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Living Your Life (LYL) is a problem-solving curriculum for middle school students that we have created. It is structured around twelve problem-solving principles with the intent of realizing three overarching organizational goals:

  • The promotion of a problem-solving mentality within the building
  • The development of an enduring problem-solving culture within the building with both faculty and students being responsible for its maintenance
  • The “living” of this mentality at least in school with the hope of it generalizing outside the building

An icon system is used to highlight the developmental theme for each grade:

Celeste the Star
Celeste (short for celestial being), the icon representing the idea of “change” (from childhood to adolescence) that 6th graders explore
Radar
Radar (with the motto, “I am in charge, baby”), the icon representing the concept of “self-regulation” that 7th graders explore
Wilt the Quilt
Wilt the Quilt, the icon representing the wide array of qualities, attitudes, and behaviors that when pulled together in a certain way produce “effective leadership” that 8th graders explore

On an instructional level, LYL can take several forms. To maximize outcomes, the curriculum is ideally treated as a course or subject that spans the entire school year and has at least 90 minutes allocated for it on a weekly basis. Because of its organization—which allows the content for a given problem-solving principle to be expanded or contracted based on need, LYL can also be “downsized” and be taught over a shorter time period, usually 12-16 weeks. Finally, the LYL curriculum can be treated in a “pull out” fashion which allows only a select number of principles to be covered. Using this format, a minimum of four problem-solving principles is taught.

Regardless of the instructional format, LYL is taught on all grade levels with three goals in mind:

  • Have fun
  • Learn new problem-solving skills and attitudes while improving upon existing ones
  • Apply these skills and attitudes to meaningful, productive ends in the everyday world

In an applied learning format, in-class writing activities, discussions, and larger group exercises are employed to help students grasp the principles and apply them. Along the way, students bump into several icons:

J.W.
J.W. whose presence denotes the introduction of a problem-solving principle
Matty
Matty whose presence indicates a problem-solving tip is on the way; some are then created by the student themselves
Vandi
Vandi who is the information icon of the curriculum; his presence indicates the presence of factual information
Mack
Mack whose presence indicates the opportunity to take on a problem-solving challenge, if one wants to
Al
(You can call me) Al whose presence indicates a homework assignment (for 7th and 8th grade only)
Flash
Flash whose presence represents “good fortune” in the form of an extra credit activity (7th grade and 8th grade) or an opportunity to meet a requirement in the optional climbing challenge (7th grade only)
Crystal Ball
Crystal (Ball) whose presence indicates a compilation of concerns, ideas, and questions submitted to the Question Box. All submissions are anonymous and Crystal represents the opportunity for students to apply what is being taught.
Gang of 4 Gang of Four whose presence indicates a Mastery Test for 7th graders. All possible Mastery Tests must be passed by those pursuing the optional mountain climbing goals
Nameless
Fittingly, this icon is nameless and a bit mysterious. Its presence indicates a problem for 8th graders to solve—often, without talking—as a group

We are available to teach, or co-teach, LYL at programs and schools in the Boston area. For schools and programs outside of the Boston area—or a school wanting its staff to teach the curriculum—a week-long training program takes place during the summer.

Please note: All concepts, structure, and content of Living Your Life is protected by copyrights granted by the Library of Congress.