I can’t do it – YET!

Nurturing a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Hello everyone – happy Monday! I wanted to share my latest poem with you.

Yes, I Can! was inspired by a lot of self-defeating comments I’ve come to hear over the last 18 years teaching. Truthfully, if I had a nickel every time I heard a student say I can’t do it, I’d be off on a yacht somewhere right now (nah, maybe not – I get sea sick). Joking aside, the reality is that none of us are perfect. None of us can do everything. And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, we still don’t master various things – and that’s okay, at least we tried.

It’s when students give up before they even try that it’s NOT OKAY. That’s the point I’ve been trying to make with my students last week. Yes, some things are hard. Some tasks will challenge us. But the attitude we have toward challenges is what determines the outcome. It is this mindset, over time, that will shape and condition our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves. Our mindset consists of our thoughts and attitudes toward ourselves and the world around us. These beliefs shape how we perceive and handle everyday situations. Do we look at challenges as opportunities to grow or do we fall prey to self-defeating thoughts? 

Yes, I Can! is a poem I wrote that celebrates what children can do, as well as embraces that which they cannot, yet, do. Teaching children to have a “Growth Mindset” is crucial in helping them become better learners. After all, in order to succeed at anything, we must persist and push ourselves forward, despite the challenges. Positive self-talk is what helps children persevere and not give up. Yes, I Can! encourages children to adopt positive self-talk. Instead of focusing on ‘I can’t do it!’, it re-frames their thinking, ‘I can’t do it, yet!’

Along with the poem, I created a follow-up worksheet (rehearsing high-frequency word can) and a mini-book that is co-authored with me (my students were thrilled with the idea). It invites students to fill in a missing high-frequency word, as well as add a skill or task they can complete successfully, as well another skill they aspire to learn, reminding them that their mindset is the only thing in the way.

Yes, I Can! by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on work found at www.lorarozler.com

In all the excitement to teach children that our mindset is not a fixed state, I created a visual anchor for the classroom. Feel free to download a copy for your personal use by clicking on the image below.

To download a copy of the poem, Yes, I Can!  along with the follow-up activities, click on the image below. 

Wishing you a fabulous week ahead!

Lora

WORDS HURT!

Whoever said sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me surely didn’t know what they were talking about!
WORDS HURT!

Bones heal, but left unchecked, the pain caused by words can linger for years.


We can all relate, I’m sure!

A word uttered that stayed with us too long. A word spoken we wish we could take back. A word unsaid we yearned had come to life. Whether we heard it, spoke it, or wished it to be said, one thing is for sure – words, or lack thereof, have a profound impact on our well-being and the way we see ourselves in relation to the world.
Words can build and shape our self-esteem or just as easily tear us apart. The world can be seen as a loving place or the world can seem cruel.

What takes only seconds to utter can leave an imprint for a lifetime.

Over the last couple of weeks it became my goal to share this message with my students. We read many books about friendship, kindness and the power of words, beginning with my very own picture book, Words. Since its original publication in 2015, I have had the pleasure of speaking with many parents and educators who used the book to springboard discussions with children around its various themes: belonging, fitting-in, bullying, friendship, making positive choices, character education, growth mindset, building a community, empowering others, etc. This list is not exhaustive -depending on the angle and your students’ age group, Words can be used to build on many important learning skills and themes.

I’m happy to share these ideas with you in my updated Words Companion Kit,
consisting of classroom lessons and activities, as well as teaching resources.


ACTIVITIES TO TEACH THE IMPACT OF WORDS

Think Before You Speak – Prior to the lesson, cut out an outline of a person (gender-neutral). To avoid race-specific figures, you may want to steer clear
of skin colour construction paper.

Begin by introducing students to their new classmate (you may want to use a number as a name in order to avoid associations with students). Ask students to think of mean and hurtful things they may have heard before. You may want to start by giving an example (i.e., “I once heard …”). Then invite students, one at a time, to come up and direct mean statements at Eleven (i.e., “You look funny” or “I don’t like you”). 

