Noteables from UNC’s Positive Psychology Course

33287341235_8080bc4a28I recently completed and earned a certificate from the Positive Psychology Course offered by the University of North Carolina through Coursera. I took it as a follow-up and to enhance my understanding of the Positive Education pilot I participated in along with a group of colleagues this past January. Since psychology was my first love, taking this course was a natural next step for me.

As these are notes (often quotes) from the online lecture videos (and I tried to capture what was said), all are attributed to Dr. Barbara Fredrickson. Here are some highlights:

Emotions and Responses:

  1. Responses are a big part of emotions. You can’t have an emotion without having a response to that emotion, and how we interpret a situation is the place that turns an emotion into despair or hope.
  2. Negative emotions scream or jump out at us whereas positive ones are more subtle. We need to train ourselves to recognize and be intentional about seeing the neutral things in our lives as positive events.
  3. Feeling good can transform people for the better. They become more optimistic, resilient, and socially connected.

Resilience:

  1. Resilience is a resource that can grow, a muscle you can build.
  2. Positive emotions both build and enable resilience.
  3. The more resilient you are the better able you are to find positive emotions and then the more your resilience builds from there- it spirals.

Prioritizing Positivity:

  1. People who want to be happy prioritize parts of their day where they might be able to experience positive emotions.
  2. We need to put enjoyment on our “To-Do” lists and prioritize positivity, making it part of our daily routine.
  3. Those who prioritize positivity reap many benefits:
    1. they are better able to express appreciation,
    2. they build better relationships,
    3. are more resilient,
    4. report higher life satisfaction,
    5. have reduced depressive symptoms.

Positivity Resonance:

  1. Moments of connection between two people who are co-experiencing a positive emotion, “what I’m feeling is a little bit of what you’re feeling.”
  2.  People need to feel safe and experience real-time, sensory connection for positivity resonance to emerge. This is hard to do through texting.
  3. Emotions are contagious. Smiles are ways to draw out positive emotions of others, not just to express the feeling of the person who is smiling.
  4. Smiles are ways of making people feel they are on the same page and could serve as a way to create a moment of shared positivity.

Health Benefits:

  1. Experiences of connection affect the heart and it’s functioning.
  2. When vagus nerve is functioning well, it slows your heart and gives a healthy rhythm to it:
    1. better able to regulate attention, emotions, navigate social situations so can connect with people better
    2. day to day experiences with positivity resonance improves your vagal tone (cyclical, spirals)
    3. the more day to day positive emotions, the more connected and attune people felt;the more connected, better vagal tones
    4. when negative emotions become prolonged or a way of life, they are related to changes in the way the heart functions and body systems function (but take caution not to correlate negativity and your bad health!)
  3. Positive emotions and positive social connections are health behaviors as they increase cardiac vagal tones.

Ripple Effect:

  1. Whatever emotions we are putting out there, are the ones we are inviting others to feel.
  2. Emotions belong to everyone who is in the room.
  3. The way leaders express their emotions affects the team.
  4. Micro moments of connection are not just about our own health, but about giving health to others, radiating health towards others.
  5. If your eye is tuned towards making these moments of connection, you can make more of these moments come alive rather than skip over them.
  6. Rituals of expressing something we are appreciative of or looking forward to- helps warm up the room when people are getting together to work, have a meeting. Takes no time and it makes an impact on the day.

To learn more, I encourage you to check out this course on Coursera; it will be well-worth your time and effort!

photo credit: publicdomainphotography Slow Motion Water Droplet via photopin (license)

Gotcha, You’re Late!

I recently read When Grading Harms Student Learning from Edutopia and re-watched Rick Wormeli’s videos Retakes, Redos & Do-Overs Part 1 and Part 2. Both spoke to the idea of the messages we are sending students when we give them only one chance to do something– whether it be a test, paper, or project– and when we give them a zero or points off for turning something in late:

“This project has no value”

“It’s ok if you don’t learn this”

“You’re off the hook”

Doing these things misdirects our purpose. Miller says in his article, “Is grading the focus, or is learning the focus?”

As educators whose mission it is to inspire and encourage a love of learning, foster grit and resilience, and encourage students to have a growth mindset, is this really what we want to be saying?

