Imagination Questions

I stumbled across these amazing cards one day when an education assistant found them in our school library. I can’t stop singing their praises because I can see them being great for pretty much all age groups.

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One of my centres for English Language Arts is writing, in which I give the kids a prompt and have them write and/or draw pictures, depending on their abilities. My prompts were simple questions like “What are some of your favourite sports?” which I would write on the board. These worked well, especially at the beginning of the year when most of my kids needed very simplistic questions they could easily answer. However, as we progressed through the year, they became a bit boring and simply had me assessing how well students could answer basic questions and their time management skills. It didn’t let me assess creativity or critical thinking in any way.

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These Imagination Cards have great prompts that allow kids to be creative and to really think about how they could answer the various questions. Further, you could definitely use them for elementary, junior high, and even high school and simply alter how you assess the final product.

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Obviously, I am obsessed with these cards! I’m on the hunt for similar products. If you want to buy these, here’s the link to Amazon.

KIAT Book Club: The Resilience Revolution Ch. 6

Well, we’ve come to the last chapter of The Resilience Revolution.

The Resilience Revolution: Discovering the Strengths in Challenging Kids
The Resilience Revolution: Discovering the Strengths in Challenging Kids

This chapter was quote short as it didn’t introduce any huge concepts, but more so wrapped up what was previously discussed.

The chapter talks about putting everything we’ve discussed together and helping kids recognize their purpose in life. It discusses how individualistic our Western society is and how it is isolating and can prevent us from recognizing our power within to help others.

Narcissism is predominant throughout our society and often hits hardest in our teen years. Learning to use our lives and our abilities to help the world is one of the best things we can do for others and, ironically, ourselves as it creates a real happiness and worth.

This was a short entry, I know. The chapter itself was quite short. Overall, though, now that we have completed the book I can say that I highly recommend it to all teachers or employees who work with difficult kids.

If you want to buy the book, here’s the link to Amazon.

KIAT Book Club: The Resilience Revolution Ch. 5

Hello again! We’re on chapter five now and talking about helping youths recognize their own power. This chapter reminded me of a Professional Development session I attended a couple months ago which discussed disciplining kids. In order for any type of discipline to be effective, it has to be meaningful and the kids have to take responsibility for their actions.

This chapter delves into how to help troubled students discover their own power and take responsibility for their lives and their actions.

In the classroom reading selfie!
In the classroom reading selfie!

When kids feel like they have power, and can make change, and that their lives are meaningful, that’s when they will want to make changes to better themselves and their world.

This is a challenging this to do and I feel like the book handles it too simplistically. It sets out clear and “common-sense” tips, but then includes snippets of created dialogue between teens and adults that are simply unrealistic.

I agree with what the book is attempting to say overall in this chapter, but think that more practical examples would have been beneficial.

On a positive note, the book addresses how many positive and correct things youths do every day that are ignored, which we need to recognize and appreciate, especially if we expect them to listen to any criticism we may have. No one wants to feel as if they are being inundated about their flaws constantly when in fact we are simply not acknowledging their many accomplishments.

Last chapter is coming up in two weeks! Then on to a new book! If you want to buy this book, here’s the link to Amazon.

Nine Types of Intelligence

As I talked about in my most recent book post, one thing which really struck me was the discussion of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences.

Howard Gardner’s Nine Intelligences

Teaching at a school for kids with Learning Disabilities, I like to begin the year by discussing these intelligences. Most of my students have come from schools where they’ve been bullied and have felt inferior and out-of-place because of their LDs and talking about these different types of intelligence helps them to see that everyone is smart in different ways.

Depending on the level of kids, you can also find a bunch of online assessments to see what intelligences they are strongest in. This is interesting for them and can also help you plan out strategies to help reach them throughout the year. Here are some links to a few assessments I like:

Literacy Net

Queendom

Edutopia

Having kids recognize their strengths can also work in helping them start thinking about future careers. I find this helpful in relating school to their future aspirations and removing the so oft heard “why do I need to go to school anyway?” comment from classrooms. Here’s a very simple example of how the intelligences relate to possible future career choices.

