Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Growth Mindset - a Re-post

Do you have a growth mindset?  
Do your students have a growth mindset
What exactly IS a growth mindset?

Many of us grew up believing we were either "good" at something (like English or Social Studies), or "not good" at something (like Math or Science). Some people just had more intelligence or talent than others, right? We worried about getting good grades, meeting the expectations of others, and avoided anything that might look or smell like failure.

Then came the idea that if we could just tell ALL kids they were ALL wonderful, they would all BE wonderful! Their self-image would be strong, their confidence would be high and they would naturally succeed. 

But we now realize that some failure is good for the soul; learning how to fail and then move on to try again, to develop perseverance - to get "GRIT" - may be the best way to help students develop a love of learning and a resilience that will help them achieve their goals. When children believe that hard work and commitment can make a difference, that they can become more talented and smarter through their learning process, they feel empowered and thrive on challenge.

Just making a few tweaks in the way we talk to and respond to our students can make a big difference in whether they develop a "fixed mindset" or a "growth mindset".  Interested?

Check out Carol Dweck's TED talk on this issue.

You can also listen to the NPR Story on Growth Mindset that inspired this post.Go

Friday, March 31, 2017


It is hard to believe, but it has been over sixty years since the publication of Taxonomy of Educational Objectives which were devised "to improve communication between educators on the design of curricula and examinations."(1) Teachers have been using this model to inform instruction based on the levels of thinking, learning and understanding named after Benjamin Bloom. He was actually the chair of the committee that set out to classify learning objectives.

In the 1990's work was done to create a revised edition of Bloom's taxonomy, where the levels were renamed and changed to: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate, Create (rather than Synthesize). But even that revision is now almost twenty years old, a long time in our rapidly changing educational environment.

Many believe that the time has come for the next major revision to include the digital world where most of today's students live and learn. Commonsense Media states, "This updated version aims to expand upon the skills associated with each level as technology becomes a more engrained – and essential - part of learning."

For a fascinating look at the proposed new model and to see how it might inform your instructional strategies, watch this short video --> BLOOM'S DIGITAL TAXONOMY

(1)Bloom et al. 1956, p. 4: "The idea for this classification system was formed at an informal meeting of college examiners attending the 1948 American Psychological Association Convention in Boston. At this meeting, interest was expressed in a theoretical framework which could be used to facilitate communication among examiners.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Share with your students' parents

As we are moving through our Digital Citizenship curriculum during Media Rotation time, students may want to talk about situations involving the use and abuse of technology devices. This is an excellent article (click on the title link) to share with your students' parents, especially if they have questions or concerns about the increasing use of technology in their children's lives. And, as always, feel free to direct them to me if that is more comfortable for you. 

Parenting in the Digital Age

by klbeasley

Zero Talent

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Why Education Must Change

I spent two days at the Christa McAuliffe Tech Conference in Manchester last week, and left each day with my head spinning from ideas, resources, strategies, philosophies, discussions, tips, techniques and plans. There was so much to see, hear about, talk about, play with, explore and consider. It has taken some time to digest, analyze, synthesize and reflect on the experience. But oh - did I learn new things! I felt both tired and exhilarated at the end of each day, and it was a great feeling.

It occurs to me that this is the kind of learning experience we want our students to have. We want them to open their minds, consider the possibilities, get curious enough to want to know more. We want them to use all their senses when presented with a big idea. We want them to feel good about learning, and take ownership of their education.
Of course, this takes a lot of planning - the Conference Committee started creating this experience for us last year as soon as the 2015 Conference ended. But it could be and should be part of our planning to set up a learning environment that engages our students on many different levels whenever and wherever possible. 

Several of the keynote speakers talked about the huge changes in education in the 21st century.
You may be interested to see and hear Jennifer Fox speaking about this topic as one of the keynote speakers at the CMTC:

Click here:
Jennifer Fox Keynote Speech: Why Education Must Change

Published on Dec 3, 2016
Why K-12 Education Must Change

"The next 10 years will dramatically change our lives and almost everything in it. The rise of robots, advancements in computers, global competition, the economics of the environment (among other developments) will make skills training in most fields, with a few exceptions, obsolete at ever quickening rates. We know that the only way for people to live meaningful and fulfilling lives is to receive an education. But it cannot be the kind of education we are used to. We have to stop teaching the curriculum and start teaching the individual – each individual, every single individual, and teach them as individuals, with unique interests, abilities and strengths. And what we teach them will have to be uniquely human as increased automation will cause the mass disappearance of traditional jobs. We are headed into a world where creativity and innovative thinking will be more valuable than rote learning of any depth. Our educational system must embrace art, teamwork, leadership, empathy, and the deeper aspects of human life and society as core curriculum in order for us to thrive."

Friday, September 30, 2016

Solving the Mystery of ...

You may know that "Skype" has become a verb, defined as "to have a spoken conversation with (someone) over the Internet using the software application Skype  frequently also viewing by webcam." For example, when asked what she did over the weekend, a first grader recently answered, "I skyped with my grandma." Skype has changed how people communicate over long distance, and it has tremendous implications for educational use, such as:

  • Skype visit with an author 
  • Use Skype for a virtual field trip
  • Enhance research by holding a Skype with a professional or expert on a particular topic
Recently, educational Mystery Skypes have become very popular and having done one, you will want to do more! I conducted a Mystery Skype toward the end of last year and I can't wait to get started again this year. I would love to have the opportunity to work with YOUR class to do a Mystery Skype by connecting with another classroom somewhere in the world (or right next door). 

Here are two ideas to pique your interest:
  • Mystery Geography Skype: each class prepares a set of questions designed to narrow down the location of the other class. Using maps, an atlas and good inquiry strategies, students try to guess where the other class is skyping from using the least amount of guesses. 
    • Here is what Genia Connell says on the Scholastic website: "When we first began, I quickly realized that my students’ knowledge of our own state, let alone other states in our country, was not where it needed to be. I cringed as they confidently looked into the camera and answered that our state, Michigan, bordered an ocean, was in the central time zone, and did not border Indiana. Oh, my. We had some meaningful map lessons and discussions after those Skype sessions. At our last Mystery Skype session, I noticed my students adeptly running their dry erase markers up the Mississippi River, dividing the country into time zones and asking about mountain ranges like the Cascades and Sierra Nevadas — which they didn't even know existed when we began. And best of all for me? They confidently answer questions about our own state correctly (most of the time)!" Genia Connell
  • Mystery Number Skype: each class secretly chooses a number between say, 1 and 20. Using yes or no answers, one class tries to guess the number the other class has chosen. As the students figure out which numbers are eliminated, they cross them off a list, or erase them off a whiteboard. Higher level questions can eliminate several numbers at once, such as "Does the number have a curved line?"
         Kathy Cassidy says she loves Mystery Number Skypes because:
    • My students are writing the numbers to get ready. Purposeful practice.
    • Everyone is learning at their own level, whether that student is still learning to write the numbers, is struggling to distinguish between 11 and 12 (why do those pesky numbers not follow the ‘teen’ rule?) or is formulating questions that eliminate lots of possible numbers. We can all participate in the same activity, but the learning is differentiated.
    • While we are discussing numbers, my students are learning that other children far away are learning the same things as they are. This is a big step in global awareness.
    • My students are learning one more way to use technology to help them to reach their learning goals. This kind of digital literacy is important for children growing up in an online age.  Kathy Cassidy

        So - are YOU ready to try a Mystery Skype
        List your ideas or questions in the comments below,
        or email me for more information.
        Let's get Skyping!