on Wednesday and Thursday!

Traditional dancing during Day of the Dead on Thursday

We started the week on Monday and Tuesday with our regular grade checks with our mentors/mentees. Students then met with teachers for them to complete missing and late work. From there we had our high school students complete the annual YoBD survey which was pretty quick and easy. After this we started discussing Emotions and began this conversation with an activity: Web of Emotions. On a piece of poster paper, a emotion was listed and then students were asked to write down everything they associate with that emotion. We had quite a few interesting examples - some reasonable, some funny, and some was certainly a fun and interesting conversation about what makes us happy, angry, sad, fearful, etc.

Wednesday was Halloween and the school asked the students to keep it low key since we had so much going on during the Day of the Dead on Thursday. That said, our YESS classes still made sure to have fun by having a small Halloween party. I brought in plates, cups, some soda, and some chips and salsa for us to get started. Students contributed with additional sugary sweets.

Parade through the hallways during Day of the Dead on Thursday
Thursday our classes were sidelined due to the Day of the Dead activities. We were able to sign students up for Chocolate, Storytelling, and then of course the Parade and Dancing. Students really enjoyed checking out the altars that were on display (including Ms. Patricia's!) and had a good time watching the dancing and performances - it was a really fun day for everyone.

Friday we finished the week with a conversation on Negativity Bias and the 3 to 1 ratio of negative to positive thoughts. I asked students to write down 9 positive things about themselves and share something positive about another classmate so we could end the week on an uplifting note.

Another fun week here at WLA! Next week we will continue our focus on grades and getting them up before the semester as well as starting our discussions on gratitude. See ya then! -Ben

Monday, October 29, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: October 22nd-26th

Hi all!

We had a shortened week here at West Leadership Academy last week due to parent teacher conferences the week before and professional development at the start of the week.

On Monday we had a district wide professional development, I was fortunate to take a day off and finish a hiking trip with a friend who was visiting.

Tuesday we had a school wide professional development where staff, community members, and several students came to discuss the school's vision and plan with a team from DPS. It was a pretty interesting conversation and discussion with fellow colleagues about how the school is working towards its goals, what we are addressing, and how we can continue to improve.

Wednesday and Thursday we were back with students and our classes focused on grade checks, finishing their presentations/Google slides about the brain, and a general study hall. This led to us wrapping up the Brain unit on Friday. Friday students did a Brain Kahoot! that I created for them. We then did a vocabulary quiz / check in before finishing the day with our presentations. Using the research days from the week prior, students were asked to create a Google slideshow about a particular part of the brain, it functions, and some facts about it before presenting to the class. Presentations are something we will need to continue to work on but several students have already improved since our last ones. That wrapped up a short week for us while this upcoming week will be another busy one with both Halloween and Dia de Muertos. It should be plenty of fun and we are looking forward to participating in all the cool events! Stay tuned! -Ben

Thursday, October 18, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: October 15th - 18th

Hi all!

We had a short but busy week here at WLA as we worked on some of the early lessons in the Healthy Relationships unit and wrapped up the week with parent - teacher conferences.

On Monday and Tuesday we started off by continuing our conversations about sphere of influences and trust. We then linked it to communication and how it is integral to trusting and healthy relationships. To emphasize this, we had students play several games: telephone, Pictionary, and charades. Students got very competitive (as expected) and we had quite a bit of fun seeing the end result of both the telephone messages and drawings.

Wednesday and Thursday we dove into our lessons on the Brain and covered a lot of vocabulary, videos, and research. There is always a lot to cover with these lessons so we made sure to be thorough with introducing the many (13ish) terms and by showing a couple interesting videos that the students could gather some facts from. After this, students started their Google slideshow presentation with either their mentor/mentee or group members. Students were asked to pick a part of the brain and create a slideshow that details what it does, where it's located, several facts, pictures, and their sources. We tried to give students as much time to work on the projects together as possible and time seemed to fly by. Students got quite a bit of work done but we will certainly have to pick this back up next week!

Also on Wednesday and Thursday evenings this week we had parent-teacher conferences. Wednesday was a bit lighter on attendance but Thursday was pretty busy! It is always enjoyable to get a chance to meet the parents of our mentors and mentees. I tell the students to visit our class last in case the rest of their conferences aren't going too well. That way we can talk them up in front of their parents and help avoid an awkward car ride! Patricia and I did the best we could with our students who visited and we had quite a few positive and enjoyable conversations. We really had a good experience this year and I'm pleased with the improved turnout!

With conferences, students did not have school on Friday or the following Monday and Tuesday. Some well deserved time off. I hope they enjoyed it as we will be diving back into the Brain unit and discussing Emotions this week. Stay tuned! -Ben

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: December 3rd - 7th

Hi all! Last week was a productive one as we worked on our final semester projects and worked through our lesson on Hot Buttons. On our ...