As this semester comes to an end, but my inquiry continues I have been thinking about how I might bring what I have learned into the classroom. Because mindful has been having a moment in North America lately, students are already accustomed to teachers taking time to practice breathing techniques. Mindful fits well with educations curricular shift to more social and emotional learning. For students who experience anxity of overstimulation in the classroom, I see a lot of potential benefits that could come from teaching them how to pay closer attention to their breathing and their body. Now seems like a better time than ever, as the rate of anxiety in youth seems to be steadily increasing. However, I think the best part about mindfulness is the universal design within its benefits. Though it may really noticeably help students with mental health issues, everyone will likely benefit from the practice in some way. Weather its a greater sense of calm or better understanding self.
I see myself using mindfulness to disrupt the traditional flow and structure of classrooms. The way that I design my classroom environment will be heavily informed by what contributes to a feeling of calm. Minimalist texts and posters on surfaces, and furniture. I also see myself combing it with outdoor education when possible. For younger students, I think a good start would be to focus on skills like counting breaths, body scans, and non-reactivity. As a child, I can remember drifting in and out for focus for much of school. Mindfulness could help bring students, especially those with ADHD, back into the classroom.
Fresh Grade in an online communication tool for teachers, parents, and principals. It has many various applications for reporting and assessment, including digital portfolios, scores/grades, checklists, and anecdotal comments. It is very helpful for teachers wanting to document, track and highlight students learning. Teachers can use Fresh Grade to send out announcements. assignments, and activities online. They have the ability to communicate with the whole group of parents or select specific ones. The accessibility and timeliness of Fresh Grade supports parents’ engagement with their students learning. This makes early intervention easy, especially because all parties (parents, teachers, principals) are all in the loop from the start. It can also be a tool for students’ online journaling and self-reflection
Fresh grade is open to anyone to use and it is easy to set up a classroom. There are some concerns. Focusing on the quality of posts over quantity is urged. Teachers have the ability to document students’ entire educational experience and all their work. I am concerned with the psychological effect this might have on children knowing that so much of their life is being tracked and documented. The over-structuring of children’s lives and overbearingness of helicopter parenting continues to be an issue that society struggles with, and Fresh Grade definitely has the potential to step in that direction.
However, using Fresh Grade for ways that you would already communicate with parents has many benefits. For example, replacing paper handouts and announcements with online notifications saves lots of paper.
A couple of weeks ago some of my classmates did a presentation on digital storytelling. It seems like a great way to increase student engagement and participation in class. As a teacher, I would like to use it to introduce exiting topics, as well as a way for students to sum up their learning. From the demonstration in class, it’s clear that you can convey complex and emotional messages with simple texts, photos and videos. You don’t need to be very tech-savvy with video software, or to have a picture in every frame. The multimodal nature gives every creation a unique feel. The class gains skill while collecting images, making soundtracks, filming, editing themselves. When students are given lots of freedom over the storytelling process, they are able to show their own diverse learning and what they are getting out of class.
For language arts, I am interested in using digital storytelling as a tool for students to tell personal or book narrative, or create a trailer for a specific text. In science class, they could be used to document experiments. I also like the idea of using digital storytelling in math class to represent a word problem narrative, where students can record their questions, calculation, deductions, and answers.
Digital storytelling captures students’ voices in a way that doesn’tfeel forced. However, like most great practices it requires some scaffolding. You have to take the time at first to introduce students to the concept, and practice with paper storyboards and templates.
Lately, I have been going to a few yoga classes with a friend and have found that some of the techniques I have been learning from my mindfulness practice were very relevant. Obviously, I found focusing on my breathing easier than I had in the past. I also was able to bring awareness of my body through “body scans” into the session, which I found very complimentary. I have been holding a lot of unconscious tension in my muscles because of the stress of university, systematically scanning through each part of my body and acknowledging this discomfort made attending to it easier. I am getting better at going through the whole process without getting distracted. I felt a sense of confidence because I was able to stay focused, where in the past I have found it difficult to attend to anything other than struggling to get into the right pose.
The other week our Tech Ed. teacher facilitated a class over video conferencing. It was really interesting to be communicating over video and audio with other students and a guest speaker halfway across the country. Although the tech ran into some problems with the internet connection, it was an eye-opening experience to see how this technology could be used to teach classes with students in different geographical locations or even just in a different room in the same building.
It gave me some ideas about ways these tools could be used to teach in elementary school. I think would be intriguing to run lesson over skype, like a test review done in a game show theme. Students would probably find this novel and interesting. You might need a teacher partner or substitute teacher to make this work. You surprise students by leading them to believe they are just going to watch a video online, which then turns into an interactive lesson with the person talking back to them and able to see them. You can introduce characters and narratives over interactive video conferencing. This technology makes bringing topic experts into the classroom so much easier or introducing students to environments they unable to visit in real life possibility
It is important to have a good internet connection though so that the lesson is able to flow seamlessly, using a wired connection is recommended to avoid any lag.
It has been really hard lately to keep up with my recently found mindfulness practice, because I’ve been so distracted with school work. I have been pretty stressed out and consumed with assignments coming up, and this was the first thing to get the axe, which is unfortunate because meditation would have probably made me feel a lot better. Its the initial effort to get the ball rolling that is the hardest for some reason, once I am in the middle of it I feel so grateful for mindfulness meditation. I had a chance today to get familiar with the floor again and it made my head feel much more clear. I will have set up specific times or reminders to keep practicing as the semester comes to an end and the clock starts running on final assignments.
I finally had a chance to play the game Minecraft. After having read the same Minecraft book to a child that I worked with hundreds of times, it was interesting to get a chance to experience the game first hand. I was aware that the game had some educational aspects to it, regarding resources and building. It was insightful to how the game could also be played in a social way that utilizes communication, leadership, and cooperative skills. It is clear that teachers can facilitate the game in a fashion that requires students to practice their problem-solving skills, through play.
I found it interesting that have some environmentally conscious aspects built into it as well. Over exploiting natural resources like trees will have negative consequences-the trees won’t grow back. Leaving the tops of the trees will ensure their survival and players have the option to collect seeds and replant trees.
https://www.idtech.com/blog/educational-benefits-minecraft, this website attempts to explain some of the lesser know educational benefits of Minecraft, ranging from creativity to reading and math skills.
“Follow breath, don’t anticipate it”, a phrase I have come across regularly while practicing mindfulness meditation. Yet, I find myself thinking what does this even mean? how do I pay attention to my breath without starting to control it? how do know if am?
One example I have been told is to imagine yourself as a guard, standing by silently, just observing the breath pass in and out. The idea is to try and interfere or change your breath as little as possible. I find it hard to tell sometimes what my natural breathing rhythm is, and this makes it difficult to not anticipate my breath. I think what works the most is to slow things down as much as possible so that each breath comes just as it is needed.
The Human Learning Institute website provides useful information and resources for anyone interested in taking up inquiry as an educational practice. One of the resources included in the Competency Assessment Framework. It lists and defines competencies and their characteristics for teachers and students to refer too. They providing guiding questions for assessment when discussing learning processes and artifacts of learning. The framework is useful for teachers who are interested in using inquiry, but not sure how they might go about formative and summative assessment.
The institute also links to a step by step interdisciplinary inquiry guide that students and teachers fill out at each step of inquiry. It’s very useful, as it walks you through most of the process. There is also an example of a filled out guide which makes it even clearer. An Inquiry Process flow chart that outlines the steps students and teachers take throughout the inquiry process, that is a very helpful visual for putting it all together.