 

 

 

Think on These

This week I have been spending a lot of time reading and watching videos. What can I say, I am addicted to learning! While I often share tools, tips, and/or tricks, this week I am sharing ideas in the hopes that you too will spend time thinking and imagining, and reimagining.

The first set of articles I am sharing is part of a thoughtful series of exchanges between two different educational leaders who conversed via a series of letters back and forth about School, Education, and of course, Students. The set begins with the Dominic A. Randolph, Head of Riverdale Country School in NYC, asking and writing on, “What is School?”. It is followed by Max Ventilla, CEO and founder of Alt School in San Francisco’s response, “Why is School?”. “How We Learn Best”, “How School’s Should Change”, and “Reimagining School” complete this thought-provoking series. The two speak to technology, engagement, purpose, mindsets, modeling, leadership, cultivating curiosity, passion, perseverance, and curating contexts that foster and allow for independence. The two are quite reflective in their thinking, and begin important conversations that need to be continued.

One click leads to another and so I went to Riverdale’s website to see some of the links that Randolph mentioned, one of which is the Character Lab. Since my school places a high value on our  Character Education SEED program (Social Emotional and Ethical Development), not to mention our forthcoming partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Education program (you can read the Storify here), I was interested to see what the Character Education program at Riverdale is about.

What I found is a series of videos on character, resilience, growth mindset, and more, beginning with this one from Dr. Martin Seligman from the Grit and Imagination Summit that was held at the University of Pennsylvania this past summer. In his lecture, Seligman speaks to the beneficial effects of Positive Education- teaching well-being to children.

Of course I wanted to see what the summit was about so I Googled it. You can learn more about some of the programs offered here. And, if you want to expand your teaching and continue your learning, take a look at some free courses offered from Penn, you can view them here and here (2 different sets).

If you like that set of posts, then you might consider more from from Bright which features articles on innovation in education.

“Developing the Innovator’s Mindset” is a video from George Couros, an inspiring and innovative educational leader. He was asked to give a keynote for an online conference and spoke about his book, The Innovator’s Mindset. Couros speaks to several things one of which is “innovating inside the box”. We are often encouraged to think outside the box, but for those in schools where there are pressures, initiatives, standards, and other obstacles, Couros suggests being innovative within the box of constraints. We cannot ignore the box but we can think differently within it. Couros gives us numerous other points and ideas to consider in this keynote video that I highly recommend taking the time to watch.

Last is a recent post from Alan November in which he describes his children and the two different types of learning experiences they had while in college.

We are in the midst of a historic transition in education, in which we are providing more options and flexibility in creating learning cultures that significantly raise the expectations of what our students can accomplish.

We now can rethink the allocation of physical space and how courses are scheduled to support various students’ learning styles. What is really exciting is the sense of student empowerment that can emerge from a highly flexible learning design, enabled by a robust digital campus.

Student empowerment, access to content, social tools and online communities are just some of the ways his children’s learning differed though both went to (his son will graduate this spring) top universities. Which one do you think his children say will be “better prepared for the world of work”?

For more great learning, check out this week’s Shipley PLN Lower & Middle School Edition.

Lots of Bang for Your Buck

8700093610Being an educator on Twitter is a daily learning adventure. Each day I find something new to read, try, think about, and share. It is what makes me feel connected to both my virtual and my local pln. It is also part of what motivates me to continue learning.

This week I have four great things to share. While four sounds like a small number, each of the four has hours worth of learning included. It’s a lot of bang for your buck!

The first is an article from one of my favorite thought leaders, Alan November. I have shared many thoughts from previous articles and with each one, I find myself questioning, reflecting, thinking, and rethinking. This article is no different. “Crafting a Vision for the $1,ooo Pencil” challenges us to hold a mirror up to our use of technology and ask ourselves several questions, one of which is, “are we applying new tools to do old work.”  This article is about transformation- using technology to transform teaching and learning, “What have we never done before that technology uniquely enables to enhance teaching and learning?” November offers a framework of six questions that will help educators decide if technology has brought a transformative value to instruction. As always, Alan November gives us a lot to think about.

