Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Why Don't They Want to Work?







One of the most elusive keys to success is understanding how to teach grit to our students. Grit is defined as courage, resolve and strength of character. Students who display grit have passion for what they do, stamina to keep going even when they fail, perseverance and sticking to a goal that is often off in the distance. Anyone with grit knows that it’s just worth it. We stick to something because it pays a dividend that far exceeds immediate gratification. It’s often the difficult path to take, but is always rewarding. In education, grit is the perseverance and passion for long-term goals. How in the world can we teach that to students? In this “tuesdays” I hope to get help to encourage our teachers today with our students who don’t have grit.

A creative website

The Duckworth Lab is a fascinating research study at the University of Pennsylvania conducted primarily by Angela Duckworth. The focus is on grit and self-control. From their website, “Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals (Duckworth et al., 2007). Self-control is the voluntary regulation of behavioral, emotional, and attentional impulses in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions (Duckworth & Seligman, 2005; Duckworth & Steinberg, in press).”  They have published all their scales and are for personal, not public use. I am fascinated by her study because we have an epidemic of students in
our public schools who go out of their way NOT to work. I worked with incredible teachers at a credit recovery school in Pennsylvania last week and marveled at the lack of motivation and desire to achieve anything. What do we do with our students who have decided to take education for granted and not appreciate this gift? How can they develop grit and self-control? (I don’t have the answers – I just wish I did.) The Duckworth Lab has a link on their site to Character Lab where they have developed a system called WOOP to help initiate and sustain effort to achieve goals. It’s got to be worth a try.


An image to share


A gritty student making up his own system for getting his research essay completed.

A proverb

“We need to be gritty about getting our kids to be grittier.”

Angela Lee Duckworth

An encouragement

I would like to encourage you to do a little research on grit. Angela Lee Duckworth has a great little TED talk about her research on grit in the classroom. I was particularly impressed with her honesty that we really don’t know how to teach grit to students, but we certainly can model it. Angela has created a 12 item grit scale that may be interesting to try on yourself or perhaps your students. Edutopia re-blog Vicki Davis’s post on True Grit in the classroom and it’s worth your read. Finally, I would like to recommend ASCD’s Educational Leadership article from September 2013 – Research Says/ Grit Plus Talent Equals Student Success. One thing we can all observe in today’s classroom is an increasing pattern of a lack of grit. How can we turn that around so that more of our students reap the benefits of hard work and its beautiful payoff? I encourage you to instill that in your students with perseverance. Don’t give up. You may make the difference for one of them.

How do you do that?

How do we teach grit to the students? Frankly, no one is really sure, but the indicators are clear that grit can be learned through inspiration. Dr. Carol Dweck has written a book entitled, “Mindset.” She is passionate about helping people make changes to reach their highest potential. She says, “I have always been deeply moved by outstanding achievement and saddened by wasted potential.” Her theory of fixed mindset vs. growth mindset is very helpful for us as educators. How can we expect our students to become “grittier” if they have no confidence, good examples or reason to be motivated? Our minds are constantly monitoring and interpreting. Fixed mindsets are focused on judging. Growth mindsets are more concerned with correcting a problem, changing a course and being attuned to making things better. I highly recommend some time well spent with Dr. Dweck’s Nature of Change.


As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,
K

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FINDS - Florida's Research Model



Research is a critical tool for learning at any age. Today’s students have more information available to them that any other generation and most of us (me included) jump on Google, do a quick search and call it a day. Our expectation for good researching skills needs to be much higher and very tangible for our students. Our tendency is to create a rubric, set come guidelines and let them go. Did you ever think there may be a reliable research model available for ALL grade levels? Ironically, the FL DOE created a research model for students that is exemplary and almost forgotten. Wouldn’t it be great to have a common language of expectations for research across all the grade levels? We have it! Let’s get it out in the forefront again. This “tuesdays” is for all teachers and students who have ever done research.


A creative website

The Florida Research Model – FINDS is a collaborative effort through FAME (Florida Association for Media in Education) to help media specialists and teachers combine reading and writing skills with information literacy.  This model has been around for a few years now, but I don’t think it’s been given enough attention.  I sure hope you have the opportunity to look into it more. The site is loaded with resources for teachers and students. It includes media standards that match the Florida Standards for each grade level. When planning a project, it is critical to give the students a sense of self-checking. Through FINDS, an acronym for:

·       Focus on the information need
·       Investigate resources to search for answers
·       Note and evaluate facts
·       Develop information into knowledge for presentation
·       Score presentation and search


This model will help both teacher and student to develop high quality projects with accountability.


