“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” By Aesop
Random Acts of Kindness Week, February 12-18, is a week-long celebration dedicated to encouraging people to do one thing: be kind. You can follow the thread at #RAKweek2017.
The Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) Foundation is a great site to help you integrate RAK in your classroom. RAK goal is to “ultimately striving to make kindness the standard in every aspect of life. Whether it’s helping a stranger in need on your way to work, instilling the importance of kindness in students in a classroom, or a mutual demonstration of appreciation of those closest to us, our end-goal is to make kindness not an act at all, but a reflex. And to make the need for kindness obsolete by the overwhelming and undeniable presence of it everywhere.”
RAK is apart of the hidden curriculum in schools but there are lots of ways to integrate it seamlessly so that it is apart of your classroom culture. Below are five ways you can integrate RAK:
- Talk about RAK during morning meetings and/or advisory time.
- Start a bucket filling program in your classroom or school
- Make it apart of your Interactive Read Aloud. Here are some book titles to get you started:
Have You Filled A Bucket Today? A Guide To Daily Happiness For Kids by Carol McCloud
Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed by Emily Pearson, Fumi Kosaka
We All Sing With The Same Voice by J. Philip Miller and Sheppard M. Greene
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
A Sick Day For Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead
Last Stop On Market Street by Matt de la Pena
Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss
Enemy Pie by Derek Munson
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
The Three Questions by Jon J Muth
- Show video’s demonstrating RAK. You can use the RAK Video Library as a resource!
- Ripil App is a free “kindness tracker” where you can post daily RAK goals.
You can start integrating RAK by also becoming a RAKtivists = Random Acts of Kindness activist! You can apply to be a RAKtivist here.
More Articles and Information about RAK:
Random Acts of Kindness Week: Encouraging Empathy and Appreciation of Diversity in Your Classroom
102 Random Acts of Kindness – Ideas to Inspire Kindness
9 Ways to Introduce Students to Random Acts of Kindness
Discover Educations: Discover Kindness in the Classroom
“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.” by Herbert Spencer
Ted Talks: Education Revolution recently aired on PBS with hosts Baratunde Thurston and Sara Ramirez that had a great line up of speakers. Below is an overview and highlights of the show and I encourage you to watch the show in full here on PBS (60 minutes) or if there is a specific clip you want to watch, they are below. I loved all the Ted Talks as I believe everything they discussed is what we need to do to improve our education system. You can also follow the conversation #TEDTalksPBS.
Sal Khan from Khan Academy
- Believes there are two key leverage points for learning:
- Believes we should allow students time to master skills based on their need verse a set pacing guide.
- They need practice and authentic feedback
- We need to do school differently – we are not in the industrial age but an information revolution age.
Greg Whiteley (no clip, if you want to view – you will need to watch the full video. If you watched – Most Likely to Succeed, Whiteley views are embedded as he was the director.)
- Believes we need to not teach like we did in the industrial age but for today’s world. For example we should not lecture and have students regurgitate information but rather have student led discussions.
- Believes teachers should work in teams and blend subjects and contents.
- Believes students should work on projects verse rote skills.
Julie Lythcott-Haims Author of How to Raise an Adult
- Believes we spend a lot of time on parents that aren’t involved enough in school and kids lives (and rightly so) that we forget about the other end of the spectrum of the parent that overprotective by micromanaging
- Parents have the misconception that their student wont have a good future if they don’t (fill in the blank) get good grades or get into a particular college or don’t get into the career.
- We deprive our children learning about self efficacy when we do this
- Parents should be more concerned about building their skills and habits verse grades to help them become prepared for the real world.
Meshell NDegeocello musician who played in-between Ted Talks
Victor Rios Professor and Author of
- Grew up in poverty and incarcerated three times by age 15 but a teacher changed his life by caring and tapped into his soul.
- He believes there are three strategies teachers can use to help students:
- Get rid of our deficit perspective in education
- Value the stories that young people bring to school
- Provide resources to all students
- Believes we should have restorative justice course in every school
Heather Courtney and Anayansi Prado co-directed a documentary film called The Unafraid, which follows the lives of undocumented students and the underground movement they are building.
