Bates Elementary School’s ‘Amazing Shake’ Teaches Quick Thinking, Poise Under Pressure

Posted on: June 14, 2024
Bates Elementary School Amazing Shake

Bates fifth-graders learn etiquette, eye contact and other best practices

SALEM (June 14, 2024) – You’re campaigning to be the President of the United States of America. Why should we vote for you?

You’re the boss of a company who no longer has the money to keep two employees. Each pleads their case. Which employee do you let go?

You have a magic pencil. What is one thing about the world you would change?

The aforementioned are just a few of the situations posed to Bates Elementary School fifth grade students during the annual Amazing Shake, at which the students rotate from station to station to be confronted with different scenarios, each of which requiring them to respond the best they can, often under pressure.

With one minute to respond, students are then judged by a Salem Public Schools staff member on their charisma, confidence, eye contact, judgment and poise under pressure. They receive a score between 6 (an attempt was made to respond to the scenario) and 10 (response delivered perfectly and with flair).

“The Amazing Shake is the ultimate opportunity for students to think outside the box as they respond to interesting scenarios,” said Bates Elementary School Principal Susan Smith. “It is a way for our students to practice communication skills and adapt on the fly as they navigate through social situations.” 

The Amazing Shake is consistent with the District’s 2023-26 Strategic Plan, particularly with the core principles of elevating learning and empowering educators.

Along with the aforementioned scenarios, other situations included:

  • First Impression: What personal strengths will you bring to the Amazing Shake?
  • Birthday Surprise: It’s the student’s birthday. They receive a rather boring, mundane gift. How will they react?
  • Sale of an Item: Students are given a curling iron and challenged to develop a quick sales pitch to sell it to the judge.
  • Kids Choice Award: Students are told they are the recipient of the ‘Best Singer Award,’ for which they must give an acceptance speech. Midway through the speech, students are told there has been a mistake and they didn’t actually win. How will they react?
  • Health Inspection: Students pose as a restaurant owner. A customer finds something drastically wrong with their meal and complains. How will the student address the situation?
  • Guest on the Tonight Show: Students are asked questions that make them reflect on their experience in the Amazing Shake, and are judged on their responses.

The top 10 scoring students were honored in a mini-assembly immediately following. The top six scoring students are invited to teach a Social and Emotional Learning lesson to students in grades K-2 while the top three students are invited to deliver speeches at the Bates Grade 5 Moving Up Ceremony.

The top 10 finishing students included:

  • Sloan Murphy
  • Dylan Parsons
  • Emily Grilz
  • Evelyn Titus
  • Hannah Hegazy
  • Emelia Bernal
  • Darius Torosian
  • Aubrianna Williams
  • Alessandra Surro
  • Savannah Hanley

“We couldn’t have done this without the help of our amazing judges who worked so hard to make each and every student feel comfortable at their stations,” Ms. Smith noted. “We’ve already started planning for next year.”

About Salem Public Schools

Salem Public Schools is an urban public school district in Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is a small, diverse city with a proud maritime and immigrant history. Our leaders and our teachers are all passionate about education and understand the urgency of improving student achievement with equity and social-emotional needs as the lens we view all of our work through. We respect and value the racial, cultural, and linguistic diversity of our students and their families, and have a strong commitment to the Salem community. Salem Public Schools staff serve all of our students, regardless of ability or language. Salem Public Schools enrolls approximately 4,000 students across its eleven schools.