Mental Health is unseen and as a result often ignored or not dealt with in the best way. This week Buzzfeed has been making its readers aware of mental health. Many of the posts have been comical but truthful. They are about the challenges that individuals who’s brains process in this way struggle with things others may take for granted. The video seen above might seem a little silly but it is powerful. Have you ever heard the term “spoonie”? If you have it’s probably because you know someone who defines them self as one or you are one. If not here is an article about what being a “spoonie” means.
Mental health is something that is easy to talk about abstractly. However, it is not as easy to talk about in common terms. I wanted to bring this topic to light because for me a students mental and emotional health (or unseen illnesses) are just as valid and important as the ones that can be seen. It is never easy to know what to say to someone struggling with mental health. Sometimes there is no right thing to say other than: I’m here for you, I’m not going to judge you, Do you want to talk?
Many students or parents will be struggling with these unseen illnesses. Here and here are links to the Buzzfeed mental health week opening post and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
Remember just like something that can be seen physically a student struggling with something going on that’s unseen needs help too. Here are some ways you can get started in helping.
Every room needs a reward system. They don’t need to be expensive though! I’m a fan of intrinsic motivation or fun whole class rewards. I’ve never been a big fan of prize boxes or candy. Too often I see these result in arrangements, tears, and the give-me gimmies. However, if that’s what your students need to succeed then I understand too. In this post I wanted to provide some ideas for classroom reward systems that I like. These systems and ideas don’t involve a lot of money or candy.
Enjoy and Grow!
-This teacher had a fun idea. She put magnets on the back of a large puzzle and the students earned pieces. When it was completed they earned a class prize that was set together.
-This idea was cute! I like catching students helping others and being nice. Plus what kiddo doesn’t love googly eyes?
-I saw a teacher use check registers through out the year with 5th grade students as the reward system. Students had to carefully keep track of the “money” given to them for a perfect attendance day, homework, 100% on a test, being a good buddy, etc. Then at the end of the year there was an auction with class cash. Some items were special like from school events such as a poetry night poster or mask from a play. Others were small dollar store toys.
-Need some ideas for classroom rewards? PJ day, crazy socks, wear hats in class, bring a stuffed animal to school, homework pass, extra 5 minutes of recess, game day for math, movie in the afternoon (perhaps Magic School Bus or Bill Nye) . There are a lot of in class prizes students can work towards!
Exit Slips are great way for you to get feedback from your students about how a lesson or the whole day went. They take less than 5 minutes and can be anonymous if you choose. These are informal assessments and can be a nice way to see what students are still confused or what they really got. Included here are some exit slip examples and ideas. What’s your favorite out the door assessment?
Learn and Grow,
– Check out this article and learn about ideas for online exit slips!
-Want some ideas for exit slip questions? This article has 53.
Having been in a classroom where the teacher never assigned students jobs I see the value in it even more now than before being in his room. Student jobs not only help the classroom run smoother because they help tasks get accomplished as a community but the jobs also take stress off of the teacher. Asking students to help with small tasks can help free up the few minutes in the day you need to help explain a challenging math problem to a student.
Having jobs in the classroom are not only beneficial to the teacher but the students. Students will learn responsibility by taking on small tasks weekly and rotating why gets each task. While being the paper passer or official lunch counter isn’t a huge task, students don’t usually want to let their classmates down. After all, they want the spelling test back or their lunch accurately put in just as much as their peers.
Jobs are not the only part of making a schedule in the classroom. It’s important for students, especially those who struggle to read time, to know whats going on when. Having a schedule posted in the room of the daily routine can be useful to not only the students but the teacher. If you are running late to music and the clock looks like the picture someone is sure to remind you!
I love the idea of using calender’s to help students know what is going on later in the months as well. You can place little cards in the slots (that can be a classroom job) or simply print one out from Google to display with icons for major events/ holidays. If you print one it’s nice to get it done BIG! Then you can write notes for due dates to students in colors as reminders in the room.
Enjoy and Grow!
Teachers know that kids need movement in their day to stay focused. Sitting on the floor or at a desk for too long would make anyone wiggly and unfocused! Children, especially in earlier grades, need movement in their day to help the brain and body stay alert and energized. Even small change ups in how you as the students to move in the room can have an impact throughout the day. Check out this post for links and suggestions on how to get you classroom moving throughout the day.
Move to learn:
- Teach students to edit each other sentences in a new fun way. The work walk where students take pens and edit 1-3 errors they see on each others papers while rotating in a clockwise motion. Students can be assigned to capitalization, punctuation, etc.
- If editing item for practice on the bard get students moving even bigger! Ask students to stand up and use their bodies to help show the corrections as you read. (e.g. a capitalized letter is represented by raising both hands in the air in a tepee or an exclamation point is represented by jumping up and down in place. A period can be an index finder forward in personal space).
- What about math?Demonstrates positive and negative integers by creating a human number line. Or go outside and create arrays within your class size.
