“How Full Is your Bucket?” by Rath and Clifton

October 4, 2014 2 comments

Many teachers at my school have read this book since we are a “PBIS” School, ie. Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports. The bucket filling idea fits right into PBIS.

Chapter one told the story of the Korean war which had the highest POW death rate in US military history. The Koreans used “relentless negativity” that broke down all interpersonal relationships by withholding all positive emotional support. After studying this phenomenon the authors asked the question “Can positivity have an even stronger impact than negativity?” This allowed them to come up with the idea of the bucket. Here is the description: “Everyone has an invisible bucket. We are at our best when our buckets are overflowing – and at our worst when they are empty. Everyone also has an invisible dipper. In each interaction, we can use our dipper either to fill or to dip from others’ buckets. Whenever we choose to fill others’ buckets, we in turn fill our own.”

Chapter two discusses what being appreciated can do or not do for employees. The number one reason people leave their jobs are because they don’t feel appreciated.  65% of Americans received no recognition in the workplace last year. Bad bosses could increase the risk of stroke by 33%. A study found that negative employees can scare off every customer they speak with — for good.

Chapter three talks about all the studies on negativity, but there are now a lot of studies on positivity. 9 out of 10 people say they are more productive when they’re around positive people.  We experience approximately 20,000 individual moments every day.  Memorable moments are always positive or negative. In some cases, a single encounter can change your life forever. John Gottman’s pioneering research  on marriages suggests there is a “magic ratio” of 5 to 1 – in terms of our balance of positive to negative interactions. When the ratio approaches to 1 to 1, marriages “cascade to divorce.” Increasing positive emotions could lengthen life span by 10 years. Barbara Fredrickson, director of the Positive Emotions and Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Michigan, researched positivity and concludes that following benefits: protect us from negative emotions, fuel resilience, transform people, broaden thinking, break down racial barriers, build durability, produce optimal functioning, and improve overall performance of a group.

Chapter four is all about the author Tom’s story. He grew up around adults who encouraged all of his interests. He was very positive, then cancer hit and he has lived with much negativity. Tom took his positivity and did not worry about what could happen. He lived life to the fullest. He was able to do this because of his support around him. A negative event can not take all that way from him and we should not let it take it away from us either.

Chapter five is titled “Make it Personal”. What is positive for one person is not always positive for another. We all need to discover what makes our co-workers thrive. For one, it might be public recognition for a job well done, others may prefer a personalized gift or note. Get to know your co-workers so you know how to say “thank you” professionally and personally.

At the end of the book there is a list of the five strategies:

  1. Prevent Bucket Dipping- before you speak, think if that will fill a bucket or empty a bucket.
  2. Shine a Light on What is Right – this is the same theory from the book “Catch Them Being Good
  3. Make Best Friends – relationships make life worth living
  4. Give unexpectedly – everyone loves surprises
  5. Reverse the Golden Rule – “do unto others as they would have you do unto them”

For more information read the book “How Full is your Bucket?” or visit their website www.bucketbook.com.

Kids from 17 Countries Send a Message

September 22, 2014 Leave a comment


This was a quick but powerful Peace Video that has my school’s 2nd graders in it.

Originally posted on Map without Borders:

As educators, we have an amazing ability to connect our kids globally and allow them to see each other, not as strangers to be afraid of, but as other kids much like themselves…with families, video games, favorite books, and hope and dreams. We are one. In these three words lie the stability of our world. Educators hold that power to connect unlike any politician, peace-keeper, corporation or humanitarian organization.

Our Global Friendships. From the USA, Taiwan, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, and Malaysia….as a small group of educators from around the world, we meet monthly on Skype to create a better way to educate our students…and it has evolved into a model for other teachers. We create and plan together, and then we connect our students through our own curriculum. The kids collaborate and learn with their peers around the world.

