Every Monday for the past two years, students in first grade at BFA Fairfax have eagerly participated in Magnificent Monday.
It is an important example of how our school demonstrates a belief in the value of allowing students significant opportunities to create, collaborate, innovate, and play.
It is an amazing time in public education. After a decade of focusing on preparing students to perform on standardized tests, a significant shift is taking place.
This is not a new concept. Rather, it is a recognition that our students must learn and apply a comprehensive set of skills for success in an ever-changing world due to technology and an abundance of information.
Magnificent Monday provides every student learning experiences that allow them to be designers, problem finders, engineers, and artists. It is sometimes messy, slightly chaotic, always full of positive energy, and the results speak for themselves.
For example, last week was Cardboard Day where students were allowed to design anything using cardboard. A small group of students wanted to create a vehicle. One member of the group uses a wheelchair, so the group designed the bus to accommodate all group members. The final product was less important than the learning, collaboration, and empathy in which students engaged.
Another activity required students to apply their knowledge to create an insect. There were no constraints, just four criteria. The results were amazing and no single insect was the same. Most importantly, it was clear that students understood the objectives of the unit and could apply the content.
Sometimes we only focus on what we see to measure success. Magnificent Monday’s success is apparent from what you do not see. There is rarely a behavior issue and students do not require frequent prompts and reminders to be engaged or follow expectations. They are happy, highly motivated, focused, and excited about learning.
A huge thank you to the First Grade team for inspiring our students to be creative, empathetic, collaborative people. You all rock!
Thomas Walsh is currently Principal of BFA Fairfax Elementary School and is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @educatamount