Sunday, December 18, 2016

Random H.E.A.R.T. Videos

Each time this page reloads, you'll see a video displayed at random. Each video has an accompanying blog post; click on the link below the video to learn more about each one! To browse them all, visit the H.E.A.R.T. Playlist at YouTube:

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The puzzle of motivation

Understanding your own motivation(s) is a great way to grow: if you can get in touch what really motivates you, then you can set your goals and find the strategies that will be powered by your inner drive. Dan Pink offers some really great insights into motivation in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (highly recommended!), and you can also learn a lot from this video. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose: these are three words that, in my opinion, could and should change our whole approach to school and to learning.

There's also a transcript of the talk you can read.

What makes us feel good about our work?

There is so much to learn from Dan Ariely's video about motivation, and what he says here about "work" applies very well to school work. You can see what you think about that! Here is the transcript if you prefer to read or to read while you listen.

One of the experiments that Ariely describes is named after a classical myth: Sisyphus!
[...] And this other condition we called the Sisyphic condition. And if you remember the story about Sisyphus, Sisyphus was punished by the gods to push the same rock up a hill, and when he almost got to the end, the rock would roll over, and he would have to start again. And you can think about this as the essence of doing futile work. You can imagine that if he pushed the rock on different hills, at least he would have some sense of progress. Also, if you look at prison movies, sometimes the way that the guards torture the prisoners is to get them to dig a hole, and when the prisoner is finished, they ask him to fill the hole back up and then dig again. There's something about this cyclical version of doing something over and over and over that seems to be particularly demotivating.
Here is Sisyphus with his rock as shown in a Greek vase painting from the sixth century B.C.E., and you can read more about Sisyphus at Wikipedia. I hope this class does not make you feel like Sisyphus toting that rock... if it does, let me know, and we will figure out a solution! :-)

(Greek vase, circa 530 B.C.E.)

The Biology of Positivity

This short little video (with fun emojis!) goes along with this very useful article: Your Brain May Be Hard-wired to Focus on the Negative, But (With Practice) You Can Reprogram It by Leah Shafer and Iman Rastegari.

This notion of "positivity" overlaps with growth mindset in powerful ways. Instead of focusing on the negative (making mistakes, the fear of making mistakes, etc.), you really can train your brain to look at mistakes as useful information that you can use for your own learning. Some other good tips here include not comparing yourself to others and being patient with your own progress!

Here's a transcript of the video:

Your brain is hard-wired to focus on the negative. Fortunately, we can re-wire our neural connections. Learning new things makes your brain stronger, and repeating those new things creates new neurons The same is true for positive habits of mind; they're learnable and self-strengthening. Mindfulness is a bridge to positive habits:

  • Take a break and look at something different. Savor the calm. 
  • Look for good things in small moments.
  • Look for and talk about the good traits of others.
  • Exercise.
  • Be persistent, knowing that change takes time. 

(image from the You Can Reprogram It article)

The Science of Character

This video is by Tiffany Shlain, and I first learned about her work because she is the daughter of one of my all-time favorite authors, Leonard Shlain (Alphabet versus the Goddess).

Shlain begins with Peterson and Seligman who worked on creating a taxonomy character strengths (rather than weakness or illness). They also looked at human relationships and how we can respect and value the character strengths of other people. Also, keep an eye out for the discussion of Carol Dweck's growth mindset. The film also discusses Adele Diamond's work on the brain's prefrontal cortex and self-regulation.

Shlain singles out seven character strengths that are really important in education: curiosity, perseverance, gratitude, optimism, social intelligence, and enthusiasm (enthusiasm is one of my personal favorites). These are all qualities that can be learned... which means you have to practice them. And learn from your mistakes, too.

Become the best version of yourself! Who do you want to be...?

Find out more at Tiffany Shlain's website: Let It Ripple, which is the source for this poster:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Born to Stand Out

I really liked this graphic with the words of Dr. Seuss and the characters of his famous Whoville.

Why fit in when when you were born to stand out?

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Widget: H.E.A.R.T.

I've made a randomizing widget for all the H.E.A.R.T items here at the blog! This includes the same items as in the Reading and Time widgets, plus additional items.

I made these widgets with Randy Hoyt's wonderful

Here is the 200-pixel-wide version (good for blog sidebars):

And here is the 400-pixel-wide version:

There is also an iframe version that you can use in Canvas or similar environment that does not allow direct use of javascripts; you can adjust the height variable as needed; I have only created an iframe version of the 400-pixel-wide widget:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Time Widget

I've made a randomizing widget for the Time items here at the blog!

