Figurative Language Processing and the Writer’s Workshop

Writer's Workshop with Shurley English.jpg

As part of my series-within-a-series for figurative language processing, writer’s workshop might seem like a surprising topic to bring up in a discussion about reading comprehension. But, it’s not. I have worked with many students through the years, many who struggled with reading comprehension. They struggled for various reasons, but I discovered that even the poorest readers could read their own writing.

 

So, writer’s workshop proved to be a very important step when helping struggling readers to find not only their writing voice, but also their reading voice. When you couple that with showing the students how to nuance their writing by using figurative language, they can then connect that understanding to both reading and writing.

 

Ben Franklin’s old truism about teaching goes: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” It’s as true today as it was when he first said it. That’s why writer’s workshop is an ideal event where students gain real experience with figurative language.

 

I set up writer’s workshops just like I set up literature groups. Every other day, students will either engage in a literature group or in a writer’s workshop. During the writer’s workshop, a lesson about alliteration, for example, might have spring boarded from the previous day’s literature group discussion about a tongue twister, like Peter Piper. After having immense fun reading Peter Piper and having discussed alliteration, the topic for the next writer’s workshop is born!

 

Each writer is asked to create their own tongue twister, which will highlight alliteration as the “skill” to sharpen up. At the next writer’s workshop, students will be encouraged to read their tongue twisters aloud or in pairs. This is just a simple example to demonstrate how simply figurative language can be taught in a hands-on way, using writing as the vehicle.

 

You might want to try using writer’s workshop to encourage your kids’ figurative language processing skills. Below is a list of types of figurative language that you can explore:

  • alliteration

  • onomatopoeia

  • rhymes

  • similes

  • metaphors

  • personification

 

If you do an internet search for children’s books and youth’s novels that serve as excellent mentor texts for each of these kinds of figurative language, you will be amazed at the multiple opportunities you can offer your students to dabble with figurative language and truly comprehend it.

(This post is part of a series on Micro-Comprehension. To start at the beginning, click here. To view the next post in this series, click here.)

Literary Techniques: What is Choral Reading?

If you’re looking for a unique way to keep your child engaged in reading over the summer, you might want to consider doing some choral reading at home.  In case you’ve never heard of it, choral reading is a literacy technique that helps students build their fluency, self-confidence, and motivation to read.  It takes a minimum of two people to participate, but the entire family can join the fun! 

During choral reading activities, the teacher is an active participant and helps set the pace and model proper pronunciation.  As participants rehearse a particular passage aloud in unison, they will learn to assimilate the following important reading skills:  (a.) decoding skills, (b.) effective and fluent oral reading skills, (c.) sight vocabulary, and (d.) pronunciation skills. 

It is important to make sure that choral reading is a fun learning experience, so you must find appropriate materials to use.  Rhymes, poetry, and lyrics are especially suited to choral reading because of their rhythm, meter, patterns, rhymes, and characters, but the choice is up to you. 

Here are some simple suggestions to help you get started:

1. Choose material that will be fun to read and have a printed copy available for each participant. One person reads aloud to the group or all read silently.

2.  Make sure the participants understand the meaning of the piece thoroughly by discussing the selection.

-Who is the speaker?

-What is the setting?

-Under what conditions was the piece written?

-What is the theme?  What is the author trying to say?  Explain the central idea of the piece.

-Define new words.

-Clear up vague meanings.

 3.  Teach the participants to:

- Begin together,

- Speak at the same rate of speed, and

- Finish at the same split second.

4. As you read the passage together, avoid the pitfall of a sing-song, dull, monotonous reading.  Work for variety.

5. Make it fun.

 

Here’s a great piece to help you get started with choral reading today.  I hope you’ll be inspired to look for more selections!

What Shall I Pack in the Box Marked "Summer"? 

by Bobbi Katz

A handful of wind that I caught with a kite

A firefly’s flame in the dark of the night

The green grass of June that I tasted with toes

The flowers I knew from the tip of my nose

The clink of ice cubes in pink lemonade

The Fourth of July Independence Parade!

The sizzle of hot dogs, the fizzle of coke

Some pickles and mustard and barbecue smoke

The print of my fist in the palm of my mitt,

As I watched for the batter to strike out or hit

The splash of the water, the top-to-toe cool

Of a stretch-and-kick trip through a blue swimming pool

The tangle of night songs that slipped through my screen

Of crickets and insects too small to be seen

The seed pods that formed on the flowers to say

That Summer was packing her treasures away.