Anna Deavere Smith
- Goes across the country studying about why so many poor kids can’t make it through school and very often end up in jail.
- She shares two young people’s stories from Baltimore, Maryland. She does this in a unique way by interviewing them and then acting it out word for word for the audience.
Geeta Gandbhir and Perri Peltz shared a short film on how unconscious bias can sometimes sneak up on us.
Nadia Lopez, Principal and Ted Talk: Why open a school? To close a prison
- Her goal was to open a school, to close a prison in one of the toughest areas a Brooklyn, NY.
- She was up against trying to find teachers that had empathy and want to teacher in this school that had lack of technology, low parental involvement and neighborhood gangs that recruit kids as early as 4th graders.
- Her student population was 100% poverty, 86% below grade level in Math and Reading and 30% special needs.
- If our students are not in the classrooms, how will they learn.
Sara Ramirez closed the show performing her song Rollercoaster.
“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.” By Dale Carnegie
The beginning of the year is a great time to introduce the idea of having a growth mindset to your classroom. I complied a list of 20 great growth mindset themed books that you can put in your classroom libraries and have for read alouds.
Ada Twist, Scientist, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect by Andrea Beaty
Not a Box and Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis
Salt in His Shoes by
Stuck by Oliver Jeffers
Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen
Your Fantastic Elastic Brain Stretch It, Shape It by
What Do You Do With a Problem? and What Do You Do With an Idea? by
The Most Magnificent Thing by
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
Beautiful Oops! by
The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett
Thank You Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
The Dot, Ish, Going Places by Peter Reynolds
Other growth mindset blog posts I have written:
Musing on Mindset
Tools to Help Students Build a Growth Mindset
I am always looking for more great growth mindset themed books to add to my library so please share in the comments.
“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney
We are hearing more and more about ‘Kid-Entrepreneurs’ from different sources such as the news to shark tank. Often teachers ask me, ‘how do you let the students know about these students?’ Below I give you three ways you can add it into your classroom, share my favorite 12 Kid-Entrepreneurs and a few sites that also can help you.
- Create a Kid-Entrepreneurs bulletin board in your classroom. On this board have the Kid-Entrepreneurs pictures and some information about what they invented. (Make it interactive and let the students add to it – you will be surprised how any go home and research it!)
- Use articles that are about Kid-Entrepreneurs in your classroom. For example have them do a close read.
- Add it into your morning meetings/class advisory time; once a week you can highlight a Kid-Entrepreneur.
Kid-Entrepreneurs to utilize in the Classroom:
- Adora Svitak, age 18 (started at 12) Writer, speaker, advocate (if you haven’t watched her Ted Talks you are missing out, my favorite is ‘What adults can learn from kids’)
- Jake Andraka, age 17 (started at 15) – Jack Andraka
- Mikaila Ulmer, age 11 – Me and the Bees
- Alina Morse, age 10 – Zollipops
- Isabella Rose Taylor, age 15 – Isabella Rose Taylor Fashion
- Kid President, age 14, (started at 10) Kid President
- Rachel Zietz, age 15 – Gladiator Lacrosse
- Madison Robinson, ag2 18 (started at 12) – Fish Flops
- Mercer Henderson, age 13 – Audiots
- Thomas Suarez, age 17 (started at 12) CarrotCorp (His Ted Talk as an app developer)
- Hart Main, age 18 (started at 13) ManCans
- E2D (a local Kid-Entrepreneurs from Charlotte)
Meet 15 Superkids Who Are Going to Change the World
9 Amazing (Very) Young Entrepreneurs
Other Kid-Entrepreneurs Resources:
Project Based Entrepreneurship (Biz World)
Biz Kids Site
The Start-Up Kids
Google Science Contest
Kids News (Entrepreneurs)
Lesson Plans for Classroom Activities on Entrepreneurship
Ted Talk Related to Kid-Entrepreneurs
You might even have some Kid-Entrepreneurs in your classroom!
“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” By Walt Disney
I am always reading, looking at twitter and being a connected educator to learn from others. This week I learned about Identity Day from George Couros and I don’t know how I missed it but it is an awesome idea!
