Monday, December 6, 2021

Using Technology to Harness Math in the Real-World


Throughout the Common Core Mathematics State Standards, students should be making sense of mathematics in the real world.  In fact, the word ‘“real-world” appears across the math domains from “solve real-world problems involving multiplication of fractions and mixed numbers, e.g., by using visual fraction models or equations to represent the problem (5.NF.B.6) to “solve real-life and mathematical problems using numerical and algebraic expressions and equations (7.EE.B.4)”.   Real-world connections are rooted in the experiences we’ve had whether shopping at a store and calculating the discount price, to planning a road trip and determining the time, distance, and cost given a budget.  Experiences make us mathematize in ways a traditional textbook problem does not.  Moreover, doing the math is driven by our needs and interests, and that is what makes the utility of math something of value. 

This approach to teaching and learning math can be as simple as using a Data Talk (see below) at the onset of instruction to engage your students in math discourse or creating a real world problem for your students to grapple with over a series of days or weeks!

Think about how engaged you were when planning a holiday party and having to scale up or down a recipe online or applying for a loan and determining the monthly cost given your interest rate.  Of course, in these situations attending to precision really matters. Seldomly do we need to be reminded to “check your answer” when math is personal. Creating that kind of interest, excitement, and perseverance in the classroom, will take more than just presenting our students with problems involving a real-world situations, or asking “ Would You Rather” questions.  As teachers, we need to provide our students with an opportunity to put themselves into the experience (aka immersive math).

Here is a video clip of me working with a group of sixth graders introducing the project of building a house.  https://youtu.be/M45VT4UHzcI

Build a house project on Google Slides for Reuse: https://bit.ly/3u2LN8Z

What kids lack in context we can provide with digital projects.  Digital projects allow us the teacher, to build an experience that will drive our students’ passion for doing math.  Students can share their interests, passion, and creativity in a real-world digital project.  For example, building on my second-grade students’ love of the Roblox game, Adopt Me, and their passion for animals,  I crafted a second-grade digital project in which students pick a pet to adopt, shop for items, and create their own animal.  This became an immersive experience similar to a video game, while students were adding and subtracting money, building three-digit numbers with base-ten blocks, and ordering and comparing costs of pets on a number line.

To further students' confidence in this skill have your students create short videos explaining their thinking and how they solve the problem. Check out this video of a student engaged in a digital math project where she reads, writes, and compares three-digit numbers https://youtu.be/GNBM4f2HjPY



Digital projects work across grade spans and allow students to see connections across math domains and other subjects. They can give our students an opportunity to use the academic language of a concept and have students explain their thinking through video, or text as shown in the above video. 

But best of all with digital projects we can hyperlink to awesome tools that allow our students to really connect math concepts to the real world.  For example in the “Plan A Holiday Party” I created for my sixth graders, they were selecting recipes from the site “All Recipes” for their holiday meal and had to scale up or down the recipe given the number of people they invited. 



In the digital project “Plan a Camping Trip” students not only were tasked with exploring a campsite in California but, calculating the mileage for their trip by looking up the gas mileage for a car they selected.   When given this situation, the mathematizing started to happen from students comparing the poor gas mileage between a Lambrogini versus a Hummer to determining the electrical charge they would need if they decided to drive a Tesla instead.  The beauty of mathematics appeared when students were allowed to be creative and explore possibilities which is what makes a good math project.


 Students can efficiently model with mathematics using digital tools and connect big ideas in math across important concepts.  In fact, the 2022 California Framework will require teaching “big ideas” as a way to support students in seeing how concepts are connected and deeply exploring fundamental ideas.  As teaching math continues to evolve towards are more student-centered and less teacher-directed approach, digital projects provide you with an opportunity to approach instruction with an emphasis on connections and ideas.  Projects give your students the time to link multiple practice and content standards in a comprehensive way with real-world connections.  Want to see my thinking process and “must-haves” for Digital projects check out this video in which I walk you through what I consider before creating a digital project and what are must-haves for project success.  

