Math Mindset

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Success in math does not depend on how many answers you know, but by what you do when you don’t know the answer.

~ author unknown

This week’s focus is on math. It just so happened that the tabs and things that I clicked on all happened to have that common denominator (pun intended!). Get ready- lots of great resources within . . .

It all started with this guest post by John Stevens on Matt Miller’s blog titled, “How to Assign Challenges Instead of Math Homework”. Intrigued? Of course I was and so I opened it right up and found several links to sites like this that go beyond computation towards more conversations about math. Curious? Then click.

I’m sure at one time or another whether in your classroom or even your own home, you have heard a child say,”I’m bad at math.” In this article, Sheila Tobias, Carol Dweck and others discuss how to respond when one of your children says this.

Of course what would be a post of mine without some mention of Alice Keeler. In this article from MindShift KQED News (if you don’t follow them, you should), you’ll see how Jo Boaler has influenced Keeler and how Keeler uses the GSuite tools to enhance math exploration and understanding.

much of traditional math teaching focuses on numerical representations, teachers demonstrating procedures, and memorization, when it would be more effective to try to strengthen connections between the various parts of the brain needed when working on math. ~Jo Boaler

You can see Jo Boaler’s Cue17 keynote, and learn about her site, Youcubed (from my Happy end of school year post). 

While looking for a great quote to share, I stumbled upon this post of Carol Dweck quotes that I think would be great to either print out and hang in your class or read at the start of each day. One of my colleagues (Carole K) has printed different motivational quotes and applied them at each of her students’ tabletops as a subtle reminder to her fifth grade students.

For more fantastic articles and resources, please visit this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition where you will see posts like this one: “Neverending Problems: Math Tasks That Keep on Giving” ; this one, “How a Strengths-Based Approach to Math Redefines Who is ‘Smart'”; and this one, “Kahoot! Debuts Studio of Curriculum-Aligned Games for K-12″ including a math collection!

photo credit: dullhunk Who needs Pythagoras’ theorem? via photopin (license)

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Back to School with a Growth Mindset

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“There is a difference between not knowing and not knowing YET” ~Sheila Tobias

Welcome back to what I hope will be a positive school year for everyone. I have collected some posts that I think will help you make this year of learning in your classroom memorable for you and your students.

First off is a post from esteemed educator, George Couros titled, 5 Questions to Ask Your Students to Start the School Year, one of them being, “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?” In his post he emphasizes how the impact our experiences with our students helps shape their thoughts and reflections and memories of school. Coming off our school’s recent Positive Psychology/Positive Education retreat, we know that positive psychology is about recognizing that “Other People Matter” and if we keep this at the forefront of our mind, we can hope to positively shape and influence our students’ experiences for the better. This involves how we listen to, respond, speak to, and engage with our students. To see the rest of the questions Couros suggests, click here.

The next is from Khan Academy and it ties in with positive psychology’s emphasis on Growth Mindset. Khan Academy has partnered with PERTS, a Stanford-based research group that includes Carol Dweck, Joe Boaler and others. They have created a series of lessons on growth mindset for students ranging from third through twelfth grade as part of their LearnStorm activities (What is Learnstorm- watch here). Within each of the six growth mindset activities, you will find readings, videos, reflection prompts, and more. You can do the activities one per week over six weeks, or whatever works for your classroom. For more information on how a third grade teacher used the lessons with his classroom, you can watch this recording.

I have posted about this next tool before here and here, but with so many new features as well as the opportunities it affords to learn your students’ stories, thoughts, reflections, and connect with others around the world, it bears mentioning again. Flipgrid is the easiest way to have your students create video responses to your prompts which with the wide array of amazing new features (yes, I have said it again because they are really that great) includes text, video, image, or uploaded document prompts.

The final share is a two-part post on bell-ringer activities from Matt Miller of DITCH Textbook fame. I have previously written about him here and here and several other mentions. In his two-part post he offers 20 digital ways to kick off your class and hook your students into each learning experience to make their learning memorable. Some of my favorite ideas are the QR code on the board, a What If Flipgrid , tweeting for someone, blackout poetry, and s- (to see the rest and figure out what I was about to say, visit 10 digital bell-ringer activities to kickstart class and 10 MORE digital bell ringer activities to kickstart class.

Photo credit: Foter.com

Travel Lightly

114602640First, happy end of school year to those of you who are at or near the end of your term!

Next, I was reading some things online yesterday as I tend to do, and came across a post, “5 New Google Apps You Need to Check Out”. Of course I checked them out and found some fun apps like the Reaction GIFs for Gmail option, the new artificial intelligence sharing options in Google Photos, Google Earth Explorer, and Fact Check by Google News. Because I love the GIFs I added the extension to my Chrome so that while in Gmail I could send along the funny. Not stopping there, I checked out Google Earth Explorer which is a very cool way to visit places around the world while sitting in your classroom or on your sofa. I got sidetracked from making dinner because I was visiting the Western Wall in Israel and Giza and Khufu in Egypt. One click led to another and I ended up on two additional ways of sharing the world with your classroom: Call of Road and Travelistly.

