Monthly Archives: October 2015


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.


The Great Pizza Debate


LinkedIn group discussions are tame by most social media standards.  Your average topic is cerebral and insightful, but not terribly provocative.  So imagine my surprise when my inbox became clogged with over 1,376 responses about using pizza as a motivational tool in the classroom.  Pizza.

Here’s the question that ignited a firestorm of opinions….

Pizza party for getting A’s? What are your thoughts on a middle school having a party for all students who attained an A average and excluding those that did not realize that achievement. I love it.

Impassioned responses poured in from educators, parents, child development experts and anyone invested in building students’ self esteem.  Their heartfelt opinions came from witnessing the emotional highs and lows of a classroom reward system.  Teachers are wired to motivate and celebrate all of their students’ gifts.  So where does a pizza party for ‘A’ average students leave ‘B’ average students who master multiple programming languages, are accomplished musicians or visionary artists?  Where are the slices with extra cheese for these extraordinary youth?  Excluding some students because their strengths may be something other than academics is bound to cause conflicts.

Leave it to technology to individualize kudos in classrooms.  Class Dojo took the burden of behavior management and elevated it to a race for virtual praise.  According to Edutopia’s Lisa Mim, “You can award individual or multiple students.  Students love getting ‘dojo’ points! They love hearing the sound of a positive dojo, and dread the sound of a negative one. A positive or negative sound has everyone looking at the board and then getting back to work.“

Class Dojo is highly effective in elementary and early middle school classes.  For teens, app creator Kudzoo puts self-motivation in the hands of teens seeking a stretch goal.  Students self-report grades to accumulate Kudzoo cash they can redeem for different types of rewards – Apple, Amazon, Chipotle, Forever21 and GameStop gift cards – for example.  While Kudzoo is relatively new, according to co-founder Trevor Wilkens one teacher who uses Kudzoo’s platform saw a 65% increase in engagement.  Some students email and tweet Kudzoo to say the app has improved their drive in school.

Empowering students to drive their own reward system is a viable alternative to serving up pizza for ‘A’ students only.  Thank goodness, because I dread the inbox traffic if we ever get to the question of deep dish vs. thin crust.



Amy von Kaenel is a highly enthusiastic Thrively Amabassador. She’s been a veteran of the tech industry for two decades, wearing dual hats in market intelligence and marketing strategy. Amy’s co-authored industry reports on Smartphone Enterprise and mHealth technology. Her organization, Tech Coast Consulting, has served Global 2000 and start-up organizations in both the tech and healthcare industries. Amy holds a BA in Economics and an MBA from the University of California Irvine.