Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

Pay it Forward- A Lesson in the Gift of Kindness

February4

pay it forward

 

February, albeit a short month, is one that is jam-packed with activities.  Many of our activities this month are focused around Valentine’s Day and our hearts.  We are going to take this to “heart” this month and begin a 2 week family project.  Many of us have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” which came out in the late 90’s. The premise of the movie is that if one person does an act of kindness for another it can start a chain reaction of events that can change the lives of thousands of people for the better.  We will be reading the novel, Pay it Forward  in class beginning next week as a read aloud.  The author of the original book recently released a child-friendly version this past August.  It is a beautifully written book that I hope will encourage my students to begin to look for ways to be kind and do kind things for others on a regular basis.  

Beginning the weekend of Valentine’s Day, February 14th, students will be given a kindness journal to keep track of acts of kindness they either see,  do for others, or have done for them.   The notebook will be divided in to three sections- things I have done for others, things I saw someone do for someone else, and things someone has done for me.   In addition to recording the act that was done or seen, they will also write a sentence or two or draw a picture to describe how they felt.  For example, my daughters made me a special snack and hid it in my lunch box the other day.  When I found it at lunch, it touched me and made me feel good that my girls were thoughtful enough to make me a healthy snack knowing that I had been rushing around that morning and hadn’t packed much of a lunch for myself.   If I were recording this in my kindness journal I would have recorded in the “Someone did Something Nice for Me” section.    I am asking students to write one act of kindness for each day.  The goal is that students will develop a sense of community through this activity and become more aware of the way we make others feel when we are kind.  This assignment will be due on February 27th.  I am requiring students to do this EVERY DAY- even weekends!

Please feel free to comment in your child’s journal as well or better yet, start a family kindness journal and have everyone participate!   Just like in the book and movie, I would love to see everyone “Pay it Forward” and cultivate a community where kindness grows and thrives!

kindnesskindness

Happy New Year! The Impact of Mindset on Goals

January4

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.

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 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?

Making RM Bacon a Bully-Free Zone

December3

bully free zone

 

Bullying is a hot topic issue in education.  Students learn best when they are in an environment in which they feel safe.  You can not feel safe if you are being bullied.  Therefore, it is a very high priority at RM Bacon Elementary School that we stop bullying in its tracks.

All staff members have been trained in how to spot, report, and respond to bullying when we see it.  The problem is bullies can be tricky and we don’t always see the behaviors.  Students also need to be trained so that they have the confidence to stand up for others and report what they are seeing.  We take bullying VERY seriously.  When bullying is reported it is investigated by our HIB (harassment, intimidation, and bullying) team.  This team consists of our guidance counselor, security guard, PBIS (positive behavior in schools) aide, and our principal.  Often the investigation ends with a positive outcome.  If the investigation proves that bullying exists, a plan of action is put into place including counseling, monitoring, and support for both the victim and bully.

We will be working with the CAP (Child Abuse Prevention) Team this Friday and next Monday to learn about bullying.  Students will learn about how to use their words wisely so as to not hurt others. They will also learn about different strategies to use when they feel that they are being treated unfairly.

How can you help?  Today bullying doesn’t only occur face to face.  Cyber bullying is a huge issue.  Please be aware of what your child is doing online or on their phones.  Texting mean messages has the same effect as saying them out loud.  Monitor your child’s internet usage.  Ask for passwords and usernames to keep tabs.  If they are on social media, insist on them including you as a “friend” or “follower.”  Below is a video defining cyber bullying and how you can help your child if they find themselves in this situation:

Here is a short music video that shows how bullying can impact a child and how having others stand up and speak out can change the direction of the bullying and give the child the confidence and support they need to stand up to the bully in an appropriate way. REMEMBER, BULLYING BACK IS NOT THE ANSWER!

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Class to Yours

November26

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Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday!  There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating.  It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have.  Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic.  This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude.  We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others.  Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for.  Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.

I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students.  I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day.  I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become.  I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you.  This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences.  Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day.  It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Love,

Mrs. Sinone and family

Back to School Night Parent Information

September18

Wow!  What a great turn out for our annual Back to School Night!  I was very happy to meet all of the parents who were able to make it up to our classroom.  For those parents who were unable to attend, please see the Prezi below to be up to date on our classroom procedures.  I also sent home a classroom “cheat sheet” with the important websites, email addresses, and policies on them in your child’s work folder.  Please be sure to sign up for the Remind 101 text updates to stay aware of the upcoming important dates!  Text @mrssino to 856-517-0666 (not my real phone number!)

Eggstra! Eggstra! Room 11 Needs your Eggsistance!

March20

We will be holding an EGGsperimentally Awesome day next Thursday and could use some help!  We are in need of the following items:

Raw eggs (at least 6 dozen or more)

Vinegar (1 large bottle- think BJ’s size)

Egg dye kits (1 or 2 would be plenty)

Cotton Balls (1 bag)

Baking Soda (1 box is plenty)

1 bottle of soda (for experimental purposes only! Flavor does not matter)

1 package of large clear plastic cups

All of these ingredients will add up to a spectacularly scientific Eggstravaganza!  Any student who brings in one of the above items will receive 10 extra credit points on this week’s Science test.  If you would like to volunteer to help us on Thursday, March 28th, we would love to have you!  Please contact Mrs. Sinone to let her know you will be coming.  Also on Thursday, March 28th please dress your child in play clothes as some of these EGGsperiments are quite messy! 

We hope to see you for an EGGcellent time!

