Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Ways to Teach Your Students About Grit

Angela Duckworth defines grit as "perseverance and passion for long-term goals". Many studies are now showing that grit is an important characteristic in determining success. Not giving up when it gets challenging and practice, practice, practice to develop the skills that will help us reach our goals. Especially in the beginning of the year, especially with little ones I can't tell you how often I hear them say "ït's too hard, I can't do it".  They need to learn that sometimes these skills do not come easily, that you have to work for it. That you can't just give up. Now I hear different comments, now they say "ït's hard but I'm going to try it".

I like using videos to demonstrate concepts like this-the following is one of my favorites to show grit:

I also like to model grit using literature:

A clumsy click beetle practices and practices to learn how to flip and click.

Alan lives to scare his friends until they find out he has false teeth. He has to work to find another purpose in life and he does.

The chickens are scared, but they build up their courage and do it anyway.

This penguin has the soul of an eagle and wants to learn how to fly.

 Some kids want to save the baby turtles on their beach. They knock on doors and word very hard to accomplish that task.

Lonnie Johnson had many doors slammed in his face, but he did not give up working toward his dreams. He ended up inventing one of the most popular kids' toy ever.

A little girl wants the bicycle in the window and works very hard to earn the money to get it.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Encouraging Empathy

Empathy has been a passion of mine for the past few years. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that about 2 1/2 years ago I underwent treatment for breast cancer. I was truly surprised at the lack of empathy even people in the medical profession showed. I know that they see hundreds of patients every week but for example, after my first chemo treatment my oncologist asked me about the side effects I was dealing with. I told him that it was horrible, that I didn't think I could do that 7 more times-I had to sleep on the bathroom floor for a week. His response literally was "it's chemo-what did you expect?" I had a specialist who asked me about how I was doing and he responded "wow, I can't imagine what you are going through"-I wanted to burst into tears-that to me was a very empathetic response, something I had not heard very often.

I started noticing that a lot of people wait in conversations to bring the topic back to themselves. "How do you feel today?"-well, actually I'm pretty tired, I had a chemo treatment on Friday.  "Oh, I know exactly how you feel, I stayed up last night to watch the whole new season of Game of Thrones". Yeah, not the same thing. Even online, if you read comments to a post-rarely do you see someone say "that must be hard"-they respond with an experience of how that happened to them too and how it wasn't so bad. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that- just that if you are paying attention and trying to be more empathetic, that's a good place to start.

So I started reading up on it. And the more I read, the more I was convinced to take the time to consciously teach this to my students.What can we say if someone shares something sad with us? Don't you think the custodian has a hard job, what could we do to make that easier for her? They'd find a spider in the classroom-let's just let it be, maybe he's just trying to learn too-think about how he feels.

I read them stories where they can put themselves in someone else's shoes. Here are just a few titles I recommend:

We write from the perspective of a character, compare perspectives. Anything that can put my students in the shoes of others. We view webcams of animals-one of my favorite sites for this (although my district now blocks it) is: . They have web cams watching animals in zoos, service dogs being trained. I used to love to come back at lunch and just watch the kittens playing-very relaxing. But the kids get to think about what life is like for these animals.

I will leave you with my favorite video on empathy that was shared by Terri over at:

And this is one to share with your students:

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Friday, March 9, 2018

Comparing Perspectives

Multiple Perspectives is one of my favorite concepts from Kaplan's Depth and Complexity to teach. I think particularly for our little ones-who believe the world revolves around them :) -this is a difficult concept. Not only to put yourself in the shoes of another but then compare how two or more characters view the world.

We are reading a chapter book right now called The Wild Robot. 

I asked my students to compare the perspectives of several different characters-how would they describe the robot in the story.

We did the same thing with The Lorax. It was hard for them not to just describe him but to describe him from the point of view of another character. The Once-ler and the Truffula Trees viewed the Lorax very differently.

helpful, savior for the trees-annoying, wasting time for the Once-ler

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Monday, March 5, 2018

New Uses for Cotton Candy

New Uses for Everyday Things is a great way to get your kiddos to think outside of the box! It's challenging for them to think of a new way to use something. We read this story as part of our rodeo unit:

And then I asked the kids to come up with a new use for cotton candy. In the story it's a tutu, they talk about it "blanketing" everything. Instead of just eating it--what could we do with it? Here are some of the ideas they came up with:

Could you imagine a cotton candy bubble bath! :) 

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