Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery

Fires in the Mind: What Kids Can Tell Us About Motivation and Mastery

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Teens talk to adults about how they develop motivation and mastery

Through the voices of students themselves, Fires in the Mind brings a game-changing question to teachers of adolescents: What does it take to get really good at something? Starting with what they already know and do well, teenagers from widely diverse backgrounds join a cutting-edge dialogue with adults about the development of mastery in and out of school. Their insights frame motivation, practice, and academic challenge in a new light that galvanizes more powerful learning for all. To put these students' ideas into practice, the book also includes practical tips for educators.

  • Breaks new ground by bringing youth voices to a timely topic-motivation and mastery
  • Includes worksheets, tips, and discussion guides that help put the book's ideas into practice
  • Author has 18 previous books on adolescent learning and has written for the New York Times Magazine, Educational Leadership, and American Educator

From the acclaimed author of Fires in the Bathroom, this is the next-step book that pushes the conversation to next level, as teenagers tackle the pressing challenges of motivation and mastery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470649503
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 05/05/2010
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
File size: 965 KB

About the Author

Kathleen Cushman writes, speaks, and consults to a national audience of educators. A journalist and documentarian, she cofounded the nonprofit What Kids Can Do, which collaborates with diverse youth in the United States and abroad, bringing their voices to bear on the complex challenges that affect their lives and learning. She is also author of Fires in the Bathroom and coauthor, with Laura Rogers, of Fires in the Middle School Bathroom.

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Table of Contents

by Dennis White ix

1. What Does It Take to Get Good?
Young people are developing mastery in ways we easily overlook1

2. Catching the Spark
Kids tell what draws them in and gives them confidence in learning 11

3. Keeping at It
When do young people stick with something and make it their own? 31

4. Asking the Experts
Looking at how experts work, students make sense of their own process 55

5. Exploring Deliberate Practice
Young people look closer at what makes practice effective71

6. Practice and Performance
Demonstrating mastery also helps students improve 87

7. Bringing Practice into the Classroom
Students imagine the classroom as a community of practice97

8. Is Homework Deliberate Practice?
Whether, when, and how to give kids practice after class 117

9. School Projects That Build Expert Habits
Students talk about their most compelling curricula 135

10. Making School a Community of Practice
Kids suggest ways that schools can foster expert habits 153

Appendix A: The Practice Project: A Five-Day Curriculum Outline for Secondary Teachers or Advisers
How to help students investigate the expert process 159

Appendix B: Resources That Help Light Fires in the Mind
Inspiration, tools, organizations, and other resources165

The Student Contributors 173

Acknowledgments 177

About the Author 181

About What Kids Can Do 182

Index 183

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Become passionate’ is easy to say, hard to do, impossible to compel. Drawing on the insights of young persons, parents, teachers, and experts, Kathleen Cushman reveals the paths to passionate pursuit of something worthwhile."
—Howard Gardner, professor of Cognition and Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, author, Five Minds for the Future, Multiple Intelligences, and The Unschooled Mind

“No matter what stage we’re at as educators, every teacher can mine this book for many helpful nuggets to support student mastery. We can help ignite ‘fires in the minds’ of our kids, and this wonderful book makes an excellent fire starter.” —Kathie Marshall, LAUSD teacher, in Teacher Leaders Network blog of the Center for Teaching Quality

"In this remarkable book, Kathleen Cushman delves into the minds of young learners to provide us with an immensely useful, insightful, and indispensable guide to tapping the potential in every child. Essential reading for teachers, coaches, and parents alike."
—Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code

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