Friday, October 3, 2014

girl problems

We be havin' 'em.
Plenty of 'em, too.
Aside from enlisting the help of our guidance counselor, Information Literacy teacher, specialist teachers, and our principal, we've been working really hard in class on learning to understand one another.

As frustrating as it has all been, now that we're knee-deep in our social learning, it's been pretty interesting!

We started with this essential question, a part of our year-long Learning to Learn unit:
How can I contribute to a learning community?

The kids did some personal reflection, and we shared what it should look like, sound like, and feel like in our grade 3 classroom.

Of course, they gave all the traditional answers, all the ones that we, as teachers, want to hear.
These are now our "Guidelines to Happiness" and are posted in the room.
Naturally, that wasn't enough.

We followed up with this:

The kids got themselves together in small groups and brainstormed problems that they have. (The pictures of their work beside are to make their responses visible). 
This was great, because there was a range of them!
So we discussed.

Next, groups chose one problem to dramatize (but with no solution).
As a class, we discussed potential solutions, and kept a running list:

During those discussions, the kids kept talking about how they would feel if it happened to them, or similar experiences they've had, which lead to a mini-inquiry into the word empathy.
They paired up to figure out what it means, thought up some examples, and presented their findings informally with other pairs.
It was a tangent, but a good one, and we'll revisit it next week with some scenarios.
(Isn't that what inquiry learning is about?)

Then, more personal reflection...
Kids wrote in their notebooks to complete this sentence frame: 
I can help others solve their problems because I

Now this was awesome because they were really able to dig a bit deeper, having spent so much time focused on potential problems.
We put on to set the tone in the room.

Students shared if they were feeling brave.
Then, we made a list together of the skills and qualities that problem-solvers have as they came up during sharing. 
I printed them quickly and the kids signed up as experts in those areas:

Now, if someone is having a problem in our class, they now go to the expert sign-up list and see who might be able to help them.
They actually do this, yes. It's brilliant.

So far this has been a focus in our classroom for the last month.
With the support of my so-fantastic colleagues, girl problems are definitely less!


  1. I have some third grade girl problems too. We have weekly social learning lessons, but they just aren't cutting it with this group of girls. I might just need to use your idea!

    -Amanda at

    1. We also had some conversations about what it means to "be popular." One girl actually said that being in control of a group of people is being popular. Veerrrrrry interesting! There have been some total shifts in thinking already, so I definitely recommend keeping the conversations alive. Girls can be so mean! Good luck - would love to hear more about your successes.