by

October 7, 2022

 

“I Am” Scratch Proposal

Dear Natalie Kuhl, 

There was a lot to think about and to consider how to apply in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to focus on how I could use Scratch to teach my students easy block-based visual programming as an educational tool. Using Scratch would allow students to build a community in which they can create their own stories, animations, and games, which would allow them to be engaged while learning the programming language. Students will be able to use Scratch inside and outside of the classroom. When I learned about Scratch I was amazed at how putting a couple of simple blocks together would make my animations come to life. While I was working on different projects through Scratch I learned a lot about myself and realized how beneficial and important it is for students to give this a try. I want students to learn that anyone can do programming, no matter their age and gender. I believe this will help a lot of students overcome their fears and learn new abilities.

Over the summer break, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM where we worked with online programs such as Scratch, Youth Voices, NowComment, and Kumospace at  Lehman College. Through them all, I gained a lot of knowledgeable material, strategies, and skills on how to apply tactics to make student instruction more multimodal.

I would like to propose that we start by teaching the students the basic blocks in Scratch. Then we will give students the opportunity to connect at a higher level by starting a project named “I AM”. This project would allow students to learn the basics of programming while animating a story or poem about themselves so they can later share it with each other. 

To do this we will need a computer lab as this project is computer-based where each student will work on their own project. Due to the age group, students will require the assistance of the teacher in order to guide and complete the project.

When the students complete this activity, they will have made progress on these three standards from the New York State Education Department of Computer Science and Digital Fluency Learning Standards 

  • 2-3.IC.6: Identify and discuss factors that make a computing device or software application easier or more difficult to use. 
  • 2-3.DL.1: Locate and use the main keys on a keyboard to enter text independently.
  • 2-3.DL.2: Communicate and work with others using digital tools to share knowledge and convey ideas. 

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. After the classroom has settled in and all the students are in their seats the teacher will say, “Today we are going to learn how we can use different programming to create live animations and games with simple coding blocks. Each of you will work on a project called, “I Am”. In this project, you will be able to create a live animation talking about yourself in the computer lab. You can talk about your hobbies, your family, your dreams, anything that represents you. The teacher will explain the platform being used, “Scratch is a platform where the community is designed for children to use coding language to create visual digital stories, animations, and games. Scratch is designed to encourage computational thinking and problem-solving skills”. The teacher will go on to explain the different blocks that Scratch has and will give them the basic 10 blocks that the students will need to create their project.

Once in the computer lab, the teacher will show her own example to the class and then will review once more the 10 basic blocks for those who didn’t understand the first time. The teacher will walk around the room observing, answering questions, and assisting those who need help. The teacher will inform them when they have 15 minutes left and will do a count down every other 5 minutes until it’s time for them to exchange seats.

I would also propose at the end that students exchange seats for sharing and giving feedback on each other’s projects. They could use this checklist to self-assess and to give each other feedback:

  • I can see a lot of details that make his or her project stronger.
  • I can see why he or she decided to add this to their project.
  • I can suggest he or she add a bit more details about him or herself.

This activity should take at least an hour to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might have them complete the final touches at home after they have received their feedback to revise and resubmit their work.

When they have finished this activity, It would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used one of these two Habits of Mind.

  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy 
  • Thinking about your thinking 
  • Finding Humor

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work! Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this.


Old Mixed With The New!

Dear Mrs. Jacano:

Over the summer, I participated in a profession learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College. I learned a great deal about online programs that can help students such as Scatch, Youth Voices, NowComment, and Kumospace. 

There was a lot to think about and to consider how to apply in the classroom, and in this letter I’d like to focus on how to incorporate Kumospace into our teaching because I believe it will help us to connect ad help our students with students have more time to practice with us outside of the school. One way I thought this will help will be with practice time. With Kumospace we are able to set up different stations on a floor where the students can move to and us as teacher can teach them in groups. So we would be able to put each instrument in its own section own section and teach each group together. My personal experience was great with this online program. I found it easy to use and navigate and I believe it will be easy and good for the students to be introduced. I believe this will help with their learning.  

I would like to propose that we start to teach the students how to work this program. We will ask them to bring their ipad or laptop ( that they received from school with their headphones) and put them in groups with the instrument they play and we teach them. The first example is we should start them using scales( which is something they already know) to get them use to using the program and seeing us use the program. We can play the scale and have then play it after us.  We are also able to   Broadcast which will allow the students to see us bigger on the screen and hear use clearly.   

The students will learn to operate kumospace and make their meetings that they can use to practice music or talk to friends. When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these two standards which are students learning and building relationships with one another and learning new techniques that can help them become better musicians.  I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and to give each other feedback:

  • Students can log in correctly 
  • Students will be able to navigate to the designated area for their instrument. 
  • Students will be able to take turns playing the scale on broadcast mode. 
  • Students will be able to know how to meet on their own to practice together. 

This activity should take at least 30 minutes  to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might assign students that have the same instrument to go home and log on together to practice. When they have finished this activity, I would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used one of these two Habits of Mind.

  • Taking responsible risk
  • Remaining open to continuous learning

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once the finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this.


Proposal

Dear Colleague: 

I recently participated in a professional learning experience with Lute-Stem about multimodal methods at Lehman College. I learned a lot about ways to incorporate strategies for students’ instruction to be more multimodal. During the summer, I learned about the Scratch program, multimodal literacy, the habits of mind, and the review of a child. 

There was a lot to consider when it came to applying what I learned in the classroom. In this letter, I’d like to focus on multimodal strategies because I believe this is an excellent method to integrate into our instruction. A multimodal approach means a lesson is introduced in multiple ways; it can be performed using visuals, movement, auditory, reading, and writing to meet students’ learning goals. Thus, ensuring that the students are provided with different approaches subject to their learning abilities.  

I would like to propose that we create an activity that incorporates that aspect into the instruction. I would like to implement an activity called “All About Me.” This activity is designed for preschoolers. The students will be given different options to choose from. For example, they can draw a picture, create a poster or record a video of the things they want us to know about themselves. I believe this activity is perfect when including multimodal strategies. Also, since it is the beginning of the school year, it will serve as an introduction to the class and their classmates. This will help to get to know the students and make connections within themselves. Given the age group, the project requires teacher involvement and assistance to complete the activity, which will take about two days. 

To do this, we will need paper, crayons, markers, scissors, magazines, posters, colored pencils, tablets, and google slides.   

The students will have the option to make either a picture, a poster, or a video to present the things they should know about themselves. The final product will be presented on a google slide to the class. 

When the students complete this activity, they will have made progress on these three standards from New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards: 

  • PK.SEL.2. Recognizes self as an individual having unique abilities, characteristics, feelings, and interests 
  • PK.SEL.4. Develops positive relationships with their peers
  • PK.ELAL.14. [PKW.2] Uses a combination of drawing, dictating, oral expression, and/or emergent writing to name a familiar topic and supply information in child-centered, authentic, play-based learning

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students:

During the morning meeting, the class will gather on the carpet. The teacher will talk about the new faces in the classroom. She will explain that new friends joined the classroom as the new year began. She will then say that an excellent way to get to know each other is by introducing ourselves and the things we like. She will introduce herself as a way to model it for the students. She then will explain what the activity will be about. She would ask the students questions such as “What is your name?” “What is one thing you like to do?” What is your favorite color? “What is your favorite food?” 

The teacher will show examples of “All About Me” projects for the students to understand what is being asked. The teacher will work with small groups to assist them when needed. She will work with groups of 4. Before the activity, she will ask the student what of the three choices they would like to pick from. After, she will ask them the questions presented before for them to have an idea. They will be provided with the materials, and the teacher will provide guidance when needed.

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and provide each other feedback:

· I can create a picture, poster, or video of the things I like to do

· I can say one thing I like about my classmate’s work

· I can present my creation to my friend

· I can talk about my creation 

This activity should take at least 10-15 minutes to complete, allowing time for productive struggle. (Given the attention span of this age group, this activity could take more time than mentioned above). The teacher will encourage the students to ask questions about the project to promote persistence. This will provide opportunities to check if they answered all the questions about themselves and to revise and add what they are missing to their project.

When they have finished this activity, we can ask the students to talk about how they used one of these three Habits of Mind. Since the students are so young, I will ask them questions about their habits of mind to understand the concepts. Some questions will be: “Did you listen to your classmate?” “Did you wait for your turn?” “Did you create a project? “What was one thing you liked about your classmate’s work?” “What did you learn from your classmate?” Following those questions, the teacher will explain that by answering those questions, they are exercising the habits of mind.  

· Listening with understanding

· Managing Impulsivity

· Creating imagining and innovating

The Habits of Mind will also be used to give the students oral feedback while they are working and after finishing their work. 

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity.

I look forward to working with you on this.


Passing my pride on to my daughters and my students

My name is Stephanie Melo and I was born in Brooklyn NY. At the age of 10, my parents decided to move to the Dominican Republic, where I stayed until I finished high school. I was raised in a small town in the south of the country. Where I had the opportunity to study in a private school, since public education was a bit challenging.

Before, I used to reproach my parents for taking me there. but today I thank them because I don’t change the woman I am today for anything. Despite being self-conscious about my accent when I speak English. I feel very proud to be Dominican.

Every day I try to instill in my daughters the importance of being bilingual and loving their descent. As a future teacher I will work so that no student feels less appreciated because of where they are from.


Youth and Impulsivity

Dear Colleague,

This summer, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College I learned a lot about different frameworks of learning which promote computational thinking, The habits of mind, descriptive review of a child, and multimodal teaching concepts.

There was a lot to think about and to consider how to apply in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to focus on how to create a new format which includes a multimodal approach while developing a sense of what the habits of mind offers and how it’s importance in child development because I personally didn’t know that controlling abrupt responses, and impulsive behavior, as well as learning how to think before reacting are skills needed as children grow.

I would like to propose that we create a unit using the habits of mind that students may feel in need to reinforce. I think we can make a group discussion where we share our weakness and strengths. This unit should start with a preview about the habits of mind and how important it is to learn how to manage our impulses. The teacher can provide visuals, videos and even find an expert who’s willing to meet with the class via zoom to discuss the topic.

To do this we will need newspaper, magazines, pictures, and recyclable items. Also glue, poster board, markers etc. to make a collage. Students will create a collage with pictures and item that can easily trigger their emotions on a negative way. They will be presenting their project in class and explaining the skills they feel they need to work on in order to control their impulses.

The students will be making a collage that can best represent the habits of mind they need to reinforce. They will individually be creating an art piece that can best explain their reaction when predispose to situations that they are not yet ready to face.

When the students complete this activity, they will have made progress on these two standards from the New York State Social Studies Framework, and the New York State Standard for the Arts.

  • A. Gathering, Interpreting, and Using Evidence

3. analyze evidence in terms of content, authorship, point of view, bias, purpose, format, and audience.

5. make inferences and draw conclusions from evidence.

  • A: Cr3.1.7 

a. Reflect on and explain important information about personal artwork, in an artist statement or in another forma 

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students: the teacher will ask then to write a short paragraph about the situations they feel they are not yet ready to confront. What situations make you feel vulnerable and for which you may not always have the answers. Students will have 15 mins to do this activity individually and later will be assigned to a classmate to exchange thoughts. I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and to give each other feedback:

  • I can respond to familiar topics. 
  • I can respond positively if the other person knows how to approach. 
  • I can think before reacting if the situation is favorable. 

This activity should take at least 25 mins to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might share our letter to see if anyone else can relate to others triggers. If it’s the case, how can we work on controlling our impulses? Students will exchange ideas and suggestions about how they manage their emotions.

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used one of these three Habits of Mind.

  • Managing Impulsivity
  • Listening with Understanding and Empathy
  • Thinking about your thinking.

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once the finish their work.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this


If you wish to know what justice is, let injustice pursue you.

Dear Colleague:

Recently, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE Stem at Lehman College. I learned a lot about Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind, Pat Carini’s Descriptive Review of a Child protocol, and multimodal composition.

I had some time to think about how to apply these new ideas in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to explain my enthusiasm for supporting learners as they work to understand themselves better. I believe that an effective way guide students towards self-discover it to build awareness around the Habits of Mind. Costa and Kallick, the authors of the Habits of Mind Framework state,” Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent.” The introduction of these habits to our learners will benefit them greatly while they work through academic, social, and emotional challenges. One realization that I had while diving into the depth of the Habits of Mind Framework was that I had many moments in my life that I could link to a specific habit. Frequent reflection during and after activities offered me opportunities to pause and identify the habit that I used to work through a task. I think that this metacognitive work is essential for all people, and I am eager to introduce it to the learners in our classroom.

I would like to propose that we develop a mini unit on stories when problems were solved or learned a new skill. Applying past knowledge to new situations is one vital Habits of Mind and I feel like it is a fundamental backbone to building upon prior knowledge from our multicultural students. Transferring knowledge according to new material conditions resonate with this Habit of Mind because student need help how to think dialectically to understand a world in constant motion. Our learning objective would be that students would craft a multi-modal story about a time when new insights of knowledge was discovered, emphasizing the stages of that process of struggle.

To do this we will need a brainstorming map, laptops/chromebooks/ipads, and access to Youthvoices.live, and Youtube.

The students will create a video that tells a story about a time when they applied past knowledge to new situations. They will collect ideas on the paper brainstorming map. Then, they will create discussion posts reflecting on their work and publish it. Using Youthvoices students, can include music to connect with emotions, a gif or image that deepens the meaning or message of the story, and/or text that highlights and emphasizes certain phrases and words from their story or other language modalities. This multimedia story will appear on a student’s Youthvoices wall for our our group of learners. After each student posts an idea, they can listen to one another’s stories, view each other’s post and leave written or recorded feedback.