I made these widgets with Randy Hoyt's wonderful

Here is the 200-pixel-wide version (good for blog sidebars):

And here is the 400-pixel-wide version:

There is also an iframe version that you can use in Canvas or similar environment that does not allow direct use of javascripts; you can adjust the height variable as needed; I have only created an iframe version of the 400-pixel-wide widget:

Reading Widget

I've made a randomizing widget for the Reading items here at the blog!

I made these widgets with Randy Hoyt's wonderful

Here is the 200-pixel-wide version (good for blog sidebars):

And here is the 400-pixel-wide version:

There is also an iframe version that you can use in Canvas or similar environment that does not allow direct use of javascripts; you can adjust the height variable as needed; I have only created an iframe version of the 400-pixel-wide widget:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I am not afraid of storms.

The quote is from the author Louisa May Alcott.

I am not afraid of storms
for I am learning to sail my ship.

Next Chapter

I was inspired by a quote poster I saw at Twitter (see below), so I decided to make it a poster with a photo by François Philipp at Flickr. What a great metaphor!

You can't start the next chapter of your life
if you keep re-reading the lastone.


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Whole Box of Crayons

Life is about using the whole box of crayons. 

Robert Fulghum (author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Blessed are the weird

Blessed are the weird people — the poets and mistfits, the artists, the writers, and music-makers, the dreamers and the outsiders — for they force us to see the world differently.

The words come from Jacob Nordby, and you can read the full version of his Beatitudes for the Weird at his website, and you can learn more about the tradition of the beatitudes at Wikipedia.

Friday, December 2, 2016

When everything is highlighted...

Here's a great meme for the attention files:

When everything is highlighted,
nothing is highlighted.

A truly precious gift: today.

Adapted from this quote:

Forget yesterday. It has already forgotten you. Don't sweat tomorrow. You haven't even met. Instead, open your eyes and your heart to a truly precious gift: today.
― Steve Maraboli, from Life, the Truth, and Being Free

Pexels (CC0) image.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Endings and Beginnings

I have seen the quote attributed both to Ivy Baker Priest and to Rebecca West. The image is a Photoshop creation by garysan97.

The world is round, and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cinderella's Clock

A fun meme for the procrastination files: take some advice from Cinderella!

Don't wait 'til the clock strikes twelve to start studying.

Monday, November 28, 2016


The quote is from C.S. Lewis, and I have read and re-read his Narnia books more times than I can count. The image shows the paperback book covers from the 1970s when I first visited the land of Narnia.

I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once. — C.S. Lewis

Friday, November 25, 2016

Reading Glasses

Wouldn't it be great if all we had to do was hand out glasses to people in order for them to learn how to read?

It reminds me of Joseph Smith and the "seer stones" (Urim & Thummim) he used in reading the Golden Plates; you can read more about that at Wikipedia.

Reading Glasses: Do you mean to tell me we spent all that time learning words when we could have just been wearing these magic spectacles?

Cartoon by Dave Coverly

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Quotes from Children's Literature

Via an article in Edutopia, I found this lovely infographic of quotes from children's literature which was created by the AAA State of Play playground equipment company.

This is my favorite:

I am not afraid of storms,
for I am learning to sail my ship.
from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Perfect Happiness: Reading

A quote from a Bowie interview in Brain Pickings; the interview is full of fun stuff. The image shows Bowie as Tesla in The Prestige.

Q. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
David Bowie: Reading.

David Bowie also made this poster for the American Library Association to promote reading:

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Oscar Can

My nickname when I was little was "Oscar the Grouch" (yes, I grew up watching Sesame Street and, yes, I was grouchy). So, this graphic really resonated with me! And you can read more about Oscar the Grouch at Wikipedia because, of course, he has his own Wikipedia article. :-)

Just because you're trash doesn't mean you can't do great things. It is called garbage can, not garbage cannot.

Here is Oscar with Gordon and Susan back when I was watching the show in the early 1970s:

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Yesbody ... and the power of improvisation

I really like this cartoon by Rick Detorie:

And this delightful idea of "yesbody" reminds me of one of the great rules of improv: "not Yes, but ... Yes, AND." You can learn more about the power of improvisation in this article at MindShift: How Improv Can Open Up the Mind to Learning in the Classroom and Beyond.

A quote from the article: “Improv says yes to the idea of ideas,” [Deana Criess, director of ImprovBoston’s National Touring Company] says. Not every original thought will turn into the next invention, but offshoots of that first idea may lead to better ones, she explains. “Let’s agree to have ideas,” she says. “And set up a culture where risks are encouraged, and greeted positively and with respect.”

