Tech Tuesday 4.1.14 – Show some grit!

What is grit?

  • Google – noun – courage and resolve; strength of character.
  • Duckworth – Grit is the tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward very long-term goals. (

Is grit an important indicator of student success in the classroom and in life? University of Pennsylvania  researcher, Angela Lee Duckworth, believes that grit and self-control are the two most important traits to foster for success in life.

“After five years of teaching seventh graders, she went back to grad school to complete her Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she is now an assistant professor in the psychology department. Her research subjects include students, West Point cadets, and corporate salespeople, all of whom she studies to determine how “grit” is a better indicator of success than factors such as IQ or family income.” –

Watch Angela Lee Duckworth’s TED Talk:

Check out the book How Children Succeed by Paul Tough (available in the AC Library).

grit“Why do some children succeed while others fail? The story we usually tell about childhood and success is the one about intelligence: success comes to those who score highest on tests, from preschool admissions to SATs. But in How Children Succeed , Paul Tough argues that the qualities that matter more have to do with character: skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism, and self-control. How Children Succeed introduces us to a new generation of researchers and educators, who, for the first time, are using the tools of science to peel back the mysteries of character. Through their stories–and the stories of the children they are trying to help–Tough reveals how this new knowledge can transform young people’s lives. He uncovers the surprising ways in which parents do–and do not–prepare their children for adulthood. And he provides us with new insights into how to improve the lives of children growing up in poverty. This provocative and profoundly hopeful book will not only inspire and engage readers, it will also change our understanding of childhood itself. “Illuminates the extremes of American childhood: for rich kids, a safety net drawn so tight it’s a harness; for poor kids, almost nothing to break their fall.”– New York Times

Do you have grit? Here are links to download and see how you measure on the Grit Scale.
12 Item Grit Scale – For adults
8 Item Grit Scale – For children
Click here to take the online Grit survey!

Can grit be measured? Can grit be taught? What do you think? As An Academic Resource Part 2 and TED Talks have been an incredibly valuable academic resource for me this school year. Here are the TED Talks that we have shown in our middle school Digital Literacy classes this year and why we chose them. (I co-teach Digital Literacy with Allendale Columbia School Librarian, Judy Van Alstyne.)

Hasan Elahi: FBI, here I am!

Courtesy of

“When Hasan Elahi’s name was added (by mistake) to the US government’s watch list, he fought the assault on his privacy by turning his life inside-out for all the world to see.”

Common Sense Media provides great materials for teachers and students about the concept of a digital footprint. Hasan Elahi’s talk fit in with the message we were trying to convey to the 8th grade.  I love how he shows another view of what a digital footprint could be and how you can have a say about what is out there about you. It’s also pretty entertaining!

Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story

Courtesy of

“Andrew Stanton has made you laugh and cry. The writer behind the three “Toy Story” movies and the writer/director of “WALL-E,” he releases his new film, “John Carter,” in March.”

We used this talk to introduce the art of storytelling during an interdisciplinary unit with 8th grade English students. Andrew Stanton tells a good story and delivers a great talk.

**Warning** The beginning of this talk contains a “Not Safe For School” joke. After 1:10, it is safe for students. We edited that part out before we showed it.

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

Courtesy of

“Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson challenges the way we’re educating our children. He champions a radical rethink of our school systems, to cultivate creativity and acknowledge multiple types of intelligence.”

I know that this TED talk is the most watched ever, but how many students have seen it? In my opinion we don’t include students enough in conversations about their education. What do students think when they hear Sir Ken Robinson’s talk? I included this talk as an option for the 8th graders as we were exploring project ideas. I wanted them to start thinking about their education and how they could start to look for some topics they would be interested in exploring.

Margaret Heffernan: Dare to disagree

Courtesy of

“The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns — like conflict avoidance and selective blindness — that lead managers and organizations astray.”

I love this talk because it gets right to the heart of improvement and learning. We asked students several times this year to give each other constructive feedback, and they are terrible at it. Everything they say to each other is nice and supportive, but not constructive. When someone does offer constructive feedback there is so much tension and defensiveness that nothing is gained. Constructive feedback is welcome on this topic.

How have you used in the classes you teach or at the businesses for which you work? What are your favorite talks and how have you used them? As An Academic Resource Part 1 and TED Talks have been an incredibly valuable academic resource for me this school year. Here are the TED Talks that we have shown in our middle school Digital Literacy classes this year and why we chose them. (I co-teach Digital Literacy with Allendale Columbia School Librarian, Judy Van Alstyne.)

Hackschooling makes me happy: Logan LaPlante at TEDxUniversityofNevada

Courtesy of

“When 13 year-old Logan LaPlante grows up, he wants to be happy and healthy. He discusses how hacking his education is helping him achieve this goal.”

I used this talk to introduce project ideas to the 8th grade. For the most part, they struggled with the concept of self-guided learning.

