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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast
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Ed Tech Thoughts on the Space Coast

Visualize Your Strengths

Developing A Healthy Self-Image

When I began working with Carol Anne McGuire on her website (Rock Your Strengths), the teacher in me could immediately see the value of Gallup's StrengthFinder® for our teaching staff and students. Honestly, I had taken the Strengthsfinder test decades ago and just past it off as feel-good soft science. But this time, I began to generate ideas of what this might look like for the classroom.

Here is the story of one STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) activity for creating stronger students.

Early in my teaching career, I heard students say things such as:
  • I am not good at (subject area).
  • I cannot do (subject).
  • This makes no sense to me.
  • I am not a (subject) person.

The students had reached a self-image wall:
Their self-image had gone from Let's Try! –> to –> I can't!

It was at this point I realized the importance of positive self-image or identity.

It was very difficult to move that student further a change in their self-image.

As a science teacher, I told my students that my challenge each year was to convince them that they were all scientists. Not necessarily all professional scientists, but scientifically literate citizens. After all, they were all knowers

Science (definition from Webster's Dictionary) Middle English (denoting knowledge): from Old French, from Latin scientia, from scire ‘to know.’

How Do We Know?

I would remind them of experiments that they ran as children playing with their food, teasing their younger (or older) sibling. They already thought scientifically. We were just going to get better at that this school year. That was after all, the last strand of K12 Benchmarks and National Standards, to produce a citizenry that was scientifically literate meant to be comfortable thinking scientifically. That was to become a part of their core identity. Just as I thought of myself as a surfer, I wanted them to come to a place where they owned the notion of being scientists. I never competed in surf contests or had companies sponsor me… I was not an outstanding surfer, but I was very comfortable in the water and on the board. I even was willing to paddle out on days that were double overhead. I wanted my students to feel comfortable with science lingo, not be afraid to evaluate the veracity of a science study, and problem solve using the scientific method even for things that were not necessarily sciency problems.

Identity is so important. How you react to challenges depends a lot on how you see yourself. And the Strengths Movement gives us an handle on the positive character attributes that reside in everyone to some degree.

This is why I so love the Strengths Movement: Identity is so important.
  • How you react to challenges depends a lot on how you see yourself.
  • The Strengths Movement gives us a handle on the positive character attributes that reside in everyone to some degree.
  • It teaches diversity-not everyone is the same-that's ok.
  • It is focused on the positive – everyone has a top 5 and they are POSITIVE Strengths.
  • Through the diversity of top 5 strengths it helps educators differentiate.
  • collaboration
  • It gives students tools or handles on what they can contribute in group projects or team learning in any subject area.
  • strengths-training a supports the various current buzzwords or popular approaches to learning: Mindset, Challenge-Based Learning, Collaborative Learning, Learning Styles, Differentiation, MakersSpace, etc.

In my classroom the following activity preceded students building their brand logo. This is a great beginning of the year activity that allowed me to get to know my students better.

What interests you about Strength Training for Students?Visualizing Your Strengths Activity

Instructional Goals:

  • Students will refine search skills and expand keyword vocabulary.
  • Students will select images that are powerfully illustrate specific personal character traits (strengths).
  • Students will deepen their understanding of their character and develop healthy self-images.
  • Students will develop visual literacy skills including resolution, width x height ratio, focus, cropping
  • Students will develop page layout skills as they organize information and images in a table.

Materials/Supplies Needed:

Internet Connected Tablet or Computer
Gallup StrengthsFinder® Code for each student (Ideal, but costly ~$20/student) obtain from Rock Your Strengths • Last year I used the free (but not as well tested) Richard Steps Free Aptitude Test for Strengths & Weaknesses • This year I tried Thrively and I am very pleased with the results.

Student Instructions Day One ~30 Minutes

  • Take a deep breath... and take the survey below.
  • No Talking. We need you to answer this from your own perspective – without influence from others.

Following the Strength Inventory, there are a number of reflective exercises and a point system built into Thrively to help students understand and relate to their special attributes. But I also want to use this new information to help students build their vocabulary and visualize themselves as owning and performing according to their strengths. So we have a couple of Strength's activities we do finding synonyms for for their strengths making a active sentence using each of their top 5 and searching for images or acting out their strengths perhaps using a greenscreen app and changing the environment. Another activity we try when learning about fonts is to match up their fonts with their Strengths and make a vanity poster.

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