Mindfulness at BSPS

 

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Recently the staff at BSPS had the privilege of spending a full day workshop with Dr Richard Chambers who is an expert on mindfulness. There is a plethora of research available that has suggested that practising mindfulness has a number of benefits in learnning, happiness and general wellbeing.richard-in-the-garden

It was a riveting day and the staff have had vey positive things to say about the day. Dr Chambers has also written a great book called Mindful Learning. Check it out if you would like to learn more. Additionally you could listen to this great ten minute talk on Mindfulness by Andy Puddicombe

Reshaping a classroom for Junior School

I am very excited about my upcoming transition into junior school. After five years of teaching year 5’s I will be moving done (or should I say up?) to year ones. I know that there will be a big difference in the students and therefore a steep learning curve awaits me and it is one that I am very excited about.

One part of the transition also involves moving classrooms after three years of being comfortable in the same space I am moving from the newest area of the school to one of the older buildings. Setting up my classroom for year ones and the developmental play aspect of teaching in Junior school is also something new to me. Taking advice from collegues and using some of Kathy Walker’s ideas I have tried to setup up particular areas in and around my classroom to engage and allow the students to explore whatever their hearts desire.

Is till have a long way to go but here are my attempts so far…

 

Making our mind smile…

At this afternoon’s staff meeting we had a discussion about mental and physical health. While most of us in general think we are ok mentally it was good to have a reminder that we need to regularly check ourselves for our own mental wellbeing.

It is easy to get overwhelmed as a teacher at this time of year, end of year assessments, reports, transitions and preparations for next year are all pressing issues. We talked about some cues that we should look for that might signal we need to take a little time out for ourselves. Everyone might have different signals and also might like to deal with these signals in different ways. Some people thought that exercise, eating healthy, being in friends, family and being in nature are great ways to de-stress and feel better about yourself.

We were also introduced to a great website with some excellent relaxation techniques and strategies that allow ourslef to really aprreciate the moment.  One of which was the deliberate slow, touching, smelling and tasting of a mintie to really appreciate the moment. We also did a 5-minute relaxation session from the http://smilingmind.com.au/  It was a good session and something that you might be able to use with your students as well.

Here are some positive words for you to consider…

What are your favourite things to do to relax?

Check it out!

Hume Article

This post includes my reflections an article on reflective journal writing and the benefits that this writing can bring to learning. You can access the article here: Hume

 

Reflecting on Reflecting:
I thought of a couple of different things whilst reading this article. Firstly that it linked with other things I have read about good teaching and learning and namely that is that the best teachers often think about the impact that they are having on their students. This can only happen upon careful purposeful reflection.  I also am starting to see that the ability to be able to carefully and effectively reflect on my own practice is something that is going to form a big part of this module, subject and indeed course.
I appreciated the Shulman diagram as this might give me more purposeful, directed reflection in the future.  I believe I am probably going to have be a little more disciplined when it comes my reflections. I think that the majority of the reflection I do currently happens in my head and is not necessarily written down. Recording it probably gives me a chance to get a little more purpose to it and directs my practice in the future.
I will have to disciplined and allocate time to record my reflections, I think 10 minutes a day is doable. I guess as Hume suggests though quality reflection is important and more important than quantity. As they became more competent with reflective writing they started to be less frequent but more in depth, quality reflections. Hopefully I can develop my own ability to effectively reflect and start to pump out some quality work.

Loughan Article: My Reflections

This is my response to an article written by John Loughlan . You can access the article here: Loughlan

I think a lot of what was written in the article made sense to me. I think that effective reflective practice is an essential part of learning as much as I can from my own practice.

It is true that we need to be aware of and question our own underlying assumptions or the assumptions of our students that may be in play in the teaching and learning environment. As I was reading the aritcle the article it made me think of a quote “we dont see the world as it really is, we see it as we are. At times we need see ourselves, our classrooms and our practice through another lens (frrame and reframe) and anaylse and adapt our practice accordingly to new light that these alternative lens shine on a situation. Wow I feel like that is a bit wordy, but it makes sense to me.

 

Reading this aritcle also made me think of the power of reflection to the actual learners themselves, not student teachers but the students I teach. While we consistently engage in ‘reflection’ activities with students, perhaps the power and effectiveness of this may have gone understated in the past.

Digital Learning Day!

