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The I Can Can

By Donna Sherry

On Monday morning I presented my 4th grade class with an orange garbage can. The students were amused at this and wondered if I planned on having a lot of garbage that week. I proceeded to tell them that this so-called garbage can was to be our "I Can Can." The idea of the can was for them to fill it with likes or ideas that they personally could do. I drew a picture of a garage can on a ditto and told them that whenever they felt they accomplished a certain goal they could write it on a piece of "I Can Can" paper, cut it out and put it in the "I Can Can." At the end of the week, or whenever free time arrived, we would share these accomplishments. I told my students they did not have to identify themselves in any way if they did not want to.

Like many new and exciting ideas, the novelty began to wear off. I did not want this to die out because I believe it's important for kids to "see" things that they can do. Of course a great deal of their achievements centered around school activity: "I can do my math," "I can write neat," "I can get a perfect on my spelling test," and so on. This bothered me somewhat, for I try to instill in my class that school subjects are not the only things in life.

So about the third week after our new arrival, I told my class that sometime during the week I wanted them to write something for the "I Can Can" that they could do with their hands. They could then put it in the can or tape it to the sides of the can for others to see. The next week they worked on things they could do with their eyes. A few weeks later they examined things they could do with their voices. My class really enjoyed doing this. They also like it when I put my thoughts, goals and accomplishments into our can. We always share these - either by reading them aloud or by classmates going over and reading the can to themselves.

I feel this is a great way for each one of my students to see her/himself in a more positive light and to see others the same way. Most students are now decorating their papers and many are identifying themselves. They also are seeing that there are many things they can do that are not related to math, penmanship or spelling. This is positive. Here are a few examples of what some of my students can do.

Eyes - I Can

  • see all the beautiful things God has made
  • see others with my eyes
  • close my eyes
  • see a ball coming at me and when it hits me I can see stars
  • see trees (drew a picture)

Hands - I Can

  • make a paper planes
  • make puppets
  • clap
  • walk on my hands
  • stir a cake
  • play the guitar
  • feel

Voice - I Can

  • laugh with my voice
  • whisper
  • yell very loud
  • say how pretty you look
  • make noise
  • talk to my friends
  • just gab
  • talk to the plants
  • disguise my voice