When the students complete this activity, they will have made progress on these four standards from the New York State Social Studies Middle School Standards:

STANDARD I: HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES AND NEW YORK Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major ideas, eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York.

STANDARD 3: GEOGRAPHY Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the geography of the interdependent world in which we live—local, national, and global—including the distribution of people, places, and environments over the Earth’s surface.

STANDARD 4 – ECONOMICS Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of how the United States and other societies develop economic systems and associated institutions to allocate scarce resources, how major decision-making units function in the United States and other national economies, and how an economy solves the scarcity problem through market and non-market mechanisms.

STANDARD 5 – CIVICS, CITIZENSHIP, AND GOVERNMENT Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments, the governmental system of the United States and other nations, the United States Constitution, the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy, and the roles, rights, and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

We can start by showing them this video:

  • Animation studios when they start a new anime – Animated video – YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V693Djjw_hA
  • Then we can introduce the Habit of Mind “Applying past knowledge to new situations” and define it. We can ask students to identify how the video demonstrates this.
  • After that, we can introduce this prompt with the brainstorming map: Think of times when you endured productive struggle in the process of discovering new insights of knowledge related to something you care about in the world.
  • Consider changes in your life and the social circumstances of the world, the opposing forces in them, and moments of development in your consciousness (thinking).   
  • After students have a few minutes to brainstorm, they will create a discussion post on Youth voices and select a YouTube video.
  • We will demonstrate and model how to tell a story. We will also think aloud and show them how to make decisions on how and when to add other multimedia features to the video.
  • We would confer with students while they work and provide personalized feedback that is responsive to their immediate needs.

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback using YouthVoices. They could use this protocol to provide meaningful and relevant feedback:

  • Leave your partner a star by telling them something that they did really well.
  • Leave your partner a wish by telling them something that you wish they would continue to do more of or try next time.

This activity should take at least 45 minutes to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage students, I think we might set up practices where students support one another with technical components such as an expert board.

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how or if they encountered the Habit of Mind of Applying past knowledge to new situations to create their document and video on YouthVoices and YouTube.

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this. Who knows – if it works well – maybe we can do this for all of the habits!

Your Partner in Education,

Rafael Peña


Day and Night I Always Dream With Open Eyes

Jose is a 13 year old bilingual student from the Dominican Republic who is literate in both Spanish and English, and who has a dark skin complexion living in the neighborhood where the school is located. He along with his peers receive instructions in a ICT dual language classroom. This still doesn’t stop Jose from arriving late to school.

Although the school has a uniform policy, Jose still at times decides to break with the policy and wear his own clothes. His presence is felt when he’s in class and when he’s absent. That is because Jose participates regularly in the classroom, excels in math, generates critical questions during socials studies, is charismatic with his peers and staff.

But Jose is also clever and exploits his charm to request bathroom breaks where he would wander the halls, at times escorted back by his peers who the school counselor. When that behavior of his is checked, Jose would get frustrated temporary or humor the situation, regardless he returned to do his work.

During Social studies, relevancy is important for Jose because once established, Jose is able to be meticulous with his process of investigation.

He also interested in baseball and talks a lot about joining a team, feeling confident he will make the team and play shortstop. His teachers aware of this, encourage Jose to remain focus and not allow his friendships with the wrong people interfere with his academic performance.   


“Become Who You Are”

Born to 1st generation Dominican and Salvadoran parents and forever inspired by their perseverance to work and family, I uphold the legacy of resistance associated with the ancestors of my parents. I am a product of the Bronx public education system k-12 and the CUNY system; having graduated from Hostos Community College and Lehman College. In relation to the grassroots movement and necessity to learn the history of Puerto Rico and Latin American countries, to prevent it from being whitewashed in the classroom, I decided to acquire my bachelor’s in arts in Latino/Puerto Rican Studies. I am grateful to have learned the history of CUNY students organizing for open admissions, transforming CUNYs bilingual education and multi-literacy programs. These multicultural transformations are central to CUNYs history and the importance in relation to working class enclaves of migrant ethnic minority communities in NYC. The content of each course undertaken and understanding the value of Ethnic Studies for working class communities, persuaded me to become a global history/socials studies educator. These experiences here resonate with the habit of mind: Remaining open to continues learning because I learned to appreciate learning alongside others which is effective at avoiding complacency in my thinking.

At the age of 13 is when I began to become engaged in politics by participating in grassroots organizing work. An interest that began with my cousin inviting me to attend a meeting that was serving free pizza. Since middle school I participated in community and city school-wide campaigns, working towards improving the socio-economic conditions for low-income working-class residents of the Bronx. Overtime the exposure of organizing along with the global politics of the time, ever so determining my material conditions, contributed to my political consciousness, furthering my understanding of the fundamental contradictions of capitalism. These experiences I believe resonate with the habit of mind: Listening with understanding and empathy because it is their stories and methods in organizing for self-determination, that taught me to humble their immiseration under U.S. capitalism.

“Theory without practice is pedantic, just as practice without theory leads to foolhardy endeavors”. That is why I believe to confront the needs of today according to the appropriate social conditions, it is imperative to undertake the anti-capitalist perspective in the classroom. Meritocracy and individualized careerist aspirations are an injustice to NYC working-class public-school students. Bridging theory and practice into methods of action in the hands of the masses, like NYC public school students, demands an emphasis on a structural historical analysis examining the relations of domination and the dialectical relationships between race, class, and gender. Such practice encourages students so understand the problem of racism, capitalism, and settler colonialism in the U.S..

In relation to their methods of organizing and struggle for dignity and the right to self-determination, the interest of the hegemonic bourgeois state power in the U.S. will be an opposing force every step of the way. The recent proposal by the mayor Eric Adams to cut the Education budget by $469 million cannot be more convincing. Black, Latino, and other oppressed ethnic minority students need to possess the ability to talk about the concrete material conditions of intersectional inequalities in the U.S. social order: race, class, gender, and national oppression; in ways that are useful and liberatory. These experiences of transferring knowledge according to new material conditions resonate with the habit of mind: Applying past knowledge to new situations. I say this because I still view myself as student to the world and recognize the necessity of thinking dialectically to understand a world in constant motion and social upheaval.


Youth Voices Turns Twenty: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

What has changed in the two decades since we launched Youth Voices might be described as a digital transformation of tools into platforms. In a recent book, two researchers point to this kind of change as one to welcome in order to embrace The Digital Mindset we need to thrive today. “The rapid scaling of computational power means that digital technologies have migrated from tools that people use to platforms upon which they interact,” (p. 34) Leonardi and Neeley write, and Youth Voices might be cited as an example of this shift that they are identifying.

Our challenge is to understand how what we ask our students to do on a platform could include a greater range of discourse than what we normally invite with a tool—such as a blogging… or a podcasting… or a video dialoguing… or a content management… or any other such digital tool. Platforms contain many tools and are constantly adding (or finding ways to embed) new ones. The significant difference is that platforms put tools into the context of interdependent thinking, connected learning, and collaborative problem-solving.

Youth Voices is an example of a digital platform that has migrated beyond that of what teachers sometimes see as another tool vying for time in an already packed curriculum: Should we have them create an audio post with a gallery on Youth Voices? Or create VoiceThreads?

Instead of just asking what tools to provide based on the affordances of those tools (and, yes, we still need to ask these questions), we can now also ask how a platform can give students the ability to interact with each other across time and space using these tools. Teachers could start asking: Who will my students be working with and alongside online with this or that tool? What platforms will allow my students to learn from the visibility of each others’ creative and communication processes when using digital tools at all levels of ideation, drafting, revision, collaboration, production, publishing, and discussion?

Broadcast platforms change the game.

These are exciting times, and this expanded mindset that takes advantage of the power of “broadcast platforms” like Youth Voices could also change what we invite students do—and who to do it with—online and in the classroom. According to Paul Leonardi, one of the researchers cited above, “Broadcast platforms change the game by making tasks and projects visible beyond one’s regular collaborators.” (Leonardi, 2021). When youth are invited to check in, journal, reflect on their learning, draft, provide feedback, revise, produce, publish, collaborate, and engage in dialogue on a daily basis and all on Youth Voices, then they can be seen playing—expressing themselves, crafting, and composing for audiences—across the entire digital discourse or “symbolic scale.”

Oh, the places you’ll see your students go on platforms like Youth Voices. Imagine what earlier generations of educators would have thought of our ability to capture and see so much of our students’ composing and learning processes—and for them to see each others.

In Coming on Center (1981), James Moffett calls for students to be given “an emotional mandate to play the whole symbolic scale, to find suspects and shape them, to invent ways to act upon others, and to discover their own voice.” Youth Voices, which started as a tool for students to publish blog posts and podcasts in 2003, has evolved into a platform where we can entertain Moffett’s vision for “teaching the universe of discourse” (1968). Youth on our platform can now capture and make visible their digital play across the whole symbolic scale, and it’s up to us to give them the time, inspiration, support, direction, and invitation to create anything they can imagine on the Youth Voices platform.

Since we are all about conversations, we are primed to reap the benefits of a broadcast platform.

Before, beside, between, and beyond blogging, here’s a list of a dozen ways the voices of youth are heard on Youth Voices:

  1. quick status updates, each of which can include a photo, slideshow,  quote, GIF, file, video, audio, or link
  2. multiple ways of responding to images, videos, and text in social annotations on NowComment (which collect through RSS feeds to students’ walls on Youth Voices)
  3. private and gradually more public entries in a writer’s notebook (where revisions collect in an accessible history)
  4. carefully composed comments and replies in threaded discussions with peers who often have common interests
  5. use of guides that template and clarify rhetorical moves they might use in commenting and replying to each other’s work, in responding to literature, art, poetry, and non-fiction, and in writing about research inquiries
  6. both short and long-form blogging and media projects over time about issues that matter to the writers and producers and their communities
  7. multimodal blog posts using WordPress blocks that include a careful crafting of images, galleries videos, texts, audio, and links that call readers to action
  8. published poetry, short stories, plays, open letters, shadow boxes, slide shows, podcasts, infographics, and any genre that can be imagined
  9. multimodal publications on the site: literary magazines and zines in digital flip books and Google Stories that include limitless animation and media
  10. digital awards and portfolios that connect the work to Habits of Mind  through reflection
  11. use of playlists of activities that detail what we are inviting youth to create on the site and metadata (categories, tags) and side bars that connect students posts with each other and with the assignments that invited the work.
  12. a wall for each student where a stream of his/her/their activity on both Youth Voices and NowComment collects and is organized with tabs and bookmarks

This list might be understood by referencing the folktale of “The Blind Men and the Elephant.” If the Youth Voices platform is the elephant in the story, those of us whose students use the site tend to be like the blind men, inviting our students to use specific tools on the site often without appreciating (or giving students enough time to use) the whole communication network that the platform provides. And this matters because when students can be seen by each other emoting, speculating, drafting, creating, responding, commenting, replying, questioning, collaborating, interacting, joking, producing, publishing… all collected on the same platform (and in ways that are easy to access and bookmark) new levels of cross-school team-building, interdependent thinking, and collaboration open up for youth.

Most who use Youth Voices would probably be surprised by the extent of the list, above, of a dozen discourse opportunities. We tend to stay in familiar channels on Youth Voices, inviting students: to write daily journal entries in YV Docs (3), or to post once-a-week blogs about a current events article (6), or to occasionally publish poems and short stories from creative writing units (8), or to annotate short stories, plays, and novels on NowComment  (2), or to write literature responses as part of an independent reading program (5), or to do research projects, publishing weekly updates on important questions (6), or to comment on favorite posts by students outside of your school every Friday (4), or to create digital portfolios using Google Stories (10), or to…

Perhaps the point is clear. We each involve our students in our own ways on the site, using the tools we are familiar with. And there is everything right about this. Youth Voices has always had—and will continue to have—powerful, easy to use tools for digital publishing and conversation.

It can also be more. By giving students more time and asking them to give more attention to the digital collaboration tools on Youth Voices—the activity streams on their own and each other’s walls, notifications, threads of comments and replies on discussion posts—the site can become a connected learning platform similar to the business platforms that Leonardi describes: “platforms upon which employees use various tools to interact, watch others interact, and gain a deeper understanding of where knowledge lies.”

Youth Voices has grown into a platform similar to the ones in Leonardi’s research. We also have tools [that] “are designed to help people work together and learn from one another by creating threads of conversation and places to exchange information.” And his “research shows that those platforms’ primary benefit for collaboration goes beyond knowledge sharing: They provide a window into who knows and does what in the organization, and into how people make decisions and do their work.”

What if teachers, along with their students, began to see the current users on Youth Voices as geographically dispersed colleagues in one large organization that is seeking to reap the benefits of the collaborative tools of a “broadcast platform”? Because we have always prioritized conversation at Youth Voices—in the form of comments and replies under blog posts—teachers and students who use the site are well primed to migrate along with the technology to the digital mindset that welcomes the shift of tools to platforms.

Youth Voices could be the “attentive host” that youth need to learn collaboratively online.

Kenneth A. Bruffee’s College English article that I read when it was published in 1984, my first year as teacher, “Collaborative Learning and the  ‘Conversation of Mankind’,” has always served as a touchstone and a theory of action for Youth Voices, and perhaps in this era of broadcast platforms, it still can. In fact, I think Bruffee would appreciate the power of the collaborative tools that students can access on a platform like Youth Voices, and he would remind us to pay attention to the “community life that generates and maintains conversation” (1984).

