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4 Things you Didn’t Know about Exercise and Learning

4 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Exercise and Learning!

It started with the physical education teachers screaming from the rooftops, but no one listened. The “Specials” classes and even recess were being cut to make room for more instructional time that would ideally raise test scores. Soon parents, students and teachers began noticing the continued decline in academic achievement, test scores and a rise in behavior issues. This is something our physical education teachers knew would happen! Today, there are new studies that support what our phys ed teachers have been trying to tell us, exercise stimulates the brain and improves learning.  Once again, the education world is seeing a shift in teaching strategies. Here are five things that we are just now discovering about how exercise and learning go together like peas and carrots!

#4: More than half of our youth do not meet the minimum requirements of daily exercise.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends at least one hour of moderate aerobic exercise every day. In addition, children (ages 10-17) should have an hour of high-intensity aerobic exercise and strength training. Most schools don’t have a physical education class for every student, and certainly not every day! Do your students meet the requirements by the CDC? Does your school even know what they are? Most likely not. PE, like other “specials” have been hit hard by the renewed push to increase test scores as students find most of their day spent in the classroom, with little time left in the schedule for the gymnasium or playground. Perhaps if administrators and board members were aware of the scientific benefits of exercise, the times would be switched!

#3: Recess increases cognitive development.

In a study called, The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Adjustment, showed that developed social and emotional behaviors have a direct influence on cognition. In other words, students that easily make friends, take on leadership roles, play creatively, include others, solve peer arguments, show empathy, control their anger and demonstrate other areas of social and emotional growth also have strong cognitive performance results. They score higher on standardized tests than students who are not socially and emotionally balanced. More importantly, it’s easier for these students to learn! Isn’t that the goal? What can we do to get our children to learn, retain and apply new information? According to the latest in brain research, the answer is exercise and movement.

#2: Our brains were designed for movement.

According to John Medina, a molecular biologist and research consultant, humans were not designed to sit at a desk all day. In fact, he states, “If you were to design an almost perfect anti-learning environment, it would look… like a classroom!

He reminds us that our ancestors were in constant motion. They would walk an average of 12 miles a day in search of food and shelter (Medina, 2014). Those who didn’t walk or at least keep up were likely the next meal for one of the many predatory animals with whom we shared the land. The connection between the mind and the body is stronger than we ever believed it to be in the past.

Ask yourself: Why do we have a brain?

If you answered: To think, Dr. Daniel Wolpert, a Neuroscientist, would disagree. He claims we have only one reason for the brain: “To produce adaptable and complex movements.” As evidence, he cites living things such as trees and plants. They have a life cycle, but they don’t move and therefore don’t need a brain. The brain is designed to be stimulated through exercise. In fact, advances in technology have made hunting food (grocery shopping), dancing for rain (watching the news) and making clothes (online shopping) too easy! As a nation, we’ve become inactive and our brains have not evolved to keep up with this sedentary lifestyle.

#1: Beyond improved cognition, exercise is vital to social and behavioral growth.

According to John Ratey, more than just academic performance is enhanced when physical movement is added to a daily regimen. Take a look at this list of benefits that exercise provides and see if any might apply to the students in your class!

Reduced Stress

  • Reduced test anxiety
  • Decreased symptoms of depression after 3 days of exercise
  • Improved adaptation to challenges in a changing environment
  • Decreased toxic effects of high levels of stress
  • Reduced neuronal death caused by chronic stress

Balanced Mood and Behavior

  • Improved attention, motivation, self-esteem, cooperation
  • Ameliorated learned helplessness
  • Improved resilience and self-confidence
  • Increased ability to withstand stress and frustration
  • Fewer behavior problems
  • Increased coping skills when presented with a new situation
  • Increased self-discipline and self-esteem
  • Reduction or elimination of the need for ADHD medications and antidepressants
  • Regulated mood through the natural balance of neurotransmitters
  • Regulated sleep patterns for increased alertness during school hours
  • Intrinsic sense of reward, motivation, and satisfaction
  • Impulse control
  • Joyful attitude
  • Increased state of happiness and life satisfaction

Improved Social Skills and Behavior

  • Lower levels of drug use in teens
  • Better family relationships
  • Noticeable improvement in key personal, social, cooperative, and communication skills
  • Improved attention, impulsivity, motivation, self-esteem, and cooperation

Classroom Teachers- Start Implementing Movement in your Classes Today!

The evidence is clear, plus kids love to move around in class…if you aren’t already, implement movement and exercise in your classes. Need some ideas? Our course, Move to Learn is an excellent resource for justifying and implementing movement in education. Plus, you can earn 18 hours of professional development!

The Teacher’s Academy for Professional Development

Visit The Teacher’s Academy for all your professional development needs. We are teachers writing courses for teachers to obtain relevant PD in a convenient and affordable platform. We are Act 48 Approved (PA), internationally accredited (IACET), and likely approved in your state for professional development. Check us out to learn more!

