Tag Archives: motivation

More Growth Mindset Resources

Albert Einstein Quote


As you may have gathered from yesterday’s “Flappy Bird” post, I am trying very hard to maintain a Growth Mindset, and to foster this thinking in my daughter and students. One of my favorite bloggers, Sonya Terborg, also talks about encouraging a Growth Mindset in her classroom.  One of her ideas, in this post, is to add a Growth Mindset quote to any printed work that she hands out to her students.  Sonya links to this fabulous set of quotes that includes some from Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset.  Sonya also gives examples of some statements that communicate learning goals and expectations that she found on the MindSetWorks site.  In a separate post, Sonya discusses “Developing a Growth Mindset in an Inquiry Based Math Class.”  I love the way she leads up to a weekly math challenge for her students.

Here are some other recent resources I’ve collected about cultivating a Growth Mindset:

“How Not to Raise a Quitter” by Dr. Michele Borba

“Teaching Persistence: How to Develop Student Stamina” by Norene Wiesen

“Impact of Mindset on Teaching and Learning” by Drew Frank


If You’ve Never Failed, You’ve Never Lived

from the video below
from this motivational video

It’s fun to look at the stats for this blog to get an idea of what interests people.  By far, some of my most popular posts are the ones that list some of my favorite inspirational videos for teachers and for students.  Of course, that has motivated me to continue to keep looking for more videos; obviously people are hungry for any kind of spark they can find to encourage themselves and others.

I recently came across the video embedded below, and thought it would go well with a discussion about mindsets.  Each of the people cited in the video displayed a Growth Mindset when faced with obstacles.  Do your students know each name and his or her story?  Can your students name more people who should be added?  Can your students give examples of times they, themselves,  overcame failure?

Find Your Voice as a Teacher


The other day, I came to the sudden realization that I am the worst teacher ever.

Actually, it wasn’t so sudden.  I’ve suspected it many times over my decades-long career.  Coincidentally, these moments often occur when I am at a meeting with other teachers who share awesome ideas they are using in their own classrooms.

I usually try to counter these incidences of self-doubt by thinking of some of the not-so-great teachers I had as a child.  “At least you don’t do that,” I remind myself, recalling the Biology teacher who spent entire class periods espousing his religious beliefs.

But then I think of the teacher who’s entire class raised thousands of dollars for a charity, or people like Principal Salome Thomas-El who championed inner city kids to becoming chess champions.  “You don’t do that, either,” I tell myself glumly.

One of the advantages of being a connected educator is that you learn of great things that teachers are doing all over the world.

One of the pitfalls of being a connected educator is that you learn of great things that teachers are doing all over the world.

Yesterday, TechNinja Todd (@TechNinjaTodd) posted a fabulous article that addresses this horrible self-criticism that many of us suffer from.  Todd Nesloney, who will be going to the White House as a “Champion of Change”, wrote, “I am Me, and I Can’t Be You“, in which he fully admits that he has days that he feels like he isn’t doing such a great job – especially when comparing himself to some of the other fabulous educators he wants to emulate.

But Todd realized something, which I have learned as well.   The common thread among effective teachers isn’t that they are all doing the same thing with their students.  The common thread is that they are all using their own unique strengths to help their students make the best of their own unique strengths.

A few years ago, I decided to work on pursuing a personal goal of becoming a writer.  I wrote every day, and hated it.  The words were stilted and uninspiring.  I dreaded writing.  And then I realized it wasn’t working because I was trying to write like the authors I admired.  I was trying to write something that wasn’t me.

I have returned to a love of writing because I returned to my own voice.  Of course, if you read my stories, you would probably recognize some of the great authors who have influenced me over the years – just like, if you visit my classroom you would see some of the amazing teachers who have inspired me since elementary school (some of them have even been fictional). But you’re also going to find elements that reflect my own personality.  And, in the case of my classroom, it will be infused with the personalities of my students.

When we teach, we must use our own voice.  If we are not passionate about our teaching, I guarantee less learning will take place.  The true miracles happen in the classroom when our voices join together with our students’, and the result is a fantastic story that has never before been told.