Bruffee’s words can remind us why we ask our students to engage in conversations with their peers from around the country on Youth Voices. We want them to keep strengthening the habit of interdependent thinking, to use the language from the Habits of Mind (Costa, Kallick, and Zmuda). This quote by Kenneth A. Bruffee has been on a card or a post-it within eyeshot my entire career as an educator:

To think well as individuals we must learn to think well collectively–that is, we must learn to converse well. The first steps to learning to think better, therefore, are learning to converse better and learning to establish and maintain the sorts of social context, the sorts of community life, that foster the sorts of conversation members of the community value.

It’s easier to say why conversations are important for learning than it is to actually support students to engage in meaningful dialogue with one another. It takes time and intentional practice in our classrooms, and it’s even more difficult to inspire online conversations between youth who don’t know each other. Conversations, including the ones we ask students to have about each other’s  blog posts on Youth Voices, are easier to have and become more meaningful when the youth know some things about each other—both academic and non-school related interests and topics. Leonardi, again in a business context, found that “when employees had discussions about food, sports teams, movies, and fitness, they became more likely to ask one another work-related questions too.”

What has changed on Youth Voices in the past two decades—the digital transformation of a tool to a platform—is that we are now a site where students can learn to think better by conversing about their first thoughts, emotions, ideas, plans, revision strategies, disappointments, joys, confusion, disagreements, production problems, questions, anxieties, pride, pleasure, pain… and so much more with each other. Unfortunately there’s a gap between what’s possible on the site and how it is mainly used. Most students on Youth Voices still see only the products of each others’ work—discussion posts, comments and replies—“but not all the thinking and decision-making that went into producing those outputs. At best,” Leonardi writes about similar problems in companies, “we end up guessing at what was done (if we give it that much thought). At worst, we fail to see the richness of insight and expertise that our colleagues have and that could be available to us if we only knew to reach out.”

Youth Voices has the collaborative tools students need to see and learn about each other, follow a network of friends, and build a social context and community life, like Bruffee describes, that fosters the conversations they value. Students have profiles with walls where an activity stream collects everything they do on the site and on NowComment. And each item in the stream (e.g. Paul annotated a document on NowComment or Paul and Marina are now friends.) can be clicked to go to the original work. Students can comment on each item on their own walls or on others’ walls. Messages can be left or a Habit of Mind can be awarded. Tabs and a filter make it easy to survey all the different types of posts or comments each student has created. And bookmarks allow students to highlight specific items on their walls.

These tools are the newest ones on Youth Voices and the least utilized. If we want students to use Youth Voices for meaningful conversations, collaborative learning, and the building of a knowledge community, then we need to carefully, creatively, in stages, and persistently invite students to engage with each other using as many of the collaborative tools on Youth Voices as possible. For the site to reach its potential as a broadcast platform that engenders collaborative knowledge building, teamwork across different locations, and a sense of being a community of scholars together, students need to have a daily presence on the platform—anything from the list, above, of a dozen discourse options—and they will need time to stay up to speed with the activity streams on one another’s walls  from day to day.

Without this dayliness, it’s difficult to imagine how students will be able to develop an accurate sense of what their peers on Youth Voices bring to the table, to get potential collaborators to say yes to requests, and to establish common ground (Leonardi, 2021). It will probably take some time for students to put up enough information and content on the site to become known by each other. We will have to be patient and encourage students any time we see an opportunity for them to engage in both low-stakes, informal conversations—such as leaving messages on one another’s walls, replies to annotations on NowComment, liking posts or comments—and more formal conversations, such as carefully composed comments and replies on discussion posts.

We know that building community in our classrooms comes through personal disclosure and mutual sharing by youth—in safe spaces, over time, and in structured activities that are designed for getting to know and trust each other. Similarly, on a platform like Youth Voices, students will more readily reach out and collaborate with peers outside of their schools if they are given opportunities to use the collaborative tools “to share and learn non-work-related information” and “turn distant colleagues into sporadic collaborators.” Paul Leonardi uses a metaphor of strangers meeting at a party to suggest why we need these tools:

Starting new relationships is hard. Think about going to a party: It’s much harder to strike up a meaningful conversation with someone if you know nothing about them; it’s much easier if the host tells you that the two of you are both soccer fans and love the same team. Broadcast platforms serve the function of the attentive host in the digital workplace.

Our students can’t wait to meet the youth in your classes!

I turn now to a call to action. We want you and your students to join us on Youth Voices, and we would welcome you and your students at any level of participation. The prologue to this invitation sets out an ideal that I stand by. The closer you can get to a daily use of the site and the more collaborative tools you can invite your students to use on Youth Voices, the greater will be the benefits for all that come from a robust use of a broadcast platform. However, computers may not be available to your students as often as you wish, your curriculum or your use of other tools may not have much space left, and perhaps you are happy with using just one or two of the options available on Youth Voices. We want to welcome you and your students into our community even if you can’t—or you don’t feel ready—to jump in with both feet.

The logistics for enrolling your students are pretty straightforward. All we need is a list of your students’ first names and their email addresses, just two columns on this data sheet. I will fill in the rest, and get everything set up on Youth Voices and on NowComment for your students. Whether you are new to Youth Voices or an old friend, please use this process of bulk uploading from a data sheet to get your students on the site this semester.

Once we have set up accounts for your students, giving them access to everything Youth Voices and NowComment has to offer, you are (of course) welcome to use these sites in any way you wish. We hope you will add your project ideas, guides, and assessment strategies to the mix next to your students’ delightful, surprising, and moving posts!

We do have a few recommendations for how to get started. Over the last few years, as we have been adding the tools of a more full-fledged platform, we have captured the first set of moves that many of us ask students to do into two “playlists.” A playlist is a select group of activities, written as invitations to students, asking them read, write, and create things on Youth Voices and NowComment. A playlist also includes examples and both written and video-taped step-by-step how-to’s.

In the case of the two playlists we are recommending here, they are intended to give students introductory experiences with the main discourse modes, collaborative tools, and social practices at their disposal on Youth Voices and NowComment. In addition, these playlists have invitations for youth to introduce themselves to the Youth Voices community by uploading profile pictures, adding initial updates on their walls, journaling with YV docs, commenting on posts of interest, and composing, revising, recording and publishing a multimodal bio that includes audio, image, and text.

When they have finished Profile Setup and Making Your Mark, your students will be familiar with what they can do and make on Youth Voices and NowComment, and they will have begun to provide information about themselves that leads to conversations and collaborative learning with other youth on the site.

We can’t wait to introduce your students to ours. Let’s see all the places they will go together!

Please leave comments below or on the NowComment version of this article.

Citations

Bruffee, Kenneth A. “Collaborative Learning and the ‘Conversation of Mankind’.” College English, Vol. 46, No. 7 (Nov., 1984), pp. 635-652 (18 pages) Published By: National Council of Teachers of English https://doi.org/10.2307/376924, https://www.jstor.org/stable/376924.

Costa, Arthur L., Bena Kallick, Allison Zmuda. “What Are Habits of Mind?” The Institute for Habits of Mind, 7 Apr. 2022, https://www.habitsofmindinstitute.org/what-are-habits-of-mind/.

Geisel, Theodor Seuss. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Random House, 1990.

Leonardi, Paul. “Picking the Right Approach to Digital Collaboration.” MIT Sloan Management Review, vol. 62, no. 3, 2021, Reprint #62302.

Leonardi, Paul M., and Tsedal Neeley. The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and Ai. Harvard Business Review Press, 2022.

Moffett, James. Coming on Center: English Education in Evolution. Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1981.

Moffett, James. Teaching the Universe of Discourse. Boynton/Cook Publishers, 1968.


Proposal Letter Implementing Habits of Mind

Dear Colleague,

Recently, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College. I learned a great deal about the Sixteen habits of mind, how to write a child description that include physical, social, academic, and emotional, and how to use multimodal teaching concepts that include teaching through the using of visual, text, auditory, reading, writing, and kinesthetic methods. There was a lot of information to think about and to consider to apply in the classroom to create a new generation of learners, and in this letter I’d like you to think about focusing on providing students with an activity aimed to develop how to use the persisting habit of mind in conjunction with multimodal concepts to create a digital story using Scratch. Each activity or program will include the use of visual, text, auditory, reading, writing, and kinesthetic. By engaging in these tasks, students will learn how to face challenges they face even with problems where the answers are easy to find in addition to other habits of mind (HOM). This framework focuses on teaching students to persevere in a task through to completion( persisting), devote mental energy to another person’s thoughts and ideas(listening with understanding and empathy), to be able to change perspectives, generate alternatives (think flexibly), to consider options. how to be able to work in groups and learn from others in reciprocal situations(thinking interdependently), to have a questioning attitude; knowing what data is needed & developing questioning strategies to produce those data(questioning and posing problems).

At first, I found that learning about the habits of mind and multimodal concepts was complicated, but after reading deeply, I found out that students can benefit as well as teachers in learning how to use them when confronted with difficult situations. In this proposal, I know students will create their own story using visual, auditory (voice) text, etc., and will learn how to be persistent in obtaining accuracy by using different strategies present in Habits Of Mind.

Using multimodal concepts is a great way to offer the demand of the diverse learning style in our student population. This is an effective method because one piece of work can be read, listened to, or visualized by a person or students who has deficiency in reading text, and using the habits of mind they will approach any situation using the proper skill or strategy.
I would like to propose that the students use the coding program Scratch in which students use coding blocks to create stories where text, audio, images, and sound are included. To do this we will need to create accounts Mindmeister, StoryboardThat, and in Scratch by going to Login to Scratch. Each student will need a tablet or computer with a microphone. Watch this tutorial for more information Getting Start with Scratch

The students will be using three different online learning environments for developing a foot print, a storyboard and creating their own stories. They will use their favorite characters, settings, voice, special effects and/or musical sound or video. They will be able to share their work using the email option or sending it to a cell phone as text. When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on creating digital literacy artifacts, learning the basic vocabulary used in computer science, as required in the New York State Computer Science, Digital Citizenship Curriculum Standards, and the Alignment and Digital Fluency Learning Standards GRADES K-12.

Digital Citizenship: Integration of knowledge and ideas
RI.3.8 – Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).
RL.3.7 – Make connections between the text of a story or drama and a visual or oral presentation of the text, identifying where each version reflects specific descriptions and directions in the text

Digital Citizenship – Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
A.L.1.6 – Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when encountering an unknown term important to comprehension or expression.

Computer Science: Algorithm Programming
K-1.CT.8 – Identify a task consisting of steps that are repeated, and recognize which steps are repeated.
K-1.CT.9 – Identify and fix (debug) errors within a simple algorithm.
K-1.CT.10 – Collaboratively create a plan that outlines the steps needed to complete a task.
Digital Use
K-1.DL.4 Use at least one digital tool to create a digital artifact.
Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the

Objectives
Define their own digital footprint
Brainstorm ideas for a storyline about digital footprint
Create a storyboard that covers the major events in their music video “story.”
Program a short animation of their digital footprint music video in SCRATCH

Retrieving Prior Knowledge
Teacher says: “We have been talking about digital footprint and programming recently. Today I would like to show you a music video I created that describes my own digital footprint.”
Teacher will show the class her music video about her digital footprint. (SCRATCH is used for upper grades, SCRATCH JR. can be used for younger students who are less experienced with SCRATCH.) This lesson flow should follow a lesson on basic programming techniques.

Student Instruction
Students will watch videos to get an idea of what they can create with their digital footprint story and SCRATCH/SCRATCH JR.

Brainstorming
Teacher says, “Before beginning to write out your story, we must first think about all of the possibilities. If you currently have a digital footprint, what is it made up of? If you do not have a digital footprint yet, what do you want it to be like? “

Guided Instructions
Teacher says, “Turn and talk to a partner about what your digital footprint is or how you would like to build your digital footprint. When people see your name on the internet, what do you want it to be connected to?”
*Note: Younger students will most likely have little to no digital footprint, so encourage them to focus on building a positive footprint.
Teacher says, “Now we will be using a mind map to think about what we can include in our story about our own digital footprint.”

Student Instructions – Digital Footprint
Students will open a mind map on mindmeister. They will need to create an account to save and print their mind maps. In the center they will put “My Digital Footprint” and they will add bubbles about their current digital footprint or what they want their future digital footprint to be. (https://www.mindmeister.com/mm/signup/basic)
Students can work in groups to help generate ideas to add to their mind maps.

StoryBoard
Teacher says: “Now that we have all of these wonderful ideas, we need to find a way to organize them. Today we will be using a program called “Storyboard That” to put our ideas into a storyboard. A story board will define the beginning, middle, and end of our music videos. Your goal is to make at least three frames, one to show what will happen in the beginning of your video, one for the middle of your video, and the final one for the end. Remember that you will use this story board to build your music video in
SCRATCH.”

Student Instructions- StoryBoard
Students will open a storyboard (https://www.storyboardthat.com/) that they will need to make an account in order to save their storyboards. Students will choose backgrounds and characters for their story and utilize the “drag and drop” interface of the program. They will also place captions along the bottom of each frame to describe what is happening in that scene.
Teacher encourages students to look back at their mind maps to gather ideas for their story board.

