This post originally appeared on the blog The Write Stuff Teaching.
It’s been a while since I wrote about my Interactive Mindful Notebooks and how teaching mindfulness in your classroom as part of your social and emotional teaching can dramatically improve children’s happiness and help them to learn. A wonderful side effect of all that is that classroom management issues are greatly reduced.
I’ve been thinking long and hard about how I could extend that learning. Teachers from around the world have been messaging me and leaving feedback asking when I was going to post another set. I created the Interactive Mindful CHRISTMAS set so that students could keep learning kindness and self awareness in the busy season of Christmas. (What better time, really?) I was going to initially focus on personal and social responsibility but then realized that there was a more pressing need out there, that of diversity and inclusion. Here I added some concepts of personal and social responsibility into it as well. That is how this new edition was born.
Since I started teaching over 20 years ago, one of my most favorite things to teach has always been a multicultural unit. I have always felt that it was important to celebrate differences and find similarities in us all. I always had students research countries that were part of their heritage or ones they were interested in and then we shared our learning in a special celebration complete with research reports and a huge multicultural feast! It was always difficult to find non fiction books at the 2nd and 3rd grade level way back then and even somewhat now. But I persevered because the kids loved it and learned so much.
Today, there is a need to go beyond this. Diversity is what the world is all about. All of our classrooms are full of children from all parts of the country and all parts of the world. Our cultural learning needs to become part of our everyday learning, embedded into everything we do. Diversity does not only refer to culture. It also refers to learners of all abilities, ones with learning and/or physical disabilities, students with other varied beliefs, backgrounds, and orientations and students who live in poverty or who have experienced trauma.
How can we address all this in our classrooms? It is a complicated and complex thing to do,but we must make every effort to ensure all of our students feel that they belong, that we care about them and that they matter.
My new Interactive Mindful Notebook for Diversity will help you to start thinking about this and implementing it with new fresh ideas and supports. This set is for 2nd-5th grade and has suggestions for adaptations for the younger students as the concepts are quite complex but are manageable if time is taken for each concept.
This Interactive Mindful Notebook for Diversity carries on from where the first one left off. The first one was all about personal awareness and mindfulness and this one extends to mindfulness and others. It is designed to be used with middle year 2nd graders to 5th grade as it has differentiation ideas. Ideally, it is used as a set with the original Interactive Mindful Notebook but it can be used as a stand alone for 4th and 5th graders if they are already quite self aware.
This notebook teaches students about being mindful of others. If you do not have the original notebook, I have included the What is Mindfulness activity and printable here too. The following concepts are covered:
Students will create timelines of special events in their life. They will then compare these to classmates to show that there are similarities and differences but that we all go through this life together as human beings – all cultures, all abilities, all beliefs.
Students then learn about perspective taking. This is a critical component to understanding behaviors and why people do what they do. It helps kids to understand that we many all have eyes but we may not see things the same. Perspective is also guided and influenced by life situations and events. Students will draw something from varying perspectives, observe and identify something and then try to locate the one that belonged to them and see if they can describe a visitor to their classroom after they have left.
Students will then take a look at their role in life. We all know that teachers have many, many roles. But so do kids! If they recognize these roles, they may be more inclined to realize how important they are in this world and to be grateful for what they have and use their abilities, strengths and love towards others.
Students will work with these roles and have class and partner discussions to build understanding of others.
Our family is a part of who we are. This unit explores the different families that make up your classroom. The focus is on making things obvious, acceptable and part of who the student is as an individual. The younger we can teach this, hopefully, the more easily students will be able to transition into older grades with less insecurities.
The last section is on stereotypes. Students will learn about stereotypes and create an anchor chart with their teacher about common ones. Then students will choose from the chart and turn the stereotype around to the positive.
The last two lessons are on our own stereotypes (or social problems for younger students) Students will identify their OWN stereotypes and then work on changing their own thoughts. The key is recognizing that they might have a stereotype belief and being willing to set a growth mindset type goal towards changing that fixed mindset idea.
Our world is changing so quickly. It’s important that we keep up with meeting ALL of our students’ needs. If you focus on this in your classroom, you will notice deeper learning and engagement and more positive behaviour.
After spending over 20 years in the elementary classroom, Shelley has spent the last few years as an instructional coach, mentor, and District teacher. She has a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus on writing development. Her passion areas are in student engagement and collaboration as well as teaching students to read, write, think mathematically, and share their learning with others. She has always believed that students who own their own learning learn better and are happier students. Stop by her TpT store, or visit her blog.