 

I am sharing all of my clicks with you here in this One Tab of Virtual Travel Options for School (and beyond).

Looking for something to read while on these virtual vacations? Check out my Summer Reading List.

Have a great summer!

Summer Reading List

2935271689_863cb75bd8_nSummer is a great time to catch up on all the books you may not have had time to read during the school year. This summer I am suggesting several quick, jam-packed-with- strategies, innovations, and inspirations- professional development books to add to the “beach” reads on your list. Taken from my own Amazon “books to read” list, here are some ideas:

Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. I have already read and tweeted about this fantastic book that integrates marketing techniques with a lot of creativity to help you make your lessons and content memorable. If you have not read this one yet, you should add this to your reading list).

Lead Like a Pirate by Shelley Burgess (yes, she is the wife of Dave) and Beth Houf. You can follow and join in on using this hashtag- #LeadLAP to see what others are highlighting and talking about from this book about leading in a way that brings out the best in your faculty.

Learn Like a Pirate by Paul Solarz and Dave Burgess. You can achieve a student-led classroom where students take charge of their learning and this book will explain how and give you the strategies to do so. Not only can you read this, but you can join in on a summer book study with fellow educators via Twitter.

Start. Right. Now. by Todd Whitaker, Jeff Zoul, and Jimmy Casas. Learn about the “four key behaviors of excellence”: Know the way, Show the way, Go the way, Grow each day.

Kids Deserve It: Pushing Boundaries and Challenging Conventional Thinking by Todd Nesloney and Adam Welcome. Take all the “What ifs” about your school and classroom and turn them into realities because #kidsdeserveit

DITCH That Textbook : Free Your Teaching and Revolutionize Your Classroom by Matt Miller.

Miller shows you how to choose and incorporate teaching practices that are:
  • Different from what students see daily.
  • Innovative, drawing on new ideas or modifying others’ ideas.
  • Tech-laden with the use of digital sites, tools and devices.
  • Creative, tapping into students’ original ideas as well as your own.
  • Hands-on, encouraging students to make and try things on their own.

Hacking Assessment: 10 Ways to Go Grades in a Traditional School by Starr Sackstein. Help your students make the shift from being focused on the value of the grade  to being focused on the value of learning.

You can also take a look at this list posted by Gary Stager which includes several other great titles.

Whatever books you choose to read this summer, I hope you enjoy your learning!

photo credit: dottorpeni fred vargas via photopin (license)

Got a Minute?

This week I learned about a great new site called Check 123. It is an online video encyclopedia of over 20,000 videos on a range of topics from the Arts to Technology with a lot more- 27 to be exact- in between. What makes this site different is that the videos are either 1, 2, or 3 minutes long. While browsing the site this morning, I found several videos that I know my colleagues could use with their unit on Westward Expansion and Ancient China. They also have a Chrome extension that brings web pages to life by searching the page for companion videos that you or your students can watch without leaving the web page. Pretty cool. After I got my welcome email- of course I joined this site- it’s free not to mention useful- I replied back and then got a reply to my reply. They are very responsive. If they don’t have a video you need, just ask and they will find one for you.

What’s in a name? I have shared numerous times about sites you can use for creating interactive videos for formative assessment, or designing blended learning lessons. Well, some of the sites have changed their name. Educanon is now Play Posit; Blendspace is now TESTeach, and Histry is now Sutori. Just thought you’d want to know.

This morning I finally had some time to watch a video that has been sitting in my tabs. It is Jo Boaler’s kickoff keynote on math and growth mindset from the CUE 17 conference. It is an approximately 45 minute keynote that is well worth your time. In it Boaler speaks to how calling our students smart or gifted can actually lead to fixed mindsets, and how we can change how our students think of themselves by the messages we give them. For example, if you ask a question and call on the first person who raises her/his hand, the message you are sending is that speed matters. The same message goes out when you give timed math quizzes and that is one of the stressors that leads to math anxiety. I encourage you to watch this keynote.

If you’d like to learn more from Jo, including finding amazing resources for students, parents, and teachers, webinars and online courses, you can visit their new website, YouCubed. YouCubed’s mission is to inspire math success for all students through innovative teaching and growth mindset.

Choice, Voice, & Assessment

This week there is a lot to share so I am going to jump right in and get started.

Read and Write Choice Board While many of you have your students reading and writing, how often are you letting your students make choices about how they are going to share their understanding of what they have read? This Choice Board offers nine tech tools/apps students that allow you to differentiate for your learners.

This next one is a BAM Radio podcast, “The Most Practical Ways to Get Students to Lead Their Learning” with Larry Ferlazzo, Yvette Jackson, Veronica McDermott, Rebecca Mieliwocki, and Gallit Zvi. This podcast speaks about using options like Genius Hour for bridging the gap between a student’s passion and the expectation for learning, and learning about students’ interests by asking them this question,

“If you didn’t have to be in school, what would you be doing?”

