Last week, the Fifth Grade embarked on a two-day experience to Greene Family Camp to participate in confidence building and group challenges that helped create a close and cooperative learning community between students.
The trip began with low rope elements to promote team building. These structured tasks were led by trained facilitators who encouraged participation and aided in debriefing sessions. One activity challenged the students to find the pattern to move all classmates from one side of the moving jump rope to the other. After many failed attempts, the facilitator discussed and suggested ways of improving and sharing the strengths he saw during their struggles. The groups then tried again. This time, there was discussion, communication, and problem-solving among the students. When the team achieved its goal of getting to the other side, there was cheering and a sense of accomplishment. Through these tasks and others, students developed camaraderie with their classmates.
Where there is laughter, happiness likes to be. During our evening activity, the students were led in a game of charades where each group acted out a scene. The other students had to guess what action was being portrayed. Through the roaring campfire--laughter, enthusiasm and gooey s'mores kept students engaged and developing connections.
Heading back to our cabins, students were well on their way to creating our goal of building a stronger "Fifth Grade" Levine community. Bedtime is a special time for conversation and reflection. Students shared stories from the day.
We woke the following day, bright and early to prepare for the high ropes elements. These were more individual challenges to build self-confidence. As students made their way to the zip lines and climbing walls; a bit of reluctance was in the air. What happens if I fall? How will I get down? Is my equipment on correctly? While waiting for each student to make it up to the top, there were sounds of encouragement from the other students. When the climbers made it back safely to the ground, the thrill of accomplishment was painted on their faces with grins and looks of relief. One student remarked after the experience, "You know the ledge you had to go around on the climbing wall? I went over it instead." Through these high rope element experiences, there was proof of emerging self-confidence.
How does all of this benefit our learners as they re-enter the classroom? Teachers can refer to these experiences by enhancing classroom learning discussions. Classmates can help problem solve and support each other during small groups, ie: discussing literary readings, completing lab projects, sharing math strategies, celebrating in Jewish learning.
As the Fifth Grade continues to make its transition into the life of Middle School, this experience will contribute to its development as a close-knit, caring/learning community.
"Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful"-Joshua J. Marine.