Each time a student makes a hurtful comment, ask them to rip off a piece of Eleven’s’s body and hang onto it. Continue until Eleven is significantly torn up. Then challenge students to reflect on how Eleven must be feeling based on what transpired. Eleven is obviously really hurt. This is where I like to interject and point out phrases we often use to convey wounded feelings, such as feeling torn up, having a broken heart. The emotional context gives these words powerful meaning.

Next, encourage students to think of ways to make Eleven feel better. Certainly an apology would help. Invite the students who insulted Eleven to come up and apologize, while taping its torn limb back with a band-aid. When all the tears have been bandaged, ask students reflect on how the new student looks (better than before but still damaged, broken, hurt, wounded).

This may be a good time to decipher between physical wounds and emotional ones. Invite students to reflect on the saying, Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. What does it mean? Is it true? Can we change that statement to be reflective of the truth? You may want to collectively write up a revised saying and hang it alongside Eleven. Place Eleven in a visible place around the room as a constant reminder to always think before we speak. As a follow-up, you may want to have students write a reflection about what they learned from this activity.

TAKE-AWAY: Words cannot be unsaid. No matter how much we apologize, their damage cannot be reversed. Though band-aids help with physical ailments, they cannot be placed on a person’s heart. Hurtful words create scars inside us, and if we let them, they can last a lifetime.


Words are like a Tube of Toothpaste For this lesson, you will need a tube of toothpaste and a plate. Begin by asking students what toothpaste is used for. Brushing our teeth keeping our mouth healthy. Point out to students that toothpaste is very much like words. Invite a volunteer to squirt toothpaste onto a plate. When he or she is done, ask them to put the toothpaste back into the tube. Obviously this will not be possible. The idea is to demonstrate that much like toothpaste, our words work the same way. When we use the right words to empower others, they bring people joy – just as the right amount of toothpaste does to our teeth. However, if we are not careful with the toothpaste, and we squeeze a lot out, we can easily make a big mess. The same is true with our words – if we’re not careful and if we don’t think before we speak, we can hurt others with the things we say.

TAKE-AWAY: Once a word is spoken, it cannot be taken back no matter how much we apologize and try. While we may forget what we’ve said, the person on the receiving end will remember it for years. Invite students to share experiences and examples of this, and perhaps even share your own stories. 


Wrinkled Hearts – For this lesson, you will need to prepare a large cut-out of a heart and select a book that is driven by a character’s unfortunate interaction with others (The Rat and the Tiger, Words, Chrysanthemum). Tell students that you will read a story that shows how important it is to treat each another with respect and kindness. Hold up the heart and explain that each of us has a heart, which holds our happiness and our good feelings.
Tell students that we will pretend that this heart is the main character’s heart. As you read the story, invite students to come up and crumple the heart each time the main character experiences something hurtful. By the end of the reading, the heart will be crumbled quite a bit. This is a great way to demonstrate how our hearts feels when we get hurt by mean words and actions. Invite students to come up and say nice things to the main character, trying to smooth out its heart, a little each time. Students will quickly notice that no matter how much they apologize and flatten the heart, it will never be the same again.

TAKE-AWAY: It’s hard to fix a wrinkled heart! Mean words leave sad feelings in our hearts, which last for a long time. Bandage the heart and post it around the room as a reminder to always choose words wisely.


Words in the Classroom – There are many powerful picture books that lend themselves beautifully to teaching children about life’s many important lessons. Words is one of them. It is a simple, yet high concept picture book that strives to empower children to make positive choices in their daily interactions with others. A big part of life is, after all, based on the relationships we have with one another. In writing this book, it became very important for me to empower children, to show them how impactful they can be. With this understanding, I can only hope that they use their power for good, for creating loving relationships, through their words and actions.

