Tuesday, May 23, 2017

When I face a new problem, I think creatively.

When I face a new problem, I think creatively.

Today's cat was inspired by this very useful article in the Harvard Business Review: How to Spark Creativity When You’re in a Rut by Priscilla Claman.

The same things the article says about "newness" at work can apply to school too!
Remember your first day at work? You were excited. There were new people to meet, new skills to be learned, new processes or products to understand. If you are like most people, something else was different then — you. When you weren’t sure or didn’t understand, you asked questions, persistently. You compared what you were supposed to do on this job with what you had done in the past, and you made suggestions. You observed what your new colleagues were doing and evaluated what you saw. As a new person, you felt entitled to look at things differently and ask questions — that was a sign of your creativity.
After a while, though, you can get stuck in a rut and lose that sense of newness and freshness, and thus lose the creative energy that goes with it. Read the article for some specific suggestions about how to bring that sense of "newness" back into your school experience.

Infographic: Personal Accountability and Reflection

This infographic comes from a very useful blog post by Jackie Gerstein: Growth Mindset: Personal Accountability and Reflection. Instead of looking for a grade or some other kind of external assessment, you can use the questions in the infographic to reflect and assess on your own.

Did I work as hard as I could have?
Did I set and maintain high standards for myself?
Did I spend enough time to do quality work?
Did I regulate my procrastination, distractions, and temptations in order to complete my work?
Did I make good use of available resources?
Did I ask questions if I needed help?
Did I review and re-review my work for possible errors?
Did I consider best practices for similar work?
Is my work something for which I am proud – that I would proudly show to a large, global audience?

Monday, May 15, 2017

With effort, I can develop new skills.

A fundamental part of growth mindset is believing that through your own efforts, you can grow your intelligence and develop new skills. So, I made a cat for that:

With effort, I can develop new skills.

For more about the basics of growth mindset, see this infographic from the GoBrain website, with transcription here.

Infographic: Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset

I found this in a post by Jackie Gerstein: Growth Mindset: GoBrain and Making a Splash, and it comes from the GoBrain website by Carol Reiley (visit the site to see the full-sized version).

I'm personally not a big fan of talking about "fixed mindset" since that, even unintentionally, reinforces the idea that it is an either-or thing, as if people have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. My preference is instead to focus 100% on growth mindset attributes, helping people to see it as a continuum, so that everyone is always striving to apply growth mindset beliefs to different aspects of their lives: school, work, hobbies, relationships, etc.

But... it's handy to have a chart that does take this contrast approach, and I think this is one of my favorites among charts showing growth v. fixed.


Growth Mindset
intelligence can be developed
leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to:
embrace challenges
persist in the face of setbacks
see effort as the path to mastery
learn from criticism
find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
reach ever-higher levels of achievement

Fixed Mindset
intelligence is static
leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to:
avoid challenges
give up easily
see effort as fruitless or worse
ignore useful negative feedback
feel threatened by success of others
may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Big Picture

I really liked this quote from one of my students in reflecting about growth mindset:
Always remember your why. If you can see the bigger picture, like the sick kid in the hospital you are going to need to give medicine to when you’re a nurse working the night shift, and you’re going to need to know how to do it because his life is at stake, so that is why studying for that nursing exam is so important.

Look at the big picture
and remember your why.

Learning Zone and Performance Zone

My classes emphasize the "Learning Zone" more than the "Performance Zone," but the semester-long writing projects definitely have some performance-like aspects. That is something I can try to highlight by using this helpful infographic! See transcript below, and be sure to read this very informative article: Learning and Performance Zones in Sports by Jeremy Frith and Eduardo BriceƱo. It contains some great observations about coaching and about learning in general.

Learning Zone    versus    Performance Zone
improve    GOAL    do as best as we can
improvement    ACTIVITIES
we haven't mastered yet    CONCENTRATE
    we have mastered
expected    MISTAKES
low stakes    REQUIRED STAKES    any stakes
challenge    COMMON SOURCE
    lapse of focus
or unpreparedness
growth mindset    OPTIMAL MINDSET    growth mindset

Sunday, April 30, 2017

I will write without fear.