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015, June 4). How Much Physical Activity should Children Get? Retrieved March 31, 2017, from CDC CEnters for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/children/index.htm

Medina, J. (2014). Brain Rules. Pear Press; 2 Upd Exp edition.

Pellegrini, A. D., & Bohn, C. M. (2005, January/ February). The Role of Recess in Children’s Cognitive Performance and School Admustment. Research News and Comment, 34(1), 13-18. Retrieved March 30, 2017

Ratey, J. J. (2013). Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Little Brown and Company.

Wolpert, D. (2011, November). TedTalks. Retrieved April 04, 2017, from The Real Reason for Brains: https://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains

 

 

 

Integrating the Arts in the Classroom: 5 Fun Activities for Busy Teachers

The Teacher’s Academy has just released their newest course, Integrating the Arts in the Classroom. This fun 18-hour course is designed to help teachers “spice-up” their current lesson plans with some outside-the-box art projects. The course starts off with a little inspirational music (by Metallica of course) and then progresses through the importance of art in education. Teachers will develop their own definition of the arts, learn about the value of the arts in education, understand how the standards support the arts, and even create a few of their own art-inspired projects! We understand how busy teachers are so we took 5 quick, fun integration activities from the course to share in this blog… Enjoy!

Guitar#5: Music Integration Activity

Activity: Add music to enrich your read aloud books, fiction or non-fiction literature, poetry and teach literary devices.

Skills: Literary devices, critical thinking, memory

Applied in the classroom: Students studying the social, economic and political events of the 1920s were exposed to music, rare video and artwork to further bring the era to life. Students got to listen to the music of the times while writing their own stories!

 

Group Of Children Enjoying Drama Class Together#4: Theater Integration Activity

Activity: Improvisation – give students a setting and let them react without a script.

Skills: Connect to characters, core-content comprehension, communication, language, vocabulary and presentation, public speaking and listening

Applied in the Classroom: In a circle, students are given a story starter. The teacher chooses one student to begin the story and the students point to their peers to continue the story when cued by the teacher. Add parameters to the game to increase the challenge and encourage critical thinking and problem solving…Must use a new vocabulary word, must incorporate certain parts of speech, must speak from a historical person’s point of view, etc.

Ballet#3: Dance Integration Activity

Activity: Interpretive Dance – Students use movement to teach letters, language or math concepts. Students form letters or actions with their bodies and display knowledge of math concepts like symmetry. To incorporate higher-level academic concepts, students can perform interpretive dance to “act out” events in history or scientific theories.

Skills: Communication, core content, language, vocabulary, and presentation skills

Applied in the Classroom: Students were asked to show understanding of symmetry through dance movements. One student chooses a position, a partner student must replicate that position. If one student moves, the other must move. Students take turns choosing positions to show symmetry, parallel lines, intersecting lines, angles, etc.

Kids art#2: Visual Arts Integration Activities

Activity: Drawing Poetry

Skills: Listening, language, poetry, drawing, motor skills, connection to poetry, critical thinking

Applied in the classroom: Students were read a poem and asked to sketch or draw what they heard in the poem. Students could make their own interpretations of the author’s message and articulate how they connected with the poem. The activity could be altered by selecting a passage from a novel or content area.

Art Hands#1 Fine Arts Integration Activities

 Activity: Sculpture and Writing

Skills: Writing, observation, communication, memory, descriptive language

Applied in the classroom: Students were asked to create a sculpture based on a profession then write an opinion piece about the profession. This activity could be altered to use paints or digital photography. The subject could be a core content topic, book review, word problem. For example, students could create 3-D models of plant and animal cells or dioramas of important events.

A few more integration activities…

  • Playing/ Making Instruments
  • Chanting, Rapping
  • Listening to Music / Poetry
  • Composing Music, Songs
  • Drama Games / Charades
  • Pantomime, Puppets
  • Move to Words, Poetry or Ideas
  • Popular and Creative Dances
  • Clay / Sculpture
  • Photography
  • Textiles
  • Research Artists
  • Research Works of Art

This is just a small sampling of what teachers will receive when they open the  Integrating the Arts in the Classroom course. Teachers, you do not have to be an expert in the arts to deliver an effective, integrated art activity! Have fun with your students and enjoy teaching with the arts.

The Teacher's AcademyNeed Professional Development? Now is the Time…

The summer is not only a great time for teachers to catch up on reading, but also to get started (or finish up) those pesky professional development requirements. It does not matter if teachers live in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Houston, Bloomington, Detroit, Green Bay or Nashville, our courses are downloaded to computers so teachers can work from anywhere in the United States!

Check out our Online Course Catalog for the most relevant, affordable and convenient professional development courses, created by teachers for teachers.

