Collaborative Resources as Important Discussion Starters

05 October 2021

With disrupted school years a few years in a row now, I noticed a few important conversations we needed to have much earlier than previous years.  These conversations have focused on being kind, showing our positive character, social media use, and using mindfulness.  Each of these resources or ideas gets your students reflecting on their opinions, feelings, or self-awareness of different attributes and once completed, are the perfect starting points for initiating whole group discussions.  Because students have already reflected on, tried, or talked about the activity, their discussions have been much richer and deeper ... and rewarding.

Runde's Room

My students have spent too much time online - for school AND social media.  I've been trying to reduce or balance the amount of technology my students are using in the classroom at the moment - instead choosing to complete more activities together, through discussions or with good old paper and pencil.  They are also talking about social media WAY more than they used to before.  What they saw, or did, or posted, or watched, or liked ... or whatever.  This Stick-It-Together Collaborative Activity for Social Media will help me start those important social media and internet safety lessons with students ... and will get them sharing their opinions and feelings in small groups, and in writing.  There are over 30 different social media reflection questions (on pros and cons of social media and different apps).  Each student will answer the question on a sticky note independently at first, then groups of 4 students will "stick" their answers together to build their best possible collaborative answer.  When groups are done, allow them some time to share their answers with the whole class - the perfect way to start an important conversation and let students share or defend their opinions.

Some days, thankfully not too many, I also have wondered if my students have completely forgotten ALL their positive character traits, and what makes them the fabulous students they are.  We have gone back to discussing exactly what the positive character traits look like, and how they can show how they are demonstrating them.  This Building Character Stick-It-Together Resource is another way you can have your students working collaboratively to reinforce their good character skills, and brainstorm ways to demonstrate these skills around the classroom and school.

As we have been discussing how important is to BE KIND ALWAYS, I also introduced some kindness rewards into the class.  I purchased some vinyl laptop stickers on Amazon, and added them into my pocket chart for some "Kind Sticks" rewards.  We have a daily kindness challenge posted on the board every morning, and when students complete the challenge, they initial the board.  Right before our last recess, I ask students to share what kind act they did, and how it made them feel.  Sometimes I post individual challenges like, "Do a favour for 3 classmates today", and sometimes it will be a whole class challenge, "Do something well as a class to earn a compliment from a different staff member (not me)".  They are loving these stickers, and are using them to cover their notebooks, folders, binders, and water bottles.

And lastly, I'm not sure if it's just my class, but the ENERGY these kids returned to school with is amazing.  I am exhausted!  They seem like they can just keep going and going and going.  Our energy is usually quite high after we come in for recess or after lunch, and it's taking a bit to settle after transitions.  I knew I wanted to start some mindfulness activities in the classroom, so I created a Cursive (and Printing) Writing Practice Mindfulness Activity (because multi-tasking is my life ... even during mindful moments).  The resource also contains all the same sheets for regular printing practice as well). These pages will give your students explanations for mindfulness as well as many short mindfulness tips and activities they can try in the classroom and outside of it.  With so many of our students needing a little extra mental health self-care, using mindfulness is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety, stress, and learn to self-regulate better.

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