Monday, January 22, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: January 16th-19th


We had another fast and fun week here at West Leadership Academy!  

Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day so students did not have school. On Tuesday we started our week focusing on tutoring and setting academic goals. Most students did not have grades listed quite yet so we decided to discuss some major topics that they mentioned they were interested the week prior during our community building exercise. Most of our conversations circled around college, GPA, ACT and SAT, and what a general timeline would look like. The students had some really great questions and continued the conversations both after class and during the week.  

On Wednesday and Thursday, the class focused on reviewing Hot Buttons once more and then moved into the topic of EmoTrolls. Students were introduced to the various types of EmoTrolls and what behaviors they may act out and the potential consequences of those behaviors. Students were very interested in this topic and seemed to enjoy reflecting on both how they and their spheres of influence behave. 

On Friday we wrapped up the week playing community building games and Emily came by to work with our upperclassmen. Students rotated through three stations where we played 21 questions, Pictionary, and Would You Rather. Additionally, students participated in a Fishbowl discussion where they listed one item they'd like to talk about that relates to the content from class and one item they'd like to talk about that relates to either them directly or the world around them. The varying nature of the topics was really fascinating and I'm looking forward to continuing these conversations throughout the semester on Fridays.

Next week will be another busy one as we will pick up our conversations on EmoTrolls and Bullying as well as have our first Mentoring Monday of the semester! Stay tuned! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: January 8th-12th


We had a fun and enjoyable first week back to school catching up after break and getting to know some of our new classmates! 

On Monday, students didn't have school but teachers participated in professional development regarding culturally responsive teaching and how to make our classes as inclusive as possible. 

Some of our middle schoolers goofing around
on the last day before break. 
On Tuesday, classes resumed and many were excited to be back after the long break. In our first day back, students were introduced to what YESS is all about, how the class operates, and what our goals are for the semester. We then participated in several icebreaker activities to get to know one another a bit more. 

Wednesday and Thursday classes focused on classroom rules and expectations and we completed several more in depth get to know you activities. Since we had several new students join us, we also did a quick crash course in some of the important content and terms from the fall semester including Belief Systems, Spheres of Influence, and Hot/Cool Buttons. 

One of our students made some
delicious enchiladas for our end of semester party!
I'm still drooling over them. 

On Friday, we had fun participating in a few more activities such as 21 questions and 1 sentence biographies. We then focused our attention on a current event round table. With many lessons in the spring semester focusing on social justice issues, I wanted students to start thinking about and researching what they are interested in now. The conversations around these topics was already quite interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing how this will continue to build into the Stand Up Project at the end of the year.

Next week we will have Monday off for MLK Day and will start our week with Tutoring Tuesdays focusing on grade checks and college related questions! Stay tuned! 

Monday, December 18, 2017

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: 12/11-12/15


Last week was a busy one as we worked on our Team Me project and had final presentations on Friday.

On Monday, the class finished our lesson on Hot Buttons and had an engaging discussion about the Belief Cycle and how they've turned hot buttons into cool buttons within their own lives. 

5th Period group discussing parts of the Brain
for their Teach Me project

On Tutoring Tuesday, grade checks took place and students were introduced to the Teach Me project. For the project, students were given the task to choose one topic that we learned about this semester and teach it to the class using a Google Slide presentation and an activity. Most students discussed and decided on a topic on Tuesday so they could dive right into work on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Wednesday and Thursday the classes focused exclusively on their projects. Students were not only tasked with creating a Google Slide presentation, but they also had to come up with an activity that helped reinforce the concept. Many students chose to play a Kahoot! game while others had videos and discussion questions prepared. 

Another group diving into the science
behind the brain. Very interesting! 
We wrapped up the week on Friday with presentations in each class. I was very impressed with how the mentors set up their mentees for success: choosing which slides to speak at, giving them plenty of opportunities to answer questions, etc. The topics varied greatly from emotions to the brain to stereotypes and community. It was a great way to summarize some of the major topics we covered this semester while allowing students the opportunity to practice their presentation skills and work on a major project directly with their mentor. 

Next week we will wrap up the semester with finals exams. We are looking forward to it! See ya then! -Ben

Monday, December 11, 2017

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: 12/4-12/8


Another busy week at West Leadership Academy as we completed our Belief Systems projects!

On Monday, students were introduced to the Belief Systems project. To start, we reviewed the beliefs cycle
and the importance of limiting vs empowering beliefs. Students were then given the three project options: 
In 10 Years, What I Believe, and Look for Evidence. Students were given the opportunity to not only pick the option
for the project, but also how they want to present the information. Anything from creating a poster and PowerPoint to writing an essay or song would be accepted. Mentors helped mentees figure out which option may be best for them and helped them get started on Monday and I provided examples of each project for guidance. 
A senior discussing how his song choices reflect
his limiting and empowering beliefs

On Tutoring Tuesday, grade checks and meetings with teachers took place. Mentors took their students to various classes where they had missing or late work and got makeup work to complete. This will occur once again this week before finals. We also spent Tuesday as a work day for the Beliefs Systems project.

Wednesday was the final work day for the project and students wrapped everything up in time for Thursdays presentations. Most students chose to complete posters and cartoons while others completed PowerPoint presentations and a couple wrote short essays. 

Many students chose creating cartoons/posters
with quite a few being exceptionally well done. 

On Thursday the students presented their projects with mentors helping mentees. Several students shared their posters while others went through their powerpoints and answered questions from the class. It was fun to see students be reflective and think about how their beliefs impact their actions. 

As a reward, we spent our beautiful Friday reviewing these topics one more time before heading outside and playing some games. Students certainly earned it and couldn't resist the warm December weather. We are looking forward to another productive week before finals! -Ben

Monday, December 4, 2017

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: 11/27-12/1


We had a busy week back from break as we dove heavily into our Belief Systems unit! 

