Tag Archives: graduation

Here’s to the Lives That You’re Gonna Change

It’s the season of graduations, and Jason Mraz just released the perfect song to accompany every single one of them.  I played it yesterday as my 4th graders were working on mandalas, and they left the classroom singing the chorus in unison on the way to lunch.

The song, “Have it All,” is one of those catchy tunes that you don’t have to be a music producer to predict will be an instant hit.  It will lift your heart even more when you watch the video.  Students from Binford Middle School in Richmond, VA, (where Mraz has mentored since last year) appear in segments of this uplifting short film. The custodian gets a starring role, too!

Jason Mraz is a master of lyrics, and your students may enjoy analyzing such lines as, “May you be as fascinating as the slap bracelet.”  My favorite is the one I used to title this blog post.

For more inspiration for the students who are embarking on new chapters in their lives, you may want to check out this collection of videos I posted last year.  I also have a list of books that make great graduation gifts.

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Graduation Inspiration (Reblog)

This is a reblog of a post I originally published in 2015. 

As graduation season rolls around once again, I thought I would compile a list of videos that I’ve found over the years that eloquently describe the hopes and dreams I have for my students in the future. I’ve placed the length of each video beside it.  Not all of these are graduation speeches, but they all give one or more of the following messages: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Make the Most of Your Time and Abilities.  Most of these videos (and many more) can be found on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board.  As always, please preview any video before you show it to your students.

graduation

Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders (2:12)

Making It from StoryCorps (2:43)

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived (1:16)

Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech (4:40), Ashton Kutcher on his Teen Choice Speech (3:15) – better for older students

The Time You Have in Jellybeans (2:44)

212: The Extra Degree Inspirational Movie (2:59)

Kid President Graduation Speech (4:12)

The Real Purpose of Your Life (2:18)

These last two are my all-time favorite videos to show departing students:

Jeff Bezos at Princeton (18:44 – his part starts around 6:27)

Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter (4:40)

For more resources, Amy Borovoy curated a wonderful list last May for Edutopia. You can find it here.

7 Books That Make Great Graduation Gifts

After doing yesterday’s post about videos to inspire graduates, I realized that I could easily  list a few books that I would recommend as graduation gifts.  Oh, The Places You’ll Go is a regular favorite, but here are some lesser known choices that might work:

For Kindergarten or Primary Students:

Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by Kimberly and James Dean image from: Pete the Cat's Groovy Guide to Life by

image from: Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Life by Kimberly and James Dean

 

For Elementary (5th or 6th Grades) or Middle School Graduates:

Heroes for my Daughter (or Heroes for my Son) by Brad Meltzer

365 Days of Wonder by RJ Palacios

Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Brad Montague and Robbie Novak

For High School or College Graduates:

Whatever You Are Be a Good One by Lisa Congdon

Zen Pencils Book by Gavin Than

Things Don’t Have to Be Complicated edited by Larry Smith

Of course, you don’t have to restrict your gift-giving to graduates. Teachers and administrators might appreciate these, too 😉

You can check out more general gift ideas on this Pinterest Board, and I have some other recommended books here.

Graduation Inspiration

As graduation season rolls around once again, I thought I would compile a list of videos that I’ve found over the years that eloquently describe the hopes and dreams I have for my students in the future. I’ve placed the length of each video beside it.  Not all of these are graduation speeches, but they all give one or more of the following messages: Be Kind, Work Hard, and Make the Most of Your Time and Abilities.  Most of these videos (and many more) can be found on my “Inspirational Videos for Students” Pinterest Board.  As always, please preview any video before you show it to your students.

graduation

Thoughts on Kindness from George Saunders (2:12)

Making It from StoryCorps (2:43)

If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived (1:16)

Ashton Kutcher’s Teen Choice Award Speech (4:40), Ashton Kutcher on his Teen Choice Speech (3:15) – better for older students

The Time You Have in Jellybeans (2:44)

212: The Extra Degree Inspirational Movie (2:59)

Kid President Graduation Speech (4:12)

The Real Purpose of Your Life (2:18)

These last two are my all-time favorite videos to show departing students:

Jeff Bezos at Princeton (18:44 – his part starts around 6:27)

Mark Bezos: A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Firefighter (4:40)

For more resources, Amy Borovoy curated a wonderful list last May for Edutopia. You can find it here.

A Graduation Message from Kid President

Kid President has released a new video that addresses graduates everywhere.  Watch the video for some great advice – and to find out if he has a special “announcement” about the upcoming election 😉 For more inspirational videos, check out this Pinterest Board.

Videos About Kindness

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 8.37.29 PM

As graduation time rolls around again, I am reminded of one of my favorite commencement speeches in which Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, pronounced that it is better to be kind than to be clever.  It is well worth showing your students, particularly 4th grade and up.  If you have younger students, you might want to show them this newly animated video of a portion of George Saunders’ graduation address to Syracuse University students last year in which he also argues for the value of kindness. (I referred to this speech in an earlier post about kindness, when I reflected on the book, Wonder.)

 

As I look through my Pinterest Board of Inspirational Videos for Students, I find that kindness is a common theme.  Here are some others that I’ve collected through the years:

“Nothing More” – a song about kindness by Alternate Routes

“Giving” – a video that shows how kindness may be repaid many years later

“A Life Lesson” – from volunteer firefighter Mark Bezos (yes, the brother of Jeff) about how the little things can mean a lot

“Kindness Boomerang” – how paying it forward may end up paying you back

“Painted Pie” – a beautiful, post-impressionistic animation about a legacy of kindness

Shoe Collection – one of my own students, who spent her birthday helping others

 “The Robin” – a great video for young students, this animation shows a robin who stands up to bullies and is then faced with being on the other side

If you have any other suggestions for videos about kindness, feel free to mention them in the comments below!

 

A Great Graduation Gift

This is a reblog from a post that I did in November last year.  Now that the school year is quickly nearing its close, I’ve started hearing parents discuss what they can do to make upcoming milestones special.  Here is one idea you may want to consider.

heroes

My daughter was about to “graduate” from elementary school last year, and I started to panic.  I had seen on Pinterest all of the ideas for using the book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, with signatures from past teachers, as a graduation gift.  But I wanted to do something a little different.  After much internet detective work, I found, Heroes for My Daughter, by Brad Meltzer. (He has also written Heroes for My Son.)

Fortunately, I happen to work at my daughter’s school – at least, I did last year, before she went on to middle school.  Also fortunately, all of her past teachers, including her Music and P.E. teachers, still work there.  I took pictures of them, and used a photo editing tool to make the pictures look like the ones in the book.  Then, I asked each of her teaching heroes to write a message to her.

She cried when she opened the gift on her graduation day.  Granted, she had already cried several times that day.  Leaving elementary school was a lot more emotionally taxing than either of us suspected. Nevertheless, she seemed very appreciative of the book.

During the summer, we read one of the short chapters from the book each night before she went to bed.  We both learned a lot about the people in the book, such as Julia Child and the Three Stooges.

When we finished the book, she said, “I think we should read it again.”

If you are looking for a great book to give as a gift to a child, then you should definitely consider Heroes for My Daughter (or Heroes for My Son).  And, if you can, read it along with her or him. Your child will not be the only one who benefits from this gift.  (By the way, both books include role models from both genders.)

Here is my Pinterest Board of Books for Gifted Students.  Previous entries for this year’s “Gifts for the Gifted” post are:  CubeletsSifteo CubesScrabble Flash, and Make-Do.  (You can also find these on the Games and Toys for Gifted Students Pinterest Board.)