Would you like additional information on Choral Reading? Take a look at this great resource…

A Chorus of Cultures: Developing Literacy Through Multicultural Poetry

Micro-comprehension: Figurative Language Processing

Reading with Shurley english.jpg

If you are a reading teacher, or if you have a sweeping love of books, you probably know about literary devices, which include figurative language. In this series about micro-comprehension, I have been touching upon the kinds of connections students need to make with stories they read or hear. Those connections are possible when micro-comprehension is happening in the reader’s mind.

 

Most of the time, students get asked lots of questions during and after a reading lesson that focus upon macro-comprehension, an overall understanding about a passage. But teachers are often baffled when students perform poorly on comprehension checks and seem to have completely misunderstood what they were reading or hearing. That may be caused by students having poor micro-comprehension. Better macro-comprehension results if we can help students master micro-comprehension strategies.

 

Up to this point, I have introduced the importance of a rich vocabulary as a starting point. Then, I discussed gap-filling inference and sentence structure processing. Today, I want to get into the nitty-gritty of figurative language processing. 

 

Figurative language, sometimes called “picture language,” can be found everywhere in our culture, from the lyrics of our favorite songs to tag lines in commercials. But we can find almost every type of figurative language in poetry and in fine literature. Fortunately, many children’s authors use figurative language wisely to help young readers explore their imaginations—to actually see stories. It’s an ideal way to expose students to beautiful language which can be both literal and figurative at the same time. Learning how to process this kind of eloquent language is extremely complex. Figurative language processing pushes students cognitively, encouraging them to think in the abstract.

 

Notice the following strategies that promote figurative language processing.

  • Group literature study

  • Writer’s Workshop

  • Readers’ Theatre/Drama

 

Each of these strategies has a common attribute: They all include various kinds of figurative language, such as metaphors, personification, and similes—as well as a host of other types of literary devices. For an extensive list of these kinds of figurative language devices (also called rhetorical devices), check out this site and others like it.

 

Group Literature Study

In the classroom, literature study unlocks a universe of figurative language. Students of all levels benefit from focused attention about this exciting way of thinking! Be aware, however, that very young students may or may not be developmentally prepared to handle such abstract thought at first, so start small. I’ll get to the younger students later. For now, let’s deal with students who already know how to think in the abstract. Below, I have outlined how I conduct a literature study group:


 1. Establish groups: I like to have literature study groups in lieu of traditional reading groups, which have often been determined by ability. I prefer interest-based arrangements. In other words, I present to the entire class three or four short novels for them to choose from. I make sure the genres are varied and that the books have in-depth story lines with well-defined characters. I present a sort of “Book Commercial” to the students about each book and then have them choose one of the novels to study. Since the study may take up to a couple of months to finish, I strive to be as comprehensive as possible when I “advertise” a novel. I want my students to have a strong desire to study it thoroughly.

 

2.  Determine frequency: Sometimes, your schedule will allow you to meet every day with your literature group. Since I prefer to have four groups (four novels), two of my groups meet M-W-F one week, and then they meet T-Th the following week. The other three groups are set up with the same schedule with two groups meeting every day. Each session lasts between 30-45 minutes.

 

3. Pre-read: Pre-read the novels to be studied before your students get into the groups—you cannot talk about what you do not know! However, if you prefer, you can just make sure you stay one or two chapters ahead of where your students are in the books as you go along. The pre-reading phase is all-important because this allows you to make notes in the margin of your book…notes that highlight author’s purpose, unique features of the story, special character attributes, and of course the figurative language the author uses.

 

4. Reading assignments: During the actual studies, I always want my students to feel free to read aloud during the group meeting, as opposed to round-robin reading. Think of the meetings as the kind of book club meetings you may participate in as an adult reader. Keeping the literature discussion as casual as possible make the study less intimidating. You’re establishing a literacy culture when you do this.

I don’t force my students to read aloud during group, but I highly encourage the risk-taking involved when they do decide to take a turn. For those who do not volunteer to read aloud, make sure you have the chance to hear them read at other times when the stress is low. After a short time of read aloud by the students (10-15 minutes), I assign independent reading before leaving the session for that day. Try to cover a chapter every other day. You must determine the volume of reading you wish to cover with your students. Marginal readers cannot handle as much volume, so go easy at first. Increase their independent reading gradually.

