Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

So, it's been an up and down year.  I'm really happy about a lot of it, and I wanted to stop for a minute, before I start to make lists and goals for 2014, about what I'm thankful for.

Happiness and gratitude.  I figure, why not stop and be grateful?

There's a TED talk about this connection, if you haven't thought about it:

I was watching this with my daughter - who is 5, but who is also very thankful.  She complained that she couldn't understand his accent.

There's a lot to be thankful for, just in that statement.  We're blessed to have access to so much learning.  The Internet is full of biased, misleading garbage.  And some things that are just amazing.  It's a wonderful place for so many things.  (Don't get me started on Kid President.  I love that kid.)  But having my own wonderful children.  And my wife.  And my health.  And the chance to spend time with them, right now.  It wasn't that long ago that I was working in retail.  That's the worst place to be during the holidays.  Not only are you working during the holidays, but you're working hard, for long hours.  It's terrible.

When I'm shopping at times like these, I work hard to be extra nice to the frazzled retail employees who help.  Secretly, though, I'm infinitely grateful that I'm not in that place anymore.

This is the year that I experienced EdCamp for the first time.  That was a wonderful experience, and something that I want to experience again.  I'm excited about a chance to participate online, though my expectations have been tempered somewhat.  I prefer the face-to-face, though it's nice to be comfortable in my own home.

I've had many opportunities to develop as a leader and collaborator online and through organizations like the Illinois Writing Project.  That has been a wonderful blessing.

I've learned a great deal in 2013, and I've grown more in that year than I have in almost any other year.  I credit that to my increased participation in Twitter and Google Plus.  And I also need to thank anyone who is reading this.  It's one thing to write a blog that no one reads.  It's another to write something that people are looking at.  That's an enormous thing for me, and it has translated into some important things for me.

So, I'm thankful for many things.  I'm also thankful that I'm not done growing and learning, and that I have so many chances to continue to learn and grow.

(Now it's time to start working on 2014.)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Books about Grit or Resilience

I thought it might be nice to help myself prepare for tonight's #TitleTalk book chat by posting something about books where characters show grit or resilience. 

I should begin by pointing out that this connects nicely with discussions about mindsets and the resilience that students/people need to be successful when they show the growth mindset.  I think it's also important to think about grit and learning in general.  Too many kids give up when they make mistakes, instead of adjusting and learning (and growing). 

So, this is important.  Just as some of us have discussed how wide reading helps readers develop empathy, an incredibly valuable result, we also need to think about how reading can help us develop grit. 

Books where characters show grit? 

My kids were just watching Harry Potter tonight.  I think he shows remarkable grit, especially in the last book/last two movies. 

What about Frodo Baggins?  That's a great example.  And Sam, of course. 

But also Speak and Melinda.  She kind of learns grit, doesn't she? 

There are a lot of books about bullying that include characters who show resilience/grit.  I'm a big fan of Wonder, as well as Stargirl (there's a great example of resilience!), Ship Breaker and Drowned Cities (both are great), Cinder (and the sequel, Scarlet), just about anything by Jordan Sonnenblick, and lots more. 

That's all I have time for - the chat is starting.  I'll try to come back and update this when everyone reminds me of the 97 other titles I forgot.