Willpower

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Delayed gratification is defined as the ability to resist the temptation of an immediate reward and wait for a later  reward ( Wikipedia).

As children strengten their willpower, they need to learn when not to rely on it. In the Marshmallow experiment, many children tried to resist the temptation by staring at the marshmallow and willing to be strong. Staring at it weakened the willpower, they gave in and ate it. The ones that resisted for fifteen minutes tipically made it by finding something distracting. They turned around, covered their eyes, played with their clothes or sang a song. A few videos like this will reveal adorable children facing temptation.

Controlling attention is important. But the most important is that you need willpower to control attention ( Baumeister and Tierney, 2012)

Mihaela’s challenge: wait 15 minutes to get a second marshmallow if you don’t eat the one you have on the plate. Alex’s challenge: wait 15 minutes without eating the chocolate bar. If you resist temptation, you get 3 bars. In a week time.

Refining the basics of self-control involves setting clear and realistic goals, providing quick feedback, and offering encouragement to keep practicing and improving. Succes is within your reach if you build on the discipline to try, try, try again. (Baumeister and Tierney, 2012).

As intelligence is not a sure predictor of success, we can exercise self-control and resilience with rewards at the end of the day, breaking big projects into chunks, writing goals down and making them visible or even cross-country events that may increase the appreciation of long term rewards.

“Willpower is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

References:

Baumeister, F. and Tierney, J. 2012. Willpower: Why Self-Control is the Secret of Success.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Building Communication and Trust Towards a Powerful School Culture

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Under the 4 Generations 4 Education generous agenda of events I have presented a workshop that focused on communication and trust as successful elements to construct a powerful school culture.

Hosted by the the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai, this event was an excellent opportunity to identify, explore and broaden the perspective over the settings we are activating as educators and to share strategies that give results.

We have inquired over various concepts such as constructionism, trustworthiness, listening, Activity Theory, assessment, Zone of Proximal Development and scaffolding, school culture, vision and mission, learning environments and most of all we had fun in a group of dedicated educators.

We examined the characteristics of elevated communication and we have identified challenges of how communication is shaping relationships. Investigating conceptual understandings for constructing a positive learning environment and reviewing the purposes of assessment were areas that often positioned us out of our comfort zone.

The time will prove the success of this event, as when returning inspired to our schools we will empower students and colleagues towards continuing this learning adventure that started on the 28th and 29th of October.

As educators, I believe  we are seeking more for learning in adventure  than adventure in learning! This workshop has been an adventure where learning happened at a high level and I’ve felt inspired by the professionals I worked with!  Thank you!

When looking for valuable opportunitie to develop professionally, 4 Generations 4 Education takes this mission beyond expectations and sets a high standard in international educational services.

 

Leadership Understanding in Grade 3

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We were impressed about the homework that connected with Alex’s unit of inquiry in grade 3. The central idea is: “Leadership can be exhibited in different settings and scopes”.

Through the key concepts of form, perspective and responsibility, students inquire about the characteristics of leaders, circumstances that shape them, and various opportunities for leadership that they can explore in the community.

Using his thinking skills, researching and communication, Alex shortlisted his grand mother, Khaled Abdul Malak, his mother, Sue, a Stamford educator, and he decided to illustrate  Marcus Smith and his leadership skills in the homework. Marcus is the founder of InnerFight, and he is a highly qualified performance coach and an international athlete. Although they have met only a few times in Marcus’ Dubai based gym (once at 5.00 am), Alex is definitely inspired and has a strong understanding of the powerful messages sent through living this lifestyle. His perspective on leadership is exemplified in the homework.

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Thanks to Mandala Barab, Alex’s class teacher  and the group of educators collaborating on the unit’s strategies, grade 3 students are starting the year equiped with meaningful experiences that empower them to make connections and transfer them into real life.

 

Games Are Serious Fun! What About Gamification?

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In gamification elements of computer gaming are applied to non-game context with the purpose to increase motivation and engagement of students. “Gamification tends to take the use of game outside of a defined space and apply the concepts to items like walking up steps, tracking the number of miles run, or making a sales call” (Kapp, 2012).

From Kapp’s point of view, gamification is not the same as games. We tend to associate it with badges and leaderboards, but it should be more about fun and play into the experiences we create. Zombies, Run for example is a game that motivates runners to train harder and do more miles. Experienced educators introduce games and play into their strategies, and digital gamification is an extension of this practice.

Gamification provides a context where students can apply their knowledge and skills which focus on a learning objective. In this context, games should have a clear goal for the players, as well as a learning outcome.

