Monday, October 31, 2016

What's Your Mindset?

Do you have empathy?
Are you flexible?

These are the five stances that are characteristic of a growth mindset according to Mraz and Hertz in their book, A Mindset for Learning.  My colleagues and I recently participated in this book study and have spent hours discussing how we can carry these stances into our classrooms in an effort to ensure our students have a growth mindset. 

If growth mindset and fixed mindset are new terms to you, they are really just like they sound. 
People with a growth mindset believe that if they are willing to put in the time and effort, they can be good at anything.  They can learn and grow with effort and practice!  People who demonstrate a fixed mindset believe that they are either good at something or they aren’t.  They don’t believe they change their intelligence or ability.  It is the way it is!

What we have discovered is that as adults, the language we use as we interact with our students has the power to make or break a growth mindset.  One of the worst things we can say to a child is, “You are so smart!”  Oops!  That’s something I’ve said for years and I thought I was saying something wonderfully encouraging and validating.  Just add it to my list of ways I have potentially damaged the children I was trying to help (including my own children)!

Now, I walk around practicing statements such as, “Your hard work and effort paid off!”  “I’m proud of you for not giving up when you started having difficulty!”  “I see you using the strategies we’ve talked about.  Keep it up!”    

I had the realization the other day that we are expecting to see a growth mindset in our students, but what about ourselves?  Are we consistently modeling a growth mindset in our behavior and conversation with others?  We are never going to be perfect (amen!), but I know I need to make a concerted effort to “walk the talk”…the “growth mindset talk!”

I started listening to some of the common complaints of my colleagues and began thinking of what those sentiments would sound like through the lens of a growth mindset.  Check it out below.  Which column sounds like you?

I'm on a mission to hold myself to the same standard I hold my students to.  At the end of each day, I am going to ask myself these questions:

·    What challenges gave me an opportunity to grow my mindset today?
·   How did I demonstrate a growth mindset today?

I am sure I’ll still have some “fixed mindset” moments, but I’m going to remember the wise words of Tony Robbins…

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Earning TpT Credits

Let’s kick off the week with some fun and exciting news! I think it is safe to say that most teachers have explored and used the amazing resources you can find on Teachers Pay Teachers. The teachers here in paradise are soaking up the sun, fall-ish weather, and loving all the resources from TpT. Teachers have always been such creative thinkers and creating materials to best fit the needs of our students. Now we have our platform with millions of teachers working together and adding to the marketplace of resources. (We basically love TpT!) 
So the exciting news is... You can earn TpT credits from each of your purchases. We wanted to give you the few short steps it takes to earn and redeem those credits. 

Step 1. Go to your My TpT drop down menu and select: My Purchases. Here you will find all of your Paid Purchases as well as Free Downloads. You can leave feedback on BOTH of these purchases. 
This is also where you can buy additional licenses for the product you may have only bought 1 user license for. I love this feature because I always have teammates asking to share some of the resources I am using in my classroom. I am able to then buy the remaining (5) licenses for my teammates to use in their classroom as well. Most sellers will offer a discounted price for additional licenses. 

Step 2. Next to the product cover you will see the title and author. The text Provide Feedback is where you want to click. This will take you to the product page and directly to the feedback part of the page. 
Step 3. Rating and Providing Feedback. It is important to be sure that you have read the product description as well as TpT’s ‘rules’ for feedback. If you have issue opening a file or downloading problems, TpT has great support and will help you. The feedback we want to provide is telling the seller and other teachers shopping for a resource how you used their resource in your classroom. When I am looking for something to use in my classroom I love to hear how other teachers are using it so I can enhance the lesson I am teaching. *Another reason why we love TpT - teacher communication and interaction enhances all the experiences for our students. 
Step 4. TpT Ratings. “After downloading and evaluating, please provide a fair rating. Fair means that you have read the product description carefully and know what the seller was offering (and therefore what they were not). If you had trouble downloading or opening, don't leave a bad rating, contact us for assistance first. And if there was a simple error in the product, for example, a typo or two or something of this nature, please Ask the Seller to fix it for you before leaving a bad rating!” - TpT

Step 5. Leaving a comment:

Step 6. Send! Now you have earned yourself some TpT credits! Spend a few minutes going through your purchases to earn 1 credit for every $1 you have spent. Buy a $5.75 resource = 6 TpT credits! This is so exciting when you go through your menu of My Purchases. 

Step 7. Go to your My TpT drop down menu and select TpT Credit Balance. Here you can check to see how many credits you have as well as the resources you have earned credits on. 

Spending your TpT credits is just as easy! When you shop for a resource you have to have a minimum of 20 credits saved. 

Step 8. Shopping. When you have a resource or two in your cart and are ready to check out. Go to View Cart. Under the CHECKOUT button there is Redeem TpT credits. This is exciting because some times you may have enough credits to have a free purchase or even reduce the cost of the resource by applying your TpT credits. You will determine the amount of credits you want to use. 20 credits will equal $1 on your future purchases. 

This is the time of year we are all barely treading water. Here in paradise we are knee deep in parent conferences and end of quarter paperwork. Teacher Pay Teachers has been the happy place for many teachers. Spoil yourself with some new resources with your TpT credits! Hope everyone has a great week. 

Monday, October 17, 2016

Look Up! There is a Great Big, Beautiful World Out There!

A few months ago, on a trip Disney World, my daughter said “I can’t see the fireworks, all these people’s phones are blocking my view.” I bent down to her 7 year old height and was shocked to see how many people were not watching the spectacular Disney fireworks show in the sky. Instead they were “capturing the moment” and watching it on their tiny phone screens as they recorded the fireworks. I was even more shocked to see kids sitting in strollers and on the ground not even noticing the fireworks because they were so engrossed in a tiny phone screen, an iPad, or a tablet. I wanted to scream, “Look up! There are fireworks in the sky people! Amazing, possibly once in your lifetime, big and beautiful fireworks. Look up. It is RIGHT THERE.”