Very much looking forward to Thursday’s Digital Learning Day. It should be an excellent opportunity for us to get together and discuss many ideas relating to tech use in our school and come up with  concrete plans for our future direction. I am starting to compile just a few resources for the day. A few people have asked about what we will need to bring.  You will need your laptop and iPad (Hopefully all of our stuff connects OK! ) and most importantly a very open mind. I will add ideas to this post as they develop and perhaps we can even add stuff to this post on the day. A way of keeping all of the information together. I have an interactive picture of Flori below with a few important links. Just hover over his fingers to find out info about the link we will be talking about some of them on the day.

 

 

 

We will start at 8:45am have breaks when we need to and hopefully get a fair bit done. We will not be following a strict agenda but it will be more of a participant driven affair, with each of us sharing ideas and compiling them together into a coherent plan. We do have a rough outline of where we will be going throughout the day though:

  • Why are we here?
  • Taking the E out of E learning
  • Aims for the day?
  • PD Document, Skills checklist for teachers
  • Skills for students plan
  • BYOD Future direction= Happy with device selection? documentation, essential apps list.
  • Detailed look at class and student blogs.
  • “Leveraging digital” audit document.
  • Detailed look at a few “key apps”-Try to focus on creation apps (vs content apps) What can we introduce to our section?
  • Web tools exploration- Edustar Cards, edustar image.

From Surface to Deep Learning…

Our school is very excited to be involved in the new pedagogies for deep learning project that 1000 schools worldwide are participating in. In an nutshell the project is aiming to find a way a diffrent approach to teavhing and learning that raises achievement by ensuring that students are engaged in authentic purooseful learning projects. The website is here if you would like to more. http://www.newpedagogies.info/

I came across this video form Scott Macould presentation at TED event that summarises how technology can provide an avenue to deep learning opportunities. Check it out:


Here is a collection of the resources that we picked up for from the New Pedagogies for Deep learning conference on Monday.

NDDP


A self assessment form for us to fill in and consider….


 

Our E-Smart Journey

A couple of years ago our school signed up the E-Smart Schools program overseen by the Madeline and Alannah foundation. The program has involved us following a process that has been really great for our school to follow, We started the journey with a thorough audit of our current practices and from this audit we worked out the areas we needed to improve on. Following the audit way back then we established a bit of a to-do list. Included in that initial list were:

  • Forming an E-Smart committee
  • Conducting regular E-Smart meetings
  • Including E-Smart updates in our sections and while staff meetings.

We have come along way since the initial planning stage of the program. Two years on and we feel as a whole school we have a much better direction in terms of a coherent whole school approach to teaching kids (and the community) about staying safe online. As a result of the program we now have a number of initiatives in practice in our school. Some of the items that have been implemented as a result of our E-Smart program include:

  • Establishment of an E-Smart policy
  • Updated Internet and email policy
  • Updated enrollment forms-to include sections about the responsible use of technology
  • New whole school behavior/incident tracking system.
  • The introduction of ‘Cyber Safety’ Shows for our student shows.
  • A P-6 curriculum document that outlines the explicit teaching of cyber safety behaviours
  • Regular professional development for teachers (from both internal and external providers)
  • Information sessions for parents and students from the same providers.
  • Regular presentations not just from ACMA’s outreach program but also from local police (cyber crime unit) to share information with our students.
  • Regular E-Smart meetings and updates
  • A parent communication program where they get regular cyber safety tips and updates via email and the school newsletter.

We are very proud of how far we have come as a school but we are also aware that the technology is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. We know that we have to continue to learn about new online technologies and more importantly how people use these technologies. Overall, we know that the internet is a fantastic tool and we want to encourage our students to use it for the many positive things it has going for it .

Grammar does matter!

Fresh off the heels of a regional PD our schools literacy team returned with lots of information about the teaching of grammar in a primary classroom.

At first we closely looked at the Ausvels curriculum to familiarize ourselves with all the grammar components of the curriculum. In teams we had a healthy discussion on what needed to be taught at each level.

The team also showed us a few ideas for introducing grammar realted topics to our classes and ways to improve their sentence writing.

We talked about subjects, verbs, simple sentences, complex sentences. Please check out the presentation below for details on what was covered in the session.

Shepparton Grammar PPT by gjdarma

 

The team showed us quite a few classroom games and activities that re-inforce the teaching of grammar in the primary classroom. Some of these included the (Break- sentence) down language experience where you think of a thing like a person or an animal then write a small list of adjectives, places or settings and actions. The students can then play around with these words to create sentences. The example we used in the staff room was frogs.

