New Year, New Goals!

goals

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had an amazing time with family and friends over break.  I must say that I really enjoyed the time off that allowed me to slow down and focus on recharging my creative juices.  I love the start of a new year to take a look at goals I have set for myself evaluate the progress made and set goals for new challenges.  Last year I vowed to run a 5K.  I ran 3 of them!  This year my goal is to connect more with other educators to ensure that I am presenting the best opportunities available for my students.   Over break I spent many hours researching a few new ideas that will help re-energize our learning environment.  Starting this week we will be reworking our concept of homework.

edmodo

For language arts, students will be reading pages in a novel at their level.  They will also have a question to respond to on Edmodo each night.  Edmodo is an online educational tool that will help us to have discussions about school work from our homes.  I like to equate it to Facebook only the focus is on education not selfies!  There are rules to using this format, which we will go over in class on Monday. An appropriate use contract will be sent home as well for both parents and students to sign.  If you do not have internet access at home, don’t panic!  All sites that we will be using can be accessed through cell phones as well.  If that is still an issue, I will provide a paper copy of the night’s question for students if necessary.  They will be able to record their answer on paper and then transfer onto the computer in the morning in class.  Since the novel that your child will be reading is based on his or her current reading level, the assigned reading should take no more than 15-20 minutes each night.

Sophia

 

We will also be using an online component for math starting this week.  For math, students will access the website Sophia.org.  They will watch a short tutorial about the math concepts we will be covering the next day.  This is called Flipped Instruction.  In Flipped instruction lessons, the viewing the lesson becomes the homework and applying the skills becomes the classwork.  A typical lesson will include a short 5 minute or less video or presentation that students will view followed by a 3-5 question “quiz” that they will complete.  Based on the results of the “quiz” I will group students in class the next day to accommodate their individual needs.  Students who grasp the concept will have the opportunity to apply it in a variety of ways including paper and pencil, computer based activities, and extension activities. Students who seem to be close to grasping the concept will talk through what is confusing them with me then move on to the application activities.  Students who are truly confused about the concept will still get a traditional lesson with me to ensure they understand.  Since I need to group kids by their comprehension of the skills it is very important that they receive NO HELP on the “quiz”.  Everyone will receive a 100 for homework regardless of the “quiz” results just for viewing the lesson and trying the questions.  Please note that I am able to see how long each student spent on each lesson, so skipping the video and jumping to the questions will be noted.  Again if internet access is an issue, students may complete this during homeroom/morning work time as well.

dc-maker-space-logo1

Finally the last major change I am going to be implementing this month is the addition of Makerspaces to our classroom.  I am SO EXCITED about this!  What are makerspaces?  They are bins full of challenges, puzzles, supplies, and opportunities for students to create, invent, discover, and tinker.  So much of what we do in class requires everyone to come to the same result.  They may approach it differently, but the end result is the same.  Makerspaces allow for students to tackle a problem or challenge their own way and create their own unique solution.  This will teach students to problem solve in a no risk environment.  They will be required to complete a makerspace form to demonstrate what they have learned, but the end result is all theirs.  Some students are going to love this!  Full creativity!  Woo hoo!  Others may hate it- they, like many adults, want to know how it should look in the end.  This concept teaches all students that failure is a completely ok end result as long as they learned something along the way.  I have a TON of materials ordered for this so as soon as they come in be ready for an amazing update!!!!!

Happy New Year! The Impact of Mindset on Goals

mindset 1

New Years is a time when many people reflect back on the past year and analyze their choices in life and begin to think about how to make the next year better.  I usually set goals for myself rather than resolutions.  Resolutions are defined as the answer to a problem.  I think we can all admit that there are problems in our lives we’d like the answers to, but just making a resolution is not the answer.  I’ve made what I thought were resolutions in the past (to go to the gym more, to eat healthier, to not procrastinate on assignments, to get the laundry done quicker, etc).  These are not answers to a problem though.  Technically they are goals I’d like to achieve.  I’d like to go to the gym more and in order to do that, I will have to take steps to make it happen such as schedule time, arrange childcare, and pack my gym supplies.  I’d like to eat healthier and in order to do that I will need to shop with purpose for healthier ingredients, prepare food at home instead of getting take out, and skip out on some of those not so healthy snacks.  

This week, we will be spending some time learning about setting goals for ourselves.  We will work to set goals for both school and home.  We will think about the steps we will need to take to ensure that we can follow through on these goals and be successful.  While we are doing this we will also examine a theory in a book that I read last year, Mindset.  In this book the author, Carol Dweck, identifies 2 different ways of thinking, or mindsets.

mindset 2

 

 

 The first is a fixed mindset.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are who they are, can do what they can do, and think the way the think because they are born that way.  For example if you always struggled with math that is because you were born with a limited knowledge of math and once you hit that point you couldn’t learn any more.  Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are the way they are and that is that.  They will continue to prove that they are what they believe until they experience a failure.  For example, if you always believed you were the fastest person and then you were beat by someone else you would be crushed.  Your beliefs were ruined!  You would start to feel horrible about yourself.  This mindset is not wrong- but it can be detrimental to learning.  If you immediately think that you are a failure because you fail one test think of how that can impact your willingness to learn more or different ways in the future!

The Second mindset is the growth mindset.  In this mindset, people believe that they can be and do anything that they want.  It may not be easy.  They may not be able to do it right off the bat.  It may require failing a few times before getting it, but with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to try new and different ways to achieve their goal they will eventually get it.  I have been working very hard to develop my growth mindset.  

Let me give you an example from my life.  Many years ago, I had a teacher that told me I was not good at math.  I would never be able to be good at math because I just couldn’t get it.  I started to really believe this about myself.  I thought I was dumb.  She was right, I would never get it.  This impacted my career choices.  I had hoped to be an engineer like my grandfather.  If I wasn’t any good at math though, I could never do that.  I believed this until I was an adult.  I did very well in college math classes and could do all the math I needed in real life with no problem, but I still thought of myself as a failure.  When I was hired as a teacher in Millville, I was hired to teach 7th grade math- this was a nightmare for me!  How could I teach kids if I was a failure?!  Fortunately, I was working with an amazing team of math teachers at Lakeside.  They helped me to see that there are many ways to teach concepts and that not every student gets it the first time around.  Through teaching and working hard to ensure that all of my students were given the tools and strategies they needed to be successful in math class, I changed my mindset from fixed to growth.  I watched kids struggle but not give up and cheered with them when they finally got it.  If these kids could try and try and try until they were successful, then so could I.  I decided I would never limit or label myself as one thing again.  Now I look forward to someone telling me I can’t do something so that I can prove them wrong!  I never thought I’d achieve my master’s degree (neither did some other people) but I did.  I never thought I’d be getting certified to be a principal, yet by July I will be.  Next up on my challenge list- earning my doctorate degree.  I’m not a person who is going to be limited by others opinions of myself or limitations I used to believe about myself anymore.  MINDSETS CAN BE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We will be learning about the mindsets in class this week as we set goals for ourselves for this year.  We will be signing a contract as a class to promise to aim for growth and not become fixed in any one area.  The TEDX video below explains the powerful impact of mindsets on our lives.  It is a little long, but very much worth it!

So, will you join us and grow?