In the cartoon above, for example, the answer is not correct in terms of a dictionary-correct answers, but it is a great piece of improvisation! :-)

(Illustration by Bauke Schildt)

Are You Too Busy? How to Know Your Limits

Finding that "sweet spot" where you are leading an exciting life — not too boring, not too busy — can be a real challenge. You might find some good advice in this article from the Wall Street Journal: Are You Too Busy? How to Know Your Limits by Sue Shellenbarger.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pharrell Williams - Happy

I am such a fan of Pharrell Williams... and here is his hymn to happiness! You can find the lyrics at It even has an article at Wikipedia.

Pharrell Williams - Happy

(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth.
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.
(Because I'm happy)
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The more that you read...

This graphic shares the wonderful words of Dr. SeussThe more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Be patient with yourself.

This is from the University of Oklahoma's Twitter feed. It is "found art" that someone created out in front of the Reynolds Performing Arts Center! It is very good advice for your health and happiness.

Nothing in nature blooms all year.
Be patient with yourself.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Peter Dinklage: Commencement Address

Here's some inspiration ... especially of interest for Game of Thrones fans: Peter Dinklage '91 Addresses Bennington College's Class of 2012. The speech was featured in NPR's best commencement speeches collection.

I waited a long time out in the world
before I gave myself permission to fail.
Please don't even bother asking.
Don't bother telling the world you are ready.
Show it. Do it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Live to Inspire: Dance

From the DotMove YouTube channel dedicated to dancing: "We are proud to bring you a motivational and inspirational video which features the dancers from Cuban sensation "Ballet Revolución." We firmly believe that one shouldn't be afraid to express their passion, and that it is our duty to live them to the fullest and inspire each other along the way."

What do you you see happening around you...? And what are you showing to others?

You can find out more about Ballet Revolución at their Facebook page:

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Existential... coleslaw

I am a big fan of John Atkinson's cartoons, and I thought this was a good one for the "attention" files: do you ponder the stars when you are feeling philosophical... or

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

It's Going To Be Okay: October 1947

This is an amazing ... really amazing ... story from The Oatmeal. I've excerpted just two panels here; it starts with a plane crash. There is a surprise at the end when you find out who this person is, but even without that surprise, it's a beautiful story and life lesson. Read it and see what you think; click the link to read the story at The Oatmeal site:

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Advice from Coco Chanel

Words of wisdom from Coco Chanel! You can find more quotes by Coco Chanel at Wikiquote.

Don't spend time beating on a wall,
hoping to transform it into a door.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Longer Table

I thought this was a beautiful graphic about gratitude and happiness:

When you have more than what you need,
build a longer table,
not a higher fence.

I've seen the quote attributed to "David Wolfe," but I don't know if that is correct or not.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Present

The animation in this film is delightful... and the message is a beautiful one: be sure to watch through to the end!

You can learn more about the film at Jacob Frey's website, and here is the film's adorable little dog:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tomorrow's Pages

Since I like to write, that means I also like the metaphor of "the book of life" ... with pages that you have not yet written. Let them be happy pages!

You can't rewrite yesterday's pages,
but tomorrow's are blank,
and you have the pen . . .
. . . so, write something good.

Here's the graphic I saw at Twitter that inspired me; the image is from Wikimedia.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Small acts of kindness and love

Here is a fuller version of Gandalf's words (from J. R. R. Tolkien): “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love. Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Therapist's Prescription for Better Mental Health

I liked this graphic from There is lots of good advice here. Maybe something here will suit whatever situation you are in!

Treat yourself with kindness. • Say "no" when you need to. • Step out of your comfort zone. • Don't compare yourself to others. • Embrace your mistakes; they don't define you. • Be truly present. • Get outside. • Cut yourself some slack. • Make rest a priority. • Make fun a priority, too. • Savor good memories. • Make new friends. • Laugh often. • Create something. • Anticipate joy. • Appreciate what you have. • Learn from your mistakes. • Write down your successes. • Clear out physical and emotional clutter. • Move your body more. • Pursue a hobby. • Put your phone down and connect with the people you're with. • Confide in trustworthy people. • Treat your mental health with the same importance as your physical health. • Slow down. • Ask for help when you need it. • You don't have to do it all; prioritize what matters most.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

What do you know about it? (video)

This is a powerful empathy film! Be sure to turn on the CC (closed captions) in English so that you can follow along. You can see how that looks in the screenshot below.

When you turn on the closed captions, you'll see the English subtitles like in this screenshot: