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Vertical Families Build Teamwork Skills

FP Red Ribbon Week Hands Since 2016, students at Flynn Park Elementary School have worked together each month withing a Vertical Family to do a team-building activity as part of the Growth Mindset initiative. Vertical Families are small groups of students from grades K-5 and are led by a school staff member. The school has 28 “families" in the 2018-19 school year.

"This is a great way for students to create a bond with kids in different grades," said school counselor Jona Ross. "The activities and themes all have a growth mindset or mindfullness connection."

A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed. Students with a growth mindset understand they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others when needed. It is contrasted with a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence is a fixed trait that is set in stone at birth.

Families start with a low-risk circle, then a topic activity, followed by some other hands-on activity. 

In September, the Family theme was Get Reacquainted. They chose a family name and decorated a family crest.

For October, the Family theme was Red Ribbon Week and staying away from drugs. After lively games and activities with their family, the students learned about healthy choices and decorated red hands to symbolically indicate their personal pledge to stay drug-free.

November's theme is Disability Awareness. After classroom visits by Special School District (SSD) staff which give students a real experience of different disabilities, the Vertical Families process the activity and reactions.

FP's Vertical Family monthly themes for specific grades during the 2018-19 school year are:

  • 9/25: Community Circle, getting to know you, pick a family name, and decorate the Family Crest
  • 10/23: Red Ribbon Week: Empathy, Friendship - 5th Grade 
  • 11/20: Disability Awareness (Disability Awareness Day 11/19)
  • 12/18: Celebrating Diversity - 4th Grade
  • 1/22: Peace - 3rd Grade
  • 2/19: Mindset - 2nd Grade
  • 3/12: Testing - 1st Grade
  • 4/9: Moving up - KDG

How does this demonstrate the three pillars of Learning Reimagined?

  • Humanize: Broadens social and team building skills and supports their social emotional growth.
  • Personalize: Offers older student a leadership role, younger students know they will, one year, become the family leaders, provided a unique learning environment where students of at all grade levels work together on a common objective.
  • Problematize: Gives students a voice to share their thoughts and ideas about various topics.