How to create a digital math project: https://youtu.be/ZkdWH_2mndE


 



Technology holds much promise for the future of math and certainly will prepare students for college and career readiness.  Collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication are part of students' experience in working on a digital project.  The 4 C’s are 21st Century skills that have been in education for quite some time, as a staple for the future workforce.   As teachers however we are challenged to bring in the fifth C of compassion in our work with students as well. With compassion everything is possible and we can reimagine our world and our children’s future.  




Thursday, April 1, 2021

Creating a Unit Plan from Process to Product

Creating a unit plan can feel like a daunting task, however, this process can provide you with an opportunity to consider your students and how they can develop mastery of content standards.  While district-level curriculum often provides you with a scope and sequence of what to teach, by developing a unit plan you will have an opportunity to consider not just what you will teach, but who you will teach, and what you can do to reach all learners.



Step 1: Consider Your Learners

At the heart of good instruction is what you know about your learners and what you will do to build their strengths.  Having an understanding of your learners' assets (strengths), interests, and needs can help you anchor instruction.  As you begin your unit plan it is important to consider their prior knowledge and abilities, as well as soft skills such as self-regulation, organization, and language needs. 

For example, with a unit plan on ratios, you can create tasks that include students' interest such as the game Roblox, and how your plan can reinforce prerequisite skills by including a game on equivalent fractions.  You can also consider students' assets such as their ability to persevere with complex problems as well as developmental needs such as working in small groups.  This initial step will help you in considering what scaffolds you might include such as graphic organizers, student groupings, and technology as well as additional resources that build upon students' interests and assets.

As a rule of thumb ask yourself "Who Am I Designing Instruction For? and "What will my students need to be successful?" 

Step 2: Select Standards

Content is king, and by beginning with the end in mind you can identify the skills you will explicitly teach and the sequence to arrange instruction.  This process allows you to zoom in and out of teaching to pinpoint student misconceptions, areas of struggle, and opportunities for differentiation.  Through the unpacking of standards, you can consider what initial skills can support students in working in their "zone of proximal development" and how you might extend students' thinking to promote transfer and real-world application.   Check out Achieve the Core to backward map content standards.  

When unpacking your content standards, consider misconceptions students might have, in addition to what prerequisite skills they will need to engage in activities.  Language can also be a barrier to learning so it is critical to identify the academic language that can prevent students from acquiring the content knowledge and skills.  In the next step as you plan activities identifying the language demand will support you in removing barriers and providing language support that is context embedded and connected to skills.



You should also consider "Big Questions" to anchor student learning so you don't hear "Why are we learning about the industrial revolution" and "when will I ever use combining like terms".  These questions will come up, so either be prepared to make your case, or craft really engaging activities that focus on why students are learning these big ideas!   


As a rule of thumb ask yourself "What knowledge and skills am I teaching"? and "How can I ensure my students develop deep understanding to make real-world connections?" 



Step 3: Planning Activities 

There is nothing more encouraging than a hook to get your students on task.  Whether it is the novelty of seeing a popular meme as they consider idioms in the real world or watching the opening clip of a novella before engaging in a class conversation about verb conjugation in Spanish.  The hook is where it's at, and the first five minutes can make or break the rest of your lesson.

Activities are where the learning happens and whether that takes place through investigating a phenomenon (science) delving into a Number talk in Math, or discovering the events that led to the American Revolution, it's important to let the students do the talking as this is how sense-making occurs.  As part of planning activities, teachers should consider what open-ended questions they might ask, to create a platform for student talk.  Questions that generate a "yes" or "no" response or ask students to give a thumbs up or thumbs down reveal very little about what the students know and understand, nor do they provide students with an opportunity to elaborate on what they are learning.  Elaboration is critical if we want students to move what they are learning from their working memory to long-term storage.  


You should also consider the instructional groupings you will consider for activities this might include whole group, small group, partner work, or triads.  Homogenous groupings can be effective if students are working at the same level for a reading passage, whereas heterogeneous groupings can be advantageous for a project or task which includes multiple intelligences.   Whether or not students participate can be contingent on the kinds of engagement strategies you employ to keep students on task and wanting to participate.  Not every lesson needs to include a quiz or an exit ticket but as you plan your unit you should consider how you will measure student learning.  Assessment strategies inform our instruction and provide us with a way to make just-in-time adjustments.