On the other hand, as an educator, you really have to take time and plan the lessons introducing gamification very throughly, because you don’t want your students to take it as an invitation to play video games, but to understand that they need to withdraw strategies from them and apply them in real life, trying to free themselves from conventional ideas and find that special feeling that any idea can be possible with the right twist. As an educator, you always have to have in mind both sides of a story and take in consideration also those who see the downside of a subject, like Selwyn (2014). Selwyn has a more critical view over gamification, mentioning that there is a risk of promoting short-term engagement in tasks, with an increased risk of longer-term disengagement.

With this in mind, this year I have built a website for my grade 5 students that was intended to maximize their physical activity throughout the two sessions a week we spent together. As an element that motivated their actions I have included Sworkit, a fitness app that influenced their behaviour in an active way. They encouraged each other based on their results, they built on the skills they were practicing during the unit and they acquired knowledge. All these outcomes were highlighted in the Slack chat they performed, showcasing the drive of innovation they have faced. These outcomes were closely linked to the central idea of the unit: “We can develop and maintain physical fitness by applying basic training principles”.

After this experience, I am thinking that we can use various insights and creative ideas to design our own, interactive learning experiences. Games and gamification are everywhere nowdays, and games are created much easier than before. Google Glasses or Nike+ are products that became common, therefore the need to build on adding gamification to our learning environments.
Looking back, children were learning through simple play, whereas, with the present mobile technology, they have the world at their fingertips.

Turning game based into knowledge is challenging, but not impossible. Gamification brings the consequences of not reaching the next level and puts the learners into an emotional state where they have to take action, to reach a certain number of points or a different level, and this drives in them a behavioural change. When thinking about the most effective learning moment in our lives we remember the frustration and hardness of the tasks and then the “Aha!” moment. In these cases, over time, gamification reinforces learning and changes behaviours.

Kapp (2012) evidences three core elements of gamification:
First, a visual notification of the progress is visible, and learners like to see progress. Students interact with each other, asking about a tough question or a task. There is an excitement of knowing something from the whole topic, and this is the second element. Third, students are learning at their own pace, so a personalisation of learning is allowed and amplified by the feedback that keeps motivation at high levels.

Before we develop gamification to better foster learning, I believe that is important to ask ourselves these questions:
What are the three reasons driving this game or gamification?
Is the emphasis placed too much on fun aspects of the game and not enough on the learning?
Does the game play include an opportunity for reflection of the learning?
Having these aspects in mind may enhance the quality of the learning experiences we create.

How do you enhance your students’ learning through gamification? Many of us are already integrating it in the experiences we design, but do we always keep the educational purpose beyond the positive effects that gamification offers?

I enjoyed watching this two videos that highlight Kapp’s vision over gamification:

References:
Kapp, K. M. (2012) The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Case-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education.
Selwyn, N. (2014) Chapter 5 of Distrusting educational technology : critical questions for changing times.

Let the P.E. continue…

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The modern Olympic Games are showcasing the best athletes from all over the world, every four years.

The new academic year has just started and we will continue to engage, empower and experience for another year, nurturing future new stars in Physical Education.

We’ll take each day and make the best out of it; come and be part of our team! Let the PE continue…

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Special Play Holiday

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Weeks ago, my friends asked me about computer games or applications that I would recommend for children. Without using any searching engine, I do have my favourite ones, as an educator and parent.

Usually, our children ask for the iPad to see a movie or cartoons. I do my best to distract their focus so I created a “Special Play” folder, that is designed only for gifted children who want to experiment the ultimate games. If you have children, you know what I mean.
When they ask for the iPad to play, we mirror it on a big TV screen. Interesting enough, they take turns, encourage each other and compare their results. After 20 minutes, my son would be sweating like a marathon runner and my daughter would run to the kitchen, screaming for water.
One solution for rainy days, that can save money and time. Ladies and gentlemen, Special Play list of apps:

Bit Breaker

Dungeon Run

Pop Flux

Bird Up

Sport Search

Brain Jump

Ned the Neuron

Have fun this holiday!

Building Communication and Trust Towards a Powerful School Culture

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We are striving when we interact and face the challenges of working in a group. Getting out of our comfort zone is not an easy task. At the end of the day, who likes it? Well, this attitude can be educated and transformed into a habit. 4 Generations 4 Education thinks ahead and offers fantastic opportunities for educators. If you plan on leadding the  students to meaningul learning paths, sign in for these great workshops. Early bird tickets available.

It will be my pleasure to meet with like-minded educators from all over the world, this October, in Dubai. See you there!

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