Programing in Scratch
1 – Students should have had a basic introduction to programming before beginning work in SCRATCH/SCRATCH.
2 – Students will need a SCRATCH account in order to save their work. (https://scratch.mit.edu/)
3 – Remind the students of the layout of SCRATCH- The stage is on the left, the command blocks in the center, and workspace on the right. The sprites used are below the stage.
4- Students should use their storyboards to build their scratch animation. Many times students are concerned about the length of the animation, but I remind them that they need to include all important points from their storyboard rather than focusing on length alone. I also give students the option of recording their voice to narrate, or typing in the narration depending on their comfort level.

Student Instructions – Using Scratch
Students will review the basic layout of scratch
They will use their storyboard to build the music video based on the story they created.

Closing
Have students share animations in groups or as a full class
Review the importance of digital footprint. Teacher says: “You can choose how you are represented on the internet. It is the choices you make on what you post that can help you build your footprint. Others can post articles about you that contribute to your footprint as well, so it is important to be a responsible individual in the digital world and outside of the digital world as well.” At the end of each activity I include questions such as, What was your favorite part of the activity? What was the most challenging part of the activity and what did you do to solve the challenge? (Persist) If you could go back and change one thing about this activity, what would it be?(Flexible, Thinking about Thinking) What did you learn about your digital footprint and your classmate’s digital footprints?

Student Instructions – Persistence
Students watch videos and then fill out the google form to provide feedback to the teacher about the activity related to the challenges

Exit Ticket
Share your biggest learning challenge and how it was resolved?
I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and give each other feedback. I can:
Persist on the task until I get it done
Change my mind and be flexible while working on a task
Think about my thinking to get the work done
Retell my story well with clarity for the viewer
Be creative, imaginary, and innovating

These Habits of Mind can be given to the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!
Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you think how valuable this activity could be for our students to develop digital literacy. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this


Lesson Plan proposal: Using the “Thinking Interdependently” Habit of Mind to Play Music Better

Dear Colleague,

This summer, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STE(A)M at CUNY Lehman College. I learned a lot about frameworks of learning which promote computational thinking, student-driven success, and multimodal literacy.

There was a lot to think about and to consider how to apply this material in the music classroom, and in this letter I’d like to focus on Arthur Costa’s Habits of Mind because I believe that this model can be applied quite effectively in the music education.

So often in our field, it is unfortunately the case that creativity is taught at the expense of accurate and methodical interpretation. The well-trained jazz player, for example, often suffers in their ability to sight-read in a symphonic or concert setting. Classical musicians, on the other hand, are often not comfortable with improvisation, more personal interpretation or the assumption of creative musical risks. Self-taught musicians, as well as those who are limited to more popular forms of music, often suffer from both deficits.

Because the Habits of Mind system outlines a variety of metacognitive approaches and techniques useful for all types of learning, its implementation in ensemble playing has the potential to foster intentionality and systematic thought in application to any and every musical style. I found that the several of the ways of thinking presented in Costa’s work were habits that I had already started to develop in my years of playing in a multitude of professional musical situations. I think you might also find the same.

Although there are 16 Habits of Mind in total, I would like to propose that we do an activity that focuses on just one: “Thinking Interdependently.” We would first begin with a discussion on the main principles of this habit — 1.) Establish Roles, 2.) Test the Feasibility of Solutions, 3.) Listen Closely, 4.) Agree on Group Norms, 5.) Be Okay with Disagreements 5.) Learn how to Give up Your Idea When It Is Not Working.

We would then listen to a Howlin’ Wolf’s “Spoonful” (E blues/E minor) and attempt to play through it by ear. After the first play through, we would then systematically go through and discuss how each component of Thinking Interdependently can help us in playing the song more fluidly and interestingly. This would be followed by subsequent attempts at playing the song. Of course, I would modify and scaffold the content differently depending on whether we held it with 6th, 7th, or 8th grade, as they each have different levels of facility on their instruments.

To do this we won’t need the classroom to be set up any differently than it already is — drum set, electric guitar and amp, bass, several keyboards and acoustic guitars. For students who struggle with ensemble participation, it may actually be useful to allow them to take out their laptops and take responsible for researching information — i.e. sheet music, biographical facts, supplemental recordings, etc. Several free databases such as Musescore, GuitarPro, Wikipedia, YouTube and Spotify can be helpful for this purpose. Additionally, tools we already have available including GarageBand, Soundtrap and Music Speed Changer can be used to enrich the discussion process with recording, playback and audio manipulation. I would like to use the SmartBoard to lead the conversation and media presentation, if possible.

The students will be developing their own approach to learning a simple song.  While I will support them by making available some time-tested resources including chord diagrams, scale notations and sheet music, the goal is to encourage them to be active participants in their own musical learning. Within this problem-solving context, I’d like to afford them some degree of freedom of choice with respect to the instruments and learning resources that they have available in the classroom, as well as on the World Wide Web.

When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these standards from the National CORE Arts framework. Considering the values and culture of our school, I believe that these would be an appropriate focus.

  • -MU:Cr2.1.7.a) Select, organize, develop and document personal musical ideas for arrangements , songs, and compositions within AB, ABA, or theme and variation forms that demonstrate unity and variety and convey expressive intent.
  • -MU:Cr3.1.7.a) Evaluate their own work, applying selected criteria such as appropriate application of elements of music including style,
    form, and use of sound sources. b) Describe the rationale for making revisions to the music based on evaluation criteria and feedback from others (teacher and peers).
  • -MU:Pr6.1.7.a) Perform the music with technical accuracy and stylistic expression to convey the creator’s intent.

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students:

  • When you come to class, please take out your assigned instrument and warm by yourselves up for a few minutes while the teacher goes around the room to tune the instruments. Please review material that we have worked on in previous classes. 
  • When the teacher has finished tuning, we will listen to a new song. The first time you listen, put your instrument down and just focus on absorbing the feeling of the music and allowing your ears to wander throughout the sonic landscape. What are some things that you noticed?
  • Do you have any ideas about how you could play this song on your instrument?
  • We’ll then have a discussion about some basic group problem-solving techniques. During the discussion, ask yourself how is playing music together similar to any type of problem solving. How is it different?
  • We will then listen to the song a second time. This time around, pick up your instrument and quietly play along. What things can you do on the instrument that might sound good with the recording? What things don’t sound so good? How can you apply this Habit of Mind to playing the song on your instrument by yourself? How can you use it in relation to playing together in a group?
  • We’ll then divide the ensemble into sections and start trying out some strategies for playing the parts on our instruments. 

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and to give each other feedback:

I can …

  • Find at least one thing I like about this song upon the first listen, and at least one thing I don’t like about this song.

I can …

  • Think of at least one note or rhythm on my instrument which matches the feel, groove, key, scale or melody of the song. In other words, I can find at least one thing I can try to do on my instrument that I think sounds good with the music!

I can …

  • Share at least one idea with the group for how we might play this song together.

I can …

  • After discussion, play a part or all of the song in at least three new ways that I couldn’t before I came to class today.

This activity should take at least a period  to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. This activity could be conducted in the classroom with any middle school grade. To encourage persistence, I think we might ask students to think about things that they might take from this lesson that they will use the next time in class.

When they have finished the activity, I would be great if we could ask the students to share, talk and/or write about how they used at least one of the 5 components of this Habit of Mind.

If this activity is successful and becomes something we can do regularly, I would like incorporate the other Habits of Mind to give the students in both written and oral feedback while they are working and once the finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this.

.


What You Thought You Knew

Dear Colleague:

Recently, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE Stem at Lehman College. In one of the courses this Summer, I learned about Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind, Pat Carini’s Descriptive Review of a Child protocol, and multimodal composition.

I had some time to think about how to apply these new ideas in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to explain my enthusiasm for supporting learners as they work to understand themselves better. I believe that an effective way to guide students toward greater self-understanding is through studying the Habits of Mind. Costa and Kallick, the authors of the Habits of Mind Framework state, ” Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent.” The introduction of these habits to our learners will benefit them greatly while they work through academic, social, and emotional challenges. One realization that I had while diving into the depth of the Habits of Mind Framework was that I had many moments in my life that I could link to a specific habit. Frequent reflection during and after activities offered me opportunities to pause and identify the habit that I used to work through a task. I think that this metacognitive work is essential for all people, and I am eager to introduce it to the learners in our classroom.

I would like to propose that we develop a mini unit on stories of questioning what they thought they knew. Questioning and Posing Problems is one of the Habits of Mind, and I think it is a valuable tool for students who are on the verge of entering adulthood. If we want our students to be critical thinkers, they must be prepared to inspect information or ideas before accepting new information as “fact.” Our learning objective would be that students would craft a multi-modal story about a time when they questioned something they had previously taken at face value, and came to a greater understanding about the world or themselves because of their questions. 

To do this we will need a brainstorming map, laptops/Chromebooks/iPads, access to YouthVoices.live and YouTube.

The students will create a video that tells a story about a time when they they questioned something they had previously taken at face value, and came to a greater understanding about the world or themselves in the process. They will collect ideas on the paper brainstorming map. They will write their story and publish it as a document on YouthVoices. They can include a gif or image that deepens the meaning or message of the story, and/or any other modes they enjoy. Students will then record themselves telling that same story and upload the video to YouTube, then embed the video into their YouthVoices document. This multimedia story will appear on YouthVoices for our group of learners. After each student posts their story, they can listen to one another’s stories and leave written or recorded feedback.

When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these four standards from the Next Generation Learning Standards:

  •  9-10W3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • 9-10W3b: Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, reflection, and plot line(s) to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • 9-10W3c: Use a variety of techniques to sequence events to create cohesion and a smooth progression of experiences or events.
  • 9-10W3d: Use precise words and phrases, explicit details, and sensory language to convey a vivid picture of the experiences, events, setting, and/or characters.
  • 9-10W3e: Provide a conclusion that follows from and reflects on what is experienced, observed, or resolved over the course of the narrative.

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity.

  • We can start by showing them this video: Scene from Men In Black – YouTube
  • Then we can introduce the Habit of Mind “Questioning and Posing Problems” and define it. We can ask students to identify how the video shows “Questioning and Posing Problems.”
  • After that, we can introduce this prompt with the brainstorming map: Think of times when you have questioned something you had previously assumed to be true, and came to a greater understanding about the world or yourself in the process.
  • After students have a few minutes to brainstorm, they will select one idea to create into a YouthVoices doc and YouTube video.
  • We will demonstrate and model how to tell a story. We will also think aloud and show them how to make decisions on how and when to add other multimedia features to the video.
  • We would confer with students while they work and provide personalized feedback that is responsive to their immediate needs. 

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback using YouthVoices. They could use this protocol to provide meaningful and relevant feedback:

  • Leave your partner a star by telling them something that they did really well.
  • Leave your partner a wish by telling them something that you wish they would continue to do more of or try next time.

This activity should take at least 90-120 minutes to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage students, I think we might set up practices where students support one another with technical components such as an expert board. 

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how or if they encountered the Habit of Mind of Questioning and Posing Problems to create their document and video on YouthVoices and YouTube.

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this. Who knows – if it works well – maybe we can do this for all of the habits!

Your Partner in Education,

Emily Staudt


Persisting

It doesn’t matter how far you have to walk, how hard you have to work, or the obstacles you must overcome; as far as you have peace with your mind and heart, keep going and do not stop.

Last year I bought a book titled “We Want to do More than Survive” by Bettina L. Love. It is an interesting educational peace about Abolitionist Teaching and the pursuit of Educational Freedom. Due to school assignments, work, and lack of time, I haven’t finished the book yet. However, my desire, determination, and persistence are helping me to build daily reading habits to reach my gold of finishing Love’s book.

My point here is that determination and persistence will take you wherever you need to go, whether professionally, academically, or personally. Never give up.


Leo: Description of a Child

Background

Leo (pseudonym) is an eight-year-old boy in the second grade. He is a shy to speak in public but is very charismatic and tends to his work. Learning comes easy to him but gets very frustrated when he doesn’t understand a problem. He loves dancing and playing different sports. He is currently in an afterschool program playing soccer. Leo is bilingual, he understands, reads and writes in both Spanish and English.

Physical Presence and Gesture — Leo likes to have his own space when he is focused but gets very fidgety when he is bored. Therefore, he would move a lot in his chair until he is able to gain enough concentration to something that engages his attention. Leo loves reading mystery books and comic related readings. He also loves to draw and let his imagination run loose. Math is a subject that is a bit hard for him and it’s where he gets frustrated a lot. It’s is where most of his anger expressions are visible. At this point he is nonverbal and doesn’t like to communicate how he feels because he wants to be able to solve the problem on his own. He also has a hard time expressing how he feels. For Leo when he gets aggravated he would throw the paper to the floor and stomp on it. It’s a bit difficult trying to reel him back in and bring him ease but having him walk away to the reading section helps. Leo is very energetic and you are able to see this when he is surrounded by his friends. He usually brings his lunch and likes to share what he brought. He is very talkative but knows to not speak when the teacher is doing her lesson. Leo uses both languages interchangeably as it comes naturally for him which helps him see things with different perspectives.

Relationships with Children and Adults — Leo is very friendly; he has a lot of friends inside and outside of the classroom. He has a group of friends he usually maintains with and is very close to them. He talks to them about sports and tv shows. He usually plays with them during  recess and gym time. Leo knows most of his friends since kindergarten and he is very popular throughout the school and he is also known with the school staff. Leo is very caring and loves to hug his teachers. He is a respectful young boy that knows his manners and is pleased to help others. Although he gets aggravated with school work he does not get aggravated with adults or his friends. Leo tends to control his temper and is easy going. He enjoys being part of the group of friends he has.

