Important Ideas to Keep in Mind as We Head Back to School

I found this list of principles that help good kids become good adults interesting. I am going to print it off think about how I can use it with students.

30 Principles that a Turn Good Kids into Good Adults


Professional Learning: Connection Between Boredom and Creativity

Bored?  Good, You’ll Be More Creative

Do you have a friend who you hardly ever see but seem to be on the same wave length in your thoughts and beliefs?  I do, and I thank her for sharing this post with me.

I so value creativity and believe that creativity is really more important than base intelligence because it is what moves us forward in the world. The post from is short but thought-provoking.  Below are two things that stuck with me as I read.

“To create, we need to make space for our creation. Think of it this way — Emily Dickinson might not have written a word if she kept getting text messages. Thomas Edison might not have created the light bulb if he was sitting on his Facebook page. Steve Jobs might not have made the Mac if he was sucked into Candy Crush. Yet this is the world that we live in. We are highly over-stimulated.”

“When you are not consumed by technology, your brain has space to breathe and to create.”


So, what does this mean for me in my classroom?  How can I encourage creativity with my students?

The blog post recommends giving kids time to think and then ask them where their thoughts went.

ASCD suggests modeling creativity and making mistakes meaningful  Developing Students’ Creative Skills for 21st Century Success suggests that language arts teachers infuse classroom activities with art and music. Teachers Must Encourage Student Creativity provides a list of 30 things that teachers can do to promote creativity. 30 Things You Can Do To Promote Creativity


Professional Learning: What is School About

I woke up very early as I always do the first day I go back to school and started reading in my phone. I came across this article by a retiring teacher/ administrator. He obviously worked at a school much different than the public schools in the US; however, I wonder if the philosophy of his school shouldn’t be adopted by all schools.

Children, of all ages, come to school carrying the joys, hardships, and emotions with them from the night before or that morning. By addressing the needs of the WHOLE child, would we get better academic results? More bang for our buck?

I have to say that this is one of the reasons I love teaching middle school where I do. My students can learn the content with relative ease. I do find challenge in creating great lessons, but I find even greater challenge in working with the kids on how to be better people, how to persevere through difficult tasks, how to deal with ambiguity, how to handle failure, etc. This is what makes me excited about going back to school in 3 hours.

School Isn’t Just About Teaching

Professional Learning: Motivation and Student Success

As I read about motivation, there are several things that have stayed with me and that will influence how I work with my students this year.

*After basic needs, autonomy, purpose and mastery motivate.

*People want some control over what we do, real world tasks, and the chance to improve.

*Using extrinsic motivators, grades, stickers, candy, can actually inhibit student success.

*Praising intelligence leads to students who are less likely to take risks in their work thus inhibiting their learning and success.

*Instead, teachers should praise hard work and perseverance.

* According to Dweck, students who were praised for their hard work and perseverance wanted to show that they could continue to work hard and persevere. This had a long-term positive effect on their learning and on their lives.

*Teachers should provide positive AND negative feedback on student writing.

*The chart below shows how we can change how we work with student.


You say . . . You could say . . . Why?
Good job! I can really see your effort in revision. Praising effort and process encourages writers to keep trying. (Dweck)
You’re a good writer. Those drafts paid off in sentence variety and imagery. Encouraging growth instead of fixed mindset makes for happier people in charge of their progress. (Dweck)
You don’t know how to use semi-colons. You haven’t mastered semi-colons yet. The power of yetsuggests growth and mastery. (Dweck and Pink)
Please revise. Improved topic sentences and transitions between paragraphs would improve your paper’s structure and readability. Specific reader-focused feedback might seem nitpicky, but helps writers feel purpose of revision.
Write a persuasive essay. Persuade your principal/Congressman/parents to do a specific action. Writers need a real purpose and real audience to write their best work. (Pink)
Read Heart of Darkness. Discuss the importance of the Congo River to this narrative. Choose a work from the list of college-bound reading. How does geography inform the symbolic meaning of the work? People prefer autonomy and choice. (Pink)



Carol Dweck: Growth Mindsets and Motivation short video

Intelligence Praise Can Undermine Motivation and Performance journal article

Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation and Growth Mindset in Writing blog post from Edutopia

Using a Rick Bragg’s Writing in the Middle School Writing Classroom

Do you enjoy humorous stories about the south?  If so, you must check out Rick Bragg’s writing.  Rick Bragg is a southern writer who is published in each edition of Southern Living.  I have found ways to use his humorous stories in my classroom.

Interviews by Rick Bragg

Links to Stories by Rick Bragg

southern-journal-the-quill-and-the-mule  I have my students write a story that contains a dead mule…you must read the article to understand.

the-porch-article (1)  I have my students write about a place in their lives…a church pew, the cafeteria, a park, their grandparents’ table.





Student Passion and TEDx Talks

This is amazing, and so are the kids. It is well worth some time to look at some of their talks.

Link to article–

Link to the Kids’ Talks–