Support PE in Schools (good for health and learning)

This post reflects a compensated editorial partnership with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Imagine you are 11. Your body is being possessed. One minute, you are a kid, wanting your
stuffed animal at bedtime. The next minute, you are listening to the news and worrying about Russians taking over our elections. Your body, it’s antsy. It is changing fast. Your life is full of activities, confusing social dynamics, and people telling you what to do, and when.

Then you get to PE.

PE, for many kids, is the release valve. It is where they can move their bodies and shake off the math lesson, the cruel joke, or the latest test. PE can also be where they gain confidence, learn how to take care of their bodies, and where they learn how to play with other kids.

image from http://wenatchee.innersync.com/col/

As a teacher, I saw how different students acted on days with and without a PE class. Aside from the occasional post PE argument about who won, students came back to class with bodies and minds ready to settle back into learning.  The days with no PE, or the worst, indoor recess?

No so much.

A brain needs movement breaks. With a packed curriculum, standardized testing,  and increasing pressures, this can be hard for the teacher to provide. That is why recess and PE classes are so critical.

Research shows kids need 60 minutes of physical activity per day and PE programs help our kids get to this minimum for their health and wellbeing. PE addresses the needs of the whole child, positively impacting their physical, mental, and emotional health.

Here’s the problem: Only 4% of elementary schools, 8% of middle schools, and 2% of high schools provide daily PE or its equivalent for the entire school year. How does that impact student learning, wellbeing, and their overall health?  According to a report by University of Texas School of Public Health, kids need PE to be treated like a core subject like math or literacy: Continue reading

Author School Visit: Proctor Elementary (The Order of the Trees)

IMG_1276Oh, do I love visiting schools.

One of my favorite times of day as a teacher was the lively and interactive read aloud time. Some of the best conversations, moments, and connections happened during this time. Books sing. Issues arise. Students gasp, shudder, laugh, and beg you not. to. stop. reading!

Luckily, I had the chance to go visit the 5th grade class at Proctor Elementary School last week. They had been reading The Order of the Trees (Green Writers Press, 2015) and were excited to have me visit and read to them, to talk about books, and writing.

IMG_1278First, I showed them my journal. It’s the place I draw, make lists, ramble, write poems, whatever. But sometimes, a little gem gets dropped in the journal, and it becomes the seed of an idea. The Order of the Trees started this way. My new picture book, out this fall with Green Writers Press, called Salamander Sky, started that way too. They leaned in to look at the pages.

We talked about what they were reading, and about how ideas are important. I told them that the world often tells them NO! That is not a good idea. But if they believe in it– to keep trying. Honor your ideas. They are true and important and matter.


Next, I got to read a juicy scene to them from the book, filled with some classroom drama. I love playing the nasty Mrs. Doneaway, the teacher whose heels click, click, click on the classroom floor as she walks up to you, ready to call you out in front of the whole class.

IMG_1282The class had tremendous ideas about what I should write next. A sequel to The Order of the Trees, where Cedar is all grown up, and the story is about what happens to her daughter. Or, a novel that finally tells the story of how a baby appeared under a giant Cedar tree in the Northern Vermont forest. They were brilliant and I left with my head full of ideas

It’s hard to tell who had more fun.

 

Post election strategies for teachers

post-election-teacher

from @christienold on Twitter

Many teachers have wondered how exactly they would respond to the results of the presidential election. They have wondered how they can both support students feeling vulnerable and unsure, while not appearing partisan in their roles as educators. Teachers hold together the fabric of our society through their interactions during challenging times. Here are some of the ways that teachers around the U.S. are helping students through a changing political and social landscape.

choose-kindPromoting Kindness: The election has been hard on all of us. Students pick up on this and feel when their teachers are stressed and upset. Many students will be confused, tired, and unclear about what the election results mean for their lives. Teachers can meet this by circling back to a focus on kindness, compassion and acceptance for all students in their classrooms and school communities. Here are some resources:

kindness

Choose Kind. This is an online movement based on the book Wonder by RJ Palicio. There are many resources here for inspiring students to show and share kindness.

For younger students who might being feeling vulnerable, #kidltsafetypins on Twitter is featuring kids’ favorite picture books with safety pins to show that illustrators and authors of children’s literature stand for protecting all kids from discrimination and harm.  I love this one from Peter Reynolds.

Turning Apathy into Action: Educator Jason Findley encourages educators to focus on what they can control and encourage students to do the same. He says (via Twitter): Continue reading