Friday, November 21, 2014

Mental Block?

Amazon Prime is either the best thing ever, or something for which a support group and 12 Step Program will be required for me in the very near future.  I certainly get my money's worth on the free shipping alone, without even considering the potential for being first in line for drone delivery or free/minimal charge streaming of movies nearly instantly.  The thought of identifying just one book that has had a major impact on my career is difficult, as I teach stand-alone "Themes" each semester, so my "favorite" book tends to be something that I'm reading in connection with that semester's theme.

The Te@chthought Blog Challenge for today,

Nov 21 List a book you are thankful to have read and how it have inspired you to be better at what you do. 

Now that I've touted the wonders of Amazon, I'll give you the back story on the book I've chosen to feature -- and it involves the anti-Amazon-kindle -- the NOOK.  Two years ago, I pitched the idea of buying a full set of NOOKS for my classroom that could contain digital content for years for my gifted kids in my Themes in Literature class.  The district agreed, and purchased 25 NOOKS.  But no content.  So for the first year, I pretty much had blown my budget on what were, essentially, really expensive paperweights.
As I am good at shmoozing with the tech guys and the Tech Coach, I managed to get Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  (no kidding, it's pronounced CHEEK-SENT-ME-HIGH.  Or Smith.  You decide!).  Shortly after that, we added Talk Like TED.  I try to add new books each year to the NOOKS, with the hope that while a book or a chapter is assigned reading, the NOOKEES (aka Learners) might decide to (gasp!) read more than just the assignment.

I've been familiar with the wonderful brain research of Carol Dweck for years, and had read her book five or six years ago.  It seemed like a great educator book.  This year I got smarter (or decided to work less hard?), and once again shmoozed the Tech Coach and was rewarded for my efforts with copies of Mindset which were added to my ebooks.

The concept of Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets is certainly easy enough to understand by simply reading the first chapter.  So using a bit of reverse psychology, I assigned students to read just the first chapter.  It's an easy read, is relatable to anyone reading the book, and makes the point in chapter one.

I totally get that had I assigned the reading of an ENTIRE book, very few would have cracked the cover.  But one chapter quickly turned to two or three, or an entire book, for many of my students.  Some saw fixed mindsets in themselves, others are now "diagnosing" their friends based upon comments in other classrooms.  

Can kids read and apply brain research to themselves?  Absolutely.  Is recognizing a fixed mindset the first step to recovery?  They now think so.

It's a fast read.  Every teacher should read this.  And then every student.  It helps a lot when talking to kids about learning frustrations, and creates its own shorthand language to remind students to keep on keeping on.

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