Establishing a positive classroom culture, one that celebrates the uniqueness of each student is easier said than done. Past prompts posed of “What makes you unique?” will most likely fall flat among a class of third grade students.
Why not bring to the surface how we, as individuals, organize information in our minds?
Provide each student one small piece of white paper. (A piece of paper cut into quarters works nicely)
Launch task: Ask students to draw a rainbow. Stress that it’s important that no one sees you create it. (In my own class, some students grabbed clipboards and scurried around the room, others set up mini barricades on their desks) Once created, display the rainbows. Celebrate the subtle differences without identifying who drew the rainbow. Explain that just as each student visualized the rainbow, first in their minds, they used that to create their representation of the rainbow. This process is also at play when learning math, science, english language arts, foreign language, etc.
Next: Call students over in pairs to work, ask them to cut the days of the week from a pre-printed piece of paper. Give them the skill of how to do this quickly, by turning the paper on the side, making pre-cuts between the words, then cutting lengthwise.
Then: When the paper has been cut, ask the students to close their eyes and picture the days of the week, when they open their eyes, they should place the strips of paper on the table the way they see them in their mind.
After: Ask students to turn and talk about what they notice about how the other organized their papers. Did they notice something similar to their own? What was different?
Transfer applications: Constructing tables when collecting data in science and mathematics; visual presentations, creating a character for a narrative. (For me, our next step was constructing a data table when asking “How many drops of fresh water can fit on top of a penny”? - taking time to see how each student might record their data so they know I value their methods)