Saturday, August 20, 2016

Algebra 1 Concept Map

I am excited to be teaching Algebra 1 again this year. It's been about 6 years (more?). I have other classes, too, but this is the one that I haven't taught for a while, so I am a new person and hopefully I can bring all the new things I've learned in the last while to the little kidlets. I was at PCMI this summer, and one of the key take-aways I will be using in class is more and more frequent reflections on just about everything. The kids should be processing their information and recalling it frequently. I know this is nothing new, but I want to make a conscious effort this year for this.

Also, I love how my AP Calculus AB and APCS concept maps turned out to work in the last 2 years, so I will be handing out this concept map to my students in Algebra 1 this year:

Here is a link if you so choose.

Friday, August 05, 2016

Mindfulness in the Classroom

I just finished a teacher training for Mindfulness at a great place in town, and I am eager to bring it back to each of my classes. In addition to actually practicing mindfulness with classes all week, we discussed the benefits of the practice and why it's so vital to bring it to our students. You can do a google search on benefits, but a few that stood out to me:

* Increases grey matter in your mind.
* Increases compassion.
* Eases stress and anxiety.
* Boosts cognitive function.
* Allows you to focus more.

We also watched a 14:27 minute TEDx talk called, "Why Aren't We Teaching You Mindfulness" with AnnMarie Rossi. I recommend it highly for her arguments as to why this practice is so useful in anyone's life. 

I need to reflect on how I can consistently bring this practice into my classroom. I have a few ideas that I need to flesh out. If you do a search on how to bring mindfulness into your classroom, you can find way more than I know about. Here are some of my ideas:

First, I have just made my First Day Homework assignment. I can't spell school without homework. Here are the front and back pages of it, and HERE is a link to a download.

I also want to do something about test anxiety. I feel like before the first test, I can hand out a "fake" "challenging" test, and we can walk through a mindfulness exercise observing their feelings and body reactions and talk about strategies to focus.

I feel like I also want to incorporate small links or reminders in my homework calendar on certain days that will link the willing kids to various strategies and such regarding mindfulness. 

My final idea so far is to some days stand by the door (or always have a "stress bucket") for the students to drop their stress into (the bucket or my cupped hand) when they leave my class for me to carry or hold for them, since I won't feel their stress like they do, and they can "unburden" themselves to get ready for the next part of their day. 

And let the year begin .....