The next article is from another favorite, the oft-mentioned Alice Keeler. This time it is a guest post on Keeler’s site from another fantastic educator, Shaelynn Farnsworth. In this post Farnsworth suggests six alternatives to traditional reading logs that you can begin using with your students right now that offer your students different ways to engage, celebrate, connect, and share what they are reading.

Speaking of reading, last week the amazing 5th grade teacher Paul Solarz tweeted this link to a video library from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. If you have ever been to the reading and writing project in person, you know how exciting this is. If you have never been to the TCRWP, then you also know how exciting this is. When I was a self-contained classroom teacher, Lucy Calkins was one of my teaching idols. I read her books, attended her summer workshops, and implemented the reading and writing workshops. I can still remember hearing her speak and asking if as adults, when we finish reading a book, look over to our partner, friend, or spouse and say, “I loved that book so much I am going to make a diorama.” This library of videos is a treasure trove of learning for anyone who implements or wants to implement the reading and writing workshops in their classroom. What you will see are 59 videos and 17 collections of Kindergarten through 8th grade reading and writing videos. These are actual teachers in actual classrooms teaching mini-lessons, doing pre-conferences, and more. There is some serious professional development in this collection! By the way, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project site is also an incredible resource for educators, students, and families. Just check out the resource and clearinghouse pages to see what I mean.

Last, in terms of collections, this next series of videos put out by Rich Kiker of Kiker Learning, gives you everything you need to get started, use effectively, and feel confident and competent about using Google Classroom. There are 21 step-by-step videos that can take you from “novice to master in no time” so you can begin, or enhance your use of this incredible- and -keeps -getting -better workflow tool from GSuites.

This Week’s Time-Sensitive Exciting Shares

3271558744_148687882f_mI have been collecting some tabs of great things to share this week but you have to act fast as some are time or space limited.

Making Connections

First off is the World Read Aloud Day Skype-a-Thon coming in February. For one day only you and your students can connect with another class (or classes if you can fit them in your schedule) and share a book. This year WRAD has made it even easier to connect– even if for some reason the scheduling will not work for you, you can create a video of your class reading or re-enacting the story and then share it on World Read Aloud Day. If you want to have a virtual face-to-face with another class, you can fill out the registration and the organizers will pair you up with a partner class. Either way, your students can experience the flattening of their classroom walls and let their voices be heard by other children. Time is limited, you have until February 1 to register and sign up to be paired with another class so click here to get started!

There are other ways you and your class can make connections with others. The Flat Connections Global Online Projects for K-12 classes is beginning in February with numerous ways to connect. There is limited space for each project so take a look and sign up.

Voice Your Opinion About Homework

Next are two surveys from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller that invite you to think about homework in two different ways. The first asks you to think about  your views on homework and how homework has impacted your life and that of your students. The second asks what your classroom would look like if you did not give homework. These surveys are an opportunity for you to give pause and think critically about an oft- debated topic and give your opinion.

PBS Learning Media

These next few items are from a favorite resource I love to share and that is PBS Learning Media. PBS Learning Media has standards-based resources for all areas of your curriculum from Pre-k through 12th grade and of course the great series of shows we adults like to watch.

This first resource is for Prek-2 Spanish teachers and it is a series of animated videos that help teach Spanish. The next is Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which is an animated series for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten children that explores many different topics including social and emotional skills, social interactions, holidays and celebrations, back to school, and more.

Do your have high school students who absolutely love science, can see having a career in science, and would be interested in a mentorship with a university-level research scientist? Well PBS Learning Media and Stand Up to Cancer have opened this year’s Emperor Science Awards, a unique virtual mentoring program that pairs university-level research scientists with high school students, presenting an exciting opportunity for them to explore the world of science, grow their skills, build confidence and conduct rewarding cancer and cancer care research.”  The deadline is March 17 for a June through August 2017 mentorship. Register here.

@rmbyrne shares . . .

The last two shares come from Richard Byrne of Practical Edtech and FreeTech4Teachers. The first is Twisted Wave and is a free, browser-based audio recording and save-to-drive- or Soundcloud editing tool. Not only can you record your voice with Twisted Wave, but you can clip, edit, loop, fade, and save to Drive. The next is a fun take off of the game “Would You Rather” and asks math-based “Would You Rather” questions. This is a great way to bring some discussion and real-world math questions to your math classes. I can see using these as class openers and as ways to bring the real world relevance to your lessons.

