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Lesson Plan: Does Meditation Make us Happier?

To continue the exploration of the role meditation can play in attaining happier, fuller lives, today I have a lesson plan which puts students in the role of both subject and scientist.

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” 

Today, the students get involved.

This lesson is a randomly controlled experiment which uses qualitative and quantitative data to answer the question: Does meditation make us happier?

Divide the class into three groups:

  • An open meditation group (OM)
  • A focused attention group (FA)
  • A control group (C)

The OM group will practice mindfulness meditation.  Mindfulness is generally understood as focusing on the present moment.  It emphasizes stillness of mind and eliminating concerns about future and past events.  OM students should be coached to focus on breathing and clearing their heads.

The FA group will practice focused meditation.  They will choose an idea, thought or goal and will spend their meditation period emphasizing that one idea in their mind.  FA students should be coached on visualization techniques centered around their chosen thought or goal.

The control group is so important and integral to the value of any experiment.  These students may not feel as though they are doing anything, because they are asked to carry on as they normally would.  In other words, they will deliberately not meditate.  Explain to these guys that without them the study can’t happen!

All groups will collect data.  Students will be given these mood trackers akin to a punch card at a coffee shop.  They should track their mood – happy vs. sad – at integrals predetermined by you (for example: when they wake up and when they go to bed).  These cards represent qualitative data.

Meanwhile, they will collect quantitative data by measuring their blood pressure.  Work with your students to teach them how to take their blood pressure and decide as a class when the most informative time for measurement would be (hint: align this with post-meditation sessions for maximum effect).

This lesson is ripe for teaching the power of comparing different types of data, discussing the importance and necessity of having control subjects, and for practicing techniques for taking longitudinal data.  I recommend a week of data collection.  From there, graphing can be practiced and students can analyze data sets and outliers.

For younger kiddos, the qualitative data cards can serve as an excellent introduction to measuring and can initiate self-exploration of feelings and how they change based on what we are doing.  Additionally, here are suggestions from Edutopia on establishing a routine for quiet time.

Full lesson plan: Does meditation make us happier?

Have fun.  Good luck!

Hugs,

– AK

 

 

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Conversation Starters: Why They Matter

Communication is the glue that holds relationships together.  The Common Core State Standards have emphasized group discussion as an important 21st century skill to prepare students for the group-think ethos of the modern day work world.  There are many tried & true techniques for implementing discussion in the classroom: Think-Pair-Share, Fishbowls, Turn & Talk.  Sage teachers know these discussions are important in all forms, whether they are quick exchanges or lengthy debates.

But, what about discussing ourselves?  Missing from the classroom is instruction on the skills students need to reflect on themselves and put those thoughts into words.  Sure, you say, they are living in a me-first! world: social media has put every child on a pedestal and all they do is talk about themselves!  Hear me out.

Yes, social media is teaching a generation of children the art of marketing themselves.  If you pay attention, they are seldom using words at all anymore.  Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook have enabled children to edit a series of catalogs of their life.  They are choosing the images they want to speak for them.

Well, I want to get kids to speak for themselves again, to think for themselves again and to think about themselves.  Let’s teach children to be metacognitive about what makes them tick.

Every Monday I will post a conversation starter with an objective and guidelines for teasing out your student’s sense of self.  This will be a new experience for most students and, as with all new skills, will take regular practice to improve.  This is why we will do this weekly.

Their ability to reflect on themselves, their personal beliefs and, importantly, the things which make them happy will give them the tools they need for making decisions they feel good about.

We owe it to our students to teach them to talk for themselves.  Check back on Monday for the first conversation starter!

Hugs,

-AK

 

 

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