Category Archives: Education

Growth Mindset and Why it Matters

I came across this Slide Rocket presentation on WhatKidsCanDo.org. If you are teaching older students or doing a professional development about mindset, this would be a great resource.  It includes links to several mindset videos, as well as suggested activities to go along with each one.  For more Growth Mindset resources, check out my Pinterest Board!

Growth Mindset from WhatKidsCanDo.org
image from: Growth Mindset Slide Rocket Presentation from WhatKidsCanDo.org

You Can Have Your Legos – and Eat Them, Too!

What can’t be done with Legos? I wish I had recognized the potential of this versatile toy when I was a kid!  Legos appear quite a bit on this blog because I am regularly astonished by how creative people can be with them, and certainly not because they pay me any money – which they absolutely don’t.  For today’s Phun Phriday post, I offer you links that show Legos making music, Legos keeping track of appointments, and Legos that will make your mouth water!

See the first ever Lego band play a Depeche Mode song here!
See the first ever Lego band play a Depeche Mode song in this post from The Creators Project!
Not only is this calendar made of Legos, but it digitally syncs!  Find out more in this article by Core77!
Not only is this calendar made of Legos, but it digitally syncs! Find out more in this article by Core77!
Nothing would actually be built with these in my house because we would be too busy eating them!  Find out more at Neatorama!
Nothing would actually be built with these in my house because we would be too busy eating them! Find out more at Neatorama!

Courage Zone

I am really working on developing a growth mindset in my students this year.  On Monday I mentioned that I was trying to think of a visual to use in my classroom to remind my students that they should focus more on learning than on being perfect.  This bulletin board is the result.  It is not what I initially had in mind, but I think it gets the message across.  I found this graphic that helped to lay the groundwork.  Apparently, it is based on The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Teens by Sean Covey.  From that graphic, a 98-cent huge disc and some neon green tubey kind of ribbon from Michael’s, some blue straws from Ikea, and a cute piece of clip art from MS Word, I came up with the bulletin board below.  In case you can’t tell, the student has climbed the ladder from the safety of the Comfort Zone to walk the tightrope of the Courage Zone.  Someone (I can’t remember who, so let me know if it was you!)  gave me the idea to give the students neon-colored post-it notes so they can write something that they have done in the past that was out of their comfort zone and stick it to the board.

For more resources on teaching about a Growth Mindset, here is my Pinterest Board on that topic.

Comfort Zone

 

Powtoon for Educators

I had to search my own blog to find the last time I posted about Powtoon.  It was two years ago!  They have come a long way since then!

Powtoon is a fun way to present, allowing you all kinds of dynamic tools that will keep your viewers engaged.

The company recently launched a major campaign for educators offering free classroom accounts.  These accounts are usually $96/year, and you can add 60 students to your account!  The offer expires on October 31, 2014 – so be sure to activate yours soon!

Powtoon Educator Offer

A lot of resources have been added to the Powtoon library since the last time I reviewed it.  For example, when you go to your Dashboard, and choose to create, you will find that there are many templates that you can use .  These templates are fun; there’s even a “Teacher Intro” one!  I took that one, made a couple of minor changes, and had the one embedded below finished in under 5 minutes.

With all of my talk about creativity this week, Powtoon certainly fits the theme.  Imagine what your students could do with this great tool!

International Dot Day 2014

Yesterday’s post was about making mistakes.  A lot of our students are afraid to try anything because they think they will do it “wrong.” But there are lots of activities that don’t have a right or wrong way to do them.  Sometimes creativity and having fun are important parts of learning, too.

If you are looking for an easy, engaging way to get this message across to your students, try participating in International Dot Day on September 15th, 2014.  Read the fabulous book, The Dot, by Peter Reynolds.  Try one of the fun suggested classroom activities in the Educator’s Handbook.  Connect with someone using Skype in the Classroom. Or try the augmented reality app, ColAR, with the free Dot Day sheet.  Check out this Pinterest board or this one.  And don’t forget to check out the Celebri-dots here!

image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217
image from: http://www.coloruswell.com/?p=217

Make Glorious & Fabyuluss Mistakes

I saw a link on my Twitter feed the other day to a post done by Eric Sheninger called, “Students Yearn for Creativity, Not Tests.”  It’s from March of this year, and I can’t believe I missed it back then.  However, that’s the great thing about Twitter – the treasures come around more than once.

Featured in the post are a few videos created by students based on an assignment they were given which involved reading Sir Ken Robinson’s book, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. One of the student videos really resonated with me because of so many other experiences I’ve had in recent weeks that emphasize the value of making mistakes.  The video is by Sarah Almeda, and I highly recommend you watch the video, “Let’s Make Some Good Art” and her “afterword” video which appears at the end of the post.  Her tribute to the educators who fostered her creativity in the latter one is very inspiring.

image by Sarah Almeda
image by Sarah Almeda in her video, “Let’s Make Good Art.”

This year, I really plan to make it my mission to motivate my students to take more risks and challenge themselves.  As Sarah says in her video, though, schools inherently discourage this by punishing mistakes and only rewarding “right answers.”  I have a couple of ideas for changing this in my classroom as I continue to teach my students about having a Growth Mindset (check out my Pinterest Board if you would like some more information about this).

This weeks’s TED Radio Hour was all about making mistakes.  And one of the speakers, Margaret Heffernan, mentioned this about schools: “… we do bring children up to imagine that there is a right answer, and that intelligence is about knowing that right answer, and therefore if you get a wrong answer, you’re stupid. So what we do is we teach people not even so much to have a passion for the right answer, but have great talent for second-guessing what everybody wants the answer to be.”  As Sarah Almeda draws in her video, this is the inevitable outcome in schools that foster this type of thinking:

 

image by Sarah Almeda in her video, "Let's Make Good Art."
image by Sarah Almeda in her video, “Let’s Make Good Art.”

Even James Dyson, in an interview with Science Friday, said the following: “In life, you don’t have the right answers available all the time.  You have to work them out.  So I would actually mark children by the number of mistakes they make because they’ve experienced failure and learned from it.  Whereas the brilliant child who gets it right the first time because they remembered the answer isn’t necessarily the one who is going to change the world or succeed in life.” (I’m assuming he meant that students who make more mistakes would get higher grades as opposed to the current system.)

How can we change our current system?  We need to create a learning environment that encourages taking risks in thinking and finding the value in mistakes.   As teachers, it will help for us to admit our own mistakes and to tell how they changed us.  And, though there are times that only one right answer is acceptable, we should also give our students plenty of opportunities to engage in thinking that is open-ended.

I have a small idea germinating about a tangible way to show this in the classroom that I may share later this week…

Game About Squares

Before you click on the link below, you must agree to the following statement:

“I will not hate Terri Eichholz for the rest of eternity just because she introduced me to this horribly addictive game that got me fired from my job because I couldn’t stop playing.”

Agreed?

Okay.

It’s Phun Phriday, and I found a really fun game that I’ve been wanting to share with you all week.  It’s called “Game About Squares.” It’s online and HTML 5, so you should be able to play it on mobile devices.  (I haven’t tried because I don’t want to start over!)

One of the messages between levels on Game About Squares
One of the messages between levels on Game About Squares

I am currently stuck on Level 14, and I am not a happy camper.  I’ve been making myself solve at least one new level every time I get on my home computer, but I tried two last night and got stuck.  I’m sure I could find the answer on the internet somewhere but that kind of defeats the purpose.

Right?

Check back with me in a few days and see if I’m still feeling that ethical about it…

I despise you, Level 14!
I despise you, Level 14!