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Topic Archives: 21st Century Skills & Flexible Thinking

Summer Assignment: Foster Creativity

June 2, 2019

If you read one education book this summer, consider Alan Lightman’s In Praise of Wasting Time. If it strikes too close to home, you’re not alone. Lightman articulates what many of us are feeling. That our very wired, very stressful lives are driven by a pervasive feeling of #FOMO (fear of missing out). We feel we need to be purposeful (or at least seen to be) every minute of every day. And it’s exhausting. The Joy of Doing Nothing Lightman begins with a vivid reflection on his childhood, as he describes, his “careless, wasteless hours at the pond.”  He makes us wistful for the joy of doing nothing.  While Lightman mourns that loss, at least he has memories. His concern is that today’s kiddos won’t… Read More

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How to Teach Students Creativity

February 18, 2019

  You can’t teach students creativity the same way you can teach algebra or reading. But research shows that creative thinking can be developed and nurtured over time, similar to a growth mindset. The key is to recognize how creativity develops and create environments that foster creative thinking. Mindprint’s FIVE steps to creative transformation 1. FOUNDATION  There is no substitute for a deep foundation of subject-specific content knowledge. The more you know about a topic, the more chances there are to see opportunities. If we want students to be creative thinkers, it is essential that we continuously expand their knowledge base and fill in any gaps that arise along the way in core, subject-specific knowledge. HINT: Students with weaker verbal memory can… Read More

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Want to Ensure College and Career Readiness? Develop Flexible Thinking

December 17, 2018

Note: This is one of a 10 blog series on learning traits. Read about all 10 learning traits here. It’s true that verbal and abstract reasoning are the cognitive skills that predict academic achievement. The ability to make sense of complex information is undeniably essential to learning at every age. But once students leave the K12 classroom, research suggests that flexible thinking might be equally important to college and career readiness. As explained by author Eric Barker, “Schools reward students who consistently do what they are told— and life rewards people who shake things up.” What is flexible thinking? Flexible thinking is the ability to shift gears or change direction to adjust to unexpected circumstances or novel problems. Educators might be acutely aware of students who struggle with flexibility, even if they don’t always realize it. They might view these… Read More

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According to Google Execs, The Most Important STEM Skills

April 4, 2018

No surprise that schools and parents are heavily focused on STEM skills these days. Careers in STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and math, grew 6 times faster than the number of non-STEM jobs in the last decade, while paying an average of 29% more than non-STEM careers. While majoring in a STEM field isn’t for everyone, pursuing a STEM field is likely to put students on a path to better job security and financial stability. Provided, of course, they are good at their job once they get there. Interestingly, though, two internal studies of workplace success at Google suggest that the most successful workers aren’t the ones with the superior STEM skills. Rather, they are those with good STEM skills and some combination of strengths in 7 other… Read More

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Positive Self Talk: Phrases Every Kid Needs

June 6, 2017

Words can be amazingly powerful. If you want kids to feel better and succeed, start with positive self  talk. While real behavioral change is admittedly hard and takes time, changing the language we use is relatively quick and simple. When we eliminate phrases from our vocabulary that take us down, it has a remarkably immediate and effective impact. Words won’t change everything, but they are an essential first step in re-framing a situation. 1. SHOULD HAVE/ SHOULD BE Seriously, get ‘should’ out of your vocabulary. Think about every time you hear the word. It suggests you’ve done something wrong or someone has wronged you. Either way, you likely feel hurt, upset or dissatisfied which often leads to blaming someone else. “I should have gotten an ‘A’ on that… Read More

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Do You Really Need a United Front in Parenting?

March 23, 2017

Nancy Weinstein offers a mother’s contrarian view, admittedly developed out of desperation Is a United Front in Parenting Essential? Conventional wisdom dictates the importance of children experiencing a united front in parenting when it comes to rules, discipline and behavior. If Dad says it, Mom needs to back him up. And vice versa. Otherwise, psychologists tell us, children will feel confused and not have the structure they need to feel safe and secure. According to Laurence Steinberg, Ph.D., author of The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting, “My advice is that if your child is not yet eleven or so, you and your spouse should do what you can to present a united front. It will make life a lot easier for… Read More

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How to Get Kids to Do What You Want

February 15, 2017

Without question the best way to get kids, all kids, to do what you want them to do is… Let them choose. If this is a new concept to you and you are dealing with a teenager I’m not going to guarantee it will work the first time. However, after a few trials you are likely to discover why this approach, while perhaps against our most visceral impulses, is far more effective than asking, telling or demanding a child to do what you want. Why it works? Quite simply, choice empowers. When students choose, they take responsibility, and when they take responsibility they follow through. Glorious isn’t it? Ok, so it doesn’t always work perfectly. But as you get more comfortable letting… Read More

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News Fatigue: Supporting Students in Challenging Times

February 2, 2017

by Nancy Weinstein Is there anyone not feeling news fatigue? It’s hard to watch and yet you must. If you are a parent or teacher the challenges are compounded. Quite simply, you can’t hide kids from the news. And lest we forget, kids are not little adults. In most cases, they are not socially, emotionally and intellectually ready to process the drama, trauma, and full implications of what they are hearing, seeing and reading. Our solution: business news. Yes, business news. The networks like CNBC, Bloomberg TV, and Fox Business that cover the daily markets. While their programming of charts, graphs, and, let’s face it, [mostly] men in suits might not garner the same enthusiasm of general news, you can rely on them for factual, bi-partisan information across… Read More

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Play Hard, Study Hard: What Cognitive Skills Tell Us

November 30, 2016

Research on cognitive skills gives powerful insight into what we should generally expect from children behaviorally, emotionally and academically at every age. Scientists from University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine Brain Behavior Lab evaluated nearly 10,000 children ages 8 to 21. They began with fMRI scans and then moved to an online assessment to analyze brain development at every age. Their data is fascinating. What We’ve Known About Cognitive Skills We’ve know for a long time that childhood is a period of rapid brain development. It is important that students shouldn’t be coasting and they shouldn’t be stretched too far beyond their comfort zone. In other words, they should be working in a state of “desirable difficulties” according to Dr. Robert A. Bjork. What’s News About Cognitive Skills from the Brain… Read More

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35 Strategies for Teaching Growth Mindset

November 15, 2016

Teaching Growth Mindset Teaching growth mindset starts with modeling the mindset we want children to have. Children learn most by observing trusted adults. Educators know the power of growth mindset. It is having a positive attitude to our successes as well as our disappointments. Growth mindset enables us to succeed in the face of adversity. Fortunately, we know growth mindset can be taught. Even better is that it is never too late to develop a growth mindset. Using Growth Mindset Strategies Use the links below for the top strategies for teaching growth mindset. Consider starting with Respect and Validate Feelings. All teaching starts with a strong relationship. As you choose strategies, add them to your Mindprint Action Plan. Then gradually add additional strategies over time. Student-led strategies are best for middle school and above. Adult-led strategies… Read More

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