Why Downtime is Beneficial for Students

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If you’ve been following our Shurley English Blog posts you know we’ve been flooding you with creative ideas on how to continue supporting your students’ academic progress throughout the summer.  We are also aware that with the high demands placed upon our children in today’s U.S. classrooms, it’s evident that children (and adults) have fewer opportunities to truly unwind and relax. 

Today, my suggestion is to remember to INCLUDE some “DOWNTIME” into your child’s daily summer schedule…here’s why:

*Research shows time off-task is important for proper brain function & health.

*The brain uses 20% of the body’s energy while on-task.

*Napping 10-30 minutes can increase alertness and improve performance.

*Meditation is a way to give the brain a break from work and refresh our ability to concentrate.

*Resting mental states help us process our experiences, consolidate memories, reinforce learning, regulate our attention & emotions, and keep us productive!

Downtime will give the brain an opportunity to make sense of what has just been learned, and shifting off-task can actually help learners refresh their minds, gain insight, and return to the task with more focus.

Time off-task isn’t always wasted time or a sign of laziness! I encourage you to create the balance between being a “human-being” and a “human-doing” this summer!      

Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.

 

Summer Learning: Journaling with Appreciative Inquiry

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Summer vacation is coming soon! So, what are your plans?  Have you included any activities that will help your child keep their language arts skills sharp over the break?  (Haha!  I’m almost positive that most of you just knitted your brows and sarcastically muttered the words: “Ugh, NO!”)  Before you stop reading this post, I’d like for you to consider doing some “AND” thinking because there is a way for students to enjoy their time off from school AND continue applying language arts skills! They might just learn to appreciate the experience while they’re at it if we add an additional AND to the list!  The key is to cop a good action plan in advance!

Before I get to the suggested activity, I want to tell you about an approach to personal change called Appreciative Inquiry (AI).  AI is the study and exploration of what gives life to human systems when they function at their best.  It is based on the assumption that the questions we ask and the dialogue we hold about strengths, successes, values, hopes, and dreams lead us in a particular direction and are themselves transformational! Simply put, Appreciative Inquiry means that what we spend time focusing on and studying shapes our interpretations, learnings, and inspirations!  (Do you focus on what you want or what you don’t want?  Whichever it is, you’ll likely find it.  If you continually search for problems, you’ll find problems.  If you look for what is best and learn from it, you can magnify and multiply your success!) 

With that being said, allow me to give you a summertime language arts activity that will keep your child engaged in writing AND teach them to appreciate their experiences…AND still enjoy their vacation!  It’s fairly simple.  We’re talking about journaling…AI style!  Here are the steps involved:

 

1.  Get a spiral notebook, folder, composition book, or diary.  (A digital journal is fine too!)

2.  Establish a routine for journaling.  (What time of day will work best?) (Will you have your child do a daily/weekly journal entry, or will you only have them journal after certain activities? Etc.) 

3.  Have your child personalize their summer journal by giving it a title, such as My Summer Journal or The Summer of 2018.

4.  Require each journal entry to include the day’s date and year.

5.   Have students write as much as they can as they reflect on the day’s events, using the following Appreciative Inquiry questions as a guide:

  • What was the best part of today?
  • Who was part of my day, and how did we work together to make the day better?
  • What situation(s) took place today that helped me to learn and grow?
  • What relationship(s) helped me perform at my best today?
  • Did anyone do go above and beyond to make today extra special?
  • Did anyone tell me that I made a difference today?
  • When did I feel like I made a difference today?
  • Did I or anyone else help someone have success today?
  • What did I look forward to today?
  • Share a time that I made an effort to listen and hear the opinion(s) of someone else today.
  • Who did I trust and depend on most today?
  • Who made me believe in myself and my potential today? 
  • When did I communicate well with others today?
  • How can I help create an environment that will make tomorrow an even better day?          

