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Feel Good Story

Window washers dressed as superheroes appear for child cancer patients

They say not all superheroes wear capes…

In fact, these window washers from Houston, Texas, barely needed to put on a costume, as their heroic acts were sure to have put a smile on some young faces.

Earlier this month, pediatric cancer patients were treated to a surprise at Anderson’s Children’s Cancer Hospital. Instead of the usual faces on the other side of the suds, they woke up one morning to a pair of special visitors.

The window washers instead dressed up as Spider-Man and Iron Man, giving the children a boost in time for Christmas.

On the same day, the children also received a visit from Santa, an elf, and one of his trusty reindeer.

I’m not sure if a visit from Spider-Man was on their Christmas list, but the window washers certainly went above and beyond to give the kids a heroic visit.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a tissue… 😭

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Spotlight

Education through Storytelling

Access your internal harddrive for a second. Scan your brain and ask your own memory: “what’s the greatest teaching experience I’ve ever had?”. This might be a tough question, because it’s hard to judge successful teaching. Is it based on how much you learned? How fun the teacher made it? Ultimately, it comes down to being memorable – but what makes teaching worth, well, remembering?

We predict that, more often than not, the story behind a lesson can be more influential in its sticking power than anything else.

Storytelling is the oldest form of teaching. It brought early human communities together, giving children the answers to the biggest questions of creation, life, and the afterlife.

Stories define us, shape us, control us, and make us. Not every human culture in the world is literate, but every single culture tells stories.

So how can you incorporate storytelling into the learning you deliver? Here’s our top tips:

  • Open with a hook: It’s what the pros call an ‘inciting incident’. You can hook the reader in by presenting a problem that encourages them to continue.
  • Keep it simple: Complicated stories aren’t necessarily better. Profound impact is often found when you take a complex idea and reduce it to a nugget that can be remembered.
  • Set the scene: Creating an environment for your story is crucial. Make it one that relates to the overall picture of what you’re teaching.
  • Make relatable characters: The main character of your story should be relatable to your audience. You want them to root for the character’s choices and decisions – then they’ll feel invested in their outcome.
  • Have your story provide an answer to a problem: Every story has a theme or meaning. When you can tell a tale that provides a solution to a problem, it’s more likely that the story will take on a deeper meaning when it solves a problem in real life.
  • End strong: Close with an important take away point. The ending is the last thing (duh!) your students will hear.

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Feel Good Story

Mapping the fictional world: One man’s lockdown project

Was yours baking? Maybe knitting? Did you take up running or even surfskating to stave off the lockdown boredom?

One man’s lockdown project potentially puts all the others to shame. Rhys B Davies, from Aberystwyth, used his time during COVID to complete an atlas of fictional places – marking everywhere from Gotham City to Hogwarts on a map of the fictional world.

Using a mix of locations from film, TV, books and games, Rhys managed to construct a map of the entire world using made-up place names.

Some, he says, were easy, such as the fictional village from Dibley from the Vicar of Dibley. Others, however, required a bit more guesswork. Rhys used clues from the Harry Potter books, filming locations, and even the stage play for hints as to where to locate the elusive Hogwarts within the Scottish Grampians.

Using some stunning artwork courtesy from his friend Matt Brown, Rhys’ book is now completed, showing in-depth maps of the continents across the world and descriptive information on the places themselves.

Part coffee-table book and part cheat sheet for a pub quiz, Rhys’ lockdown project is sure to go down a storm.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find the way to Springfield… 🥾

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Spotlight

Embracing mistakes

The team at Lunebase continue to develop their surfskate skills. The process involves getting knocked down, dusting off, and getting back up again. A period of reflection of what went wrong. And when we’re feeling brave enough – having another go, until, eventually, we nail it.

For many of us, the issue with making mistakes is that they appear to be a reflection on ourselves. In fact, David Elkind’s classic description of an “imaginary audience” may not be so imaginary these days. Social media means that we often feel as though we are under scrutiny no matter what we do. We may be only keen to show the “highlight reel”  of our lives, a perfectly curated version of ourselves – but this means hiding the mistakes we make along the way.

This cycle of learning through mistake-making is well recognised. In her 2017 paper “Learning from Errors,” psychologist Janet Metcalfe claims that avoiding or ignoring the mistakes children make at school appears to be the norm in American classrooms—and it may be preventing children from achieving their full potential.

Read on for our tips on how to integrate mistake-making into your opportunities for growth:

  • Fail first, then learn: In another study, researchers in Singapore identified the value of “productive failure” in learning. They separated seventh grade mathematics students into a “direct instruction” group and a “productive failure” group. The “productive failure” went on to significantly outperform their peers in complex problem-solving and flexibility.
  • Be wrong, be confident: If productive failure appears to enhance learning, so does overconfidence. Multiple studies suggest that the more confident you are in the wrong answer, the more likely you will remember the right answer after you are corrected. In one study, students answered questions on a quiz and rated their confidence level in each of their answers. Then they were given feedback on their incorrect answers. Researchers discovered that students were more likely to correct their initial errors during a final test if they had been highly confident in them.
  • Adjust the learning context: “Let’s try this another way.” In the same study of fourth to sixth graders’ mistakes, emotions, and coping strategies, researchers suggested that the context for learning may be important. Students may find it more emotionally challenging to work in a small group when they’re having difficulty, and may be better served by working privately. So consider providing options to kids who may need a little space to flounder.
  • Encourage persistence: “Keep trying. Don’t give up!” A 2017 studydemonstrates that when adults model persistence in working toward a goal, infants as young as 15 months tend to mimic that behaviour. Persistence can be learned. As teachers, we have a lot of power to influence our students’ efforts by sharing our own vulnerability and identifying our own self-conscious emotions, our stops and starts during problem solving, and our commitment to keep going. Students who engaged in the “regret and repair” style of coping still felt guilt when they made mistakes, but more importantly, they continued to engage and keep trying – while also being gentle with themselves.
  • Model self-compassion: “Be kind to yourself when you’re confused; it’s okay.” If we model and normalize the ups and downs of learning with our students, we can also share the power of self-compassion. They can learn to think: “This is tough, and I don’t get it. I’m not alone here; other people get confused just like me, and I’m going to cut myself some slack. It’s okay to not know the answer right now.”
  • Focus on resilience: “Even though this is tough, you will find your way.” When researchers reviewed over 38 studies of resilience in response to failure, errors, or mistakes, they found that more resilient individuals had higher self-esteem, lower levels of perfectionism, and a more positive way of explaining past events (eg. “I failed the test, but I know now that I must study more for the next test”). However, having high academic self-worth and practicing emotional suppression in the face of mistakes were not linked to resilience.

If teachers can help their students focus on skills and strategies that enhance resilience, students will learn to cope better, recover more quickly, or at least start heading in that direction. These are tips and techniques that translate well into other relationships, such as mentorship or leadership in the workplace.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that American teachers and students tend to avoid talking about mistakes at school. However, there are good reasons to rethink our approach to mistakes so that we can help our students to flourish – both academically and emotionally.

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Feel Good Story

Tweet reconnects family with Bristol nurses who saved girl’s life

We’re often told that social media is making us more divisive, more prone to outrage, more unhappy. It’s easy to forget that through the thickets of arguments an annoyances, social media is ultimately a tool for people to connect with each other. And sometimes, a story comes through that shows the best qualities of social media in all their glory.

Martin Dorey dropped his daughter Maggie off at University for the first time in September – an emotional moment for any parent. However, Maggie’s arrival to her halls in Bristol was especially poignant, as the window overlooked a children’s hospital where she had spent 6 months from birth fighting through leukemia.

After tweeting a picture of Maggie’s arrival, Martin saw a deluge of emotional responses – including one from Charlotte Higby, a nurse who saved Maggie after she went into anaphylactic shock due to her chemotherapy treatment all those years ago.

The touching conversation became even more emotional when Martin revealed that he named his second daughter, Charlotte, after the very same nurse.

I’m not crying, you are…

Though the initial replies to the conversation have been hidden to preserve nurse Charlotte’s privacy, you can read the full story here.

Since the tweet’s popularity, Martin has asked those interested to donate to various charities that aid children with cancer. If you’re interested, you can do so here.

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

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Spotlight

Learning through gaming

Here’s a fact to impress your friends: The gaming industry is worth more than the music and film industries combined. Current computer games bring immersive, engaging and complex storylines along with powerful social experiences all in glorious high definition, a far cry from clunky 2D gameplay days of yore.

But how can we use these technologies, and more importantly the principles of gaming, to learn and develop? Well, human beings are hard-wired to learn through play. Think back to your childhood – from dress-up to Monopoly, some of the most powerful learning experiences come through games.

You might have heard the term ‘gamifying’ applied to all manner of industries and platforms; its central ideas, built on philosophies of play, are simple:

  • It’s all about the story. A good narrative stimulates the creative side for the player.
  • Continuous feedback. Let players know how they’re doing. Encouragement goes a long way.
  • Reward learners often. This keeps them enticed, and more likely to keep playing.
  • Aesthetics matter. The more immersed a player is, the more likely they’ll invest themselves.
  • “Gotta catch ’em all!” Let learners unlock badges, new levels or tools to help them on their journey.
  • Gradually add complexity to keep things interesting. A feedback loop keeps things fresh while also giving a sense of progression.

Psychologists have studied the many types of human learning in depth. They found that gamified learning has distinct benefits:

  1. Gamification lessens students’ fear of failure – failure is integral to learning, but in the classroom it can be a source of shame. Gamification is proven to encourage failure and reattempt learning, without embarrassment.
  2. Gamification makes learning visible – allowing players to stay orientated to their progress and goals.
  3. Gamification increases motivation – bringing focus on a sense of achievement, social interaction and deep immersion.
  4. Games are familiar – unless you’re Tom Hanks in Castaway, we’ve all probably played some sort of digital game.
  5. Gamification can make learning a personal experience – allows learners to take a sense of pride, ownership and identity over their development.

So when you’re next considering how to best tackle a complex task, develop a new set of skills, or even get into teacher mode, why not think about how you might gamify your approach?

PS: At Lunebase, we’re using the principles of gamified learning in our plug-and-play digital campaigns for teams. The learning experiences promote competition, remote social interaction and increase with engagement with a slice of fun on the side. Want to learn more? We’re but an email away!

Wellbeing Champions Newsletter

Monthly collection of news, wellbeing updates, lifestyle tips, and feel-good stories - delivered right to your inbox every third Thursday.

☕ Five-minute round-up. 🤐 No-spam ever. 👋 Unsubscribe at any time.
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