Saturday, March 21, 2015

Inaugural Post

As educators, many of us strive to help students develop growth mindsets, a concept researched by Carol Dweck and explained in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. We want our students to be risk-takers and problem solvers, and to understand that failure is a part of the learning process. This can be a mighty challenge, but many authors in the world of children's literature have written exceptional books that can be used to support this way of thinking in the classroom.

Going Places by Peter and Paul Reynolds is one of my favorite books to use when showing students what it means to think differently. In this story, when it is time for students to create go-karts, Maya does not follow the prescribed directions in the kit, but rather creates a vehicle of her own design. I love that Peter and Paul Reynolds showcase a female character as a creative inventor, and I also love that when Maya and Rafael pair up, we see the amazing possibilities of teamwork!

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires exemplifies the idea that we learn through our failures. The main character can picture exactly what she wants to build in her mind, but when it comes to actually making her invention, she is unsuccessful after her first attempt, and her second and her third... She tries again and again, but continues to struggle and eventually gets frustrated. Her trusty assistant insists that they walk away for a few minutes to calm down. This solution helps her discover that all of her "failures" were really just pieces of what becomes the most magnificent thing. Spires concludes with a brilliant ending by sharing that the invention isn't perfect, but it IS magnificent.

And if you teach older students...
Fish in a Tree, a new middle grade novel by Lynda Mullaly Hunt is already becoming the MUST READ book of 2015. I love the story. I love the characters. And I love the author's inspirational message to readers at the end of the book where she shares, "Things will not always be easy; sometimes we do fail. But it isn't failing that makes you a failure. It's staying down that does. The ability to stand up, brush yourself off, and try again is a huge strength." Add this to book to your classroom library today!

All of my students were hooked after I read chapter one, but you can also capture their attention with this trailer:

Happy Reading!