Words explores universal themes of discovery, relationships and the need to belong, with an underlying message about bullying. As a lonely letter that sets off on a journey to find meaning, it encounters various letter combinations and soon discovers the power it holds. It is confronted by two distinct paths and must make an important choice. Words is an evocative tale about how letters become words and words create meaning – meaning which could ultimately build or destroy. Get your copy here.

Depending on your students’ age group and the dynamics of your class, Words can be used to teach a wide array of concepts. Below I have outlined various discussion points and lesson ideas to complement the various themes in the story. Feel free to use them as you see fit in your classroom. Please note that these are just some of the ideas included in the kit. For more lesson ideas and free templates, download the complete kit (link of the bottom of the post).

Building Literacy Concepts – letter identification, letter sounds, word formation, word meaning, sorting words

 

Making Connections: Relating to the Text – Have you ever felt alone? What did that feel like? What do you compelled Little e to set off on a journey? What was it seeking to find? Have you ever had to make a difficult choice? How did you solve your dilemma? 

Words and Emotions – What role do words play in our emotions? When is this a positive experience? When is this a negative experience? Why? How can we use this knowledge to improve communication with others?

Exploring Literary Devices – Look for examples of literary devices in the story (allegory, metaphors, personification, symbolism, foreshadowing, imagery). How do these literary devices shape the story line? How would the story go if Little e was a boy or girl?

Word Web – Choose a concept or idea that you’d like to explore with your students. They can be found in the book. See these 2 pages, for example.
Write the focus word on chart paper and invite students to brainstorm their thoughts, feelings and ideas relating to it. Example:

What does it look like? How does it feel? What is its purpose? What are its ramifications?

This activity may be used again and again with subsequent readings of the story, while focusing on a different aspect each time.

Words Depicted – Words are heard and felt. One of my favourite follow-up activities to the book involves inviting students to depict words in an art form (music, drama, dance, photography, etc). Examples include creating a collage to depict PAIN, acting out a scene relating to GREED, demonstrating SELF-ESTEEM in a visual art piece, making a diorama to show BROKEN, etc. You may want to assign various words to students or let them choose a word independently. Since words can sometimes mean different things based on their context and people’s personal experiences with them, it’s interesting to see how the same word can evoke different emotions and therefore be represented differently.

I should note that it is not my suggestion that certain words are ‘good’ while others are ‘bad’. A word could be neither. The meaning we give a word is often based on our personal experiences; changing from person to person, from situation to situation. Let’s look, for example, at the word bold. On its own, it is neither negative nor positive. However, in various contexts it can be used to implore daring, fearless, impudence; while in other contexts, it can be shaped to mean confident, straightforward, courageous. Again, neither category being straight-out good or bad. Words aims to explore the feelings and ideas that are generated by word concepts and the meaning behind them.

Classroom Book – Invite students to reflect on what it means to love, on a daily basis. How is it shown in our day-to-day interactions with others? Bind these reflective pieces into a class book that the students can enjoy throughout the year. Students love seeing their work in the classroom library.


Apple Experiment

This word experiment on apples was inspired by Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiment on water. Dr. Masaru Emoto, was a Japanese scientist who revolutionized the idea that our thoughts and intentions impact the physical realm. For over 20 years, he studied the scientific evidence of how the molecular structure in water transforms when it is exposed to human words, thoughts, sounds and intentions.

TAKE-AWAY: Your words have the power to build a person, to empower them, to promote love. Your words also have the power to destroy a person’s spirit, to torment, to spread hate. Words are impactful – choose wisely.


ACTIVITIES THAT ENCOURAGE STUDENTS TO BUILD EACH OTHER UP

Character Web – Place all your students’ names in a jar. Invite each student to draw a name and create a Character Web about their selected classmate. Depending on your students’ age, you may want to precede this activity by brainstorming adjectives and have a list of them accessible around the room. Ask students to think of as many uplifting words as they can to describe this person. Read over the webs prior to presentation and hang them around the room for esteem building and to help enforce a positive classroom climate.

Name Poems – As an alternative to the Character Web, the activity above can be modified for use as an acrostic name poem.