As a rule of thumb ask yourself "What kinds of activities would my students want to engage in and how can I measure their learning?" 

After you crafted activities you should consider what accommodations and modifications should be provided to support all learners.  This can include language scaffolds such as sentence stems for English language learners as well as assistive technology for students with learning exceptionalities.  This UDL checklist is a wonderful tool to identify supports for your learners.  

As a rule of thumb ask your learners "what are your preferred ways to learn?"

If you want to be an effective teacher then you need to take time to plan.  Planning not only sets the goal for the day, but it gives you the confidence and the skills to be effective.  Students' learning can be measured and time on task is increased with an effective plan.  "A good lesson plan is a living document. It is not set in stone, but rather it is a guide that keeps you--the classroom practitioner--engaged and thinking about what you are teaching." Otis Kriegel


Get your digital planner here



Sunday, September 13, 2020

6 Fun Ways to Go Digital with Number Talks


One of the cornerstones of a solid elementary math block are activities that support students in developing numerical literacy. Developing numerical literacy in the elementary classroom will support students in being confident problem solvers, and engage in mathematical discussions at a higher level.  Number talks are one such activity that builds students numerical literacy and are taking place in classrooms on a daily basis.  

If you are not familiar with number talks here is the gist of it.  The goal of a number talk is to give your students an opportunity to use mental math strategies to solve a problem.  That's right no paper, whiteboards or pens, just solve the problem in your head.  

The conversation that occurs after the number talk is teacher facilitated with students sharing answers and their strategy.  This process supports students learning from each other and teachers assessing students thinking and what strategies they use naturally.

       Teacher says: How can you solve this problem by doing it in your head? Give me a thumbs up when you have a solution!



One thing I love about a Number Talk is students are provided with a problem that can be solved in a variety of ways.  This allows students to be flexible in their thinking and develop a variety of strategies that will support them when they are faced with cognitively demanding math tasks.   


       Get these slides here

One thing that is a struggle with this process is number talks can be incredibly time-consuming if you are in a class with 30 plus students who all want to share how they found their answer.   As a teacher, I want to honor all of my students' voices and give them an opportunity to express what they know, but logistically this is not always possible.   

This is where technology can come in to support you in making number talks accessible to all students and useful as a formative assessment tool to see where all your students are at and give them a chance to share their thinking.  

Here are 6 Fun Ways To Go Digital with Number Talks: 

1. Google Slides: During a synchronous meeting with your students share this slide deck in edit mode for students to record their solution to a number talk problem.  Students can drag the icon to indicate they would like to explain their thinking or to show agreement with another student's explanation.



2. Google Voice:
For asynchronous collaboration post an image and/or your question in a Google Doc.  Students can work with a partner or independently to share their strategy. All you need to do is create a Google Doc and Share with your students.  Then have your students go to the Tools Menu in the Document and click Voice Typing



                                       click here to get this document

If you want to see how quick and easy this process is just check out my 8 year old son demonstrate how to use Google Voice Typing.
                                   


3. Padlet: Post your question on a padlet board.  Students can access the board with a URL and automatically post their response by sharing a picture, text or video.  Try this out by responding to my number talk wall below with your response.  If you have fun doing it imagine what you kids will say! 
Made with Padlet


4. Google Drawing: teachers can illustrate student responses using Google Drawing either on their IPAD or computer.  The Scribble tool is a quick way to make illustrations and the student can also illustrate their response using this web based tool .  Google Drawing can also be used inside Google Document and it even features math symbols as images.  
                          Click here to view in Google Drawing

5. Flip Grid: Create a video word problem with a student response system that records students thinking in an instant.  This process can ensure that students voices are heard and recorded. You can also leave feedback for your students with this process.  The videos below were created shared on Youtube



6. Shadow Puppet: This tool can be used by you to make video number talks or by the student to share their response. Students can illustrate their work with paper and pencil then take a picture with an ipad or iphone.  Then they can audio narrate their response.  This can be a center activity that students complete and provide feedback and comments to their peers.   This is an app and not accessible on a computer 



If you are an elementary teacher looking to improve your students number sense than number talks are a must.  This process instinctively allows me to see where my kids are at, who has grasped the concept and who needs some extra nudging and support.  With number talks the nudging and support does not necessarily come from me it can be found in how their peers respond and with web tools I have the power to capture their answers.  

