First DYAD with 1st Grade Families

By Lower and Intermediate School Educational Technology Integration Specialist Sarah Beebe

A special design-thinking evening took place in collaboration with TIDES and the Friedmann Family Foundation on Tuesday, May 7. Following the tradition Sherry Kaufman started for JK and SK families, parents and their 1st grade child attended our first DYAD for 1st graders. Before the evening, parents prepared by reading this article about building resilience through relationship.

Gathering over a meal is one of the most ancient forms of community process, as people sharing food appreciate each other at a profound level. Nourished bodies and relationships pave the way for collaboration and quality work. With this in mind, we started our time together with a meal. Following our dinner of pasta and salad, we gathered at the tables and started our work.

To begin, families participated in a Think/Pair/Share: parents spoke with their child about something that was a challenge for them, which they worked on, maybe failed and continued to work on. They may have eventually succeeded, but only after facing a challenge. The parents were excited to share. Then we acknowledged that the children, no doubt, faced challenges in 1st grade. We asked the children and parents to think and talk about one thing during 1st grade the child had found challenging. Then we asked for hands, and many children proudly shared what they had found challenging—writing, reading, math, “making new friends” and “being in a new school.” Next we reflected: we talked about how we learn through challenges, and all agreed that we can grow and learn when experiencing challenges. Next came the Provocation: we shared with the children that there are many kindergarteners getting ready for 1st grade now, and we asked them to work together with their parent(s) to create a game or diorama that might be helpful to a kindergartener who experiences a challenge similar to theirs. We asked them to look at the available materials and draw a plan for their creation on a clipboard before creating it.

Working in dyads and triads, the children created all kinds of games and other learning materials for the kindergarteners. We documented the children’s learning with many photos. They were eager to take their creations home with them. But before the evening was over, they showed their creations to one or two peers. Everyone seemed happy to create and share, and the 1st graders had great ideas and created beautiful games and activities for the incoming SKers. A parent commented that it was a wonderful exercise, in part because the children had the opportunity to share what they themselves knew best! And, at the same time, they shared with their parent(s) what they themselves benefited from working on.

Click here for photos.
Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.