Category Archives: Motivation

Zen Pencils – the Book

Gavin Aung Than, the super-talented artist behind Zen Pencils, published a collection of some of his comics last November. Needing a bit of inspiration this week, I read it again from cover to cover. When I finished, I felt like I was almost as powerful as Rising Phoenix, one of his recurring characters.

Rising Phoenix from Zen Pencils "Marie Curie" cartoon by Gavin Than
Rising Phoenix from Zen Pencils “Marie Curie” cartoon by Gavin Than

Gavin takes famous quotes and creates amazing cartoons around them.  Some of the 36 cartoons included in the book are based on selected words from: Theodore Roosevelt, Marianne Williamson, Marie Curie, and Vincent Van Gogh.  Gavin’s artistic interpretation of each passage is incredibly insightful and extremely creative.

Zen Pencils Book

Of course, one of my favorite gems in the book is Gavin’s cartoon based on Taylor Mali’s poem, “What Teachers Make.” (Not one to show to your students, though!)

To see one of Gavin’s recent masterpieces, take a look at “All the World’s a Stage,” a beautiful adaptation of the Shakespearean quote from As You Like It.  This is the closest I’ve ever come to crying over a cartoon – or Shakespeare.

Though I wouldn’t recommend this book for younger children (a tiny bit of questionable language and gestures and a large portion of higher level vocabulary), you can see in this “Reader of the Month” feature that Gavin’s readers are as young as 10 years old.  You can see Zen Pencils inspired artwork by the two girls here.

The book includes a wonderful pull-out poster featuring many of Gavin’s cartoon characters and the motto, “Imagination Unlocks the Universe.”

Zen Pencils would make a wonderful graduation gift for a high school or college student or for any teenager or adult who appreciates a healthy dose of creativity and inspiration.  I will be adding this to my “Books for Gifted Students – Or Any Child Who Loves to Learn” Pinterest Board as a recommendation for older students.  If you have an interest in Zen Pencils, but you aren’t sure you want to commit to a book of 36 cartoons, take a look at the Zen Pencils store, where I guarantee you will find a poster that is perfect for any setting.

Education Memes

Our #neisdpln chat last night used internet memes to introduce each question.  The clever participants cracked me up with their hilarious replies – many of them using their own memes.  I seriously had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard by the end of the chat. Here was one of the questions:

Q41stworld

And one of the responses (from @jodiharris16):

1stworldproblems

 

It was lots of fun, and you can see some of the other memes here.  For the complete Storify of our chat, here is the link.

If you are considering using memes as a teaching tool, here is a link to some ideas.  One of my favorite sites for adults to use as a meme generator (which also generate gifs) is this one: https://imgflip.com/memegenerator, but beware that there is a lot of content that is not appropriate for children.

#NEISDPLN – Internet Memes in Edu

Testing week.

Ugh.

Stressful.

Depressing.

NOT fun.

So, why not join us in a light-hearted Twitter chat using memes to discuss education?

Everyone is invited!

It’s tonight (Tuesday, April 21st, 2015) at 8 PM CST.  #NEISDPLN

picardmeme

Here are the questions:

1. Haters gonna hate – what’s something you hear educators complain about too often?

2. Grumpy Cat – How do you deal with the grumpy cats you encounter in your job?

3. Facepalm or Epic Fail – What is a teaching mistake you made that you’ve since corrected?

4.  Like a Boss – What are the ideal features of an administrator?

5.  1st World Problems – What are “problems” in our education system that other countries might find silly?

6. Charlie Bit Me – What’s the funniest thing a student has said in your class (and you wish you had video of it)?

I know you were testing today, and it’s exhausting.  But, look on the bright side – you don’t have any papers to grade tonight!

It’s going to be fun.  It’s going to be EPIC.  Do you want to be this guy:

grumpycat

or these guys:

epic

The choice is yours!

Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome

My students and I are huge fans of Kid President.  They love his videos and beg to watch them repeatedly.  I’m okay with that.  Kid President is a great role model, and his giggle makes it absolutely impossible to be grumpy.

