Week #6- Mindfulness in Schools

This past week in my Learners and Learning Environments class at UVic we were talking about the benefits of teaching mindfulness in schools. Blair Stonechild, residential school survivor and Professor of Indigenous Studies at the First Nations University of Canada, describes how Indigenous Philosophy recognizes the four essential aspects of being: spiritual, emotional, physical, and intellectual. Out of those 4 aspects of being I put many hours into developing my intellectual and physical being but I spend limited time on my emotional/spiritual development. This is why I decided to learn more about mindfulness and meditation so that I could start strengthening my mind and soul. I also realized that if I am going to teach my own students about mindfulness, I first need to identify my own spirit.

Elementary school teachers have the important responsibility of educating the WHOLE student. This means teaching students not only how to read and write, but how to act socially and find their unique identities. A few techniques I learned in class to help students develop their spirits are as followed…

  • complete guided meditations with your students
  • have your students complete quiet self-reflections
  • practice respecting and acquiring other virtues (humility, honesty, bravery…)
  • take your students on nature walks & teach them that everything is a living thing & we need to respect them
  • honor our ancestors
  • teach students about emotional literacy

Any of these activities can help students identify more about who they are. It’s time parents/teachers start helping children become the best versions of themselves. Most of them time children need our help but don’t even know to ask for it.

I attached Blair Stonechild’s video if anyone is interested…


Graphic Design Starting Point

For our tech. inquiry project, the three of us (Olivia, Maeve, Julia) decided to learn about graphic design. Throughout our daily lives, we are constantly exposed to graphic design through digital and social media and in our everyday tasks. As young professionals starting out in the education world, being proficient in graphic design will be an asset to our classrooms and school communities.

As a starting point, none of really know much of anything about graphic design. We are aware that it is generally a combination of words and images that make up some sort of advertisement or logo, etc. We are not certain about how to do graphic design. We recognize that there are several outlets that we can use to create our own graphics but we are unaware of the differences between the outlets and which one is best suited to our needs.

To begin, we watched several videos about graphic design (like the one below) on Youtube. From there, we were able to learn several of the fundamental ideas about graphic design such as line, shape, and balance.

Our goals moving forward are individually different, but as a whole, we would like to further our knowledge and attempt some graphic designing. So far, one of us has used Adobe Spark  (which was free and easy to find) to create very small graphics. The website took some time to sort out and we are still learning what we can actually do with the site. We would like to explore the graphic design world a bit more and explore what kinds of things we would like to learn. We are in a state right now of almost not even knowing what we don’t know so we would like to delve further into this concept that is relatively new to us.

We’d like to experiment with different websites to try graphic design and hopefully, find ones that either doesn’t cost anything or that we can begin with a free trial. Once we become more adept, we will decide on our favourites and how they compare to others.

PSII Visit

This week my EDCI 336 class had the opportunity to visit the Pacific School for Innovation and Inquiry (PSII- pronounced “sigh”), Victoria’s newest high school and form of personalized education. Students at this school are able to move through a curriculum that is designed specifically for them at their own pace. Basically, at this school all the projects are inquiry based so students get to decide what they want to learn and the teachers design their learning to meet all the BC curriculum content. The image below, from PSII’s website, better explains their whole learning approach.

retrieved from http://learningstorm.org/the-psii-approach/

This visit made me consider how beneficial our education system really is. One thing that I hated about my high school experience was the lack of freedom I had. If I wasn’t feeling well I had to call home in the office and get my parents to come pick me up even though I could drive myself. As soon as I left high school and entered university I found my mental health got immensely better. If I wasn’t feeling well physically or emotionally, I could just not attend class that day and catch up on my own time and nobody would mind. The stress of being forced to remain at my place of learning even if it wasn’t in the best interest for me was gone and I found myself enjoying my education so much more. For once I had independence and control over my learning and I began to care a lot more about my education. So why do we still design our high schools this way? As stated on the PSII website, we are all unique individuals, so why do we force our students to complete a pre-designed, standardized education?

For more information on PSII visit their website learningstorm.org & I promise it will answer all of your questions.

Week #5- Experiencing Happiness

Many people think that you find happiness; however, happiness isn’t a thing, so it is never lost.

Megrette Fletcher, http://www.mindful.org

Isn’t that a refreshing thing to read? You can never find happiness by looking for it, instead you should be experiencing it. So how can we experience happiness in our lives? In Megrette Fletcher’s 2018 article “Four Ways to Nourish Happiness with Mindful Eating”, she describes how the conditions for experiencing happiness can be easy to find, if we put the effort into identifying what conditions are unique to us. Although Fletcher’s article was centered around mindful eating, I found that the points she made can be applicable across anything that you think can bring you happiness. For example, Fletcher mentions that you can be experiencing happiness without even realizing it. Sometimes it just takes a moment to pause, be mindful, and notice the joy around you. Ever since I have started journalling in the mornings. I have noticed significant changes in my well-being. If you have been reading my other blog posts you know that every morning I list 3 things that I am grateful for. This has helped me to see the joy Fletcher discusses in a lot more aspects of my life. If I am having a bad day, I try to meditate and ask myself- “okay was it really all that bad?”. Often, after pausing and thinking about it I realize that my day wasn’t completely terrible and there are things that I have to be thankful for and that allowed me to experience happiness. I encourage all of you to try this next time you are having a “bad” day. Just pause and reflect on everything that happened and often you will realize that there was some good to your day after all. The more we work on realizing what brings us joy, the easier it will be to put ourselves in our unique conditions for experiencing happiness.

