Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Growth Mindset..... I Have Neurons!

 Disclaimer:  This post was written over 2 years ago...
where have all my neurons gone?
  Motherhood and teaching drains your neurons.
Just saying...
In 2014, teachers were given
this book and asked to read
it over the summer break:

  Mindsets In The Classroom 
by Mary Cay Ricci.

The book was divided into portions
so that each of the teachers could teach
their students about how their brains work. 
My school is departmentalized,
and my portion for teaching my three classes
was to teach about neurons.

The point is to teach
the children that even if
something is difficult at first...
success will come with practice. 
Something that I've always taught,
because...well...I'm a teacher.
Goes without saying.

Every year, when a student says
something is too hard,
I partially agree with them...
most of what we learn IS hard!
We are 6 and you want us to do WHAT????!!!
Oh. OK.  
It sounds hard
Let's give it a go!
Let's try our best!
 Let's get it done!
I tell my kids
to think back to being babies,
and what would have happened to us
if we decided that crawling
was just too much work...
where would we all be? 
Lying like slugs on the carpet.
In fact, I let them try it out...
go ahead...
be a slug. 
No you can't roll.
That's too hard.

Just lie there.
  Ha! That must look hysterical.

How about talking?
What would have happened to us if
as babies if we decided that talking
was just too much work...
we'd just grunt and say
ooh-ooh, aah-aah
for the rest of our lives.
And pizza?
Chocolate cake?
Forget about it.
 That's all you get.
I hope you like it.
Chewing is just too complicated.
My kids typically start giggling
as they're wiggling on the floor
making baby sounds.
Then we get back to work
 with whatever they
thought was too hard.
You know...
doubles plus one,
making a ten to add and subtract,
balancing algebraic equations,
reading with fluency and solid comprehension
(preferably chapter books),
etc. etc. etc.
All the normal
things a 6 year old
  child should be doing
in The Age Of Common Core.
(cough, cough)

My students are brilliant beings
who know how to walk, and talk,
run, and jump!
We are absolute geniuses!
Nothing can stop us!
We know how to eat cake!

(Some of us better than others...that would be ME!)

Being such a visual learner,
 I really appreciated the
 author's great suggestion
of using different sized strings
to show the strengthening of neurons.

You use thread, yarn, and then a really
thick, rope-like string to show how once
you practice something the connection
becomes super strong and
extremely difficult to break.
That is really cool!
  The kids can see and feel
the different size and strength of each string.
My kids really enjoyed her string idea.
She also suggested that teachers
draw a brain-like outline and have
students draw something that they're really
good at (showing a strong neuron connection)
and something that they're not so good at
(showing a skinny little line for their weak 
neuron connection).

I made an easy to print pdf 
so that I can reuse it in the future 
without me (personally)
having to use too many neurons.
Just point, click, print.
Neurons!  Brain Related Drawing Paper
 Read the book, Mindsets In The Classroom.
You can buy it on Amazon,
and use this sheet if you'd like
(or go ahead and draw 
your own blobby-blob brain...
whichever works best for YOUR brain) .
  Here are some of my kids'
unedited writings about their neurons:
Love to see the "real deal" at work.

" I am good at helping the earth.
I am not good at my hair."
"I am  really good at skateboarding.
I cannot count in Japanese."
" I am really good at 'scootering'.
I am not good at basketball."
" I am really good at climbing.
I am not good at swinging." 
It was a good lesson....Yay For Neurons!
Yay for Mary Cay Ricci!

Being Queen Chaos, though, 
I just wanted something else...

Something that is a little bit more...



Something snazzy.
Something catchy.
Something that would make the kids smile.
Just a little sprinkling on top.
I thought and thought and
and thought and thought and
I came up with:




I was just BLANK when
it came to neurons
and making it fun.
Making it fun is what
I'm all about.  
If someone is smiling or giggling
it's a whole lot easier to get
information into their brains,
and make it stick.
Believe me....
make them laugh
and their brains are putty in your hands! 
So what to do...what to do?

What to add?
What to add?
 --Je ne sais quois?--

 To support my teaching of neurons,
 I finally made a little chant,
that I want to share with you all...
because for some strange reason...
no clue why or how....
the kids LOVE this diddy.

truth be told...
 I may have a clue.
In fact,
I know
why the kids
go nuts over it.
I'm not sure about sharing 
the back story of the poem
because I know it's going to
sound really bizarre
as long as you promise
not to judge...
No judging...a giggle or two maybe, but no judgement here.
I will share:

When I was trying to write
something to jazz up the lesson
for my kiddos,
I was blank.
I just sat there.


What the heck do you
say about neurons to first graders?
Especially something
that would get the kids excited?
I actually was thinking
about separating it into two words:
Like, hello....every time
you made a learning
connection a NEW RON pops up.
Hello RON.
You're a NEW RON.
Why yes I am, thank you for noticing.
But then I thought,
I wouldn't want a bunch of NEW RONS
running around my head if
I was a  six-year-old girl,
True that sista!
and I couldn't really make up
a brand new scientific term...
Don't worry girls, you all
in your brains...
Wait.  NEW RITAS...that looks
too much like neuritis...
that won't work.
We need all the
nerve function we can get!
So how about NEW ROSIES?
That sounds kind of cute...
but when you think about it...
 doesn't NEW ROSIES
sound a little bit like Neurosis?
And who wants NEW ROSIES building
up stronger and running around 
their brains? 
I think not.
I'd rather be a boy and
have some NEW RONS
than a girl and have
Wo! Wait  a minute!
 Who came up with
all of these terms?
I bet it was MAN!
The GOOD thing to have
sounds like a boy and
the BAD things to
have are kind of girlie sounding.
Huh. Well how about that, Sherlock?
I wonder what my shrink
would say about this grand discovery?
I can't afford a shrink!
Although, I probably need one....
after all I'm the one coming up with
running around people's brains.
A shrink probably would
be covered under my co-pay.
But really?  I don't even go
to the doctor as soon as I should
when I come down with a cold
because the co-pay of $25.00
(which is NOW $50.00 if I go to a Walk-In Clinic)
could be better spent on something else
Sad but true...
food, gas, school supplies.

went out the window.