Click, Find Your State for specific details on professional development from your department of education.

Have a great summer, teachers!

4 Reasons Teachers Mix up their Lessons with Mix!

A Teacher’s Review of Microsoft Mix

Microsoft just released a new add-in for PowerPoint. This free downloadable feature Mixencompasses the familiar PowerPoint presentation design tools with the technology to create real interactive presentations for your students that can be viewed online. As my own teaching has evolved to include a class web page with tons of resources for students, this new app brings that page to life with interactive presentations and opens the door to the flipped classroom. To be honest, it’s mixed up my lesson planning; It’s mixed up my presentations; it’s mixed up my assessments; And I love it!

Here’s my disclaimer:  I am not a paid representative for Microsoft or Mix. But I am beholden to the greatest, most important industry on earth- teaching! I love sharing what I’ve learned with fellow teachers. This one is worth it! Plus, if you already know PowerPoint, there’s not much of a learning curve. Did I mention this feature is free? Sill not sure if Mix is worth it? Here are four good reasons I recommend teachers mix up their lessons with Mix.

#1: You can Record your Presentations!

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Ever prepare that crucial lesson and notice two or three students were out that day and missed it? Or maybe you wish

 you could be in two places at one time when students are moving through centers in your room.  With Mix, you can record your presentations, post them to your web page, or send a link to view them on the Internet. Presentation recordings can be done “on the fly” or in a controlled setting. I, personally, love the raw and real experience I capture in a live slide recording. And I can quickly post it to the class web page for my absent students. Even parents have appreciated these presentation recordings as a window to what was being taught that day. Regardless of the subject area you teach, if you use PowerPoint to present information, this tool will add a few valuable features that are sure to mix up how you deliver lessons in the future!

How I use it:Parents and students replay presentations to review solving an algebraic equation; rewind the explanation of the law of diminishing marginal utility; share their class poetry reading.

 #2: You can add Quizzes to your Presentations!

Mix_Quiz

You might be reading this and thinking, my presentations already have quizzes… I know mine do! I use the animation features in PowerPoint to create what I thought was an interactive quiz. But the reality was, if students didn’t click on the right object or they clicked objects in the wrong order, the quiz might not work properly! Or, if it did work properly, it was a result of hours of planning and design in PowerPoint. Mix allows me to quickly insert multiple choice, true/ false, short answer and even polling questions. The result looks and functions like an online survey. And get this… as the creator of the Mix, I can view the analytics of the quiz takers. These analytics don’t only show how well the students did on the quiz, they also show (1) How long they spent on each slide; (2) If they skipped to the end or; (3) If they had to revisit certain slides. It’s all that behind the scenes stuff that teachers need to determine the effectiveness of their lessons.

How I use it: Using slide recording, I create a mini lecture followed by a quiz that I have used in class “centers.” These centers are student-driven. They seem to like it because they get to wear headphones, but also, they can complete the exercise at their own pace! Some quiz questions have “hints” that students can choose to show. Some questions may allow second or third chances. Some don’t! It’s all up to me. Plus,  I see what students need help on  and in what areas, thanks to the analytics. I also observed a Science teacher use a Mix he created that contained polling questions about an experiment they were conducting. Students were given a link to this Mix before the experiment began. As they went through the different stages of the experiment, he would ask the students to open the Mix and answer the polling questions. Again, the analytics gave him instant feedback of student comprehension.

 #3: You can Screen Cast!

Mix_ScreenCastI’ve always shied away from attempting a flipped classroom experience because each flipped lesson I attempted needed some sort of specific tutorial. After the flipped experience, I would hear students say, “The directions didn’t make sense!” “I couldn’t find that web page!” “I don’t know how to write a formula for that in Excel!” So, I found Screen Recording in Mix. Using the familiar workspace and tools in PowerPoint, recording my clicks and clacks on the computer was so simple. The video automatically inserts in the presentation, so it’s easy for my students to view it! No more excuses for not completing the work at home! (Well, at least no more of those excuses!)

How I use it: As I mentioned, I would record myself doing any type of tutorial from how to conduct a web search, to how to save a file, to how to write a formula, to how to post a blog. Anything my students need to know how to do on the computer, I hit record!

#4: You can Publish your Presentations!

This means the viewer of your presentation does not need PowerPoint to view Mix Publishthe presentation. You know how you can send YouTube links to friends? Now you can send your PowerPoint presentation using a similar format. When viewed, it doesn’t open PowerPoint, it uses the Internet browser to view the Mix like a video. And yes, if there is a quiz in there, they can view and take the quiz! How convenient!

How I use it: Rather than uploading large PowerPoint files to my class web page, I just post a link to the Mix. Usually the Mix is the class presentation, a quiz, a tutorial- or a combination of all three!

