I Won’t Give Up

It is no secret that I am a HUGE advocate for children who need more than the traditional teaching. In the past 5 years, my passion has grown bigger for advocating for the Whole Child, children with ADD/ADHD, children with characteristics of Dyslexia, Whole Brain Teaching, integrating curriculum and teaching those important soft skills for life.  This quote most definitely sums up my mission!

As each year goes by I see more and more need for the Whole Child, Brain-Based background in teaching.  When we stop and think, it really is just great teaching.  Knowing your students.  Knowing their needs.  Knowing how to meet each one where they are and help them be successful by using strategies that work for them.  Knowing that every child learns differently and taking action to differentiate for their needs.  Seems simple, right?

We just cannot forget that these needs include MOVEMENT. (I wrote all about this in another post here.)  I am not just talking about brain break movement, but movement with learning concepts.

Here is something I often see: Children who have struggled for years to learn how to read or write.  Their self esteem is low.  They do not speak up on how they learn best.  Is it because they are afraid?  Maybe they have never been shown how to do this appropriately?  Is it because they have never been given the opportunity?  I don’t know.

Here is what I do know.  THESE are the children who cannot learn to the best of their ability when forced to sit all day without moving, discussing, singing, making those important connections.  Yet sadly, there are still classrooms where this is happening.  It crushes my heart and has me upset as to why it still goes on.

Why, when we know what the research says about this? Why do we continue putting our children through this? Little AND big children!

I write this not to criticize anyone, but because I want SHARE some really great research and resources on these topics.  My hope is that this reaches one person that may have never considered how this all plays into learning and they try one of these strategies!  Our children deserve it!

Have we ever considered that our students are not intentionally tuning us out? They are not intentionally losing focus.  They want to remember what we are teaching them.  They want to do well.  There are just so many other factors that play a part in this Whole Child’s learning experience. What we need to ask ourselves is this:

What are WE doing to help them?

Here is a fantastic Edutopia article on brain research written by a neurologist suggesting educators have a neuroscience class that updates them on current educational research on the brain.  That would be amazing! (In my opinion!)

Here is article from the Integrated Learning Strategies website on Brain-Based Learning Crossing Midline activities that help all children.  It puts the brain research into action!

Here is a great Whole Brain Teaching article on how it is used from Kinder-College with great results.

Here are some of my Pinterest Boards where I house information I find.

Follow Bridget’s board ADD/ADHD on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Brain Research on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Dyslexia on Pinterest.

I am teaching Summer Enrichment classes that revolve around brain-based learning and movement, wellness and stress management for kids (think yoga) and dancing!  I will be posting resources I am using when the time is closer.

Advocating for the WHOLE CHILD is my passion! Like the quote above says, there was that moment I realized, I won’t give up!  Our Kids Deserve It!!!!

Symbaloo – How to Organize It ALL

I often write about matters of the heart in education.  Well, today…here is my informative post of the week about a fabulous technology tool that will really save you T-I-M-E!

Lately, I have often been asked how I keep all of the websites I use, blogs I read, and district information organized.  I recently shared this amazing trick with the rest of the teachers in my building.  Are you ready?  It is..SYMBALOO! 🙂  I think many have seen this site, but not really utilized it to the fullest, including myself.  Kasey Bell is a great resource for walking you through how to set things up in a user-friendly way and finding tips and tricks.  Check her site out!

So, today I am sharing what I use Symbaloo for and I hope you list 10 others ways and share them with me!

  • To keep all of my district’s Most Frequently Used Sites in one easy place. (I’m only showing a partial screenshot, so you see the part I am referring to.)

I will not lie – I love that you can customize your background.  You can never have too much glitter!
  • To keep all of the blogs/sites that I frequently read in one spot.  (However, now thanks to a great post from the amazing George Couros, my new reader is Inoreader. Everything I read is housed there!  Check out his post and you will make this switch too!)
  • To keep Hook clips and songs for lessons.  I also house content related info pages here.
This is the Reading page.  It also has tiles that link to my Pinterest Boards on each topic.

This is the Social Studies page.  You can see, it is a work in progress!  🙂
  • To keep Brain Breaks (that I created or found) in one place so that we are not wasting time searching for our next favorite one.  🙂  
This is a Webmix already made by someone else that I added to my Symbaloo page.  

Here is my Brain Breaks Webmix that I started with our classroom’s favorite ones.  I added Go Noodle and the background music we use throughout the day.