 

5. Literary discussion: The rich discussion and conversation that results from literature study is the most exciting part! Teachers do well to use a give-and-take approach to help students get the most out of the discussion. I discussed in previous blog entries about the importance of teacher modeling. Modeling a think-aloud is easy when you take a turn to read aloud in group just like you want your students to do. When I take my turn, I strategically “think out loud” about a specific use of language, a specific character’s role in the story, or whatever, so that students can start to pick up on how to think about literature. And, since my focus for this entire blog series is promoting micro-comprehension, let me add that during my own think alouds, I make a pretty big deal about how authors use figurative language. This segues to a review of my overall theme for this blog series: encouraging micro-comprehension.

 

Next time, I will dig into Writer’s Workshop with you and show you how both Literature Study Groups and Writer’s Workshop serve as a dynamic duo to help students get a firm grasp on figurative language processing.

(This post is part of a series on Micro-Comprehension. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Summer Learning: How to create a positive summer reading experience

Summer Reading with Shurley English.jpg

Summer vacation is supposed to be a break from the usual routine of school, but many parents worry their kid’s reading skills will digress without some sort of action plan.  According to the "Kids and Family Reading Report," a survey done by Scholastic, an American publishing company, those fears might not be far from the truth for some.

Scholastic’s most recent report showed that among kids ages 9-11, 14% did not read any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 7% in 2016. Among kids ages 15-17, 32% did not ready any books during the summer of 2018, compared with 22% in 2016. 

Now, before you hit the panic button, it’s important to let you know that the same report found that nearly 60% of kids ages 6-17 did have a positive experience reading books over the summer.  So, what can you do as a parent to help increase your child’s odds of having a positive reading experience during their time off from school? 

First, give your child permission to read as many books as possible this summer for pleasure.  Let them choose their own books whether they are easy or hard, long or short.  The truth is that it doesn’t matter as long as they enjoy them.   Also, let them know that you are not going to ask them questions to find out whether they understood the books or not.  If they can understand enough of a book to enjoy it and want to go on reading it, then let them!

Secondly, if a child doesn’t want to finish a book they’ve started, that’s okay!  They should give an author a chance to get the story going, but if they don’t like the characters and don’t care what happens to them, it’s perfectly okay to find a different book.

Lastly, you must keep in mind that reading is reading regardless of the venue.  Let your child select what they want to read from hard cover books and magazines to online versions.  Giving a child permission to read for pleasure will be the best thing you can do for them over the summer!  Too often, reading is associated with comprehension questions and vocabulary checks.  When you remove them, reading for pleasure becomes the focus!

Micro-comprehension: Sentence Structure Processing

Inspired Writing with Shurley English.jpg

In this series about developing micro-comprehension I have discussed how students need a good vocabulary in order to create accurate mental models of the stories they read or hear. We also know that those mental models are affected by the way the brain fills-in missing information, called gap-filling inference. Next up is sentence structure processing.

 

Students who can recognize how a sentence is organized have a great advantage. They can tell by the word arrangement if a clause is telling something, asking something, commanding something, or exclaiming something. In Shurley English, we teach students to understand the four basic sentence types early in the curriculum:

  • declarative

  • interrogative

  • imperative

  • exclamatory

Once students can readily recognize these sentence structures, they have a better foundation for building better sentences. Strong mental models result if students know what kind of sentence they’re dealing with.

 

To give students practice with sentence structure processing, I used to show them how to reconfigure sentences by simply writing the same basic sentence four different ways. I called it The 4-Way Sentence Strategy.

 

Step 1: Teach them that a declarative sentence just tells something.

A declarative sentence doesn’t ask anything of anyone. It doesn’t command a person to do anything, and it doesn’t demonstrate excess emotion. Because a declarative sentence just tells the reader something, start with that and teach them to write a basic declarative sentence. Look at the example below.

Example: I like to jump on the trampoline.

This declarative sentence simply states an idea. No questions. No commands. No strong emotions.

 

Step 2: Teach them how to convert the sentence into a question (interrogative) sentence.

