Godzilla Gazette, 17

Week of December 14, 2015


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! It seems unbelievable, but we've reached the final week of the semester - wow! As you go throughout your daily routines this week, I hope you pause for a bit and look back at the good work that you've done during these first two quarters of school.

Start at the beginning - all the way back to our luau staff development in August, when we first gathered together to learn and plan for the year, when we learned that we, all of us, have something inside so strong! Remember filling out your hibiscus flowers with your strengths, your supports, and things you want to try new this year. Remember shouting out your strengths and coming together to cheer on each other in our giant game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Remember how you got your hands onto the Maker Carts and began our journey of design and discovery. And that's just the start!

So many good things have happened this year already - students are thriving and learning. There is hands-on creativity everywhere coupled with technology and solid instruction. Remember making circuits, taking learning out into the world with varied field trips, and discovering the joys of digging in the dirt with our expanded gardens in the back. Remember the fun of coding and Ozobots and the many amazing performances classes have done to help guide all of us in social emotional learning.

With so many initiatives, it's sometimes easy to get overwhelmed and I am most proud of the perseverance of our Ohana as we've worked through logistics, staffing, frustrations, and joys. While it hasn't always been easy, I have seen amazing things occurring daily at our school and have seen our students' eyes shine with engagement - so thank you.

As we wrap up our first two quarters, I want to draw your attention to mindfulness, which is, to me, a natural extension of SEL. For many of our students, the need to have a tool kit full of calming, grounding activities to help them regulate emotions is strong. This week's Reflective Practitioner looks at ways to incorporate mindful activities in the classroom and I encourage all of us to find ways to practice these important life skills.

This week is also our Parent Maker Movement week which allows our parents an opportunity to experience the joys of Making in a classroom and allows for the teachers to have an extra hour of planning together. I'm hoping this extra time will allow you to wrap up the semester with a bit less stress.

Here's to a happy and productive last week of the semester. Remember to celebrate the accomplishments of your students, your colleagues, and you! Enjoy the holiday break. I wish for each of you a peaceful rest, always full of people and things that bring you joy.

The Reflective Pracitioner

Integrating Mindfulness in Your Classroom Curriculum

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November 18, 2015

Now more than ever, teaching mindfulness in the classroom is a necessity. Our children are stressed and anxious. Teachers and parents are stressed and anxious, too. Our lives are busy, and we often find our thoughts buzzing over the past or worrying about the future. We need mindfulness because it teaches us to live in the present moment, enjoying and experiencing what’s in front of us.

Educators know that children learn best when they are comfortable, safe, and relaxed. Imagine if, along with giving our children the gift of lifelong learning and the tools to become kind and productive adults, we could also give them the gift of mindfulness -- using their breath and mind to lead a happy and healthy life. In turn, teachers will reap the benefits of mindfulness, as well -- we all know that a happy teacher has a happy classroom.

Following are four ways to incorporate mindfulness into your curriculum and bring calm to your classroom.

1. Mindfulness Through Breath

When we are stressed or anxious, we often take shallow breaths into our chests. By breathing deeply into your belly, you can use your breath to calm both your body and mind. To practice mindful breathing, place your right hand on your belly and your left hand on your chest, feeling the gentle rise and fall of your breath. Count to three as you inhale, then count to three again as you exhale. Close your eyes, too, if that feels comfortable. Try mindful breathing first by yourself, and then include your students. They can pretend to inflate a balloon in their bellies, or you could use a Hoberman Sphere for a visual representation of the breath. You can return to this simple breathing technique throughout the school day to help with transitions, before test preparation, or during difficult situations.

2. Mindfulness Through Sensory Experiences

Sensory experiences also help children focus and relax. Try listening to relaxing music or other calming sounds in the classroom. You might also take the children outside to hear the sounds of nature. They could play I Spy or create mind jars. This activity involves putting items with strong, familiar smells (like cinnamon, flowers, cheese, or popcorn) in jars and having the children guess the items by using their sense of smell. To focus them on their sense of touch, ask your children to close their eyes, give each one a cotton ball or sponge, and have them guess what they're holding. Sensory tables covered with containers of water, sand, ice, or thematic props are great. Encourage imaginative play with Play-doh, clay, shaving cream, or Slime.

3. Mindfulness Through Guided Imagery

Guided imagery develops children's imaginations. It also helps to integrate learning with prior knowledge. When you start a new topic in your classroom, have your students close their eyes (if that's comfortable) and slowly talk them through a pretend journey. For example, if you're studying the ocean, have them imagine getting into underwater vehicles and cruising through the ocean waters, looking for fish, animals, and plants. End the guided relaxation with a few deep breaths, and then they can draw what they imagined and discuss their ideas as a class. You could take them on pretend journeys into outer space; to the beach, forest, or a deserted island; on a safari or up a volcano -- depending on your curriculum topics. Take your children on journeys through relaxation stories to help them calm down and re-energize.

4. Mindfulness Through Movement

Humans are born to move. Our distant ancestors spent their days running from predators or hunting for food. Movement is a natural part of human life that has become a luxury in modern times. Introducing movement into your classroom allows your students to tap into their natural way of learning. Yoga is a simple strategy for adding movement to your school day. Children can mimic their environment to develop their self-expression and self-confidence. They can practice yoga in their chairs, in the gym, or outside. Again, using poses that correspond with your class topic makes the motion relevant and meaningful for your students. For example, if you're studying animals around the world, you could practice Downward-Facing Dog Pose (to be a sheepdog),Cat Pose (to be a lion), and Extended Child's Pose (to be a turtle). Use yoga pose cards or yoga books to brainstorm yoga pose sequences that your children will love and enjoy.

