I will be presenting two poster presentations at the Learning and the Brain Conference (Science of Character) in Boston.
Poster #1: At Harrison Avenue Elementary School, we are using brain based research to improve positive social behavior. Using principles from Positive Psychology research, I have led workshops on increasing happiness and positive social behavior. Specifically, I have focused on teaching elementary school students positive psychology principles, such as the power of gratefulness, random acts of kindness, and journaling the positive. I have also relied heavily on the Bucket Filling books (Carol McCloud’s work) to teach prosocial behavior, specifically, “bucket filling”. The model I employ at my school is that I give the initial workshop on “Increasing Happiness and Promoting Positive Social Behavior” to all 5th grade students (the oldest students in my elementary school). A subset of 5th grade students then meets with me to modify and target the workshops to address the specific needs for both 4th graders and kindergarteners. These 5th grade students then co-lead the workshops with me for the younger students. For three years, the 5th grade students have turn-keyed these positive social behavior skills to both 4th graders and kindergarten students. In addition, the workshop is presented to parents so that they can reinforce the skills taught to their children. The students who lead the workshops get as much out of the workshops as the students who attend the workshops. As a result, we have developed student leaders, who lead in positive ways. In addition, at Harrison Avenue Elementary School, we have created a community of “bucket fillers” as opposed to “bucket dippers”.
Poster #2: At Harrison Avenue Elementary School, we are using brain based research to improve self-control, grit, and a growth mindset. Using principles based on Dr. Walter’s Mischel’s famous marshmallow study and Dr. Carol Dweck’s growth mindset, second grade students and their parents are learning to increase self–control, grit, and a growth mindset. During the 2014-2015 school year, I gave workshops to all 2nd grade students (4 classes – Total number of students = 96). Before starting my talk, all students were given one marshmallow. They were instructed that if they could wait until the end of the presentation (20 minutes) they would get a second marshmallow. The presentation consisted of teaching them strategies to increase self-control and grit, such as setting a goal, breathing, cooling their hot thoughts, remembering what is really important, stopping and thinking, and distraction. They were taught these skills through an old friend, “cookie monster”. I am pleased to report that not one second grader ate the marshmallow, but instead all 96 second graders were able to “wait” and received the second one.