Category Archives: Motivation

GoNoodle Has an App!

My students, particularly those in the K-3 grade levels, have really enjoyed using GoNoodle for brain breaks in our classroom.  The kids enjoy the music, the great variety of videos, and the movement.

Now students can log in to their own iOS devices at home to jump, dance, and sing with their favorite GoNoodle tunes. The iOS app is free, but students will need a parent to sign up and log them in the first time.  Make sure the child has a good place to set up his or her device for viewing while participating (an Apple TV is great for this!) so he or she can have hands-free fun!

GoNoodle is a great way to get the family moving before or after a heavy holiday meal, or after a long car trip to grandma’s house🙂

Download the free GoNoodle app now!
Download the free GoNoodle app for iOS now!

10 Common Phrases Teachers Should Never Say to Students

A few years ago, I posted, “Actually, There is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question,” which listed some of the ridiculous questions I’ve asked  my students in the past.  In my latest post for Fusion, “10 Common Phrases Teachers Should Never Say to Students,” I’ve added to my inventory of transgressions.  I confess that I’ve said all of the listed phrases (except for #8), and most of them were stated more than once.  In fact, #3 and #9 are still pretty difficult for me to suppress on a daily basis…

image source
image source

For my previous articles for Fusion, check out the links below:

Making Tough Choices

Decisions, decisions.  Some are certainly easier to make than others, as many people are discovering on this 2016 Election Day in the United States…

Kid President just released a timely video for the occasion.  Happily, it doesn’t just apply to election decisions. In fact, my 2nd graders have been discussing “Thinking Hats,” and “Making Tough Choices with Kid President,”  was the perfect supplement to a lesson on the importance of thinking about your thinking.  “Be thoughtful,” Kid President advises, after warning against impulsivity, doing nothing, and following along with everyone else.  Pretty sage advice from someone who isn’t even old enough to vote yet.

screen shot from, "Making Tough Choices with Kid President"
screen shot from, “Making Tough Choices with Kid President”

I will be adding this video to my “Inspirational Videos for Students” collection.  Here is a free printable of my Thanksgiving Thinking Hats Review if you are interested!

Also, if you haven’t seen the campaign projects from Joelle Trayers’ Kindergarten class, and need an election day smile, you must click on this link!

Oh, and by the way, looking for gift suggestions?  Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome is one of the many recommendations you will find on my “Gifts for the Gifted” page!

7 Classroom Management Myths and How to Combat Them

In my latest post for Fusion, I wrote about some of the common misconceptions that teachers have about managing behavior, and gave suggestions for alternatives.  You can read all about here.

Here are some of my other articles on Fusion:

Click here to get advice on classroom management!
Click here to get advice on classroom management!

The Scariest Thing in the World

Kid President covers the topic of the scariest thing in the world in his latest video, and gives us all the best advice – to live our awesome lives to the fullest.  Shout out to Damien for a great dance!  I will be adding this my collection of “Inspirational Videos for Students.”

Screen shot from Kid President's, "The Scariest Thing"
Screen shot from Kid President’s, “The Scariest Thing”

I Just Want to Know Why Joel Didn’t Save the Goat

I despise routine, mundane activities.  My daughter inherited this attitude, unfortunately, so we often find ourselves at an impasse when neither one of us feels motivated to do something that needs to be done.

She rides a shuttle bus from her magnet school each day, and her responsibility is to text me when the bus leaves so I can meet her at its destination.  My responsibility is to keep reminding her to text me so the rest of our afternoon doesn’t turn into angry accusations about who forgot who.

The other day, she actually remembered to text me as she left.  Usually, I try to reward this with a response like, “On my way!” or , “Okay!”  Feeling a bit perverse and bored with always giving the same answers, I decided to text, “ocean,” instead.

“?” she texted back.

I don’t know why I texted “ocean.”  Moms aren’t supposed to do random, unexplained things.  Why did I type “ocean” of all words?  Where did that come from?  How was I supposed to follow that?

“Joel,” I texted next, feeling that I might as well make her think I had gone completely insane.

No response.

When I parked at the school to wait for her bus, I sent one more word – “goat.”

Unsurprisingly, my daughter had raised eyebrows when she finally got in the car.

“What’s going on?” she asked.

“You’re supposed to figure out what all three have in common,” I said – as though this had been the plan the whole time.

“They all have o’s?” she asked.

“Nope.”

After a few more guesses, she resorted to Google on her phone.

“So, apparently, a guy named Joel saw a goat jump into the ocean,” she said.

“Yeah.  That’s not it, either.”

Google finally rewarded her after she sifted out all of the suicidal goat links.

“They’re all Billy’s!” she exclaimed.

“Yep.”

“This is fun!  Let’s do it again!  I might actually remember to text you if this is what happens every time.”

Her last statement penetrated my teacher brain, reinforcing something that I’ve known for awhile but never considered applying to our minor daily Battle of the Texts.

We all enjoy challenges that are in our Zone of Proximal Development.  In fact, they can engage and motivate us.  I observe this daily in my students when they make faces about tough math problems or reading passages – yet beg for more after they’ve succeeded.  It’s why activities like Breakout EDU and the Wonder League Robotics Competition missions are so popular.  These problems are novel and require deliberate thought, but are achievable with hard work.

Many of us struggle with how to motivate our children and/or students.  Rewards seem like bribes, and punishment causes resentment – which is never productive. We want our young people to develop intrinsic motivation instead of becoming eternally dependent on a carrot or a stick.  That ZPD contains the secret. Find that activity that makes them think a little harder, but is within their reach, and their eventual success will make them hunger for the next challenge instead of dreading or avoiding it.

By the way, it has been two days since the first random, accidental text.  So far, my daughter has not forgotten to text me and even, much to her delight, was able to solve one of my puzzles without any help from Google.  Of course, you don’t have to think of your own puzzles like this. Tribond is a game with the same purpose, and there are plenty of resources on the internet that are similar.  If you want something a bit harder, check out “Kennections” by Ken Jennings.

Someone please tell these goats not to jump...
Someone please tell these goats not to jump…

Choose Kind

Today I want to give a shout-out to a teacher.  I’m not going to give his name because I don’t want to inadvertently embarrass the student involved.

Yesterday, my daughter told me about a girl in one of her classes who realized, too late, that she studied for the wrong quiz. Apparently, the teacher alternates Type A quiz and Type B quiz, and she had studied valiantly for Type B on a Type A day.

When the student realized her mistake, she was genuinely horrified and upset.

Before my daughter told me the outcome of the story, I thought about how I would have handled the situation as this student’s teacher.

I’m sorry to say that, as a 5th grade teacher many years ago, I probably would have told the student that she should have checked her agenda and I hope she learned from her mistake.

Inwardly I hoped that my daughter’s teacher was better than the rookie teacher I was 20 years ago.

My daughter told me that the teacher didn’t say anything.  However, as the teacher passed out the quizzes to the students, a Type A to each, he silently gave that one girl a Type B quiz instead.  

What an awesome teacher.  He realized what took me too long to realize – that you never discourage a child’s effort to learn!

Plus, way to be organized and have the other quiz ahead of time😉

 

choose-kind