Praise Words – Brainstorm a list of Praise Words and hang them around the classroom. Encourage students to refer to the list throughout the day and use them as much as possible when interacting with others. Some example include: “I like the way you…” “Thank you for…” “I appreciate when you…” “You are really good at…”


To download a personal copy of Words Companion Kit,

click on the image below. 


Words can heal or hurt. They can encourage creativity or dampen a person’s spirits, they can boost self-esteem or destroy confidence, build understanding and compassion or build barriers and apathy. What comes out of our mouth can do a lot of good but conversely a lot of damage. Let’s teach our students to be compassionate, to be kind, to use our words lovingly, always to build.

I’d love to hear your lesson ideas and inspiring literature around this topic.

With love and respect,

Lora

Book signing, meet and greet and giveaways

Join me Saturday March 24th between 1-3 pm at Indigo Yorkdale for children’s activities, book signing and giveaways.

See you there!

Lora

Classroom Snippet: Cool Down Kit

timeflies

Happy New Year! 

I hope 2018 has been off to a wonderful start for you and your loved ones (it’s hard to believe we’re mid-month already).

It seems like forever since I last shared thoughts, ideas and classroom resources. Not for lack of desire, more to do with obligations, commitments and responsibilities that somehow or another find a way to redirect me from the screen (life takes precedent after all).

In order to better balance life and leisure (New Year’s resolution number one), I thought I’d try what the rest of the world has been doing so beautifully already – writing in snippets! Capturing big ideas in photographs and captions – less is more after all!

Image65984

This year, I am blessed with 27 lively Kindergarten students who keep me busy and on my toes, literally from the moment I step into the classroom. To say there are no challenges would be far from the truth. In the 17 years that I’ve been teaching, there have been ample opportunities for growth and learning from the experiences and circumstances I embarked on in the classroom – as every teacher can agree with, I’m sure.

So I thought the first snippet I’d share is my Cool Down Kit, a behaviour management and self-regulation tool I use in the classroom, which runs parallel with mindfulness ideologies. Continue reading

Shark Tank with Recycled Products

boxThe other day, I came home with a small box of groceries. As I emptied out the box, an idea struck. Knowing kids love to make crafts (especially out of boxes) I challenged my children to think of something useful they could make out of the box. I gave them one condition – they had to agree on what they would use the box for. Excited by the venture, they set on their way, thinking and planning. I overheard them talking about what they each wanted the box to be used for (yes, you guessed it – they were not on the same page). I continued eavesdropping, pretending to be busy in the kitchen, hoping they’d soon come to a consensus. Five minutes later the arguing began and so I stepped in. My goal was for them to present their idea together, but perhaps a little friendly competition wouldn’t hurt.

For those of you who are familiar with the show Shark Tank, you know where this is going.

I asked the eager participants (then aged 4 and 8) to draw a picture of their master plan for the box and then come up with a convincing statement outlining the usefulness of their product. I suggested that next time we had a family gathering (which was the following day, so it would be quite immediate), we could have everyone act as judges and listen to their plan of action. We reviewed what they’d need to cover in the sales pitch: usefulness, durability, and of course, any cost I would incur as part of the construction (tape, paint, etc.).

With the prospect of a large audience and an exciting game plan, the sketching and designing began. Continue reading

The Perfect Package – Happy Father’s Day!

pkgFather’s Day is just around the corner and what better time to get crafting.

Father’s Day is a special day to honor fathers and father-figures in our lives. In Canada, Father’s Day is celebrated on the third Sunday of June, though it is also observed widely on other days in many other countries. Father figures may include step-fathers, grandfathers, brothers or other male figures that help and guide us through life’s journey.

How do we, in turn, honor these prominent male figures?

Some people give cards, chocolates, clothes, accessories or gift vouchers. Others take their father or father figure out to the movies, enjoy a meal together at a restaurant, lounge in a café, or simply enjoy a restful day in the park.