- I borrowed this from another teacher, thank you Mrs. R! A great math idea for younger or struggling students is asking them to show with their arms. Create a plus or plus / minus with arms if they think they need to add or subtract in the problem. If a student is really struggling they can peek at a neighbor. You will see but they won’t. You will also see the hesitation between signs if they are unsure which is good feed back for who needs a little extra.
Science moves too! Something I have used to help students learn about the ocean, jungle, or other similar spaces is enact the place and things that belong there. Students would start sitting in a big circle after they have a bit of knowledge on the topic (maybe day 2 of the lesson) and slowly build the place they are learning about with their bodies. Ex. Teacher begins telling the story and building the scene of an ocean. It’s a clam day beautiful blue sky/ (pick a place maybe)/ its stormy and dark/ etc. Select one or two students to be types of fish, waves, seaweed, turtles, etc. All students can be involved the quieter or less mobile students can be rocks or starfish. In the end, all students will be moving or part of the system. Ask them to look around , ask questions pertaining to what they created, send students back to tables/desks to write about the experience.
– Ameba Tag: Show students how germs spread or amebas break and form via tag. Use elbow tag for the amoeba tag base.
- Play “Heads Up/Seven Up”/ 4 corners for a round at the end of the day or as a movement break.
- Basket ball review for many different topics (google for examples)
- Instead of a hand raise in a class count (like who needs passes to the library) have students stand or place a hand on the shoulder.
- Touch your ear, lace your finders, find different ways for students to show responses and keep them engaged!
Links to More Ideas!
– Does your class have the wiggles? Need a quick bran break? Here is a list of energizers to get you refocused! Need more energizers than whats on this list? Some of these cross over but some are different. Click here for more ideas.
-Check out these two videos. Here and Here
– This free website has a ton of brain breaks! The catch is you need to log in. Watch the video on the home page for more info. Check out gonoodle.
Want a book of ideas to keep on hand? Susan Roser has a wonderful book of energizers. You can find her book on Amazon or other major book stores. Energizers! 88 Quick Movement Activities That Refresh and Refocus.
Move ,Learn, and Enjoy!
Bullying in schools has become harder to see with the shield of the internet. The issue of bullying needs to be addressed in school but, with so much now taking place in cyber space it is harder to see all that goes on (even with eyes in the back of your head). Making those in your classroom community as well as parents aware of what they can do to prevent, report, or mediate the situation can have a big impact. Here you will find links and tools to assist in you classroom or community.
– On this site there are things to download and use in the classroom plus, the animations talk when clicked for many parts of the site. I liked this feature for young learners or struggling readers. The characters will read their stories making learning more adaptable as well as a fun experience.
– PACER is a national website . They provide videos, stories, resources for a variety of individuals and much much more! If bulling is an issue in your room, I would check this one out. They have a good parent portion on this national page as well so it is a wonderful too to direct concerned parents to as well.
– While this might not be my top resource, it is kid friendly to use. The advice is solid and does target what to do if a student sees someone being bullied. This site asks kids to select an age range and gives advice based on what they can or should do at that age.
– Housed here are other resources to use in the classroom or have students use at home. However, it is targeted for k-8 users. The direct link seen here is for a list of useful to help educate about bullying of all types.
Be Kind and Grow,
Being a teacher is hard work! Between planning, meetings, grading, and copping there is a lot to do. Many people have said, Why invent the wheel? If its there ready to why not borrow it for you room it it looks useful?
In this post you will find worksheets, discounts, downloads and more!
- Barnes & Noble: Need books for your room? Get 20% off purchases for classroom use.
- Crayola: Register on Crayola’s site and receive 10% off purchases and access to various activities.
- Half Price Books: Save 10% year-round!
- Lakeshore Learning: Teacher’s Club members receive 15% off in-store purchases. This resource is best for preschool to k-1 teachers.
- Scholastic Teacher Store: You can take up to 75% off at the Scholastic Teacher Store.
- Michael’s/ Jo Ann Fabrics: Teachers can get 15% off with Id. No excuse to forget those craft sticks and yarn this year!
- Just starting out in a blank classroom? Need to fill up those walls and your working wardrobe? Do not fear just click here! Over 100 teacher discounts can help you fill you classroom on a budget.
Worksheets and Websites Galore:
- This page is a bunch of useful printouts.
- Both of these sites are Common Core aligned and tell you the standards on the page. You can even get keys with the prints. Click Here and Here.
Want a quiz or sheet for a second language learner in your room? This site has some you can print or use right online! Bonus, you can get the key with the print off. View it here.
Students need a challenge? Have some extra time?
- https://newsela.com/ is a wonderful tool! Use it to adjust the reading level of a single article so the entire class can read one thing but at their perfect level.
- Sponsored by the library of congress,this tool is great for the inquisitive scientist in your room!
- Do your students need something engaging to do on a break but you don’t want to assign homework? Have computer stations but a small budget? This program is free and very engaging for all levels! All you need is a GMail account. Go to Kahn Academy.