Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snowflakes for Sandy Hook: Responding to Sandy Hook (part 2)

The day after we had our class discussion about the tragedy in Sandy Hook, I learned of an opportunity for students to "do something," to respond in a way that would help them somehow feel like they could help the famlies of Newtown CT. We took an hour out of our schedule to show the families of Newtown, CT that our thoughts and prayers were with them.
We created beautiful snowflakes to decorate the new space that Sandy Hook students will return to after winter break. The PTA requested these here as a way for students around the world to show their support.
As our students worked on snowflakes, our class reporters video interviewed them about how they felt while performing this small, yet powerful act of kindness. Several reasons for capturing the videos popped into my mind: I wanted to be able to hear the responses and know more about how my students were feeling, and I know that my students love to speak on video and are more open than in a large group discussion.  Finally, I also wanted to be able to share their thoughts and feelings with their parents and our school community. I posted the private Youtube links on my class blog. Due to confidentiality, I can't share the videos, but I have recorded some of the interview comments below.
Here are some of their responses taken from these interviews about how it felt to create these beautiful snowflakes and hopefully make someone smile.
Q: Why are you doing this?
A: "It will brighten them up to see snowflakes. Maybe they will be able to think of something else than their sadness and focus on the beautiful snowflakes."
We want to make a difference, instead of just sending them letters, like to say, Happy Christmas, we are actually "making things" so we can make them happy.
We are doing this to support people.
Q: So, why do you care?
I care because losing a family member is sad and makes you not focused, so maybe something happy can help them focus on something else.
It's important because people are really sad. It's important to do things for other people.
I know what it feels what is like to have lost a loved one and I think it's important to do something nice. It makes me feel happy and it's nice
Q: How does this make  you feel, to do something to help?
It makes me feel good because I can do something and make a difference instead of just sitting there and not being able to help.
I know what it feels what is like to have lost a loved one and I think it's important to do something nice. It makes me feel happy inside.  
In times of tragedy, kids need to feel empowered to "do something" and to be part of a solution. My students enjoyed making their snowflakes for Sandy Hook, and openly shared their feelings about making the snowflakes.  I was able to understand more about how they were  processing this horrendous event, by watching the video interviews. By sharing the interviews with their families, I was able to model an open dialogue on difficult topics. 
How do you help kids "respond" to tragedies like these? 

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