Creating the Future – “FHSD Spectrapalooza” and “FHSD Creates” Teach the Four Cs

Posted on 12/04/2017
Creating the Future – “FHSD Spectrapalooza” and “FHSD Creates” Teach the Four Cs

The Francis Howell School District strives to develop skills including the “Four Cs” (Communication, Collaboration, Creativity, Critical Thinking) in students. Two perfect examples of this were recent events held at St. Charles Community College by Spectra, the gifted program in FHSD. “Spectrapalooza” and “FHSD Creates” are annual events that teach these marketable skills and also introduce these bright students to each other and the teachers who will be helping them create a brighter future.

FHSD Creates is a gathering of third grade Spectra students. Problems are presented to groups of five or six kids, who then must work together to find a solution, emphasizing the Four Cs. The solutions created by the teams are then judged by attending parents, based on standards provided by teachers. Creativity and problem-solving skills are required to navigate through the fun activities.

Melissa Kelly teaches Spectra at Warren Elementary, and explained, “First, they make a team name and tell how each student will add their strengths to the team on a team totem pole. Next, they have a building challenge where they are timed to complete the task of building the tallest tower out of only index cards. The tower also must hold a penny on top for extra points. The final challenge has the students brainstorm, plan, and engineer a room of their dreams. They then work on a presentation that they give to the judges and other students about their room.” This combines all four Cs in less than an hour’s time. “It always floors us what the students are able to come up with when the pressure is on!” Kelly said. “Students have to work together to make their way through the problem to the other end with a solution.”

Similar to FHSD Creates, Spectrapalooza presents problems for teams to solve, but there is more of an emphasis on communication. Spectrapalooza unites all the fifth grade Spectra students and their future middle school teachers, forming them into groups according to which school they will attend. The challenges all involve aspects of the Four Cs, but also help these students eliminate some apprehension because they get a chance to make some new friends. That early introduction to their future peers can only raise excitement levels for students. Middle school ambassadors attend as well, to play along and answer questions.

Kelly explained the benefit of that approach. “A lot of our Spectra students are worriers and planners,” she said. “This helps answer some questions they may have and ease some tension. It also gives the middle school students who are guiding this year’s festivities and challenges a chance to help out and take the lead.”

Students such as Sarah Percy appreciated the chance to guide the elementary students. “It’s a great opportunity because I get to share my experiences with all these younger people, and it allows them to see what it’s going to be like in their future.” She knows firsthand what Spectra can offer. “Spectra is a great program that allows students to explore their creativity.”

Fifth grader Mayla Stith had a blast. “It was fun,” she said. “The challenges were really interesting, different from what we get in the classroom every day.” Paige Dooley also attended Spectrapalooza, and said, “I’m learning how to work with a team, and that really helps me get ready for next year.”

Lucas Matz was a middle school mentor at the event. Matz saw a lot of those four Cs. “The fifth graders used their imaginations and creativity to build and draw things, and explore themselves, and explore the interests of their peers,” he said. Having attended this when he was in fifth grade, Matz is on the other side now. “It’s a lot harder,” he said with a laugh. “Fifth graders can be hard to keep under control. But it’s really fun and I enjoyed it.”

Stith summed up the two events in one sentence. “It helps me problem solve, helps me be creative, and that’s what Spectra’s all about.”

Check out the Spectrapalooza 2017 gallery for photos of the event.

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