What’s Happening in the Lab Week Seven


This week, at Larry Ferlazzo’s prompting, I did lessons on self-control with my upper-grade students (fourth through sixth or age 9 – 12).

Lesson One: I started off by recreating the Mischel “Marshmallow” experiment. I told students that I would give them three skittles or M & Ms,  and that if they didn’t eat any of them until the end of the period, they would get three more. I then let them in the lab and commenced with passing out candy. Now, I’m not a big candy for the kids fan, but it was easier to monitor compliance in a short time over repeated periods during the day using candy. Larry did this using computer access, but this was going to be too complicated as I would have to check to see if they stayed on task on computers where I would basically have to check the browser history of each machine, which is time consuming, and then what would I give them that would let them “double down”? So that was the setup or intro. I then gave them a simple activity to do (ex. from Fourth Grade) and had them do that for about 30 minutes. At the end of that period, I had them watch a TED Talk by Joachim de Posada:

and discussed self-control and how waiting to eat the candy is part of that. I then passed out the next three pieces of candy, and pointed out that even if they were not successful, in our next lessons we would be learning about ways they could improve their self-control.

Findings: Most of the kids met the test, and earned more candy. Most who didn’t simply hadn’t listened to my instructions. Some have to some work to do on self-control, but that was no more than one or two per class.  Some of the classes (six total) had everyone getting more candy.

Lesson Two: I started off by showing this slideshow, and discussing how students could grow their intelligence, and one way to help would be to increase their self-control.

I then showed this slideshow and discussed the tips with students. I pointed out how they would be used in different situations (ones where you want to resist doing something, vs. ones that are good when you have to do a difficult task that is frustrating).

I then had students comment on one tip they would try to use in the next month.

Results: I did not do this lesson with the fifth grade, and only one of the sixth grade classes got it because I will be off on Friday when I see them for the second time. Fourth grade was the only class where I saw both classes two times. They had also seen the Grass vs. Glass slideshow in the first week of the year, so I just reviewed it with them. Here is what they had for comments.

Conclusions and Followup: I will continue and get comments from all sixth graders and from the fifth graders next week. I will also continue with these lessons. When I first discussed doing the Grass vs. Glass lesson with Larry Ferlazzo, he had students who did not believe they could increase their intelligence and that some folks are just not smart. None of the fourth graders shared that thought. I have a theory that students start out with a very open sense of the possibilities, but as they experience frustration, they give up and become resigned to failure. My feeling is that the key is to build their capacity to cope and deal with frustration so that they can achieve more.

by posted under practice/pedagogy | 6 Comments »    
6 Comments to

“What’s Happening in the Lab Week Seven”

  1. September 18th, 2010 at 5:42 pm      Reply Elona Hartjes Says:

    “I have a theory that students start out with a very open sense of the possibilities, but as they experience frustration, they give up and become resigned to failure. My feeling is that the key is to build their capacity to cope and deal with frustration so that they can achieve more.” I agree with you. I think that we need to help kids see that failure can lead to success. Failure teaches us what didn’t work and perseverance helps us keep looking for what does work. Micheal Jordon hadf a wonderful short video about his failures that I just recently found on You Tube. i want to build a lesson around this with my teenage students to help them realize that very successful people fail at things everyday but, an important but, they keep at it.

    • September 18th, 2010 at 5:52 pm      Reply alicemercer Says:

      This is so funny because I’m just about to start doing this lesson again this year! Please look at Larry Ferlazzo’s work on this subject if you haven’t already, since he works with high school students. Thanks for the tip off about the Michael Jordan video. That was a Nike ad, wasn’t it? I may grab that for my kids as well.

  2. September 2nd, 2011 at 11:44 am      Reply Connie Montgomery Says:

    I loved Larry’s piece on “grit”. I am grateful for the resources you share! I am teaching ESL and ABE and GED prep to adults. I also work with preschoolers who want to become literate in their home language (Spanish) as well as becoming bilingual in English in preparation for our local “English Only” public schools. Many of your resources/lessons/activities are valuable to me! Unfortunately, my families do not have computers and have no computer literacy. Their children don’t have access to computers. There is NO print in these homes. I bring books in Spanish for parents to read to their children. As a result, parents have taken the initiative to expand their own education. I am learning a lot from them. Thanks!

  3. January 20th, 2012 at 2:07 pm      Reply Gail Says:

    Very useful information! I am, however, unable to view the slideshare presentations. I believe it is because I have a mac book. Any suggestions on how to view it? Thanks.

  4. June 11th, 2012 at 5:59 am      Reply Priscilla Thompson Says:

    As a scientist and a science teacher, I think that teaching students that the failures we discover are more important that the successes. This is a great way to learn how learn from your mistakes but keep on persevering no matter what obstacle faces you. Sometimes it seems that students give up before they get started because they are told they cant accomplish what they want.
    Any scientist will tell you that they had a lot of mistakes before they had successes. They will tell you that they learned about all of the hazards to prevent their ideas from working along the way. When they finally had a product that worked, all of the things that would prevent it from being useful were gone. There is also a good video on Ted were the Google Science Fair Winners discuss how many people they had to ask for help and how many experiments they had to do before they could even have a science fair project.

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