In my classroom, we are preparing for the big day by creating The Perfect Package.

IMG_20150610_144853IMG_20150610_144859IMG_20150610_144902
envelope                             stamp                          address label

IMG_20150611_081441Inside the package – poem and student image


Below is a poem I wrote and plan to share with my students as we begin crafting next week. Keeping in mind that not all children may have a father in their life, I left the recipient open to include a figure that may take the place of a father, whether it be a grandfather, uncle, brother, etc.

imagePoem

Creative Commons LicenseMy Hero by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


To download a copy of the poem and craft kit, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the image below.

package-clipart-package

Morris

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Let the countdown and crafting begin! 

Happy Father’s Day!

Lora

How Tall Is My Giraffe? Exploring Measurement

giraffe-cartoon_clipart_image_16A very interesting math lesson stemmed from a story I read toCyan Magenta Yellow Black my students about a king who got a giraffe as a birthday gift. The king challenged his townspeople, offering a reward to the first person who would be able to tell him how tall his giraffe was. The people set off to measure the giraffe in whichever way they could – none of the attempts were successful. Every failed try served as a great lesson about measurement do’s and don’t’s.

How Tall is My Giraffe?

IMG_20150303_111305After extracting important math concepts from this adventurous story, I introduced students to a giraffe of my own (my children’s old plush growth chart). I posed the same question to an eager-looking bunch (there was no gold incentive on my end though). With just enough direction, I let students explore solutions to this problem during Learning Centres time. Students showed remarkable interest in this challenge and began gathering all kinds of objects to use as measurement tools.

measuringBefore long, the carpet was filled with various IMG_20150303_133419objects: building blocks, popsicle sticks, snow pants, jackets, bottle caps, books, markers, etc. Students were so excited, they even suggested using me as a measuring tool. How could I say no to that? After a few chuckles and excited cheers, we sat IMG_20150303_125631down to reflect on our findings, which ultimately led to another great inquiry question? Why did we need so many cotton balls yet such few blocks? How does the size of the measuring tool affect the measurement?

Continue reading

Happy Mother’s Day!

mothersDayRoses, cards, chocolates, cookies, breakfast in bed, you-name-it, Mother’s Day sure brings out the sweetest in us. Celebrated on the second Sunday in May each year, Mother’s Day is a time to honour our one and only – our precious Mother (or a mother figure in our life).

I am sure I speak on behalf of many moms out there when I say the most precious gift we can receive on Mother’s Day is one that is especially handcrafted for us. As a teacher I keep this in mind as we set out to cut, glue and craft a personal treasure that Mom will want to keep around for a very long time (if not forever). 

Below is a poem I wrote and plan to share with my students this week. Keeping in mind that not all children may have a mother in their life, I left the recipient open to include a figure that takes the place of a dominant caregiver, whether it be a grandmother, aunt, sister, etc. 

 UnderyourWingPoem

Creative Commons License

Under Your Wing by Lora Rozler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


For this year’s Mother’s Day craft, my students will be making a mobile frame, with the theme of my latest poem in mind. Here is a sample of the finished product.

Mobile frame – Back side

IMG_20150430_152343

Front SIDE – option 1

IMG_20150430_152805

front side – option 2

birds plate


To download a copy of the poem and the craft templates, for your personal use in the classroom, click on the heart image below.

heart

Morris

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Thank you for your support!

Let the countdown and crafting begin! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Lora

Three Witty Goats Gruff

admin-ajaxHello everyone. I hope you had a restful March break and are excited about the week ahead. I’d like to share a poem I wrote a little while back titled, Three Witty Goats Gruff.  It is based on a variation of the original story, Three Billy Goats GruffI plan to revisit it with my students this week as we continue our exploration around the concept of Measurement and Size.

After reading several versions of the original story to my students, I plan to introduce my version of it via a poem. When I first introduced it (last year), students really enjoyed the chant and patterns, while I loved the teachable moments that stemmed from it.

