Marshmallows & Me

Marshmallowsphoto © 2008 John Morgan | more info (via: Wylio)
Today was the first ‘showing’ of a TEDTalk in my room during lunch. ((I am selecting these initially from RichardByrne’s @rmbyrne Free Technology for Teachers post “15 Great Talks for Teachers to Watch Before 2010”.)) There was exactly one person in attendance…. me. ((I did have one teacher planning to attend, but who needed to stay in her room to supervise the delivery of Valentine’s.)) However, I am sharing this post with my building so that there is a place for asynchronous viewing and discussion that can prompt conversations in the snippets of everyday life.  Please join in!

Things I’m pondering:

  1. Would these results hold true if the children were older? Is there something special about the age? Is it ever too late to learn self-control?
  2. Was anyone else bothered by his definition of successful?  How should we define success?
  3. Can teachers impact their students’ level of self-control? If so, how? What do you do/ not do that helps your students?
  4. Does this tell us anything about a child’s learning style? Or does it say more about their socio-economic background and home environment?
  5. How do we help the ‘marshmallow eaters’ mature?  Do we even need to do that?
  6. Are those who delayed gratification highly motivated by pleasing people? Was that a larger part of the experiment than the treat?
  7. Do we want to be producing a society of people pleasers?  Where do the creative thinkers, the innovators, the dissenters go in that kind of society?
  8. Is there something to learn here about motivation that we can relate to learning?  Did the marshmallow eaters not feel enough personal interest to overcome the task that was set in front of them?

If you had your favorite candy bar placed in front of you, would you wait 15 minutes for the opportunity to get a second one? With that in mind, what do you think this experiment says about children, self-control and learning?

Onwards and Upwards

I’ve been spending a fair amount of time reflecting on the successes I’ve had this year…. and the failures (a WHOLE post dedicated to those coming soon). I’ve also been sorting out goals for the next year.

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With roughly 2 weeks left in the year, I’ve been spending a fair amount of time reflecting on the successes I’ve had this year…. and the failures (a WHOLE post dedicated to those coming soon).  I’ve also been sorting out goals for the next year.  I currently have spreadsheets in progress that line out how much (little) time I have with students to meet technology standards, and it’s frustrating to see the disparity between goals and time allotted.

Here’s what I learned this year:

  • Keyboarding goals need to be a percentage gain with a goal (similar to Read Naturally), rather than set goals based on WPM suggestions for age groups.  Each child varies drastically in their typing speed, and all need to be challenged to achieve. (Well, look at that!  Our district motto does stick…. Empower to learn, Challenge to Achieve, Inspire to Excel.)
  • Children vary in their tech knowledge based on their home environment and access to equipment.  Create a wide range within each project to meet the needs of both special education students and gifted students.
  • Teachers vary in their own tech literacy levels, and often do not understand what they are requesting.  Make time to listen carefully, then communicate clearly.
  • Students have expected the lab to be playtime, and it took the better part of a year to show them that we will be ‘doing’ things in there beyond playing games.  Even so, we didn’t accomplish anything close to what I wanted.
  • Classroom management is an art form, and can vary from 4th grade class to 4th grade class as well as between grade levels. Expect the unexpected, plan seating better, train students to enter/exit quickly and quietly to maximize the time.

Goals for Next Year:

  1. Plan a stellar, engaging, and exciting showcase project for every grade that incorporates as many NET*S as possible and make this the first priority during non-testing lab time.
  2. Expect, and require, students to get content done in the allotted time, using partner strategies, redirects, etc.
  3. Train 2-3 student experts from each classroom in B.E.R.T.  (Berthoud Elementary Rocks Technology) Camp and weekly after school BERT Kids so they can share their knowledge with students in their class lab time.
  4. Strategically seat students in lab in a ‘skills grouping’ manner with a BERT expert in each group.
  5. Student generated content in as many areas as possible to create a sense of ownership- wall decor, desktop images, screencasts, website.
  6. Meet with students to set keyboarding goals, and help them attain them in a purposeful manner, not relying on a particular program to drill the skills.