Feaster Charter Using Thrively

Feaster Charter + P21 Discuss Using Thrively

We’re thrilled to be a partner of so many incredible schools pioneering personalized learning. One of those schools is Feaster Charter in Chula Vista, CA. A group of Feaster educators recently took our Thrively Strengths Assessment. Read their awesome blog here and see if it inspires you and your classroom to implement interest-based learning in the classroom.

Click here to read P21′s recent newsletter describing how Feaster Charter is using Thrively to discover students’ strengths!

 

Feaster Charter Using Thrively

Feaster Charter using Thrively in their classroom

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What is Strengths-Based Education?

Research confirms that a student’s success is driven by non-academic factors such as their character, parental support and the level of hope + engagement they feel within school. Districts and schools have generally addressed this by trying to implement point programs (ex. advisory, life skills classes, interventions) in the face of increasing accountability for student performance in core subjects. Thrively is changing this dynamic by introducing a new, holistic approach for student learning. Strengths-Based Education (“SBE”) incorporates social/emotional learning, student career and interest exploration and student-centered learning (or student-directed projects) into a cohesive pedagogy that helps students find relevance in school and life.

Strengths-Based Education is successful when students have:

  • Built a growth mindset;
  • Developed 21st Century Skills and habits;
  • Identified multiple, exciting post-secondary pathways; and
  • Strengthened their social support structures.

These goals can be accomplished when students’ K-12 journey includes a thoughtful implementation of SBE that is truly 360 degrees in nature. In other words, it must proactively include parents, community and out-of-school time. No component of SBE exists by itself. They are inter-related and non-linear.  Thrively enables Strength-Based Education through our platform, taking students, teachers and parents through the entire process.  Our Strength Assessment helps students discover their character strengths and is the starting point for social emotional learning.  Students then identify their interests and career aspirations through our Pathways, Videos and Activities.  Finally, educators turn their students’ interests into true “student centered learning” by facilitating projects.  Explore what Strengths-Based Learning can do for your students at Thrively.

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Get Started With Strengths-Based Education

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My Future, My Way

Over two weeks this fall, Joanna Murray led students at Rancho Minerva Middle School in San Diego on an exploration of their strengths and career interests. Her “My Future, My Way” unit opened the eyes of students to exciting future careers.  Thrively represented 2 weeks of her digital discovery elective.  She has graciously offered her unit materials as a resource for educators.

Thrively Reflection: A reflection for students to capture their reaction to the Thrively Strength Assessment.  Click to download.

Thrively Career Interest Exploration: A set of prompts to help students understand their career aspirations.  Get the worksheet.

Final Assignment: A project assignment and rubric for a student presentation where they share what they have learned with peers, parents and teachers.  See the assignment.

Career Exploration Roadmap

A Career Exploration Roadmap

Hi Thrively Community!

My name is Jerry Blumengarten.   You many know me for my website, Cybrary Man, where I’ve curated over 20,000 relevant links for students, teachers, administrators & parents or because on Twitter as @cybraryman1 where I regularly share my resources on many of the chats.  I taught in the New York City schools for 32 years and I have always been passionate about helping kids figure out their interests and careers.  I couldn’t be happier to contribute to the Thrively mission and doing what I can to add to the community!

Career Exploration… Already?

Parents and teachers need to not only talk to children even at an early age or grade but listen to them about their future choices, career options and life as an adult.  We should not wait until a child is in the last year of high school to decide about what they are interested in and their future plans. Learning about why people work, what work is like and the skills needed to be successful will help children on their road to successful futures.  I’ll talk about career exploration in a series of posts starting with my first topic, “self-discovery.”

Self Discovery:

To prepare children for their future we should start by having them do a self-examination and unearth their true interests, values and aspirations. At the elementary and even middle school level children should reflect more on their likes, interests and hobbies to learn more about themselves.  At this time they are starting to uncover their personality traits.  Children need to understand how they got to this point in their lives and begin thinking ahead to where they may be in the future.  So, start with Thrively’s Strength Assessment, this helps students identify their aspirations and interests.  Thrively’s Pathways, Sparks and Activities tabs then allow students to do a deep dive into the specifics of each.

