Boost Your Mood With Gratitude

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Every year, Daylight Saving Time (DST) ends on the first Sunday in November, when clocks are moved back an hour at 2 a.m. local daylight time.  When this happens, It takes our minds and bodies several weeks to adjust to the time change.  On top of that, the early evening darkness can wreak havoc on our overall mood due to a reduction in the amount of sunlight we receive.

Research tells us that 4-6% of the American population will experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to the reduction of light.  Another 10 - 20% will experience a mild version of SAD.  Some of the symptoms of this disorder include:  sadness, anxiety, lost interest in usual activities, withdrawal from social activities, inability to concentrate, hopelessness, and despair.  The good news is that these symptoms tend to resolve by spring when sunlight increases.

There’s evidence to support a positive way to combat some of the issues caused by DST and the reduction in sunlight, and it involves writing!

Many mental health experts recommend journal writing as a way to improve our mood and manage symptoms for depression!  Of course, it’s not a cure, but there are plenty of benefits to writing down our thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly.  Journal writing can help us become more self-aware so that we can: (a) manage anxiety, (b) reduce stress, and (c) prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. 

Studies suggest that when you write down a list of positive events (3-5) and why the events made you happy, a person’s overall optimism and happiness tends to increase while self-reported stress levels go down.  Each “Gratitude Journal” entry can also include a picture, which adds bonus points towards increased joy!

Here are a few writing prompts to get started with your own Gratitude Journal.  This idea is rewarding for everyone, so get your students involved too!

  • Write about a time you were grateful for something a loved one did for you.

  • What are three ways to thank someone without saying “thank you”?

  • What is something that makes you unique that you’re grateful for?

  • Look out the window.  What’s something you’re grateful for outside?

  • Think about the work that went into the clothes you wear or the house you live in.

  • If you had to give up all of your possessions but three, which three would you keep and why?

  • Write a thank you note to yourself.

  • Pick a random photo, and write about why you’re grateful for that memory.

  • Write about something you’re looking forward to.

  • Write about something in your life that you have now that you didn’t have a year ago.

  • Reflect on a time you made a mistake and what you learned. What are you grateful for about that learning experience?

  • Think back to the last time you laughed until you cried, and write about it.

  • List three things that made you smile this week.

  • Think about someone who helped shape the person you are today, and write about what they mean to you.

  • Think about a time you were able to help someone else.

  • List three people who helped you through a tough situation.

  • Name someone who did something nice for you unprompted.

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 create a family storybook

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Summer Break is here, and our thoughts are revolving around words like vacation, relaxation, rest, getaway, and so on!  Words like homework, project, and assignment instantly turn into bad-words the minute summer vacation begins, so I encourage you to avoid them at all costs!  Instead, try to generate creative ways to keep your child/children actively involved in writing, reading, and processing information over the break.  One way to keep all these language arts skills at the forefront in a covert way is to develop family storybooks

Family storybooks are similar to reflective journaling yet different because they are created through group effort!  Topic areas are limitless because the stories can be written on just about anything!  (Examples include: Our Day at the Zoo, Cleaning Day!, The Cruise of a Lifetime, etc.)  No storybook will ever be complete until every person submits their entry.  It will be up to you to pick and choose the number of storybooks your family will create over the summer break!  All you have to do is introduce the activity and provide the encouragement.  Your participation will set an excellent example for your kids, and the final product will be a keepsake for everyone to enjoy now and forever! 

Here are the steps involved:

1. Explain the concept of the family storybook prior to the activity.

2. Encourage children to pay close attention to details during the event so they will be able to describe them in writing later.

3. Take digital pictures before, during, and after the event (if possible), and allow each participant to choose pictures to include with their writing.  Of course, pictures can also be drawn or painted; get creative! 

4. Encourage each child to write as much as they can about the experience, including personal thoughts and feelings.

5. Set a deadline for the individual drafts to be completed and pictures to be selected.

6. Combine everyone’s story in a logical order (example: youngest to oldest) and place them in a notebook, report binder, or digital file.

7. Enjoy reading each family storybook individually and/or together. 

8. Share your family storybooks with others!

It’s a fact that each person perceives their surroundings by seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling.  Accordingly, everyone’s experience will be unique to them, and it will be fun to see and read varying accounts of the same event.  After the first family storybook is completed, subsequent storybooks will usually become easier and more detailed!  The best part about the activity will be that you and your family will be engaged in writing, reading, and information processing all summer long!  Family storybooks will be a unique memento that will capture moments in time to enjoy a lifetime!  This could become a new summer tradition!  Whatever you do, have fun with it!

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: 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.