Activities and Interests — Leo loves different types of sports but mostly soccer and basketball. He will play sports most of the time during recess or gym time if they give him any type of ball to play with. He actively participates in a soccer team after school which he enjoys and would go to the park on weekends to play with his dad. Leo also loves to draw and dance. He likes to make his drawings look like drawings from a comic book. Drawing and playing sports is an outlet for Leo. He’s passion for all three leads him to be more calm, confident and easy going. Leo still is not sure what he wants to be when he grows up but he says he would like to play sports as long as he can or be a famous dancer. Leo likes to show off his drawing skills when given the opportunity in his classroom while doing art activities. Leo also likes to help his classmates and teach them how to do certain drawings or give them ideas. He also enjoys hands-on activities because he gets less bored. He likes when they give him assignments to do at home that relates to art because he gets to spend time with his mom creating.

Formal Learning —Leo is open minded when he is learning new things but gets riled up when he becomes stuck or confused causing him to have a bad attitude. He is eager to learn which is why he gets upset when doesn’t get it after a couple of tries. He pay attention to the teacher but doesn’t like to speak out loud in front of the class even if he knows the answer. There are time he relies on his friends to explain things to him and he is able to understand better. Leo is more of a visual learner as he is super observant and has a good memory recall. He is great with vocabulary and likes to learn new words. Leo is a fast thinker, creative and enthusiastic student. Although he prefers English, and Art he does pretty well in all his other subjects except for Math were he struggles a bit. Leo is a good writer and uses his knowledge of vocabulary to write and create scenarios. Overall, he is a great student.


Letter to Colleagues

Dear Ms. De Los Santos:

Last month, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE-STEM at Lehman College. I learned a lot about Multimodal Literacy, Habits of Mind, the Descriptive Review of a Child Protocol, and Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. 

There was a lot to think about and consider about how to apply in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to focus on Habits of Mind because this approach helps me to learn and develop thinking skills that I need to apply in unfamiliar situations. According to Art Costa, Bena Kallick, and Allison Zmuda, Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent. While completing different activities and applying the Habits of Mind, I learned to consider other people’s points of view, listen with understanding and empathy, think flexibly, communicate with clarity and precision, and apply previous knowledge and thinking about my thinking. Habits of Minds are skills that apply to teachers and students. We must teach students how to be more flexible, consider and respect classmates’ ideas and reflect on their thoughts. It will be effective because we will create a learning environment where all students feel valued and respected. All classrooms should develop an inclusive environment where all students feel welcome. 

I would like to propose that we can implement in the annual curriculum restorative circles that will be conducted on Mondays or Fridays. During the circles, students will be able to speak their minds and heart out, share personal and academic stories, and give feedback and comment to each other. During the activity, students will be applying the Habits of Mind as they will be flexible, reflecting, listening, and communicating with empathy, questioning and posing problems, etc.

To do this, we will need the participation, collaboration, and willingness of all the students. We will need to set a community agreement and create a space for the students to feel safe and comfortable. We will need to ensure confidentiality and respect. Our activity will give a social-emotional approach. We will need weekly materials to read, such as the Habits of Mind article, and maybe a voice recording as an option for those students who might feel uncomfortable taking turns to speak aloud.

The students will be making a connection with each other stories and feelings. They will choose the topics of their preference to discuss during the circle and they will compose the community agreement. Also, I propose that during the academic year, we take the students outside the classroom to develop the restorative circle in different places.

When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these three standards from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL); the World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages.

  • Connections: Connect with other disciplines and acquire information and diverse perspectives to use the language to function in academic and career-related situations.
    • Making Connections: Learners build, reinforce, and expand their knowledge of other disciplines while using the language to develop critical thinking and solve problems creatively.
    • Acquiring Information and Diverse Perspectives: Learners access and evaluate information and diverse perspectives that are available through the language and its cultures.
  • Communication: Communicate effectively in more than one language to function in a variety of situations and for multiple purposes.
    • Interpersonal Communication: Learners interact and negotiate meaning in spoken, signed, or written conversations to share information, reactions, feelings, and opinions.
    • Interpretive Communication: Learners understand, interpret, and analyze what is heard, read, or viewed on a variety of topics.
    • Presentational Communication: Learners present information, concepts, and ideas to inform, explain, persuade, and narrate on a variety of topics using appropriate media and adapting to various audiences of listeners, readers, or viewers.
  • Communities: Communicate and interact with cultural competence to participate in multilingual communities at home and around the world.
    • School and Global Communities: Learners use the language both within and beyond the classroom to interact and collaborate in their community and the globalized world.
    • Lifelong Learning: Learners set goals and reflect on their progress in using languages for enjoyment, enrichment, and advancement.

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students:

Objectives:  

  • The student will be able to connect and feel empathy
  • The student will be able to analyze life situations

Do Now / Anticipatory Set

  • Share a personal story with the class
  • Define/explain the cultural significance 

Benchmark Lesson

  •  “Persisting” (Habits of Mind) 

Guided Practice (in a class circle):

  • Read paragraph (students annotate)
  • Review with class (teacher asks probing questions as students summarize)
  • Answer the following question by completing the task in verbal form. 

   -Why persistence is important? 

Independent Practice: Each student will independently complete the guided practice activity.

Closure:  Share your biggest learning of the day. 

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and give each other feedback:

  • I can listen with understanding 
  • I can be flexible 
  • I can think about my thinking 
  • I can think and communicate with clarity
  • I can be creative, imaginary, and innovating

This activity should take at least 45 to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might save time at the end of each section for the students to express the biggest learning of the day. 

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used one of these two Habits of Mind.

  • Finding Humor
  • Responding with wonderment and awe 

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this.


Kayden: Description of a Child

Kayden is a 7yr old. His dad is caucasian and his mother is Spanish.  He is an only child but lives close to relatives that he sees frequently. Kayden is on the autism spectrum. His parents had him in daycare since he was very young; the caretaker only had about 5 kids at any time. This provided the opportunity to give each child meaningful one-on-one time.  It prepared Kayden for kindergarten and put him on track with other students. When Kayden talks all his sentences are monotone and pauses for each word. He is very calm and shrieks when he’s excited and squishes his face.

Relationships with children and adults:

Kayden introduces himself when he meets new kids. He interacts very well and makes friends easily. He is well behaved but he does follow the actions of others so he can get mischievous but not of his own accord.  When working on classwork it is best to seat Kayden with students who stay on task. When it comes to adults Kayden feels more comfortable if he has at least one person he’s familiar with.

Activities and Interests:

Kayden plays little league baseball, loves swimming in his pool, and enjoys being on his iPad. The games he plays on his Ipad are majority educational. The games he plays frequently revolve around an activity like making food, or getting ready like showering, brushing hair, or putting on clothes. He sings songs out loud when he’s playing around in his home. He has a really good memory! Kayden is very particular about the music or sounds he wants to listen to. If you don’t hit the nail on the head he progressively gets more irritated. If by the 3rd try you have not gotten it right it causes an outburst.

Formal learning

Kayden thrives off of routines. If there is something that needs to get done but he gives you a hard time all you need to do is set an alarm. When the alarm rings he’s eager to complete the task at hand.  When going through the day’s agenda I give a time limit on the board for the class so that when the alarm rings we can have a smooth transition to a whole class discussion. When playing baseball his favorite position is the pitcher.  He goes through all the steps out loud from his stance, to his throw. He learns well with repetition. When problem-solving it’s beneficial to provide Kayden with more than one example so he can do it again and again plugging in different numbers. When Kayden is talking to you he needs you to look at him so he knows you are listening. If you don’t look at him he will grab your face and turn it towards him. However, Kayden has poor eye contact so he will not be looking at you when he’s talking to you or you are talking to him. Kayden does well with visuals and hands-on learning.  Kayden likes to work on math problems that involve games or manipulatives.


Jerson: Descriptive Review

Introduction:

Jerson was born in the USA and is an 8 years old boy. He is the youngest of three children, Maria who is 22 and Rosa 17 years old. Both parents are fluent in Spanish but not in English. Jerson speaks very limited Spanish as well as his younger sister Rosa. He resides in a community of predominantly minority families in the area of Morris Heights, Bronx New York School District 09. He attends a Charter school in Bronx County in a third-grade class of 21 students. He is very clean and organized, and always comes to school prepared with all materials and use the school uniform. He comes to school with her mother most of the time and other times his aunt brings. Jerson shows aggressive behavior with her and his sisters when he does not get what he wants.  Mom is the main source of discipline for him since the father is absent.  Father is not very supportive in matters dealing with discipline. Jerson only listens to his father, but he does not live in the house. When Jerson gets upset, he gets calmed when his father is called and treats him with ice-cream or candies.

Describing the Child

Jason is about 89 lb. and is 4 feet tall. When he gets angry he begins to stomp his feet on the floor, screams very loud and throws himself on the floor. He shows poor gross motor skills as he walks. He shows speech problems when speaking because he chunks words to speak and sometimes gets frustrated because others do not understand what he says.  He gets along well with his father and acts very immature when spending time with him. He uses baby talk when talking to his father. His social skills are very low when working in groups. He wants to be the leader and would not allow receiving orders from other students in the group. When the teacher tries to assist him, he begins to do the work by himself. He is curious about events that take place in the classroom and is aware of any incident.

Relationships with Children and Adults:

Jerson does not get along with female teachers well, but shows respect to his father. When he gets angry and begins to cry, he runs to the desk of a security named Tony. During the meeting, I have noticed that he shows very little respect to his mother and other adults besides his father. He fights with his friends when playing in the gym or in the yard when he cannot play the ball. He enjoys playing with his friends but does not accept losing. Jerson enjoys playing basketball and playing games on the computer. He rides his bicycle in the park alone.

Formal Learning:

Jerson’s strong subjects are math, technology, and reading. He enjoys reading aloud to younger students when he is visiting another class. He feels pleased every-time he gets a high mark, especially on a math test and gets frustrated and uncontrollable when he gets a low score. Jason loves learning math, reading and technology, but gets frustrated during science, social studies, or working in a group. He does not participate in group work and prefers to do his work independently. When the teacher is delivering instruction he begins to rip pages from his notebook to create paper planes and throws them around the room and blames other children. He throws food around and to other students in the cafeteria, but he denies it and blames other students.

Strengths and Vulnerabilities:

Jerson enjoys playing games so that he can be a winner. He enjoys getting rewarded for tasks he completes. One of his academic strengths is mathematical computations, but he also enjoys reading easy books about heroes’ stories.  He feels very comfortable and happy when he works with younger children. He can spend a long time in front of a computer playing video games. He does not like tasks that require guidance from an adult or when he has to report to an authority.  He likes basketball but can’t move as fast as the game requires and gets angry when loses the game. He would not play basketball with children of his age, but prefers to play with younger ones.


Description of a Child

Javonne is a 15 years old male, is African American and is at 10th grade. He is a little tall, with light skin. He is very respectful with the teachers in the classroom. He is always late for class, we can say that he comes late because his friends also come late (they come to class together).

His situation is a bit worrying since the majority of times he does not feel motivated to do his classwork or homework. He has said many times that he doesn’t care if he get a 55 as his grade, but when his mother intervenes, he feels sad. He shows at that moment the desire to improve since he don’t want to disappoint his mother.

At every class, I had to sit with him and work with him to push him a little more, and motivate him to complete the assignments in class. He demonstrates that he don’t like reading or writing, when he seems that the activities are based on reading and writing even reading questions, and writing response he gets bored, stands aside and does nothing. When I sit with him, I read the materials to him, and explain to him, he then respond with beautiful answers, with awesome answers, even much better than his peers that a lot of them have a better academic standing.

However, in our science class, when we have fun physical activities or games, he is very active and participates so joyful. I notice that Javonne get inspired by his friends, but most of them they do their work in class, except Javonne and Carlos who is the closest to Javonne. Usually, we need to intervene both of them together because they show same attitudes at the same time in class.


Ana: Description of A Child

Background

Ana (pseudonym) is a seven-year-old first grader. She is a hard worker, always willing to learn, and is very joyful. Ana has an IEP; she has a speech impairment. She is an emergent bilingual and has a paraprofessional that helps her with English. Ana receives pull-out services for speech therapy and ESOL twice a week.

Physical Presence and Gesture — Ana occupies her own space. She sits in a wiggly chair. When she is concentrating, she pushes her chair forward. She commonly does this when doing math or drawing to be closer to the paper. Ana is very expressive. She uses nonverbal and verbal communication to express how she feels and communicate with others. For example, when Ana wants people to go to her, she motions with her hand. When she doesn’t like something, she crosses her arms over her chest and expresses how she is feeling. Ana’s levels of energy vary throughout the day. In the morning, she is very quiet. She usually eats breakfast at school and later becomes more talkative. Once the teacher starts the lesson, she is ready to learn. She usually remains focused until the afternoon. Ana speaks English and Spanish very quickly. Sometimes it is hard to understand her because she does not pronounce some syllables. Ana’s temperament is even; she is able to express her feelings well and even asks for a break in the “break corner” when she needs one. Ana does not have any behavioral issues in the classroom.

Relationships with Children and Adults — Ana is very friendly; she has many friends in the classroom. She has three best friends, and she is very close to them. She always talks to them about dolls and drawings. She plays with them during recess and gym. Her friends are consistent; she has been friends with them throughout the year. She is very recognized within the group. Ana loves showing them her drawings. She is comfortable in the group; she can express herself and play with them. Ana has a good relationship with the teachers. She is also very respectful. Every time Ana needs something, she always says please and thank you. She asks the teachers for help when she needs it. Ana has casual conversations with the teachers. Most of their conversations are about cats since they know she loves them. 

