Check out my Guest Post on Buncee's Blog:
Last week, I explored different aspects of experiential teaching while teaching a Molloy College Summer Institute. One of the most powerful visits we made was to the Freeport INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network) which is a soup kitchen in Freeport, NY. In the basement of Christ Lutheran Church, people can find a warm cup of coffee, a nutritious meal, and gracious smiles.
It is hard to think that some of our neighbors in our community don't know where their next meal is coming from. Bob Wilson (one of the Co-Presidents of the Freeport INN) told us, "We would love to go out of business. That would mean that there wouldn't be any more hungry people on Long Island." Each weekday afternoon, their volunteers serve a healthy lunch to members of the local community. Patrons are also able to find seasonal clothing, books, and items that they may need.
The first thought that came to mind was, "How can we help?" The volunteers at the INN are there to make an impact just as most teachers chose their profession by hoping to make a change as well. For teachers of students over the age of 16, they may bring their class to volunteer for the day. Many schools have community service hours, and this could be a perfect match.
For teachers of elementary students, they can help by making contributions such as a canned goods drive, a monetary donation, and small gift cards. Even a $5 gift card to a local food or coffee store can really make someone's day!
Service learning lies in the positive psychology construct of hope. It allows us to restore hope in humanity by contributing to something that is larger that just ourselves. We want to teach our students to become informed citizens who are active participants in our community. According to Shane Lopez in Making Hope Happen, "But when life throws us a curve, when the going gets tough, optimists get stuck and frustrated. Hopeful people shine in negative situations. They are energized to act and they find meaning and dignity in moving ahead, whatever the challenge."
Upon reflection, I would like to add more social justice activities that directly affect the community around us. I think it would be eye opening to our students. It would definitely lend itself to some argumentative writing and identifying themes within reading. I would love to hear about any local efforts that you've contributed to or heard about!
I have been on a quest for a few years to create flexible seating in my classroom. I want my students to work comfortably in the most appropriate setting that meets their needs. All of these efforts have been in the hopes of achieving a positive academic and behavioral impact. With the help of NEFCU's Fund Your Ideas, I have been able to put some of these dreams into practice. Each year, they award up to $250 based on a research proposal that is submitted.
It is my mission to educate students to be lifetime learners who live an active, healthy lifestyle. By giving them the resources to build fitness while learning, we are enabling them to no longer partition the two subject areas. After co-constructing flexible seating procedures, reviewing safety rules (like no yoga balls while riding the bike pedals), and creating a rotating schedule, students are on the path to success!
STATIONARY BIKE PEDALS:
I teamed up with our school's physical education teacher to try to figure out how to engage children physically and mentally. As part of our "Read & Ride" grant, we were able to purchase stationary bike pedals. This allows my students to release excess energy while independently reading during Reading Workshop.
In my classroom, students have the option to utilize yoga balls in place of ordinary desk chairs. It only benefits children's attention and engagement by having their core actively engaged as well. It also increases blood flow to the brain. I highly recommend getting the ones with "feet" for storage purposes. It is also important to get the correct size, so that the students can still sit at their desks at a comfortable height.
I have found that a whole-brain approach to learning can transform student learning. I'd like to continue to #Starbucksmyclassroom during the next school year.
Some ideas I'd like to explore for the future:
How have you implemented flexible seating in your classroom? Please share your ideas below!
This summer, I am looking forward to a change of pace by teaching a few online professional development courses for teachers. In preparing for my online summer institutes at Molloy College, I'd like to share a "Growth Mindset Choice Board" utilizing QR Codes. I created this one for the "Tech Savvy Teacher of Today!" class.
I decided to combine the importance of growth mindset, technology, and the power of student choice. Feel free to share/steal; after all, a teacher is the best thief! Please comment on ways that you are using choice boards and making them even better!
Enjoy this free digital download!
By teaching both elementary students and graduate education students in mathematics, I am able to see the importance of grit as a driving force in a growth mindset. When we are posed with challenges, we are given the opportunity to grapple with new information and use our strengths to work towards a specific goal. A makerspace gives students an opportunity to allow students to be creative and passionately pursue areas of interest. It gives students a space to solve problems, invent, and be fiercely resilient which fosters critical thinking.
It’s no secret that there is a lack of women in the STEAM fields. As a math major, I attended many classes where women were the minority. By adding a makerspace to elementary schools, you can expose all students at a young age to this creative outlet. It could open a young girl’s eyes to a new possible career path. There are so many job opportunities that require STEAM, especially coding.
I am currently in the middle of a math dilemma deciding which size swing set that I should buy and where to place it in my L-shaped backyard. For safety reasons, the swingset needs to have a 6 foot perimeter away from any obstructions (garage, fence, wires). Of course, I’d also prefer it not to be in the middle of the backyard. This is precisely the type of area problem I know my students would love to solve! They could use the dimensions to draw scale models, construct a replica, or even generate computer images showing the best possible placement. It is the epitome of math in everyday life!
STEAM requires students to sometimes struggle. In Chapter 11 of Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths Through Children’s Literature, we focus on Grit Perseverance for Long-Term Goals using Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty. Students complete a challenge at home prior to reading Iggy Peck, Architect.
Following a discussion on the book, students participate in the “Iggy Peck Design Challenge.” This would be the ideal jumping-off point to a class Genius Hour. I observed students designing, analyzing, evaluating, and constructing many different prototypes. When their initial design was unsuccessful, they discussed why and strategized on how to improve it. Through collaboration, students were able to engineer creative concepts and feel successful (even when they didn’t always get it on the third try).
If you’d like to hear more about the importance of growth mindset in makerspaces, I’ll be speaking as a Higher Education Panelist at SLIME (Students of Long Island Maker Expo) on May 20th.
Last night, I sat down with my daughter to read before bed. She was anxious to read what would soon become her favorite Easter present. The bunny had left her Peter Reynolds’ new book, Happy Dreamer.
As we were reading about all the different types of dreamers, Summer started to describe why she was a “dance happy” and “family happy” dreamer. Coming from a 2 year old who hasn’t met a pop song she didn’t like, her self-reflection was quite accurate! It was evident to me that Happy Dreamer focused on character strengths. This book gave my daughter and I the perfect context for us to discuss how each person is unique with his or her own special attributes.
Tonight, we were fascinated by the grit shown by the abandoned crayons in The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt & Oliver Jeffers. The fourth grade teacher in me was thinking how this is the ideal book for perspective considering it is written in postcard format from the point of view of lost crayons. Each individual crayon overcame many barriers (including dog vomit and an identity crisis) in order to return to their owner, Duncan. This led us to discuss how we have to work hard to achieve goals that we are truly passionate about. Hers may have included a future on Dancing with the Stars.
Since co-authoring Growing a Growth Mindset: Unlocking Character Strengths Through Children’s Literature, I have been finding more and more that when I’m reading with my own child, there are positive psychology themes jumping off the pages. It’s as if they’ve been waiting on the bookshelves for us to discover them! I know that reading with your child is a bedtime ritual in most households. The conversations that we have about the books we share during this experience can be so powerful and insightful. I know it's my favorite part of the day.
Please comment to share any treasured books that you feel address growth mindset, grit, hope, happiness, or character strengths!