Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Seven: Self-Directed, Engaged Learning

There's probably a while before I need to worry about this with Baby Nam, but as a teacher this is a good skill for me to keep in mind since it's a big part of what I'm trying to teach my 6th graders.

Principles that help children to be passionate about learning:
1.  Establish a trustworthy relationship with them
     - babies learn from imitating those they trust
     - learning can't happen unless they feel safe and secure
     - structure and routine are also important to help them in the learning process
2.  Help them set and work toward their own goals
     - encourage their desire to explore
     - help them learn to plan
3.  Involve children socially, emotionally, and intellectually
    - give them direct experiences
    - multiple experience help them remember what they've learned
    - verbal cues and visual prompts help them
    - give them meaningful and purposeful experiences
    - learning can't take place unless they are taken care of physically
4.  Elaborate and extend their learning
     - ask open-ended questions
5.  Help them practice,synthesize, and generalize
     - encourage their curiosity
     - have them explain what they're learning - this makes the learning explicit, helps them focus on the principles they are learning so they can apply them to new situations
     - expect them to strive for their best
     - BOTH direct instruction and discovery are important
6.  Help them to become accountable
     - make expectations for success clear
     - catch them doing something positive
     - praise effort rather than intelligence
7.  Create a community of learners
     - we teach best when we're learning

Monday, December 05, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Six: Taking on Challenges

This is related to how much stress children have to deal with.  Many studies have shown that children with warm, caring, and trusting relationships with those close to them are less prone to stress.  Giving children some control in managing their stress will help prevent learned helplessness.  I found it interesting that a study found that being in child care within the first two years meant children were less likely to be anxious and fearful at four years of age.  Our own ability to find support and manage our stress also seems to have a direct correlation with our children's ability to do so.

I wasn't surprised to see that Galinsky had a big section of Carol Dweck's research about fixed versus growth mindsets.  Her research as shown that it is more effective to praise students for their effort than their intelligence.

There are two parenting styles that are not helpful in helping kids to regulate their emotions - and both of them involve expressing negative emotions towards their children:
1.  Alarmist: parents who see danger everywhere
2.  Intrusive: overprotective parents that don't allow their children to explore

How to promote the skill of handling challenges:
1.  Manage your own stress (teaching and leading by example seems to come up again and again!)
2.  Have friends to turn to when stressed - this will make you less likely to instead transmit this stress to your kids
3.  Take time for yourself
4.  Don't shield them from everyday stresses, as learning to deal with it is a necessary part of life.
5.  Having a warm, caring, and trusting relationship with them will help them to feel safe and secure.
6.  Encourage your children to be adventurous and take risks
7.  Figure out how they cope best when challenged and/or upset
8.  Make sure your expectations are appropriate for a child's unique temperament and personality
9.  Give them some control in managing their stress
     - help them in coming up with their own solutions for when facing a challenge, and in coming up with an alternate plan if the first one is unsuccessful
10.  Cultivate a growth mindset by praising their effort, not their personality

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Five: Critical Thinking

This is an important skill that helps in making decisions in every day life.  This skill helps is especially important when you consider the easy access they now have to information through the internet.  It will help them determine what is valid and reliable knowledge.  The first step in developing this skill is theorizing and learning from others.

As a science teacher, I am always trying to teach the skills that Galinsky emphasizes in the chapter.  It is important to be able to think scientifically and understand cause and effect.
1.  Focus on the evidence
2.  Gather new evidence
3.  Interpret the evidence

How to promote critical thinking:
1.  Observe them to determine what theories they are coming up with to try and understand the world
2.  Encourage their curiosity and guide them in solving their own problems whenever possible through experiments, clues, and suggestions
3.  Encourage their passions and interests
4.  Give them accurate and valid information (that's age and developmentally appropriate)
5.  Help them find other experts to learn from
6.  Help them evaluate information from others (rumors vs. reality)
7.  Encourage critical viewing skills (when watching tv, especially ads)
8.  Model problem solving for them:
     - Identify the problem
     - Determine the goal
     - Come up with possible solutions and evaluate their effectiveness
     - Choose a solution and evaluate its outcome - if it doesn't work, try something else

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Four: Making Connections

This has to do with categorizing information and being able to figure out what's similar, what's different, how things relate to one another and finding new connections.  Even infants have an object sense, a space sense, and a number sense.  This is an important skill as it helps them learn and remember things.

