Great Falls, Falls Church, Alexandria winter classes finish with clear growth in skills

Our winter sessions finished at Thomas Jefferson ES in Falls Church, Forestville ES in Great Falls, and Charles Barrett ES in Alexandria with some of the clearest evidence yet that focusing on life skills leads to emotional and academic success. A parent of a 4th grader shared that her son had gotten better grades than usual on a test. When she asked him why he thought he saw improvement in his scores, he answered that iSchool had taught him to “aim for more.” We believe this is directly connected to our 21st Century Life Skills curriculum. This shows that by focusing on skills development, children can use their smarts, intelligence, and inner genius to their full advantage.

“What I learned at iSchool” (Thomas Jefferson ES Winter Program Student Reflections):


“What I learned at iSchool” (Charles Barrett Winter Program Student Reflections):


In post-class reflections, students showed emotional growth, saying such things as:

– I learned to “Never Quit”

– “NEVER give up when I’m doing a craft”

– “I learned so many things about believing in myself”

– I learned “To have a Growth Mindset”

– “I can grow my mind”

– “I learned that I can be helpful”

– “If I say YET I can do it”

– “I can get better always”

– “I can do anything if I put my mind to it”

Our Winter Sessions at all three schools layered life skills, such as the 4Cs and Growth Mindset, both to mimic real life and to progress older students on their learning paths.

Forestville Highlights:

February 2016: Students started the February session by comparing Growth Mindset to Fixed Mindset and learning about the Power of Yet. During the first two classes, students worked on challenging and creative Rubber Band Cars, which help children learn about Tension and Conversion of Energy. In the first class, children were allowed to create their cars through creative experimentation. In the second class, we provided more guidance on ways to get their cars to work. At the end of class a few teams were able to race their creations!
For their second STEM project of the month students made Homopolar Motors. They used magnets, batteries, and wire to make moving sculptures. In addition to learning to have a Growth Mindset, children also practiced essential skills like Embracing Failure and Creativity.

March 2016: Our March classes were positively “magnetic!” We kicked off our March afterschool class with a tour of magnets. Students learned about the basics of magnets and toured the playground, working in teams to identify things that were magnetic. Children had fun using a word search to expand their Growth Mindset vocabulary. They also thought a bit more about ways to stay focused and what makes them happy as part of exploring their own Identity. In the second class students continued learning about Growth Mindset – and had a lot of fun dancing to a “Power of Yet” song.  Students played a game to compare Growth versus Fixed Mindset using real-world scenarios that they had to analyze individually and as a group. They also started working on electromagnetic trains and tracks by working in teams to make wire coils. It was a great example of collaborative project-based learning!

 iSchoolfortheFuture-STEM-SEL-Empathy1 iSchoolfortheFuture-STEM-Electromagnetic-Train

In our last two classes students continued working on trains and focused on the role of Empathy in Growth Mindset. Children learned about iSchool’s 4-step process for showing Empathy: Recognize, Remember, Share, Care. They then brainstormed ways that electromagnetic engines could be used to help others.  In the next class, children connected Empathy to having a Growth Mindset, including being kind to themselves as a way of Embracing Failure.

Each child made an “Infinite Growth” mantra, pledging to “Experiment. Learn. Fail. Repeat.” They finished working on their electromagnetic trains – and had to remember their Infinite Growth pledge when things got hard. They finished out the session with some magnetic fun – making magnetic slime – and reviewing what they had learned about Growth Mindset. Continue learning about Empathy and Magnets at home. Continue learning about Growth Mindset at home.
Falls Church Highlights
 iSchoolfortheFuture-STEM-MarbleRuns-Teamwork  iSchoolfortheFuture-STEM-MarbleRuns-Video
Falls Church classes started off with winter-themed activities that stressed creativity, such as playing with chemical reactions using new – and snow-filled – combinations and making beautiful fractal snowflakes.  In our second offering at Thomas Jefferson, we also employed a project-based approach, and students spent multiple weeks working on multi-part projects. Their first project involved making energy-conscious homes which they tested using a light reflecting app.  For their second project, students worked on making complex marble runs that were a cross between a roller coaster and a Chain Reaction.  As in other locations with older children, our 21st Century Skills curriculum layered multiple skills together.
For the first few classes we focused on the 4Cs and finished the class with Growth Mindset. In post-class reflections, many students noted that they learned a lot from a hands-on activity to symbolize “growing their brains.” Students also embraced the “Power of Yet” with “Can’t…Yet” statements.
Charles Barrett Highlights
The class at Charles Barrett embraced outdoor learning and asked for as many classes as possible to be held outside. From a biodiversity scavenger hunt to rockets to marble roller coasters and MakeyMakey Music in their new outdoor classroom, children thought outside-of-the-box while outdoors. Children practiced Embracing Failure with our fun Wind Tunnel, learned about Growth Mindset through Chain Reactions, expressing Creativity and learning about the role of Empathy in innovation while make Potato Batteries, and Appreciating connections and nuances through our Chemical Reaction comparison lesson.