Sounds great, but I don’t have time to learn Mix. I’m a teacher, remember?

You do now! The Teacher’s Academy recently released a new course called, Microsoft Mix for Educators and it’s worth 18 hours of professional development. Like all The Teacher’s Academy courses, this one is approved for professional development hours, continuing education units, PDUs, or whatever your state calls them!The Teacher's Academy

In Pennsylvania, we are Approved Providers of Act 48 hours. In Texas, our Continuing Professional Education (CPE) number is 902185. The Teacher’s Academy is also approved to offer the IACET CEU. (International Association of Continuing Education and Training).


The Teacher’s Academy has a variety of courses in
technology, health and even resourceful teaching methods. Check out our course catalog for a complete listing of courses. The Teacher’s Academy was started by teachers, for teachers… like you!

 

The Teacher’s Academy Releases a New Course: Social Studies Websites Review

The Teacher’s Academy proudly releases the latest course in our Website Review Series: Social Studies Websites Reviews!

For those of you who are not familiar with The Teacher’s Academy’s 3-hour website review courses, the idea is simple.  We research hundreds of educational websites and choose 25 to be featured in one of our website review courses.  Of those 25 courses, we ask teachers to review five of them and give a brief summary of how they might use the website in the classroom.   Within 5 – 7 business days after completing the course, teachers will receive a Certificate and Feedback Form. They also have 25 educational websites to refer back to at anytime!  All of our website review courses are worth 3 professional development hours and cost $24.99.   Not bad for checking out a few cool website for your students!

Here is a sneak peek into the course and some of the fun and interesting web sites teachers will discover:

1. Teaching Tolerance.org

Teaching Tolerance.org is a place where teachers can find free materials to use when teaching diversity, equality, and appropriate social behaviors.  Teachers can use the Mix it Up activities, film kits, and magazines (also free) to help support a tolerant, compassionate classroom environment. http://www.tolerance.org/

2. Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum “tells the stories of 97 Orchard Street.”  This tenement apartment building was built in 1863 and housed almost 7,000 working class immigrants. You can take a virtual tour of the apartments and learn about the families who lived there through pictures and stories.  *A great connection to current immigration issues!  http://www.tenement.org/

3. Teaching History.org

This website provides educational resources for k-12 learners.  Lesson plans, digital integrating ideas, and videos help teachers create engaging learning experiences for their students. There are links to educational websites that complement the lesson plans.  They also have their very own website review section where teachers can choose a few cool websites to check out on their own.  Wow!  What a fantastic idea! http://www.teachinghistory.org/

4. Museum Box

This is a really cool tool for organizing research then presenting an argument.  Students create their own virtual box of information to defend or argue an issue.  The museum box can be filled with videos, pictures, text, sound bites, or anything that can be used to support a particular argument.  Students will have fun with this digital tool while honing their research skills! http://museumbox.e2bn.org/

5.The First Thanksgiving Virtual Field Trips

Scholastic is a great educational website and houses webcasts that re-create the events of the first Thanksgiving.  Students get a tour of the Mayflower, meet the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Indians of the New World, and learn about the daily lives of these two very different cultures.  Scholastic has also created Common Core aligned lesson plans to make things extra easy for teachers!  http://www.scholastic.com/scholastic_thanksgiving/webcast.htm

6. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum This virtual museum holds pictures, text, podcasts and videos of this dark time in history.  Teachers can share the stories of survivors and online exhibits to connect students on an emotional level.  Use online exhibits like The Nuremberg Race Laws to ignite discussions about discrimination and fear leading to genocide.  Guidelines and lesson plans are provided to help teachers build an appropriate and sensitive unit for their students. http://www.ushmm.org/

7. Facing History and Ourselves

The philosophy behind this website was to provide a way for users to directly connect with racial injustices and prejudice practices of the past so they never happen again.  Teachers can download lesson plans and units on the events surrounding the Civil Rights Movement or find teaching strategies to teach social behaviors.  Articles and news stories are also posted so teachers can connect current events to our history. https://www.facinghistory.org/

While visiting the other websites featured in this course, teachers will discover tools for creating engaging lessons for students, technology to embark on virtual field trips to historical sites such as the Pyramids of Giza, and access to live footage of our own political leaders.  We hope the Social Studies themed websites we’ve chosen for the course will ignite a new passion for learning about historical events and how they have impacted our culture.  Check out Social Studies Website Review online and get excited about Social Studies!

Here is a listing of other web site review courses you can purchase at The Teacher’s Academy website:

2013 Website Reviews for Teachers – 3 Hours, $24.99

2014 Website Reviews for Teachers – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Science and Apps Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Pre-K Website and Apps Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

2015 Elementary Website Reviews – 3 Hours, $24.99

For a full listing of courses, check out The Teacher’s Academy Course Catalog

 

 

 

 

 

The Teacher’s Academy Expands to Delaware

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Courtesy of iStock

Professional development made easy, affordable, and relevant (finally)!

