Children Full of Life

The other day I posted about how I’ve been using short and compelling video clips to break up our long last few days of the school year.  In my search I found a link to this five part documentary about a class of children in Japan.

RT @rightingteacher: @mrami2 Your #edchat tweets made me think you might be interested in this re: empathy.

I’m honestly not sure how my class will respond to these, but as a teacher I find this immensely compelling.  I would love to hear your comments.  I am in awe of this teacher’s ability to build such an empathetic community of learners.  The threads of Japanese culture and values are very clear.  I wonder how some of these learning activities would play out in a U.S. school?

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One Response to Children Full of Life

  1. aliciamaud says:

    Wow! So glad you found that link helpful.

    I used the first clip with my students on our last class day. I had them write first in their notebooks about “Surviving/Thriving In School” for 5 minutes or so. Then, we watched the clip, and I asked them to make note of what opportunities were being created by writing—both my 9th graders and my seniors were pretty into it. Some kids got a little weepy. They had time to write after the clip, and then we discussed it. They said some things I expected–it was an opportunity to tell stories, a chance to connect to others–and a few things I didn’t, like talking about writing they had done that was important to them. I also shared with them a story about my friend who was dying–she passed away the evening we did this lesson, actually–and who, for the last 6 months of her life kept a blog about her life. It was a place for her to share news of her battle, but also a chance to feel close to her when we could not be, physically, to watch her grace as she came to terms with her illness, to write words of encouragement and tell her we loved her, to hear what was making her laugh at the saddest and scariest time of her life. I told them what a powerful example of writing that had been for me, and we had a really wonderful conversation about why we write. Do we care about test scores and rudimentary skills? Sure, but they’re not the point. The opportunity to connect more deeply to self and others is the point.

    Anyway, to finish this all up, I gave them seal-able envelopes, and offered them opportunity to revisit their “Surviving/thriving” writing, and compose a message to one of my 9th graders I will have next year. I encouraged them to think about what they would have wanted to hear on their first day of school–words of reassurance? Encouragement? Wisdom? I asked them to keep it “real” and promised I wouldn’t read what they wrote. They wrote furiously—some even stayed after class. Few asked me to read their letters, but some asked permission to give their Facebook accts/email addresses/phone numbers to next year’s kids so they could reach out with questions next year. More than almost anything else, that gesture showed me that they really “got” what was happening in the clip and why it was important and relevant to us.

    I can’t wait to watch the rest of the clips. . .thanks for posting them, and I can’t wait to hear what your students have to say about this!

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