“Release” – Julie Bayer Salzman

I used this video for my Mindfulness Unit I taught during my pre-internship experience in a grade 7/8 classroom. I highly recommend this resource for the middle-years as the students are able to relate to the students featured in the video since they are close to the same age and development.

“Release” is the 2nd in the series of Mindful Shorts, and it focuses on stress and anxiety as experienced by middle school kids.

A very different approach than its predecessor “Just Breathe” (which focused on Anger in elementary school kids), “Release” was designed to be more visceral/experiential. We wanted to visually communicate the differences between calm and anxious states of mind/body, so that viewers could truly relate to those experiences while simultaneously benefiting from a basic lesson in Mindful Meditation.


Graffiti Board Walk

Yesterday we summed up our Mindfulness and Stress Health Unit! I started the students off with finishing the book walk questions from the day before. They still had one more book station to visit so this gave them the time to finish the activity. After they were finished this, we reviewed the questions as a whole class so the students who were away the day before could catch up on what they had miss.

Once the book walk activity was completely finished, we moved on to the next activity. I split the students into 5 groups. Each group was given a piece of poster paper and a title for their poster. The groups/titles were: Mindfulness, Stress, Stress Management, Personal Standards and “Other” (other learnings from this unit). In each group, each student had a marker so they were able to write their thoughts onto the poster. I started the timer for 5 minutes and instructed the students to write as much as they could in their groups onto the poster. After the 5 minutes were up and the timer chimed, the students were to rotate to the next poster. After they were at the next poster, I set the timer for 4 minutes so the students had to add what they could onto that poster. After that time was up, they rotated again and had 3 minutes, then 2 minutes and then 1 minute. I set the timer shorter and shorter because I had noticed that after the first switch, some groups had run out of ideas as most of their ideas were already written by another group on the poster. This shortness of time made them think faster and had them moving without sitting still lost in their thoughts or staring at a wall for an idea.

The students came up with wonderful ideas for each poster under its theme! After the time for the rotations was up, I walked around the room to collect the posters and bring them to the front. I used a magnet on the white-board to hang-up one poster at a time so the whole class would be able to see it. As a class, we came up with one or two statements to sum up each one of the poster titles. The students were thoroughly engaged throughout this activity!

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Mindfulness, Stress balls, “Release”, Oh My!

Stress and Stress Balls

Yesterday was a busy day! I taught for two hours and it was jam-packed with activities relating to stress and mindfulness! I will link the lesson plans and activities at the bottom of this blog post!

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To start off the first hour we focused on stress. I asked the students to remind me what stress, eustress and distress are. This allowed them to tell me what they have learned so far and how they are able to reword it in their own way. We continued on with the following two discussion questions:

  1. What are the effects of stress on the body?
  2. What are different (unhealthy and healthy) ways that people cope with stress?

The students came up with some very thoughtful responses! For effects of stress on the body they gave me responses like: having headaches, stomach aches or muscle pains; shutting down and isolating yourself; feeling angry or annoyed; feeling anxious and nervous; crying for no reason; yelling; feeling hopeless; not sleeping or sleeping too much; and eating too much or not eating enough. I was impressed by what the students came up with as I was able to add their responses to my list I already had of what I wanted to hear from them. For the second question, responses that the students shared for healthy ways to cope were: solving the problem, going for a run, talking to someone, taking deep breaths, positive self-talk, focusing on what you can control and what you cannot, take time to laugh, watch Vine compilation videos (I giggled at this one), listen to music, volunteering. The responses that students shared for unhealthy ways to cope were: using alcohol/drugs,  gambling, overeating or not eating properly, sleeping all day and night, verbally/mentally/physically abusing someone, getting angry at people (lashing out), bullying, and spending too much time watching TV or playing video games.

After we discussed the questions, we moved onto making the stress balls! The students seem to love this little activity as they were able to choose their balloon colours and fill it up with flour. The video linked here is the one that I used to show the class on how to create their stress ball. The only differences that we did were that we only used flour and instead of three balloons we used two. I will also attach the link to the Google Slides presentation I created and used here as well: Stress Balls and Mindfulness

After this lesson was over, I handout out a Stress and Mindfulness crossword puzzle that contains vocabulary words that the students have been learning about in this unit for the past three weeks.


