Wednesday, February 23, 2011

We have been discussing mindset in the classroom throughout the year, and I found a great critical thinking activity to put the students' mindset to the test.


This problem solving game has no directions, and the students have to use cause and effect to get through each world and move on to the next.

This is a similar game to Questionaut where there are no directions for problem-solving.  The objective is to get the character, Samorost, to explore the spaceship that is flying toward his planet.

I wanted to share the comments and I am going to categorize them according to mindsets, fixed and growth:

Fixed Mindset Comments:
What's the point?
I don't get this.
This is too hard
It's impossible
Oh my gosh! What do you do?
This doesn't make sense
I could beat this if I wanted to
Fixed Mindset Actions:
A boy threw his hands up.
There was huffing and puffing.
Pouting took place.
Deep sighs were heard.
Heavy typing was heard as if a forceful stroke on the keyboard would solve the problem.
Hitting the desk out of frustration was seen.

Growth Mindset Comments:
Yes! I did it!
You just gotta think and you can do it.
It makes me feel good when I finally do something.
yea! I accomplished it, I so accomplished it.
That level 3 was really hard but I got through it.
This takes a lot of patience.
This is awesome!

These comments reflected the features of the boys' thinking which are not giving up, asking a lot questions, generating multiple ideas and explanations, being a critical thinker, and not stopping or giving up too soon. In the book The Thinking Classroom it states, "Good thinking is a mind-set, a collection of attitudes and inclinations with which one approaches thinking." It goes on to point out that "students have misconceptions about good thinkers, often equating good thinking with 'being smart.'" They need to realize that in order to be a good thinker, they have to learn that it is a matter of a disposition and not intellect alone.

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pronouns in Context: Nightmare Vacation!

The students have just finished studying personal, possessive, reflexive, interrogative, demonstrative, and indefinite pronouns. They wrote about a nightmare vacation as they applied their knowledge of pronouns in context. Below are some samples from each class: 

I was on mountain top peering down at the hopeless town. I had a lone dog of mine sitting beside me. My small heart was thumping as I was trying to think of an idea. The town boiled with excitement as Christmas was coming and their song started to drive me out of control. I suddenly came up with a hunch to end my thoughts, “I’ll steal all of their stuff and ruin Christmas.” We started to build our sleigh to rocket down the mountain of snow. My dog’s ears flopped and his legs shivered in the milky flakes. Through the houses we went stuffing toys, candy, stockings, and even cats up the chimney. All of the treasures were ours. Up to the steepest of the mountain we went, when guilt shocked me in the heart. “What will the enthusiastic kids do?" I thought. I turned the sleigh around and there we went down the snowy hill throwing presents and blaring a horn in praise. Christmas was here and everyone enjoyed it.

On my family vacation we encountered some boiling events. Our family went to our lake house in Arkansas, but unfortunately I forgot sunscreen. So I was now a baked potato. I asked my parents, “May I borrow some of your sunscreen,” but the best they had was 1 spf. Then, suddenly my brother told me that his hat flew off in the cool summer breeze, so I had to let him borrow mine! If you think your family vacation was sweltering, than look at ours.

My nightmare vacation was when I went to the amusement park, Six Flags. First, our flight got canceled that I had to wake up at 4 p.m. for, so we drove.....As result of eating chili at Burger King, my sister Phoebe threw up on her own leg and started crying. Both my brothers and my iPhone ran out of battery, which was our only source of entertainment, and my dad was really mad at us for no apparent reason. Then his car got a flat tire, which delayed our trip a couple of hours because the next gateway was 45 minutes away. When I got to Six Flags, it was snowing its brains out. Also we found a pleasant surprise that our luggage was gone. That was my nightmare vacation.

My last family vacation to Destin was a complete nightmare. First, in my dad’s Lexus, my little brother, Timmy, decided to get sick on my back. His face was green, mine was, too, and my shirt . . . well, its color is still green. Next we checked into our Marriot hotel, but we had the same luggage as another guest. This led to a complete disaster because he took ours, we took his, and the whole ordeal was terrible. None of his clothes fit any of us! Lastly, on our boat trip, someone claimed our trip as their family’s, and we were accused and kicked out for trying to steal a reservation! We were framed for attempted robbery when we were the victims themselves. In other words, last family vacation was a horrible experience, and I hope it will never happen again.

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sentence Starters

I have been following a fabulous blog and Tom Barrett had these wonderful sentence starters posted for engaging students in creative writing. These were compiled by over 100 educators on Twitter who contributed these using hashtags where "each tag is specific to a topic or theme that gives other teachers a little bit of a focus for their contributions." What a great way to effectively collaborate using Twitter! I would like for my English students to practice using some of these sentence starters as they creatively write in the writing section of their journals.  

Check out my new digital learning website: GrammarCloud!