And what comes of all of that? Well, for us, students who understand the global world we live…

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#Mindset by Carol Dweck

September 12, 2014 2 comments

The book mindset reminded me of talking to a friend. The simplicity and flow of stories created an easy book about a fascinating topic. In Mindset, Carol Dweck discuss the study in psychology of people’s own beliefs have power.  Her definitions of the two mindsets is perfect: “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset- creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.” “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” That doesn’t mean that anyone can be a classic violinist, but it does mean that the possibilities of what we can create are unknown.

Carol Dweck discusses that the same person can have a growth mindset at certain mindset, but a fixed mindset at work. She asks “When do you feel smart: when you’re flawless or when your learning?” Growth mindset people thrive in challenges, whereas fixed mindset people thrive on success.

NASA believes there is potential for those who have had significant failures and bounced back from them. They have rejected applicants for astronauts who have a pure history of success. A famous ballet teacher, Marina Semyonova, selected her students based on those who were energized by criticism.

John McEnroe had a fixed mindset and ended up blaming others for mistakes that he made. Michael Jordan had a growth mindset. He didn’t even make his middle school basketball team and he worked hard to develop his abilities.

The movie “Groundhog Day” is the perfect example of someone with a fixed mindset who after many, many repeated days realizes that he can change and has a growth mindset at the end of the movie. Carol Dweck believes you can change. It is not that all growth mindset people are high achievers. But they learn from their mistakes and know that they can try to grow. “The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.”

This mindset theory has implications for the educational world. Think of Jaime Escalante (of Stand and Deliver fame) who took his students and taught them Calculus. Think of Marva Collins who worked with inner-city Chicago kids. She taught second grade and had her students reading fifth grade reader and authors such as Shakespeare, Poe, Frost and Dickinson. Teachers need to believe that all students can grow. In today’s fast changing educational climate, teachers need to believe that they themselves can grow.

The growth mindset believes that success is when we are learning and improving, they want to take charge of the process that brings and maintains success. But for the fixed mindset success is superiority and these people blame others when success does not find them. Fixed mindset people look for their ability and talent to make you successful. They do not take control of motivation or ability.

The relationship chapter made me laugh a little because the fixed mindset people seem to think “If you have to work at it, it wasn’t meant to be.” I have known so many people who believe that.  So crazy!  I also like “My partner should know what I think, feel, and need…”   Shyness usually is worse for fixed mindset people because they are more concerned with judgement.  Along with this most bullies seem to be fixed mindset because they get a boost of self-esteem. To help this in schools, we must create an atmosphere of collaboration and self-improvement, not one of judgment.

As parents and teachers every word we say can give them the fixed or growth message. Do you want your children or students to believe they have permanent traits and they are being judged or  that they are a developing person? Loved this quote from the author “you know, in France, when they’re nice to you, you feel like you’ve passed a test. But in Italy, there is no test.” That is the difference between growth and fixed. As adults we need to encourage that “skills and achievement come through commitment and effort.” The book also states that “the great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talent, and they are fascinated with the process of learning.”  “Fixed minded teachers often think of themselves as finished products. Their role is simply to impart their knowledge.” Growth minded teachers LOVE LEARNING and a good way to learn is to try to teach someone else.

The coaches she talks about are: Bobby Knight for the fixed and John Wooden for the growth. With the growth mindset you look at each lose with the idea that you can learn and improve.  With the fixed, it means that something was wrong. Many believe success lulls you into complacency. Failure helps you get better.

I wish I could just read this book to my students and fellow teachers. It is an amazing book, with many significant connections to teaching. There might be more to come. I see they have a Brainology website at http://www.mindsetworks.com/. Check it out if you have time.

One Idea is for Schools to ask all teachers to read pages 164-206, which is about teaching and coaching.

