Friday, July 27, 2012

Excellence Shoes

Last year, March was Excellence month at my school so all my classroom lessons focused on some aspect of the importance of trying your best. In first grade we read the book "My Shoes Take Me Where I Want to Go" by Minnesota author Marianne Richmond. The kids love the playfulness of the story and the concept of different shoes transforming them into different characters.

After reading the book we discuss the idea of wearing excellence shoes. I ask students to tell me why we should try our best in first grade. Common student responses include to make their teacher or parents proud, so they can become a Super Scholar (a recognition program at our school), to get a good report card, etc. Then I ask them what comes after first grade. This gets their brains working and they start to connect that each grade prepares them for the next year.

Students' Excellence shoes on display above their lockers.
I ask them to again think about their excellence shoes and where they want them to take them in their future. Each student is given a white cut-out of a shoe which they decorate based on what they want to become through hard work and trying their best. I collect the shoes at the end of our lesson and display them in the hallway by their classrooms. At the end of the first grade hallway I hung a sign that reads "wearing our excellence shoes to reach our dreams" to explain to the rest of the school why first grade has a track of shoes on top of their lockers! The kids love seeing their shoe when they come and go from their classroom and several other grade level teachers have commented on how much they like the excellence shoes. It has been a great reminder for students that we are focusing on effort and trying our best.

The sign in the first grade hallway announcing
that they're wearing their Excellence shoes.

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