An image to share


Students researching

A proverb
"There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” J.R.R Tolkien



An encouragement
I would love to encourage you to share the FINDS model with your students even if you don’t think you will eve have time to use it because they can really benefit from the self-check questions throughout the model.  For instance, the F in FINDS stands for – Focus on the information need. Two questions in this section include: “What is my assignment or the information problem to be solved? What are my questions and/or thesis sentence?” The I in FINDS stands for Investigate – Investigate resources to look for an answer.  The question I like the best in this section is “How can I find what I need and respect the rights of others to equal access to information?” The N in FINDS is for Note – Note and evaluate facts. An interesting question posed to the students in this section is “Do I have all the facts from all points of view on my topic?” The D in FINDS is Develop – Develop information into knowledge for presentation – Of course, my favorite question is “How do I integrate technology to enrich, publish or present my project?” Finally, the S stands for Score – Score presentation and search.  This introspective section includes four questions and ends with “How can I improve my search process next time?” Two more places where you can do deeper with information about FINDS are from Broward County -  Reference and Research and the FINDS Livebinder.

How do you do that?
How do you institute the FINDS model in your classroom? Investigate its many resources within the site. It even includes online graphic organizers, think tank tools, wizards and many, many pdfs that you can download and share with your students.  You could spend a whole day with the students simply teaching them the value of this site alone. In fact, it may even be very wise to divide and conquer it in a jigsaw puzzle type search and let them bring it all back together for the class.  You will probably learn a whole lot more about the resources because they will dig deeper and find more than we have time to! Kudos to the SUNLINK team for developing this incredible gift to research and to FAME for keeping it alive! Any digital project that includes research, storyboarding and scripting will make a final product that others want to see (or hear).

As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What Are the Students Doing?



Calling all creative teachers! I need your help! I need your ideas and expertise! My partner and I have the opportunity to do a model lesson at an elementary school this May, but instead of just doing one model lesson, we are going to create two multi-aged classrooms for the whole day. My partner is going to teach a K, 1, 2 group and I will do a 3, 4, 5 group. We want to demonstrate technology integration by asking the question, “What are the students doing?” throughout the whole day. We will have a co-teacher from the school in each group who will be responsible for supplying the standards and co-planning before the model lesson day. We will also try to replicate their classroom settings as much as possible in order for it to be an experience that can be replicated. This “tuesdays” is a totally different one because I am really seeking the absolute best experience and realistic implementation of student engagement and interaction. That’s why I need your help.

A creative website


Instead of a creative website this week, I would like to lay out a few details to this unique model lesson delivery. Our school where we will create this multi-age model classroom for the day is at Thompson Elementary, one of 3 schools in their BYTE – Building Your Technology Expertise grant. This beautiful brand new school is well-equipped technologically with a faculty that is very willing to integrate technology. They have been very receptive to ways to increase student use of technology.  Here are a few logistics/details that may help with your brainstorming:
  • This model lesson will have 18 students in the primary group and 22 in the intermediate group.
  • The K-2 group will have 8 student laptops and the 3-5 group will have 11 student laptops. Both groups will have an EPSON/ELMO presentation station that can be used as a center.
  • Our theme will be Trailblazers.
  • Our focus will be interdisciplinary.
  • Teachers at Thompson will be given an hour to observe one or both of the model classrooms throughout the day.


This is such a great opportunity on so many levels. We just want to do an excellent job which is why I am seeking help from all of you. After all, iron sharpens iron.

An image to share


4:1 student/computer ratio at Thompson in K-2

A proverb

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

Erma Bombeck


An encouragement

I wanted to give a shout out of encouragement to the teachers at Thompson Elementary. I have never seen such an immediate impact with technology integration. Once they understood the language of the TIM (Technology Integration Matrix) and realized that no matter how great a lesson is delivered, it will only be entry on the TIM. Until the technology is in the hands of the students and they begin to develop content and proving their understanding of the material learned, technology integration remains stagnant. Kudos to the Thompson teachers because on our 1st visit almost all lessons were entry level. By the 2nd visit, no lessons were entry level and all were adoption or adaptation. What an encouragement. This is why we want to make these model lesson super special for them.


How do you do that?

In this section I normally give you steps or suggestions for the idea of the week, but this Tuesday I need your help on some of these “how to”s.

How would you:
  •  teach a multi-age class most effectively
  • give the students a meaningful technological experience throughout the day
  • group multi-age students AND a combination of both groups once during the day?
  • develop the “Trailblazers” theme? (that’s their mascot)
  • create an interdisciplinary lesson in math, science, social studies and language arts?


As you can see we are very excited about this opportunity and have six weeks to plan the best lesson ever, especially with your expertise.



As always, I am
Ubiquitously yours,

K