Thursday, December 6, 2012

Smackdown!

It's nearing the end of the day and one of my students approaches me with a gleam in her eye.

"Uh, Mrs. S.?" she asks. "You know tomorrow's Friday, right?" I nod and think to myself, Boy, do I ever! She continues, "...and you know what that means? You know...at the end of the day? Tomorrow? On Friday.?" Her words are rushed and the intonation of her voice keeps going up at the end of each phrase.  A smile spreads across my face as I listen. Of course I know what tomorrow brings because my students have been talking about it all week long - The Smackdown!

Not sure about a smackdown? I like Cybraryman's terminology and examples, but a smackdown is basically a quick version of show and tell. I like them because they are fast-paced and offer a lot of resources from a lot of people in a short amount of time. They kind of remind me of those book reviews at the end of Reading Rainbow - just enough to whet your appetite and get you wanting more, but not too many where you feel overwhelmed or bored.

Inspired by the smackdown at EdCamp Seattle, I decided to try out a kid-version last Friday during our closing class meeting. In addition to a one-minute limit, we created the following ground rules:

  1. Be silently supportive and patient while a classmate is sharing (meaning, show attentiveness,  practice encouraging looks, and remember it can be scary to talk in front of a lot of people).
  2. Share something that is meaningful/helpful/important to you that you think others might be interested in, as well (meaning, this is not a bragging session).
  3. Keep the conversations going outside of class (meaning, if a classmate shared something really cool, ask them about it later).

Students shared favorite websites and apps, funny jokes, fun facts, book recommendations, stories and reports they were working on, pictures, and dance moves. The response was overwhelming, even from my shyest and most introverted students, and we decided to make it a thing.

I continually stress to my students that we're here to learn, take risks, and collaborate. A smackdown encompasses all those ideas and more. Last Friday's smackdown helped build classroom community and boost individual self-confidence, and I foresee this weekly event becoming something we all look forward to at the end of a busy week.

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