Friday Focus

Amy Parks Heath Elementary

Your Hero Opportunity

Just like the video above, your hard work is paying off! Students have begun to use the Life Principles in their daily vernacular. I had two students today explain that their behavior was not "respectful" and they were going to try to be better "citizens". I had a young lady yesterday say she was nervous about her benchmark but she was " optimistic". Don't underestimate the skills you are ingraining in our kiddos. Please continue to help develop our future caretakers with the values and characteristics we want our community to exemplify. Teach these words, model them, expect them, and refer to them often.

Maker Space Extravaganza

Our kick off is around the corner. Teachers have been selected to serve on the Maker Space Dream Team! We will be updating you soon with plans and ideas and adventures for your students. What in the world might it look like??? Check this out!


By Jennifer Hartmann Aug 31, 2015

In my fourth grade class, I noticed that some students were being unkind without really realizing it. When a student was struggling with a problem, another student might say, “That’s easy.” They really did just mean that it was easy, but of course it made the struggling student feel bad. No one wants to hear that something should be easy when it genuinely feels hard. I told my students that we were banning the word “easy” from my class.

I told them, “Something that feels easy to you, might be difficult to someone else. Just like something that is difficult for you might be easy for someone else. We all have different strengths and challenges. Good thing! It would be boring if we were all the same. We need some people who are really good at math to become engineers and help design the things we use every day. We need some people who are really good at writing to write books and we need artists to draw the pictures for the books. We need all kinds of different people in the world. When something is hard for us, it just means we need to keep trying. But we don’t want to give up when things are hard, just because it’s easy for someone else. Let’s all agree that we will no longer use the word ‘easy’ in this class.”

Another great benefit to banning the word easy is that it helped develop a growth mindset in my students. It’s important that kids aren’t just satisfied doing easy work that makes them feel accomplished. I really want my students to choose to be challenged, even when, rather – especially when – they won’t do as well at first. When they feel that what they’re doing is easy, that means that they aren’t choosing hard enough work.

I know “easy” isn’t a bad word in the traditional sense. But banning it from our classroom did make a big difference! It helped students understand that we all learn in different ways, and it made our classroom a much kinder place to learn.

©2016 Momentous Institute

My BEST Mistake

My Best Mistake

By Rene GrimesMay 18, 2015


Life is all about mistakes and learning from them. This is a poster I have in my room, and is one of the first things I tell my students at the start of a school year. We build mistakes into everything that we do. If I’m going to help prepare them for the future, it is dangerous to take away any possibility of failure. Instead, I have to teach them how to learn from their mistakes.

When grading papers, a bunch of red marks sends a message to students that they got the answer wrong. Often this shuts them down. There’s no learning after seeing that they got an answer wrong. Instead of sending a “wrong” message, I try to send a message of “not yet.” I say, “Ok, this one is not right yet. Let’s see where our thinking broke down.”

When I hand an assignment back to my class, we review it all together. I pick a variety of questions that students got wrong (usually there are patterns), and I write a few on the white board. I then ask if someone will volunteer to solve one. I reinforce that it doesn’t matter if they got the answer right or wrong – they can still share and help each other learn. Not calling out those who made the mistakes builds a culture of trust and security.

I also write problems and include the correct answers on the board. I ask if anyone made who a mistake can see where their mistake was, and if they’d be willing to share it with the group. We call these activities, “My Best Mistake.”

From day one we talk a great deal about how the brain learns, how synaptic pathways are built. Above my white board is a large sign that says, “…Yet”taken from Carol Dweck’s growth mindset. On the first day of school I tell the students they will learn a lot of new vocabulary, but this word is one of the most important words they will ever learn. For the very first “Best Mistake” activity, I ask who is brave enough to share a mistake they made. Normally in a classroom students will only share if they got the answer right. That is unhealthy. We talk about mistakes so often that it becomes the norm to share our learning process; students willingly get up and share their wrong answers. They’ll say, “I added the ones together, but I forgot to regroup. I should have decomposed the ones and moved a set of tens to the tens place.” They need to hear this self-talk and the self-talk of others.

Mistakes are how the brain learns. Phrases like “my best mistake” help students really understand that each mistake is helping them grow. Mistakes are not to be looked at as terrible, horrible things that happen to us. I intentionally (and sometimes unintentionally!) make mistakes in front of my students all the time. I follow it with, “Oh, ha, I got that wrong. Let me try again.” I want them to see mistakes as an important part of their education, which will help prepare them for the real world. After all, life is all about mistakes and learning from them!

©2016 Momentous Institute

This Week's Important Information

Tuesday-3:15 Vertical Team Meeting Library

Wednesday-Principal Meeting

Thursday- Twitter Thursday #weareaphe/ SST

Friday- Talent Show

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