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Friday, August 31, 2012

Five Specific Ways to Integrate Mindfulness into the Classroom


Mindfulness in education is a rising topic of discussion.  Mindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach to ones inner experience. It helps to develop emotional intelligence and it teaches students to pay attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve test scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.

So how can teachers integrate mindfulness into the classroom?

 1) Teachers must practice mindfulness in their own lives.  If a teacher does not have the time to meditate and listen to his or her breath and thoughts, they can be mindful or present even while doing household chores.  For example, instead of quickly watering the plants while chatting on the phone.  One can pull themselves into the present and find the joy of offering plants sustenance.  Notice each plant and appreciate the beauty and contribution it makes to your home.

2)  Define and discuss mindfulness with your students.  Review the following vocabulary:
     ·      Imagination:  Imagination is the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.
     ·      Visualization: Visualization is the ability to create imaginary images within ones own head.  The mental pictures allow an individual to “see” past experiences, ideas or even future projections. 
     ·      Metacognition - Metacognition refers to the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the ability to control your own thoughts.
     ·      MindfulnessMindfulness refers to being completely in touch with and aware of the present moment, as well as taking a non-evaluative and non-judgmental approach to your inner experience.

3) After recess guide your students through a mindfulness activity to calm their  senses.  Ask the students to sit for 3 minutes with their eyes closed.  They should notice their breath, release any thoughts and relax into their bodies.  You can start at their feet and work up to their head, asking them to be aware of their body and allow it to fully relax. 


4) Before a test, offer a mindful activity to help your students release any stress in their bodies.  Have the students take deep breaths and ask them to visualize a peaceful place of their choosing.  As they breathe in, have them imagine peace and knowledge filling their lungs.  As the breathe out, have them imagine that all negative thoughts such as doubt or concern will leave their bodies. 

5) After a classroom or social conflict, have the students sit in a circle facing one another holding hands.  Ask them to close their eyes and imagine that they are all one entity.  As they breathe in, have them imagine that they are pulling positive energy, forgiveness and loving kindness into the group.  As they breathe out, have them release any negative energy that they may feel.  You can make it specific to the situation.  After the activity, ask for volunteers to share any complements or appreciation they would like to offer to the group or an individual.  Have all the other students listen mindfully. 

Mindfulness works best if time is allocated daily.  Remember these activities will only take a few minutes and it can help your students to develop emotional intelligence, metacognitive skills, compassion, and confidence.  Finally, it will also help to nurture a sense of community in the classroom.
 
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, August 24, 2012

10 Ways to Teach Planning, Time Management and Organization


Teaching students planning, time management and organizational skills is necessary in the classroom as well as at home.  Although some find executive functioning to be quite obvious, there are those that need to learn the process.  Here are 10 recommendations:

© 2012 Good Sensory Learning

  1. Provide verbal, written and even electronic reminders.
  2. Let students select their preferred calendar option.  There are daily, weekly and even monthly calendars.  In addition, a calendar can be maintained on electronic devices, computers, wall charts, as well as printed planners.  
  3. Offer a calm, supportive and mindful environment.
  4. Avoid name calling.  Using terms like "careless" or "unmotivated" only creates negative energy, frustration and helplessness.  
  5. Provide short breaks.  Schedule "unstructured time" in your daily routine.
  6. Offer a structured and organized environment with clear expectations.
  7. Set an example and show how you plan, manage time and organize materials.
  8. Praise and reward self initiation.  In the beginning, recognize any movement in the right direction.
  9. Schedule time, post routines and communicate expectations around the house or classroom.
  10. Provide structure, by offering support and guidance.  In the beginning, do the process together.

To learn all these strategies and more you can purchase my recent publication Planning Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Skills for Student. 
 
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Dry Erase Pockets Can Save Time and Money


I just love these dry erase pockets.  Students enjoy working on activities when they are able to use colorful dry erase markers! You can save a ton of time and money by not having to copy handouts. I personally got 25 pockets.  They were quickly filled with worksheets, large graph paper and more.  They are perfect for doing activities with clocks, tracing letters, fractions, and graphing to name a few.  Have any of you used these?


 
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teaching Higher Order Language Skills: Abstract and Critical Thinking as Well as Multiple Meanings

Concrete learners, as well as those who struggle with higher order language processing, often experience difficulties when shifting to more abstract ways of learning. Difficulties may arise when multiple meanings are used in conversation or when reading. Consequently, “reading between the lines” or searching for a deeper meaning can be a challenge. Additionally, concrete or rigid ways of thinking can create miscommunication. It’s easy to misunderstand someone’s intended meaning when they are being sarcastic or they are using unfamiliar vocabulary. I’m sure you have had one of those ah-ha moments in life where you thought, “Oh, that’s what she meant!” Finally, difficulties interpreting jokes, puns, or inferences can lead to one feeling confused or embarrassed. I am sure we all know of a time when someone told a joke and although we laughed along with everyone else, we did not really “get it.”

Although learning this important skill is a process for many students, it does not have to be awkward or difficult. In fact, practicing abstract thinking can be fun. That is the goal of my new workbook Abstract Thinking and Multiple Meanings: Developing Higher Order Language and Mental Flexibility Through Critical Thinking and Visualization. It was written to engage learners and help them to conceptualize and practice higher order language skills.

If you would like to download a free sampling of the workbook, CLICK HERE
 
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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