For some of us, that is. Giant panda, Bao Bao, for example, thoroughly enjoys the weather that, depending on your location, might shut down your entire city.
Most educators aren’t opposed to a snow day every once in awhile. What we dread more are those “Indoor Recess” days that can sometimes last for weeks.
GoNoodle has come to the rescue to help your students work off those wiggles. They’ve added some “Indoor Recess Mega Mixes” to their ever increasing portfolio of brain breaks. The next time you are stuck indoors with a 22 students craving some physical activity, you might want to play one of these 11-15 minute collections that include warm-ups, active time, and cool-downs.
They may not enjoy it quite as much as Bao Bao cavorting in the snow, but you never know!
Since many people are returning to school during the next couple of weeks, I thought I would re-visit and share some of last year’s more successful projects in case you want to try one.
Today’s post is about something I tried last year with the goal of impressing upon my students how much they matter to others – in this case, their parents. What I did not realize was that I would also develop new and deeper connections with my students and their families with this project.
The basic concept was this: ask parents to secretly record videos of themselves telling their children how important they are to them and what they hoped the children would accomplish in school that year. The parents would send me the videos, and I would use Aurasma Studio (here is a link to Aurasma tutorial videos in case you need it) to attach them to still images of the parents. When my students scanned the images with the Aurasma app on the iPad, they would see and hear their parents’ videos. They kept the photos in their folders all year so they could scan them whenever they wanted, and as a reminder of their parents’ personal messages.
You can read more about the project specifics here. There were definitely some problems (be sure to click on the links for the project updates so you can avoid some of them, if possible), but the positive results made every bump along the road worth it.
One huge obstacle was getting a video for every child. I have a GT pull-out program, and had approximately 45 students in 1st-5th on my class rolls at the time I sent out the request for videos. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want anyone to end up without a video.
I had a hard time tracking down one particular parent. When I finally reached her, she apologized for not getting a video turned in yet. Her best friend was dying from cancer and she had been dealing with that for several weeks.
We are often so quick to judge when we don’t get immediate support from parents. We forget that there are many other reasons for lack of responsiveness – and most of them have nothing to do with neglect of their children.
I had a few conversations with parents during this project that gave me so much more insight on the backgrounds of my students than I had ever known. So did their videos. Every single one (and I did end up getting at least one video for each student) told me how precious their children are and that I, indeed, have a huge responsibility as their part-time caretaker.
If you are not comfortable with using Aurasma Studio, you can always do a variation of this project that does not include augmented reality. (You could upload the videos to Google Drive and link them to QR codes, or just share individual links with the students.) The value of this activity is strengthening the bond amongst parents, students, and the teacher. It is a great way to develop a supportive community in your classroom.
(For more Augmented Reality Resources, check out this page on my site. Also, I have a brand new packet on Teachers Pay Teachers with suggested Augmented Reality activities.)
On Monday’s post, I told the story of my year as a “poser” – pretending that I was a mathematical genius during my 9th grade year in Algebra 1. Miraculously, this inadvertent deception resulted in inspiring great confidence in my abilities on the part of my teacher. Subsequently, her faith made me see myself in a different light. Basically, I developed a growth mindset about math, that led to 3 more years of success in that subject.
I recently heard a TED Talk on NPR’s TED Radio Hour that supported this “Fake it ’til you make it” philosophy. Amy Cuddy, who is a social psychologist, explains how standing in certain “High Power Poses” for 2 minutes has been scientifically proven to improve your confidence levels. You can listen to Amy’s interview on TED Radio Hour here. She describes how, after sustaining a severe head injury in a car accident, Amy found herself in the position of “poser” when attending college – and succeeded in making everyone believe that she belonged there. This experience ultimately led to her research discussed during her TED talk.
Even though this story does not specifically refer to the Growth Mindset, I feel that it is certainly a good example that demonstrates how your attitude and hard work can directly impact your future.
Update: I just added a 2nd video to this post, “Courage: Ask Amy,” in which Amy Poehler gives advice that makes a lot of sense when you take into account the conclusions Amy Cuddy has derived from her research.
“Instead of asking students what they want to be, we should be asking them who they want to be.”
I wish I could give attribution for the above quote. It was something I saw on Twitter a few weeks ago, and it resonated with me. The film called, “The Science of Character” delivers a similar message, except the question is, “How do you want to be?”
