Learning Habits Reflection and Smart Goals

This day 1 and day 2 (Wednesday and Thursday), we’ll be completing a quick learning habits reflection and setting a SMART goal for the next two weeks. Remember to base both your goals on your reflections about what you are doing well, and what you could improve on. And, like always, make sure your goals are specific, measurable, realistic, attainable, and timely!

We’ll be having parent, student, teacher conferences soon, and that is always a good time to reflect on what you feel good about so far and what you want to work on.

Friday is Gandhi’s birthday, so you’ll have a day off. In addition to catching up on any missing homework, you might consider doing some reading on Gandhi. Here are some books you might want to try. I read the first one on the list; it’s by Subhadra Sen Gupta, who came to our school a few times. It is a good place to start!

The importance of self-control

All learning habits and study skills depend, to some extent, on self-control. We may know how to do a math problem, but it won’t get finished if we can’t tear ourselves away from that new video game! Self-control is what makes it possible for us to resist doing really fun things until we get the things we need to do. Another way to say this is ‘delay gratification.’

It turns out self-control is really important in life. People who demonstrate it, tend to be more successful in all kinds of things. One major study that showed this link involved children and marshmallows. You can learn more about it here:

I find that making my daily list of things to do helps me avoid wasting time. How do you practice self-control? Please share your thinking in the comments below!

What does peace mean to you?

Friday is a 1-8 day; to conclude Peace Week, we’ll spend a little time thinking about what ‘peace’ means to us.

Metro cardWhen I think of peace, I think of the Delhi Metro. Sometimes people ask me how this can be– the metro carries 2.5 million out of Delhi’s 18 million people each day; it’s almost always too crowded to get a seat, and sometimes you really have to squeeze in. How can that be peaceful? For me, the answer has to do with diversity, equality and sharing.

On the metro, I see are all kinds of people: young people, old people, short people, tall people– stand-up-straight people, lean-against-a wall people. On the metro, I can get most of the way to work with just 13.5 rupees. If you’ve got Rs. 30, you can ride a train all the way from HUDA City Center to Jahangirpuri–more than 40 km. We all share the same space and we all get where we are going at the same time.

The metro is not perfect. But peace isn’t about perfection. It’s about learning how to share space with people from all walks of life. It’s about traveling together, not racing ahead. That’s I don’t leave home without my Delhi Metro Smart card, and that’s why I think the metro is the most peaceful place in Delhi. What does peace mean to you? Where do you feel at peace, or where do you see peace in action? If you have a minute, I’d love to read your comment!

Writing long sentences correctly

In school, we teach students to avoid run-on sentences. Run-on sentences often happen when we string together two or three perfectly good sentences into one large, clumsy one. Run-ons can be confusing,  hard to follow, and grammatically incorrect–all good reasons to avoid them. This week on days 5 and 6, we’ll take a close look at long sentences.

In many cases, writing short sentences is a good idea. Short sentences are often the easiest way to keep our ideas clear and well organized. But long sentences can add interest and variety to a piece of writing, and they are sometimes the only way to express complex ideas. They can also be fun to read! Here is my favorite long sentence, an extremely well written run-on that you can find in A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

In after-years [Piglet] liked to think that he had been in Very Great Danger during the Terrible Flood, but the only danger he had really been in was in the last half-hour of his imprisonment, when Owl, who had just flown up, sat on a branch of his tree to comfort him, and told him a very long story about an aunt who had once laid a seagull’s egg by mistake, and the story went on and on, rather like this sentence, until Piglet who was listening out of his window without much hope, went to sleep quietly and naturally, slipping slowly out of the window towards the water until he was only hanging on by his toes, at which moment luckily, a sudden loud squawk from Owl, which was really part of the story, being what his aunt said, woke Piglet up and just gave him time to jerk himself back into safety and say, “How interesting, and did she?” when—well, you can imagine his joy when at last he saw the good ship, The Brain of Pooh(Captain, C. Robin; 1st Mate, P. Bear) coming over the sea to rescue him.
-A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh, 145-146.

Only really excellent writers can manage a sentence like that. But even beginning writers can write longer sentences to give variety to their writing. Often this involves hooking together two short sentences. There are rules for this, which you can read more about here. Below I’ve given some examples of the many ways you can hook together two short sentences without ‘breaking the rules’. For fun, I’ve color-coded the independent clauses.

The student wanted to write a long sentence to make her story more interesting, so she used a comma and the word ‘so’ to stick together two smaller sentences.

The teacher was tired of writing boring, short sentences; he decided to use a semi-colon to hook together two related independent clauses!

Ms. Coyle was once a Humanities teacher, and she knew it was wrong to hook together two or more independent clauses with just a comma, so she hooked up three small sentences with commas and coordinating conjunctions.

Today, why don’t you go find a long sentence that you like and write it in your writers’ notebook? Or, if you feel very creative, you can just make one up! If you have time, why not type it in the comments below?