 

What I’m Learning Right Now

The new year has been a busy one of learning, growth, and reframing. It started with the Positive Education pilot retreat that I, along with 20 other colleagues, participated in over two days the 2nd week of January. It rekindled my interest in psychology, my first love, that I studied in college and for a time thought that would be my direction. Positive Education falls under the umbrella of Positive Psychology and is grounded in research and evidence on the effects and benefits of positive emotions on health, well-being, and relationships with others. In a nutshell, you can think of it as, “Others Matter”. Intrigued? You can see my notes from the retreat in this Storify.

When I like something, I usually dive in and learn as much about it as I can either through books, workshops, or coursework. Coincidentally, and perhaps a bit of the stars aligning, there was a course from from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in Positive Psychology that was beginning the following week on Coursera. I enrolled and am moving right through it. What I am learning is that we are hard-wired with a negativity bias which was helpful to our early ancestors who needed to be attuned to dangers. Negative emotions “scream” at us whereas positive emotions are more subtle “like a whisper”. The negativity bias makes it harder for us to recognize the positive experiences around us. “Positive experiences are actually more frequent than negative in people’s lives but we need to train ourselves to see them and let those positive events become positive emotions” (Fredrickson).

In addition to the Positive Psychology course I have been reading Dave Burgess’ Teach Like a PIRATE. What I love about this book is that he is blending his knowledge of marketing and his passion for magic and showmanship with his love of teaching. I recognize many of Burgess’ hooks and ideas from two previous courses I took from Wharton through Coursera. TLAP encourages and reminds us as educators that we need to make our content relevant to the students and we need to find ways to make our classes unforgettable so that students want to come to class to learn. It is not enough to just show up and deliver our lessons, we need to find ways to incorporate our passions and our students’ interests into each class so students are engaging with the content in meaningful, memorable ways.

You can read my current notes for both Positive Psychology and Teach Like a PIRATE here in this Storify.

More Cool Tools for Schools

8297369596Learn as if you were to live forever ~Mahatma Gandhi

This past week I learned about some great tools and upgrades that I am happy to share with you.

First off is Pixiclip which I heard about from Richard Byrne’s Practical EdTech Guide. Pixiclip is like a marriage of an online whiteboard and Screencastify or Quick Time or Jing. You get my point. It is your online tool for making whiteboard explainer videos. What is great about it is that it starts recording as soon as you start working on the whiteboard. You can type, draw, and record yourself or your microphone. You can upload your own images and then mark them up while recording your mouse movements. It’s not only great for teachers to use but for students as well.

Next up are two great extensions from Alice Keeler and Matt Miller, two names you should remember from my previous post about the #DitchSummit among other mentions. From Alice Keeler comes Slideshot, a Chrome extension that takes a screenshot of your work once a minute (or you can do it manually) and then creates a slide presentation of those images. For your students, it is a great way to see their progress in a time-lapse sort of way. You may remember my mentioning Slideshot before the winter break but it is worth mentioning it again because it works so nicely with this next extension created by Keeler and Miller. DriveSlides takes photos from a folder in your Google Drive and automatically creates a Slides presentation with them. Miller explains how it can be used and gives great, step-by-step instructions in both video and text formats that you can read about here.

This afternoon, at precisely 12:03 when my TechCrunch email arrived in my inbox, I heard about a new FREE digital storytelling app from Google called Toontastic 3D. Yes, that’s right, 3-D. Using Toontastic 3D kids can draw pictures, animate, insert images, and narrate while moving their characters around the screen to make their story come alive. What makes this app even more exciting are the story arc options kids can choose from to plot our their tale. From “family flicks” to “social lessons”, “cooking shows” to “documentaries” and more, there are a variety of ways for students to tell their story. In just a handful of steps – literally 5 – you can go from ideas to export.

Just when you thought Google couldn’t get any better comes an upgrade to Google Classroom that I think teachers are going to love! In the past teachers had to post assignments to everyone in their class; now teachers can assign to individual or small groups of students. This is something that I personally know my colleagues love about Edmodo, now they can differentiate in Classroom as well.