Another term for a ‘Brain Break’ is a ‘Change of State.’ When you and/or your students are in a state where it is hard to learn such as bored, tired or disengaged; you can help them change their state to one of excitement, curiosity or intrigue! You can change someone’s state with a new activity, a new environment, music, media, movement, etc..
A brain break is often a quick and easy way to get your students in a ‘ready to learn’ state! This brain break is integrated with the science concept of ‘changing states.’
Change of State! Ask your students stand up and move around the room as water vapor or steam (gaseous state).
Change of State! Now tell you students to move around the room as water (liquid state).
Change of State! Tell you students to move around the room as if they are ice (solid state).
How could you adapt this for different ages? What other variations can you think of for this brain break? How can you tell when your students need a change of state?
Palming is a calming exercise that helps you refocus your mind. It is a wonderful technique to teach children as it is something they can easily do at their desks.
Start by rubbing your palms together as fast as you can for at least 15 seconds to build up friction and warmth. Now place your palms on your closed eyes and take a deep breath. Keep your palms on your eyes for as long as you like. You can use this time to envision a calming place or a goal being achieved.
What do you do to help you stay calm and focus your mind? When would palming be useful in your day?
1. Have students stand behind their pushed-in chairs.
2. Call out a trait and everyone who has that trait must change places with someone else (students who do not have the trait stay where they are). Examples: “Everyone with a brother.” “Everyone who ate cereal for breakfast.” Everyone who is wearing stripes.”
3. Have students take turns being the leader!
You can also add a literature component to this brain break by reading the book “Same, Same but Different” by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw.
The idea comes from the Keep Calm and Teach On blog. This teacher put quick activities, like jumping jacks and push ups, on popsicle sticks that she can pull from when her students need a movement brain break.
What a simple and effective resource to create! Read more about this idea in her original post.
It is already November! Schools in AISD have been excelling with SEL innovations these last few months. Today we will be sharing just a few successes and highlights.
Mr. Flores at Andrews Elementary excels at using technology to teach social and emotional learning. One of the apps who uses on his iPad is Puppet Pals. This app lets you create short puppet shows in minutes. You can record student voices and use student pictures for characters. Watch this short example of one video Mr. Flores created helping students identify feelings and show compassion.
After the students watched the video, Mr. Flores asked students to take photos of a partner on an iPad and write about how the partner was feeling. Check out what one pair said.
How do you use technology in your classroom? What are your favorite education apps?
Andrews Elementary also models SEL competencies by focusing on staffs’ strengths as well as focusing on students’ strengths!
A Second Grade teacher at Harris Elementary worked with her students to write a clear job description for both students and the teacher. The entire class signed the expectations to show their commitment.
A Pre-Kindergarten teacher created this breathing star for students to use in her Peace Area. The idea comes from Conscious Discipline which is a “comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning
Teachers at Pecan Springs all teach Second Step lessons at the same time each week. Snail is part of this SEL curriculum in Kindergarten and First Grade. He loves to visit with the students each week!
Do you use puppets with children? How do your children respond?
This teacher reinforced the idea of showing respect with a bilingual writing and illustrating exercise. It always helps me to see and hear what it means to show respect!
Sims Elementary not only uses Peace Areas with students, but also with adults. Below is the Peace Area in the staff lounge that the counselor created.
What would you put in an adult Peace Area?
Sims keeps students motivated about SEL by incorporating their interests into the bulletin board displays. Who knew Angry Bird was such a SEL supporter?!
What wonderful SEL strategies have you been using this year? We love to hear from y’all!
Have a wonderful Thursday! Don’t forget that you are fabulous!
On a recent visit to Sims Elementary in AustinISD, I saw a teacher doing “Brain Yoga” with her students.
I hadn’t heard of brain yoga before so I did a little investigating. The concept comes from a book called SuperBrain Yoga by Choa Kok Sui. The idea is to harness yoga techniques to increase students’ ability to focus and learn.
Here’s how you do it:
Hold your right earlobe with the index finger and thumb of your left hand. Make sure that the thumb is facing away from you. (Or touch your left hand to your right shoulder.)
Hold your left earlobe with the index finger and thumb of your right hand. Once again, make sure that your thumb is facing away from you. (Or touch your right hand to your left shoulder.)
Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
Inhale through your nose, and slowly lower yourself into a squatting position.
Exhale as you slowly stand back up.
Would this work in your classroom? Share your thoughts below!
Non Violent Communication (NVC) is a way to communicating that helps you “resolve conflicts with more ease, learn to ask for what you want without using demands, begin to hear the true needs of others with less effort, and strengthen your personal and professional relationships.” (http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/aboutnvc/aboutnvc.htm)
This style of communicating can have a large impact on schools. The compassionate educator series shares resources from NVC that can be used in educational settings as well as life in general.
This week we are thinking about how to build feelings vocabulary. A wide-ranging feelings vocabulary provides deeper self-connection and an enhanced ability to express yourself to others. These skills can strengthen compassion in any learning environment. Help your students enhance their feelings vocabulary.
With your students, make a list of feeling words, and try adding a new word a day for as many days as you can. Put your feelings vocabulary in a prominent place in your classroom. Each time students feel an emotion that isn’t on the list, invite them to express it by saying it aloud or writing it on the board.
Share what you think! What is important about having a large feelings vocabulary? How do you build feelings vocabulary in your life?