Category Archives: Motivation

Mockups

In that creepy way that Amazon has of knowing all about you, it recommended Mockups to me when I was searching for another brainstorming game someone had recommended on Twitter.  The original game was not available, so I thought I would give Mockups a try instead.

Mockups is a good game to practice Design Thinking.  It includes cards of three different colors.  Pick a card of each color, and you suddenly have a Design Thinking Challenge.  A white card tells you the person you are designing for, the gray card tells you what to design, and the black card will give you a constraint for that design.

As an example, I just randomly selected: Adventurous Preschoolers, A Way to Keep Their Hands Warm, Absorbent.  There are suggested “games” to play using the card, such as giving the challenge to teams to come up with the best answer or making groups work silently on creating a solution.  Of course, you can use the cards however you want.

This can be a fun way to encourage creativity, and students can learn empathy and new vocabulary as they design.  The suggested ages, according to Amazon, are 6+.  I took out the card, “bartenders,” but didn’t see any others that were objectionable.

For some other Makerspace challenge ideas, check out this recent post.

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Mockups can be purchased here.
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The Desire to Learn

I teach students who have been identified as “gifted.”  Yet I know that there are many kinds of giftedness that may not be measured by the tests we give.  I also know that there are students who qualify for my program who sometimes have difficulty in school – and in life.  Being labeled “gifted” does not guarantee success; not being “gifted” does not doom one to failure.

When my daughter entered school, we had the choice of whether or not to have her take a test that might qualify her to skip kindergarten.  One of the people I asked for advice said, “Well, it depends.  Many of the students who skip a grade don’t end up qualifying for the gifted program.  How important is it for your child to be ‘gifted?’  At this point, she may always be at the top of her class, but if she skips kindergarten she may not stand out so much.”

We let her take the test.  It was more important for me to make sure she would be at a level appropriate to her ability most of the time than for her to receive a label that would only guarantee a couple of hours a week of advanced curriculum.

She passed the test and moved to 1st grade her second week of school.  When she was tested for Gifted and Talented later that year, she did not qualify.

I’ll admit that it stung a bit.  I teach gifted and talented students and, like many parents, I was pretty proud of my own child’s intelligence.  But she had an incredible first grade teacher (thanks, Mrs. Whitworth!) and it was clear that my daughter was well-suited for the academics she encountered.  The only time I’ve regretted the decision for her to skip kindergarten is when I realized that it meant I had one less year to save for college – and to prepare for an empty nest.

My daughter eventually qualified for the Gifted and Talented program.  I was happy because I knew she would learn even more great things from the teacher, Mrs. Balbert.  I was even fortunate to have my daughter in my own GT class her last year of elementary school.

But I would have been fine if she had not ever been identified as gifted.  Because what I admire most about my daughter is not her grades or her label.  It is her desire to learn.  She is intrinsically motivated and willing to try new things. She chooses activities and classes that interest her, and works hard because they were her choices.

This is what I tell parents of students who do not qualify for our program – just as GT does not equal accomplishment, not being in a GT program does not condemn a student to an average life.  In fact, according to the Fullerton Longitudinal Study, which you can read about here, it is the “motivationally gifted” who seem to reap the most benefits when it comes to advanced academic degrees and leadership potential.  And, as you’ve probably guessed, not many GT programs test for intrinsic motivation.

The good news – and the bad news – is that the desire to learn can be fostered in any child when parents and educators shift the focus of learning to encouraging curiosity and the development of strengths and away from the emphasis on grade point averages.

Parents, do your child a favor by disregarding class rank, and work with the school to find courses that interest him or her.  Model your own enjoyment of learning new things and taking calculated risks.  Help your child to understand what it feels like to pursue a difficult challenge because it is interesting instead of because it will look good on a transcript.

Educators, think about what you can do to contribute to providing environments that nurture the desire to learn.  (Shift This, by Joy Kirr, is a great book to help you get started.) Cultivate student interests and strengths whenever you have the opportunity.

