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Spring break

This conversation starter can be unpacked to unearth quite a few levels.  With spring in the air and spring breaks popping up in school districts across the country, now is a good time to discuss:

How much vacation time should we have?

Be prepared for the answer we are sometimes eager to give: unlimited vacation time!

Empathize and acknowledge, then ask any or all of the various follow-ups:

  • How would you spend all of that time?
  • If time weren’t metered, do you think people would better appreciate the time they spend working/going to school?
  • What would it look like if there weren’t rules about how we spend our time (for example, the dictated length of the school day)?
  • Then a meaty one: do rules help us or hinder us?

The objective is to lead students to examine their own values regarding time.  If there were no limits, how would they spend their time?  If they weren’t required to, would they work/study?

This conversation also invites them to reflect on how they may thrive or feel boxed in by rules and guidelines.  Introspective students may begin to realize that, by following set timelines for either a vacation or the school day, they are able to be more productive than they would be if they were required to motivate themselves.  For others, they will feel the opposite.

Ultimately, these are questions all people examine and need to wrestle with in order to maximize their productivity and their success.

For younger students, this is a great way to kickstart a conversation about how they enjoy spending their time.  Do they love the outdoors?  Their books? Or time with family?

Let me know what they come up with!




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Is meditation what’s missing?

Who doesn’t want a more zen classroom?  Even students yearn for peace of mind.  Have you heard about educators who are embracing meditation as an avenue to promote calm and focus in their classrooms?  Some schools are doing this alongside a yoga practice, while others are simply instilling “quiet time.”  The data on this mirrors data from other types of social and emotional learning (SEL) = school success rates go up!  This infographic graphic from Edutopia says it all.

Meanwhile, this group is bringing mindfulness to classrooms in the UK.  They have lead massive group meditation sessions with thousands of students.  Pretty impressive!  I especially like their resources, which include a story narrative to explain to younger kiddos how peace and happiness come together in meditation.

Later this week, I’ll have another lesson download.  It’s an inquiry based exploration of classroom meditation!



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Conversation Starters: How can money buy happiness?

Children receive mixed messages about money.  Frankly, so do adults.  Discussing money in your classroom can be more controversial than discussing religion, so be warned that today’s conversation starter may provoke discomfort.

April is financial literacy month.  In preparation, let’s start discussing how to use money to promote happiness.  Today ask your students:

Who do you think is happier: people who spend money on things or people who spend money on events?

Nudge them to consider their own experiences pursuing objects to make them happy versus enjoying experiences.  This question is a great opportunity for students to practice their compare and contrast skills.   See if you can get all of them to recognize the pros and cons of both expenditures.

Objective:  The goal is to help them to understand what works to make them happiest and why.  With clarity about how they become happiest, they are better equipped to lead happier lives as adults.  By requiring students to consider pros and cons of both types of purchases, you encourage them to recognize the merits of the choices of others.

For your reluctant students, try this prompt:

If I gave you $100 right now and I told you that you had to make a single purchase which would make you happy for the next month, what would you spend the money on?

For younger kids ask them a more specific question: Do you prefer getting a toy?  Or, spending time doing _____ activity (going to the playground, riding your bike, playing dress-up)?

Let me know what they come up with!


– AK

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International Happiness Day

On March 20, 2014 the world celebrated the 2nd annual International Happiness Day.  The day was established by the UN in June of 2012 to recognize the common human pursuit of happiness.  The day recognizes the UN resolution which emphasizes creating opportunities for economic growth which allow all people to live happy, fulfilling lives.

The UN teamed up with artist Pharrell Williams – whose song “Happy” was nominated for Best Original Song at this year’s Academy Awards – to encourage celebrants the world over to recognize International Happiness Day by making music videos for “Happy”.  Pharrell compiled entries on his website, 24 Hours of Happiness.

Naturally, schools joined in the celebration.  I liked these two videos filmed in US schools.  The first exudes pure joy, the second impressive talent.

Did your school celebrate?



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