Students become pros at sentence structure in no time by moving words around. They soon notice how the point of view changes to second person and how the helping verb at the start of the sentence converts the sentence into a question. This kind of sentence now seeks an answer—because it asks a question.

 Example: Do you like to jump on the trampoline?

 

Step 3: Teach them how to convert the sentence into a command (imperative) sentence.

I show students how to take the same basic sentence and convert it again—this time they change it into a command, like this:

Example: Jump on the trampoline.

Once again, by directly teaching sentence structure, you call attention to the word arrangement needed to change the structure and meaning of the sentence. The structure of the sentence dictates its type. When students read an imperative sentence and begin to recognize the “understood subject pronoun YOU,” they can make these conversions easily.

 

Step 4: Teach them how to convert the sentence into a strong feeling (exclamatory) sentence.

Have students notice the arrangement of the words, especially the words “how” and “what.”

Examples:

What fun it is to jump on a trampoline!

What fun to jump on a trampoline!

Wow! What fun the children had, jumping on the trampoline!

Jumping on a trampoline—what fun!

Jumping on a trampoline—how fun!

What fun I am having, jumping on a trampoline!

How exciting it is to jump on a trampoline!

How fun jumping on a trampoline can be!

How fun to jump on a trampoline!

Many kids enjoy Step 4 the most because it truly unleashes their creativity. Just make sure you work with your kids on the nuances of meaning and the punctuation requirements.

 

I hope you can see how important it is for kids to understand sentence structure from these examples. When your students make these cognitive leaps, they are free to be as creative as their brains will allow.

 

When we visit micro-comprehension again, I will discuss how to help students learn to allocate attention to the major meanings in a sentence and to filter out less significant information. It’s called allocation of attention; don’t miss it!

(This post is part of a series on Micro-Comprehension. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Creating a Writing Inspiration Station

WritingCenter with Shurley English.jpg

There’s nothing like the dreaded feeling of sitting at your desk with a blank sheet of writing paper staring back at you.  You see some of your classmates busily jotting down ideas; you see them creating their prewriting map; or you see some classmates looking upward with a pleasant grin, lost in their imagination.  Not you though; your white paper just taunts you with thoughts like these: “So, what are you going to write about this time?” or “There’s nothing to write about; you’re all out of ideas!” 

For some students, it’s very challenging and even defeating to come up with an idea to write about.  As teachers, we know how valuable the process of writing is, but our students may not.  The process of writing is already a lengthy and sometimes scary journey for many of them.  I believe it is important to create a writing experience in which students can be inspired and where they will feel comfortable enough to take some writing risks.  Create a new writing vibe in your classroom by setting up a Writing Inspiration Station.  

The purpose of a Writing Inspiration Station is to help your students experience how special the process of sharing their voice in the written form really is.  The level of comfort a student feels when they know how to write a paragraph, an essay, and write for all purposes is empowering!  The station acts as a quiet place where a student can sit to gain inspiration or to work through the Writing Process.  It can be that special place where a student might spread out and really engage with their writing. 

The Writing Inspiration Station needs to be set up so that your students want to do their work there.  For instance, it needs to be warm and inviting.  Ideally, organize the station with a table and a few chairs.  Stock it with all of the writing essentials—paper, pens, pencils, pre-writing maps, writing outlines, dictionaries, thesauruses, a soft light, and a Shurley English Writing Folder.

In addition, create a bulletin board adjacent to the table so students can easily review writing tips, transition words, Power Words, steps in the Writing Process, or writing samples.  For those kiddos with writer’s block, add a small bucket of writing prompts for each genre of writing to help inspire them.  Change it monthly, align it with the genre you’re currently teaching, and use it as your Teacher-Student Writing Conference space; the ideas are endless!

Use your own creativity to set up a unique Writing Inspiration Station, and see how your students thrive with the new writing vibe.

BONUS:  If you’re looking for some extra writing prompts to get you through the year, try these!

FIRST LINES/LAST LINES

Think of a story that might begin or end with one of these sentences:

  1. Today, I got the phone call.

  2. Heidi dropped the last of her photographs into the trash.

  3. Why wasn’t I surprised that the light switch didn’t work either.

  4. I hoped they remembered the old adage, “Don’t shoot the messenger.”

  5. One of these days, I’m going to say no.

  6. I knew that sound. Dragons.

  7. I thought space was supposed to be silent.

  8. Who’s that woman in the photo?

  9. Two years ago, I swore I’d never come back here again.

  10. It’s not unusual to find odd bits of paper tucked into library books for a bookmark, but this time it was a letter.

  11. Some jokes just aren’t funny.

  12. “Moon Base Epsilon failed to report, sir.”