GT, Honors, AP, straight A’s, should not be badges of honor – or shame.  I was devastated when I wasn’t first in my class in high school, but it hasn’t made a speck of difference in my success or lack of it.  Fortunately, I never lost my desire to learn. Just a few months ago, I learned how to change my own flat tire, and it felt pretty good.  Until my daughter clocked me in the head with the car door.  “Car-ma” for being a little too proud of my own accomplishment.  Is it possible to be overly intrinsically motivated?  Maybe that should be the follow-up study…

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Kid President Printables

Now, if you don’t know by now that I adore Kid President, you need to see this post, and, well, pretty much any of these.  That is why I was so excited to find that We Are Teachers is offering a set of free Kid President printable posters here.  And I just got my own laminator, so I am going to be making good use of it.  (I never knew I wanted to laminate so many things until I got this little gadget!) By the way, We Are Teachers has a lot of other sets of free printables that you can find here, including 5 free kindness posters which I’m ready to laminate and post anonymously in numerous public places or maybe just hire a plane to drop like leaflets all over the country…

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image from Wikimedia

Believe in Good

As I continue to seek out ways to battle sexism, racism, and all of the other intolerant -isms and phobias, it is nice to find videos that support this quest.  Though they may be commercials (isn’t anything that is supposed to persuade you a commercial?), the message in each of these videos is powerful and, most of all, kind.  For more inspirational videos, you can check here and here.

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image from Lorie Shaull on Flickr

 

 

 

James and Susie

I landed in a new Twitter chat this weekend (#ecet2 – Elevating and Celebrating Effective Teaching and Teachers).  The moderator was @AngelaAbend, and the topic was gifted students.  Here is one of the threads from the discussion when we were asked to describe gifted children:Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 4.26.27 PM.png

I don’t like to over-generalize gifted students.  Some can be hard on themselves and do their best in school.  But there are others who do so well at the beginning of their school careers that they receive more compliments than challenges.  Without sufficient problem-solving practice during these formative years, these students may never learn what to do when answers do not immediately appear in their heads.  By assuming young, successful students will “be fine,” we inadvertently cripple them later in life.  It’s essential that we target every child’s Zone of Proximal Development regularly so they can be equipped with tools and strategies for dealing with difficulties.

During the chat, Angela Abend tweeted the video, “James and Susie,” which illustrates the need for all children to be challenged.

When my gifted students say, “This is hard!” I tell them, “Good!  That’s my job!  If it was too easy, I’d be worried.”  Of course, there are students like my 5th grader from last year who would say, “This isn’t in my ZPD!” with a sly grin on his face.  “Keep trying!  You’ll figure it out,” I always responded.  And he would.

What You Missed This Summer – Inspirational Videos

I know that my readership takes a dip June-August each year as many educators go on vacations or take breaks during those months.  Although I did not post as regularly as I meant to this summer, I did share some resources that I believe are worth repeating in case you missed them.  I am going to spend this week spotlighting some of those.

I already shared the Jennie Magiera video this week, but here are some others that I posted this summer that you may have missed:

As always, you can find hundreds more Inspirational Videos for Students and Inspirational Videos for Teachers on my Pinterest Boards!

What You Missed This Summer – Jennie Magiera

I know that my readership takes a dip June-August each year as many educators go on vacations or take breaks during those months.  Although I did not post as regularly as I meant to this summer, I did share some resources that I believe are worth repeating in case you missed them.  I am going to spend this week spotlighting some of those.

When I wrote about Jennie Magiera’s ISTE 2017 Keynote earlier this summer, I was hoping that there would be an official YouTube video that I could share with you by the time the new school year began.  However, that doesn’t appear to be the case.  So, I will refer you back to the Periscope I mentioned in my first post (Jennie’s portion begins at about the 25 minute mark).

Jennie spoke at ISTE in June when I still hadn’t had time to relax from the previous school year – yet I left her presentation wishing that I start my new school year right away.  I promised myself that I would watch her speech again in August to be sure that I would be energized when I return to work.

If you are interested in re-kindling the magic that inspires teachers to take their students on adventures, then you should watch Jennie Magiera.

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