At the start of our week, we discussed how our Thanksgiving break was and what we were grateful for during this time off. Most students really appreciated the lack of homework given over break and the time they had with their family. From there we had students identify 1 personal and 1 academic goal that we'd like to accomplish by the end of the week. Academic goals ranged from scoring well on an upcoming test to following up with teachers about missing work. Personal goals also varied quite a bit with most students focusing on how they can improve their relationships: call Grandma, talk to a friend they haven't seen in awhile, etc. With only a few weeks left in the semester we want all students to try to end the semester on a positive note, both academically and personally. 

On Tutoring Tuesday, grade checks and meetings with teachers took place. Mentors took their students to various classes where they had missing or late work and got makeup work to complete. Small groups were formed for certain subjects in each class with most students needing help with Math. 

Limiting beliefs create limiting/negative impact
Wednesday and Thursday students dove into the Belief Systems unit by completing a Beliefs System survey with their mentor/mentee, as well as with someone they don't normally work with, and either myself or the mentor leader for their class. After looking over the survey responses, it was very encouraging to see such positive feedback that students shared about one another. We want to encourage empowering beliefs and comments as much as possible in an effort to maintain an optimistic and growth mindset. 

Belief Cycle begins with an event/circumstance and
our decisions from there make all the difference.

To finish the week, students read research articles 
about the power of limiting vs empowering beliefs and we had a broader conversation about how our beliefs are so ingrained in our daily lives. By identifying what they are, how they are influenced, and how you can change them, we can motivate ourselves to make the right choices and be successful. In the upcoming week students will be introduced to our Belief Systems project which will tie together all of these ideas into a final product. I'm really looking forward to seeing how students express themselves and their beliefs after a bit more introspection and research. It should be fun!  Until then, we'll see you next time! -Ben

Monday, November 20, 2017

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: 11/13-11/17


In our final week before Thanksgiving break, we made sure to pack in as much fun and learning as possible! 

At the start of our week, we went back and reflected on the different types of relationships we have and how we can work to make these more balanced. Additionally, students met with their mentors on Monday and created an academic and personal goal to accomplish by the end of the week. We checked in on our progress with these goals on both Wednesday and Friday to make sure we were still on track. 

Monday's simple Do Now activity continued the conversation
between mentors and mentees regarding how they can 
improve their relationships with peers, family, 
and everyone else in their lives. 
On Tutoring Tuesday, high school students were asked to take the PSAT or meet in the Future Center so most of my classes were with the middle school students. That said, students looked up their grades and I spent some time discussing the importance of GPA's, how to calculate them, and how to improve them. Students found this information valuable and we will continue to come back and calculate these throughout the year and before big deadlines like final exams, etc.

Wednesday and Thursday the class was introduced to the topic of belief systems, an important component to the healthy choices unit. To reinforce the idea that our beliefs are ingrained within all aspects of our lives, students participated in several association activities and were challenged to think about who or what influences their beliefs. 

By reviewing our Spheres of Influence and who we have previously identified as influencers, students were able to directly connect how these different groups impact their perspectives and ultimately their decisions. 
This was certainly an introspective process that will continue throughout both the unit and the entire school year. 

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On Friday, West Leadership held Celebrations for the entire school community so the day was shortened to accommodate the event. During our shortened class time, students reflected on their goals set on Monday with their mentors. They also took a short quiz over some of the information discussed the past couple weeks with their mentors/mentees and I'm happy to report that students did quite well on the quiz and some will have some good news waiting for them at our next grade check! :) We finished the week with games and some time outside as a treat for all of the hard work put in these past few weeks. 

I hope everyone is able to enjoy the well deserved time off! We look forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks! 

Monday, November 13, 2017

West Leadership Weekly Round-Up: November 6th - 10th


Back to a normal schedule and a busy but fun week here at West Leadership. 

A template students used to introduce their debate topics
Last week we ended by researching and preparing for debates at the start of this week. On Monday we spent our time researching our facts and writing up our arguments as well as possible rebuttals in preparation for Wednesdays debates. Students were given school related topics such as school uniforms, open campus, cellphones, and standardized tests and because of the topics being so relatable, it was easy for them to become passionate rather quickly. 

On our Tutoring Tuesday, mentors and mentees checked their grades and listed their missing assignments, 0's, and late work. From there, mentors created action plans to help resolve these issues. At the start of Tutoring Tuesdays each week, we will be covering a new academic skill going forward. Next week will be in regards to note-taking. Stay tuned! 

On Wednesday and Thursday our debates commenced and students had quite a bit of fun with them. With this being our first time, we kept the format rather simple allowing for each group to present for 2 minutes, followed by rebuttals and counterarguments. We then opened things up for questions from the class and had a vote. Students were asked to vote on the best presentation, not necessarily the topic itself. (Otherwise students would have always voted for no school uniforms, open campus for all, regular use of cellphones in school, and no standardized tests).  
8th period students debating the use of school uniforms

On Friday, students were introduced to the idea that the quality of our relationships depends on what we put into them. We discussed three types of relationships: controlling, balanced, and victim. Each relationship is dependent on what we put into them - sometimes too much, others too little. We then discussed how we can improve these relationships and make them more balanced to ensure that we are getting our needs met while simultaneously helping/support the other person. Students enjoyed this lesson (and the food analogies it came with) and we will be reviewing it again next week. 

Next week will be the last before Thanksgiving break and we plan to set mentoring goals, discuss belief systems, and have a community activity all before we leave. Stay tuned! 

West Leadership Weekly Round Up: January 16th-19th

Hello! We had another fast and fun week here at West Leadership Academy!   Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day so students di...