2011-2012

What’s Your Mindset?
mindsetThis semester, our faculty is reading, studying and discussing Mindset by Carol Dweck in our Professional Learning Community (PLC) time together. According to Professor Dweck, there are two mindsets: fixed and growth. Her book thoroughly outlines the two and gives concrete examples about how having a growth mindset works advantageously toward success in relationships and in life and how a fixed mindset works counterproductively to prevent potential. Click here for more details about this riveting read; I especially like the Character chapter!

An article from Inside The School supports the need for a growth mindset in athletics. Author Diane Trim details how important learning to fail and rebound truly are. What athletes can your students think of who have experienced success? Failure? Do they have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset? Have them research Green Bay Packer Donald Driver; his story from homelessness living in a van to hero on the football field will amaze them. What would have been different had he had a fixed mindset? His picture book Quickie Makes The Team nicely illustrates this concept.

Finally, give students this open-ended inquiry: What if failure really is the secret to success? Find out what they’ve failed at and what that failure did for them, both positively and negatively. This would make a good mapping exercise. Do the positives outweigh the negatives? Give the students some examples (“I’m just NO good at math!”) and challenge them to decide whether that’s a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Then explore how they think that math is going to work out for that person. Ask how they could change that mindset and help make math work toward that student’s advantage.

Check out this book; it’s one that I think every professional should read, digest, and embrace!

Well Done!

wellService and outreach are a big part of citizenship; as such, I am always on the lookout for worthwhile projects that good citizens are working on in our community and beyond. Recently I’ve discovered two girls who have a heart for those who are suffering from thirst because of the historic drought and other water well issues in Africa.

One of our super citizens is a senior at Friendswood High School and is serving as a PAL on our campus this year. Here’s what Missy told me about her cause: I am raising money to build a single well with Living Waters International. With regards to fundraising for my well, my goal is to raise $10,000 by the end of the school year.

The second is Ella, a second grader in Austin, whom I met online last spring when she asked for money for Africa instead of birthday gifts for her 7th birthday. Here’s an update from her mom: Ella has launched a new group campaign for kids called 100 for Water and is trying to recruit 99 other motivated little people to each raise $100.  The money raised will help fund a drilling rig that will build 80 wells a year, bringing water to 40,000.  Visit My Charity: Water to learn more about Ella’s campaign to make life better in Africa, one drop at a time.

What can you do to show good citizenship and make things better for someone today?

Thanks And Giving

sayingthanksWhat if the only things you had left when you woke up tomorrow was the stuff you expressed gratitude for today? Such a thought-provoking question, one which I like to follow up with: How do you show that you’re thankful? Douglas Wood’s book entitled The Secret of Saying Thanks inspires and motivates its readers by letting them in on a little secret about a big thing: Gratitude.

Use this treasure to talk with your little citizens about things they might take for granted, like nature (the sun, the trees, the stars, the breeze) and nurture (family and friends). Have students make a list of things they’re grateful for; better yet, start a JOY journal with them and encourage them to write something that they’re thankful for every day. Nothing can turn our sorrow around like a little jolt of joy.

What are some of the traditions that your family enjoys that bond you together and help you appreciate one another more? Click here for a list of activities that can help families focus on giving thanks.

Click here to read my November post about gratitude at The Teachers’ Lounge blogspot.

A Recipe For Citizenship
recipecitizenI’m thinking a lot about recipes today, maybe because it’s my mom’s birthday and she’s the one who taught me how to bake. It still amazes me that you can take an egg and some sugar, some oil and some flour, then throw in a few other ingredients and some heat to make a cake! Here’s one of my yummy recipes that’s fresh in my mind because I made it for the judges at Region Band contest this morning:

Hummingbird Cake
3 cups of sifted flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups sugar
1 8-ounce can of crushed pineapple with juice
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups diced bananas
1 cup nuts (optional)

Mix dry ingredients together, then add bananas and other ingredients. Stir mixture until blended, not beaten. Bake 1 hour and 10 minutes in a Bundt pan at 350 degrees. Glaze with a powdered sugar/milk frosting if desired.

This recipe is funny to me because who really sifts flour any more? And what exacty is the difference between blended and beaten? And where’s the proportions for the powdered sugar to milk ratio for the glaze?

Some recipes are like that, there’s lots of room for interpretation and judgement. Is our recipe for citizenship is kind of like that, too? What makes the BEST citizen? My definition has always been that good citizens make wherever they go BETTER because they’re there. Showing up, that’s a given, but also bettering the event. What makes my hummingbird cake better? The pineapple? The optional nuts? Three eggs instead of two? Find out from your students what their favorite recipe is and what ingredient they think makes it better than other recipes. Then brainstorm their recipe for a good citizen, making sure they add ingredients like patriotism, volunteerism, obedience, conservation, honor, service, heroism. Which ingredient makes citizenship better? Or is it simply a combination of all of the ingredients? Is there one ingredient that seems more important, that simply cannot be missing from a good citizen recipe? Get ready for a delicious discussion.

Optional: Make this cake and randomly leave it in the teachers’ lounge for a tasty treat.