Puppet Pals 2 + Aurasma = Reward Coupons


I’ve posted some QR code reward coupons for the classroom on this blog in the past.  The kids enjoy the air of mystery when they get a coupon and get to “discover” their reward.  As regular readers have probably figured out, though, I easily get bored.  So, I decided to change up this year’s reward coupons by adding a little “Aurasma-tazz.”

Before I go any further, if you are not familiar with Aurasma, I highly recommend that you visit the Two Guys and Some iPads blog to learn about it.  You do not have to know how to make an aura in order to use these coupons, but you do need to know how to use the app to scan and to follow a channel.

I created these coupons using Puppet Pals 2 on my personal iPad.  We have the first version of Puppet Pals at school, but I like that the second version incorporates moving mouths and limbs.  It also adds music.  It costs a bit for the All Access pass, so we haven’t purchased it at school, yet.

Because Puppet Pals 2 did not have a turkey, I used the one from the first version by importing the photo and cutting the character out.

From my Tellagami app smash, you will have learned that I dislike the sound of my own voice.  This time, I used a website, naturalreaders.com, for the character voices.   Also, I used Canva to create the images for the Reward Coupons.

All of these coupons mention being “thankful” so I thought they would be good to bring out this month, when we Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.  But, as I know many of you are not in the States, they are not centered on this theme.

I will be placing these in my class treasure box.  At first the students will not know what each reward is, so they will enjoy the element of surprise.  Once they become more familiar with the images, though, I will probably put them in envelopes, or disguise them in another way to keep them guessing.  Another way that you could use them would be to put them in cards for the students.

I am giving you links to the images in case you want to put them in a different format, as well as the PDF with all of them on there.  The images and/or PDF need to be printed in color in order to trigger the videos.  Also, you need to be following the Hidden Forest Elementary channel in the Aurasma app.

By the way, if you would like to see some more Augmented Reality Resources, check out this page, or my Augmented Reality in Education Flipboard magazine.

Aurasma Reward Coupons PDF

You Matter – with a bit of Aurasmatazz

from Angela Maiers' "You Matter Manifesto"
from Angela Maiers’ “You Matter Manifesto”

This is a continuation to yesterday’s post about using Augmented Reality in the classroom.  (Don’t forget to watch the AR 101 Show tonight at 9 PM EST tonight!)  As some of you know, one of the uses of AR in education is to use it to explain something or share work.  For example, this music teacher posted about how she videotaped students performing, then hung up papers in the hallway that people could scan to see the actual performances.  Or, there are many examples that show students sitting in the classroom or taking work home, and scanning the paper for videos that explain the instructions.

This weekend I was trying to think of some other uses for Augmented Reality, and had a sudden inspiration that I immediately put into action.  (It’s possible I read about this idea on someone else’s blog, and my brain is claiming it as its own – so let me know if you have already posted about this.)

“What if, instead of the kids videotaping themselves for the parents, I have the parents videotape themselves for the kids?”

I am constantly inspired by Angela Maiers’ “You Matter Manifesto.”  I think that showing people they matter to you, especially your students, greatly increases understanding and motivation.

“What if I ask the parents to videotape themselves (secretly) telling their kids they matter, and ask them to send the videos to me?  Then, I will print out a screen shot from each video, and hook them together in Aurasma.  I will put the photos on each child’s desk when he or she comes to class, and let them scan the photos to see the parent’s special message.  We will put the photos in their folders, and they will always have that inspiration to look at, or even play, to motivate them in class for the rest of the school year.”

I immediately ran to the computer to compose a message to the parents for this special request.  (I was so excited that I did not realize there were a couple of typos in my e-mail.  NEVER send an e-mail to parents on a Saturday immediately after you’ve had a sudden burst of inspiration!)

Here is the corrected version of the e-mail I sent.

I sent the request Saturday.  No one responded. (FYI – I have about 45 parents on my e-mail list since I teach elementary GT.)

Monday morning, I fired up my laptop, and disconsolately checked my e-mail.  And there was the first parent video a father had created for his son, telling him how much he cares about him, and what he hopes his son will achieve this year.