Activities and Interests — Ana loves drawing and coloring. She is very interested in art. She has expressed before that she would like to be an art teacher when she grows up. She is very passionate about it and takes any opportunity to draw. When the teacher gives her worksheets, Ana writes her name and also makes a drawing of herself or cats. Ana loves drawing cats. The teacher gave the students a sketch notebook and gave them opportunities to draw. Ana’s notebook is full of drawings of cats and dolls. She loves hands-on activities and enjoys solving math problems. The product is very important to her. When she doesn’t get something right when drawing, she makes a noise like, “hmmm.” However, she is persistent and tries again until she gets it right. Also, when time is over to complete an activity that she enjoys, she usually makes a comment such as, “no fair,” crosses her arms over her chest, and then makes an angry expression, but she gets over it very quickly. She also loves to paint; an art teacher came to the classroom twice a week, and Ana was always looking forward to it because she knew she could paint. During the class, she was always eager to paint with the different brushes and was not afraid of experimenting with colors and using the strategies the teacher taught her. 

Formal Learning —Ana approaches new subjects with a good attitude. She is always eager to learn. She pays attention when the teacher introduces a new topic; when she doesn’t understand something, she asks the paraprofessional working with her for help or the teachers. In learning, she relies on memory and visuals. She relies more on visuals for literacy as she is an emergent bilingual. Also, when writing, she uses a personal word wall provided by the teacher and a folder that contains the ABCs and sight words. For math, she relies more on memorization. She remembers the steps she needs to take to solve a problem. Ana is very good at math. She solves math problems very quickly. She is the first to answer the math questions most of the time. Ana is a fast thinker and is very creative. Ana’s preferred subjects are art and math; she enjoys both and is really good at them. A subject she doesn’t like so much is literacy. She struggles when it comes to writing. She can write simple sentences and spell some sight words correctly. Most of the time, she writes about real-life scenarios. However, she can also write fictional stories and add different characters when writing. She is in the inventive spelling stage, where the child writes, basing herself on the phonemic understanding she has.


My Future as an Educator

Habits of Mind has has given me more insight on how to become the educator I want to be.  I want to create a space where my students can learn collaboratively, listen and understand with empathy and have agency and voice.  I also want to ensure I develop a curriculum my students can connect with so they can  understand the meaning and value of what they are learning. 


Jayden: Description of a Child

Background/ Description of a child

Jayden is a 4-year-old boy who live in the Bronx. He is a single child. Mom and dad live together in the household. Jayden has an IEP and assist a special education school in the same borough. He receives speech, occupational and physical therapy twice a week.

Physical Presence

In the classroom, Jayden is very active, aggressive, and impatient. He likes things to be his way and when they don’t, he gets these aggressive behaviors, throws himself on the floor. Hits the other children around him and scream very loud. He gets a hard time self-regulating. Teachers try to assist him with relaxing his body and calming his emotions. 

Relationship with children and adults

Jayden can be very caring and easy going with children and adults when he is in the mood. He can communicate, use his words, and play nicely with others. Jayden likes to play with boy A but can also allow others to join them while playing as long as they don’t touch with toys.

Activities and interest

Jayden likes to play with the trains, and the building blocks. He needs to be encouraged to try other areas and other toys because he always prefers to play with the trains. Most of the time, he gets upset if not allowed to go into the block area. 

Formal learning

Jayden has a great memory rapport. During class meeting, he can remember the class previous discussion, topic, and some specific details of what the class had shared the day before. Jayden recognizes the letters, numbers, shapes, colors and is able to stablish a conversation using his prior knowledge.


Regina’s Biography

I was born in the Dominican Republic and my parents named me Regina. I was one of the eleven brothers and sisters who made my immediate family. Our main language is Spanish. My educational history in the Dominican Republic began after I left the village I was born in. I completed my elementary, intermediate, and secondary schooling in the Dominican Republic. Upon completion of high school, I entered college and became a substitute teacher. This marked the beginning of my teaching career. I attended college in the Dominican Republic known as Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) enrolled in a childhood education program. 

My life took a sharp turn after migrating to the United States. After moving here, I was able to become the person I am today. I developed a connection to the habits of the mind, persisting, thinking flexibly, and listening with understanding. Persisting is not giving up easily when pursuing a goal or objective. Challenges and differences of opinions are elements that need to be overcome as one persists in reaching a goal. This idea is a reflection of when I tried to transfer my school transcript from the Dominican Republic to a CUNY. I persisted for around five years trying to get the transcript until I finally got it. Having a flexible mind, I decided to enroll in a private school to get a medical lab degree and even with the transcript issue, it was still part of my agenda. Few years later, I made a few trips to the Dominican Republic and received the school papers to enter a CUNY school.

I started to see the implementation of the skill of thinking flexibly after working in an after school program (SCAN NY) in a public school in the Bronx. This skill showed me how to use different strategies in different situations to either meet the student or family needs. There were times when I changed my mind when disciplining or designing a lesson after thinking it over. At the same time, the skill of “listening with understanding and empathy” became apparent because while working with families in the poor community, many parents were facing different challenges and were able to listen and find solutions to some of their needs. The same occurred while working with young students in the program who were non English language speakers and I had to listen and find solutions to their problems. During this time working with these families and children, I found out that I had to persist in becoming a teacher because I am able to listen, understand and work with them to meet their social, academic, and any other possible needs. 


Stories of Persistence Proposal

Dear Colleague:

Recently, I participated in a professional learning experience with LUTE Stem at Lehman College. I learned a lot about Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind, Pat Carini’s Descriptive Review of a Child protocol, and multimodal composition.

I had some time to think about how to apply these new ideas in the classroom, and in this letter, I’d like to explain my enthusiasm for supporting learners as they work to understand themselves better. I believe that an effective way guide students towards self-discover it to build awareness around the Habits of Mind. Costa and Kallick, the authors of the Habits of Mind Framework state, ” Habits of Mind are dispositions people use when confronted with problems and situations to which the answers are not immediately apparent.” The introduction of these habits to our learners will benefit them greatly while they work through academic, social, and emotional challenges. One realization that I had while diving into the depth of the Habits of Mind Framework was that I had many moments in my life that I could link to a specific habit. Frequent reflection during and after activities offered me opportunities to pause and identify the habit that I used to work through a task. I think that this metacognitive work is essential for all people, and I am eager to introduce it to the learners in our classroom.

I would like to propose that we develop a mini unit on stories of persistence. Persistence is the first habit and I feel like it is a fundamental backbone to working through obstacles. Our learning objective would be that students would craft a multi-modal story about a time when they persisted through a challenge. 

To do this we will need a brainstorming map, laptops/chromebooks/ipads, and access to Flip (formerly known as Flipgrid).

The students will create a video that tells a story about a time when they showed persistence. They will collect ideas on the paper brainstorming map. Then, they will use Flip to record themselves telling a selected story. They can include music to connect with emotions, a gif or image that deepens the meaning or message of the story, and/or text that highlights and emphasizes certain phrases and words from their story. This multimedia story will appear on a FLIP page for our group of learners. After each student posts an idea, they can listen to one another’s stories and leave written or recorded feedback.

When the students complete this activity they will have made progress on these four standards from the Next Generation Learning Standards:

  •   3W3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.  
  •   3SL4: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.  
  •   3SL5: Include digital media and/or visual displays in presentations to emphasize certain facts or details.  
  •   3SL1: Participate and engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse peers and adults, expressing ideas clearly, and building on those of others  

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. 

  1. We can start by showing them this video: Sia – Never Give up – Animated video – YouTube
  2. Then we can introduce the Habit of Mind “persisting” and define it. We can ask students to identify how the video shows “persisting.”
  3. After that, we can introduce this prompt with the brainstorming map: Think of times when you have persisted through a challenge or obstacle.
  4. After students have a few minutes to brainstorm, they will select one idea to create into a FLIP story.
  5. We will demonstrate and model how to tell a story of persisting. We will also think aloud and show them how to make decisions on how and when to add other multimedia features to the video.
  6. We would confer with students while they work and provide personalized feedback that is responsive to their immediate needs. 

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback using FLIP since listeners can respond with text or with a video or audio recording. They could use this protocol to provide meaningful and relevant feedback:

  • Leave your partner a star by telling them something that they did really well.
  • Leave your partner a wish by telling them something that you wish they would continue to do more of or try next time.

This activity should take at least 60-90 minutes to complete, which should allow time for productive struggle. To encourage persistence, I think we might set up practices where students support one another with technical components such as an expert board. 

When they have finished this activity, it would be great if we could ask the students to write and talk about how they used the Habit of Mind of persisting to create their video on FLIP.

I will also use these Habits of Mind to give the students both written and oral feedback while they are working and once they finish their work!

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity. I look forward to working with you on this. Who knows – if it works well – maybe we can do this for all of the habits!

Your Partner in Education,

Marina


Descriptive Review of a Broken Child: Raheem

Physical Presence and Gesture

Raheem is a 12-year old, (presumably) African-American student from upper Manhattan. As I was his substitute teacher, I knew very little about his family life. I had heard that he lives with his mother and father, the latter whom I believe is not his birth father. Raheem has occasionally mentioned staying with his grandmother. He also mentioned once in passing to a fellow student that he has a brother who “is dead.” I have very little conclusive information about his life outside of what I observe in school and have heard from other faculty, but I have reason to believe that he lives under tremendously difficult circumstances. 

Raheem has babyish physical features, with his face and body still possessing a characteristic roundness commonly associated with youth. He has braces on his awkwardly large teeth, and and he almost exclusively wears athletic clothing, from his headwear to his shoes. Raheem’s demeanor seems to perpetually and frenetically fluctuate between two extreme poles — of severe bellicosity on the one hand, and an innocent camaraderie on the other.

In a majority of occasions Raheem carries himself in a hostile and aggressive manner, apparently always ready to physically lash out, threaten, or intimidate. His belligerence betrays his short and boyish stature. Although he mostly looks upward at the various recipients of his pugnacity, this somehow does not diminish its intimidating effect. His voice is high-pitched and his typical speaking register is loud, shrill, raspy, and forced. His deep brown eyes have a piercing and direct quality through which his anger blasts like a fiery, well-honed weapon. He is capable of affecting a menacing smile that might disrupt any well-meaning adult’s sense of comfort.

With those whom Raheem considers to be his friends, he is capable of carrying himself in a much different way. He often displays hearty gestures of physical affection including, high-fives, one-armed hugs, handshakes, dancing and fist-bumps. He has an infectious and boisterous laugh that is more consistent with his childlike physical appearance. When he smiles and laughs, his face forms wrinkles and contortions which invariably evoke sympathy from all those around him. His sense of humor can be simultaneously innocent and sweet, yet also sharp, crude, and unforgiving. His jocularity portray a multitude of layers of underlying pain, confusion, and anguish, yet he also displays a desire to achieve moments of joy wherever he can.

Relationships with Children and Adults

With everyone around him, Raheem seems to keep his cards rather close to his chest. He has two best friends, both male and both (presumably) African-American, in his same grade. Several other students in his grade, all male and of mixed races and ethnicities, form his social group. These boys consistently convene at lunch and recess. Although Raheem maintains a regular group of “friends” (more accurately allies), he shows a proclivity to fighting and fraternizing indiscriminately with passers by in the hallway, ranging from students who are both older and  younger, to teachers male and female.

Despite his deep affection for his buddies within his chosen milieu, anyone in his immediate physical periphery is liable to fall into the crosshairs of his erratic ire. He shows little respect or concern for physical boundaries of others — hitting, pushing, threatening and slapping those around him at will,  friends and enemies alike. His joviality can often transform into uncontrollable rage within a matter of fractions of seconds. When interacting with female students, he expresses an intensified degree of fascination and curiosity, as well as repulsion and hostility.

There are a few other students in Raheem’s grade who seem to desire entry into his exclusive clique, yet their attempts usually end with them becoming victims of his bullying behavior. He enforces upon on the members of his “pack” to maintain a rigid understanding of who is on the “ins” and who is on the “outs” of his ad hoc social organization. Often times, his closer “friends” comply with his wishes, while other times they do not, leading him to explosive episodes.

With adults and figures of authority, Raheem displays an extraordinary outward indifference to and lack of concern for approval.  Regularly and shamelessly, he curses, threatens, and uses racial/discriminatory epithets. He explicitly discusses themes which of are a highly inappropriate nature for a school, without regard for potential consequences. If he disagrees with a particular request of an adult, he will either blatantly ignore it, sharply refuse it, or in extreme cases, lash out. Very infrequently and on an inconsistent basis, he will sheepishly acknowledge submission to an adult’s directives, usually followed closely by his more common responses of the former character.

Activities and Interests

There are rare and special occasions where Raheem displays a profound sweetness and sensitivity to his social environment. He has a deep interest in people, often probing his teachers about their personal lives, families and interests, and sharing his own experiences with a precocious cogency. He appears to be aware of the powerful effect that his emotional tenderness can have on adults, and he often, although guardedly, uses it to manipulate situations in his favor. Notwithstanding, there is a degree of consistency in his mannerisms with particular teachers and staff that evince his firmly-rooted, yet highly refracted and distorted desire to maintain nurturing relationships with caring adults. This is more acutely observable when he is in smaller classes, and when he has the less divided attention of a teacher or staff member.