  13. We heard the approaching horses (car) and hurried further into the woods.

  14. I was not ready to admit defeat.

  15. “This is the last straw!”

  16. Josh looked guilty.

  17. Maria looked up from her reading and her book fell from her lap.

  18. I’d always wondered what real fear felt like. I was sorry I found out.

  19. Monday was supposed to be the worst day of the week. Today had it beat by a mile.

  20. We all felt the cold before he entered the hall.

    First Lines/Last Lines Source: http://www.wrightingwords.com/writing-starters/

Micro-comprehension: Gap-filling Inference

Inferences with Shurley English.jpg

Last time, I introduced the concept of building micro-comprehension skills in young readers, starting with words. Often, students need direct instruction in the various areas of micro-comprehension to become efficient readers. I started with words because they are the foundation upon which to build the other skills.

With a strong word base, students can begin the arduous task of comprehending the meaning of strings of words and phrases. In order for that to happen, students must be able to infer meaning. Inferring (or inference) just means that the student’s brain will have to do some gap-filling to understand basic information as it is shared through the words, whether reading the words themselves or hearing them read.

When I first began my career, teaching inference was a big deal. At that time, I was simply following the standards in the state where I was teaching. But, the most effective way to teach inference was a mystery. Once I grappled with helping students get a strong vocabulary base, teaching inference became a lot easier. It was clear that students who had a good bank of words made inferences more readily. Those students who had poor vocabulary exposure didn’t fare as well. 

As I improved my teaching skills, I learned that inference skills in reading were basically just the activation of the gap-filling ability in their brains. Brains are absolutely amazing! Brains are always seeking information, and for the missing pieces, they call upon special neurons that “fill-in” the missing information to make the existing information make sense. Now, sometimes, the brain can get it all confused—it’s normal. But, wise reading teachers will help kids recognize the comprehension errors by using a strategy called “Unpack Your Thinking.” To unpack one’s thinking just means to say out loud what thoughts you have as you read. Teachers can model this by slowing down their own reading process and then saying aloud what it is that makes them able to comprehend what they read. When they share that thinking out loud with the kids, it serves as a powerful model! Look at the following example:

After watching the sad movie, Sarah grabbed a tissue. 

Now, read the “unpacked, out loud thinking”:

“I know that Sarah is probably sad because she just watched a sad movie. I also know that when people are sad, they often cry. I can infer that Sarah must have cried because of the sad movie and needed to dry her eyes with a tissue.”

In this example of “unpacking your thinking,” it helps to state aloud the parts of the information that are included in a passage because it accentuates what IS NOT included. I like for kids to say, “I know that…” to begin each out loud idea. Then, it is a small leap for the teacher to ask: “How do you know Sarah was probably crying?” 

This kind of question is actually a macro-comprehension question. Students who have a clear mental model will deduce that people often show emotion when watching a sad movie. Notice, the example passage about Sarah did not explain that she was actually shedding tears, but the micro-comprehension work the brain does makes it obvious that she was crying and needed a tissue.

I am sure you have discovered in your students the gap-filling ability or the lack of it. As you read aloud to your students or as you listen to them read aloud, try to be more aware of opportunities for them to practice accurate gap-filling inferences. I think you will be surprised how adept they can become.

In my next post, we’ll move into sentence structure processing and the role it plays in micro-comprehension. Please join me!

(This post is part of a series on Micro-Comprehension. To start at the beginning, click here.)

Grammar Time: What part of speech is the word THERE?

There with Shurley English.jpg

The word “there” is a commonly used word that can be difficult to classify because of the various roles it can play in a sentence.  There can be used as an adverb, pronoun, noun, or adjective, and sometimes as an interjection.  So, what’s the big deal about this word?

The truth is that it’s not always easy to determine how the word there is being used in a sentence. In fact, it can be downright confusing!  So, in order to figure it out, you have to look closely at how it’s being used in context.

Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the word there shows up in a sentence as an expletive.   If you’re not familiar with this term, allow me to explain. An expletive is an “extra word” that is not grammatically related to the rest of the sentence.  Here’s an example sentence.  Read it carefully and locate the simple subject: 

There are some pencils in my desk drawer.

The word there is not the subject of the sentence; the simple subject is pencils.  There is being used as an expletive and serves to get the sentence moving.  Any time a sentence begins with the word there, the true subject will be farther on in the sentence, so don’t be fooled! 

Another way to determine if the word there is being used as an expletive is to rewrite the sentence without using it.  If you can rewrite it without losing any meaning, you will know you’re correct.   Notice how the sentence meaning does not change when I leave out the word there:

Some pencils are in my desk drawer.

Study the following guide to help you understand how to label and classify the various roles of the word there.  Then, remember that if it’s being used as the first word in a sentence, it could possibly be an expletive!

There with Shurley English.png

Micro-comprehension: A Foundation of Words

Reading with Shurley English.jpg

In an earlier blog post, I pointed out that early reading might best focus on micro-comprehension strategies before exploring the macro-comprehension kinds of questions that are found in most reading programs. But why? To start with, a reader won’t have clear macro-comprehension without clear micro-comprehension. A deep and wide vocabulary makes the micro-comprehension much more accurate!

Make Words Concrete: I like to think of words as “containers.” Some have a lot of sound-symbols (letters)—quite roomy! Others don’t, but kids can see words as concrete rather than abstract with this kind of metaphor. These sound containers (words) have limited meaning outside of context. To build deep and wide vocabularies, keep context front and center. Help kids expand their word banks, using these strategies:

1.  Label everything in the learning space. If you are a home educator or classroom teacher, label the items in the students’ learning space. In lowercase letters (except for proper nouns), write the name of the item on index cards or self-stick name tags.

2.  Use synonyms. On the same index cards or other signage, also write under the most common word for the item any synonyms associated with the original word. For instance, a box of crayons may have the original word crayons on its label, and beneath it, you might also write the word colors.

3. Focus on Early Reading books. Many early reading books contain illustrations with similar labels, like I described in item number 2 above. Keep these kinds of books handy for young learners and call attention to the items and their labels.

4. Include poetry. Be sure to read a new poem every day! Start with short rhyming poems. Branch into longer poetry with repetitive sections and cadences that children like to repeat aloud.

To launch into the next several blogs about early reading, establishing a baseline around micro-comprehension makes sense. You can take the lead and help students build a strong vocabulary. Students have to be able to hear words, interpret their meanings, choose the correct meaning, and apply that within the context of the story they are hearing or reading—no small task—but doable!

On your next visit, stay tuned for gap-filling inference, an important step in building micro-comprehension skills…until then!

Summer Learning: Taking a Brain Break with Meditation

Downtime with Shurley English.jpg

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 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, and here’s why:

  • Research shows that time off-task is important for proper brain function and 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 the ability to concentrate.

  • Resting mental states help us process our experiences, consolidate memories, reinforce learning, regulate our attention and 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.

Brain Break Exercise: Meditation with Mindful Breathing

I mentioned meditation as a way to give the brain a break, so show your students how to tap into their own superhero relaxation powers with this simple breathing exercise.  Teach your students that their breath is an amazing tool that can help them relax or calm down at any given moment.  It can help them manage the ups and downs of school and life—all they have to do is breathe.

The purpose of a breathing meditation is to calm the mind and develop inner peace.  We can use breathing meditations to reduce our distractions and feel a deep sense of relaxation.  Allow this breathing exercise to bring more calmness into your classroom while your students learn a valuable tool that helps them relax.

  • Mindful Breathing Exercise (2-5 minutes)

  • Students can stand or sit for this activity.

  • Ask students to put both hands on their belly.

  • Students should close their eyes, or look down to their hands.

  • Guide students in taking three slow deep breaths in and out to see if they can feel their hands being moved.

  • You may like to count “1, 2, 3” for each breath in and “1, 2, 3” for each breath out, pausing slightly at the end of each exhale.

  • Encourage students to think about how the breath feels, answering the following questions silently, in their mind.

    What is moving your hands? Is it the air filling your lungs?
    Can you feel the air moving in through your nose?
    Can you feel it moving out through your nose?
    Does the air feel a little colder on the way in and warmer on the way out?
    Can you hear your breath?
    What does it sound like?

Remember, 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!