Building Inner Strength Through Purpose Driven Learning...

I have long used, and often spoke about the power of words in gamification. They can inspire students, they can elicit a sense of pride, and they can be a call to action. As we begin to gamify our classrooms, working to motivate students to thrive in a risk rich environment, it is my sincere hope that we think about the language we use with our students. Purpose driven learning, as discussed in my book Explore Like a Pirate, has the power to help our students find their inner strengths. The words were put together by Adam Moreno & myself to help change the conversation away from grades and on to greatness. Here is a list of the words:


As defined in my class as a strong and inspiring feeling of excitement. It helps unlock the magic of joy. When one has an overwhelming sense of authentic enthusiasm it is most certainly contagious. Helping kids see that it is they who set the tone of their learning day helps them realize just how powerful their choice is about their attitude.


Effort helps everything, without it, we as a people couldn't achieve even the simplest of tasks. It is with effort, applied in all the areas of Purpose Driven Learning (PDL) that we can achieve our very best.


One needs to have faith in themselves. Learning is taking a leap each day for our students into an unknown. Teaching students about the power of confidence and how it can be a fuel in to get us through the unknowns. It is confidence that helped early explorers as well as the inventors of today to keep pressing on. We need to help students realize that school, is a challenge worth taking, they all have the tools within them to succeed if they apply their talents.


It is with great effort and focus that we can rise above the distractions that surround all of us. It is focus, more than anything else that turly unlocks our potential. However, the other skills are what uses the power of focus to accomplish the task at hand.


The ability to recover when you encounter a setback. Our schools are filled with daily challenges for our students. It is a crazy world out there and the learning curve is steep for just about all we have to teach them. They will fail, but the biggest failure of all is if we allow them to walk away rather than confidently stand right back up and continue to try.


Being considered dependable and trustworthy is one of the highest honors one can achieve in life. You can be counted on, as such, teams that you are part of, projects you undertake can move forward knowing that you will do what you say you can. This active participation in class, a job, or just in a conversation are helping us all achieve something greater.


It is in taking the first step that has changed our world every time. By having the power to to act or take charge before others is what the initiative is all about. Employers want to see it, teachers see the value in students doing it, and it is just the right way to be. Having direct conversations with students about it can be a light bulb moment for them.


Applying our imaginations toward even the most basic can help innovate and set us apart from the rest of our peers. By applying creativity in conjunction with the rest of PDL students start seeing the importance of a unique perspective and good looking design. Too often, our students are not encouraged to think about the look and feel of their work product. The reality is that a ton of communication happens before someone reads even one word of your project.


Encouraging students to EXPLORE by looking around, trying new things, discovering new information all helps them unlock hidden talents that they have. It is about asking the right questions, not of the teacher but of themselves. We live in the information age, igniting a passion and the sense power that comes from self directed learning will forever change the trajectory of your students. Curiosity coupled with the other PDL words helps empower students.


The ability to understand another person's feelings and truly connect, help, and proceed with the care needed can change just about any situation. Understanding the power of empathy as a tool helps kids improve each situation and not to mention do the right thing.

I only talk to my students through these words. As students start the year they want to know what their grade is, or "how they are doing in my class" I often turn it around on them and discuss PDL with them. We look at some of the words and where they are succeeding and others that need their attention. The best part of using PDL is that it turns the nebulous advice of do better or try harder into more actionable and understandable advice about a targeted behavior they understand.

Over the years of using Purpose Driven Learning I have seen kids dig deeper, stand taller, and sail confidently into their future. As a world history teacher, to know that you are helping students to become the best version of themselves is very rewarding. Helping students realize that the 10 keys to purpose driven learning are not just a tool in my class, they are tools for all of our lives. These are the qualities of some of the best and most successful people throughout history. As students leave my class and start their new school year in the next grade they continue to talk about the power of Purpose Driven Learning as a total game changer for them. This might be my lasting legacy of their lives, forever changing how they see themselves and what they can accomplish if they give their all. At the end of the day, that makes me very proud and I will continue to use this language with my students.

Here is a video I put together in order to launch the idea of Purpose Driven Learning with my students. It has a Swedish motivational speaker Rafael Eliassen gave one of the most impassioned speeches I know about giving your all set to my video compilation of PDL words and quotes. The video made my dad cry, my students were moved to action, and I am motivated to help my students go for it!

If you already use PDL in your classroom share how you use it and what you have seen from your students. If you just heard about it, watch the video and challenge yourself to have a discussion with your students on the topic. No matter what you do, let's have a conversation here about impactful ways to use the power of words to help our students change for good!