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Magazine Issue 21: PRAISE FOR LEARNING
March 2012

This month ideas about and techniques for Praise for Learning

Article: Praise for Learning
Supporting Resources
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Praise for Learning

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Praise for Learning An Article that challenges you to think about why and how you praise your learners and then maybe to make a few subtle changes.

He only profits from praise who values criticism. 
Heinrich Heine

I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. 
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

New thinking on praise, or why “Well done clever boy!” is just about the worst praise you can give.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Any Subject, Educators

Tags: Praise Mindset
Have you ever paid someone a compliment only to have it diluted in reply?

 “That’s a nice top!”
 “Oh, it was on offer, half price.”
“You play the piano really well!”
“Oh, I’m a little rusty, never got past Grade 5.”

Why Deflect Praise?
We might be good at giving praise but less accomplished when receiving it. Why is that? Do we feel unworthy? Is our friend or colleague mistaken? Is it wrong to stand out by succeeding? For me it used to be the last one which I eventually fixed by saying “Thank-you” to affirmative comments. Now the praiser feels that their observation has been respected and I accept a valuable comment confirming the quality of my work.

Praise is Powerful
Praise is positive feedback that communicates success and achievement. It is very powerful and therefore very dangerous if used incorrectly. If we keep praising someone for an achievement they have yet to make then we are setting them up for an almighty failure when, eventually, a challenge far exceeds their ability. On the other hand if we constantly withhold praise when it’s due then disengagement and de-motivation can follow. Added to that, each learner has their own unique expectations of praise: its wording, timing, frequency and context. Hence to give effective praise we need to make it appropriate, useful and, above all, personal.

Why Not "Clever Boy"?
Carol Dweck captures the spirit of our educational age with her research on self-theory . She argues that our disposition (mindset) ultimately influences our success. Growth mindset “I can” people are more likely to reach their potential; fixed mindset “I can’t” people (who are often high achievers) severely limit their ability to grow. Dweck discovered a fascinating connection between mindset and praise. She found that when students who succeeded at a challenge were praised for their intelligence, they were less likely to ask for a tougher problem. But when equally successful students were praised for their effort they were more likely to ask for something more difficult. That’s why we should praise the effort not the attribute. “Well done, you’ve put in a lot of effort here and look at the results!” is more effective than “Well done, you’re really clever and look at the results!”

Punished by Rewards
American lecturer and author Alfie Kohn has studied incentive systems and the psychology that inspires them. He proposes that extrinsic rewards such as gold stars, bribes, 'A' grades or smiley face stickers provide, at best, temporary compliance. They are ‘strikingly ineffective’ when it comes to lasting changes in behaviour and attitude – as are the associated punishments. He challenges us to think very carefully about what we are trying to achieve when we give praise through rewards and when we withhold praise through punishment.

Praise Scripts
Construct praise scripts and practise using them. You may want to create templates for specific classes, groups or individuals as well as those that are subject specific. 

Here are three to get you started. Remember to write your scripts about behaviours not attributes and try to link them to specific success criteria, “Well done!, marvellous!, wonderful!, superb!” doesn’t really cut it unless we know what is so wonderful, why it’s superb, and how it got to be that marvellous.

1. You’ve worked hard on this and you’ve succeeded because you’ve clearly included <success criteria>

2. I saw you struggle with this one and look at what you’ve achieved: <success criteria>

3. I know how much you had to fight to understand <learning point>. Very well done, you deserve to feel good about it.

Supporting Resources:

Growth Mindset Praise Poster

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Growth Mindset Praise Poster A 3 page Poster offering 12 ways to praise for effort instead of intelligence.

Categories: Poster, Infant, Junior, Learning Styles, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject

Tags: Praise Mindset
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

New Resources:

4M Research Thinking

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4M Research Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool that sets out a flexible process for carrying out independent research tasks. Includes an example to get pupils started.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Enquiry Thinking, Skills-Based Learning, Geography, Science, Secondary, Tertiary

Tags: Research Independent Learning
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Literacy Think Sheet - Authors

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Literacy Think Sheet - Authors A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for learning about children’s authors and their stories.

Categories: Think Sheet, English, Junior, Thinking Skills

Tags: Literature Story
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Science Think Sheet - Periodic Table

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Science Think Sheet - Periodic Table Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for looking at elements' properties and categories.

Categories: Think Sheet, Science, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Periodic Table
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Easter Think Sheet

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Easter Think Sheet A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for looking at Easter, New Life & Spring in new ways.

Categories: Think Sheet, Thinking Skills, RE & Philosophy, Infant, Junior, Other Subject

Tags: Easter
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Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

PSHE Think Sheet - Rights & Responsibilities

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PSHE Think Sheet - Rights & Responsibilities A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for prompting moral and ethical debate.

Categories: Think Sheet, PSHE, RE & Philosophy, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Values Morality Rights
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PE Think Sheet - Fitness & Health

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PE Think Sheet - Fitness & Health A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for creating exercises and making healthy life choices.

Categories: Think Sheet, PE, Junior, Secondary, Thinking Skills, Science

Tags: Fitness Health
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Science Think Sheet - Investigation

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Science Think Sheet - Investigation A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for prompting investigative thinking and planning, and for developing a scientific mindset.

Categories: Think Sheet, Science, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Investigation
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ICT Think Sheet - Sharing Information

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ICT Think Sheet - Sharing Information A Think Sheet of Thinking Classroom ideas for exploring the high quality exchange of information.

Categories: Think Sheet, IT, Secondary, Thinking Skills

Tags: Technology Communication
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Books:

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential
by Carol Dweck

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential<br>by Carol Dweck A contemporary classic? Find out about growth and fixed mindsets; entitist and incrementalist thinking. A growth mindset is foundational for increased success.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books, Research

Tags: Success Hard Work Character Growth Mindset


Next month we think about success for learning.