Welcome, Delaware teachers!  The Teacher’s Academy is excited to become a part of the professional development process for our amazing Delaware teachers!  We are all certified teachers at The Teacher’s Academy so we have made maintaining professional licenses easy, affordable and convenient.  No more wasting time or money with painfully boring workshops or expensive college courses.  At The Teacher’s Academy, you can quickly download a course, create materials to use in class with your students and earn professional development hours, all from the comfort of your own home!

 Delaware teachers need professional development and we can help!

Like many states in the union, Delaware has a minimum PD requirement. Teachers need 90 hours of PD every five (5) years. Many teachers can get these requirements filled through workshops, conferences, in-services or even college courses. But what if you aren’t currently working in a district?  What if you missed the in-service day or couldn’t make it to a conference? Or maybe your district doesn’t take care of your professional development and money is an issue.  Perhaps you are a sub and don’t have access to PD and need a better solution. The Teacher’s Academy was created to fill this need. We can offer Delaware teachers professional development from the comfort of their own home, or work, or wherever they choose!

The Delaware Department of Education allows a variety of activities to fulfill professional development requirements.  The Teacher’s Academy falls under the Professional Committee, Conference, Workshop, Institute or Academy section of the Education Administrative Code.  Our Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form state the contact hours teachers earned along with the skills mastered while taking the course.  Teachers receive these documents within 5-7 business days of course completion as a PDF file, via email.

How does it work?

First, you would need to set up an online account with The Teacher’s Academy.  Here, you will purchase courses, manage your course work and upload completed projects.  Next, you simply choose from a variety of courses depending on the hours you need or content of interest.  After you apply secure payment via credit card or PayPal, all of the course materials are emailed to your account. (If you don’t see them, check your spam folder!) Along with the course materials are directions for opening and saving the course, so that you can get started right away. Or, perhaps you want to begin a month from now. The course is yours to keep forever, but if you want your certificate, you must complete it within a year!

Course Catalog…

The Teacher’s Academy has a wide variety of courses that you can choose from ranging from computer basics to next generation teaching strategies. Below are just a few of our most popular courses to date. Check out our Course Catalog for a full list of courses.

How will I get my credits for taking the course?

After your coursework has been uploaded, it will take 5-7 business days for our review team (comprised of teachers) to review and process your Certificate of Completion.  Upon successful completion of the course, expect to receive a congratulations email containing the Certificate of Completion and Feedback Form.  These documents will state the hours earned for the course along with the skills mastered, and they can be submitted to your administrator for professional development hours.

 What if I need help?

Although our courses are designed to be completed autonomously, we understand glitches, questions and problems arise. We have a tech team and support staff ready to assist with any questions. All requests are answered within 24 hours (but usually before then)!  Our goal is to make the process as simple, meaningful and fun as possible!

The Teacher’s Academy is proud to align our courses with the high standards set by the Delaware Department of Education.   We bring excellence to the field of education and are honored to serve the teachers of Delaware.

Check out The Teacher’s Academy website for a listing of all of our courses and information on the education requirements for Delaware teachers on our Delaware webpage.

Enjoy teachers!

5 Ways Google Apps for Education Increases Productivity in the Classroom

Google Apps for Education (or as the “Tech Teachers” commonly say, GAFE) is used by

over 40 million students and teachers around the world.  GAFE is a service that Google provides as an alternative to traditional office suites.  Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides perform similarly to traditional word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications.  However, because GAFE is web based, it offers more flexibility and mobility.  The main difference between Google’s Apps and say, the Microsoft® Office Suite, is the primary focus on peer to peer and teacher to student collaboration. Google’s online platform may seem a little “leaner” than the full Microsoft options (you can’t add reflections, shadows, bevels and several other cool formatting features), but what it lacks in tools, it makes up for in online accessibility. Schools venturing into Flipped Classrooms, Blended Learning and Differentiated Instruction models will love how GAFE projects can be created and accessed from anywhere in the world (that has an Internet connection).

Twenty-first Century Teachers:  Google’s suite is for you!  Before you take the plunge, want to know what other teachers are saying about Google Apps in their classrooms? Read on. Below are five ways you can use GAFE to enhance your teaching tool belt.

