Goal Setting – "15 High Performance Habits"

We’re past the “New Year’s Resolution” time of the year, but isn’t a new semester an equally appropriate time to offer students a chance to “reboot” their approach to school?  This article and activity is intended to foster those conversations:

Lesson Plan Idea & Article

“A New Semester – How Will You Make It Your Best One Ever?” –  http://goo.gl/HVqCtP the activity asks the students to read and reflect on the article:  “15 High Performance Habits That Will Make You Successful” – from Lifehack.org

Classroom Community Building & News Report Writing

The start of a new semester is a time to think hard about the classroom communities we’re building for our students. The following activity uses a list of 50 questions to get to know someone by Andrew Tarvin as an excuse to bring students together for conversations. I think it’s fun, because not only do they have a chance to talk about themselves (generally an opportunity adolescents embrace) but also we can use the list to think about the kinds of questions that are appropriate in different situations.

Character Analysis

Later in the term, these questions can be revisited as we consider characters in texts and perhaps analyze how fully realized a fictional character is based on how well we could answer these questions about a character from a short story or novel.

Small Talk & OSSLT Prep

Also, as an option for grade 9 / 10 classes, the task branches off into New Report writing as a prelude to instruction for the OSSLT.

Lesson Plan & Worksheets

Building Classroom Community – Rapid Interviews

50 Questions & News Writing Worksheet

This is interesting… – organizer

What Are The Four Words?

I’m late to the game reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian… and now I know what all the fuss is about. It’s wonderful.  This passage will put a lump in the throat of any teacher…

“Do you understand how amazing it is to hear that from an adult? Do you know how amazing it is to hear that from anybody? It’s one of the simplest sentences in the world, just four words, but they’re the four hugest words in the world when they’re put together.”

I’m sure you guessed.  The four words are: “you can do it”. Despite sentiment like this, the book’s been banned in a few places in the U.S. — probably for laugh out loud moments like this one when the narrator says to one of his teachers:

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,’ I said. ‘By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.” 

There is also some sexual content that might offend some readers. Don’t be put off. As a story of resilience, bravery, and loyalty The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian can’t be beat. In the place of or alongside Catcher in the Rye or Lord of the Flies the novel would be a great addition to a group novel study unit. 

Courage – First Person Narrative

Flight Attendant Nicole Foran tells the story of protecting her passengers when trapped on plane with hijacker
From CBC Radio’s “DNTO” on Saturday an amazing first person narrative from Governor General’s Star of Courage medal recipient Nicole Foran.  

“A few years ago, 173 passengers and airline staff had a truly terrifying experience. After they boarded their Halifax-bound plane in Montego Bay, a lone gunman forced his way in to the cabin and held them hostage. Nicole Foran, one of the plane’s flight attendants, shares the amazing story of how they made it home alive.” 
CBC Radio’s “DNTO” May 3, 2014

Effective Presentations – Consider Purpose and Audience

Author Nancy Durante makes the case for considering the purpose of your presentation and the nature of your audience prior to designing a presentation.  She writes,

Ask yourself what you want to get out of the time you have with the group. Do you need to simultaneously inform, entertain, and persuade your audience to adopt a line of thinking or to take action? Or do you need to gather more information, have a discussion, or drive the group toward consensus to get to your desired next step?”

Creating opportunities for students to demonstrate their presentation skills, and their knowledge of content in a variety of contexts gives us the opportunity to teach students the importance of considering their purpose and audience prior to creating a presentation.  Whether its a pitch, a rant, a lesson, a research report, a TED talk, a formal debate, a trial or a sales presentation — we can help students to understand how what they’re trying to achieve and for what audience should inform the ideas they focus on, how they organize their ideas, and how they choose to present their content.

Giving students multiple opportunities to practice “quick” presentations with their peers builds relationships and trust in the classroom that can help students perform better with less anxiety.

Resilience / Learning Styles / Learning Skills

Resilience and Self-Regulation

I think a case can be made that self-regulation is the most important learning skill with the least useful title.  I wish the Ministry of Education had chosen the term “resilience” to describe these attributes.  Here’s what we’re trying to teach our students to demonstrate when we focus on a student’s self-regulation skills: 

  • sets own individual goals and monitors progress towards achieving them;
  • seeks clarification or assistance when needed;
  • assesses and reflects critically on own strengths, needs, and interests;
  • identifies learning opportunities, choices, and strategies to meet personal needs and achieve goals;
  • perseveres and makes an effort when responding to challenges.

I’d describe much of that as resilience. To be resilient is to believe you have control over your success. I fear that at times when we discuss learning styles or preferences with our students we leave them with the impression that they don’t fully control their own success. So to put the teaching of learning skills and thinking about learning styles in context, I’d suggest these three important goals for the discussion:

  1. I’m interested in you and interested in understanding your strengths and preferences, to help me be a more effective teacher;
  2. I’d like to help you to recognize your interests and strengths so that you can use them to build on your weaknesses;
  3. I want you to understand that your learning styles are not a trap, they do not mean a you are only capable of learning in one way.
These three documents try to present these ideas to students. The first is more concrete in its presentation, the last is more abstract:

1. List of learning styles and self-regulation skills: List of Personality Traits / Learning Styles
2. List of learning styles and self-regulation with some analysis: Personality Traits and Learning Styles
3. Scholarly article questioning the research on Learning Styles with discussion questions: Are Learning Styles a Myth?