All of these names are
reminding me of when 
 I was pregnant with Karate Ballerina.
Some of my favorite names
were Gabriella, Madeline, and Madison.
My husband went around telling people
I wanted to name our daughter "Thumbelina".
To him, they were all the same thing. Really?
How is "Gabriella" like "Thumbelina"???

Then, I remembered the name "Cosette".
I read the unabridged version
of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables
when I was 14.
My history teacher
took us to the school library
and told us to choose a
historical fiction book.
Most of the kids chose
normal to small sized books.
I chose Les Misérables
by Victor Hugo.
It was close to 3 inches thick
(and quite dusty).
It was my first day at a new school
with a teacher who didn't know me.
 She just looked at me kind of funny
and said, "Are you sure you're up
to reading all of that?
It's a lovely story,
but that's going to take
quite a bit of reading."
We had to read and write a report on
the book within the next few weeks.
I just smiled and said,
"It's OK. I love to read." 

 I got an "A".
But more than that...
I found Jean Valjean
and Cosette.

When my husband nixed
"Gabriella", and "Madeline"
I knew I had the perfect name
for our daughter: 
When I shared 
our daughter's
new name with him,
 he said he didn't want his
daughter named
I just looked at him
and thought,
"Who ARE you?"
"How did WE ever get married?"
Luckily, our oldest ended up with
a perfectly lovely name,
that we both agreed on
after a 6 month
baby naming marathon
that was almost 
as painful
as her actual birth.

Focus, Regina, Focus...

Seriously girl! I mean my nickname at school is
But I think you trump me hands down!
You just went down one rabbit hole,

took a route to another one,
and came up a mile down the road.

We're talking about: NEURONS.
There you are!  Welcome back.
I was completely blank
with no idea how to add my sprinkles.
And then I thought of the muses.
So I said a wee little prayer that
I could get a little inspiration here.
Just something to get my kids happy...
and within the next half hour this
little chant was made.
Don't roll your eyes.
I know.
It was a silly thing to pray about.
There's crime, poverty, 
disease and endless woes
in the world
and what does
Queen Chaos pray about?
Silly little ditties.
Rhymes and songs
and children's smiles.
Just a little something
to make my first graders giggle 
But there you have it.

The truth is out.

I'm a little dotty about my ditties.
Does my story a-muse you?
My new friend, NEW RON,
 thinks it's all finally connecting!
He He He...

Remember me?
The one who needs a shrink
but can't afford one?
Actually, I recently found out that
I CAN afford one
 since I've realized that I'm rolling in the dough
making much more than negative $34.00 a month.   
(Click here if you want to read about THAT craziness.)
  Still sad but true!
At the time, I had three math classes
of First Graders, and each class
FLIPPED when they heard it
and INSISTED on hearing it
about 7 more times.
When it happened
with my first math class,
I thought "What the heck?"
The second time it happened,
an hour later I thought
"This is WEIRD."
When my third math class
came in, I was waiting to see
what they would do.
They went NUTS.
Kid tested, kid approved.

My then four year old (who is now 6) heard it
while I was working on my computer
one day, and this became THE song
that she asked for before bed at night.
She said, "Mom, can you play me the brain song?"
One day out of the blue, my room mom
said, "By the way....remember that song
you made for the kids about the brain?
My two older daughters are going around
my house singing it.  They just love it!"
(She happened to be in my class the day
I introduced it and she whipped out her phone.
BTW her two older daughters were 16 and 18.)

Girrrrrl, if you have 16 and 18 year old kids' attention,
I'm impressed!
Huh. Praying for inspiration works!
Who knew? 
I'm not telling you this to toot my own horn.
I'm telling you this, so that you'll
point, click, download
Gotta love the convenience of
point, click, download!
and share it with your kids
if you're teaching them about the neurons
in their brains and how everyone can learn.

Super cute!
No big shocker there!
It's more of a chant than a song....
 and here are some pointers of what to do: 
Click on the little megaphone icon,
and then listen, read, and chant along!  
Snap when it says, "snap".
Connect your hands
in front of you like a little choir boy
 (elbows out, hands connected
one on top of the other)
when it says "connect".
Just let the sound play
as you put the poem up
on your big screen. 
If you like this,
you may like the rest
of my Neurons Pack:
A+ Neurons: Brain Related Poems, Doubles Practice, Making Words & Writing Sheets

As a grown up listening
to it, you'll probably think what
a totally dorky chant.
And yes...yes it is.
Aren't all things that most kids enjoy?!
But it works,
and my kids can
sing about neurons... 
can yours? 
Aw snap! You just called all of us out!

New Rosies signing out--
I mean Queen Chaos!
The Muses are calling! 

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