Wednesday, January 30, 2013


What do you think of when you hear the word badge?  Do you think about a peace officer’s shield?  Do you think about the Boy or Girl Scout who has a number of badges that he/she can earn through diligence and hard work?  Or maybe you think about the fireman whose badge lets you know that he/she is a firefighter. 
That’s what I used to think of, but now I know that there is another type of badge—those that you can “earn” on the internet.  Badges became popular in 2011.  They started out as gaming elements and now seem to be everywhere.  This past summer youth were able to “earn” badges through geocaching in New York and playing the game, Race to the White House.  Players followed coordinates to an “official geocache” where they found a log (not buried and in a public place) where they could find items and weigh in on electoral issues that they felt like were being ignored by the two major parties.  The issues selected for the game were college tuition, gun control, net neutrality, and medical marijuana.  This project, run by Global Kids, Inc. and the Brooklyn Public Library began with placing 48 bugs across the City in Queens, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.  The youth would “find a bug”, consider the issue carried by the bug, and if they believed the issue should be part of the election dialog, they moved the “bug” closer to Washington D.C.  If they disagreed and felt the issue was not appropriate for the dialog, their task was to move the “bug” further away from Washington.  While most of the bugs moved multiple times along the East Coast, one actually made it to France. 

So you may be wondering where the badges come in.  Youth weighed in on the issues and shared what they had learned and the insight they had as a result of the research they did and information they gathered.  If they could demonstrate that they had successfully practiced the hard skills (research, public speaking, augments with data layers, write a workshop, practice writing online, and interact through geo-tagging), soft skills (critical thinking, respectful participation, and collaboration), knowledge (understanding how to use global positioning and issues expertise), and/or participation (geocacher, no unexcused absences, park explorer, alum), they could earn the virtual badges they were seeking. 

This is just one way to use a badging system.  How might you use badging to support student learning?  Check in and let us know.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Peer Mediation

Peer Mediation comes into play when you identify and train students’ leaders to become conflict managers and the youth are empowered to be mediators.  The mediator can help resolve problems on the playground or in the classroom environment.  This helps youth get away from “tattling” to an adult. 

There are a number of conflict resolution curricula that you can purchase.  No matter which curricula you choose what is important is that you use it to empower youth to resolve his/her own challenges. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Learning Modalities

There are four major learning modalities—the way in which a person processes information.  These four are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and digital. 

Visual learners learn by seeing--- Many people who have grown up in a media rich environment will tend to be visual learners.  Visual learners benefit from guided imagery, taking and copying notes, watching a demonstration, highlight text, using flash cards, viewing diagrams, graphs, and photos, and of course, videos.  C4K presents staff development through visual learning—Minis, Modules, Lessons, and Classes.

Auditory learners learn by hearing--- These learners enjoy listening to lectures and also benefit from audio books and presentations.  Auditory learners enjoy reading aloud, instructions given verbally, word associations, group discussions, rhythmic sounds, music and lyrics, and of course, television.  C4K has a sound track on its videos and also an audio version of the Vocational Training content.

Kinesthetic or tactile learners learn by doing--- The first-hand experience is best for the kinesthetic learner as it allows them to take in the situation with all of the senses.  Kinesthetic learners are not interested in someone telling them what they have just experienced; they are fine taking in the experience and coming to their own conclusions.  Kinesthetic learners like experiments and labs, role play, games, problem solving, writing notes, making lists, and connecting emotions with concepts.  C4K includes kinesthetic learning in its C4K Minute—Making It Real, opportunities to reflect and write one’s thoughts, about the topics discussed.

Digital learners learn in the world of digital media---computers, cell phones, and laptops.  These learners like learning to be fast-paced.  Digital learners eagerly join social media networks, read Blogs, Tweet, and share images on Flickr.  Digital media is normal fair.  C4K is obviously web-based, has both static and dynamic tabs, links to other sites, and in Online Instruction a variety of digital training videos.
Working with all four of these learning modalities effectively is one of C4K’s goals.  What kind of a learner are you?  Of course no one is a purist, but we all have one modality that we prefer.  Let us know about you.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Peace Walk, Peace Table, or Peace Path

Any of these similar strategies provide a guide for students to follow so they can resolve conflict.  The method is straightforward.  The first step is for one youth to identify how he/she feels by using this sentence frame, “I feel…when…” The second step is “I need…”  The students then talk to one another to figure out what happened, how the person might feel and then brainstorm a solution to the problem.  At the end of the conversation, youth are ready to move forward.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Win BIG and Help Youth

We are so honored to be helping a local nonprofit, Entrusted Legacy, fund raise through their 1st annual raffle. For just $1.00, you can enter to win some amazing prizes while supporting the cause of creating positive mentors and role models for youth.