You can buy Kid President's book here.
You can buy Kid President’s book here.

KP (Robby Novak) recently published a book with his videographer/brother-in-law, Brad Montague, Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome.  My students insisted that this was a necessary classroom resource, so I ordered it.  It arrived just in time for a field trip for my 3rd-5th graders that involved an hour-long bus ride.  The book was happily passed around during the entire trip.

The book is colorful and full of pictures. It includes monologues from some of KP’s videos and interviews he has done with celebrities.  Many awesome people, including a large number of youths, are featured in the book.  The book is not dry and preachy, though.  Every page is motivational and includes typical KP humor.  Kid President’s advice to make the world more awesome ranges from, “Give the world a reason to dance,” (#62) to “Put tape on your nose,” (#63).  Other great words of wisdom are #70, “Gather your friends, dress up like superheroes, and do someone’s yard work,” and #82, “Give out handmade awards.”

Of course my favorite Kid President advice is #87:

recite-1uuwsp7

Kid President goes on to say, “We are convinced that if you want to change a community, it starts in a classroom.”

To stay organized, there is a handy checklist in the back of the book to help you keep track of your awesomeness.  Also included is a “A New Pep Talk.” Kid President recently uploaded a video inviting fans to make their own videos of the “New Pep Talk,” and send them in for possible inclusion on an upcoming special.  (Submissions are due April 23, 2015.)

I would recommend this book for any classroom.  Kids and adults of all ages seem to love Kid President.  I also think it would be a great book to consider as a graduation gift.  Parents might purchase one for home and discuss with their children which section to read each night.

I’m definitely adding this book to my “Books for Gifted Students – Or any Child Who Loves to Learn” Pinterest Board.  You might also want to check out my “Inspirational Videos for Students” board, which includes many Kid President videos as well as other great resources.

Kid President and Steve Martin

In case you haven’t heard the news, Kid President is now an uncle! He’s a bit concerned about this new responsibility, so he consulted Steve Martin for advice.  This week’s Phun Phriday offering is the link to the video of this interview – and don’t miss the “Butter me up, and call me a biscuit!” secret link at the end of the video :)

from: Kid President and Steve Martin: Together at Last!
from: Kid President and Steve Martin: Together at Last!

Keep Going

Keep Going” is a good video to show that encourages the Growth Mindset.  It is filmed in Lego stop-motion, although adults are the target audience.  Students in 3rd grade and up will understand the message, particularly if you have already been talking about mindsets in class.  I also like that it fits in nicely with the maker ed mantra from Sylvia Libow-Martinez and Gary Stager of, “Think, Make, Improve.”

If you have ever thought about “the terrible gap between what you wanted to do and what you’ve actually done,” then this video will speak to you.  It applies to any attempts we make to achieve a vision, whether as a student, a worker, a spouse, a parent, or any other role in which we have some creative control over the outcome.  We should take any opportunity we receive to revise our first draft instead of walking away in defeat.

recite-1q10tiu

 

Here are some more inspirational videos for teachers and for students. I also have a Growth Mindset Pinterest board here.

Watch Out for Those Pebbles

It’s testing week in our neck of the woods and you can see the stress in the eyes of teachers and students.  It’s difficult to be happy to come to school on days like these.

While going through some of my older posts, I ran across one that I wrote my first year of blogging on the Mini Motivation website.  I had completely forgotten this site existed.  So, I spent 20 minutes refreshing the page to get as much motivation as I could.  Here is one of my favorite quotes that was new to me:

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.22.10 PM

If you decide to use the site in your classroom (although you probably can’t do that during testing), I would advise you find a quote first before sharing it with the class on the “big screen.”  It’s possible you may discover one that you don’t find appropriate for your particular audience.

I have more quotations (with prettier graphics) on this Pinterest Board.  And, don’t forget this link to Inspirational Videos for Teachers the next time you need a pick-me-up :)