Raheem is not shy about articulating his interests and proclivities to those around him. He loves to play basketball and possesses significant technical ability at it. He is on the school’s team, and although his coaches recognize his talents, they acknowledge that his disregard for instruction makes him “un-coachable.” That is to say that he is not a team player, and he displays more interest in bolstering his own individual achievements than he does working together with other players. He is competitive to a debilitating degree, and daily ball games with his two best friends at recess often conclude with physical brawls. At the beginning of every recess period, he urges other members of his social circle, teachers, as well as school staff to participate in games as well. Wherever he can get away with it, he interprets the rules to his advantage, and shows little concern for fairness or good sportsmanship.

Raheem has a naïve fascination with weapons, violence, gang activity, drugs, and money. Using online media platforms, he listens to “drill” rap music, which is associated with with the former themes, and he often tries to emulate the rhythmic spoken and dance style of some of the proponents of the genre. Despite the disapproval of all of adults in his school life with his interest in such subject matter, he regularly attempts to showcase what he fantasizes to be his intimate knowledge of these urban societal issues. As youthfully misplaced as his preoccupations are, it is unfortunately not unbelievable that he actually may have some close and realistic experience with these ills.

Formal Learning

Academically, Raheem’s extreme behavior issues largely prevent him from participating in any school activity in a meaningful way. This being said, he is an incredibly intelligent student with high aptitude and a brute-force tenacity for any tasks to which he sets his mind to accomplishing. His attitude toward approaching new challenges is generally intuitive and speculative rather than disciplined and meticulous, which often leads him to difficulty. On the other hand, his obvious intellectual and social strengths, combined with his competitive nature, sometimes find him rapidly successful in tasks which might befuddle others.

Since he strongly resists accepting help in his learning process, it is difficult to gauge his particular learning style. It is clear that his extremely high degree of social intelligence factors into how he assimilates new skills and information. He seems to learn by observing and imitating the relationships between other people in his life, eventually figuring out for himself how to gain competence in a given area. He is highly sensitive to failure or setback and becomes upset with himself when he encounters even small difficulties.

Raheem seems to have an affinity for deal-making, bargaining and negotiation, especially with adults, and this also factors into his learning process. Often his behavior can be managed most easily by presenting him with a “trade,” as he refuses to respond to instruction or direction. When he feels as though he’s getting a fair “deal” and has set his mind to accomplish a particular academic task, one can find glimpses new strengths which he seems to have accessed in the interest of attaining his ends. In general, Raheem possesses many gifts, many of which appear to be buried underneath a varied complex of emotional brokenness.


Amelia – Description of a Child

Amelia is nine years old. She is frequently late to arrive in the mornings, sometimes by more than an hour, and typically without explanation. Amelia has three sisters of different ages (11, 7, and 6 years old at the time of this writing), and all of these children typically arrive at school together. Amelia’s clothes and hair are always neat and clean. Her waist-length hair is always brushed and pulled back into a ponytail or braid. 

Most days, Amelia is smiling and joyful. She is well-liked by her peers, particularly the female students. Amelia finishes her work quickly and will often sit and read quietly by herself when she is finished. Amelia also enjoys reading during lunch and recess, frequently preferring to sit alone to read rather than to play games with other students. About once per week, Amelia will produce a self-written story or play that she wishes to share or present to the other students. 

Amelia is impatient, though not unkind, with other students who need more time to work or who require more explanation before beginning a project. Amelia prefers to jump in to a project as soon as she feels she understands the assignment, though occasionally she will miss important instructions. Amelia holds herself to a high degree of performance, and is curious and excited about most subjects.

When presented with feedback or criticism in any form from adults or peers, Amelia rejects the information and becomes angry. When I told her that she needed to speak more slowly when presenting her ideas in class, she became irate, screamed at me that I was wrong, and sat down with her arms crossed, tears welling up in her eyes. She was angry with me for the rest of the day, and yelled “I don’t like you!” at me nearly two hours after the initial outburst. The following day, she greeted me with a fun fact she had read about Abraham Lincoln, and was cheerful, but she still refused to adjust her speaking pace until her father told her that she spoke too quickly when presenting, nearly two weeks later. I was told by other teachers that, despite Amelia’s outbursts, she is gaining more skills at self-regulation than in previous years.

Amelia’s writing is clear, precise, and largely free from errors – well above the typical expectations for a fourth grade student. Amelia enjoys reading and stories, and typically brings four or five books of her own selection to school with her to read when she has completed her work, or during breaks. She loves books of poetry, U.S. History, and fantasy novels the most, but also enjoys books comprised of surprising facts. “Did you know…?” is one of her favorite conversation starters, and she always has an interesting bit of knowledge to share. Amelia’s curiosity and imagination manifest in her writing narratives and plays, and she enjoys performing her written works with her peers.


My Biography

Hello, my name is Crystal Santana. I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. My earliest education was completed there. I came to the United States when I was in 11th grade. It was challenging to adjust to a new country due to the language barrier. After graduating from high school, I attended Bronx Community college and graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in early childhood education. I continued with my education at Lehman College, and in 2019, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a minor in Early childhood. I’m pursuing a master’s in early childhood education with a Bilingual Extension. My goal is to become a bilingual educator. As an educator, I aim to facilitate my students’ academic development and embrace their uniqueness as learners. I want to be part of their early development as I enjoy working with that age group because I like to see them learn and grow. After reading the habits of mind, I would work on three habits:

  • Managing impulsivity
  • Communicating with clarity and precision
  • Listening with understanding and empathy

I believe that working on those habits will help me become a better communicator, create deeper connections with others, and help me make better decisions. All these habits combined will ultimately make me a better educator.


A Little Bit of Me!

My name is Claudia Suarez, I’m Dominican, I’m Cancer and I am a bilingual PreK teacher. I believe all children can learn as long as they are provided with the appropriate tools and assistance to target the areas that need support and development. I am a proud mom of two boys ages 9 and 2. I am very family oriented and I believe in love, compassion and understanding people’s feeling. I love art, music, nature and food.

While reading about the Habits of Mind, I was able to understand a lot more children behavior. In fact, I was able to identify the mistakes I constantly make when facing a specific situation. I have learned that, reacting with impulsiveness even though is a very common behavior we tend to disregard instead of working to manage our impulses. I understood that responding through an impulse leads to problems, mistakes and inconveniences that we later end up regretting.

On the other hand, in order to teach our students how to behave when they don’t have the answer to something, how to get them produce a response based on prior knowledge, or helping them develop, process, learn, and imitate a critical response either on their own or from others point of view is empirical and needed for their development, especially when facing a situation that is out of their knowledge.

The habit of the mind focuses on finding cues to our responses when facing situations people do not have the answers to. In my opinion, there are important factors we must deal with prior to confronting an awkward situation where we are at lost due to lack of knowledge.

For example.

Managing Impulsivity. Controlling our impulses and abruptic behaviors can be extremely difficult. For many people, been impulsive is the first reaction as a way to protect themselves when they don’t know or have the answer to something. Letting out our emotions is most of time the easiest way to take control of a situation. going off or showing unexpected outburst of emotions and rage tends to be our first response to unknown situation, where we may feel at lost or without the proper knowledge of the subject.

Listening with Understanding and Empathy. Not always human beings tend to take advisement so lightly. It is usually taken otherwise, as an offense or disrespect to their persona and their knowledge. It can be very hard to accept an advice or to listen to others without having to argue back.

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situation. Sometimes we can relate to past situations or experiences to bring them to real life. Reflecting on past experiences is helpful in avoiding falling into the same mistakes and wrong responses. Using background knowledge to build new ideas is essential in our so-called maturing in the way we respond, behave and act among others.


Introducing Myself

My name is Alexis Asencio. I’m 23 years old, and I’m working towards my goal of becoming a science teacher for grades 7-12. I was born in the Dominican Republic, and when I was 10 my parents and I decided to come to New York. From and early age in the DR I felt the passion to teach, and so I’m working towards that since that time, I say that because at every grade, I always choose the teacher that I like it the most to get inspirations, and strategies to use at the time I become a teacher. A fun fact of myself is that I like to dance a lot, to go out with friends, to have fun with loved ones, and listening to music, I also like to stay at home, watch movies or tv shows or videos, cook, and have nice foods and drinks.

The three habits of minds that I feel more connected to are; managing impulsivity, finding humor, and responding with wonderment and awe. So often I try to manage my impulsivity, when I get stress I could be impulsive in some stuff, so during my calm time I try to manage that in order to control about any impulsivity.

My big one that is quite related to me is finding humor. Everyone who knows me, characterizes me for always wearing a smile and having a good sense of humor, for laughing almost all the time. I try to emphasizes the fun part of almost everything and in that way relax myself and think in a calm way in the different  issues and things that we face daily. In my work with customers, before getting into their need, I always do a joke to them and we laugh, and then we get into the context of helping them. I noticed that doing this is a good start in serving a person, the person feel comfortable.

This third habit of mind it has been highlighted in me after I started working and being in professional settings. Always for all new things that I get know, I respond with such a wonder, my co-worker uses to joke with me telling me ‘Alexis in wonderland’ because of my reactions to new things.


A Little More About Me

My name is Christal Perdomo and I am a grad student studying high school math education.

I took a long break from my college education and I am very happy I was able to get back to pursuing my goals as a student in higher education, as well as my career goals of becoming a teacher. So far in my journey, I have learned and re-learned the value of persisting, I have adopted the habit of thinking flexibly when meeting new people and learning new information, and I have tried to keep my spirits high by finding humor and looking for ways that it could be incorporated in daily interactions and instructional practices with students.

Throughout my educational journey I have encountered many obstacles and many mental roadblocks. However, since deciding to go back to college – I have continued to push through the various drawbacks and unplanned changes that have come up. Similarly, in navigating new high-level math courses, the higher education system, and the teacher certification track, I needed to employ the habit of mind of persisting. It has been essential for me to stick to my plans, and find new ways to continue on the intended track. As I mentioned in my response to this specific habit of mind, “I think it’s important to understand that there are different paths to success and that our definition of it will change as we learn and grow.”

Another habit of mind that I have found particularly helpful and also a bit challenging has been to think flexibly. I think that at this stage of my academic journey much of the work I have been doing has been very static and highly predictable. However, in my education courses, I have had to change my perspective of things I thought I knew well so that I could gain deeper understandings. It has been a fun challenge to think about how to plan instruction for those who may not see or understand things the way I do. I hope to be able to continue to push myself to think flexibly so that I may learn how to build enrichment programs and write curriculum for my future students.

Despite all this hard work and need for focus, I have found that humor has been one of the most helpful aspects of my journey. One of the reasons I love working with children is that there will always be humor in the experience. As I mentioned in one of my responses to this specific habit of mind, “Finding humor and incorporating humor into learning helps with engagement and helps build connections among teachers and students.” Finding humor helps us connect when we are still learning about each other.


An Entrance to My Life

I am Bradly Rivera, a 23 year-old learner and mentor. I connect with many of the habit’s of mind (HOB’s) but the one’s that hit home the most are “managing impulsivity,” “listening with understanding and empathy,” and “questioning and posing problems.”

I used to be a naturally impulsive person. It was hard for me to control the thoughts that came and I’d often just let that thought out, even though it may not have been a fully developed one. Luckily, as I grew and thought deeper I learned to control this and manage impulsivity. Along with learning to manage impulsivity came trying to listen to understand and show empathy. “To listen to what that person is trying to represent” is very important. For me it highlights not only being open-minded, but also trying to understand from a different POV. Thinking about the way a person has been shaped.

Along with being open-minded and show empathy, I’ve still carried that bit of impulsivity in me that always thinks to question everything. A quote by Einstein, “The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. … To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances” capitalizes on the human ability to communicate well. It’s something that more people should actively try to become better at and never stop.

Often times, questioning someone may be viewed as confrontational when it’s meant to be productive and garner new insight and information on a topic at hand. These habits of mind have been main drivers in shaping me in my later teen years. I became more self-aware and through that more knowledgeable of the world and people around me.


This is Me

My name is Branden Girtman. I am from Port Chester, New York. I Love to go to church and interact with people from all walks of life. I am a music teacher and one thing I love to do is listen to people. That may seem a little strange or something that is not normally said. Listening to people helps me to understand who they are, how they are, and why they are who they are.  Some people listen to respond instead of listening  to understand where the individual point of view. They will say things such as ” are you finish” which shows they are not listening. When I am having a conversation with someone and they have finished talking I say to them ” this is what I am getting from what you are saying” and I say what I got out of the conversation because I could be interpreting what they are saying wrong. Also, after I finish talking I would ask them ” what did you hear me say”? I ask this because I want them to understand where I am coming from and I want to understand where they are coming from. We should listen to understand and not wait to talk. Teaching music has helped me grow as a listener. When I am teaching music to a student we talk about life as well as music. I try to find a correlation between music and life. I try to show them that the disciple and dedication that is put into music can be put into others areas of life, such as school work,  which will lead to better interaction and relatability with the work they are doing.

I believe that in order to have compassion towards others we have to understand where the person is coming from as regards to their point of view. We must have compassion and put ourselves in the other person shoes so that we can understand them. I believe when we are faced with new things that we have to learn that we should face it with an open mind and look at it as an opportunity to learn and not look at it as being difficult. Things may be difficult at first because it’s the first time we are doing it. As we continue to work and become familiar with it, we will see that the task will become more natural to us and we will discover that we have the capability of doing and finishing the work. If we change how we look at things we will change the outcomes.


Three Habits Important to Me!

As a literacy teacher and lover of all things related to literacy (especially as it relates to technology), the habits of mind we have been working with have so many connections to the skills I want my students to develop as readers and writers.  Reading through the article, Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind by Arthur Costa, I noted two habits that directly connect to what research tells us effective readers and writers use.

