15 Minutes Outside

ImageI have recently been exploring a book titled “15 Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to get out of the house and connect with your kids” – by Rebecca P. Cohen. I recommend this book to teachers because it has many different ideas for engaging students in an outdoor experience every single day.

What changes could be made by spending 15 minutes outside each day? What kind of inquiry learning could take place. This book offers many starting points to allow students to explore.

What I really enjoyed about the set up of the book was that the ideas are separated by month. In the fall students can plant cool-season vegetables or make a leaf scrapbook. In the spring one can go pond skimming or compare shadows. There is an abundance of ideas in this book, suitable for each month, each season, and many different areas of interest.

Spending 15 minutes outside every day opens up students to a world that is often closed off as they sit in classrooms or spend time inside playing video games. These 15 minutes create a connection for students with the space and the place that they live in. Thus, beginning an environmental citizenship. How can one care about a place if they don’t have the opportunity to connect with it?

Whether the ideas presented in Cohen’s book are used to stimulate inquiry learning or simply to give students a brain break from the demands of the classroom, spending 15 minutes outside will do nothing but benefit student engagement.

Take Me Outside video

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Brains are Great

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities”.
– Dr. Suess

I love learning about brain function — not sure if that qualifies me as a bit of a geek, but nonetheless, they fascinate me. I find myself in constant social interactions where only part of my attention is being given to the actual interaction itself, while the other part of my attention is wondering or predicting what parts of the brain are functioning together or what is going on in a person’s brain that makes them respond accordingly to the interaction. I read a book called Brain Rules by John Medina last year and ever since, I have been hooked.

When I am reading or learning about something I often have a mental video playing in my head… you know those brain animations when they are describing the anatomy and that part lights up. That’s what I think about. It’s very difficult to focus on something when you are constantly thinking about what your own brain is doing and how it might be processing the new information. Especially when brain research tells us that multi-tasking makes us much less effective thinkers/doers.

So, thank your ancestors for your brain and watch this video or read this book.

Reteach and Enrich – How to Make Time for Every Student

Video

A presenter in my EPSY class shared her work on differentiated instruction last Thursday. One of the things she shared what this video.

I have struggled for so long with the idea of leveled groups. I often feel as if students know which group they are in. If they are in the lower group, this may effect their self-esteem and may cause bullying from students in other groups.

This video opened up a whole new concept for me. Even calling the groups “reteach” and “enrich” changes how teachers and students view the members of each group. Students get to learn about differentiated instruction and how everyone has certain strengths in certain areas. In addition, students in the “reteach” group aren’t “reteach” lifers. They get to move up. In turn, the “enrich” students will have areas in which they are challenged and have to have additional time to work with these concepts. Students even get to work with peers in other classrooms.

I especially liked the collaboration that the teachers showed in the video. The one who was stronger with the specific math topic taught the enrich students that week. The teachers are also modeling for students that one doesn’t need to be good at everything — everyone has strengths and everyone has challenges.

There are many pieces from this video that I know I can use in my own classrooms of the future. It would be excellent to be part of a school-team that taught differentiated instruction through “Reteach and Enrich”.

Project of Heart

In my pre-internship I worked with a classroom of grade four students. During my three-week block I taught about Canadian residential schools. We connected with Project of Heart where we had to do a number of tasks, some of which included inviting an Elder into the classroom, creating an action plan and painting the tiles seen in the image to commemorate students who died in residential schools.

Link

Promoting Play in Elementary Classrooms

Check out my latest Prezi on Promoting Play in elementary classrooms. This Prezi was designed with supporting evidence about the importance of encouraging learning through movement and play. Along with the Prezi, I also spent time with my peer partner creating a group of 6 movement activities for grade three students. These activities include:

My partner and I hope to take this activity kit into our pre-internship classrooms. Her classroom is grade 1/2 and I am in grade 4. We decided to focus on a grade 3 level so that each of us could adapt the activities for our grades. I can’t wait to try them out!