This cat is inspired by a student quote about growth mindset:
I want to continue to grow in the regions of creativity and the process of getting ideas on paper. I want to be fearless about my writing and improve.
I will write without fear.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Working in a team, I can learn more.

Today's cats were inspired by a comment from one of my students about teamwork (more comments from my students here); she is planning a medical career and when she thinks about her specialty, she wants it to be some area of medicine where there is a lot of teamwork:
Overall, I want to work in a team. If I work in a team, my growth mindset can develop because I am willing to listen to others to learn more from them as well as helping each other out. What the growth mindset is doing in teamwork is that it is forming a connection between mentorship as well as learning new things!

Working in a team, I can learn more.

What is this? I don't know . . . yet.

Inspired by this infographic about the power of "I Don't Know," I combined it with the power of "Yet" to create this growth mindset cat:

What is this? I don't know . . . yet.

The image is from cheezburger.

The Power of "I Don't Know"
with text from Heather Wolpert-Gawron and drawing by Rebeca Zuniga
see a transcription here

The Power of I DON'T KNOW

You can combine the power of "I don't know" with the power of "yet" to get that great learner attitude: I don't know ... yet.

You can find Heather Wolpert-Gawron's article at Edutopia: The Power of "I Don't Know" and then see Rebecca Zuniga's infographic (full-size) at TeachThought.

I've provided a transcription below. It's a non-linear sort of infographic, but you will find all the text there somewhere or other!

Teachers are no longer the carriers of knowledge, giving it to students and assessing if they can repeat the facts successfully. They are,instead, tasked with teaching students how to find answers.

Changing Attitudes.

It's OK to say I DON'T KNOW. Teach your students how to develop QUESTIONS. It helps to conquer their own confusion.

Online Literacy.

Internet Literacy.

In the Classroom.

Make GOOGLE do the work. Create a time scavenger hunt. Verify the evidence.

"Google doesn't make people stupid. It just does what you ask it to." Think about how to be specific enough to make Google do the work for you. Advanced Search. Keywords. Filter for fair use.

"We need to cultivate a certain excitement in not knowing something."

Group students with a short list of question about a particular topic. They need to work together to develop efficient keyword combinations to make Google do the more accurate searching for them. Make a contest using a Google Document to post answer and citation.

Triangulating Data.

Assembling Keywords into their own question and Google it.

Finding at least three other websites to corroborate the fact.

Embrace Wikipedia and all it can teach, BUT make sure that a student knows the steps to verify what's legit, biased, or even outright false. Main Facts. Data. Keywords.

"Modeling an exciting I-Don't-Know attitude is the brass doorknob that opens the portal to finding answers together!"

Monday, April 24, 2017

My effort and attitude are everything.

My effort and attitude are everything.

Today's cat was inspired by this graphic; for a transcription see: In our class we say...

In our classroom, we say...

For a transcription, see below:

In our classroom, we say...

How can I improve?
Instead of... I'm not good at this.

Let me try a different way.
Instead of... I give up.

Mistakes are part of learning.
Instead of... I failed.

Have I done my best work?
Instead of... I'm all done.

Learning takes time.
Instead of... This is too hard.

How can we learn from one another?
Instead of... He/she is smarter than me.

I like a challenge.
Instead of... I'll stick with what I know.

My effort and attitude are everything.
Instead of... My abilities determine everything.

From: We Are Teachers. Apperson.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Just do it! Confidence will follow.

Just do it! Confidence will follow.

The cat is inspired by this Carrie Fisher quote: Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What's important is the action. You don't have to wait to be confident. Just do it, and eventually the confidence will follow.

What Great Listeners Actually Do

This infographic is inspired by research presented in this article from Harvard Business Review: What Great Listeners Actually Do by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman.

