Flop Balls Fostering Teacher and Student Growth
This past school year, we conducted several professional development keynotes and workshops for teachers. In addition to presenting at individual schools, we also partnered with the Wake Ed Partnership Summer STEM program which introduces teachers to project based learning and connecting classroom learning to the real world. Our sessions utilized flop balls to remind teachers of strategies for helping students through the process of learning new skills including struggle, failure, building the resilience to try again, and ultimately having success. Many of the schools made classroom sets available for teachers to borrow and use with students. We've heard that teachers used them in a number of creative ways such as:
- Using the flop balls as a way of "calling on students" by tossing the flop ball to a student to share a thought or respond to an question. She has seen an increase in engagement level and interest in answering questions.
- Working with the flop balls in small group of students that are "fidgeters" and allow them to use them as completing work.
- AIG teacher has used them in flexible thinking lessons with the 1st grade and 2nd grade classrooms.
- Guidance counselor using them small groups and individual counseling to support focus and social and emotional well-being (addressing anxiety and stress reduction).
One of the biggest teacher fans of flop balls this school year has been Erin Gannon, 2nd grade teacher at Hilburn Academy. We loved seeing flop balls in her Instagram feed all year and appreciated her sharing the following reflection about the impact of flop balls in her classroom: "There were some frustrations, for sure and a few of the kids gave up pretty quickly - but the excitement of their classmates was infectious and they ALL eventually came back to try them again. And again, and again! The beauty of the Flop Balls is that there are SO many different ways to interact with them. The kids found all kinds of creative ways to play with them and challenged each other to try the new tricks they'd invented. Flop Balls offered my students an opportunity to push themselves and work toward success in a very tangible and engaging way. The failures weren't seen as a big deal."
We're currently in the process of developing flop ball classroom sets and related support materials. Email dawn@flowcircus if you'd like to learn more.