6.     Have students draw or create a picture to go with today’s journal entry.

7.     Consider having students share their journal entries aloud so that everyone can enjoy the positive experiences of the day!

As students learn to write, using these AI questions as a framework, their ability to appreciate can translate into a more positive approach to thinking that can last a lifetime if knowledge, skill, and practice are applied.  Give it a try with your child this summer!  The journal will also be something you can save for them to enjoy reading later in life.

Comment /Source

Jamie Geneva

Jamie Geneva is the Senior National Consultant at Shurley Instructional Materials and is a seasoned subject matter expert in the realm of English Language Arts.  Her career with the company began during the days of the Shurley Method binder, which was pre-1st Edition, and has spanned across three decades.  Over the years, her various roles have included teacher, presenter, state representative, consultant, manager, and most recently, a Shurley English Digital Assistant.  You might not recognize her face, but her voice could certainly sound familar.  That’s because she’s recorded Jingles, Q&A Flow Sentences, and other Shurley English content for many, many years. 

Jamie and her husband, Garret, live in the foothills of eastern Oklahoma. She loves spending quality time with her family, traveling, reading, cooking, and staying connected on social media.

Ms. Geneva received her B.S. degree in Elementary Education and her M.Ed in Public School Administration from Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, OK. 

Summer Learning: How to Keep Language Arts Skills Sharp

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Slurpees, sunshine, swimming, sunbathing, relaxing, travel, camping, barbecues, bike rides, fireworks, friends, and LANGUAGE ARTS! Of course, summer vacation might include some of these foot-loose and fancy-free things, but it’s also an opportunity to keep parents engaged in their child’s learning over the summer months.

Remember, the key to success in whatever you want to do is setting goals for yourself. Encourage families to set short and long term academic goals for the summer. (I've included a great bonus lesson on Setting Goals at the end of this post!)

Here are three great ways to keep your child's Language Arts skills sharp this summer:

1. Summer Reading

Check out your school’s suggested Reading List or get started with the list below to keep your students reading fluently! (Need more book ideas? Be sure to check out the suggested reading list located in the back of your Shurley English Teacher's Manual.)

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2. Question & Answer Flow Practice

Keep the Shurley English Question & Answer Flow fresh in students’ minds! You can create your own summer practice packet from sentences found in your Shurley English workbook, or you can purchase a Sentence Booklet that contains new sentences to classify. Either way, you'll be sure to keep those classification skills sharp and automatic with Q&A Flow practice. 

 

 

3. Reflective Journal

Create a reflective journal to document the summer break. Fill this journal with creative drawings, poems, homemade songs/raps, and free writing about unique summer experiences. Journaling gives learners a chance to really tap into their creative side and get outside the rigid box of structured writing. (I encourage you to learn more about the value of journaling here.)

 

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind.” This summer, I challenge you to keep what your children have learned throughout the school year in sight. Keep their minds sharp and know that you are supporting their growth towards confident, competent communication!

 

BONUS LESSON: Setting Goals

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Comment /Source

Kimberly Crady

Kimberly Crady is an adventurous woman with an immense love for life, learning, and teaching. After teaching in upper elementary classrooms for nearly 10 years, she joined the Shurley Team in 2005.  Kimberly has had the unique experience of teaching Shurley English lessons in all levels, Kindergarten-8th grade and training teachers across the United States.  Kimberly is a National Consultant and SEDA Teacher for Shurley Instructional Materials.

 

Kimberly’s passion for helping people and living a healthy lifestyle has led her to continue her education in the area of Health and Wellness.  She enjoys numerous outdoor activities from hiking and snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains to paddle boarding in the ocean; although, these days you can find her practicing hot yoga in a Bikram Yoga studio. She also enjoys traveling abroad, live music, reading, and spending time with her favorite mutt, Lu.  Kimberly’s experience as a Certified Health & Wellness Coach and Teen Life Coach helps support her firm belief in teaching the whole person, especially in the classroom.