MATH – counting backwards, detecting patterns, reinforcing concepts of measurement and size, subtraction, etc.

LITERACY – introducing new vocabulary, making predictions, using context clues to make inferences, singular/plural pronouns, synonyms, etc.

TN2

Creative Commons License

Three Witty Goats Gruff by Words On A Limb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


giantpuppetsOne of my students favourite follow-up activities was to re-enact the poem using stick puppets. It is a wonderful way for them to practise retelling the story and have fun while doing so. Some benefits of using stick puppets to teach literacy include strengthening oral vocabulary, acting in role, building comprehension, retelling a story in sequence, and recalling details.

Here are some cross-curricular extension activities, including: 1. Three Billy Goats Gruff Maze – students help the Billy Goats navigate through a maze to get to a field of fresh grass (good for refining fine motor, spatial and problem-solving skills); 2. Writing Template – students reflect on their favourite part of the story (while practising important writing skills); 3. Fill In The Blanks – students use a word bank to fill in the missing words from the poem (great for memory skills and practising high-frequency words); 4. Making Patterns Math Worksheet – students complete and create their own pattern using characters from the story (aids with visual discrimination and patterning concepts).

goats2

 

 

Goat_cartoonTo download a copy of my poem, Three Witty Goats Gruff, including the Stick Puppet Templates, for your personal use in the classroom, along with the cross-curricular activities hown above, click on Billy Goat.

I hope you and your students enjoy the poem and have fun with these activities in the classroom. As always, your comments and feedback are welcome.

Morris

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Have a great week everyone.

facebook-20141123-101343Lora

Teaching with Monkeys

monkeysImageOne of my favourite ways to teach combinations of five begins with the story, Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed (bear in mind, I teach Kindergarten but this could easily be adapted to other grades as well). After reading the story, initially exploring rhymes, patterns, and chants, I like to use it as a tool for teaching math facts to five.

monkAs I go through the story again (generally over the span of a few days), I take a moment after each verse to introduce a math fact or draw a composition of the monkeys in relation to the bed (i.e., 5 monkeys on the bed and 0 on the ground; 5 + 0 = 5). By the end of the story, we cover all the combinations of five. While we review the math facts, I draw their attention to the pattern that emerges (i.e., when the number of monkeys on the bed decreases the number of monkeys on the ground increases).  For the rest of the week, I invite 5 different students each day to come up and re-enact the poem while we sing to it.  We continue to review the math facts as we go along.


StickPuppetsAs an extension, and one that students really enjoy, I have students re-enact the story/song using stick puppets.  They begin by colouring and cutting out a template of the bed and the 5 monkeys.  Then they glue a popsicle stick to the back of each monkey and take turns re-enacting the story/song to a partner.  By the end of the week, the stick puppets get sent home with a letter to parents.

makingFive

Here is a class chart we made using the templates from above (photocopied on construction paper). It outlines the various ways Five can be made and serves as a great visual around the math centre.


AssessmentA great way to gage students’ understanding of the concept and evaluate their learning is to have them repeat this activity with bingo dabbers (one colour representing the monkeys on the bed, and another representing the ones on the ground). Each student gets 6 bed templates and uses two colour dabbers to show the various combinations the monkeys could be arranged (i.e., 3 dabs on the bed, 2 on the ground).


CardGame

gameMonkeysHere is a card game I made to help students practice their facts to five and sharpen their memory skills while they’re at it. After introducing it as a whole class activity, I left it at the math station for students to play with during Centre time. I will be sending home a template of the game for families to assemble and enjoy during the March break as well.


sangeh-monkey-forest-101

To download a Teaching with Monkeys resource kit, including the poem, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, stick puppet templates (bed and monkeys), bingo dabber assessment sheets, Gimme Five card game and instruction sheets, click on the monkey.


Now for some more fun with monkeys … enjoy!

Morris

Happy teaching everyone.

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facebook-20141123-101343Have a fabulous March break!

Lora