Almond Acres Charter Academy (AACA) 1st graders are learning about how stories teach life lessons by packaging principles through “the lesson of the story.” This Service/Project Based Learning (SBPL) unit covers all academic areas, including reading, writing, art, mathematics, science, and social studies with a focus on the question, “How can stories teach us life lessons?”
“SPBL is enriching because it makes learning real and goes beyond the classroom to the community. Students will take their first step in becoming social entrepreneurs,” says service and project based learning coordinator Jeanne Serge. “Students see they are a valuable part of our community and can be agents of change.”
“If we sell enough stuff we can make enough money that the people [the residents of ECHO] will not be homeless anymore,” says 1st grader, Rylie.
SBPL improves learning because it is engaging, student centered, and teaches 21st century skills. For example, through application of their newly gained knowledge about fables and life lessons, students will create their own list of morals to live by. They will then survey parents, interview store owners, and conduct research about practical popular items to imprint their favorite morals to “live by.”
Through surveyed information, the students created charts to determine what popular items to imprint their list on. They will then make and sell products in a pop-up store to try to make a profit. The first graders will have used math skills to determine the selling price of each product. All profits will be used to buy needed items for the ECHO homeless shelter. The students are now more aware of the needs of homeless in our community because they visited the shelter, and used iPads to create video reflections. “He could help the homeless by bringing toys from home,” one of the first graders, Gunner said, following the visit to ECHO.
via: Paso Robles Daily News
Pardon me for repeating myself, but I would like to share the story of the marshmallow again. It’s a lesson worth remembering.
Back in 1970 Stanford professor, Walter Mischel created an experiment now known as the Marshmallow Test. “Would you like a marshmallow?”, he asked young children. He showed them the marshmallow and then said, “I need to leave you for fifteen minutes and if you wait to eat this marshmallow, I will bring you another.” Few children ate the marshmallow immediately, but only a third were able to stand the test of time and wait out the fifteen minutes. This test of managing impulsivity was followed up fifteen years later to examine the success level of the children who waited. He discovered that in every case, those who waited were healthier, academically more successful, and lived happier lives. For many who couldn’t wait, their lives were fraught with dysfunctional issues. Kids with self control are more capable, creative, and well adjusted than those without.
So where does it come from? Is part of our personality? Maybe a bit, but what researchers have discovered is that children who have impulse control have parents and teachers who help them practice it regularly. Challenging our kids to stop and think about the next right thing to do and forsaking what might be immediately pleasurable or yummy teaches children to think twice and respond from the thoughtful frontal lobe of our brains instead of reacting from the emotional midbrain. It’s brain grit!
So what’s the trick to learning grit? I believe that it is as simple as remembering that saying “no” is really saying “yes” to something more important. When we say it peacefully, patiently, and persistently our children recognize that impulse battles can be fought and won with a bit of grit. The first step is to give value to the impulse–name it to tame it. If it is eating a treat or watching more videos, point to it and say it as if it is something outside of you, not within. Pretending it doesn’t exist or doesn’t matter is simply a lie. Then look carefully and confidently toward that which we are saying “yes” to. It becomes a simple choice of saying yes to the “yes” and no to the “no”. Learning to recognize and name the bigger “yes” is far stronger than caving in to the smaller “no”.
Students who have the capacity to manage impulses and wait are more capable of making better decisions on a math exam or a major life choice. Managing impulsivity is twice as important as intelligence is in measuring student achievement. Self control enables us to think more critically and choose more wisely. For each of us, impulses vary depending on our temperament. Children with a strong red kite are likely to be more physically impulsive versus a strong blue kite that will react to relational events. What’s important to know is impulse control can be learned, managed, and nurtured to improve living and learning. Like every habit, a conscious effort to understand the impulsive behavior and a willingness to improve it can reconstruct neural pathways and direct us toward healthier behaviors.
- Heart – Before eating a meal, wait for everyone to be seated and served.
- Mind – Play a memory game.
- Body – Eat after exercise
- Soul – Repeat phrases that foster courage and grit
“It is easier to suppress the first desire than to satisfy all that follow it.” – Benjamin Franklin
“Grit and bear it, it just might make you smile.” – Mr. B
“He who hurries can not walk with dignity.” – Chinese Proverb
Like every habit, kindness is a choice. It is a choice to be tender, noble, caring, compassionate, and warm-hearted. Adding a bit of kindness to someone’s day is like adding a bit of water to a wilted plant. Within minutes the plant comes alive and regains its perky self. More than anything in my life, being with children enlivens my spirit because they have a knack for random acts of kindness.
There have been countless times that my mind and spirit are wrapped up in the business of administering a school and along comes a student handing me a little note of appreciation or a drawing of a stick figure with a cowboy hat. Immediately, my administrative mind melts into a puddle of humility. The natural instinct for children to be kind is so obvious. Our job is to nurture this nature by congratulating it, expecting it, and explaining to them how powerful it is.
Did you know that an origin of the word kindness is nature? Kindness is natural. It is an act that begets what ought to be in human nature. When we do something kind, our lives grow, smiles blossom, friendships strengthen, and smiles widen. Kindness is a simple behavior with dramatic consequences. A little kindness goes a long way. Having children practice kindness even when it is difficult nurtures healthy and respectful little people.
Here are a few ways to practice kindness:
- Heart – cheerfully greet a new acquaintance.
- Mind – send a card or letter to a friend or family member.
- Body – draw a stick figure doing a random act of kindness.
- Soul – lookup kindness quotes on the internet and hang them on the refrigerator.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Unknown
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Disciplining with Kindness
Correcting our children doesn’t have to be at the cost of kindness. Clear correction and redirection is most effective when we are firm, fair, and friendly. Without any sense of sarcasm, we can discipline our children with a peaceful countenance. Our face usually says a lot more than our words and sending a message without anger and frustration helps our children to know that they are loved despite their mistake. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be hefty consequences, but we don’t have to add a grouch face to go along with them.