Here are the four main conclusions emphasized in the article:

  • Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks.
  • Good listening included interactions that build a person’s self-esteem.
  • Good listening was seen as a cooperative conversation.
  • Good listeners tended to make suggestions.
Be sure to read the article for many more valuable observations!

The sketchnote is by Tanmay Vora: Leadership and The Art of Effective Listening.

What Great Listeners Actually Do
Jack Zenger, Joseph Folkman
1. Ask questions that promote discovery and insight. Two-way dialog. Constructive.
2. Interactions that build self-esteem. Create a safe environment.
3. A Cooperative Conversation. Feedback flows in both directions. Challenge/disagree without making other person defensive.
4. Make suggestions skillfully. That open up alternative paths.
Good listener is not a sponge that absorbs, but a trampoline to bounce ideas off.
Levels of Listening:
1. Create a safe environment to discuss.
2. Clear away distractions and make eye contact.
3. Understand the substance. Ask questions. Confirm.
4. Observe non-verbal clues. 80% of communication.
5. Understand emotions and feelings about topic. Empathize.
6. Help other person to see issue in different light.

* One disclaimer: I am not a fan of these faux statistics like "80% of communication is non-verbal." All components of communication are important, and any mindfulness you can bring to bear in communication is valuable, no need for faux percentages.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Study to learn

Inspired by this quote from Carol Dweck's MindsetThey were studying to learn, not just to ace the test.

Study to learn, not just to ace the test.

Now is the time to go beyond your comfort zone.

Now is the time to go beyond your comfort zone.

There are lots of reasons to get outside your comfort zone. This infographic comes from: 10 Things that Will Happen When You Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone by Oscar Nowik. See this blog post for a transcription:

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

10 Things that Will Happen When You Start Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Lifehack article and image by Oscar Nowik, with sketchnoting by the ever-awesome Sylvia Duckworth. Read the article for comments about each of these possibilities:

1. You’ll start growing quickly
2. You’ll begin to love challenging yourself
3. You’ll realize all your fears are fictional
4. You’ll replace regret with excitement.
5. You’ll laugh at your past self.
6. You’ll find out more about your strengths and weaknesses.
7. You’ll boost your self-confidence.
8. You’ll create a new source of satisfaction.
9. You’ll realize the only way to success leads through discomfort.
10. You’ll begin inspiring people around you.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Stay focused and pay attention.

As the semester gets more hectic, it gets harder and harder to stay focused and pay attention. But growth requires awareness...and you have to keep aware!

The image is from cheezburger.

Stay focused and pay attention.

All learners are smart in their own unique ways.

This cat was inspired by Jackie Gerstein's infographic below.

All learners are smart in their own unique ways.

The infographic is from a blog post by Jackie Gerstein: How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset. And I've prepared a transcript of the infographic also:

How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset

This is from a blog post by Jackie Gerstein: How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset. Visit the blog post to see the full-sized version, and see the transcript below:


How Educators Can Assist Learners in Developing a Growth Mindset
by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.
User-Generated Education

I believe that all students can learn and be successful.
I believe that I should assist students in believing that they are good and powerful learners.
I believe that all learners are smart in their own unique ways.
I believe all students should be challenged and be rewarded for taking risks and rising to challenges.

Growth Mindset Reflection Questions for the Educator:

Were my expectations clearly presented to learners?
Did I set and maintain a climate to learn from mistakes and failures?
Did I set a forum for learners to receive authentic feedback from me, peers, and experts?
Did I provide the resources and scaffolding if and when needed?
Did I provide the time and resources to address learner questions and confusions?
Did my learners and I consider and use best practices for similar work?
Did I praise effort, resourcefulness, and resilience?
Did I ensure that learners were engaged in and motivated by the work?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Being different can give you power.

This cat was inspired by Sylvia Duckworth's Superheroes graphic; see below:

Being different can give you power.

I've also done a transcript of the graphic.

