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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

Kathleen Cushman, The students of What Kids Can Do

ISBN: 978-1-118-16021-3 February 2012 Jossey-Bass 208 Pages


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.

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