Wednesday, October 2, 2013

emotional and mental well-being in the classroom

We've been learning a lot about Wellbeing these days as part of our Inquiry:
Emotional, physical, spiritual, environmental, mental, and social health
and finding balance in our daily lives.
In order to help students understand emotional wellbeing a bit more, I read this book:

This is such a beautiful story.
It deals with a pretty heavy situation but one that is only to be inferred - the story never tells us explicitly whether the girl's father passes away, leaves the family, or what.
It's all about how the young girl, once curious about everything around her, places her heart in a protective "bottle" when her father is no longer there to guide her wonderings.
It follows her as she grows, as she comes to deal with this huge loss and then how she begins to overcome it.
Our class discussion afterward was so rich and incredible.
Tomorrow I'll read this book 
and have the students come up with a way to show their connections to and understandings of one of the stories.

Today, to connect our understanding of mental health, students inquired into this question:

Does exercise help our mental abilities?
{Thanks to a student for coming with this Wednesday Wondering for us!}
They created experiments to test their hypotheses and it was amazing to watch them get straight to work, figuring out how to test this big question and how to measure the results. 
My VP happened to come in just as they were beginning their experiments and, happily, he gave some great positive feedback.
Particularly about how quickly the students were able to find a "smart" partner independently.
And what's funny is I hadn't even considered that to be a great skill since I'm so used to the kids doing it on their own all the time now! 
When we talk about finding partners for any activity, the kids always say:
You need to find a smart partner.
You need to be a smart partner.
They know that a smart partner is someone that will allow you to remain focused and will not be a distraction.

Experiments ranged from doing jumping jacks and then answering some standard addition questions to jogging on the spot and then writing a series of sentences about their personal interests. 
Smart bunch!
Most groups decided that exercise has a positive impact on our mental health, but some weren't so sure.
Tomorrow I'm going to show this video and see if they have any connections or further inquiries:

And next week we're going to be discussing what makes us happy and how we can be our happiest selves. 
Looking forward to that for sure!

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