Persistence (Mindset #2)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Last week we focused on Optimism.  Click here for our One Sheet, based on the work of Mraz and Hertz.  The book is phenomenal.

This week, we are going to show Persistence!  Here is the One Sheet.

Being persistent is a mindset that will help our students work through challenge.  It is so much easier to give up when things get hard.  I know when I try to parallel park, if I do decide to try, I give it one go, get embarrassed, and pull away in defeat.  Clearly, being persistent is not always as easy as we hope.

I think it is really important to mention that we need to put kids in situations where we tell them to be persistent when they actually can succeed.  They need to know that challenge can be worked through, and feel the success on the other side.  It reminds me of those "grit" lessons that some grade levels did earlier in the year during reading workshop.  It is good to teach a child to be persistent through a book that they can read, but provides some reasonable struggle.  It's another thing to hand them a book 2 years above their reading level and with no interest level there and tell them "Be persistent!"  Trying again and again, in this case, will only lead to frustration and failure.

Because of this, I really think that the mindset of persistence should be taught in a low stress, less academic way if we can.  We want to teach children that they shouldn't give up at the first sign of struggle, and to keep going even when it is a little hard, but we don't want them spinning wheels in the mud either.

I think a lovely mentor text for persistence is Float, by Daniel Miyares.  It is actually a wordless picture book, and it just arrived at my house today!  Perhaps I am looking at things through the lens of persistence today, but I see the mindset in this book.  It is a story about a boy who makes a newspaper boat.

The endpapers of the book alone could teach persistence.  As a second grade teachers for 15 years, there were so many kids who would see directions like this for paper crafting and just hand me the paper and ask me to "help."  Meaning, do it for me Mrs. O'Donnell.  When I would say, "Just try!" they'd walk over to the kid in the class who was a paper plane making expert.  Clearly, I missed some lessons on persistence back then.

The boy in the story does succeed in making a boat, with dad's help perhaps, and goes off to sail it.  Despite drizzle, then rain, then losing it downstream, the boy still ends up with his boat in the end, even if it isn't the way he had hoped it would end.  But, he dries himself off, and starts the next day off with a new newspaper craft.  

I actually love how optimism and persistence run through this book.  Throughout the rain, he wears a bright yellow raincoat and boots that jump off the page.  It could be just because traditional raincoats are yellow.  But, at the end, the sun comes out and the boy, in gray, is surrounded by the same yellow of the sun as he runs off to play again with his newest creation.  That, to me, is use of color to show optimism.  His boat is gone, but his plane will soar.  This is great, because the mindsets can work together in real life, too.

If you want to borrow this book, feel free!  It is a wordless book, so we can chat about how you would "read" it to your class if you'd like.  If you end up having your class follow the endpapers and persist in making paper airplanes at the end, then make sure you take a picture and tweet it using #hiawathapride!

Ok, Hiawatha!  Let's explore PERSISTENCE!  #hiawathapride

How does your classroom embrace persistence?  
How do students show persistence?

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