Try picking one mindfulness practice to start for yourself. Then introduce it to your students, adapting the experience to cater to their needs -- even if it’s for only two to five minutes per day during transitions or for brain breaks. You might try introducing a new mindfulness practice every week, every month, or every term, or just choose one idea (mindful breathing, for example) and practice that throughout the year. Plant the seed of mindfulness and meditation right now, and it will stay with your students for their entire lives.

In the comments below, please share how you practice mindfulness with your students.


Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events - Parent Maker Movement Week!

Monday, December 14, 2015 - A Day

  • Kinder Practice - 8:00 am - Cafeteria - Becky, Nicole, Paula
  • Compass Learning Phone Meeting - 9:00 am - Office - Grace
  • Choir Caroling! - 9:30 am - Community - Amy
  • Kinder Parent Maker Movement - 9:30 am - Classrooms - Becky, Nicole, Paula
  • MFE Meeting - 12:00 pm - Library - Ruthann, Grace
  • PreK Parent Maker Movement - 12:30 pm - Classrooms - Diana, Thelma
  • Homework Center - 2:50 pm - Library - Susan and Volunteers
  • CST Meeting - 3:00 pm - Office - Sharon, Elise, Robin, Grace
  • Austin ISD Board Meeting - 6:30 pm - CAC - Grace

Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - B Day

  • Happy Birthday, Vicky Gutierrez! :)
  • Parent Meeting - 9:00 am - Office - Grace
  • Kinder Practice - 9:30 am - Cafeteria - Becky, Nicole, Paula
  • 5th Grade Parent Maker Movement - 1:30 pm - Classrooms - Chad, Diana
  • 3rd Grade Parent Maker Movement - 1:52 pm - Classrooms - Cluadia, Lauren, Stefanie
  • Homework Center - 2:50 pm - Library - Susan and Volunteers

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 - C Day

  • Fire Drill! - 10:00 am - Schoolwide - All
  • PTA Teacher Appreciation Luncheon - WOW! - 10:30 am-1:00 pm - Staff Lounge
  • 4th Grade Parent Maker Movement - 12:55 pm - Classrooms - Katherine, Kelly, Vivien
  • 1st Grade Parent Maker Movement - 1:30 pm - Classrooms - Alma, Sharon, Suzie
  • Kinder Winter Holiday Program - 1:45 pm - Cafeteria - Becky, Nicole, Paula
  • After-school Yoga - 3:00 pm - Music Room

Thursday, December 17, 2015 - A Day

  • 4th Grade Winter Party - 8:00 am - Classrooms - Katherine, Kelly, Vivien
  • 2nd and 6th Grades Parent Maker Movement - 1:30 pm - Classrooms - Angela, Monica, Sicily, Corinda, Kellie
  • ARD - 2:00 pm - Learning Lab 1 - Janie, Katherine, Grace
  • CAC Meting - 3:15 pm - Library - All CAC Members

Friday, December 18, 2015 - B Day

  • School-wide Assembly - 7:45 am - Gym - 2nd Grade Presents
  • Last Day of the Semester!

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • Follow the report card timelines! See Maria for help.
  • Make sure to utilize reading/writing workshop and small group instruction during core.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To Steve, Anne Marie, Janie, Kellie, Michelle, Becky, Suzie, and the entire social committee for putting on an fun and festive holiday party!
  • To Susan for fifteen years of unparalleled service to our Mathews community!
  • To Liliana for her work in classrooms, with our students, and Fun Club!
  • To Kelly VK for taking over Kirstie's classroom with professionalism, caring, and a sense of humor - great job!
  • To Brett for his flexibility and positive attitude with the change in position!
  • To Michelle for organizing goodbye gifts for Liliana and Anne Marie!
  • To Maria for seeing us through the report card process again!
  • To Cindy S. for volunteering her time to make sure every class had the opportunity to participate in Hour of Code!
  • To Chad for two delightful Fairy Tale Theater Performances!
  • To Amy, Lisa, and Jimmy for a wonderful Winter Concert and assembly performance!
  • To Chad and his students for winning the Achieve 3000 Read to Succeed Challenge!
  • To everyone for a strong first semester!

Upcoming Events:

  • Staff Development - January 4th
  • Austin Symphony Orchestra Performances - January 7th
  • Principal's Coffee - January 8th
  • Holocaust Speaker 6th Grade Event - January 11th
  • Fire Drill - January 11th
  • MFE Meeting - January 11th
  • Austin History Center - Mathews and Metz 100 Year Reception - January 12th
  • Peace Through Pie Social - January 16th
  • MLK Holiday - January 18th
  • TPRI/DRA MOY Window Opens - January 19th
  • Science Fair! - January 20th
  • Shelter in Place Drill - January 22nd
  • CAC - January 28th

Website to Explore:

http://www.mindfulteachers.org/p/free-resources-and-lesson-plans.html - This site has a slew of resources for how to use mindfulness in classrooms. Keep calm and explore.