Video/Audio Editing Workshop

Today in my EDCI 336 class we had the opportunity to learn all about video editing with iMovie, screen capturing with Screencastify, and audio editing with Garage Band. Personally, I own a PC computer and so I was very unfamiliar with iMovie/Garage Band besides making 2 movie trailers with my friend in the 5th grade… so this was a very beneficial workshop for me! I think that iMovie will be an excellent resource when I have my own classroom in the future. I remember loving to make those movie trailers when I was a kid so I can see my future students loving it too. For example, I would use iMovie in english class as an alternative to writing a book report. Screencasitfy (https://www.screencastify.com/) is another great resource that I think students will really enjoy. This chrome program can be easily downloaded onto your computer and it allows you to record what is happening on your computer screen. You can also video tape yourself at the same time and it will appear in the corner of your screen. I would use screencasitfy as an alternate way for students to give a powerpoint presentation. The last program that we were introduced to in the workshop was garage band. Personally, I use audacity to edit my music but I found both programs were easy to use. I would use garage band in music class so that my students could edit/create their own music.

Rich McCue, a Digital Scholarship Commons Coordinator who led the workshop, was kind enough to let me share his resources from the workshop so I included them below….

http://freemusicarchive.org/curator/Creative_Commons/ (free background music that students can use for their garage band projects)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/14V118K1VnyEAJTQFCqQdq0ODsE98JUSf1HrGscpt0_Y/edit?usp=sharing (Video Editing)

http://edci336.ca/rmccue/ (Rich’s website with more resources)

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1RNjmZo0GoH30baVEjGxwzo3Lf-7LTIOu370xoqGvJI0/edit?usp=sharing (Garage Band)

Week #4- 1 month into journaling

It has almost been a month since I started journaling so I wanted to do an update on how the whole experience has been for me. The journal that I decided to write in was one created by personal trainer and nutritionist, Tara Brunet, (ig-trainingbytarabrunet). In this journal, titled “January Jumpstart”, Tara helps you start your year off right with a 5-step process to identify and eventually set your goals for the year. Next, Tara has you identify limiting factors for your goals and then helps you shut them down immediately. The rest of the book is 31 pages for 31 days and each page has a workout, a section to write your daily 3 to-do’s to get yourself closer to your goals, a section to write 3 things that you are grateful for, and then some inspiration for the day. Now 28 days into the journal, I can honestly say that it has impacted my outlook on life immensely. As I touched on in my last blog post, I have found that my productivity has increased a lot because every day I am outlining what I need to accomplish that day. My self-confidence is also increasing as I set and accomplish my goals because I am becoming more like the person I want to be every day. I find Tara’s inspiration for the day has also helped me change my mindset to become more growth oriented than fixed. I highly recommend trying a journal such as Tara’s for a month and see how it impacts your life. Even if after a month you don’t notice a change or decide that it isn’t for you, at least you can tell yourself that you stuck with something for a whole month straight and you should be proud. Images below are from Tara’s facebook page where she posted the journal online for free.

cover page for the january jumpstart journal
insight into what the first few pages of the journal are like

Week #3- What You Practice Grows Stronger

In the TEDx Talk I linked above, Dr. Shauna Shapiro discusses why we should be practicing mindfulness and self-care. When Dr. Shapiro was seventeen, she had spinal fusion surgery and her whole life was turned around. Suddenly, she had to get used to living in a body that couldn’t do the same things it used to be able to do, so she turned to mindfulness to help her & never looked back. Dr. Shapiro discusses how on a mindfulness retreat in Thailand, a monk told her that “what you practice grows stronger”, and it has stuck with her ever since. As soon as I heard this, all these ideas began connecting in my head and it was like a light bulb had gone off. I remember reading studies about two growing plants- one that was told positive comments and the other was told negative comments. After a few months, the plant that was only told positive things ended up growing substantially more than the other plant. This same thing happens in our brains, but instead of plants it’s new neurons growing in response to repeated practice or “cortical thickening” as Dr. Shapiro describes it in her TEDx Talk. It’s said to take 30 days to create a new habit, so the more that we are kind to ourselves, either by saying positive things about ourselves or practicing self-care, the easier it gets. We are always growing something in our minds so it all depends on what you want to grow in life. If you want to grow your judgement, your ignorance, or your negativitiy, then keep doing those things. However, if you want to grow your compassion, your knowledge, and your positivity, then that is what you need to be practicing every day in your life.