Thursday, December 30, 2010

I resolve to resolve the problem of resolutions!

As New Year's quickly approaches many of us think about making resolutions.

As teachers or parents we often have our students or children create resolutions for themselves.

The problem: When thinking about our own resolutions we may realize they are often not attained or neglected by mid January. Why does this happen and why would I ask my students to create resolutions of their own when mine clearly are not followed? Resolutions are often not met because they are too general with little or not accountability.

The solution: Create resolutions that are SMART! Based on the way we set our goals at school, we should help our students create goals (or resolutions) that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic & Timely. SMART GOALS!

The reasoning: Creating goals that are specific insures better chances they will be met. Measuring goals along the way will not only show results, it will provide incentive. Generating goals that are attainable means a plan or action will be put in place. Smaller steps will help those goals become realistic. Keeping a log will help your goals be met in a timely fashion.

The following sites will help you as a parent (or teacher) when talking about resolutions or goals for your kids:

Goal Setting Kids: This website provides a pdf visual (a ladder to write the steps you will take to help reach your goal - see picture above) as well as a data sheet (for those who need less visuals).

eHealth Connection: This website provides Healthy New Year's Resolutions broken down by ages from Pre-Schoolers to kids 13 years old and up.

Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals: This website provides more information on using the SMART idea for creating goals.

Hope you find these sites useful when planning your own, your child's or your student's goals as the New Year gets underway!

In the words of Oprah Winfrey: "Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The past is never dead. It isn’t even past...William Faulkner

"The past is never dead. It isn’t even past"...William Faulkner.

I agree with Faulkner and, today, I think there are 21 ten year-olds who might be of the same opinion as well.

While these fourth graders are still in the elementary stages of cursive writing, they braved the challenge of writing a letter with a quill pen. Simulating their peers of over 250 years ago, students used real feathers, parchment paper, ink and blotting paper to 'pen' a letter of thanks to their parents.

They were given instruction in the "art of the beautiful hand" or penmanship of Colonial Times and one hour to complete the assignment.

The challenge: writing on paper without lines; manipulating a delicate tool without breaking it; using (washable) ink from a pot

The reward: concentrating on a not-so-easy task; putting their learning into practice; a beautiful, endearing letter.

The comments: "I like writing with the quills!" "It looks easier than it is!" "I feel like a real colonial boy!"

Often an activity such as this is overlooked as it is not measured on MCAS or other standardized assessments. It is clear that it was a project worth the undertaking. When students 'experience' a piece of history in this way, it makes them compare that occurrence to events in their own lives of today. It is priceless and worth exploring.

Check out the following site to learn how to Make your own quill pen or try these Activities for School Days in Colonial Times to bring your history lessons come to life!

Providing first hand experiences to our children will not only further their education, but it will also ensure that the "past is never dead".