Posts from the “Classroom Ideas” Category

What You Feel Can Change What You See

One of the great insights that we gain from choice theory is the realization that we are constantly in the process of creating our reality. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this concept, since all of our views, our fears, our responses, and our plans are based on our perception of reality.

In a sharp, concise TED talk, Issac Lidsky explains “how what we see is a unique, personal, virtual reality that is masterfully constructed by our brain.” He acknowledges that what we see can change how we feel, but he goes further by also explaining that “what you feel can change what you see.” Citing fascinating studies he points out how subjects’ estimates as to how fast a man was walking was influenced by whether or not they were shown a picture of a cheetah or a turtle; or that subjects believed that a hill was steeper if they had just exercised; or that a landmark appeared farther away when subjects were wearing a heavy backpack. His 11 minute talk follows –


Coming from his own amazingly unique perspective, Lidsky makes a strong case for the way in which “we create our own reality.” Because of this he urged his audience to “hold themselves accountable for every moment and every thought.” This view is one of choice theory’s most important contributions. William Glasser didn’t invent the way in which we create our own reality, but he was one of the early “recognizers” of it. Isaac Lidsky is one of the many who are also recognizing this feature of our human design.

The only thing worse than being blind
is having sight with no vision.
Helen Keller

Consider showing this TED talk to your middle school or high school students. Afterward viewing it, you might consider processing some of the following questions with them –

+ Helen Keller once said that “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight with no vision.” Does Isaac Lidsky have vision and if so, provide examples.
+ What did Lidsky mean when he said that we create our own unique, virtual reality?
+ To what extent do you agree with Lidsky that what we feel can change what we see?
+ What does it mean to hold ourselves accountable for every thought?
+ At one point during his early life, Lidsky referred to his view of his life being “a fiction of his fears.” Is his story just one more feel-good yarn, or is he on to something? To what extent do you relate to the possibility that your view of things is a fiction born of your fears?

Hold yourself accountable for every thought.
Isaac Lidsky

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Another excellent video that demonstrates reality being a product of our own creative interpretation is the Season 1: Episode 1 edition of Brain Games, entitled Watch This. Very well done. Your students will be impressed. Lots of material to talk about afterward, as well as a lot of activities to try in your own classroom. You can easily access the episode on Netflix.

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On a personal note –

Ok, so I have recently been diagnosed with a non-Hodgkins form of lymphoma, a cancer known as Waldenstroms, named after a Swedish physician who discovered the disease in 1944. Waldenstroms (WM) is rare, affecting approximately 1,500 people a year in the US (which represents 1/10 of 1% of the 1.6 million people who are diagnosed with cancer in the US each year). It is incurable, but treatable. It affects the body’s ability to create mature, healthy blood cells. In my case, due to a bone marrow biopsy, they know that 70% of my cells are affected by the lymphoma. One of the results of this condition is a lower amount of energy, which I have been experiencing for some time.

I have kept on the run this summer, though – teaching summer school classes, and giving choice theory in-services in Oregon, North Dakota, and Indiana, as well as presenting at a choice theory conference in Japan – and I plan on that to continue. My energy is lower, but not gone. Over the coming weeks I will be considering treatment approaches and schedules. Because we are looking at an immunotherapy approach, rather than a chemotherapy approach, I hope not to miss work or other appointments.

The reality of the situation is still sinking in, but I have incredible support from family and close friends. My faith is strong, which is the most important thing, however I know that my choice theory beliefs will also contribute to my working through this, wherever it may lead.
Like Jesus says –

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.   John 16:33

The Amazing Grid on the Carpet

Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

Professor Tom Lee and his amazing grid on the carpet.

I was walking by one of the classrooms in our department recently and caught a glimpse of something going on that lured me into the room to find out more. It turned out to be Tom Lee’s middle school methods class. Tom is one of my colleagues in the teacher education program at PUC and is famous for coming up with learning activities that are engaging and relevant.

What I saw when I entered the room was a grid that Tom had taped onto the carpet. He had moved tables in the room to create a large space for this grid, which had Gardner’s eight multiple intelligences along the vertical axis and Bloom’s taxonomy categories across the horizontal axis.

As a reminder, Gardner’s intelligences included –

1) Verbal/Linguistic

2) Logical/Mathematical

3) Visual/Spatial

4) Rhythmic/Musical

5) Body/Kinesthetic

6) Intrapersonal

7) Interpersonal

8) Naturalistic

Bloom’s taxonomy (the new version) includes –

1) Remembering

2) Understanding

3) Applying

4) Analyzing

5) Evaluating

6) Creating

The students were asked to place a marker on one of the grid spaces and then describe a lesson focus or activity based on that grid space’s “address.” For instance, a student could place a marker on the space that combined Body/Kinesthetic (vertical) and Applying (horizontal), and then, on-the-spot, create a lesson focus based on a combination of those two categories.

A blogger in search of a bird's eye view of the grid.

A blogger in search of a bird’s eye view of the grid.

Instead of placing a marker in a grid space students could also throw a marker onto the grid for a more random challenge. Students just needed to keep in mind that a row or column could not contain more than two markers. Initially, students would be able to comment on areas in which they felt more confident, however as the game went on they would need to comment on every area of the grid, regardless of their level of prior knowledge.

I joined in the activity and enjoyed listening as students displayed their creative understanding of Gardner’s intelligences and Bloom’s taxonomy. There was a special energy in the room as students engaged in the activity.

What does Tom Lee’s lesson have to do with choice theory? From a classroom perspective, quite a bit. Choice theory explains the importance of school being a need-satisfying place. Tom’s lesson was need-satisfying on several levels.

Purpose/Meaning – Students were allowed to make personal meaning from the experience. The activity was very relevant to them and challenged them to take previous learning (Gardner and Bloom) and add new layers to their own understanding.

Love/Belonging – There was an obvious camaraderie that developed during the activity. Students rooted for one another and offered comments in support of each other. This camaraderie existed between students and teachers as well.

Power/Success – You could tell students felt satisfaction as they came up with their own lesson objectives. Their ideas were ultimately affirmed by classmates and by Tom.

Freedom/Autonomy – Students had so many choices to make during this activity. They could choose the grid space to attack, and afterward they would choose the kind of lesson they wanted to teach.

Joy/Fun – Joy and fun were both present throughout this activity. Students were engaged with the learning and with each other.

Safety/Survival – I think the students, to some extent, looked into the future and saw themselves as teachers working through the same kind of challenge. Doing the activity well had something to do with their professional survival.

I love the “grid on the carpet” that Tom came up with. In future Soul Shaper / choice theory workshops that I teach I want to steal this great idea. For instance, I can see having the Basic Needs across the top (the columns) and content areas on the side (the rows). By content areas I mean Social Studies, Math, Science, Language Arts, etc. I will then have participants select a grid space (either intentionally or randomly)  – let’s say the grid space combining Social Studies and Freedom/Autonomy – and then describe how lesson objectives in that content area could address or meet that basic need. This idea is really growing on me!

Can you think of ways in which you could use the “grid on the carpet” idea? And could you take a moment and share your idea with the rest of us?

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Our next Choice Theory Study Group is December 7!

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