Want a book that can put it all together for you with over 100 digital resources and tools then check out my book on Amazon



Check out these digital number talk images I have collected and be sure to share yours with me. 

How much for one (unit rate)? How much for 13?


Join our Facebook Group for more conversations, freebies and best practices: https://www.facebook.com/groups/mathconnects/



Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reach & Teach all Learners with Technology Infused Math Instruction




This week I had the opportunity to present and engage fellow educators at the California Association of Resource and Special Educators (CARS) conference in Irvine California.  The focus of the presentation was "how to infuse technology into your practice to support all students in developing both conceptual understanding and procedural fluency in mathematics".   We also discussed how using technology can create an optimal learning environment for students especially those with learning differences.  An emphasis on how technology can be used in 5 key pedagogical practices: Project-based Learning, Problem-Based Learning, Daily Routines, Open-Ended Tasks, and Math Centers was discussed and explored with examples across the K-8 grade span.  Many of these big ideas are discussed in my book "Teaching Outside the Box: Technology Infused Math Instruction"    

The second presentation was focused on skills developed in grades 4-8. Highlighting the Big 5 and building upon developing students confidence and efficacy in math with oral presentations, justifying their answers, and collaborative problem solving.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

The Evolving History Classroom: from Who and What to How

By Guest Blogger: Dino Mangano


History. It’s the class we love to teach, and the class many of our students dread attending. We history teachers have immersed ourselves in the content for years. We can’t get enough of conversations about cultural revolutions, ancient civilizations, and dynamic world leaders. Our students however, care little for these things, and definitely don’t see the need to memorize the dates of Civil War battles, or to explain the effects the Mongol Empire had on world trade (oh, I could talk Mongols for hours!)


And so, for generations, history class has become the period of the day where many of our students write notes to friends, or sneak in a quick nap.

Enter Common Core
In the last few years, there has been a major shift in focus in all Social Studies classes. Yes our content standards are still there, and are still important, but gone are the days of memorizing dates and names for a standardized test.
Now, the focus is on literacy in the history classroom. Reading, writing, deep thinking, defending claims with evidence, are the new priorities. And while this is infinitely more interesting for the average teenager (what teen doesn’t love a good debate? Ask anybody who’s raised one), the looming question for teachers is…. 

How do we do this?

                        
The Answer : Mindset Shift


History teachers must completely change the way they think of their classroom, and the purpose it serves. We can no longer think of ourselves as the keepers of secret historical knowledge, that we must pour into our students, (enter the age of “Just ask Siri” or “I’ll Google It”). Our classrooms must become a place where students learn the skills and thought process needed to become critical thinking citizens themselves. (That old ‘teach a man to fish’ analogy).

This takes a drastic change in how we think about planning and designing learning experiences for our students.  We can no longer rely on the “read section 3 and answer questions 1-5 by the end of the hour” routine. In fact, I begin each year by making a pledge to my students “I vow, you will never have to answer the questions in the textbook.” This usually earns me a standing ovation… until they hear how many essays they’ll be writing.

When planning my daily/weekly/unit lessons, my focus shifts from the content standards to the Common Core Literacy Standards. It’s these standards that I use to plot the path of my course over the year, create major assessments, and most importantly the standards whose data I track. Content standards become a backdrop. They
become one of the tools we use to teach rigorous reading and writing, not the main focus of the lesson itself.


       Right now, there are history teachers reading this who are screaming “Blasphemy!” and wanting to splash holy water on me. I’ve worked with those teachers, and had those conversations. “But Dino, I created this 47 slide PowerPoint about the War of 1812. It’s beautiful. I’ve been using it for a decade I’m not about to scrap it.”