Alan November is an absolute favorite of mine as you probably know if you have been reading my posts. These next two shares are from his most recent articles Assessment for Learning  and Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old With 18,000 Twitter Followers. In Assessment for Learning November asks,

“What if we could empower our teachers to turn assessment into a process of learning instead of a focus on measurement?”

He shares examples from Harvard down through middle school where the teachers and professors allowed their students to take assessments twice. Depending on the classroom example, teachers either had their students take the assessments on their own first and then take it again in small groups where they could work together and discuss how they arrived at an answer; or they take it in groups first, learn from each other, then take a similar assessment on their own. I think you will want to try this innovative way of assessing in your classrooms too.

In Digital Citizenship Lessons from a 9-Year-Old you will learn about Olivia Van Ledtje’s love of reading and how she shares that love and passion through her vlogs (video blog posts) and more recently, her Twitter account @thelivbits. You and your students should check out what she is doing and think about how they could share their interests too.

George Couros is another favorite educator who recently shared this post, “What Could Go Right?” Often times we are in situations or conversations with colleagues or students and coming up with a laundry list of reasons why this idea or suggestion will not work. We listen to the negatives that are shouting at us in the background- or even the ones who are speaking to them out loud- instead of thinking, what could go right. Couros posits,

“We need to make the positives so loud that the negative becomes almost impossible to hear.”

Many teachers love using Kahoot! for formative assessment and review, but how many are using it to teach or introduce new content? DITCH That Textbook’s Matt Miller explains exactly how to go about this in his post, “Teach With Kahoot!: Go beyond review with the Blind Kahoot! What is a Blind Kahoot! you ask? Check out this video (which you will also find in Matt’s blog post).

Lastly, I recently started using Flipgrid and participated in the first #FlipgridFever chat on Twitter this past week. “What is Flipgrid,” you ask? You can check out a recent post. There were so many great ideas being shared including using Flipgrid to practice a target language and connect with other classrooms around the world using their global grid connections. Teachers, get ready to make those student voices heard!

For more great articles, videos, and posts, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Spread Positivity

Positivity doesn’t just change the contents of your mind…It widens the span of possibilities that you see. ~Barbara Fredrickson

8705332490One of my favorite shows is Friends. I watched it when it first aired and continue to watch it in reruns each day. It makes me laugh and I love to laugh. I also try on a daily basis to be optimistic and find the positive events of the day, even when it is gray and gloomy and rainy like it was yesterday until 4:25. I had been dreading taking my dog J out to walk because he does not like to walk with purpose in the rain and I tend to have to half drag, half carry him. We left for our walk in a very light drizzle and while we were out there the skies began to clear and the sun came out. It turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. It amazes me how a hint of sun can turn things around.

Fast forward to later that evening when my daughter was watching Friends. She regularly tells me that I remind her of Alec Baldwin’s character, “Enthusiastic Parker” and coincidentally that was the episode she happened to be watching. Here is a short clip to give you a sense of this character. You can skip to 1:31 to truly get a sense of this guy or take the 3 minutes to enjoy a laugh.

 

While Enthusiastic Parker may take his positivity to the nth degree, being optimistic and noticing the positive around you does make a difference in your well-being and in the people around you.

This week I am sharing two articles that speak to the effects of positive leadership and how to teach your students positivity.

The first article, “The Effects of a Positive Mindset on School Culture” talks about practical optimism as “characterized by a belief—in yourself and others—that success is possible, which in turn fuels determination to accomplish what you have set out to do.”

Making a conscious effort to model practical optimism and support a positive school culture can be transformational for you, your colleagues, and students. Adopting practical optimism as your modus operandi and taking advantage of opportunities to build rapport with colleagues and encourage them to continually hone their professional practice in positive ways will further enhance your well-being, as well as the culture of your school. You will improve relationship-building and communication skills that support empathetic, productive interactions with all educational stakeholders involved.

The article offers four strategies for nurturing and enhancing your optimism: doing for others, expressing gratitude, getting exercise, and deliberately focusing on the positive.

Focusing on the positive might take some effort. You can read about Positivity Ratios here , watch a short video about Positive Emotions here, and take Barbara Fredrickson’s Positivity Ratio test over the next several days to see what kinds of things you notice as you go through your day.

The next article, “Teaching Happiness at School: 3 Activities to Cultivate Well-Being in Schools” is about teaching well-being to your students. It introduces the concept of the benefits of positive emotions as developed by Barbara Fredrickson,

… positive emotional experiences have long-lasting effects on our personal growth and development. Specifically, positive emotions broaden our attention and thinking, enhance resilience, and build durable personal resources, which fuel more positive emotions in the future.

The article suggest three easy ways to incorporate positivity in your classroom, my favorite being the “What Went Well Wall” where students write three things that went well for them during the lesson, school day, or week. I like this activity because it is an easy way to help your students reflect on each day and grow their ability to see the positive around them, plus, it is a visual reminder of all that is going well in their lives.