KIAT Book Club: The Resilience Revolution Ch. 4

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Hello, and welcome to our discussion of chapter four! For those just joining in, we’re reading The Resilience Revolution by Larry K. Brendtro and Scott J. Larson.

This chapter is titled “Nurturing Talent” and, unsurprisingly, it talks about how to best aid troubled youths in finding what they’re good at.

This chapter really struck me as someone who teaches kids with Learning Disabilities. When they first enter our school, my very first goal is to help them enjoy school again. They’ve spent years falling behind and feeling like they aren’t smart enough or good enough, and it’s sometimes difficult for them to see that they are smart and able, they just weren’t in programs that met their needs before.

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I think this chapter and the first are the ones that have really hit me and really inspired me to try even harder to reach kids. To feel talentless, like we cannot perform anything correctly, or like our lives have no purpose is one of the first steps into a downward spiral; what’s keeping us from making bad choices and throwing our lives away?

Also discussed here is Howard Gardner’s Nine Types of Intelligences, which is something that I absolutely love and like to discuss with my students when they first come to our specialized school; showing them that we are all “smarter” in different ways and knowing those ways we can find strategies to help us in school. In fact, I think I’d like to discuss these intelligences further in its own post, maybe next week?

Anyway, I would recommend this book to all educators simply for this and chapter one (the rest is good too, but those are the real clinchers for me). If you’re like to purchase the book, here’s the link to Amazon.

We’re Always Bzzzy Working!

Now that Spring is (finally) here, it’s that time of the year for new bulletin boards and Spring crafts! I decided I’d put up a nice bumble bee board up outside my classroom on account of the facts that:

1. Bumblebees are cute.

2. Bumblebees are relatively simple crafts to make.

My own bee.
My own bee.

It was easy to work with just paper, scissors, and glue, and the kids worked on their measurement and fine motor skills (got to love that!). I made my own as an example, which was very quick to whip together before class (it took me about 15 minutes total; the kids used between 60 and 100 minutes of class time on their own).

What surprised me the most was that the hands were the most difficult part for the vast majority of my students. I assumed the stripes would cause them the most strife, but I was mistaken. Most had difficulty tracing their hands and then cutting along the lines afterward. Still, all the bees turned out and looked really adorable!

The finished bees!
The finished bees!

And so we finally got to put up our Spring bulletin board! I made the tree, grass, lettering, clouds, and beehive myself and simply laminated them before putting it all up. I think it looks really great, personally!

Our finished bulletin board!
Our finished bulletin board!

Happy Spring teaching!

KIAT Book Club: The Resilience Revolution Ch. 3

The Resilience Revolution: Discovering Strengths in Challenging Kids

We’re about halfway through the book now! Three cheers for becoming better teachers!

The Resilience Revolution: Discovering Strengths in Challenging Kids
The Resilience Revolution: Discovering Strengths in Challenging Kids

This chapter is all about building trust with challenging kids. This can be difficult to do, especially when dealing with older youths. When I taught High School, I would have about 170 kids each year. So if someone didn’t bother showing up to class, or didn’t do their work, or was rude, I just gave them their mark and moved on. Unless you’re a homeroom teacher, a counsellor, a coach, or someone who a student sees and interacts with frequently, it’s going to be difficult to build trust and aid them in becoming resilient.

Now that I am teaching elementary, I feel I not only have more of an ability, but also more of a responsibility, to build trust and to help my students in any way I can.

This chapter, like the ones before it, opens with a quote:

“Sometimes I say I hate you because I’m afraid you don’t love me.” – Theta Burke

Chapter Three!
Chapter Three!

I find that this guides the chapter. It’s difficult to build trust with kids that have been damaged before and hurt by people they’re supposed to be able to trust. The chapter gives some excellent advice and explains why many tactics and attempts to build trust with kids simply don’t work.

Indeed, it makes sense that kids don’t want to be forced into peer or adult mentoring relationships that are not natural, which is why so many programs fail. That’s why it’s so important for people like teachers to build natural relationships with kids; we see them everyday and if we are genuinely interested in their lives and kind to them, without them being forced into talking with us, there’s a greater opportunity to build trust and install positive change.

If you want to buy the book, here’s the link to Amazon.