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Resources for Professional Development presenters

Thank you for considering Thrively for your upcoming PD!

Thrively takes all the buzzwords going around – character education, social emotional learning, Genius Hour, strengths-based education, and more – and wraps them up into one easy-to-use platform. Now when your principal or administrator says “Come up with a plan for personalized learning,” you will have a tool in your arsenal to do just that.

Feel free to use any of the resources outlined below to create a PD presentation. If you need assistance, have questions, or want custom materials, we are happy to help – email support@thrively.com with your request.

1. Download the Strength Guide to learn about our Strength Assessment. Our assessment was created by two of California’s seven board-certified pediatric neuropsychologists. It is the first of its kind written specifically for kids and teens. The quiz measures 23 different strength factors, such as resilience, focus, compassion, and drive. Download the PDF here.

2. Start the presentation with this 2 minute video made by students at Rancho Minerva Middle School in Vista, CA. The genuinely positive reactions from these students when they read their Strength Profiles are amazing.

3. Follow up with this 3 minute demo video that highlights Thrively’s best features.

4. For a more traditional Powerpoint presentation, take a look at this Slideshare.

5. Our Teacher Toolkit dives into the nitty gritty of setting up your account, adding students, and also provides sample worksheets for reflection. Access it here (it’s also in the upper righthand menu on your Thrively account).

6. Lastly, if you need a question answered, support, or a co-presenter, please contact us!  We are located in Southern California and can usually attend in person if your school is in the area. Or, we can join you virtually! Email support@thrively.com, we’re happy to help!

Thank you for being a champion for strengths!

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Strengths presentation ideas

This past week, team Thrively has had the honor of working with Rancho Minerva Middle School in Vista, CA. All students at Rancho Minerva are using Thrively to discover their strengths, celebrate them, and understand how they can wield these superpowers in real life.

Part of their project will be to make a presentation about their strengths and what they have learned about themselves. What we love about this project is that it is so open-ended. Students get to express what they have learned about themselves in a way that reflects their interpretation of it.

So what will the presentations look like? Well, we don’t know yet! It could be a powerpoint, a poster, an interpretive dance… It’s up to them.

Do your students need an idea for a theme or structure? Here’s some inspiration for you…

  • Pick one of your top career interests. What path would you take to get there? Create a series of steps that shows you can achieve this career path. EG: Which of your strengths will help you in this career? What other strengths do you need to develop to be successful in this career? What would be the positives and challenges of this career?
  • If you were a superhero, with superpowers based on your strengths, what would they do? How would you use those superpowers to change the world?
  • Present each of your top 5 strengths, what they mean to you, and how they help you contribute positively to your family, classroom, and community.
  • Pick a famous person who you feel also embodies most of your top 5 strengths and explain why, and how they have demonstrated those strengths. How will you demonstrate those top strengths?
  • Choose a problem in the world (Eg: hunger, homelessness) and describe how you would use your top strengths to solve the problem.

As you can see there are countless ways we can interpret our strengths and how we do/could use them in the “real world.” It just takes a dash of creativity (or analysis, if that’s your strength;) to imagine how.

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Gamers make good (Spoiler alert: Parent involvement is key!)

In an earlier post, Gamify Your Children’s Strengths, we talked about how the gaming community is expanding.  How much?  If you want to think of it in cold cash, gamers spent $93 billion worldwide last year, according to Gartner Research.  Video game consoles bring in roughly half of the revenues, with mobile gaming growing faster every year.

Thanks to smartphones, gaming is more accessible.  Chances are, unless you are Amish (which would make it really challenging to read this post), your kids are going to game either in your home, at a friend’s home, at school or eventually on their smartphone.

