Category Archives: Mind Up

Mind Up Update!

These past few days of Mind Up were spent focusing in mindful listening.  We started by introducing the students to a new part of their brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about their Reticular Activating System (RAS).  Ok, typing that sentence just made me laugh, but ask your first grader about their RAS and see what they have to share!

A few weeks ago, we had the students focus as hard as they could on their sense of hearing for a short amount of time and then discussed all the things they were able to hear.  We came up with a long list, but that was just our sense of hearing.  All of our senses are busy picking up different sights, tastes, smells, feelings, and noises and sending them to our brains.  Our RAS is the part of the brain that gathers all those messages and decides which messages are important enough to be passed on to the rest of the brain and which things can be ignored.  We talked about how when they are trying to listen to instruction in the classroom, we need to train our own RAS to know how to ignore distractions like noises from other rooms, the hallway, outside, or friends sitting next to us and focus on the teaching.

To strengthen our ability to focus our RAS, we did some listening exercises and the kids had to work hard to focus on certain sounds and really ignore all other distractions.  We took note of what our body does when we are focusing really hard and came up with the following list:

If you were to walk the halls around first grade, you will often hear us asking the kids to show us what mindful listening looks like or to focus their RAS…you can use that at home, as well!

Mind Up Update!

You might hear your student talking about our MIND UP time during the day.  Mind Up is a curriculum that helps teach students about their brains and how their brains work in order to help them be more proactive in how they approach learning and social interactions.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-05-54-pm

 So far, we have learned some key areas of the brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about these three key parts of the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Amygdala, and Hippocampus.  The prefrontal cortex is what we call our WISE LEADER, it is where our smart thinking happens (math, reading, etc.).  Our Hippocampus is where our memories are stored, we called is our MEMORY SAVER.  And the amygdala is the part of our brain the helps us stay safe when we are in danger, we call it our SECURITY GUARD.

Mind Up Update!

We spent the week reviewing what we know about mindful listening, mindful seeing, and mindful movement. Another idea we have been talking about is how attitude affects how well you can handle situations, especially solving problems.  We introduced the words: optimistic thinker and pessimistic thinker.  We talked about how optimistic thinkers think with happy thoughts and are more likely to solve problems successfully.  Pessimistic thinkers are often defensive and react with anger when problems arise. The kids spent a good deal of time role playing different problems and sharing how an optimistic thinker would react as opposed to a pessimistic thinker.

For example: If someone takes the seat that we want at lunch

Pessimistic Thinking: “That person is so mean, it’s not fair, I was going to sit there.”

OPTIMISTIC THINKING“I can find another friend to sit by, I can try to sit there tomorrow.”

We agreed that we need to start practicing optimistic attitudes so that we can handle problems better on our own. We are going to practice taking a few deep breaths when a problem arises and thinking of the problem from a different point of view.  When these situations arise at home, remind your first grader to use optimistic thinking…ask them, “how can we think about this situation optimistically?”

Mind Up Update!

This past week of Mind Up was spent focusing in mindful listening.  We started by introducing the students to a new part of their brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about their Reticular Activating System (RAS).  Ok, typing that sentence just made me laugh, but ask your first grader about their RAS and see what they have to share!

A few weeks ago, we had the students focus as hard as they could on their sense of hearing for a short amount of time and then discussed all the things they were able to hear.  We came up with a long list, but that was just our sense of hearing.  All of our senses are busy picking up different sights, tastes, smells, feelings, and noises and sending them to our brains.  Our RAS is the part of the brain that gathers all those messages and decides which senses are important enough to be passed on to the rest of the brain and which things can be ignored.  We talked about how when they are trying to listen to instruction in the classroom, we need to train our own RAS to know to ignore distractions like noises from other rooms, the hallway, outside, or friends sitting next to us and focus on the teaching.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 8.23.48 PM

To strengthen our ability to focus our RAS, we did some listening exercises and the kids had to work hard to focus on certain sounds and really ignore all other distractions.  We took note of what our body does when we are focusing really hard and came up with the following list:

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 8.19.26 PM

If you were to walk the halls around first grade, you will often hear us asking the kids to show us what mindful listening looks like or to focus their RAS…you can use that at home, as well!

We then introduced using mindful seeing.  When we are mindful with our seeing, we are taking in all the details around us.  We talked about how it is important to be mindful of what expressions you see on people’s faces.