For the second hour, we focused on mindfulness. I asked the students to discuss the following questions as a review from last class:

  • What does mindfulness mean?
  • What does it mean to be mindful?
  • What does it mean to “Mindfully walk” or “Mindfully listen” or “Mindfully breathe”

After the students had a few moments to think about these questions, we came up with the consensus that mindfulness is being the mental state of being aware of your surroundings and living in the present moment instead of worrying about what has already happened or what hasn’t happened yet. We talked about how the mind influences the body and the body influences the mind as well as how mindfulness can help increase our ability to focus.

The next step of this lesson was to watch the short film “Release”. It is the second film by Julie Bayer and Josh Salzman, who created “Just Breathe” in 2015. In this short film middle school students work through their anxieties that they face everyday by using mindfulness. Before we started watching the video, I had my students write down what they predicted the video would be about solely based upon the title. I started the video after the students wrote their predictions down but I paused it as soon as the quote: “The best way out is always through” by Robert Frost showed up on the screen. I then asked the students to respond to this quote in their notebooks. Some prompts I had them look at for this were: have they heard this quote before, how does it make them feel, and what comes to mind when they read it. I have attached the “Release” video below. It is a must watch!!

At the 2 minute and 20 second mark I paused the video again. I asked students to reflect on how the students in the video were speaking with the following prompts: what did their tone of voice sound like, have you ever sounded like one of those student and what words were the students in the video using. I then asked my students if they have ever felt the way that the students in the video were feeling. After they had had a few minutes to write their thoughts down, I asked the students to follow along with the voice over in the last half of the video and then I pressed play again. The students were all engaged and participated in the mindfulness activity led by the woman in the video. After the video was over I had the students jot down how that mindfulness practice made them feel. Did their thoughts wander of task? Were they able to redirect their attention back to their breathing? Or did they remain distracted?

There was about 8 minutes left of class time once the video was over so I had printed off different bookmarks that the students would be able to mindfully colour in their remaining class time and other spare time that they might have.


Stress and Mindfulness Crossword: Stress and Mindfulness Crossword Puzzle

Lesson Plan on Stress and Stress Balls: 10. Lesson 10

Lesson Plan for Mindfulness and “‘Release”: 11. Lesson 11

Mindfulness Lesson

Today I am teaching a lesson about Mindfulness for my grade 7/8’s that I am pre-interning with. I have already introduced mindfulness earlier in this unit, but we did not go into depth about. As a class we have just gone over the word “Mindfulness” in our unit’s vocabulary to add it to our class Word Wall. DYWKze9VwAA1_1Y.jpg-largeI thought that since the students have now created their S.M.A.R.T. goals and have begun working on their action plans it would be a great time for a lesson on mindfulness. Here is a copy of the presentation and lesson plan that I will be using for this Mindfulness lesson:

PowerPoint: Mindfulness PowerPoint

Lesson Plan: Mindfulness Lesson Plan

Now, while reading the rest of this post it is important that you keep an open mind. Be mindful and be respectful.

When I first started learning about mindfulness in university, I was very skeptical about it to be honest. I did not understand the concept, and I thought it was just another one-hit wonder phase that would fade out within the year. But oh boy, was I ever wrong.

I have learned so much about mindfulness as I prepared for this unit, as well as from the children’s books about mindfulness that I’ve been collecting. In a nut shell, mindfulness is about learning to respond  instead of blindly reacting in a situation. It is a simple concept, but it is not always easy.

To go more in depth, mindfulness is the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose in the present moment and non-judgmentally to things as they are. I have learned that mindfulness helps us to accept the things that we cannot change in our lives. Often in our lives there are moments where pain is unavoidable. It is a sad fact, but it is the truth. Mindfulness allows us to suffer less. We can learn, with mindfulness, where to place our attention when we experience painful emotions or situations. Pain is just pain, an emotion, unless we give it the power to overcome our abilities and emotions.

I have also learned that mindfulness is trusting in your own experiences. Mindfulness does not require you to believe in anyone or anything. Instead, it simply encourages you to notice what is happening. You are the expert of your own life. You know you, better than anyone else. I can’t tell you what you are experience at this exact moment, and you can’t tell me. We might be sitting next to each other, in the same doctor’s office with children chatting and playing with the office phone ringing but our perception and judgements of this situations are likely going to be different. As we both sit there, we are both being mindful of our surroundings. You might find the children playing and chatting in the corner to be bothersome and the ringing of the phone to be annoying or frustrating. But I might find the noise of the children to be pleasant as I work in a school and those sounds are familiar and comforting to me as I am normally terrified of the doctor’s office.

