Sunday, November 9, 2014

Seeking enrichment for all

Teaching in an advanced learning program, the idea of enrichment drives so much of what I do. I'm always trying to go beyond our curriculum to provide my students deeper understanding. It's terrific! I love seeing what my students can do and sharing all of those enrichment opportunities with them.

But my students make up about 20% of my school's population in grades 3-5. What about the other 80%? What about the younger kids? If my job is to provide enrichment, how can I provide enrichment to all?

My first attempt to provide enrichment to all is our Invent Idaho competition. I participated three times when I was in elementary school: adapting a phone cord as a dog leash, creating a cat food container that was also a serving dish, and making a mash-up of Tiddly Winks and the Game of Life. The competition challenges students to create something. They keep an inventor's journal with their thoughts and sketches, build a prototype, and make a display board to share their invention with the world (or at least everyone at their school).

Last week some of my reading switch groups were canceled due to testing, so I took the opportunity to visit other classrooms and get the whole school (not just the kids officially in my program) fired up about inventing. It was awesome! Since visiting the first and second graders, I think I've had at least half a dozen of the little guys come up to me each day and tell me an invention idea. A fifth grader I never met before visiting his class has come to see me twice during recess to show me blueprints and dig through my tinker box for materials. I think we're in for some awesome inventions at our competition this year!

I shared this video with all the classes I visited

I'll put some posters up around the school, make a few guest appearances on our morning announcements, and keep encouraging the inventors I meet in the hallway. Hopefully that will result in a wide reach for this enrichment opportunity.

We're still about a month away from our school competition, but I'm already asking myself how I can provide more enrichment for all opportunities. The next one on the calendar are the classroom and school spelling bees I coordinate in January. Like any teacher, my time is limited, but I know there have to be more ways that I can help provide some great opportunities for all the kids at my school. Do you have an enrichment for all opportunity that works in your school? Please let me know in the comments. And I'll keep you updated as I continue to experiment and refine...

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