Adjectives- Croaky, jumpy, smelly, large

Settings- Swamp, pond, lilypad

Actions- Vigorously,

Obviously your list you create would be dependent on the age group of your students and their abilities. This activity could be varied in a number of ways.

Another activity we had was ABC writing. This is to get students thinking about different ways of starting their sentences. We took a familiar fairy tale, like Cinderella and had to then re-write the fairy tale starting each sentence with a new letter of the alphabet. For example the first word of the first sentence started with an a, nest sentence b and so on. I think this a clever idea and something I will be using in my classroom.

A lot of the ideas in the PD came from this document a language strategies document. Check it out below:

 

Circle Time at B.S.P.S

We have known about the benefits of Circle time for awhile and like all the great things we learn it is important that we regularly have revise and refresh on the things we have previously learnt. That is why today’s session with Marg was so great. She took us through the benefits of circle time and then outlined a couple of really useful activities that can be conducted in circles.

Why Circle Time?

We discussed that many of of our students have hectic mornings, with the rush of getting to school every morning some students never even hear anyone say the simple words of “good morning” said to them. By starting the day in a circle it gives everyone a chance to be both heard and acknowledged.

The circle is a great tool some of the key features of a circle that we came up with as a staff were:

-It allows really good eye contact, everyone can see everyone else.
– Everyone is equal, there is no front, back or middle.
– it encourages everyone to get involved, there is much less opportunity for kids to opt out of an activity or discussion.
– Less opportunity for distraction, when you are in a circle the is no desks, or supplies to play with all that is in front of you is everyone else in the circle, your chances of engaging everyone are greatly increased.
-There are no corners!

Activities to lift the mood!

As discussed earlier many kids are coming to school after the craziness of getting dressed, gobbling up breakfast, packing their schoolbags, dropping siblings off at schools etc. Many students can turn up at school feeling pretty flat and not necessarily excited about coming to school. We practiced quite a few different activities that have the potential to lift’ students in the morning. Here is a summary of some of the circle activities that we were shown:

The name game: A really simple activity all that is involved is students saying their name and we go around the circle, this can then timed to add a little bit of a competitive nature to it. It can be reversed etc. This activity allows all the students to hear each other’s names regularly it was remarked that there is times where students actually have been around each other in classes etc and that still they don’t know each

other’s names, this game eliminates this.

Change spots if…
An old BSPS favourite you simple sit in a circle and start with a a statement, for example: change spots if you play a musical instrument. It gets kids sharing information about each other without even thinking about it. After you have done this a few times all of a sudden everyone in the class knows heaps about each other, helping to build a great classroom culture. Take a seat away and leave a student in the middle for a friendly competitive edge.

Wilson McCaskill Games

Marg also mentioned some of Wilson McCaskill’s great work on using games to promote social and emotional wellbeing in students. Here is a video of one of Wilson’s games (Picadilly Circus) that can be used in a circle:

 

Good morning and high five!
This one allows everyone to be acknowledged by someone in the morning, quite simply all you do is to turn to your neighbour say good morning followed by their name and give them a high five. This pattern continues around the circle until it gets back to the start. The high five component encourages eye contact, because quite often high fives are conducted at eye level.

Ways of ordering the circle.
If there are no directions as to how to sit in the circle what we will find is people sitting in friendship groups, this has the potential to devalue the circle. There are different ways you can order the circle, these are some of the ways we can come up with:

  • Hair colour
  • Size of shoe
  • Distance from the home to school
  • What time you went to bed and stayed there
  • Distance from birthplace to current location
  • Birthday

There are probably hundreds of other ways you could order children in a circle, ones we probably stay away from are height and weight as some kids are a little sensitive about these areas!

People Dominoes
This activity involves finding connections with each other. So if two people find a connection with each other for example they both play soccer then they can stand next to each other, then one of the two must find a connection with someone else in their group. At first you are likely to get a lot of physical attributes like we a re both wearing a blue jumpers, after doing this activity a few times kids will open up and start to form deeper connections with each other.

Great Texts for Circle time:

Marg went through some great texts to use when teaching social and emotional wellbeing in students and suggested that circles are great places to share these texts.

How to lose friends

lose friends

 

Teacher Resources:

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