Inspirational People Remind Us to Be Kind To All

February21

Our current read aloud novel is a biography of the amazing Helen Keller.  She has inspired so many by overcoming odds stacked steeply against her to not only live life but live life well.  Helen Keller was born “normal.”  She was born a child with perfect vision and hearing.  Very early in life she became ill and a fever caused brain swelling that took away her sense of sight and hearing.  For a long time she was trapped in a dark, scary, tricky world.  Her parents were able to secure a teacher for her, Annie Sullivan, who unlocked the door to Helen’s world and the rest as they say is history.  Her story has so inspired a few of my students that they wrote the rest of my blog entry for me!  Meet our guest bloggers!

Julianna  is very intrigued by Helen Keller’s story and infact has begun reading her own Helen Keller book at home.

I like the book about Helen Keller because I like learning how she learned how to speak.  I like to see how Annie came up with ways to teach Helen.  I have read about 5 books about Helen Keller.  I have always loved learning about how she learned to do everything she could do.

 

Tykia shares Julianna’s admiration for Helen Keller and composed the following blog entry:

I like Helen Keller because she’s amazing!  She was deaf and blind.  I feel so bad for her.  Then she learned to speak.  Helen Keller is an awesome girl.  She was blind and deaf and couldn’t talk, but then she learned how to talk.  She is amazing!

 

Angelita agrees with the other ladies that Helen is simply amazing!

I like Helen Keller because she is interesting to me.  Helen amazes me how she learned to speak.  When she speaks it is not clear, but you can understand her.  She uses her hand to feel what the other person is talking about.  She smiles and makes feelings with her face.  Helen is a great and famous person to learn about. 

 

We watched the following clip today when we reached the part in her biography where she has learned to speak:

 

We have had many discussions in class about acceptance of others.  One of my cousins posted a link to an amazing video about the power our words have.  Please take a minute to watch it and speak to your kids about acceptance, bullying, and thoughtful words. 

 

Fire Safety and Veteran’s Day- Weekly Objectives

November5

This week is a shortened week due to the now canceled NJEA convention.  Due to Hurricane Sandy and the devastation it has left in its wake, the actual convention (a professional development opportunity for NJ teachers held in AC) has been canceled.   I encourage you to visit the following website to see how you can help the many people who’s lives have been destroyed by this storm.  Donations can be small, such as used clothing or toys you have lying around the house or even small monetary amounts.  Now matter how small your contribution it lets those effected know that they are not alone.  Here is the link to a site that is designated to helping Southern New Jersey residents:  http://interoccupy.net/occupysandy/southjersey/.  Please consider donating or volunteering if you can.

We will be visiting with the local fire department this week.  Each year, they come to our school to discuss the importance of fire safety.  In addition to their talk about fire alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, students get to experience a smoke filled mock fire situation so they can truly understand the confusion a fire creates.  Please review your fire safety plan with your child including at least 2 exit routes from your house, a meeting place, and important phone numbers.  Also, be sure your child has turned in their fire safety house permission slip prior to our visit on Wednesday so that they can participate.

We will also be learning about Veteran’s Day this week.  Veteran’s Day is celebrated on November11th each year.  We will be discussing the origins of the day as well as ways we can show our appreciation to our local veterans.  Below is a link to a Veteran’s Day video I created on a trip to Washington D.C. a few years ago.  Please feel free to share it!

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

November1

Wow!  It is November already!  I can not believe how quickly the year is flying by.  November is a very important month in many ways.  We will spend time in class being grateful for the many things and people we have in our lives.  This month, each students will  record 5 things they are grateful for each day in his or her agenda.  November is the perfect time to develop an attitude of gratitude.  Each night students will list five things or people they are grateful for having in their lives.  I would like for this to take on a very meaningful tone and to keep away from silly entries, but sometimes we really are grateful for a TV show or pizza!  At the beginning of each day, I will walk around and check to see that they have completed their assignment. and at the end of the month each student will be given a social studies project grade for completing this task.   This is to be done even over weekends and days off from school.  I am hoping that at the end of the month students will develop an appreciation for all the wonderful things and people in their lives.   

One of the ways we show our appreciation is by doing things for others.  On November 12th we will be participating in World Run Day.  On this day thousands of others will be running to express their gratitude for fitness and healthy living.  We are also collecting money to be donated to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.  Collection sheets are due back on Wednesday, November 7th.  All students who raise $15 or more will receive a t-shirt and the top 10 collectors will participate in a pizza party.  Wear comfy clothes and running shoes on November 12th (our first day break after our long weekend) and be ready to run!  This event will take place outside so dressing in layers might be a good idea.  See the movie below for more information.  FYI in the movie it says World Run Day is the 11th, due to that being a Sunday we are participating on the 12th!

 

Be Inspired by Your Child!

October10

A video was sent to me via email by our principal.  It was about a young boy, about the same age as my daughter and my students,  who had a dream to create an arcade solely from cardboard boxes doomed for the recycle bin, old bits and pieces of  tools and hardware, and old toys.  His father figured this was a way to keep him busy doing something creative instead of getting into trouble.  Little did they know their lives would be forever altered by this project.  Please take a peek at the video below and then read on to accept my challenge.

 

I challenge you to be present in your child’s life. To be their cheerleader. To inspire and be inspired by them. I challenge you to take a few extra minutes and create something- a story, a picture, a board game, the sky’s the limit! I challenge you to document your child’s life, take pictures, write down the silly stories to share with them when they are older, video their plays or songs. I challenge you to help or push them a little harder when necessary. I challenge you to let your child know that with effort and hard work they can create and be anything they want.

After watching this video, I was inspired not only by this little boy’s ingenuity and pride in his work, but also by his father’s dedication, encouragement, and love. I am accepting my challenge…..will you?


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