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Showing posts from October, 2012

The Value of 60 Seconds of Silence in the Classroom

According to the Center for Disease Control, rates of ADHD diagnosis increased an average of 3% per year from 1997 to 2006 and an average of 5.5% per year from 2003 to 2007. How can we as educators combat shrinking attention spans? Easy. We train them.

Google Engineer turned Mindfulness expert, Chade-Meng Tan outlines an extremely persuasive argument that attention is trainable in his book Search Inside Yourself, The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace). The simple act of sitting quietly for a brief period of time and paying attention to attention dramatically increases focus.
Based on his research, I have my students spend 60 seconds at the beginning of each period in silence. I ask them to simply pay attention to their breath, and if a thought comes up in their head, identify the thought, say hello to it, and let it go by focusing back on the breath. I assign one student a bell and she rings it to begin the practice and then rings it again after one minu…

Story Corps on Grandparents Day

Each October at York, we host a day where students bring their grandparents and family friends to school. For almost ten years on this day, I have been having my students take part in Story Corps, a national program where people record interviews of friends and family. Students get the questions by going through the Story Corps Question Generator. I purposely do not record video of the interviews because I believe people are more willing to express themselves without a video camera pointed at them. So I record the interviews with GarageBand, edit the audio with still photos using Camtasia, and upload the full interviews as an unlisted videos in YouTube. Students can archive these recordings and pass them down to their own children and grandchildren. This might be my single favorite thing we do in my classroom.

Here's a short sample of the interviews.