We talked a lot about what facial expressions show which feelings.  And then we talked about how we can be mindful see-ers and if we see someone who has an expression on their face that shows they are not feeling happy or good, then we can check in with them and see if there is anything we can do to help their feelings improve.

We, also, discussed mindful movement.  We started by finding our pulse and talking about being aware of the rate that our heart is beating.  After doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, we noticed that our heart rate was much faster than when we were resting on the floor.  We talked about how our heart pumps faster when we are exercising to get more oxygen to our body so that we have energy to keep going.  But, our heart rate speeds up when we are nervous, excited, or scared as well.  We talked about being aware of how quickly our heart is beating and learned a way to calm ourselves down if we notice our hearts beating faster than they need to.  We talked about sitting up straight to allow for easier blood flow throughout our bodies and taking deep breaths (or yawning) to slow your heart rate and help calm ourselves.

We also talked about our body movement and how we need to be mindful of how we are moving.  Often, first graders are on the move and bump in to people or furniture around them without realizing it.  To practice being mindful of our surroundings, we each put a ruler on our head and walked around our room trying to keep it balanced on top.  The kids were very aware of where the furniture was, where their friends were, and what speed they were moving so that their ruler wouldn’t slip off.  Since having this discussion, we have talked about being mindful of our surroundings while we are moving around the room, especially around our mailboxes or iPad cart where space is limited (no pushing/shoving).

Mind Up Update!

You might hear your student talking about our MIND UP time during the day.  Mind Up is a curriculum that helps teach students about their brains and how their brains work in order to help them be more proactive in how they approach learning and social interactions.

screen-shot-2016-09-23-at-12-05-54-pm

 So far, we have learned some key areas of the brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about these three key parts of the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Amygdala, and Hippocampus.  The prefrontal cortex is what we call our WISE LEADER, it is where our smart thinking happens (math, reading, etc.).  Our Hippocampus is where our memories are stored, we called is our MEMORY SAVER.  And the amygdala is the part of our brain the helps us stay safe when we are in danger, we call it our SECURITY GUARD.

Mind Up Update!

This week, we reviewed what we had learned about being a mindful listener and then introduced using mindful seeing.  When we are mindful with our seeing, we are taking in all the details around us.  We talked about how it is important to be mindful of what expressions you see on people’s faces.

We talked a lot about what facial expressions show which feelings.  And then we talked about how we can be mindful see-ers and if we see someone who has an expression on their face that shows they are not feeling happy or good, then we can check in with them and see if there is anything we can do to help their feelings improve.

We, also, discussed mindful movement.  We started by finding our pulse and talking about being aware of the rate that our heart is beating.  After doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds, we noticed that our heart rate was much faster than when we were resting on the floor.  We talked about how our heart pumps faster when we are exercising to get more oxygen to our body so that we have energy to keep going.  But, our heart rate speeds up when we are nervous, excited, or scared as well.  We talked about being aware of how quickly our heart is beating and learned a way to calm ourselves down if we notice our hearts beating faster than they need to.  We talked about sitting up straight to allow for easier blood flow throughout our bodies and taking deep breaths (or yawning) to slow your heart rate and help calm ourselves.

We also talked about our body movement and how we need to be mindful of how we are moving.  Often, first graders are on the move and bump in to people or furniture around them without realizing it.  To practice being mindful of our surroundings, we each put a ruler on our head and walked around our room trying to keep it balanced on top.  The kids were very aware of where the furniture was, where their friends were, and what speed they were moving so that their ruler wouldn’t slip off.  Since having this discussion, we have talked about being mindful of our surroundings while we are moving around the room, especially around our mailboxes or iPad cart where space is limited (no pushing/shoving).

Another idea we have been talking about is how attitude affects how well you can handle situations, especially solving problems.  We introduced the words: optimistic thinker and pessimistic thinker.  We talked about how optimistic thinkers think with happy thoughts and are more likely to solve problems successfully.  Pessimistic thinkers are often defensive and react with anger when problems arise. The kids spent a good deal of time role playing different problems and sharing how an optimistic thinker would react as opposed to a pessimistic thinker.

For example: If someone takes the seat that we want at lunch

Pessimistic Thinking: “That person is so mean, it’s not fair, I was going to sit there.”

OPTIMISTIC THINKING“I can find another friend to sit by, I can try to sit there tomorrow.”