  1. Google Classroom- Google Classroom is an app that is free for those with a GAFE account.  It allows students to access assignments and collaborate with their peersand teachers.  For example, if you’re teaching a unit on the water cycle, you may post a video which offers further explanation or an article that might pose a controversial idea about water conservation.  This forum allows students to comment and pose questions to each other. Classroom also helps the teacher generate, administer and even grade tests or other objective- based assignments. (Wait. GAFE can grade tests?) Yes. It can!
  2. Real Time Feedback- One of the many benefits of Google Docs is that it allows more than one user to collaborate on a document at any time.  It can also track whois using the document and identify who is making the changes.  Teachers can use this function to offer feedback in the rough draft phase.  For example, a teacher may instruct a student to “explain this further” or “omit this” by just accessing the document, highlighting information, and making notes in the comment section.  Students don’t need to print their rough drafts, and teachers can simply access the documents from any computer at any time.
  3. Google Play- This online media resource is aimed at providing teachers with arichcatalog of learning content to enhance their lessons.  Teachers can search bycategory, grade level, or recommendations from other educators. Google has partnered with educational outlets such as PBS and NASA to provide educational rich material.  Each piece of content is pre-approved for school-appropriateness, so teachers can present with confidence!
  4. Challenge your Students- We all wish we had extra instructional time to provide more problem-solving opportunities and real-world experiences for students outside of the curriculum.  But between the demands of standardized testing and new Common Core Standards, teachers are left with very little time.  GAFE offers programs such as Made with Code, Doodle 4 Google, and Google Science Fair that students can access in their free time and work on at their own pace to engage in learning they may be passionate about.
  5. Virtual Field Trips with Google Maps– Though not limited to Google for Education subscribers, Google Maps is an often over-looked resource for exploring the Earth.Google Maps allows users to see the “street view” of major historical sites.  Studying the Himalayas?  Google Maps allows users to take an interactive trek through Khumbu, Nepal and even hear folklore and stories from the locals.  Be sure to check out Google’s underwater adventures as well. Google has ventured into the depths of the oceans and started mapping the sea floor. All from the comfort of your laptop!

Still not convinced? Do you want more information on the Google Application Suite? The Teacher’s Academy recently launched the Google Apps Suite courses for professional development. For the most convenient and affordable professional development, you can learn the basics of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides. We have a whole array of technology courses that are ready for your 21st century classroom.

Mindfulness in Education

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Top 5 Benefits to Practicing Mindfulness in Education

What is Mindfulness?

There’s this new concept being tossed around in schools called, mindfulness. Doctor Jon Kabbat Zinn, founder of Mindful Based Stress Reduction practices, defines mindfulness as the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment.

 

This concept sounds so simple, but it is not easy. Proponents of mindfulness practices in education say it’s the latest tactic that can help students focus on work, increase learning, decrease stress and enhance the overall community of the school. Skeptics claim that the idea of mindfulness is too simple and it can’t possibly work. They are both right…and they are both wrong!

 

“History, Meet Science.”

Mindfulness is not new. And depending on where you live in this world, it’s not new to education.  Mindfulness practices are rooted in the ancient Buddhist philosophy of practicing gratitude and self-awareness through meditation. It is a simple concept that works. Although it took almost 2000 years for science to catch up to the claims of mindfulness, science has proven that mindfulness practices can have tremendous effects on health and well-being. With recent breakthroughs in health care, like MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), doctors are able to see and study electrical activity in the brain. We now have a much better understanding of how the brain functions. In fact, we now know that we can actually exercise the brain to make it grow in certain areas. At first, these findings were applied to the medical community as a way to aid physical healing and combat mental illness. With continued astounding results, mindfulness found its way into the business world and eventually, the education realm.

 

Despite its roots, mindfulness is a secular practice that can be done by anyone, regardless of their race, religion or socio-economic demographic. Mindfulness activities are simple, but they are not easy. Any activity that teaches the brain to focus on one object while remaining void of any judgment in the present moment is a mindful practice. Meditation, journaling, intentional breath work, thoughtful physical movement and even mantras are some ways one can learn to focus the mind. Let’s take a look at the top 5 benefits that mindfulness may provide in your classroom.

 

Top 5 Benefits to Having a Mindful Practice in your Classroom

 

1. Mindfulness improves sleep. Students of all ages, from elementary to the university, struggle with sleep. As children experience pivotal stages in physiological development, their sleep patterns become interrupted. As they age and develop stronger emotional responses to daily strife, their sleep habits tend to be the first to suffer. It’s no secret that all humans need ample amounts of sleep. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or contemplation, done right before bed and in the morning, can help calm the mind and allow the physical body to relax to a deeper state.

2. Mindfulness develops a strong self-esteem, while cultivating a sense of compassion and gratitude. Not all kids need that extra self-esteem booster, but some do! Mindfulness has a little something for everyone on this spectrum. In gratitude practices, such as journaling, meditation or “Pay –it -Forward” activities, students experience how their actions have a direct influence over their lives. When students take a proactive approach to their lives instead of the victim mindset, they feel a sense of self-worth. When they see how their actions affect those around them, they develop empathy and compassion.