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and I am the type of person who overthinks everything. I often overthink which then leads me to jump to conclusions and over-react in the most mild of situations. Through mindfulness, I have learned to take a minute, process the situation and evaluate my options to help me to respond thoughtfully instead of blindly reacting. On days where I feel off and out of place, I have learned to make a concerted effort to feel accepted and happy rather than becoming engulfed in my negative emotions.

I hope you might have learned or gained something useful from this post and that you might consider looking into, or even beginning to practice, mindfulness yourself.

Day 2

Happy Wednesday!

Today was our second day as grade 7/8 pre-interns and Brooklyn and I were able to co-teach our first lesson!

22643221_10211410000346997_598389870_oThe lesson we taught was for Science 8 and it was an experiment that let the students explore the different densities of five fluids (corn syrup, glycerin, water, canola oil, and rubbing alcohol). We reviewed the term density with the students to see what they knew so far and what they were wanting to know more about. The students created their own prediction and results charts to record their observations in. They also write down which colour was each liquid (blue was water, red was glycerin, clear was rubbing alcohol, gold/brown was corn syrup and yellow was canola oil).

22664031_10211410027747682_1395977675_o.jpgWe numbered the students 1 through 5 so there was 5 groups with 5-6 students in each group. The students came up with their own predictions in their small groups of which fluid they thought to have a high density, and what fluid they thought would have a low density. After the students showed us that they had all written down their predictions, they were able to start pouring their liquids into their graduated cylinder. The fluid students though had the highest density was the first one they poured in, every group poured in corn syrup first. The students then poured the fluid they thought to have the next highest density, again every group poured in glycerin next. The third fluid that the students poured in differed from group to group. Some groups poured water in third, another group poured in rubbing alcohol third, and another group poured in canola oil third. It was really interesting to walk around from group to group and hear their discussions that they were having amongst themselves because by now the layers of liquids had started to form. The group who had poured the rubbing alcohol in third, poured the water in fourth. The two fluids mixed 22662360_10211410042468050_1232666457_o.jpgright away, but after a few minutes the two began to separate. The students thought that was so interesting! the fifth (and last) fluid that the students added depended on what one they had left, most groups had either canola oil or rubbing alcohol left. Group 1’s graduated cylinder with all the fluids in it layered really well, as you can see in the photo ————–>

The students seemed to enjoy the experiment! There were a few times that we had to get the class’ attention so we would say, “Clap once if you can hear me!” or “Snap your fingers if you can hear me!” and the students would clap. If not very many kids clapped/snapped, I would say “Okay, clap/snap twice if you can hear me!” By then, the students all clapped or snapped twice. A few of my university professors do this trick to grab our attention and it seems to work so I thought that trying it in a grade 7/8 classroom wouldn’t hurt

If there was anything different I wish we could do different about this lesson it would be to review the terms, density, viscosity and the particle theory since we didn’t review it much before we began the experiment and some students would switch the words viscosity and density up. Also, it would of been beneficial for the students to have discussed their results with one another before they moved onto their conclusion question as well as their analyze and interpreting questions.

Overall this lesson was really enjoyable and I can’t wait to see what the rest of this semester has in store!

Day 1

On Wednesday October 11th 2017 it was my very first day in the classroom as a pre-intern at a school here in Regina!


My partner Brooklyn and I in a photo we took after our first day as pre-interns!

My partner, Brooklyn Selinger, and I are placed in a grade 7/8 split classroom at a school here in Regina. I forgot to take pictures of the classroom set up while we were there, so this week when I go back I will make sure to take some and add them to this post! The classroom we are in is full of natural light as it is one of the classrooms in the portable connected to the school. The students sit at tables in rows perpendicular to the white board at the front of the room. The one thing that both Brooklyn and I noticed right away was that the classroom decoration/theme was Harry Potter. We’re both Harry Potter fans so this instantly made us feel welcome in the classroom and excited to be there! Our co-op teacher has her students split up into the 4 Hogwarts house teams: Hufflepuff, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Ravenclaw. 0742da8e32132f969c26bd9182af4f67These 4  groups are not set-in-stone so she changes them up every month. This month the school collected food items for the Regina Food Bank, and if the students from her class brought a food item, they would get 100,000 house points. After so long, the house team with the most points get a prize. The day we were there, the one house team got to have a pizza for lunch. I think this is such a neat idea to keep the students motivated throughout the school year!

We are teaching our first Science lesson to the grade 7/8’s on Wednesdat Oct. 18th. The lesson that we are doing is an experiment where the students will get to explore the different densities of different fluids like glycerin, corn syrup, canola oil, water and rubbing alcohol by layering them in a graduated cylinder. I am nervous but also super excited to see how it goes!