Here is some information on the Raffle:

 You can view the prize packets on their Facebook Page.
What to purchase tickets? You can do that three different ways.
  1. Download the mail in order form:
  2. Call the Entrusted Legacy office and purchase tickets over the phone: 661-322-4347
  3. Purchase tickets from a rep in your area or through the home office: email them at to find a rep
Here is some information on Entrusted Legacy:

Get INVOLVED today! Our youth depend on us to make a difference for them. 

I Messages

A second strategy is the use of “I Messages”.  Instead of blaming the other child, the child simply states how they are feeling.  For example, “I feel sad when you won’t play with me.  This allows the youth to identify the message without blaming the other child.  It sets the stage for talking out the conflict.  This is incredibly important if youth are to be able to resolve conflict without adult “interference”.  

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rock, Paper, Scissors

There are a countless number of conflicts that happen each day.  Who will be the line leader, who got to the drinking fountain first, who gets the last cookie, who will be team captain, who gets to take the equipment out.  Rock, Paper, Scissors is an easy way for youth to resolve conflict.  In this game, rock crushes scissors, scissors cut paper, and paper covers rock.  Counting one, two, and then on the count of three the youth make the sign of rock, paper, scissors with their hands.  If both choose the same sign, they play again.  The tension is broken and the decision made.  Youth have resolved the conflict and are ready to move forward.       

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The 16 Habits of the Mind

Before we started to look at the Common Core Standards a great deal of work had been done to identify the Habits of the Mind that we want our youth to develop so they can be resilient and eventually successful.  Costa and Kallick have done a great deal of work around this topic and in their article, Describing 16 Habits of the Mind, begins by stating that “a problem is any stimulus, question, task, phenomenon, or discrepancy, the explanation for which is not immediately known.”  They then go on to talk about what strategic demands are put on youth (adults as well) to find a resolution—in other words, solve the problem.  Certainly, in order to solve a problem whose explanation is not immediately known, we need to think critically and strategically.  Certain things have to be in place to get us through the challenge to a resolution.  The Habits of the Mind are “performed” in response to those problems for which no answer is immediately known.  The 16 habits identified by Cost and Kallick are:

Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision
Managing impulsivity
Gathering data through all senses
Listening with understanding and empathy
Creating, imagining, innovating
Thinking flexibly
Responding with wonderment and awe
Thinking about thinking (metacognition)
Taking responsible risks
Striving for accuracy
Finding humor
Questioning and posing problems
Thinking interdependently
Applying past knowledge to new situations
Remaining open to continuous learning

While their discussion of all of the 16 is interesting, I would like to focus on habit 3:  Listening to others with understanding and empathy.  They quote the Bible, Covey, Piaget and Senge in their discussion.  Proverbs says, “Listening is the beginning of understanding…wisdom is the reward for a lifetime of listening.”  Covey states that highly effective people “spend an inordinate amount of time and energy listening”, and Piaget identifies the behavior of listening as “overcoming ego-centrism.”  Senge suggests the “to listen fully means to pay close attention to what is being said beneath the words.”  Another source, not quoted in Costa’s and Kallick’s article is one that you may have heard:  You have two ears and one mouth, use them proportionately. 

All good advice especially when you understand that the essential aspect of communication is one person’s “heart” speaking to another’s.  In the graphic of communication below you can see how the words spoken begin in one heart, one feeling, and then are transferred to another’s.

Listening without thinking about your own response is far more likely to lead to understanding than speaking or listening half-heartedly or only so you can make your own point.  One of my goals for 2013 is to listen more and speak less.

What do you think?  When was the last time you really felt like someone listened to you until they understood you?