Finding what you want on Symbaloo:

1. Use the magnifying glass at the top of the page to search.
2.  You will see this:
Tiles will search for specific sites people have created. Ex: Sight Words, GCISD Teacher Resources, etc.
Webmixes are the “pages” I refer to that people have created.
Profiles are people who created them.  My profile is public and you can search for it by entering my name, Bridget Visser, into the gray search box and you will see all of the webmixes I created. If you choose to not make your webmix public, it still works the same. People will just be unable to find what you made or use it, and that’s okay if you want that.
Symbaloo can be used for so many different things to meet your needs and the needs of your students.  One year, I had it set up as the homepage on the laptops for the kids to navigate themselves through frequently used sites that they needed for research and other things independently.
I know this is just the tip of the iceberg on ways to use Symbaloo.  Try it out.  Use some of mine! Share your ideas with me!  I can’t wait to learn new ways to use this awesome tool.

Do You Like To Move It Move It? Your Kids Do.

Friends, I am on a mission!  My mission is to share with educators of ALL levels the importance of movement in learning.

Here’s How:

1. Share research Whole-Brain Teaching.

2. Share research on the importance of allowing kids to MOVE and what that does for the brain and learning. This clip from Edutopia excited me!

3. Share the resources I use in my classroom that allows movement.
Examples: Go Noodle, Just Dance Brain Breaks, learning new concepts with motions and songs, singing , exercising while counting by 5s, doing yoga to calm back down and focus, and having different learning spaces!
Brain Research Board on Pinterest

Brain Breaks Board on Pinterest

ADD/ADHD Board on Pinterest                 

Dyslexia Board on Pinterest

Bridget’s Brain Breaks Symbaloo Page

Bridget’s Reading Symbaloo Page

4. Find ways to pass along that these are not extra privileges for students if you have time, but they are NECESSARY.  

The Personal Fuel Behind My Mission:
I realized this week that I am one of those active students teachers discuss! Those of you that know me, you are laughing because this is not news to you.  🙂 But, I really realized it as a student this week in a week-long course where I was expected to sit in my chair 8-4.

I understand there are situations where you need to sit and get information.  I really do. However, after 3 days of this and 2 more to go I said to my husband, “I am not sure I can make it through this week.  It is very hard to sit all day, have information poured into your head with little time to process.

Truth: I like to make up songs and movements to what I am learning.
Truth: I have to talk through my learning with other people, which doubles my learning.
Truth: I like to do yoga poses while I am listening or standing around in class. 🙂

A-ha! Truth: Without reflection time and movement, I was struggling to take this important (much needed & appreciated) info and organize it into compartments of my brain to make sense. I felt very frustrated and overwhelmed. 
Eye Opener:
Here I sat in this class learning things that I knew I needed. I had to sit all day. There were no brain breaks to activate my brain in another way to refocus. My active body felt like it was going to explode inside. I felt like I was struggling to keep up because I was still trying to organize what was already given to me that I couldn’t connect to and make any meaning with.  I couldn’t organize it all because we had to move on.  That’s what bothered me.  As educators, we do the same to our kids. So much to teach them in such little time with so much on our plates! 
Is this what our kids feel like?!  Oh. My. Goodness. If I (a pretty good student who made straight As and loves learning) felt like not going back and was so overwhelmed to tears one morning…it really made me think about our kids that struggle to receive what we throw at them and their feelings.  They may struggle because of ADHD. They may struggle because of Dyslexia. They may struggle with an Auditory Processing deficit.  Maybe they haven’t developed their Executive Functioning Skills fully.

Whatever the struggle, it made me ask…
Do we allow them to move enough?
Do we give them enough processing time?
Do we allow them to choose the way they learn best?
Do we allow them the chance to reflect?

In a recent article I read called  4’33” (Four Minutes and Thirty-Three Seconds): What Our Brains Need | Edutopia it explains this imperative importance on reflection and quiet time. It is a great read!

I write this in hopes of sharing the importance of movement with other educators. I hope you will consider Brain Breaks in your classroom.  Try it one day!  Just one day- and see how much clearer your students think!

This summer at a GCISD Valor meeting, a friend and I had the entire room participate in a Brain Break.  We did Pop-See-Ko from Go Noodle. The high school and middle school teachers were a little unsure at first, but then you saw it.  Smiles.  Everyone in that room was ready to re-engage for learning that afternoon.  All it takes is one try and you will NEVER go back!

We can’t stop for a brain break, you say. I say – you can’t afford NOT to!  Move Your Body, Grow Your Brain | Edutopia will show you the WHY of my mission.  Amazing things happen in your brain when you move.