Thought I’d share a great strategy that I’ve been using this year to help students build the skills needed to develop mindfulness in the classroom. Obviously, it has to be something simple, straightforward, and better yet, cheap and EASY to implement.
I present to you – the Mindfulness book. (See upper left corner!)
So how does it work? Simple enough. As educators we are consistently running or facilitating classroom meetings, community circles, or counselor lessons. So how do you find a way to have students use what they’ve learned in these lessons week later when they’ve completely forgotten?
A Mindfulness Book is the answer. After each lesson/meeting where you talk about strategies that students can use to solve specific problems, have students create an index card (I use the larger ones) with a title, description/direction, and illustration. This tells them what to do when faced with a specific situation requiring _________________. I usually put these up in specific displays around the room.
So in the example above, you can see the collaboration board. As students create a strategy to demonstrate how to use or show collaboration, they would place it on the board (FREE ROOM DECORATION 101!)
Here’s an example of patience strategies. This summer I would run my lessons in a 20 minute, five days a week format, starting with an introduction to the concept (What is patience?) followed by what is / isn’t patience, what makes you impatient, a game that forces kids to use it (or videos/class discussions) and ending with a ‘what strategy works best for you to demonstrate patience?” I’m fortunate that my summer school program had mindfulness minutes built in, but I think the format works perfectly.
You can see the frustration board here. I took pictures only at the end of the summer when kids were taking them down. You can see that kids spent time and effort on them, and were able to refer back to them consistently.
Productive struggle was one of the best lessons and a great example of a hybrid lesson – we started with struggle/shutting down and moved to productive struggle. So I had the kids focus on the difference.
Result, like in the first picture, was a book at the end of five weeks of summer school with eight pages.
- Title Page
- Productive Struggle (And Struggle)
- My Number One Strategy to Help Me Learn (done on the last day)
- Conclusions Page/About the Author (done on the last day)
You can easily tweak it for more/less frequent lessons or more targeted lessons. I let the kids problems/issues decide where we went.
Personal Best Moment: I had a 4th grader(!) email me the weekend after summer school ended to ask for help dealing with disappointment and I was able to point them in the right direction for several videos and resources. They told me they were going to have to add a page to their book.
What about you? Do your kids make mindfulness books? Let me know how they go!