My 5th grade GT students study the “Dimensions of Character.” This 8-minute film, “The Science of Character,” says everything that I hope they will learn from this year. It stresses that you have the power to develop your own character – and that you can also shape the character of other people. The video cites brain research that supports these ideas, and also cites Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets.
The video asks the audience to think about your own top five strengths. You can access the ones you have identified to be the most important on the Periodic Table of Character Strengths, and you can click on each one to learn more about it. This is a fabulous resource. It not only gives the definition of each strength, but links to films, books, and other websites that give examples of the strength.
The site also offers film discussion guides for every level, from elementary to adult. There are many additional resources on learning more about character strengths, as well. There is a link to a Character Strengths Survey, but that requires log-in information that I would not recommend be entered by students under 18.
I am definitely planning to use this with my 5th graders. Last year, using an idea from Angela Maiers, I asked my students to choose their own “Dream Team” of people who demonstrate the traits they most admire. (You can read more about this project here.) The “Science of Character” film and resources fit in perfectly with this project. I want to thank “Let it Ripple” for providing such a wonderful supplement for classrooms around the world!
As you may have gathered from yesterday’s “Flappy Bird” post, I am trying very hard to maintain a Growth Mindset, and to foster this thinking in my daughter and students. One of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg, also talks about encouraging a Growth Mindset in her classroom. One of her ideas, in this post, is to add a Growth Mindset quote to any printed work that she hands out to her students. Sonya links to this fabulous set of quotes that includes some from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset. Sonya also gives examples of some statements that communicate learning goals and expectations that she found on the MindSetWorks site. In a separate post, Sonya discusses “Developing a Growth Mindset in an Inquiry Based Math Class.” I love the way she leads up to a weekly math challenge for her students.
Here are some other recent resources I’ve collected about cultivating a Growth Mindset:
“You are so smart,” could be the most damaging 4 words that we ever say to children.
That sentence may seem innocuous, even encouraging, but repeated use might actually reinforce attributes that we don’t find very appealing: laziness, risk-aversion, the inability to problem-solve.
Researchers like Carol Dweck (author of Mindset) are showing that statements like, “You are smart,” help to instill a “Fixed Mindset.” Children who are told this on a regular basis believe that they have an innate ability which produces their achievements – not hard work. They become reluctant to put themselves in situations where they might not appear to be smart. If they can’t do something well the first time, they refuse to do it again. Mistakes are disastrous, and the only thing learned from them is to stop trying.
As a teacher of gifted children, I have been a witness to the detrimental effects of a Fixed Mindset. Students who are a victim of this show a gradual decline in curiosity and enthusiasm through the years, and their parents and classroom teachers will talk to me about how these children seem to be determined to do the “absolute minimum” in required tasks. Since I first learned about the concept of mindsets, I have been making a concentrated effort in my classroom to change the language. Instead of, “You are so smart,” I will say, “You must have worked really hard to figure that out.” When students say, “This is really hard!” I say, “Good, that means you are being challenged, and that’s good for your brain.” I praise the students who I can tell are really persevering on a difficult task, rather than the ones who complete it in record time. (“Gosh, it looks like we need to find something a bit harder for you,” I might say to the latter students, or “How could you have made that more of a challenge for yourself?”) I emphasize that the minimum is not acceptable. A few weeks ago, several of my first graders, when asked to write down what they thought the “Rules” for GT were, put, “Go above and beyond,” which warmed my heart.
As parents and teachers we also need to model the Growth Mindset. We need children to see us taking risks, doing things that are outside our comfort zone. They need to witness us deal with mistakes and setbacks in a healthy way – as opportunities to learn. And they need to know about the hard work we put into achieving our goals. We need to stop saying things like, “Well, I’ve never been good in math,” or “Science was never my thing.” If they don’t see their role models taking risks, trying new things, working to get better – then why should they?
Another thing that we can do is to teach our children about Mindsets. This year, our director bought us a great book that I have been using with my 3rd grade students: Aim to Grow Your Brain by Joanne Billingsley. It has completely changed the conversations in our classroom, making the students aware of their own mindsets and remind each other to learn from mistakes and take on new challenges.
Here are some other great resources about Mindsets: