Monday, October 27, 2014

Cupcakes are just....

During one of the rare times when we had just one of our grades in class, one of the girls started talking about a cute poster that she'd seen online somewhere, something like this:

She wrote it on the board and the kids there all laughed and then went about their work.  But the most interesting thing happened a few minutes later, when the younger kids came back.  Most of them saw the message, laughed too, and went back to work.  Except for one small girl, who looked at the message, thought for a moment, and then reached up and erased the word "ugly," picked up a marker and wrote the word "different" in it's place. No one else noticed, but I was happy to witness such a beautiful moment. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Days 24-27

Once again, I'm behind.  I am off the great schedule that I was on for a few weeks, and I'm trying to get it back again!

Day 24 
Which learning trend captures your attention the most, and why? (Mobile learning, project-based learning, game-based learning, etc.)
I love, love project based learning and I love to take it a step further and get kids into Genius Hour and Innovation Day.  It's so worthwhile to give kids the opportunity to explore their interests, follow their questions and learn to plan and execute a project from beginning to end.  

Day 25
The ideal collaboration between students–what would it look like?

The ideal collaboration between students would look like passing a ball back and forth, but each is adding something to the ball to make it easier for the other person to keep it going (I keep thinking tennis, but that's not exactly the metaphor that I want).   I have this kind of collaborative relationship with one particular colleague of mine and it's amazing.  We bounce ideas of off one another, we share ideas and lesson plans, we finish each others sentences!  We collaborate in a way that is second nature now, but needed time to grow.  It's amazingly helpful and enriching and I want that for my students.   I'm developing this with my new teaching partner and it will take time, but I think we'll get there!

Day 26
What are your three favorite go-to sites for help/tips/resources in your teaching?

My three favourite sites are TwitterEdutopia, and We are Teachers.  I enjoy Edutopia and We are Teachers for the resources and articles, but Twitter is my favourite place to get help, learn a new strategy, technique or tool, or ask for help.  The teacher community there is amazing and you should all be part of it!

Day 27
What role do weekends and holidays play in your teaching?
I use weekends and holidays to both finish my teaching work and prepare for the next week, but I also use them to take a break from teaching so that I can recharge.  On a similar note, weekends and holidays are for my students to have family and recharging time and I do not assign homework on weekends or holidays, ever. I make a point of telling my students that I know that they have other commitments besides school and that their families are important so it's necessary to take that time away from schoolwork.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Day 17 to 23 (double whoops!)

I have not been doing well with this blogging challenge this week - I did however, do well with with my personal 30 Day work out challenge - I've only missed two days!

Day 17
What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?
The most challenging issue in education today is that we are in the midst of a huge change in education and we don't quite know where we're going or how we're going to get there. 

Day 18
Create a metaphor/simile/analogy that describes your teaching philosophy. For example, a “teacher is a ________…”
Community is life.

Day 19
Name three powerful students can reflect on their learning, then discuss closely the one you use most often.
I'm not sure what this question means?  Perhaps tools that students can use to reflect on their learning?  If so, one of the most powerful tools that I use to help students reflect on their learning is visual journals and the visual thinking routines from Project Zero.
Day 20
How do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?
I use the visual journal!  We collect samples of our work, sketches, notes, etc. in a chronological order.  A fantastic thing to use, one of my favourites.
Day 21
Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.
I have a passion for outreach and the environment.  I spend a lot of time making sure that my students understand the wider world around them and their responsibilities and privileges in making this world a better place - "be the change you wish to see in the world!" (Gandhi) 
Day 22
What does your PLN look like, and what does it to for your teaching?
 I have had several PLNs.  My main PLN is a core group of Twitter educators that I connect with on various topics, edchats, etc., a wider one is the core group of teachers that I encounter at local PD an conferences, and then I also had a small group of grade 4 teachers that got together a few times a year for the past 1.5 years to plan and discuss teaching.  It was great!  We'd say, "I'm doing Light and Shadow and I'm having trouble teaching this concept, anyone have any ideas?" and then share.  I loved it.  I'm sad that it's over, I'm hoping that we can pick it back up again next year.....this year, we're kind of on hiatus as two of our group are teaching Grade 3 this year, two are on maternity leave, and I'm in Montessori Gr4-6, so we've got just one Grade 4 teacher left at this point! 
Day 23
Write about one way that you “meaningfully” involve the community in the learning in your classroom. If you don’t yet do so, discuss one way you could get started.
 I try very hard to meaningfully involve the community in the learning in my classroom through a variety of projects. We ensure that we have parent involvement in some way over the year and often invite parents to share their area of expertise, we invite guest speakers, connect via Twitter, visit local seniors' homes, and try take our learning out into the world as much as possible.  We interact with various levels of community, including school, neighbourhood, city, province, country, and internationally.  It's a great way to learn!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Days 14-16 (a.k.a Whoops!)

Reflective Teaching 30 Day Challenge

So, I haven't blogged since Saturday.  It's time to remedy this!
Day 14
What is feedback for learning, and how well do you give it to students?

Feedback for learning or as we often call it,"assessment for learning," is when we engage with students during the course of their learning and can discuss understandings/problems/questions/concerns, etc.  It's helpful for us as educators to observe and engage in the learning process right along with our students, and helpful for our students to get that feedback during their learning rather than afterwards.  I think I do this quite well, as I really enjoy discussing understandings and comprehension with my kids - they always have questions that I haven't anticipated, which is awesome!

Day 15
Name three strengths you have as an educator.

Three of my strengths as an educator is that I am very organized, I'm good at breaking down concepts and figuring out the puzzles/tricks of understanding, and I value student input and choice.  I really want kids to have a say in their education, and I really want them to learn to think rather than just memorize, so we spend a lot of time learning how to do proper, effective internet searches and how to ask good (non-googleable) questions!

Day 16
If you could have one superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?

This is a great question - telepathy comes to mind so I could understand what kids were thinking or wondering when they don't always put it into words, but that might be too much information at most times!  So, with that in mind (ha ha ha - pun alert), the superpower that could be most useful could be something like germ deflection so I never get sick or perhaps a photographic memory so I could remember everything that kids do or say during a day and whatever needs to be done next!  There are probably lots of other things that would be useful, but I'm tired and not really up to thinking outside of the box at the moment!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 13 - EdTech Tools

Day 13 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Name the top edtech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom, and rank them in terms of their perceived (by you) effectiveness.

I don't use a lot of EdTech tools the classroom, partially because I ensure that the tools that we're using help to aide the goal, and are not tech being used solely for tech's sake.

Here are the ones that we use consistently:

iPad (Keynote, Pages) - We're a 1:1 school, so we have an iPad for each child.  We use these for research, presentations, writing, etc.  We have some apps, but there are few that we use consistently. 

Twitter - We use this to communicate with parents and our school community as well as the greater world.  We have a child tweet each day (in an ideal world) to give a summary of our day.  We also tweet with other classes, authors, other people we're interested in communicating with (Craig Kielburger from Free the Children, etc).

KidBlog - I like to have the kids do some of their written work on KidBlog, particularly opinion pieces or journal writing. I'm trying to fit this into our schedule more often often, as it takes some time for the kids to learn how to use this tool.

Wikispace - We use this primarily for events like Global Read Aloud, to connect with other classrooms.  It's a fun tool!  In conjunction with this, we might use things like Lino It or Animoto.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Day 12 - Next Five Years

Day 12 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

How do you envision your teaching changing over the next five years?

In the next five years, I envision my teaching continuing to change and grow as I gain experience and knowledge, and learn more about different pedagogies and outlooks.  I envision becoming even more comfortable in my role as teacher, and continuing to strive to do my very best!

I also envision continuing my role as a Teacher Leader. This is the second year that I have been a Social Media and Outreach Coordinator at my school, running our school's twitter feed, helping out with the FB page and website, and overseeing our community and outreach involvement (Me to We/Free the Children, food drives, charity bake sales, etc).  This year, I'm on the new Teacher Leadership team, helping the Division II team plan PD and problem solve, plan and introduce programs, etc.  It's going to be lots of fun!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Day 11 - Parts of the School Day

Day 11 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

What is your favorite part of the school day and why?

I have many favorite parts of the school day, but I guess my favorite part would be when I get to read aloud to the kids.  I love to read and I love it when I get to share this with my students.  I'm so looking forward to Global Read Aloud this year!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Day 10 - Randoms!

Day 10 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Share five random facts about yourself.
I have twin brothers.
At 5'6", I'm the shortest person in my family. 
I'm a fast reader - about 600 words per minute.
When I was an Environmental Educator, the job included a monthly radio show on the local university station. 
My husband and I met on a blind date.

Share four things from your bucket list.
Become bilingual in French.
Take a leisurely tour through Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England (visiting Skara Brae, Hadrian's Wall and Stonehenge along the way)
Visit Pompeii.
Get a PhD.
Write a book.

Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.
I hope to have a successful year at school - both with my new class/team partner and with my many projects.
I hope that our school continues to have an amazing sense of community as we grow to a second site.
I hope that my son has a great year in Grade 1!
Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator.
I love my awesome, amazing, crazy, kooky, hilarious students.  I laughed (and cried) when my students collaborated with admin to help surprise me when I was awarded the BP A+ for Energy Award.  I cried when the mother of one of my students was diagnosed with cancer (I'm happy to say that she's doing very well now!).

Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.
I love to teach math.  I love working to help kids understand and love math, and I very seriously considered taking an MEd in Math at the U of C. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Day 9 - Accomplishments

Day 9 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about (or may not care).

One of my biggest accomplishments in teaching is that I became a teacher at all. I originally thought I'd become a teacher when I was finishing up my first degree, but I chickened out and got a Master's degree in History instead.  I thought I'd become a professor one day, but I quickly realized that though I loved teaching and researching, I did not love writing nearly as much.  I spent a few years working as an Environmental Educator, providing in-class workshops to elementary and junior high schools.  It was then that I realized that I really wanted to teach elementary school.  Each time I went into a school, I didn't want to leave. 
So, with the support of my loving husband and with a 16 month old going to daycare for the first time, I went back to school to get my third degree at the age of 29.  My husband is still as supportive as ever, the baby is now 6 years old and in Grade 1, and I get a wave of excitement every time that I get to say to someone, "I'm a teacher."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Day 8 - Teacher Desk Drawers!

Day 8 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

What’s in your desk drawer, and what can you infer from those contents?

I mentioned in an earlier blog post that I no longer have a teacher desk due to a few reasons, primarily that I am now in a Montessori classroom that does not have teacher designated space and that I teach at a school that has replaced standard teacher desks with tables (usually horseshoe or kidney shaped) so that we have an extra place for kids to work.

The last time that I had a desk, two years ago, my desk drawer contents contained a lot of snacks, a water bottle, things like Tylenol, Cold & Sinus medication (I started getting sinus infections when I became a teacher), lip balm, hand lotion, a label maker, post it notes, super size variety package of Sharpies, and an extra pair of shoes. 

What I infer from those contents is that I was (and am) trying my very best to give my best to my kids and my school every day.  That I don't like to take a sick day, and I know that I work long days on my feet, so an extra pair of shoes is a must!  In addition to getting sick sometimes and denying it, I also get super dry skin from the combination of the province I live in, the weather, and our air systems, so I moisturize whenever I can remember - and I try to drink a lot of water.

I'm also super organized and I need my label maker, post it notes, and super size Sharpie pack to keep myself that way!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Day 7 - Inspirational Colleague

Day 7 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?

My most inspirational colleague is Pernille Ripp, a teacher from Wisconsin.  She is a fantastic role model to those of us who want to try something new and exciting, and have some philosophical curiosities about traditional teaching techniques and pedagogies such as reading logs, homework, behaviour charts, etc.

I am also inspired by her creation of the Global Read Aloud.  This is an amazing program that alows kids and teachers to connect on a common novel, across the globe.

There's more, but you should check out her blog yourself!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day 6 - Mentorship

Day 6 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?

In teaching, I've had several amazing mentors, and some who were not quite as amazing.  As I reflect on the aspects of their mentorship that differed, I can come up with certain qualities or tendencies that I appreciated and needed.

1) Listening - each of my amazing mentors has been a fabulous listener, someone I was (or am) comfortable talking to, someone who lets me share my success stories, my funny or touching student stories, provides a sounding board for a lesson or activity idea, or a worry about a student's behaviour or learning needs.

2) Respect - for mentorship to work properly, there must be mutual respect.  I need to respect the person whom I'm learning from, and I need to feel that my opinions, experience, and ideas matter.  Sometimes, this is what can start a mentorship, and sometimes, a mentorship is put into place and the respect needs to grow, but it's still necessary for it to be there.

3) Time - mentorship takes time and I find this works best for me if I have a scheduled meeting with a mentor to ensure that we both have put aside the time to talk.  If not, this can go by the wayside. 

4) Patience - mentorship takes patience, on both sides.  When you're learning, you're going to make mistakes, you're going to ask a bazillion questions, and you're going to need to have patience with your mentor as they take the time to advise you.

The opportunity to talk to and learn from an experienced teacher, particularly one with which I've got a connection, is amazing and something that I value greatly!  A great mentor is a great gift.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Day 5 - The Classroom

Day 5 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see–and what you don’t see that you’d like to. 

(I forgot to take a picture, I'll add it tomorrow)

This is somewhat difficult one for me, for several reasons, but primarily because I've joined a colleague in her classroom this year as the 2nd teacher. 

Inspirational Quotes/artwork - Montessori classrooms don't hang a lot of stuff on the walls, instead, they're mostly bare. "Montessori classroom walls are traditionally bare and visually quiet to focus the children’s attention on the learning materials on the shelves."  (Community Playthings) While I'm not a fan of overdecorating classroom walls and I try to keep things to a minimum because I do agree that it can help children focus, I do miss some of my inspirational quotes and photos, decorations, etc. We ended up removing some of our bulletin boards in the hallway, which actually worked out well as it brightened up the space and we ended up hanging some of these things in the hall. My partner would like to paint a mural with the children.  I have no idea what this will look like but it will be an interesting process, for sure!

Teaching Material Space - Montessori classrooms don't have teacher desks, but I wish I had somewhere to put more of my teaching materials.  Last year, our school got rid of traditional teacher desks in favour of horseshoe/kidney tables instead, which I loved, as I could then work at a table with lots of room to work with kids, but still near a shelf to put my books, etc.  I'm still figuring out where to put my things in this class, as I do not have a table "assigned" to me, but I do have three shelves of a bookcase - which I promptly crammed full of materials and books and now need to organize (see Item #1)!  I'm not sure if a table for myself is what I "wish" I could see or just what I'm still used to.  In lieu of that, I've created a "portable desk" in a bag, which I keep with me as I move around the class.  It holds my laptop, upcoming assignments, teacher planner/emergency contact lists/etc, pens/pencils, stapler/paper clips, etc. so that I can do my work anywhere in the classroom whenever I have a prep period or a spare moment.  I just need to get hanging file folders so that I can best maximize the usage of this bag, too! At this point, I'd like to see more organization among my items, but that will come with some more experience in this space and a better understanding of what I need - we've only had four days of school so far.

Pets - I have two classroom pets (a Betta fish and an African Dwarf frog) from my previous teaching years that I would like to bring into the classroom to add to the shelf with my partner's already resident hermit crab.   I'm not sure if there's space, but we'll see.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Day 4 - Teach Love

Day 4 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge.

Respond: What do you love the most about teaching?

I most love working with the kids! I love helping kids learn and grow, make discoveries, follow their interests and their passions, and develop into the most amazing versions of themselves.   I love seeing that interest and excitement when kids are learning something new or when they have the opportunity to work on their passions (LOVE Genius Hour).  There is a special magic that happens when kids are learning and I feel very lucky to be in a position where I get to observe and be part of this process. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Day 3 - Observation

Day 3 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

This is a great question for me right now, as I've moved grades (straight Grade 4 to Grades 4-6), streams (inquiry to Montessori), and teaching positions (I'm co-teaching this year).  It's a lot of change and although I find change to be exciting and interesting, it's awesome to try something new, and I love to learn......I know myself and I do often have some difficulty as I transition into a new situation.   