10 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

10 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

From the ever-great Sylvia Duckworth:

10 Things We Can Learn From Superheroes

1. We all have something we are good at.
2. Being different can give you power.
3. Embrace who you are and be proud of it.
4. Adversity can be overcome.
5. Find strength in helping others find their own.
6. Facing danger is the best way to overcome your fears.
7. Not everyone needs rescuing.
8. Nice guys don't always finish last.
9. You don't need superpowers to be a hero.
10. If you want to change the world, start with yourself.

Changing your view can change your outcome.

This cat was inspired by a blog post by one of my students (learn more about my students' thoughts on growth mindset):
I have started to work out and let's just say I am not the athletic type. I could not run more than a mile to save my life. I always figured since I never have before, I couldn't now. How wrong I was! I have only been working out for a few weeks and already I can run a few miles without stopping! This is just a testament to how changing your view can seriously change your outcomes!

Changing your view can change your outcome.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Constant, endless curiosity

The quote is from Carol Dweck, Mindset: "Most often people believe that the “gift” is the ability itself. Yet what feeds it is that constant, endless curiosity and challenge seeking."

Constant, endless curiosity
is what feeds your abilities.

(image from cheezburger)

Challenge is inevitable. Defeat is optional.

This cat was inspired by a graphic I saw go by at Twitter (see below).

Challenge is inevitable. Defeat is optional.

Being challenged in life is inevitable; being defeated is optional.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Don't let your fear paralyze you.

This advice comes from Lori Deschene at (see graphic below):

Don't let your fear paralyze you.
The scariest paths often lead you
to the most exciting places.

Optimizing Feedback

There's an article by Katie Dunn that accompanies this infographic at DailyGenius: The teacher’s guide to optimizing student feedback. The article is focused on specific advice for teachers, but it is something useful for all learners to think about: how can you make yourself an active participant in the feedback that you are receiving? How can you use the feedback in order to guide your own learning and development?

Here is a great quote from the article:
Feedback should encourage students to be active in taking the feedback and making their work better, not just consuming teacher comments or correct answers.
I've transcribed the infographic below.

Optimizing Feedback: Putting the Ball in the Student's Court

  • Help students be active in their feedback instead of passively consuming it
  • Give less feedback; get better results
  • Develop critical thinking and problem skills
  • See feedback as opportunity, not negativity / criticism
  • Involve and engage students in learning from their mistakes
  • Expand on ideas, collaborate with peers

Transformation #1. Rather than writing a number of comments on the student's work, the teacher writes one overall comment identifying general areas of improvement. The student then reads those comments and must go back through their work to identify specific areas that need improvement.

Transformation #2. The teacher writes multiple notes in the student's work, but does not offer an overall comment or specific items to be changed or improved. The student then summarizes the teacher's commentaries and uses that to identify specific areas of improvement.

Transformation #3. Identify the "great" parts of a student's work without identifying specific reasons why it was great, elements it included, etc. The student then must identify the "why" in each instance.

Transformation #4. Rather than giving a correct answer or solution to a student's incorrect response, identify that the response is incorrect, and have the student correct it. Give hints if necessary.

Transformation #5. Create a group or pair peer assessment activity. The teacher will give some general comments about the work, and the peers should identify some specific areas where that feedback would apply, and the students all work together to improve upon the work.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Art is a soul talking out loud.

Be mindful as you give feedback to someone, especially when the work is their own self-expression: they have shared a part of their soul with you.

Art is a soul talking out loud.

This cat was inspired by this very useful infographic on feedback in the context of creative work: How to Craft Constructive Feedback (see the linked post for a transcript).

How to Craft Constructive Feedback

Below I've provided a transcription of How to Craft Constructive Feedback, an infographic at Jenn Gibbs' Invisible Sun (no relation!).

This is feedback in the context of writing workshops, so it is very relevant to my classes, and it is also good advice that can be translated into general teaching terms also.

