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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inside the notebook at Imagine Hope Community Charter School, Part III: Lots of practice pays off

Each week throughout the fall DC SCORES season, I will be accompanying the students of the Tolson campus of Imagine Hope Charter on their journey through DC SCORES' Power of Poetry curriculum. This will include weekly content posted on TwitterInstagramFlickr, and this blog. Follow these talented kids as they learn to express themselves through one of the purest forms of art. You can stay in touch with me by following me on Twitter at @DCSCORESInterns and @DCSCORES. Enjoy!

-- Brady Smithsund, Fall 2013 Intern


After arriving at the Tolson campus of Imagine Hope Charter, climbing up to the second floor classroom, and trying to open the door, I discovered that class was taking place outside on the blacktop. Walking outside, I was greeted by cheers of “Mr. Brady! Mr. Brady!” The students of Mr. Clemons’ class were all very excited to see me. One passed me a soccer ball and I passed it back right away.

I walked in during the middle of a full-fledged soccer practice. Without the use of a grass or artificial turf field, the students had to make do with practicing on concrete. In some cases, playing on the surface can make you a better player. I grew up playing on the hard blacktop at my elementary school, and it did wonders for my ball control and dribbling ability. I could see the students physically adjust to playing on that surface. It wasn’t ideal, but it would do.

Mr. Clemons and Ms. Kuehl had the kids separated into two medium-size circles to play a team-building game. Using their right hand, the kids grabbed somebody else’s hand. Then using their left hand, they grabbed a different kid’s hand while still holding the hand they were holding with their right hand. The goal was to not break the circle to connect with somebody else.

Once everyone has both hands connected to somebody else’s, the game is over! This game creates a sense of community, teamwork, leadership and friendship. These bonds the kids form will not only help them on the pitch but in the classroom as well.

After the team-building game, it was time for a few passing drills. Using cones set up in the shape of a star, the kids ran from one cone to another and received a pass. They passed it back, and ran to a different cone. “I love soccer!” one of the kids yelled.

I then helped play a game called “head it, catch it.” I tossed the ball to the kids and told them to either head it or catch it. They had to do the opposite of what I said. The drill teaches listening, paying close attention and reflexes -- all skills that will benefit the youth during games.

“I like the game,” said Efil at first, “But I’m not very good.”

However, each kid got better with repetition. There was a clear progression in not only kids’ physical abilities but also their decision-making skills.

Much like they did a couple weeks ago, the students ended the day by reciting poems they had written. This week’s theme was soccer. I watched as everyone got up and read an alphabet poem they had written about soccer. Using words such as attack, ball, cross, and so on, they made it almost all the way through the alphabet.

Hard-earned alphabet cookies awaited each student as they finished their poem. They left happy with full stomachs after a long afternoon of soccer and poetry.

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