“Look, Mom!”

“Mrs. Chenault!

Check this out!”

“Can I show the class?”

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word “ownership?” This is what I asked my 4th grade students and here where some of their responses…
  • It means I own something.
  • It means it belongs to me.
  • It means it is all mine.
  • It means to have something in your possession/
  • It means to have something you are proud of.
As you can imagine the majority of the responses were predictable… however, the last one had a twist that made me smile.  The questionable looks from the peers of the students captured the room as this child responded.  Of course, my first reaction was to have her explain her thinking.  She continued…

Well, I know when I am proud of something and someone asks who did this or made this, I speak up quickly.  and when i am not proud, I feel like I want to hide. I know if I am proud or not, if it is mine, I still own it, but there is a difference.

I wish I could have frozen the moment, bottled it, and gave it away to spread the importance of giving our students opportunities of ownership.

We followed this conversation with a read aloud of The Old Woman Who Named Things by Cynthia Rylant.  In the book, the Old Woman shows ownership by naming the things that are important to her, or she is proud of…

Why is Ownership Important?

Students are taught at a very young age about ownership through, “Show-n-Tell.” I can explicitly remember being so proud as I walked into the classroom with my knick-knacks to show the class… but why? I was proud!  I wanted to showoff what was special to me.

Kids associate things with feelings.  Things tell stories, show memories, contain moments, represent attachments, give purpose.  We all want time to “showoff” our things because we own them… they are ours.


Ownership—To the Next Level

Things… don’t get me wrong… things are important to have, but what if instead of a given thing, there is a created thing. Ideas, explorations, trials all lead to created things.  As the students go through this process, they become attached as they make new memories and seize moments. Creations could be solutions, writings, awards, inventions…

Students deserve the opportunity to create things they are proud of… and want to show the world!  We, as dream builders, must give the students the opportunity to present to the world. Reaching out beyond our classroom wall is more accessible than it has ever been with Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, Twitter…

I was recently at a EdTechTeam Summit, where I heard Dr. Chris Craft speak about The Hand Challenge.  To sum up this challenge, students all around the world are creating prosthetic hands for children using their 3D printers.  His students then are able to package them up (at no cost) and send them to children in need. You can get the full story at www.handchallenge.com.

An Ownership Environment

At the vulnerable age of 16, I stood in front of my peers at a church conference.  I had been asked to give the devotion to our youth group.  I stood shaking, with my script in hand, just hoping I could get through it without puking. Well, I didn’t puke, but I didn’t make it through the whole spill.  At one point, I said, “David was stoned.” Well, several of the boys in the group giggled… You can figure out why.  Call me naive… but at that time I had no idea why they were laughing.  My head dropped, and I walked away from the situation.  I never finished my devotion.
An environment of safety must be created for all students to show true and powerful ownership.
A safe environment must include…
  • a growth mindset
  • support
  • a teacher and students full attention
  • acceptance
  • creativeness
  • failure
  • non-negotiables
  • vulnerability
If we want our students to step up and show ownership, we must provide them a safe place.
What opportunities are you providing for your students to be owners of more than “things?”

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves. ~Galileo

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