Then, I began to see it everywhere. People engrossed in tiny screens when they were in amazing places (and often ordinary places). At the beach, kids were playing games on a phone instead of playing in the sand. At restaurants I watched couples take multiple selfies, then work for 20 more minutes to make the perfect post on Instagram and Facebook. At the playground I watched as parents were so engaged with their phones, that they missed their own children saying, “Watch me!” Everywhere I went people were looking down at their screens. I even watched two teenagers walking side by side at the mall so focused on their phone screens walked right into a wall; as in an actual wall that was 12 feet high. 

I hate to say this this, but the much feared “zombie apocalypse” is here. At any given moment, at any given place, it is likely that many people are zoned out and have become “screen zombies”. These screen zombies are trudging through time and space, unaware of the world they are in, simply focused on a tiny pixilated screen. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to hop into a DeLorean time machine and go back to the 1950s, before computers and cell phones took over. I appreciate the time technology saves, the ways in which we can connect using technology, and how many options are open to us due to technology. I just don’t want these tiny screens to replace interactions and experiences in the real world, in real time. I don’t want to miss looking up and seeing the life that I am missing.

At this point you may be asking yourself why I wrote about this in a blog so clearly for teachers. It is because we are all teachers. Parents, uncles, aunts, sisters, brothers, friends, even strangers, and of course actual teachers make up the “village” it takes to raise our children. Life is the greatest teacher of all, and I am a little afraid for the lessons our children are being taught they look around. I am afraid of everything they are missing by looking down at a screen. Our worlds have been changed by technology in so many ways and these tiny screens are slowly starting to change us.

So here is what I am going to do to try and “look up” and experience life in real time. I made a list of 5 simple changes I am making (and anyone can) to be more present and look up!

  1. Experience the moment, instead of worrying about the perfect picture of the moment. Take a picture or two, then put away the phone and experience it.                                                              
  2. Have a dedicated time that the phone and all screens are off. Be present in the world. Every. Single. Day.                                                                                                                                           
  3. Limit screen time. I know, I am guilty of getting lost in the statuses on Facebook/Instagram, browsing Pinterest for DIY ideas (that I will wish I could do, but never will), or getting lost in the rabbit hole of the internet. Set an alarm. Set a time limit. Allow sometime to relax with a screen, but not all the time. Technology is a great tool, but there is a whole wide non-digital world out there.                                                                                                                                                     
  4. Make a conscious decision to experience life. Squish sand between your toes, watch leaves fall, jump in a clear, cool pool, explore a deep dark woods, sit and listen to the morning, connect with a friend in person, take a long walk, read a book that is made of paper, or do something, anything in the real world that makes you smile and think that life is good.                                              
  5.  Look up! Look up to see the life that is there, right in front of you. Life is right in front of you. Look up. It is RIGHT THERE. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Celebrating Our Learning

Pretty sure yesterday was the first day of school and suddenly I realize it is Day 41! Not sure how that happened but it always seems to go that way. The first 15 days are turtle slow then everything is full speed from there. 
As we are wrapping up the first quarter it is important for me to stop and do some reflecting of my students learning. I want to stop and celebrate their hard work. *And let me start by saying we celebrate every day. Every week. All the dancing, singing and laughing you can imagine in a kindergarten classroom. Fun is pretty much my middle name! That being said, this is a different kind of celebration. We want to STOP... put down all curriculum and have some ‘serious’ fun! 

I have done all different types of celebrations in my classroom. I have baked cakes and brought in ice cream and pizza. As little or as big they all serve the same purpose - lift your students up and congratulate them for all their hard work. You may be nervous about taking out Pie Face or just having some real fun and celebrating in your classroom - don’t be! Open up your data notebook or take a look at your student gains. These gains happened because your students are working hard. It is happening because you are planning lessons for your students and putting everything you have into your students and their learning. This is your lesson plan or your ticket to some fun in the classroom.

Last year I implemented Superhero Decoding Strategies. After we completed our unit I made t-shirt capes for each of my students. When the students walked in that morning their jaws dropped to the floor. There isn’t enough high-fives in the world that could have given my students the confidence they gained by wearing a homemade cape. 

I gathered the students to the carpet and started asking them about the capes and why they think they were delivered to our classroom. 
“I am a reader” and “We can use pointing power when we are reading!” Suddenly they are aware of all the hard work they have done and have taken on the ownership of their learning. So we decided to parade the halls of the school. As we are passing by teachers and classes my students start glowing and bursting at the seems wanting to share all their knowledge with anyone willing to listen. Right then I made a promise to myself.  I will stop and have classroom celebrations  for my students! I put them in my calendar. I will not let time slip by. I will make sure that my students know and understand how proud I am of their hard work. 

Each year I am growing and developing as a teacher. I would love to hear how you celebrate your learning with your students. Share with us in the comments and use #planninginparadise on instagram for your photos.

Monday, October 3, 2016

October TpT Sand Dollars Giveaway

October is full of tricks and treats.  This month the gals here at Planning in Paradise would like to help you start your October planning off right with a treat!

From October 3 - October 7, 2016 you will be able to receive 15% off of select items in our stores.  
All you have to do is search #octparadise on TpT to find some amazing deals!

On top of those amazing deals, we are also having our Quarterly TpT Sand Dollar Giveaway.

This time we are giving away a $25 gift card to TpT.  All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below to win.  Happy October Planning!
a Rafflecopter giveaway