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Teaching Guide

Teaching PBIS: Determination and Perseverance

So you don't have to say "You can do it!" ever again.


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Every four years, a whole gaggle of people want to be president. Candidates range from politicians and businessmen, to actors and a cat named Limberbutt McCubbins. (Yes, a cat. You're going to want to look that one up.)

They all have one thing in common: determination… and maybe a fair bit of narcissism (especially that conceited cat). But mostly determination. This Shmoop teaching guide can help your students find their inner drive to be president, or the next great satirical sensation on Twitter.

In this guide you will find

  • scripted lesson plans on confidence and how to help students move out of their comfort zones.
  • activities encouraging students to get involved in extracurricular activities.
  • resources to assist students in determining what learning style suits them best.

We're still working on our campaign (Vote Shmoop/McCubbins 2050!), but today we're determined to provide the teaching guides that suit you best. A vote for Shmoop is a vote for learning.



Today we introduce the concept of determination to students, with a focus on capital S: "Schoolwork." Students will do some soul-searching to discover their most common determination obstacles and research possible solutions they can then apply to their daily lives.

Key Skills and Learning Objectives

  • Discover what determination means personally and why it matters in school
  • Become more self-aware as a learner
  • Discuss four common problems with schoolwork and research how to deal with them
  • Set tough but awesome homework goals


  • Yesterday: Be.
  • Today: Begin work on the goal chart.


Materials Needed: Access to Kid President's video on being awesome; library or computer lab for research; four posterboards and felt pens

Estimated Time to Complete: 50 minutes

What do you think of when you hear the word determination? Take two minutes to jot down a personal definition. [After two or so minutes, ask a few students to share. Draw on some of their definitions when you give them the following one.] Determination is persevering despite obstacles; so… what obstacles do we encounter when we're faced with schoolwork?

After a long day at school, the last thing you want to do when you get home is start a pile of homework. You might even bang your head on the textbook and wonder why we even have homework. This is a good wonder to have. What is the point of schoolwork? [Give students five minutes to share. Write their ideas on the board.]

Getting schoolwork done might be harder for some people than others. Think of how many thousands of possible difficulties you could encounter. Your baby brother won't stop screaming. You dropped your backpack in a pool of lava. The dog borrowed all your books and didn't return them. Take a few minutes to think about and scribble down what your biggest obstacles are when it comes to schoolwork. [Give them five minutes.]

[Get students into four teams and give each team one of the following names: the Procrastinators, the Perfectionists, the Disorganized, and the Underachievers. Give each team a posterboard. Tell them that for the next 20 minutes, they will research (as individuals—not as a team) their team name and come up with three issues a "perfectionist," for example, might have with schoolwork. Then find three possible solutions.]

[Give students 20 minutes to research and work.]

Now, get into your teams and share your findings. Pick a scribe and a speaker, and have the scribe write the team name in big letters on the posterboard. Share your research with each other and identify five obstacles that you think are the most common, along with their solutions, and write both—the obstacles and their solutions—on the posterboard. When you're finished, the speaker will share your poster with the class. [Give students 15 minutes.]

[You may want to tack the posters up somewhere in the classroom for the rest of the week for inspiration.]


Back at your desks, share your personal schoolwork obstacles with a buddy and brainstorm ways to tackle them. Does your "homework personality" fall under any of the team names? Can you apply any solutions from the teams' presentations to your own obstacles? [Give students five minutes.]

Spend the rest of class getting started on the homework handout. Your schoolwork goal can be different for each day, or you can set a bigger picture goal for yourself—like, say, "get all my homework done on time" or "get extra help with math and science this week" or "finish writing my novel on the war of 1812"—and break it down into smaller goals to accomplish daily. Run your goals by yours truly and be sure to look over the whole sheet and ask any questions you might have so you can finish for homework without any trouble.


Take your goal sheet home and fill out your goals for the week.


  1. Describe a moment in your life where you or someone else persevered. What did it feel like? What was difficult about it?
  2. What are your biggest obstacles to being successful in school? Can you do anything about them?
  3. When do you find it easiest to concentrate or learn?
  4. What do you find easy to learn? Song lyrics? Dance moves? Neuroscience?
  5. Where do you want to be five years after you graduate from high school?
  6. What is the most difficult subject in school for you? Do you know anyone in school who is good at it? Where could you find extra help?
  7. What would your life be like if school was optional? Or really expensive?
  8. What kind of a learner are you: visual, auditory, or kinetic? How can you find out? Does it make a difference?
  9. How can you, in the words of Kid President, be more awesome at school?
  10. How can school itself be more awesome?