Mystery Skype #mysteryskype

September 7, 2014 Leave a comment

This month at Woodmen-Roberts we will be participated in a Mystery Skype call with ?????. Our 2nd grade class will be the first ones to try it on Tuesday. The way this works is we call and try to guess where they are in the world. They will ask us Yes/No Questions to determine where we were located (just the state). We then will ask them Yes/No Questions to determine where they were from. We divided the students in groups and each had a different task. Some were Google Mappers, Atlas, Fact Recorders, Photographers (to document our lesson), Greeters/Speakers, and Runners to keep everyone informed of the developments. I have sample questions for the States and the World. Typically, at the beginning of the year, I reserve 40 minutes to an hour for a call. Once students are used to the routine, it is more like 20-30 minutes. This is an amazing 21st Century Lesson. The children are always engaged and excited and they loved learning geography.

How can you get involved? Go to one of these sites where you can sign up:





Happy Skyping!

If you haven’t had a chance to set up a Mystery Skype, I have other classes interested and there are lots of great ideas for this on the web.

Reflection on Impact of Generation Y

August 27, 2014 Leave a comment

The discussion about Generation Y teachers and administrators really interested me because the ideas presented here are similar to Don Tapscott’s book “Growing Up Digitally”. Mr. Tapscott did extensive research as to what he calls the “Net Generation” are looking for. The common qualities of this generation are freedom, customization, scrutiny, integrity, collaboration, entertainment, speed and innovation.  In our text, Ronald Rebore discusses that one of the most important characteristics is “the desire to trust in authority”.  Don Tapscott discusses this phenomenon when he discusses integrity. This generation would rather work for a company or boss who is honest. They are sympathetic with honest mistakes, but will not tolerate harmful practices or deception.  The Generation Y are not only interested in company practices, they are more concerned about the environment than other generations.

In the text, Ronald Rebore also discusses the value this generation places on education. I agree with this and I think Don Tapscott would also, although his research showed that education is one of the social institutes that the net generation will influence. With the influx of technology into their lives, this generation wants to learn how to learn. They can find most facts anywhere on the Internet. They want to know how to decipher what facts are true or false. We are in an information-based economy and students must now how to analyze and connect it to their own lives. In “Creating Innovators” by Tony Wagner, Wagner discusses how students are learning outside of schools because of the restrictions that education puts on our students. Although I agree with Rebore that they value education, I am not sure the type of education that they value is currently part of the school day. Learning occurs when these students go online to find a YouTube video in order to learn how to make a meal or see a skateboard trick.  It is not learning about the 13 original colonies.

Affirmative Action in Schools

August 24, 2014 Leave a comment

From Kindergarten through 12th grade, I attended public schools then I went to an all-girls Catholic liberal arts college (not many of those left). I thrived in the same-sex environment. As a philosophy major, we questioned everything. The teacher talked about the fact that in an ideal society same-sex schools would not be needed. But in a society where boys and girls alike are afraid or embarrassed to participate when the opposite sex is around, can same sex education still be a benefit? Affirmative action in many ways is to help us get to the ideal society that is just and fair. In the ACLU “Who Supports Affirmative Action?” pdf, Martin Luther King, Jr is quoted with the same belief of using affirmative action now so that at some point we no longer need affirmative action. I truly believe that students should see themselves reflected in their community. Right now, we need affirmative action to make that a reality. In Ferguson, Missouri, the police force consists of a majority of white officers, yet their community is primarily non-white (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/08/14/where-minority-communities-still-have-overwhelmingly-white-police/). Don’t our students need those teachers as role models who are diverse?

In my school, I organize many global projects with my students. One comment that has become consistent is the minority students identifying with the diverse population that are at the other schools we communicate with. Diversity and perspective helps our students learn to be open-minded.

Happy Video #globalclassroom #flatconnect #pypchat

August 22, 2014 Leave a comment

At Woodmen-Roberts Elementary last year, all 2nd through 5th grade students connected through national and global connection projects. Every month I virtually met with my global PLN (myglobalfriends.wikispaces.com)  to discuss activities that were meaningful to the teachers and students. Some of the activities WRE were apart of included Quad Blogging, Mystery Skype, Global Read Aloud, CA vs. CO Gold Rush Skype discussion and an Earth Day Video. At the end of the year, a fun video seemed appropriate, Ms. Livingston’s 4th Grade Class joined this project.



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