Identity Day is day dedicated to students/teachers interests that they want to share. The students (and teachers too) create a project on themselves but there is no criteria, no grade and no set topic. It is then set up like a ‘science fair’ or museum where people can go and read/talk to others.
Sound similar to Genius Hour? I thought so too but there is two distinct differences.
- Students/Teachers are doing a project on themselves and what they are interested in. For example: I might do a project on my favorite author because I like to read or on Yoga as that is a hobby I enjoy verse something on education because that is my passion.
- It is school wide and includes teachers. This builds community and culture within the school allowing students to learn about others and their teachers outside of the typical school day topics.
It was great reading on Twitter how so many teachers learned a lot of new things about their students that they wouldn’t of typically learned about in a regular school day. Here are some Identity Day resources to get it started at your school:
A Week by Week Guide to Creating a Successful Identity Day Livebinder
Their First 15 Minutes; Identity Day
Identity Day 2012
Identity Day Prezi
I would love to hear if you have implemented Identity Day and your thoughts on it! Please share in the comment section so we can all learn from each other.
“Dispositions to learning should be key performance indicators of the outcomes of schooling. Many teachers believe that, if achievement is enhanced, there is a ripple effect to these dispositions. However such a belief is not defensible. Such dispositions need planned interventions.” – John Hattie (2009), Visible Learning
Teaching non-cognitive skills (also known as life skills, soft-skills, dispositions, habits of mind) are just as important as teaching our students the cognitive skills. Non-cognitive skills are traits and skills that help students (really everyone) facilitate success in everyday life. Non-cognitive skills are attributes teachers strive to foster in students. These skills seldom stand alone and are even more important in this day of age where almost everything we do is working with others.
There are many non-cognitive skills such as the famous four C’s of critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication but we need to go beyond just them and think about how learners need to also be reflective, adaptable and flexible as well.
3 Quick Strategies to Embed Non-Cognitive Skills into the Classroom:
1. Praise effort, not ability and have students reflect on their work.
2. Highlight skill and talk about it purposefully. This could be done in morning meeting, classroom meeting or part of a lesson. It could also be when you notice a student, character or someone famous doing an exemplar job at one of the skills you could make it apart of a discussion.
3. Have a Genius Hour, Makerspace and/or Experiential Learning area where students can explore and tinker.
More Books/Articles on Non-Cognitive Skills:
The Need to Address Non-Cognitive Skills in the Education
“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” By Vera Nazarian
I recently met an amazing educator, Dave Hartzell! He is a third grade teacher and also the founder of The 40 Book Project. The projects mission is to help build a love for reading in all children by providing high-interest home libraries of at least 40 books to as many students as possible. Children who grow up with books in their homes have an immediate and long-lasting advantage in education over those who do not.
Dave understands that empowering students with great books can change their lives and inspire them. He recently lent me a book, A Long Walk to Water and warned me I would not put it down and he was right. I read it in a few hours and was inspired, it is a MUST read if you have not read it.
Dave and the book he lent inspired me and for this holiday season and I want to help out through the best way I could think of – social media! We (yes blog, Twitter and Facebook followers, you) can be the change and make a difference in a child’s life and education. My goal is 800 books – to help out 20 students! If you donate, please fill out this form so I can keep track of how many books we have collected! I will update this daily!
How can you help?
– Collect any new or gently used books
– Collect games, puzzles, or art supplies
– Donate: Checks written out to Dave Hartzell with The 40 Book Project in memo. Dave can then either send the receipt or share a picture of all the books with what you donated! Checks can be mailed to Shamrock address below.
Supplies can be dropped off or sent to Dave’s school:
Attention Dave Hartzell/The 40 Book Project
Shamrock Garden Elementary
3301 Country Club Drive
Charlotte, NC 28205
Need a service learning project for your classroom, let this be your cause! Why not get your whole school or department involved! Please help out Dave’s dream by spreading the word about The 40 Book Project! Also make sure to follow them on Twitter and on Facebook!
Read more about The 40 Book Project:
Teacher Creates Home Libraries for Kids
Charlotte book project aims to teach kids love of reading