Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Use @Thrively for Letters of Recommendation, School Applications, Parent Conferences

It's that time of year for secondary teachers and guidance counselors. Students begin asking their teachers for letters of recommendations and/or are drafting their own applications for middle school, high school, or college. Thrively is a free digital resource that lends itself particularly well for such work.

With Thrively, students create a strength profile. This gives them useful language for their own applications. It also serves as a great tool to remind those writing applications of the student's strengths, which can prompt memories of specific incidents and activities to shine a light on and include in the recommendation.

Here is what my profile looks like:

Upon reading it you’ll find I’m someone who has a quick mind, always able to come up with a plan B and work myself out of a jam. I like to strategize to accomplish goals in smart and simple ways.

Just by reading this small excerpt, I have language to include in a personal essay and someone providing a reference might be reminded of some ways these qualities have been demonstrated. For example, a story that comes to mind from reading this is when I was conducting an hour-long ed tech workshop for staff and a fire-drill was called.  his drill would take away about 20% of our limited instructional time. Rather than dwell on that, I asked everyone to bring their devices, and I led us to an outdoor spot that had WiFi. Participants discussed a reflection question while we headed to the spot and we finished our lesson outdoors. The workshop was saved and the bonus was I ended up using this strategy in the future on nice days just because.

For a teacher with several students, the memories this tool can prompt for a recommendation is invaluable. Another use for this resource is as a reference during parent / teacher conferences.  Imagine unveiling this during your first meeting with a child’s parents and discussing a child’s accomplishments via their strengths. You and the parent have an instant connection over positive aspects of the child and the strength-profile provides a powerful takeaway.  In follow up meetings you can use the tool to suggest ways students can develop on build upon their strengths both through work inside and outside of the school setting.

Check out Thrively now. Do your own profile then create your class. Have a look around. Consider some ways you might be able to use Thrively as a valuable tool for your students.  
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