Mindful Meditation is a 21st Century Skill

It’s another Snow Day here in Central Ohio.  The measly 3 to 5 inches we received overnight pales in comparison to the “historic” storm they are about to get in NYC, Boston & Philly.  One reason I like living where I do is that we get Snow Days without paralyzing snow.  And we’ve already had three of them in January!

It’s been a while since Tera, Rachel or I have been able to post.  It goes without saying that a teacher’s life is a full life! My to-do list, which always includes posting here, always seems to get longer and not shorter.  I’ve been collecting links and ideas though.  Hopefully I can post a few today when I’m not catching up on evaluating student work.

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21st Century Skills have been getting much attention the past view years.  Myriad well-funded websites exist and there are no shortage of posters and graphics such as the one above or this one:

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This poster is one of many resources found here.  I like the dozen and a half skills listed, but I think a critical one is omitted here and in most lists of 21st Century Skills – Attention or Mindfulness.

A fact of modern life is the temptation to becoming distracted from the task at hand – be it participating in class, doing homework, or even driving.  The dangers of “distracted driving” were driven home to our school recently when speakers from Impact Teen Driving shared their tragic story of a loved one’s death from an auto accident by a distracted driver.

Focusing attention is a skill that can be taught and developed. An M.D. from the esteemed Mayo Clinic featured in this Atlantic article writes: “We have multiple set exercises throughout the day where you basically bring intentionality to your attention…they involve no newfangled brain-training software, or really anything at all new to neuroscience or philosophy.”  His website, stressfree.org offers useful techniques illustrated by engaging videos to teach the five core principles of “gratitude, compassion, acceptance, meaning, and forgiveness.” He’s created this fact-filled, cute, whiteboard video entitled “A Very Happy Brain” that could be enjoyed even by younger students.

Cultivating gratitude, being in the present moment, and mindful meditation have been shown to have many psychological, academic, and inter-personal benefits.  There are no shortage of succinct articles which both describe the benefits of mindfulness and offer ways to practice meditation.

So how does this relate to educational technology?  There are a growing number of apps which can facilitate meditative practice.  Aside from using technology to teach meditation, I think we also need to educate our students in ways to be attentive to assigned learning tasks rather than succumbing to the massive temptation to distraction living within their iPads or Chromebooks.

This attentiveness is a vital 21st Century Skill on par with any of the other essential skills listed on the posters above.  So, how do we teach it?

In the next post, I’ll share how I am doing it in my classroom. How have you done it in yours?

Final 2014 Lists

As promised, here’s a few more 2014 lists to ponder before moving boldly ahead into the rest of 2015:

Five Favorite Resources in 2014 – The first three on her list (Google Apps, Social Media, and Google Voice) are familiar.  She lists Padlet and Graphite as #4 and #5.  I’ve never heard about these tools and her descriptions make me want to check them out.

Reviewing My 2014 “Bold” Predictions for EdTech: Everybody and his brother can make a list of predictions, but how often does the prognosticator go back and honestly assess how well he or she did?  Kudos to this blogger for having the guts to do so.

Best and Worst Education News from 2014: A solid list with many links which was reblogged by the Washington Post

10 Most Popular Educational Tools from 2014: Again, many familiar faces on this list.  Yet, EDpuzzle (to add voice and questions to videos) as well as Easel.ly (to create charts and infographics) are two interesting sounding newcomers.

Year in Ideas 2014: An eight minute summary of the biggest ideas showcased via the increasingly ubiquitous TED Talks.

A Must Have iOS App – “Apps Gone Free”

It’s not too long until 1pm EST.  Since that’s the time I eagerly await each day to receive my “Apps Gone Free” notice for every day of the week, I thought this would be a good time to mention this truly useful and fun app.

Apps Gone Free

I stumbled across this app a couple of months ago and my life hasn’t been the same since.  It is a very user-friendly way to have access to the highest quality free apps.  There is a diversity of types here – early childhood through elementary games; a wide range of games for older students and adults; top notch productivity tools; photo editors and much more.

It’s a great way to try out tools and games without the commitment of buying them.  But beware – you may quickly find your memory close to full (especially if you also have the lightweight iPad2 with just 16 GB).

19 Ways to Use Blogs for Your Students

I’m working on my second school year with a Kidblog site for two of my Religion classes.

Here’s what it looks like so far:

 

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I plan to record a video tour of it soon and post here.

I like this article on blogging for students because it doesn’t suggest just the obvious subjects (English, Social Studies), but also Math, Science and more.

19 Ways to Use Blogs for Your Students

50 Resources for Teaching with iPads

Another site which offers a list of suggestions of apps for teachers to use with iPads.

50 Resources for Teaching with iPads

This graphic alone makes this site worth visiting.  I like how it shows how key apps can be used with the triad of educational stakeholders – teachers, students, and parents.

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A "How-To" on Creating a Paperless Classroom

A good step-by-step guide, complete with available resources, to aid in moving your classroom from paper-based to digitally based.

How to Create a Paperless Classroom

A Nice List of Teacher Recommended Apps and Websites

Often the best tech resources are those recommended by actual teachers.
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A Gold Mine of Free Educational Technology Resources!

This link takes you to Open Culture – an amazing resource for FREE educational materials of all types!

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Free Educational Technology Resources