Doing well in school, we know, isn't only about academic "smarts." It's also about habits, like self-control and motivation. These habits--or strengths--help kids succeed in school and life. Like muscles, they can be built through practice. WKCD has created an 11-min video for students that introduces these habits: managing stress, self-control, motivation, persistence, curiosity, resourcefulness, and self-confidence. We've also created a handout with ideas students can practice to build their character muscles. We're told the video and handbook are perferct for advisory classes.
Few ideas about learning have made their way as quickly into the lexicon of educators as growth mindset. WKCD has assembled five short videos that provide a lively introduction to growth mindset and why it matters, for students as well as teachers. At the end of each video we offer suggestions for activities and assignments, for use by teachers (as part of a professional development workshop) and by students (as part of their classroom learning). We encourage you to browse through the presentation and pick those videos that work for your situation and audience--and to amend the suggested activities

 

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Giving Back at a Small Texas High School: Where Service Is Core
It’s a Friday morning in early October and instead of lugging backpacks to class, students at Quest Early College High School in Humble (pronounced “umble”), Texas are traveling light. As they do every Friday throughout the school year, the students jump into buses that will take them to the “service sites” where they will spend the next four hours.The school’s 300 plus students fan out across their suburban community, 25 miles north of downtown Houston—to elementary schools, a center for disabled young adults, an animal shelter, a hospital clinic, a nursing home, and more. For almost two decades, this small progressive high school has made service learning core and its students say they can't imagine attending a regular high school where the chance to give back wasn't prized.
A System of Working Parts: Learning by Heart at Springfield Renaissance School
To start a school from the ground up resembles architecture in some ways. Imagining its future occupants, we make fundamental design choices based on dreams and ideals as much as practicalities. Springfield Renaissance School began with its own idealistic vision: a magnet middle and high school that would bolster the uncertain futures of youth in this diverse and hard-pressed Massachusetts city. Though nearby colleges and universities abound, 78 percent of Springfield’s school-age children live in poverty, and manufacturing jobs have dried up. In this context, the school set an ambitious goal: 100 percent college acceptance. To inspire and support the work ahead, it chose Expeditionary Learning (EL), a longstanding national school network that offered a well-documented approach, a cadre of experienced coaches, and a focus on social and emotional development in the service of academic excellence.
"They Never Give Up ": Learning by Heart at Chicago's Fenger High School
In September 2009, Chicago's Fenger High School became a poster child for urban school violence when rival gangs beat to death an honors student on his way home. Four years later, the school is making news again: as a turnaround school, whose staff does everything in its power to build a community of supports where failure is not an option. Transforming long-failing urban high schools like Fenger demands a complex set of moving parts. "They Never Give Up" provides a snapshot of how these moving parts work together at Fenger, especially how the social and emotional support that students experience outside class reinforces their learning and behavior in class. Audio of student voices, recorded during our visit, enlarge our sense of the extraordinary challenges that youth and adults face daily here, as they struggle to distill hope from heartbreak.
Documenting Stories of Immigration in Your Community
Immigration issues continue to fire up passionate dialogue across America, nationally and locally. One of the best ways to engage students in this critical debate, we believe, is to have them gather the stories (and images) of immigrants near at hand—almost every community in the nation has become a home to newcomers. Your students can bring back powerful interviews if they venture into their communnities to talk to immigrants they meet or know. WKCD learned this when we coached and then published such work by New York City students in our photo essay book Forty-Cent Tip: Stories of New York City Immigrant Workers. Here we are offer a look at our coaching guidelines—and a chance to be published—in the hope that you will try the project, too.
Conditions of Learning: Research Highlights
How do youth learn best in the high schools years? What “conditions of learning” help students thrive? What structures and practices get in the way? Decades of research in the learning and cognitive sciences suggest the core elements. The learning is in-depth and immersive. It provides growing challenges and opportunites to exercise new capacities. It attends to motivation and supports developmentally appropriate agency. It provides opportunities to apply knowledge and make meaning of learning experiences. It recognizes the importance of emotion in learning. It links assessment closely to the learning process. It is culturally diverse. It is supported by a rich or multidimensional adult role.
Mindsets: Research Highlights
What do mindsets have to do with learning? Why is a “growth mindset” so important? How does an “academic mindset” shape student performance? Why do young people need to develop "agency?" In this research brief, part of our howyouthlearn.org, we summarize the core attitudes and beliefs that deeply influence student success in school--beliefs students hold about their own abilities (and their malleability), their efficacy, their sense of belonging, and everyday behaviors like attending school regularly.
 
 

 

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