The key sticking point for this teacher was the focus of his lesson. He wanted his kids to KNOW as many facts about the War of 1812. And that is “sort of” important in a history class. What is more important than regurgitating facts they will likely forget, is ’ being able to explain the causes and effects of the war , while using evidence found in complex primary sources in a well written essay. It’s not WHAT they’re learning, it’s HOW they’re learning.


So, when planning, don’t begin with the textbook! Begin with your learners.  What are their strengths, interests and what do they like to do?  Be sure you are including this key factor when designing instruction.  Some students might prefer to write a poem about a particular topic, while other students choose a poster or a podcast.  When you give your students' choice, then they find their voice and engagement comes from within intrinsic and not from a daily raffle or treasure box. 


                          

Now let's be clear I am not saying you should scrap your history curriculum all together.  What I am recommending is you begin with a topic and find multiple primary sources about the topic, and have the students use collaborative routines to analyze the documents. They can now use that shared information to hold a debate, write an essay, create a mini-lesson they can teach, etc (choice)



These interactive, rigorous, collaborative strategies will not only make the lesson more engaging, but they’ll incorporate the Literacy Standards seamlessly, and benefit ALL your students, especially ELL and SPED students. And perhaps the English teachers will love you!

There’s nothing better than a well crafted text set to allow students to grapple with rigor primary source
reading, and at the same time engage with each other. The first few times I’ll assign a set of primary text for a topic, and teach the students how a proficient reader gets through the challenges of reading tough texts (mostly through the modeling process). Once the students become comfortable with text sets, their value in learning, and how to tackle them, I ask them to create their own text sets on a historical topic. While history standards/topics are being addressed in each step, the method in which we do so (text sets, creation of text sets, engagement routines such as games, think/pair/share, etc) allow the students experience rigorous reading/thinking far more than a textbook would allow.  So don't be afraid to let your students' own their learning, teach one another, and have fun while learning. 




As I’ve evolved from a traditional ‘sage on the stage’ social studies teacher, I can humbly say that I've learned from some incredible educators who’ve helped be become the kind of teacher I’ve always wanted to be, and create a classroom (I hope) most of my students enjoy learning and growing in.                                 


Dino has been an educator for 20 years, both in Michigan and California. He currently teaches high school social studies in Chawanakee USD, as well as serves as an adjunct professor in the Teacher Prep Program as UCMerced. One of his true passions is supporting new teachers and helping them grow.


Dino’s Coaching Website: www.ManganoCoaching.com


Dino’s Book (on Amazon, eBook and paperback): “New Teacher Survival Guide: 2nd Edition” by Dino Mangano


 

Instagram: @mangano.instructional.coaching
Facebook: ManganoCoaching

Join our digital discussion on our Facebook group Teacher Prep Tech

Monday, January 6, 2020

Let's Start A Science Revolution: Teaching all Subjects through Science


Calling all elementary teachers, let's start a science teaching revolution!  
The time is now to abandon your basal readers, let go of the hundreds chart and bring science to the forefront of your instruction.  


Get your MEL Science Kit sent to your home here

If there is one subject that teaches empathy, compassion, reading, social studies, math and history it's science.   If there is one subject that includes hands-on learning, inquiry, critical thinking, analytical skills, and outdoor engagement, it is science.   And if there is one subject we need our students to become skilled at to become active problem solvers, critical thinkers and protectors of our planet, well it is certainly science.  

I think we can have our students' solve the problems that we see in today's schools if we just teach science.  If kids create gardens they can harvest healthy fruits and vegetables, learn about nutrition, prevent obesity, and other health disorders (not to mention the math that goes into the process). If schools taught science students can learn about endangered species, global warming and develop empathy, compassion and promote social-emotional learning.  If schools taught science then we don't need social emotional curriculum that is a by-product of students lives which will inevitably fail to transfer classroom skills into students lives.  And if you want kids to be grittier, persevere and not give up when faced with a setback then look no further than the science and engineering process.  So let's teach science. 