3. Mindfulness helps students worry less and focus on what is important more. Test anxiety, social pressures and even bullying can be combated with mindfulness activities. When students use breath work and thought watching activities to slow the heart rate and calm the constant stream of thoughts that ask “what if,” students have an opportunity to see a little more clearly.

4. Mindfulness strengthens relationships with others. Embarking on a mindfulness journey together as a school creates a bond between faculty and students, the results of mindfulness: feeling peaceful, receptive, willing, and accepting, pave the way for strong bonds between students on campus and their teachers.

5. Mindfulness helps students find a greater satisfaction to their life. The concept of mindfulness is so simple: Simply teach the brain to experience each moment without judgement. And the effects of this art include feeling gratitude, peaceful, joy. Students who practice mindfulness find its effects to be contagious. Their purpose for life is clearer, and they have the tools to navigate through it.

 

In the course, Mindfulness in Education, from The Teacher’s Academy, you will explore the definition of mindfulness, research the science behind it and embark on a mindfulness practice that you can use in your classroom. As educators, we can instill mindfulness into our students either directly or indirectly. Through learning mindfulness techniques like meditation, movement, journaling, contemplation and more, we learn to physically change the brain matter. The result is a more peaceful teacher. The mindful teacher has greater patience to handle the stress of the day and more creativity to solve some of our toughest problems. In this case, the students reap the benefits of your mindfulness practice indirectly. Once a practice is established, the mindful teacher can use the strategies to help students find their focus before a big presentation and calm their nerves before a big test.

 

As we know in education, there is no silver bullet that will make every student the top student in their class. By definition, that’s impossible! But as trends in education come and go, mindfulness, having successful results for thousands of years, might be worth a second look. Teachers in all parts of the country, from Oregon to Pennsylvania and Texas to Ohio, are starting to take on mindfulness practices in their classrooms. Don’t be the last one to jump on this band wagon…it may not come around again for another thousand years or so!

 

Want to enhance your pedagogy even more? Check out all of our professional development classes. Our catalog ranges from basics in computer technology to the best resources for teachers. All of our courses are written to Common Core standards and are accepted in most states for your professional development needs.  We are an approved provider for Act 48 hours and ACSI credits. Check us out today!

Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom

The summer is almost here!  It is about this time during the school year when most teachers feel totally drained.  The last thing you want to do is take a workshop or go to a seminar to keep up with your professional development hours.  We know how you feel because we are teachers too!  That is why the teachers at The Teacher’s Academy decided to come up with an inspirational course.  Inspiring Ideas for the 21st Century Classroom encourages teachers to wind down, reflect upon their practices and have some fun watching other teachers work their magic around the world. This is an 18-hour professional development course designed for teachers who need a break!

There are 8 projects in this course:

  1. Interview Question
  2. Happiness Activity
  3. Ted Talk: Mitra Analysis
  4. The Teaching Channel Video Assessment
  5. Curious Activities
  6. Ted Talk: Tezuka Analysis
  7. Dream Big Building Design
  8. Personal Reflection

Each project gives teachers a chance to think about education in a new, creative way.   The course opens with a quick introduction and an interview question.  (A familiar, but important question.)  Teachers are then asked to watch a quick video.  After hearing some inspirational words, they are asked to add a few thoughts to their original answer.

Project #2, The Happiness Activity, allows teachers to enjoy a few minutes of a good-humored Ted Talk then practice some simple acts of kindness, as discussed in the course.  For a few days, teachers will choose to be grateful for 3 things, journal about something positive, exercise, meditate or perform some random acts of kindness.  All activities are designed to make teachers feel good about themselves and spread a little love!

Project #3, Ted Talk: Mitra Analysis, takes teachers on a journey to India!  Sugata Mitra conducts some exciting learning experiments with children living in the most poverty-stricken areas of the country.  Watch how children with no instructions, direction or guidance learn about some complex topics with nothing more than their curiosity!  Teachers get a chance to analyze this type of teaching practice and freely give their opinion.  (We can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this one!)

 Project #4, The Teaching Channel Video Assessment, poses 15 questions on a series of three videos with different ideas of how to inspire students back here in the US.  Empathize with other teachers from across the country as they struggle to create activities with purpose and meaning.  Watch how students respond to and retain information with hands-on activities.  (Maybe steal some great ideas to use with your own students!)  Learn about the importance of incorporating deeper learning activities into the curriculum.  Finally, watch teachers learn a new way to use art to enrich a language arts class.

 Teachers seem to love when we include projects that they can use in class (check out the projects in Nutrition and Creating a School Garden), and so our 5th Project, Curious Activities, allows teachers to create 3 of their own inspirational activities to use in class.  Think about all of the cool new teaching strategies you’ve learned and lessons that you already teach.  Can you modify the activities to make them more inspiring?  Can you adjust certain projects to foster curiosity?  We offer some really cool examples and reference websites where you can find inspiration yourself!

