By Teachers, For Teachers
Meet Gabriel Lopez, 12, from Puerto Escondido, Mexico - a bright young boy from a hard-working family, always with a smile on his face and never more than when he is in the "barrel" at Zicatella Beach -- a notoriously tricky and pounding wave, and his home break and backyard.
Now meet Hungry Minds Study Games, a Learning Based Card Game Start-up from Toronto, Canada, and current sponsor of Gabriel as Team Rider and Ambassador to their newly launched Hungry Minds Photo Challenges. Together, their goal is to inspire K-5 students across North America and globally to practice their own goals for the intrinsic value, and to enjoy learning for learning's sake.
Launching Oct. 5, their free-to-join photo challenges will deliver educators motivating short stories, exciting media, customizable lesson templates and easy to join photo challenges to engage classrooms and motivate K-5 students.
"I can see why surfing and homework may seem a funny match," laughs off Kevin Munn, educator and founder of Hungry Minds, "But it actually came together very naturally."
Nine years ago while teaching ESL in Puerto Escondido, Munn first created what later became the prototype for the Hungry Minds Study Games unique brand of customizable card games. It is also where he learned to surf, and after several trips back, he learned of a young local ripper named Gabriel, who had the skill to compete, but lacked the sponsor.
"Hungry Minds’ motto is ‘Practice, Play, Progress,’" Munn explains. "No matter our natural abilities, the more we practice, the better we get. It holds true for schoolwork, sports, anything. Gabriel is proof of that, as he has only been surfing for two years, yet has already progressed to a high level as a direct result from the time he has put in the water. Our photo challenges are meant to inspire students to strive to improve both in school and out; for the intrinsic joy of getting better and gaining confidence in their abilities."
With the support of Hungry Minds, Gabriel now has his first custom-made board to hone his craft on and the backing to enter local contests. However it is not all a day at the beach for the grade 6 student. As part of the sponsorship agreement he needs to keep on top of his schoolwork too, even acting as a role model each month by participating in Hungry Minds' Photo Challenges.
Hungry Minds Photo Challenges are for students, educators and parents of K-5 students and have a three-pronged focus - Reading, Homework and Goal Setting. Gabriel acts as a positive example for each.
"Students naturally look up to their older peers. As an easy going yet determined grade 6 student, Gabriel's involvement isn't just entertaining for our target audience of K-5 students - it's inspiring and motivates action," Munn explains.
Beginning Oct. 5, each month students, educators and classes that have opted-in for Hungry Minds Photo Challenges, will receive new motivating lesson templates infused with exciting images and up-beat clips of Gabriel progressing in his surfing paired with activity sheets created to promote class discussion and encourage students to focus on their own goals.
Hungry Minds Photo challenges are free, simple to join and meant to fit into any routine. Each month educators, parents and students across North America and around the world are invited to take part along with Gabriel by simply snapping a photo with their smart phones. They can choose a book they are reading or lesson they are working on, then simply add #hungryminds and post, tag or tweet it to Hungry Minds Study Games. That's it.
All participants are also automatically entered into a draw for the Hungry Minds Book and Movie of the month, each chosen for their inspiring stories. The winner is simply contacted by email and the same social media with which they participated, and is also congratulated on the site's newly added Challenges page.
"Part of what prompted us to this open format was based on recent findings by The After School Alliance", adds Stefanie Rico, school Social Worker and Co-Founder of Hungry Minds.
The America After 3PM 2014 edition concluded that though the amount of children enrolled in afterschool programming has grown a great deal, as has the quality in programming available, there are still "11.3 million children in the US headed for an unsupervised environment after school", in fact, "for every child in an afterschool program, approximately two more children would be enrolled if a program were available to them" -AfterschoolAlliance.com
Having both started out their careers working in after school programs for young students, Rico and Munn have structured their Photo Challenges to implement easily into classroom and afterschool routines, and prompt discussion & sharing.
"It will be interesting to compare things such as the books students and classes are reading in the US vs. South America or Canada, " adds Munn. "We see this format as one we can expand on, using social media as a way to further engage students in their education."
"Encouraging children to read for pleasure is about more than getting them to pick up a book; it's equally important for children to appreciate a good story. " - TheGuardian.com
Rico adds, "We're looking forward to inspiring students in class and at home with Gabriel's updates and other stories that prompt them to think about their own goals."
You can join the Hungry Minds mailing list by clicking the image below to receive updates on Photo Challenges and to be entered into this week's draw for a FREE Hungry Minds Academy In A Box.