So, in light of all of that, one "observation" area that I'd like to improve on for my teacher evaluation is probably my confidence.  When I'm in the midst of a change, I can get a bit anxious and worried about what I'm doing, and I can perseverate on the negative, the things that went "wrong," the things I want to change.  Reflection is a good, important practice, but I need to remember to also reflect on the things that went well, not just the things that went "wrong" (really, a different way than I expected) or the things that I could do better.

So, on that note - I had a great day with the kids today!  I'm starting to understand how things work in this new classroom, and my place in it.  Looking forward to another great day tomorrow :) 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Day 2 - Ed Tech

Day 2 of the Reflective Teaching 30 Day Challenge

Writing Prompt: Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.

 Today was the first day of school for us here in Calgary, and at this point, edtech is on the back burner for a little bit....I've spent some time working on some ideas for this this summer, but I'm not sure which ones we'll end up using.

I've thought about using Edmodo - I signed up for this a few years ago, set up a class once or twice, but never found the time or right situation to use it, but I think I will try to use it this year starting with Global Read Aloud (October and November) for discussions about the book, then see where we go with it after that. 

I found out about Aurasma a few years ago while at a conference called ConnectEd Canada, which is now called Innovate West.  This is a cool virtual reality app that you can use to make interactive posters, bulletin boards, etc. For example, when people use the app to view the poster/board, different linked up spots might spark a song to play, a video to play, etc.  It was fascinating back in 2012, and it's fascinating now.  I want to play around with it more and the small group of Grade 6s I'm teaching this year might be the perfect group to try it out with!  I'm curious to see what they could use it for, and I'm curious to see how they might animate a story, narrate a newspaper article, etc.  Could be super cool!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Reflective Teaching - 30 Day Blogging Challenge

So, just as I'm thinking about how to ensure that I am blogging and reflecting more on my practice as a teacher, I saw this tweet from Erin Klein and TeachThought:

Perfect! I'm so in - and there's a list of great questions on the TeachThought Blog to help inspire reflection and provide framework, which is just what I need.  30 days can help a new habit form, and that's something that I (and many teachers) try to do at the beginning of the school year. 

Here's Blog No. 1 on the first day of September - which makes my little Type A heart dance a little.

Day 1: Write your goals for the school year.  Be as specific or abstract as you'd like to be!

I think my goals for the school year as similar to the goals that most (all teachers) have. 

I want to build deep and meaningful relationships with my students/their families, my teaching team, and my colleagues. 

I want to help my students grow, change, and achieve - at their level, whatever that may be for them. 

I want my students to pursue their passions, to feel engaged, challenged, and excited by their work. 

I want my students to be able to persevere and put their own spin on their learning even during those times when they're not feeling particularly engaged or excited.

I want to my students to know that failure isn't a bad word, and that great things come with patience AND hard work - and that iterate is my new favourite word (thanks to Steph and Dana at Telus Spark and the amazing Spark SHIFTLab).  

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” - Thomas Edison

I want my students to understand the value of a variety of different ways of learning, experimenting and finding the way(s) that work best for them. 

I want my kids to understand that fair doesn't always mean equal. 

I want my kids to have a fabulous year at school.  This is their real world and it's going to be amazing.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

T-1 day until the start of a new school year!

A brand new, sparkling school year is nearly upon us!  I have a new teaching assignment this year, and am excited to start with the kids....instead of teaching Grade 4 (Progressive) at River Valley School, I will be co-teaching in a multi-grade (4, 5, 6) Montessori class with my buddy Jyoti Basarke and our fabulous aide Sharon Turnbull.  Together, we're the UE team!  I'm looking forward to learning a lot of new skills, widening my understanding of teaching, learning, and pedagogy, and most of all - working with a great group of kids :)

The classroom is ready, our materials are ready, my home office is set up and ready to go.  Our team has discussed and planned the first day, and most of the first week, but beyond that, the rest will have to wait until we talk with and work with the kids to see where their interests and needs lie.

It's going to be a great year!