Questioning and Posing Problems

Asking questions is essential to understanding because it helps us process what we are engaged with, such as a text, and actively participate in understanding it.  To me, I think asking questions and posing problems not only helps me comprehend information I’m receiving (such as when I’m reading, listening to someone, or viewing a movie) but it also helps me think critically about that information.  Here’s how I’m making that connection.

I moved to NYC in 2016 from the warm, sunny (well sometimes) lands of Florida.  I was born and raised in Florida and had no idea about winter weather.  I used to freeze when it was in the 50’s/60’s because the temperature rarely dipped below that!  My husband was born and raised in Massachusetts, so luckily I had a cold weather expert in my midst.  Along with reading about wintry weather, I asked so many questions to my husband about snow, driving on icy roads, and even what kind of clothes to get!  I also posed problems, like what do I do if the plow comes in and buries the car and what happens if the snow gets so high we can’t open the door outside?  He was sick and tired of me to be honest.  However, asking questions and posing problems helped me learn more about the wintry weather I was so fascinated with my first couple of years in NYC.  I’ve since learned it’s not that big a deal to my relief because it really doesn’t snow that much or get that high here in the city.  =) Now driving in it?!  Well, I just avoid that at all costs!

Applying Past Knowledge to New Situations

And here, again, we have another strategy that effective readers use to comprehend text. Being able to recall important prior knowledge and use it to understand a text is another high-impact reading strategy.  Research is so strong on the importance of applying prior knowledge that some say it is the single most important factor in determining how much readers will comprehend about a given topic is their level of prior knowledge about that topic (Cunningham, 2006).  This habit of mind extends that research noting that you need to apply it to new situations.

Another thing you can learn about me from reading my bio is that I’m an animal lover.  I’ve had pets of all sorts including a leopard gecko, beta fish, bunnies, turtles, guinea pigs, cat, and am now a proud parent of a puppy.  This all stemmed from the toy poodle that we owned when I was a child.  From my parents, I learned that animals need basic things such as food, water, and shelter, but should also have other things that aren’t essential such as walk, play time, and treats that enrich their lives.  I applied this knowledge to all of the pets that I’ve owned but had to extend that knowledge to learn the specific needs of different species of animals.  Did you know that bunnies make two different kinds of poops and actually eat their own poop?  One is a special poop after they eat called cecotropes. Because their diet is so fibrous, their intestines can’t process all of it and much of it comes out in their poop.  They eat this special poop which is soft and looks almost like blackberries to get the nutrients that they need from their food.

Responding with Wonderment and Awe

So while those two habits of mind relate closely to my current work, another habit that I’ve developed as a lifelong learner is to responding with wonderment and awe.  As a literacy teacher, I was struck with this habit of mind since it is one of the strategies that successful readers use to comprehend text. It seems that it’s not just about what you read, but being curious and wondering are habits of influential thinkers as well!

I wonder how technology adds to these habits of mind? Does our reliance on technology expand the list or add new habits we need to develop?  I’m a bit of a technology nerd in that I love all things dealing with digital tools.  I love tinkering with new platforms, such as Kumospace and YouthVoices, and experiencing awe at the way technology is changing our lives, frankly!  Thus, I think that this habit of mind truly explains my own perspective on life.  To be a lifelong learner, you must marvel at new information, tools, and experiences and wonder what other possibilities are!

I look forward to connecting with you all!


Hiding Out In Kindergarten: Edwin

Edwin is a child in my kindergarten class who comes into class each morning and picks a chapter book from the book crate. He is quiet and well-behaved and seems to be on task.  When I conduct a reading assessment, I realize that, while he knows his letters and sounds, he has very limited word recognition.  He does not seem to know how to blend sounds into words.  In addition, he has few sight words. Why was he pretend-reading chapter books?

I assign children to reading groups.  Edwin is with other emergent readers.  He seems very uncomfortable when he is asked to read a sentence in a predictable or decodable text.  In fact, he often seems to be unfocused. However, when he speaks to me one-on-one, he has a really sophisticated command of the language and an extensive knowledge base.  The rest of the emergent readers in his group do not have his oral language capability or his fund of knowledge. They lack his sophistication. However, they are learning to read the words in their predictable texts.  They are making way better progress than he is.

By December, Edwin is absent at least one or two days per week.  He seems less and less engaged.  He stares into space when he is in school.  He never makes trouble.  He just zones out.

Should I refer him to the intervention assistance team? There is a huge discrepancy between his oral skills and his reading ability.


Get to Know Me

Hello,
I was born in the Dominican Republic and my parents named me Regina. I was one of the eleven brothers and sisters who made my immediate family. Our main language is Spanish. My educational history in the Dominican Republic began after I left the village I was born in. I completed my elementary, intermediate, and secondary schooling in the Dominican Republic. Upon completion of high school, I entered college and became a substitute teacher. This marked the beginning of my teaching career. I attended college in the Dominican Republic known as Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) enrolled in a childhood education program.

My life took a sharp turn after migrating to the United States. After moving here, I was able to become the person I am today. I developed a connection to the habits of the mind, persisting, thinking flexibly, and listening with understanding.

Persisting is not giving up easily when pursuing a goal or objective. Challenges and differences of opinions are elements that need to be overcome as one persists in reaching a goal. This idea is a reflection of when I tried to transfer my school transcript from the Dominican Republic to a CUNY. I persisted for around five years trying to get the transcript until I finally got it. Having a flexible mind, I decided to enroll in a private school to get a medical lab degree and even with the transcript issue, it was still part of my agenda. Few years later, I made a few trips to the Dominican Republic and received the school papers to enter a CUNY school.

I started to see the implementation of the skill of thinking flexibly after working in an after school program (SCAN NY) in a public school in the Bronx. This skill showed me how to use different strategies in different situations to either meet the student or family needs. There were times when I changed my mind when disciplining or designing a lesson after thinking it over. At the same time, the skill of “listening with understanding and empathy” became apparent because while working with families in the poor community, many parents were facing different challenges and were able to listen and find solutions to some of their needs. The same occurred while working with young students in the program who were non English language speakers and I had to listen and find solutions to their problems. During this time working with these families and children, I found out that I had to persist in becoming a teacher because I am able to listen, understand and work with them to meet their social, academic, and any other possible needs.


Using Habits of Mind to Play Music Better

Hello!

My name is Jesse and I am a music teacher with a background in creative approaches. I’ve chosen three of Costa’s Habits of Mind to summarize myself as a teacher and also my approach to learning. Hopefully these will paint an accurate portrait of what it might be like to study with me.

Firstly, is the Habit of Listening With Understanding and Empathy. Costa writes that “[s]ome psychologists believe that the ability to listen to another person—to empathize with and to understand that person’s point of view—is one of the highest forms of intelligent behavior.”

I would agree with this, but I would also argue that empathetic listening is especially fundamental to learning how to play music, both in an ensemble and solo setting. Whether you’re listening (or watching) a conductors cues, hearing and interpreting a drummer’s time feel or, finding a way to fit in with a chordal instrument player’s improvised harmonic structure, or trying to interpret a composer’s musical intentions (even if that composer is yourself!) you’ll certainly be exercising your ability to deeply and viscerally understand what your senses are pulling in, particularly in relationship to others.

Next, the Habit of Creating, Imagining and Innovating. Costa stresses the importances of looking at particular problems from many different perspectives. This is certainly applicable to music. Sometimes we don’t know how to make each other sound good, and the answer isn’t so obvious. Maybe there is something in an orchestration which is causing certain voices to clash. Maybe two people aren’t feeling the rhythmic structure in the same way. Or perhaps someone’s instrument is out of tune. Perhaps there’s a mistake hiding in the score. In any case, the ability to examine situations from all sides is crucial to excellence in music.

Costa also emphasizes that creative thinking involves being able to handle criticism. This leads me to my next Habit of Mind — Taking Responsible Risks. I think that a healthy willingness to embrace the possibility of being wrong is certainly bound up with the ability to solve problems. If we only allow ourselves to find solutions that already lie within our comfort zone, then we’d likely be unintentionally acting as the barriers to our own success .

Some of my most valued lifelong teachers have told me, “if you want to play improvised music well, you have to be prepared to sound bad.” I’ve taken this to essentially mean “not all ideas work so well as well as we think that they will from the outset, but in order to find the good ideas, a certain amount of trial-and-error may be necessary.” This guidance has only rung more true the older I’ve grown and the more experience I’ve gained.


Irreplaceable

In the United States, I learned how to think flexibly to respect individuals’ ideas. It is essential to listen to and value other people’s opinions. I try to be open-minded; so I can learn from others. At the same time, I try to put my feet in other people’s shoes while considering why they behave or express themselves the way they do.

I have a minor in Creative Writing, which means I love to be creative in a variety of ways. I spent most of my time thinking and imagining different scenarios, ideas, and possibilities around me (“what if” is endless).


A New Creation

Have you heard of the Dunning-Kruger Effect? This is a common occurrence where the most confident people are not the experts, but the ones with only a slight understanding about a given topic. Psychologists believe this happens because these overly-confident novices do not realize the depth of the subject they, in actuality, know very little about. True experts know they always have more to learn. I think the Dunning-Kruger Effect essentially summarizes a fair part of my 20’s! Perhaps it is because I am older and (hopefully) wiser, or because I didn’t start college until I was 33, but I feel there is always more to learn about the world and the people in it.

I am entering into the education workforce from a lengthy background as a performing artist. In the past, I have made my living from playing violin, as a dancer, actor, director, and choreographer. When my life shifted to no longer revolve around show business, I experienced a crisis of self-identification. Who am I if my occupation on my taxes is no longer “artist”? It became critical to reconsider my understanding of creativity. Creativity isn’t limited to fine arts or performing arts. Creativity can be an essay on Beowulf, or approaching a math problem in a new way, or finding a more efficient way to load the dishwasher. In my new career as a student and soon-to-be educator, I see the planning, execution, and problem solving that occurs in a classroom as an extreme exercise in creativity and flexibility.

Unless something remarkably surprising happens, in a year’s time, I will be preparing to begin my first year as an English Language Arts teacher. I’m looking forward to helping my future students improve their skills in communication, particularly through the written word. Writing is a wonderful* way to express one’s ideas because of the opportunity one has to carefully consider their words and to revise. In speech, once the words are out, there is no retrieving them! I half-joke that I am much smarter on paper than I appear in person, but I think that might be accurate for many people. I’m looking forward to seeing my future students grow in their abilities to express their inner worlds, especially in writing.

*Yes, I used the word “wonderful.” It may seem hyperbolic, but have you considered the enormity of what writing is? Arrangements of dashes, swoops, and dots on a page or a screen share the electric impulses that are shooting about in my brain with anyone who views and interprets them, and this can and likely will outlast my life!


Mental Health Awareness in Schools

HEALTH

Mental Health

Mental, refers to our minds. Health is being free from illness or injury. When you put the two together, you get mental health which means that our minds are free from the agony and pain of the world. With so much going on in the world, the pressure. How does ones mind stay clear, open, free to think and live without the stresses of the world. Especially in a school setting where many lives and personalities mesh together to create a school environment.

Mental health is a social issue that sometimes can be put off, not wanting to be seen as weakness. Our minds were meant to be open and free to navigate through life’s journey. Silence can leave a person suffering with no one to talk about issues of life. Be the change, reach out and grasp someone and let them know that you are there for them to release.


How can schools impact mental health awareness?


Making Connections between Habits, Deeper Learning, Anti-Racist Pedagogy

My Personal Habits of Mind Connections to LUTE STEM

Back in 2019, I was asked by SCALE (a Stanford University center) to work on the creation of Deeper Learning modules for pre-service teachers. With support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, educators across the nation have been trying to come up with operational definitions of the Deeper Learning competencies that would lead to successful learning outcomes in the nation’s schools. The Deeper Learning competencies, which must be “teachable, measurable and evidence-based” (Farrington, 2013, p.2),  are: mastery of academic content, critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, communication, and academic mindset. I was assigned to a team that was charged with the responsibility of creating a module that focused on academic mindset. We  developed a module around the theme of  “productive struggle.” How do you get students to take on challenging tasks and stay the course? The module is described on the CUNY TEd OER web site.

This past year, I signed up for an online community of practice facilitated by two Lehman colleagues, Stacy Katz and Sherry Deckman. The title of the asynchronous offering was “Open for Anti-Racism” (OFAR). We were introduced to how open education resources and anti-racist pedagogy could complement one another. Working with colleagues across disciplines and at different stages of their academic careers was both inspiring and humbling. While the content (which was superbly curated and organized) was not entirely unfamiliar to me, much was framed in ways that caused me to re-think how I designed courses for graduate students in the organizational leadership master’s program and how I should approach course design in the new Ed.D. program. I put Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion front and center. By doing so, I recalled the powerful notion of universal design, so much more satisfying than the notion of differentiated instruction. Central to universal design is the power of technology to enhance accessibility and to provide agency to many whose voices have not been heard.

How do these two professional experiences inform my understanding of Costa’s Habits of Mind?  First, let me say that the Habits of Mind are not entirely new territory for me.  As an educational psychologist, I had come into contact with Costa’s work in the 80’s but had not thought about it in some time. However, my LUTE STEM experience, paired with the SCALE work and new understanding based on the OFAR workshop, have breathed new life into the Habits of Mind for me.  Listen to my podcast to find out how my thinking about the Habits of Mind has morphed and taken me to a new place.

https://www.youthvoices.live/category/semester-published/summer-2022/