Real learning can be hard, often scary, work fill with uncertainty and self-doubt.
This three minute long animated video from Happify provides a basic perspective on how cultivating a practice of mindfulness can help develop an awareness of what we are thinking and feeling in each moment. This can be especially valuable in those moments where we are feeling the natural discomfort of real learning.
Perhaps the most important thing that we can teach our students is about the process of learning itself. To be patient with ourselves in the face of challenge. To nurture the thoughts that make us stronger while noticing and releasing those that hold us back. In the words of the video, to feed the wolf that is "compassionate, loving, truthful, generous, and peaceful."
Video is available here on Youtube.
The Fall CUE Conference in the Napa Valley is my favorite conference of the year. It is practically in my backyard. My marigolds always show up. It always features awesome speakers and amazing sessions.
A few months before the 2017 conference, when I found out that Brad Montague was going to be delivering the keynote, I stopped everything and purchased my ticket right then and there. I am a huge fan of his work - from Kid President to his Twitter feed to the joyful energy that he brings into this world. For the next two months, I became a broken record. Pretty much everyone who I crossed paths with was accosted. “Are you going to Fall CUE?” “Do you realize that Brad Montague is going to be speaking?”
Flash cut to the morning of the conference. Brad’s keynote day. My four month old-daughter was in the middle of a month long experiment exploring the biological necessity of sleep. As part of her experimental design, she chose to keep my wife and I up all night too. Run ragged, I shuffled out of my front door a few minutes later that I would have liked. A short commute later, I arrive at American Canyon High School, grabbed my backpack and headed to registration.
And then I saw it.
Explore.org is the world's leading philanthropic live nature cam network. For free, anyone can drop into different habitats around the world and observe an amazing number of different animals - from rescued cats to Bald Eagles, Brown Bears to goats, and Puffins to Beluga Whales. All Live Cams are available in high definition and most are live 24 hours a day. Below each cam is a map showing where the stream is coming from and some information about the animals that are featured.
Use these Live Cams to give students an opportunity to actually observe and take notes on the animals they are writing reports about. Starting a new science unit on underwater ecosystems and can't make it to an aquarium? Spend a few minutes each day observing the shark, whale, and fish channels. Or, just put up a different stream when you aren't using your projector. Think of it as a screensaver that reminds kids that, outside of your classroom, there is a big world out there filled with all kinds of ecosystems and animals.
Check out all of Explore.org's Live Cams for free at: explore.org/livecams
The Chrome Music Lab Song Maker puts the ability to create music at the fingertips of students. To make a song, click boxes on the grid, set the tempo, and press play. The track automatically loops and can be changed in real time. When they are happy with their song, students can share their track with the world by clicking the save button and getting a link.
Notice the math connections hidden within tempo and timing of notes. Talk about the patterns of notes that make their music sounds like songs. Have student create songs that accompany their writing - that add to the tone of their stories. Watch smiles develop as they are able to create real music in just a few minutes.
Want a simple example? Check out the simple jam I made in about five minutes: https://goo.gl/c8v14q
Chrome Music Lab Song Maker is available at: https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Song-Maker/
For younger learners, check out the Melody Maker, a simplified version with the same general design. Available at: https://musiclab.chromeexperiments.com/Melody-Maker/
One afternoon, during the last trimester of my first year of teaching, my principal grabbed my attention during lunch and asked me to come see him as soon as school was over. He mentioned that he had received a letter from a parent of one of my students and he wanted to get my take on it.
On the outside, I responded confidently. “Sure, not a problem,” I said. On the inside, it was a different story. I started thinking if there was anything that had happened in my class over the last few days that could have warranted a parent letter sent directly to the principal. Needless to say, I sweated bullets for the ensuing hours. My first year of teaching had been at times bumpy (see Evidence Exhibit A: my first evaluation observation). I wondered if this would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Or, in this case, the letter that broke the teaching career of a young, well-intentioned educator
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