Our 6th Project, Ted Talk: Tezuka Analysis, takes teachers on a trip to Japan where they visit the “Best kindergarten you’ve ever seen!”  (Well, that is the name of the Ted Talk video.) Teachers get to see how engineers have created a school to address the needs of these young, rambunctious learners.   They will begin to discover how the design of the school can have a positive effect on education.

 Project #7, Dream Big Building Design connects teachers with educational architecture around the world.  See how schools and classrooms are designed in France, Germany, Afghanistan, and other parts of the nation!  With this information, teachers get to design what they believe would be the perfect school.  Using pictures from the Internet, software tools or just pencils and paper, teachers can have fun creating their educational designs.  We hope teachers can use a small part of their design to update their own classroom!

Our final project allows teachers to reflect on all of the new teaching ideas, inspirational people in education as well as new design features they found to be interesting.  This project is all about imagining what education means to teachers, how things might change or stay the same – whatever comes to mind, we want to know!  Think of Project #8 Personal Reflection as therapy in a word processing document.

The Teacher’s Academy is a company created by teachers for teachers.  We happily provide a service for many teachers who do not have access to free professional development.  Our service also benefits teachers who are more comfortable completing their requirements on their own, wherever and whenever is most convenient.

We are an approved provider of Act 48 Hours in Pennsylvania, Continuing Education Units in Texas and ACSI hours for our Christian school-teachers across the country.  We provide professional development hours for busy teachers in most states like Oregon, Ohio, Virginia, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Indiana, New Jersey, parts of New York, etc.   Find your state page on our website!

Teachers that work for The Teacher’s Academy are all certified and some are even working full-time in in the classroom or with other teachers, addition to writing and editing courses for our company.  Our “Teacher Features” get us into the classrooms of innovative and inspiring teachers so we can share their ideas with the rest of the nation.

This course is a direct reflection of how we have put the ideas from our client-teachers, into 18-hours of professional development designed to recharge positive energy!  Have a wonderful, relaxing, safe summer and enjoy this course at your own pace!

Have an idea for a course?  Contact us!  Check out our Course Catalog for a listing of all courses.

Cyber Bullying Facts and Prevention

Fact: Every 7 minutes, a child is bullied.

One of the strongest memories I have of elementary school is the one where I am lying down in the nurse’s office, again. It’s dark where I lay and although I am physically fine, I have knots in my stomach. The kind of knots that that come from believing that you have no friends, no one to play with and everyone hates you. And so every day, just before recess, I would fake a headache, stomach ache, tooth ache, or practically any ache to be sent to the nurse’s office and not outside on that playground where they told me they were waiting for me. On this particular day, I remember my teacher coming in to tell me that I was “crying wolf” and he’s aware that I’m not actually sick. In that moment, I was told that I can no longer visit the nurse’s office and I must go out to play. Well I sure went out, but I didn’t get to play that day.

Perhaps my teacher wasn’t aware of the warning signs of bullying. Perhaps he was never bullied. I doubt it. Statistics say that 80 percent of kids get bullied. Perhaps because of my experiences I am hyper aware. Today, I use my past to relate to my students and to do everything in my power to end bullying in schools. Unfortunately, with the advent of the Internet and mobile devices, things just got a little more complicated.

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It is Spring! Time to Celebrate Science!

Hey teachers!  Spring is finally here!  This change of seasons means many different things to teachers everywhere in the nation.  Teachers in Pennsylvania might be looking forward to some warmer weather, while our teacher friends in Texas might be enjoying the burst of color from the bluebonnets that typically kick off the season.  Art and wine festivals pop up in Oregon, Florida and Ohio while North Carolina, New Jersey and Maryland look forward to catching blue crabs in the Atlantic.  The teachers working for The Teacher’s Academy are getting ready to attend the ISTE conference in Philadelphia, putting the finishing touches on a few new courses set to release this spring and celebrating Earth month with thousands of other teachers across the USA.  Earth day falls on April 22, but the entire month is devoted to the wonder of Science.  Hands-on, project-based, Science activities are totally cool for kids and we have some great ways to keep Science fun, fresh and not too messy in the classroom!

Spring FlowersThe Teacher’s Academy professional development courses for Science teachers emphasizes the importance of effectively teaching Science to an ambitious generation of learners. Our latest (and most popular ) course, Creating A School Garden will inspire teachers and students to think about garden designs, wholesome foods and getting dirty!   Our course, Teaching Science using Common Core Standards allows teachers to earn 15 hours of professional development while learning how the Common Core Standards can be used to support a Science curriculum.  Finally, we have gathered 25 Educational Science websites in our 2015 Science Website Review course for teachers to explore.  Once teachers have had fun checking out the Science sites, they can review 5 of them for 3 professional development hours.

Continue Reading It is Spring! Time to Celebrate Science!