There's apparently no larger size available, so all the more reason to transcribe. :-)


Great things happen when creators and critics synch their expectations for the workshop experience.

When the purpose is self-expression...

Just sharing, thanks. BE A WITNESS. The root of art is a soul talking out loud. Sometimes even advanced artists don't need a critic; they just need a respectful witness for their work. Just listen and say thanks for being trusted.

How's it coming across? BE A MIRROR. When a creator wants more than a smile yet less than a full critique, two questions can open discussion of the audience experience while still focusing on a work's expressive function: "What stood out for you?" and "Was there anything you wanted more of?"

When the purpose is to craft a performance...

BE A GUIDE. Lay it on me. I need to create an experience for an audience and am willing to work for it. *
* And I promise not to sulk if I don't hear what I want to hear.

1. OBSERVE a feature of the work and give examples, using neutral language.
"Ina is dynamic character; you never know what she's going to do. On page 2 she gives the homeless guy $20 but on page 5 she yells at the dishwasher for taking rolls for her kids."

2. DESCRIBE the effect(s) this feature has on you, the audience.
"I didn't know what to expect from Ina next, which was interesting, yet distracting, as I couldn't tell if it was part of her character or an oversight."

3. SUGGEST what the creator might do in revision.
"Having other characters respond to Ina's inconsistency might make this feature a clearer part of who Ina is."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Dreams don't work unless you do.

Dreams don't work unless you do.

This cat was inspired by a graphic I saw at Twitter:

Daring Greatly

This infographic is adapted from Brene Brown's book Daring Greatly, and you might also enjoy her video on empathy.

Here is a transcription:

Daring Greatly
Engaged Feedback Checklist
I know I'm ready to give feedback when:
1. I'm ready to sit next to you rather than across from you.
2. I'm willing to put the problem in front of us rather than between us (or sliding it toward you).
3. I'm ready to listen, ask questions, and accept that I may not fully understand the issue.
4. I want to acknowledge what you do well instead of picking apart your mistakes.
5. I recognize your strengths and how you can use them to address your challenges.
6. I can hold you accountable without shaming or blaming you.
7. I'm willing to own my part.
8. I can genuinely thank you for your efforts rather than criticize you for your failings.
9. I can talk about how resolving these challenges will lead to your growth and opportunity.
10. I can model the vulnerability and openness that I expect to see from you.
from Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

I need feedback to help me grow.

This cat was inspired by the great infographic about feedback which you can see below.

I need feedback to help me grow.

I've transcribed the infographic, and there is a a very useful accompanying article here: 21 Components of Effective Feedback.

21 Components of Effective Feedback

This is an infographic for employee feedback, but it works for a school setting too. That is one of the things I believe we should teach students about the feedback process. Learning how to both give and receive feedback is a skill they will need in the workplace where the focus is on continuous improvement, not on final exams and grades.

You will find the transcription of the infographic below, and you will find a discussion about each component in this very useful blog post at Talkdesk by Shauna Geraghty: 21 Components of Effective Feedback.  If you like this infographic, definitely check out the article!

Effective feedback can have a major impact on employee performance. In order to be effective, feedback must be:

appropriate amount
tied to performance
easy to understand
based on data
embedded in the culture
based on behavior
from multiple sources
based on a plan
in many forms

The most effective feedback will contain many (or all) of the aforementioned components. Managers seeking to increase performance with effective feedback should incorporate them into their feedback processes.

Kinicki, Angelo and Kreitner, Robert (2006). Organizational behavior: Key concepts, skills, and best practices. McGraw-Hill Irwin.

Monday, April 3, 2017

I think. I design. I create. I invent. I reflect. I learn.

I think. I design. I create. I invent. I reflect. I learn.

As inspired by this graphic:

I learn.

I really like this graphic from Venspired. It's not an infographic exactly, but I'm offering a transcription here as if it were!

I think. I question. I design. I create. I struggle. I collaborate. I try. I solve. I invent. I reflect. I learn.