We agreed that we need to start practicing optimistic attitudes so that we can handle problems better on our own. We are going to practice taking a few deep breaths when a problem arises and thinking of the problem from a different point of view.  When these situations arise at home, remind your first grader to use optimistic thinking…ask them, “how can we think about this situation optimistically?”

Mind Up!

This past week of Mind Up was spent focusing in mindful listening.  We started by introducing the students to a new part of their brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about their Reticular Activating System (RAS).  Ok, typing that sentence just made me laugh, but ask your first grader about their RAS and see what they have to share!

A few weeks ago, we had the students focus as hard as they could on their sense of hearing for a short amount of time and then discussed all the things they were able to hear.  We came up with a long list, but that was just our sense of hearing.  All of our senses are busy picking up different sights, tastes, smells, feelings, and noises and sending them to our brains.  Our RAS is the part of the brain that gathers all those messages and decides which senses are important enough to be passed on to the rest of the brain and which things can be ignored.  We talked about how when they are trying to listen to instruction in the classroom, we need to train our own RAS to know to ignore distractions like noises from other rooms, the hallway, outside, or friends sitting next to us and focus on the teaching.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 8.23.48 PM

To strengthen our ability to focus our RAS, we did some listening exercises and the kids had to work hard to focus on certain sounds and really ignore all other distractions.  We took note of what our body does when we are focusing really hard and came up with the following list:

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 8.19.26 PM

If you were to walk the halls around first grade, you will often hear us asking the kids to show us what mindful listening looks like or to focus their RAS…you can use that at home, as well!

Mind Up!

You might hear your student talking about our MIND UP time during the day.  Mind Up is a curriculum that helps teach students about their brains and how their brains work in order to help them be more proactive in how they approach learning and social interactions.

 So far, we have learned some key areas of the brain.  You may have heard your first grader talking about these three key parts of the brain: Prefrontal Cortex, Amygdala, andHippocampus.  The prefrontal cortex is what we call our WISE LEADER, it is where our smart thinking happens (math, reading, etc.).  Our Hippocampus is where our memories are stored, we called is our MEMORY SAVER.  And the amygdala is the part of our brain the helps us stay safe when we are in danger, we call it our SECURITY GUARD.

We have talked through different scenarios with the kids about when each part of the brain might be working.  We talk about how when they hear a startling noise, it is the amygdala that is working quickly to keep them safe.  BUT, we also talked about how their amygdala is quick to make decisions that might not be necessarily appropriate in all situations.  For instance, if they are on the playground and a friend comes by and bumps into them unexpectedly, their amygdala might tell them to push that person away to keep themselves from harm.  But, in reality, pushing the other person isn’t the best way to handle that situation.  We have talked about how our prefrontal cortex is better at handling these situations but in order for the messages to get sent from the amygdala to the prefrontal cortex, the kids need to give their brains a few moments before reacting to the situation.  We talked about how taking a deep breath and counting to ten (or down from ten) will help them calm down and give the different parts of their brain time to communicate before reacting.  We will continue to help support the students in learning ways to handle situations like this.

We have also talked about how we need to be mindful learners.  When we are mindful of others, we are aware of our surroundings and others around us.  We now know that being mindful means thinking before we act.  We talked about what mindful and unmindful behavior looks like for us:

Unmindful: Leaving your shoes in the middle of the living room

Mindful: Putting your shoes where they belong, out of the way

We also talked about mindful behavior at school and how everyone at school has to be mindful of everyone here, even teachers, custodians, and the principal.  You can help them remember to be mindful of others when you see them using unmindful behavior, remind them to, “use your prefrontal cortex, please!” :)

Mind Up!

We have been talking about how attitude affects how well you can handle situations, especially solving problems.  We introduced the words: optimistic and pessimistic.  We talked about how optimistic thinkers think with happy thoughts and are more likely to solve problems successfully.  Pessimistic thinkers are often defensive and react with anger when problems arise. The kids spent a good deal of time role playing different problems and sharing how an optimistic thinker would react as opposed to a pessimistic thinker.

For example: If someone takes the seat that we want at lunch

Pessimistic Thinking: “That person is so mean, it’s not fair, I was going to sit there.”

OPTIMISTIC THINKING“I can find another friend to sit by, I can try to sit there tomorrow.”

We agreed that we need to start practicing optimistic attitudes so that we can handle problems better on our own. We are going to practice taking a few deep breaths when a problem arises and thinking of the problem from a different point of view.  When these situations arise at home, remind your first grader to use optimistic thinking…ask them, “how can we think about this situation optimistically?”