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.
Parent teacher conference nights can be a challenge to set up but they are very rewarding if everything goes smoothly! They don’t have to occur just once a semester either. If something is going great, or well… not so great you can call or set up a meeting during the year too. Here are some articles and forms to help you have the best parent-teacher meetings you can!
Share and Grow,
–This teacher gives some great tips and easy to use forms for parent teacher reminders. There is also a nice one to use the night of the meeting.
-What should my room look like? How soon do I notify parents? What if I think I will need extra time for one conference? This teacher made an easy to read post with some forms for lower/upper elementary.
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!
What’s up-cycling you may ask? It’s taking things that could be old or recycled and turning them into everyday useful things! Decorating and keeping a classroom stocked can be expensive, especially in the primary grades. So I wanted to take the time and post about how to up-cycle and DIY some things for your room.
Before I get into useful tips on how to reuse the things in your room, I wanted to tell you about a great hidden gem of a website. I’ll post the link as always. If you type it in BE CAREFUL not to reverse the wording. This is a page I learned about from an art professor and the products are amazing! You can buy all your glue, paper, markers, and craft sticks in bulk cheap. If you have a limited budget and need to buy these items out of pocket go here!
This blog, the Clutter-Free Classroom, has great ideas on how to reuse and decorate containers for classroom storage.
Students or you have a messy desk? Those desk and paper organizers can add up your first year. Who doesn’t have cereal boxes though?
What other ways can you re- purpose items in your classroom?
Share and Grow!
Have you ever heard of Story Cubes? If you haven’t I highly recommend finding a set ( or two) for your classroom. Later on I’ll post a picture and but here is a link to where you can find them online.
I found this gem a few years ago at a store when they were closing and have used them for everything but the game the game on the box. Basically, they are dice with images instead of dots. I have renames them “spark cubes” because they spark ideas.
Some ideas for these cubes can be sparking creative writing, bell ringers, or a station for ELA.
I made a lesson to help students understand verbs using movement. Students were placed in groups of three or four and each group was given 1-2 cube. They had to roll the cube then draw and write what they thought the image was on a paper. After that, they were asked to collaboratively write a 3-5 sentence story with VERBS (action words) and act or dance it out. They were asked to share this with one other group as I wandered around to observe and assess.
The stories were all unique and the students had fun. These spark cubes are a great creative tool and I would recommend them as a tool for your classroom.
Learn and Grow!