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Gaming is a passion for many.  Team Thrively believes in the positive development of passions.  Parents are the best gauge for when habitual gaming crosses over into unproductive time.  But for the time you do allow your kids to indulge, we have a few recommendations.  More accurately, we are passing along the suggestions of gamers whose childhood investment in gaming turned out to be valuable in their adulthood:

Top 10 Parent Suggestions from gamers who cashed in on their skills 

1.  If you can’t get on board with gaming, you can still inspire a love of problem solving and curiosity.

Keith Leonard recalls his father saying, “We will not be buying video games for this thing, they are Pabulum for small minds!”

Keith also credits his father for setting a high standard for learning:  “My father’s love of math and science was probably the start:  Long talks at dinner about the origin of the universe and various species in history were common.  I showed an interest in how things worked.  He started to explain physics to me (with his old textbooks) when I was quite young, at a level that was approachable…basic things like levers, etc.  My father’s influence was huge in terms of what I would eventually do in the industry as a lower level game engine programmer.”

2.  Encourage appreciation for how using technology beyond gaming for entertainment can be useful – either to others or ourselves.

When Justin Richards was young his family traveled to Romania to refurbish computers and teach technology classes in orphanages.  Justin recalled dusting off the computers and getting them set up for classes.  This family project made the entire Richards clan technologically savvy and demonstrated the power of providing access and knowledge to others.

3.  We encourage our kids to be good readers so they can eventually become good communicators.  Put on your reading teacher hat and ask your kids to tell you all about their game, including the time in history, setting, characters and storyline.

Steve Green’s love of gaming plots inspired him to write his own stories for gamers like him:   “For me it felt as though I were reading a book. I took on the role of characters, was put in their shoes, went through their trials, and experienced their superpowers or lack thereof.  I felt in control…. When I decided to attempt to create games, it was actually because I wanted to tell a story.”

4.  Be proactive.  If you see a spark of interest, sign up your kids to learn how to program, code, mod, animate or design so they develop a love of producing games.

Justin Richards recognized that there were many opportunities for high school students who wanted to code, but far fewer for middle school and late elementary school children.  Justin created Youth Digital specifically for the 8-14 year old age range.

Helpful hint:  Thrively has thousands of coding classes listed by location ranging from free after school programs, to online classes to two week camps.

5.  Keep your children’s strengths and interests in mind as you encourage them to explore gaming beyond the entertainment experience.  Gaming experience leads to many careers beyond coding.

According to Steven Green, “There are more ways to be involved with creating games than through coding. I currently work in the sound department of some games, creating the sound effects, leading on dialogue recording and editing. Other areas that are light on the coding side include art, which involves characters and environments, and writing.  For example, creating stories that could end up becoming a script to a video game. Coding is very important to making video games, but it is in no way the only role required to create them.”

6.  Ask your kids what part of the game gives them that oomph!  That’s what Team Thrively calls passion.

Alan Wolf recalls:  “Similar to reading books or watching movies, video games had a certain immersive quality to them which I found very appealing.  Unlike books or movies though, video games also had an interactive element that let me explore their worlds.”

7.  Seek good influencers who can guide your children to moving beyond playing video games and understanding the creative development side of gaming.

Alan Wolfe remembers how his friends inspired him:  “While in 7th grade, a small group of friends and I decided to start learning to program games in a language called QBasic.  We started off with really simple text adventures, then learned how to fake graphics with text characters on the screen (such as having an X where the player was and having enemies be Y’s moving around on the screen) and we eventually learned how to do proper graphics with lines and circles, then started dabbling in some basic music and sound effects.  It was a blast working on projects and sharing them, while also sharing techniques we figured out with each other.”

8.  If you lack ideal influences and resources to support your child, create them!  It can be amazing an amazing journey for you and great for your child’s self esteem:

That’s what Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code did for her daughter.  See Kimberly Bryant’s full-length video where Kimberly reflects on the big picture, “It’s not about coding, it’s also about creating self confidence in young girls of color.”