I almost cried while I watched it.  And he isn’t even my dad!

This is not going to be easy.  At least 2 students have parents who don’t have e-mail, and possibly even more may not have the technology to videotape themselves.  Some may forget, or choose not to do it.  I don’t want any students to be left out, so I have offered to meet with any parent who wants me to create the videotape, and my backup (if e-mails and phone calls don’t get them all) is to ask a teacher to create the message.

But I really think it’s going to be worth it.

Update:  See how the project is going so far by clicking here- and learn some logistical problems you can avoid if you try this, too!

Update2:  See my conclusions about this project here.

Arrr Ye Ready to Make This a Great Year, Matey?


You might think this is a post to remind you about Talk Like a Pirate Day, which is scheduled for September 19th.  But that would be a frivolous use of this blog space, right?  I mean, what does that have to do with education?

So, I am not going to try to convince you to talk like a pirate, but I would like to recommend that you Teach Like a Pirate – at least if you can do it the Dave Burgess way.

I first saw a reference to Teach Like a Pirate, by Dave Burgess, on Vicki Davis’ blog.  She referred to his Play-Doh activity, and I was immediately curious about what pirates have to do with Play-Do, much less teaching.  So, I downloaded it to the Kindle app on my iPad (because I wanted it immediately and Amazon told me I would have to wait 4-6 weeks).  And I have to say that I like this guy, Dave Burgess.  Apparently, I’ve been kind of trying to advocate for pirate-teaching for awhile without even realizing it.  Who knew?

In Dave’s case, “pirate” is actually an acronym for: passion, immersion, rapport, ask and analyze, transformation, and enthusiasm.  Dave asks two questions about your teaching: “If your students didn’t have to be there, would you be teaching in an empty room?”  and “Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?”

Hmm.  Excellent questions.

Don’t worry.  If you answered, “No,” to both of those questions, Dave has a ton of suggestions for changing things up.  His book includes 30 “Hooks” for engaging minds, including “The Mission Impossible Hook” and the “Reality TV Hook” among others.

I love Dave’s passion and I can’t wait to incorporate some of his ideas this year.  I even found this great video trailer on YouTube for a school that actually hosted a “Teach Like a Pirate” Day, which I would love to see happen at more schools.

Coincidentally, I happened to recently read Kelly Tenkely’s post about “De-Tox Week” at her school, which referenced this Pinterest board of activities that I also think would help me to Teach Like a Pirate.

I am ready to make this a great year, and to make sure my students don’t ever want to “walk the plank” right out of my classroom.  (Sorry, I know that was bad, but I couldn’t resist.)  What about you?

Alphabet of Engagement

photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc
photo credit: Leo Reynolds via photopin cc

Considering the title of my blog, you would think that I might have thought of this.  However, “26 Keys to Student Engagement” comes from the wonderful speaker, writer, and motivator, Angela Maiers – and it was written long before I even imagined this blog into being.

I took my students to visit our local Toyota plant last year, so I was happy to see “Kaizen”, the Japanese term for “continuous improvement” was included on the list.  I refer to this a lot in my classroom – and it is something that I also seek in my own efforts as a teacher.

I was curious to see what Angela listed for “Z.”  As soon as I saw “Zeal”, I knew it was the perfect conclusion to this alphabet of engagement.  Zeal, I agree, is essential in the classroom.  When the students see that we are passionate about the topic, then they become interested, as well.

One item in the alphabet that I always struggle with is to give the students a feeling of “Self-Efficacy.”  According to Angela, “Self efficacy is commonly defined as the belief in one’s capabilities to achieve a goal or an outcome.”  This is the precipice I teeter on every day with my gifted students – to challenge them enough to feel that self-efficacy when they complete their assignment, but not so much that they become discouraged and give up.  At the same time, I am challenging myself so I can also achieve that sense of self-efficacy.  If you are a teacher, you understand how rare it can be to ever feel like you have achieved a goal!

Which key is essential to you?  Is there one that presents a difficulty for you?