Teachers interested in a authentic English Language learner program that builds on students' funds of knowledge look no further than the science standards.  Science is observable, rich in realia, filled with oral-language opportunities and can be transferred from the classroom to real-world through real-life experiences.  No need to front load vocabulary, or teach context clues when the world is a living laboratory for second-language learners to engage in, ask questions, and share what they observe around them. 



Using Digital Tools in science, allows students to become storytellers with comprehensible-input as an authentic scaffold for teaching and learning.  




At first glance, the NGSS (Next-Generation Science Standards)may appear to be complex, overwhelming, and far too wordy to actually take into consideration.  But consider the NGSS to be performance standards that your students will build up to just like a Physical Education teacher or trainer considers building the stamina of their students we need to look at NGSS from this lens.  Start by unpacking the standard and seeing how the standard develops across the grade span.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview Will Franzell @WilliamFranzell who is the Educational Administrator on the STEAM Team at Monterey County Office of Education about teaching with the NGSS.  He shared what teachers need to know in order to be successful teaching with NGSS.  

You can check out my interview with Will here.  
                                      



  1. Did you know that 81% of elementary teachers teach science just a few days a month. What's your argument for why science should be taught and how can teachers find time to do it all. Students need to do more than simply know about science; they need to know core science and engineering ideas, do science and engineering, and think like scientists and engineers.  Access and Equity, Nurturing natural curiosity and creativity, Connecting to language, math and higher order thinking across the Common Core, Informed citizens in a global economy. 
  2. You spend a lot of time in the classroom working with teachers and providing professional development and support share with us what you would see in an effective NGSS classroom. Phenomena-driven three dimensional learning,  including the EP&Cs. Students engage in scientific inquiry of phenomena using all three dimensions of the CA NGSS.
  3. Can you explain how the NGSS science standards were designed and what teachers should think about when planning and teaching?  The goal of the CA NGSS is to prepare students to be informed citizens and future scientists.  Students build science mastery through repeated learning experiences centered around everyday events in nature and their lives.  Teachers should focus instruction around observable phenomena allowing students to understand how our world works, and giving them the tools to solve problems.  Teachers should support students shifting from learning facts about science to actually engaging in the practices of science. 
  4. How does the Learning Progressions create a structure of science concepts being developed across the grade span and what can teachers do to support learners who lack foundational knowledge in science concepts. Coherent across the curriculum.  Learning builds upon itself from year to year and science integrates with other subject areas. Within science, spirals upward as they revisit core ideas multiple times, adding additional layers of complexity and rifingin conceptual models. Students can investigate the same scientific question in high school that they explored in kindergarten, but with much greater sophistication.  Teachers will need support scaffolding and differentiating instruction after students have had multiple opportunities to observe phenomena and explore within collaborative groups.  
  5. Can you talk about the kinds of questions teachers should ask to support the inquiry method. Relevant to local communities and student interests.  Teachers should consider the “guide on the side” or “lead-learner” approach, asking open-ended questions connecting the observable phenomena that is driving the lesson with performance  expectations in a student centered learning environment. Check-out the STEM Teaching Tools website: http://stemteachingtools.org/tools 
  6. What are some pedagogical approaches that are effective with NGSS  (story line, phenomenon, 5 E's, design thinking examples)?  All of these pedagogical approaches are connected to the research captured in the books “How People Learn” and “How People Learn II.”  You can read more about the three key findings: accessing students’ prior knowledge, conceptual framework, and metacognition in the NGSS Framework. 
  7. California is incredibly diverse with about 20% of the school aged population being English Language Learners mostly from Spanish speaking homes.  Given the complexity of NGSS and the academic language demand how do teachers create successful experiences for our ELL population? The framework charts a path for “all students to achieve all standards.” This chapter describes several groups with specific learning needs that must be addressed in the science classroom. For each group, the chapter describes how research findings inform strategies that will help students achieve in science and engineering. A series of snapshots illustrates how these strategies look in the classroom.  
  8. Students with special needs are about 13% of the population what have you seen that works to create an inclusive classroom for all?  This is a fantastic article in STEM Teaching tools: http://stemteachingtools.org/brief/59 
  9. How can our listeners get in touch with you and learn from you?  Check-out my NGSS Resource page on the Monterey County Office of Ed. website: https://www.montereycoe.org/programs-services/ed-services/common-core/ngss/

Don't forget to join our digital discussion on Teacher Prep Facebook site and get a copy of my presentation on how to use digital tools in science instruction!  