How to promote making connections:
1.  Give them opportunities to see connections using their interests
2.  Acknowledge that making mistakes is a part of learning
3.  Promote object sense with open ended toys that let them experience how things work
4.  Give them opportunities for exploration and pretend play and be their guide
5.  Use words to describe space
6.  Play games where they find their way in space
     - hide and seek
     - giving directions when going somewhere
     - geocaching
7.  Talk about quantities and how it relates to things you encounter in daily life
8.  Give them chores that involve counting
9.  Build their sense of approximate numbers - play board games
10. Play games that help them make connections
      - sorting things by color, type, shape, size
11.  Help them see things in different ways (face/vase illusion, shapes in clouds, etc...)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Three: Communicating

Speaking in "parantese" to babies might sound silly, but it actually catches their attention better than if you spoke to them as if they were adults.  Babies pay attention to tone and facial expressions and are learning about emotional cues and how we communicate as we talk to them.  They learn to differentiate sounds and detect words as they listen.  Babies learn what we think is important for our words, looks, and gestures.

To encourage literacy skills early on, emphasize:
- expression 
- understanding
- enjoyment
- connecting visual with verbal
- the concept of the written word (reading left to write, that there's a beginning and end, a top and bottom, and space around each word)
- interacting with books that you read to them by talking about and discussing it as well as reading it to them
- talking about their ideas
- phonemic awareness (learn to recognize letters and sounds)
- a variety of forms of expression (including drawing and painting)

How to promote communication:
1.  Create an environment in the home where words, reading, and listening are important
2.  Narrate your children's experiences with talking, looks, and gestures
     - describe what's going on around them
     - give names to what you are looking at
     - play word games like pat a cake and peekaboo
3.  Use "extra" talk that goes beyond the here and now and the necessary
     - what if...
     - remember...
     - what do you think...
4.  Relate your talk to what is interesting to them
5.  Tell stories about your life and have them tell stories about theirs
6.  Read (joyfully) with your child
     Suggestions for infants and toddlers:
     - get books they can't destroy by chewing them and books that are tactile
     - point out pictures
     - get books with a catchy refrain they can remember
     - create a tradition of story time
7.  Play with word sounds
     - Guessing games with the first letter of words
     - Clap syllables while you say the sounds
     - Help them blend word sounds to make words
     - Alphabet game: children think of words beginning with each letter of the alphabet and you try to guess it
     - Have them practice reading when you're shopping
     - Play with tongue twisters (like "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.")
8.  Encourage them to write
     - take dictation when they're too young to write
     - encourage pretend writing
     - have them keep journals

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Mind in the Making: Seven Essential Life Skills

Skill Two: Perspective Taking

This involves having empathy and being able to figure out how someone else thinks and feels based on what we know about them.  It also involves being able to inhibit our own thoughts and feelings in order to be able to see things from another perspective.  Having this skill helps children understand what their teachers want and expect and can also help them learn to read.

How to promote it:
1.  Practice it: If children feel listened to and understood, they'll be better able to listen and understand others.  Also, children who have a trusting relationship with their parents that makes them feel safe and secure are more able to understand other perspectives.
2.  Teach them how to be with other people: part of this is teaching conflict resolution
3.  Help children feel known and understood
     - for infants: imitate what they are doing (including sounds)
     - repeat back their words and describe what you see them doing
     - ask questions about what they are doing
     - let them know you've been there and know how they are feeling
4.  Talk about your feelings and their feelings.
5.  Use opportunities during the day to talk about other people's perspectives
6.  Give them time to pretend and try on other people's perspectives
7.  Make them aware of their behavior's effect on others.
8.  Teach them appraisal skills - how to figure out the intent of others
      - by thinking about people's responses to every day situations
      - by thinking about the intent of character's in books, tv shows, and movies