Adora Svitak: What adults can learn from kids

Courtesy of

“A prolific short story writer and blogger since age seven, Adora Svitak (now 12) speaks around the United States to adults and children as an advocate for literacy.”

I showed this talk to 6th graders to inspire them to “do” what they are passionate about. Too often we hear adults say things like “you aren’t old enough.” I want our students to know that they aren’t too young to affect change and make an impact.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story

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“Inspired by Nigerian history and tragedies all but forgotten by recent generations of westerners, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels and stories are jewels in the crown of diasporan literature.”

We were working with the 6th grade on an interdisciplinary project with University of Rochester, Professor of Geophysics, Dr. Cynthia J. Ebinger, which involved trying to understand another culture. I love the powerful message in this talk. It relates directly to one of our school initiatives, the “Global IQ.”

TED Ed – Lessons Worth Sharing

TED-Ed’s commitment to creating lessons worth sharing is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within the growing TED-Ed video library, you will find carefully curated educational videos, many of which represent collaborations between talented educators and animators nominated through the TED-Ed platform. This platform also allows users to take any useful educational video, not just TED’s, and easily create a customized lesson around the video. Users can distribute the lessons, publicly or privately, and track their impact on the world, a class, or an individual student.

To learn more about TED Ed, got to

How have you used in the classes you teach or at the businesses for which you work? What are your favorite talks and how have you used them?

Tech Tuesday – 11.12.13 – Sugata Mitra

Sugata Mitra won the 2013 TED Prize for his vision of the future of education. He calls it the School in the Cloud. Access to and the use of technology are key to his vision. Inspired by Sugata’s TED Talk and vision of education, Allendale Columbia School first grade teachers guided their classes through a SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment). Here is a link to their video.

To learn more about Sugata Mitra’s vision and TED Prize wish check out the following links.

What do you think of Sugata Mitra’s vision of education?
Can you incorporate the model of a SOLE into your classroom right now?

My Global Teaching Goal

I had to meet with the Middle School Head to discuss my teaching goals for the year. He asked us to frame our goals around three themes: globalization, authentic learning and integrated and collaborative learning experiences for our students. I really struggled with focusing on a goal for globalization. Haven’t we heard the word global or flat world too much these days? It’s almost as overused as “21st Century Skills” and “STEM.”

I stumbled onto a TED Talk by author and storytellerChimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Her story and talk was about the danger of only understanding someone based on a single story. That we, and really most of the people in the world, believe a version of what we hear about a culture or nationality and we believe it to be 100% true. Her talk really made me think about myself and how I view the world. I viewed her TED talk with a student, and we had an excellent discussion about the message she delivered. He felt that she could have been more forceful, bluntly putting out a call to action. For the world to change, we all need to see others for more than the stereotypes that define us or them. We talked about stereotypes and the truths that lie within them and how dangerous they are, and how stereotypes themselves are the single story that usually defines what we know about a people, race, culture or nationality.

I had found my globalization goal:
Author and TED speaker, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, describes that for many people our reality is only made up of a single story about a given person. You can’t truly understand that person if you interpret everything about them based on one story. The same can be said with understanding cultures. I want to make sure my students don’t trust a single story, and that they are always looking to understand more than what they have heard or seen about a particular group, culture, religion or person.

I hope you enjoy her talk as much as I did.

Tech Tuesday 8.27.13 Welcome Back!

Dan Pink explores the efficacy of rewards and punishment in the workplace — and the results are surprising. Differentiating between intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, and different types of rewards, Pink explains why we need to rethink how we run our businesses, and how leaders can motivate more effectively.

What motivates our students? Are we using a similar model of motivation in the classroom that is used in business today? What if we gave students 20% time to learn about anything they wanted to?

Spring Break Day 4

Today I watched the TED Talk, “Doctors make mistakes. Can we talk about that?” by Brian Goldman. I love this talk! It applies to all learning in every discipline. Doctors aren’t the only people who make mistakes. We all do! Teachers and students do all the time. Instead of using mistakes as a way to learn, we penalize students by making everything about a grade. Why is failure and the process of learning from failure not an option? How can we make failure a safe place for people to learn? Can people learn without experiencing failure?

Please share answers, comments and questions.

Spring Break Day 3

Because I missed Monday, I have decided to post 2 fabulous TED Talks today. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I did.

The first, Brené Brown is a self-described research storyteller from the University of Houston. Her talk, “The Power of Vulnerability”, was a real eye opener for me personally. There is a reason over 8,000,000 people have watched it.

The second talk titled “How to Separate Fact From Fiction Online” presented by journalist Markham Nolan, describes how the Internet has forever changed journalism. This thought-provoking talk is still resonating with me.

If you watched both talks, which one did you like better? Why? How did the research in the second talk involving the swimming pool make you feel? Surprised? Freaked out? Not surprised at all?

Answers, comments and any other questions are always appreciated.