Gift #6 – Making a Positive Impact on The World

For years in college classes and in various new teacher training’s, I was told over and over that the larger purpose of school and education is “to prepare students to participate in America’s democratic society.” While this is based off of the highly regarded work of John Dewey, I have to admit, I’ve always had a problem with this definition.

To me, this definition is like when teachers used to say that I would need to know whatever they were teaching “when I got to the real world.” Can you think of a less motivating reason than that to get a kid engaged in learning? I can’t. When I heard that as a kid, I thought, “Phew, I’m off the hook… I won’t need to know this for another 15 years!”

My beef with John Dewey’s definition is that based on his idea, we are preparing students to be a citizen in our society someday in the future. Shouldn’t we be preparing kids to be apart of our society and world right now? Shouldn’t we be encouraging them that they can and should be making a positive impact on the world now? No one said you have wait until you’re 18 before you make a world a better place.

Below I will explain how I encourage my students to be positive and productive citizens, right here and now.

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Positive Energy, Powerful Results

The Seven Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students

“You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind

The scene was 2003 and the Berkley Bears hockey team was losing by three goals late in the second period of a semifinal playoff game. Players’ heads sagged on the bench, the team looked down and out. Unless of course, you looked behind the bench. There, you would undoubtedly find one particular coach pacing up and down, energy as high as ever, yelling to the players, “All we need is one, boys! All we need is one!” That coach was my dad and one of the earliest and most important lessons he taught me was the power of positivity. This is a lesson I try to teach my students every day and one of the greatest gifts we as teachers can give to our students.

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Change Your Mindset, Change Your Life

The Seven Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students –  Gift #2

Another essential gift we must give to our students is the power to believe in themselves. We need  students to believe that with hard work and effort, they can achieve anything they set their minds too. Too many people go through life doubting themselves and being afraid to follow their dreams. We must give students the gift of knowing that if they change their mindset, they can change their life!

Luckily, Dr. Carol Dweck has brought the idea of developing students mindsets to the forefront of education and I am very grateful for her work. In her amazing book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck defines two contrasting mindsets that people generally fall into; a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.

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7 Days of 7 Secrets: The Greatest Gifts We Can Give Our Students

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! We hope your students are showering you with the well-deserved praise and appreciation that you deserve. We would like to mark this occasion with a series of short blog posts that will help you show YOUR appreciation of your STUDENTS! We are going to post a mini-series of articles explaining the greatest gifts we can give our students (No, we are NOT talking about Fidget Spinners again). We are talking about the knowledge and skills that kids need to be successful in life. We believe that we need to teach kids the real skills they are going to need to be successful in the world, no matter what career, college, or community they end up in. So, enjoy the gifts you receive this week, and pay them back a hundredfold with these!

Gift #1: The Big Secret to Success

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Failing Forward: Flexible Seating

It is hard to believe we are nearing the end of our first year of co-teaching! I think we can both agree that this year has been one of major professional growth. We have re-imagined the way we teach and also re-imagined the layout of a traditional classroom. In one of our first blog posts, we talked about the beginning of our co-teaching journey and some of the challenges that came along with our new classroom environment. One of the challenges we mentioned was Flexible Seating… our struggle between maintaining control through structure and giving students the freedom to make their own choices. Continue reading “Failing Forward: Flexible Seating”

Teaching Kids to be Mindful

The Mindful Classroom

In our last post, we gave background information on the idea of mindfulness and the powerful effect it can have on people… specifically teachers! This post will focus on how we teach mindfulness to our fourth-grade students and how you can teach your students to be more mindful in school, at home, and in their everyday lives.

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“What Do You Mean We Don’t Have Time For Social Studies!?” A Guide to Project-Based Learning


screenshot-2016-11-29-at-6-59-06-pmThis school year we set out to create a unique and innovative learning environment for our students. We removed the wall between our two classrooms to create one large classroom with 55 students and two teachers. Aside from changing the physical environment, we also wanted to be innovative in our instructional practices. We set out to create a “learning lab” for our 4th graders that would provide many opportunities for inquiry-based learning.

When brainstorming for the school year, the first subject area to be put under our “innovation microscope” was social studies. Thinking of how social studies is traditionally taught, teachers generally lecture or tell students what they need to know while students spend their time reading from a textbook, memorizing names and dates, writing informational essays, and taking multiple choice tests. Students memorize the necessary information for a test and then forget it immediately afterwards. Sound familiar? We set out to find a way to make our instruction and assessment more meaningful for our students.

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