Friday, August 22, 2014

BP A+ For Energy Conference

I just returned from the BP A+ for Energy Conference, which was held in Banff.  It was another fantastic summer learning opportunity, and I'm very grateful that I had the chance to attend!   I was able to attend this conference because two of my coworkers and I applied for this grant back in May, and were successful!  This coming year, we will be working on the past/present/future of the energy industry with the Division II kids at our school, looking at Alberta specifically for Grade 4, and branching out into Canada for Grade 5, and looking at government involvement in Grade 6.  We will be linking this up with a book series, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau, which serves as an analogy of a dystopian future. 

The conference was a great chance to meet other people who were granted awards, many of whom have won more than once, to discuss projects, ideas, and plans.  We also took part in some in-depth discussions about the energy sector in Alberta (specifically oil/gas/coal, wind/solar/hydro/geothermal), ate some absolutely delicious food, and enjoyed the scenery in Banff. 

I had a great time with my coworker, Kat, and met lots of new wonderful people that I hope that I get to connect with again soon! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Spark #SHIFTLab

So, with the usual guilt-and-apologies for the lack of posts for the past four months or so, I'm back.  This year, at the always fabulous ConnectEd Canada conference, which is now called Innovate West, I was fortunate to be able to take part in a session with TELUS Spark Educators to showcase and test drive some activities for their upcoming design thinking/making/tinkering summer intensive session called Spark SHIFTLab.  I had already applied to attend, because it seemed like a really cool workshop, but that session with Steph Nemcsok sold me.

I was, therefore, incredibly delighted to find out that I'd been accepted to attend the July cohort of the summer intensive, particularly when I found out that my new co-teacher and I would be attending together!

It was an absolutely amazing week that I am still fully processing, but I learned about many new things that I am super excited to share with my new class, my coworkers, and my Twitter PLN.  The next cohort is in session in August and then we'll all get together as a big group in November, which will be fantastic.

One thing in particular that has stuck with me is the emphasis on learning from failure.  I am super impressed by how often the staff of Spark will say that they failed at something, and then, this was miraculous, they just learn from it and let it go.  It's amazing to see that actually happen in practice. 

There were a few times that I was stretched to try or do something that I wasn't super knowledgeable or good at (hacking the electrical system of toys, anyone?), and even though I didn't "succeed," I still learned many ways NOT to hack a toy.  I've now concretely connected with that quote about Thomas Edison, which I've always loved.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Macro Structure

I am taking a Coursera course with David Levin of the KIPP schools and our final assignment is to create a Macro Structure project, which is defined as "any structure, system or routine that is designed to teach character."  There are four attributes contained within a macro structure, which are: recurring, proactively planned, active, and aligned with character strengths.

My school has a set of values which are central to our philosophy and each play a part in helping students develop character in various ways.  These include confidence, creativity, global citizenship, independence, peace, leadership, respect, and trust.   Routines to teach character are extremely important in elementary school, as the habits and attitudes developed here have the potential to become lifelong, and character education is a passion and focus of mine. 

A macro structure that I have designed for is reflective journaling based on powerful quotes.  Our classroom is an inclusive environment at an independent school, with 16 students, our classroom aide and myself.  In our model of inclusive education, we do not test for admission to our school, but rather accept a wide variety of students with a variety of exceptionalities, including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's, ADHD, and learning disabilities.  We have three streams at our school, including Montessori, Progressive, and Arrowsmith education.  

Each Tuesday, a member of our classroom (myself, our classroom aide, or a student) chooses a meaningful quote for the class to reflect upon and write about in a journal.  In this journal, the children are asked to answer the following questions:

1) What does this quote mean to you?
2) Why is it important?
3) Write about a related example from your own life
4) How can this quote help you in the future?

We follow this writing time with an in-depth discussion of our thoughts, experiences, and ideas.  We connect it to situations in our classroom, playground, school, and life.  We refer to these quotes later to help us remember those character strengths such as grit and zest that are important for learning and for life.

Some of the quotes that we have chosen over the year have included:
"Comparison is the thief of joy" - Theodore Roosevelt
"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new" - Albert Einstein 

As Carol Dweck says, it is important to focus on opportunities for growth and the importance of the ability to make mistakes in order to learn and develop.