Tuesday, April 15, 2014


This year, I have a group of little friends who can sometimes give up a little too easily. And maybe some friends who want to do the minimum required. And some others who give up after one try. And maybe some more who only try one way at problem solving before quitting. Do you??!

I have my classroom rules about kindness and respect, but I have never had a list of rules about effort and persistence before! I went to visit Teachers College in March and had a workshop with Kristi Mraz (co-author of Smarter Charts), and it was all about teaching persistence and grit in early childhood classrooms. It was the best workshop I visited that day, by far! I came back with so much to share with my kids.

Kristi recommended teaching the character traits persistence, optimism, resilience, and flexibility through children's books. I also think effort and stamina are important, so I include those as well. For example, in the book "Worm Builds", a super easy reader for a K or 1st grade student, worm shows so much persistence! His tower gets knocked down again and again, and worm builds! This simple text has such a powerful message. "The Carrot Seed" teaches persistence, optimism, and effort, all in one book! "Dex: Heart of a Hero" teaches about stamina, resilience and persistence! The Pete the Cat series is all about optimism. Fabulous for teaching that character trait!

I decided to teach each trait exclusively, and with each trait, I introduced a superhero themed poster for our classroom. I call these our "brain superpowers"! To grab yours, click below.

 Clip Art and Fonts are from Ashley Hughes, Krista Wallden, and Kimberly Geswein Fonts.

I also do a lot of work to make sure we don't forget about our brain superpowers. Currently, when students are demonstrating one of the six brain superpowers, we make a big deal out of it. I have two owl themed chair covers (coveted in our classroom!), and a student demonstrating the brain superpower gets to have the special chair for the day. Kristi Mraz made crowns for her students that read the name of the powers (maybe something to try for next year!) I'm currently in the process of creating little certificates for each brain superpower (sort of like A Cupcake for the Teacher's cute clip chart certificates!). I can't wait to use these! I'm thinking of so many other ways to integrate our brain superpowers :)

Next year, I plan to introduce these during the first week of school, and I will also talk about it in detail with parents at curriculum night. This year, it was introduced much later, and it's working so well, I am excited to continue it next year! I've definitely noticed my students trying to put forth more effort and persistent, and I love that they are using words like this (great for vocabulary!) in first grade.

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