Thursday, February 23, 2012

Destination Imagination

So, I have this kid who is diagnosed with Asperger's, which makes him socially awkward. He also tested as highly gifted, which pretty much makes for a nightmare in any school situation. If he is with people of equal level of learning, he is too immature for them. If he is with socially appropriate kids, he's smarter than they are. It makes for a conundrum.

So about a year ago, I decided that I'd like to start a Destination Imagination team. But in typical me-style, I put off thinking about it, mainly because of the work involved.

And this is where the adage about luck being a mixture of preparation and opportunity came in. I got E accepted into Davidson Young Scholars. I didn't quite know what would come of it, but if there was some sort of group that involved social gatherings of gifted kids, I wanted to be part of it. Unfortunately, no one in New England seems to do much with it. However, a DYS moved to my town. And he was in fourth grade, like my son. And his mom and I met and I found she was looking for something for her son to do, the same way I was. So *together* we started a Destination Imagination team in our town, 6 fourth-graders.

I find I really love DI. I like working with kids in situations where I don't have to discipline them, so I like after-school clubs and things like that. With DI, I love how the kids have to come up with the solution to the challenge themselves. And I love how it involves cutting and building and learning and teamwork. It should be ideal for E. Alas, E hates it. But why?

Well, believe it or not, it's because he doesn't know anyone on the team, and he wants to be with his friends. The kids on the team are all from the other elementary school in the district. In some ways, we're a victim of our own success, if the problem is that he has bonded with the kids from his school. :) On the other hand, he will be going to middle school with these kids in 2 years, so it will be good for him to get to know them a little.

And, also, I think he's in a situation he's never been in before--not the smartest one in the room. I think he hates that.

I am pretty sure that once we do the regional competition, he will love DI. The competition sounds like a lot of fun, and I know how to apply food and other treats to make the day a positive experience.

And next year, I will run a separate team just at his school. It's a plan, right?


Anonymous said...

Hey Wendy:

We're big DI fans around here. My daughter loves it. Last year she was on a school based team that lucked out (to some extent) into two second place finishes that send them to Globals. So we went to knoxville in our first year, and got a very big dose of DI. This year, I am coaching her team, at home, because they were interested in continuing to work together as at team.

She is on a team with her schoolmates (but not necessarily her good friends, schoolmates from school). She has enjoyed the opportunity to work with the team, but I don't know how it would work if the kids were from a different school, and especially if they were all from the same school but her.

She adores, absolutely adores, the "non-interference" rule. The team has been a fair amount of work, but I have also learned a lot about my daughter and her schoolmates and have enjoyed it. The main issue I've struggled with is the different levels of commitment and focus among different members of the team.

Which challenge is E's team doing? Ours is Solar Challenge, and our regional tournament is a week from Saturday.


Wendy said...

We're doing Hold It. It is a complex challenge. Gah. But we're finally at a stage where we have the outline of everything we need. The kids just need to refine it more.

I also think part of the problem is that E gets overwhelmed sensory-wise with a group of kids. This morning we had a meeting, and E was out of control. Then the other kids left and he and G (whose house we were at) went upstairs and played serenely while G's mom and I talked.

Amy P said...

"On the other hand, he will be going to middle school with these kids in 2 years, so it will be good for him to get to know them a little."

Very true.

We haven't managed to do board game club this year, but I'm still waiting to hear if the University Interscholastic League (it's a Texas thing) needs my husband to coach the Number Sense team at school.

C is not enthused that I've signed her up for the Number Sense team and the Maps and Graphs team. I need to remember to phrase it something like, "We're going to the UIL contest and then we're going to IHOP."

Wendy said...

We're thinking of setting up some sort of board game club with these kids after DI is over. I've been linking stuff I want the kids to do with food for a while now. Not "If you do this, you can get sugary crappy food I don't normally buy you," but "Oh wow, that went well today! Let's go get [insert sugary crappy food here]."

Amy P said...

IHOP has Nutella crepes with strawberry sauce and fresh bananas. I can't in good conscience recommend them, but they're really good.