Brain Break Wednesday: Brain Yoga

On a recent visit to Sims Elementary in AustinISD, I saw a teacher doing “Brain Yoga” with her students.

Brain Yoga

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:

  1. 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.)
  2. 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.)
  3. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale through your nose, and slowly lower yourself into a squatting position.
  5. Exhale as you slowly stand back up.

Would this work in your classroom? Share your thoughts below!

Compassionate Educator- Feeling Vocabulary

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.

Feelings poster

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?

Brain Break Wednesday: Greeting Frenzy!

Our brain break today is a great one to build community at the beginning of the year!

It’s called Greeting Frenzy and here’s how you do it:

1. Tell your class they are going to try to warmly greet as many people as possible in 2 minutes.

2. Model with a student what a “warm greeting” looks and sounds like (firm handshake, looking in the eye, smile, and say “hello” or “good morning/ afternoon”).

3. Set the timer for 2 minutes and watch as the room fills with positive energy as students start to build relationships.

Debrief- asks your students:

1. How did it feel to be greeted warmly?

2. How did it feel to greet others?

3. How can you apply what you just felt to this classroom and your school in the future?

Photo Credit: Yonatan Aljadeff

Photo Credit: Yonatan Aljadeff

Share in the comments about how this worked in your classroom!

Brain Breaks Are Back! Rock, Paper, Scissor- SEL Style

Welcome to the 2013-2014 SEL Department Wednesday Brain Break Series!  This is a place to share and learn about quick energizers and brain breaks that you can use in your classrooms TODAY!

We are starting off with one that was very popular during trainings this summer.  It is Whole Group Rock, Paper, Scissors. This was adapted from Playworks version found here.

This brain break is fast, fun, and a great team builder!

Source: Playworks Louisana

Source: Playworks Louisana

Here are the rules:

1. Review how to play rock, paper, scissor with your class

2. Have students pair up and play one round of rock paper scissors.

3. Whoever wins raises their hands in the air to find another winner. Whoever doesn’t win becomes the winner’s cheerleader and supports them in the next round.  Every time there is a new winner, the cheerleaders from the loser’s side join the cheerleaders on the winner’s side to support the new winner.

4. Continue to play until there are only two people left and everyone else is cheering for one of the two.

5. Give a round of applause for the winner and sit down.

Debrief- asks your students:

1. How did it feel to lose? How did it feel to lose and then become the winner’s cheerleader?

2. If you won, how did it feel to have a cheerleader supporting you?

3. How can you apply the rules of this game to this classroom and your friendships in general?

Here is a video of this brain break in action!

Share in the comments about how this worked in your classroom!

“The time to be awesome is now.”

As teacher’s come back to campuses in Austin, we want everyone to get pumped up and inspired for an amazing year!  Share these videos with friends, teachers, students, and anyone else who needs a little encouragement.

A pep talk from the Kid President:

Ten year old, Dalton Sherman, asks: “Do you believe in me?” to all of Dallas ISD.

Do you believe in you? We here at the department sure do!

SEL Summer Reading Series: Tom Rath, Author Focus

Today we are showcasing an SEL author who has had a lot of influence in schools, homes, and workplaces across the country. His name is Tom Rath.

Rath’s first, and possibly most famous book is, How Full is Your Bucket?, which he wrote with his grandfather, Donald O. Clifton. It became a New York Times bestseller and an instant hit.

This book describes imaginary buckets we all have over our heads. Throughout the day, different things can happen that fill our buckets- like someone sharing a treat with you, you helping a friend, or getting a good grade on a test.  There are also things that can dip into our buckets, like someone calling you a name or you hurting someone else’s feelings.  This book gives children a concrete visual to motivate them to show compassion for others.

How Full Is Your Bucket

Rath wrote several follow up books after this one, including How Full is Your Bucket? Educator’s Edition.

“Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket — already familiar to thousands of people — How Full is Your Bucket? shows how even the smallest interactions we have with others every day profoundly affect our relationships, productivity, health, and longevity.Co-author Donald O. Clifton studied the effects of positive and negative emotions for half a century, and he and his colleagues interviewed millions of people around the world. Their discoveries contributed to the emergence of an entirely new field: Positive Psychology. These same discoveries are at the heart of How Full is Your Bucket?”

-Source: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Your-Bucket-Educators-Edition/dp/159562001X/ref=pd_sim_b_11

How Full is Your Bucket Educator Edition

In 2007, Rath wrote a book version of his online quiz, Strengths Finder.  This book applies the same theories of positive psychology to the workplace. Strengths Finder gives the reader tools to assess their strengths and knowledge about how to grow their talents into even fuller buckets.

Strength Finder

In the video below, Rath explains the background behind his bucket filling philosophy.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What is your favorite bucket filling book? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Summer Reading Series: Bystander Power

Today we will be looking at SEL books that have a focus on building active bystanders in students. A bystander, for this purpose, is anyone who knows that bullying is happening. Bystander Power is when someone takes action against bullying behaviors.

Our first book is for adults and it discusses how to use empathy and character education to combat bullying behaviors. “Emily Bazelon’s intelligent, rigorous “Sticks and Stones” charts the experiences of a few bullied children and synthesizes the scholarship on how to contain or prevent such harm” (NY Times Review).

sticks and stones

Another great book for adults is, ‘Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls‘ by Rachel Simmons. This is a groundbreaking book that was one of the first to identify and acknowledge the dynamics of relational aggression that is often seen in girls. The newest edition of this book shares great strategies for managing these social interactions in person and online.

Odd Girl out
Now let’s look at some books for kids that can help build active bystanders and encourage prosocial behaviors.  ‘My Secret Bully’ by Trudy Ludwig is a helpful book for students to get them talking about relational aggression.  This book tells the story of Monica who is being excluded by her friend Kate. This book opens up the conversation about how to handle being excluded and how to be an active bystander.

My Secret Bully

‘Mr. Peabody’s Apples’ by Madonna is another children’s book that can help prevent bullying behaviors, in particular, gossiping. This book illustrates a beautiful metaphor demonstrating the power our words can have.

Mr Peabody's Apples

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What are your favorite books about bystander power and addressing bullying? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