Hello, my name is Kwame Edwards and I proudly serve as an AmeriCorps member on the Floyd Udell Jones Family Foundation team at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School with City Year Seattle/King County.

Over the last month, City Year have continued “Kick-Start”, a long-standing morning program that allows students to come to school early and participate in a variety of activities here at Martin Luther King Jr.

Here you can see AmeriCorps Member Alan Pugh (Coordinator of Kick-Start) checking students in; as he directs them to the two designated areas: The Homework Pod or the Board Game area in the cafeteria.

Where the students go is contingent on if the students have completed their homework for the current day.

In the Homework Pod, we require that the students work or read for twenty minutes before transitioning to the cafeteria for fun games. It is our goal to get our students to a higher level of thinking. We do this by encouraging students to evolve their thinking everyday as we have students read some of their favorite books to us. We also ask them critical thinking question as a means to check if they understood what they read and relate it to other experiences. We also try to evolve students thinking as we remind them of the brilliant functions of the dictionary as we are frequently asked the meaning of words.

Here you can see me participating in a game of Count Down. In the cafeteria we play a variety of different game with the students, ranging from board games such as Scrabble and Kids Monopoly, to Uno and Apples to Apples.

We also try to evolve thinking as we play Math and ELA focused games, such as Family Feud reinvented, and Guess The Digit, in order to remind students that learning and thinking critically can be fun.

After twenty minutes of working hard on homework or getting the gears turning from playing games in the cafeteria, we transition to the Gym where we play an active game.

Every week, corps members rotate between the lead roles for active games, ELA games, math games, giving student the opportunity to work with corps members in a diverse setting and subject areas.

Here is where we have the great opportunity to use some of the great collaborative games of PlayWorks such as ShipWreck, Sharks and Minnows, Farmers, etc, which the kids seem to love.

At the end of “Kick-Start” we pack up, line up, and head out the playground where the students officially begin their day. There, they meet friends and play games until it is time to line up and head in to the classroom.

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