9.  Ask your children to demonstrate a deeper interest in gaming beyond recreation.  If you are encouraged by what you see, give them more freedom to explore.

Keith Leonard’s parents were reluctant at first, but Keith’s intellectual curiosity made them feel more at ease that his time wasn’t wasted on gaming:  “My parents’ restrictions went out the window once they realized that it would be silly to stop me from making games, so how could they stop me from playing them??”

Steve Green’s parents were all in from the start.  It made a world of difference:  “It’s extremely difficult for any child to pursue a path, even if they love it, if their family doesn’t support them. {My parents} raised me telling me games would rot my brain, hurt my eyesight and lower my school grades. Here I am now, though, beginning to make a living off of creating games. However, I like to say that I create worlds.”

10.  Become invested.

Before starting Youth Digital Justin Richards taught coding to inner city kids who were at risk for not graduating high school.  Justin noticed the parents who came to class with their children, asked questions, were engaged and “just cared” often ended up with bright, active learners who went on to do brilliant things in coding.

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Discover Your Child's Strengths

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Thrively feature: Activities

Once you have unleashed your child’s strengths and interests, it is important that your child has ways to exercise and develop them. Thrively is the largest resource for children’s activities, with over 100,000 activities nearby, online, and across the nation for you and your child to discover. We feature over 15,000 camps, 2,000 online classes, 15,000 educational iOS apps, and 2,000 “worth traveling for” opportunities (like Space Camp).

I know, it’s a lot to take in, but that gives your child a boundless resource to find activities that explore his or her interests. Find the item in our drop-down list (seen below) or search specifically for activities with our advanced search. Together, you and your child can explore through 200 areas of interest – from sports for your Super-Charged Athlete to creative writing for your Poet Laureate – to find the activities that best match your child’s strengths and interests. You can even search through activities gathered specifically for children with special needs.

Thrively does a lot of the heavy lifting with recommendations. Our algorithm matches activities with both your child’s strengths and interests, increasing the likelihood that you’ll find a great match in your stream of recommended activities. As you favorite, dismiss, and add activities to your Boards, Thrively learns more about your child’s interests and improves your recommendations. When you discover activities that interest your child, you can save them to an Activity Board and organize the board by theme or interest to keep track of your child’s activities with one simple tool.

Interests drop-down list:

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It’s important to note that there is no pay-to-play – the activity providers on our site have been chosen by our editorial team, so you know that the recommendations you’re getting truly are meant for your child.

Whew, that was a lot of info at once, so let’s review with key points:

  • Use the Search tool to find exactly what you’re looking for
  • Scroll through the Recommended Activity stream to discover something new and off the beaten path
  • Keep track of everything you find by favoriting the activity and/or it to an Activity Board

Develop Your Child's Strengths

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Thrively feature: Strength Assessment

Thrively’s Strength Assessment is the only online strength assessment designed specifically for children. We have partnered with two of California’s seven board-certified pediatric neuropsychologists to develop and constantly improve the Strength Assessment, so as your kids grow, Thrively grows alongside them. The kid-friendly questions explore 23 different strength areas! Upon finishing, Thrively provides you with you an in-depth Strength Profile that dives into to your child’s key strengths.

Here’s how you can use this tool to uncover your child’s strengths:

1. Sign in to your Thrively account, and head to your parent dashboard. Here you will see your profile and the profiles of all of your children:

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2. To find your child’s strengths, click the button that reads “Begin the strength exploration for your child,” and make sure that your child is comfortable and ready to begin the Strength Assessment:

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3. Let your child complete the assessment at his/her own pace. Let them pick their answers – it’s tempting to say “oh, really? That doesn’t sound like you” – but this is where you may discover something awesome about your kids!

4. When your child completes the Strength Assessment, you will receive your child’s Strength Profile:

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Once your children have discovered their strengths, Thrively will suggest activities that allow your children to explore their interests and develop their strengths.

Discover Your Child's Strengths