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Where to begin with this book ? It starts with a bang and then slowly burns and then overtakes almost every living thought you have about life and kids and education and challenges and successes and failures and what is important in life ? What do we want from our kids ? What do they want ? But then, I guess, I do have a habit of living and breathing and dreaming about the books that I read ! The title sucks you in and you think, “I must read this book”, but it’s the subtitle that is the true hero here: ‘Grit, Curiosity and the hidden power of Character.’ That is the game breaker for me, and the more I read the book, the more it became so blindingly obvious. That character (essentially non-cognitive skills as called by economists or personality traits as called by psychologists) is more indicative of the chances of success than IQ tests or other standardised testing and exams. Many scientists and others have attempted to define character and hence there are numerous definitions. Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson wrote a handbook titled ‘Character Strengths and Virtues’ outlining in great detail their list of 24:

Wisdom and Knowledge (strengths that involve the acquisition and use of knowledge)

1. Creativity (personified for example by Albert Einstein,

2. Curiosity (eg, John C. Lilly),

3. Open-mindedness (eg, William James),

4. Love of learning (eg, Benjamin Franklin),

5. Perspective and wisdom (eg, Ann Landers)

Courage (strengths that allow one to accomplish goals in the face of opposition)

6. Bravery (eg, Ernest Shackleton),

7. Persistence (eg, John D. Rockefeller),

8. Integrity (eg, Sojourner Truth),

9. Vitality (eg, Dalai Lama)

Humanity (strengths of tending and befriending others)

10. Love (eg, Romeo & Juliet),

11. Kindness (eg, Cicely Saunders),

12. Social intelligence (eg, Oprah Winfey)

Justice (strengths that build healthy community)

13. Active citizenship/social responsibility/loyalty/teamwork (eg, Sam Nzima),

14. Fairness (eg, Mohandas Ghandi),

15. Leadership

Temperance (strengths that protect against excess)

16. Forgiveness/mercy (eg, Pope John Paul II),

17. Humility/modesty (eg, Bill W, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous),

18. Prudence (eg, Fred Soper),

19. Self regulation/control (eg, Jerry Rice)

Transendence (strengths that forge connections to the larger universe and provide meaning)

20. Appreciation of beauty/excellence (eg, Walt Whitman),

21. Gratitude (eg, G.K. Chesterton),

22. Hope (eg, Martin Luther King Jr),

23. Humour/playfulness (eg, Mark Twain),

24. Spirituality/sense of purpose or coherence (eg, Albert Schweitzer)

I love this list and even just reading through it makes me appreciate the strengths inherent in each quality. Of course its very thorough and somewhat unwieldy as a practical and manageable system to be used for educational purposes. A more simpler set of just seven strengths were identified by Peterson that are more likely to predict life satisfaction and high achievement, they are:

1. Grit   2. Self-control   3. Zest   4. Social intelligence   5. Gratitude   6. Optimism   7. Curiosity

This list is compact and also I found it to tie in well with The Resilience Project that have been working with the Level 3 students. They draw much of their work and inspiration from Seligman’s positive psychology work. I don’t believe this will be my last writing about this book, I hope that I will add to this post at a later date and reflect more on its value to my teaching and philosophy.

 

Link

http://newsroom.opencolleges.edu.au/features/comedy-in-the-classroom-50-ways-to-bring-laughter-into-any-lesson

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Love this article and this image. Not that I need any encouragement to bring laughter into my classroom but this article does indeed outline 50 ways to bring it in !! And they are all viable and usable. “Inside a classroom, the air thickens with time and words and problems and thoughts, lots of thoughts. Sometimes, there’s a need to break the boredom. the best break is laughter.” There is even a link to a Stanford study showing how humour activates a child’s brain. Some of the suggestions are so obvious we may not even realise we are doing them most of the time, but it is vital to consider them. Examples include:

– Be you,

– Develop rapport,

– Be honest,

– Be weird, sometimes what’s normal to you may be weird to the younger generation,

– Use voices, that ‘special’ teacher voice,

– Tongue twisters,

– Music,

– Use irony,

The list goes on and provides fabulous opportunity for meaningful learning experiences beyond content.

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Link

http://www.literacyshed.com/about.html

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Lovely website with many ideas and resources for use in Literacy sessions.The ‘sheds’ include: The Thinking Shed, The Picture Book Shed, The Fairy Tale Shed, The Inventor’s Shed, The Reading Shed, The Poetry Shed, The Adventure Shed, The Mystery Shed, The Sci-Fi Shed, The Ghostly Shed, The Inspiration Shed, The Fantasy Shed, The Other Cultures Shed, The Class Blogs Shed, The Images Shed, The Tool Shed, The History Shed, The Authors Shed, The Fun Shed, The Christmas Shed…… and so it goes on. I want to keep going into all the sheds to check them out.

Link

http://illuminations.nctm.org/LessonDetail.aspx?id=L585

This is a link to a fabulous activity that brings together probability, place value, art and Native American culture. This is just one activity available form the website run by NCTM (the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, from America). Similar to the MAV and Maths 300 website, the tasks are open ended and multi faceted, there are lesson plans and also online activities available. I look forward to navigating around the website and implementing some of the activities in my own classroom.

Link

http://wonderopolis.org

Fabulous website dedicated to a ‘wonder of the day’ every day. These ‘wonders’ are supplied by contributors from around the world and often include student wonderings and the projects that relate to them. Todays wonder is “Why do monkeys love bananas ?”.

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There is also a student film embedded as well as all sorts of information regarding monkeys and bananas. Other wonderings include:

– How do you create harmony ?

– Where do ants live ?

– Can you do a jig ?

– Do you prefer sauce or gravy ?

– What is a flash mob ?

– Where is the windy city ?

– What is a genre ?

There are so many and they are all so interesting and I will keep checking it out for relevance to topics studied in my classroom.

Link

http://www.unity.net.au/allansportfolio/edublog/?p=324

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Really interesting blog page about using iPads for learning and teaching. The Bloom’s Taxonomy has been revised (once again) and has now become the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. Using the taxonomy wheel with the concepts of Remembering/Understanding, Applying, Analysing, Evaluating and Creating in the middle, radiating out we delve into action verbs  and activities and then 62 apps have been added that can serve the pedagogy. There are also links to posters, video tutorials and iTunes for downloading the apps.