We had the best social studies learning time today! It was spectacular. I know I always say I wish I had a videographer, but wow, I really wish I had one today. My girls were fantabulous — full of energy, passion, and awesomeness.
Let me explain.
We are part way through our super hero unit. We’ve explored fictional super heroes, and created our own personal fictional superhero. After numerous discussions, we decided there aren’t just fictional superheroes, there are also real superheroes! We generated a list of superheroes in our own lives. They included: police officers, firemen, firewomen, grandmothers who get up early every day to make us breakfast, sisters who help us cross the street, dogs who bark at bad guys, teachers who teach us, dads who give us medicine when we’re sick, and nannies who always play games with us.
Today’s topic was how we can be, and are, superheroes. I planned on showing them Brad Montague’s (Kid President’s brother-in-law) video This is a Joyful Rebellion, and then work on Mirror Messages as a way to give them concrete examples of them being superheroes.
I told them we’d be watching a couple videos this week. I mentioned Kid President and his pep talk for superheroes. None of them had heard of him, so I pulled up a quick photo to show them. They were enamored with his image, the fact that he is a kid, and the idea of a pep talk. They all wanted to watch him TODAY! They were quite emphatic.
I thought for a moment. I wasn’t prepared for an activity for this video, but they were definitely into it, so I decided to give it a go, and see what happened. I asked them “So you want me to change my plans so we can watch this today?” They responded, enthusiastically, “Yes!” I paused, thought a moment and said “OK, let’s watch it, and then talk about it.
OH MY GOSH!!! They got so much out of the pep talk! Their observations, insights, and discussion were amazing.
One said: “But Miss James, we can’t be REAL superheroes!”
I took a breath, put my hands on my hips, thought for a moment, and said “What do you mean?”
She repeated herself: “We CAN’T be real superheroes, Miss James!” and added “We can’t fly.”
“OH!” I said, “You mean we can’t be like Superman?!”
“Yes!” she replied.
As I began to explain that Superman isn’t real, but is a movie and comic book character, another girl interrupted. She practically yelled …
“But they’re NOT REAL! They’re FAKE!”
“Yes!” I said (giving her a high five).
She continued “We’re real, and we can be REAL SUPERHEROES. We don’t need to be able to fly, or shoot lasers out of our hands”
“YEAH!” another said “And we don’t need to have laser eyes!”
“That’s true! We don’t have, or need, lasers hands or eyes!”
Now came the big question. “So if we don’t have laser hands or laser eyes, and we can’t fly, do we have super powers?”
Their eyes seemed locked on me as they struggled with that question. The room was completely silent.
Finally, one yelled, “YES! We do have super powers!”
“What?” I asked.
“We have heart power!”
“YES!! YOU DO!” I exclaimed in return.
I cheered them on as they continued. We have:
- Big Beautiful Brain Power
- Our Own Ideas
- Making Power
- Kindness Power
- Niceness Power
- Friendship Power
- Art Power
- Science Power
- Math Power
- Loyalty Power
- Brave Power
- Strong Power
- Muscle Power
- Generosity Power
- Loyalty Power
- Creativity Power
- Honesty Power
- Helping Power
- Inventing Power
- Gift Giving Power
- Listening Power
- Thinking Power
- Word Power
“Wow!” I said “This is fantabulous! I think we have to make signs with our powers. Shall we use big or small sheets of paper?”
“BIG PAPER. Let’s use big paper!”
Of course we had to use big paper. What was I thinking? Their powers, their hearts, their minds, their spirits, DEMANDED big sheets of paper. What else could even come close to holding them?
We each got our favorite color 12×18 inch sheet and set to work writing and illustrating our powers.
After social studies, we had choice time. One of the girls asked if she could work on our 120 chart — we had begun constructing it during math. “Sure! How many numbers do you want?
“Two.” she said.
She took two and placed them in the chart. Then she took a handful. A moment later she said, “I want to finish the whole thing!”
“You go, girl! Use your math power!”
40 minutes later the chart was completed!
We sat and looked at it together. “Wow,” I said, as we high-fived. “That is so fantabulous! Thanks for using your math power to help us get this done.”
I’m sure social studies would have been good if we followed my plan to the letter. But, I’m also sure it wouldn’t have been this good. And I have no idea if this girl would have had the confidence in her power to finish this chart on her own. My decision to allow my students to lead me — to step into the unknown, trusting in them, me and us — made all the difference.
I’m so glad they asked to lead, and I’m super glad I said yes, and followed them.