 
Made with Padlet

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Starting the School Year Gritty!

Let's face it teachers are gritty people.  From completing a credential program to pursuing advanced degrees,  it takes grit.  If you consider the number of people in the United States with Bachelor's and Master's degree as compared to teachers, then there is a whole lot of grit going on in the teaching profession. Less than half of all Americans in the United States hold a bachelor's degree and about one-fifth have a masters. All states require one to teach and in many states a masters degree is required.

 

If you are a teacher like me, then you know summer time is more than just relaxing with friends; it's taking classes for recertification and salary increase, professional and staff development. Teaching summer school, tutoring and coaching while school is on break and of course the countless side hustle many teachers take on to boost their income.  Grit is not just the completion of your credential program, because life brings you new challenges, like raising children, buying a home and living in California ($$$$), taking care of an ailing parent or encountering personal health hurdles.  


Unfortunately the hard work and sacrifice teachers' make to get ready for the school year, does not always translate into the hard work and discipline students exert in the classroom.  The reason is quiet simple, students often lack grit.  As gritty as we are as people, teaching our students about grit can be a challenging task.  After all it's takes a lot of grit to have patience and compassion for a kid who would rather interrupt instruction than learn a new concept. 

Here are my six simple steps to get gritty with your students: 

1. Teach your students about grit, by letting them experience grit; define grit and identify grit in their lives from role models to personal experiences.  Don't assume that students know what grit is, or that experiencing grit in their lives can build stamina, perseverance and mental toughness! Give them an opportunity to think, apply and share their funds of knowledge around grit




2. Start your year off with a gritty experience that will foster team work, collaboration and a gritty learning task.  This might mean building spaghetti towers from marshmallows and pasta to an egg drop challenges . Each of these experiences teach kids failure is part of the learning process. It's not about whether or not they have success, but what they experienced throughout the process. If you are a PE teacher this might include a non-sport related activity such as going into crow pose for 1minute.  The point is to build stamina and experience failure. After the task have students reflect, debrief and think about where they had to persevere.




3. Provide inspiration for getting gritty with it! Motivational videos inspire me and most likely they will inspire your students too! From Will Smith talking about the importance of failure to kid athletes who continue to push their limits.  Check out this Padlet I created with a collection of videos that demonstrate grit in the real world.
Made with Padlet


4. Assess their grit and reflect on their progress. Growth happens when we not only experience a challenging task, but look back on the experience and consider what we learned and how it changed our thinking.  Have your kiddos take the Grit Survey at the beginning of the school year by Angela Ducksworth and set goals that they can monitor and reflect upon throughout the school year.
Goal Setting Sheet Here

5. Provide an opportunity for students to explore their interests and  develop a passion for something.  A true test of grit is when we persevere when faced with a challenging task.  If students are passionate about something they will work hard, practice and not give up this is how they experience grit as something they can control.  Research by Angela Ducksworth found that kids who are gritty about one thing are most likely to translate that grit into other experiences (think about Michael Jordan who was dropped from his high school basketball team and continued to reach stardom in not just basketball but golf and coaching).  

6.  Build gritty partnerships with parents at the beginning of the school year.  We all know that our students first teacher is their parent so don't be afraid to share with parents what you are doing in the class to foster grit and what strategies they can incorporate at home to sustain grit.  This might include creating structured routines to support students in practice and completion of tasks, to not letting kids give up or helping them too much before they had a chance to struggle.  



Yes, grit! I said it, grit is the mental stamina students acquire through experiences,  life lessons and the choices they make.  Notice the operative word here is "they" so let your students fail, learn, grow, be passionate and get gritty! 


Want to hear more about Grit in the classroom consider taking a class at the Heritage Institute about grit and ways to implement for continuing education credit awarded by Antioch University.  Check out this podcast with Dr. Dickenson and share your thoughts in our Facebook Group Teacher PrepTech