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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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A sense of urgency and acceptance

If I were asked to define what success looks like for The Eight Hugs Curriculum, my answer would be to inspire a sense of urgency and acceptance.

My goal is to light the fire of urgency in the hearts of the adults who influence children’s development everyday.  This work takes a village.  Educators already know how important this work is.  I’m here to elevate their concerns and give them the tools they need to reach kids and to reach them quickly.

My second goal is to teach children about acceptance.  Truly, acceptance of ourselves and others will unlock the door to happiness.  This curriculum is about teaching children self-awareness and self-acceptance.  Brene Brown, PhD has claimed time and again that we can only extend love and appreciation to others if we are experts in offering love and acceptance to ourselves.  Acceptance is integral to happiness.

May is Mental Health awareness month.  A site for social workers is offering these pressing reminders which speak to the importance of both urgency and acceptance:

Youth-Mental-IllnessBrought to you by Social Work License Map

Mental-Illness-StigmaBrought to you by Social Work License Map

We have much important work to do my friends.  I’m honored you’re here alongside me.

Hugs,

-AK

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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!

Hugs,

-AK

 

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Lesson Plan: Growth Mindset

Students love to learn about themselves.  In this lesson students peer into their brains to better understand its incredible capacity to keep learning.

Carol Dweck, Ph.D.’s research has challenged the beliefs of many that there are limits to learning, ability and expertise.  Dweck’s reserach shows us that the brain is not static, it can grow and learn continually.  More importantly, her research shows how empowering it is for students to believe in their ability to grow their brains.

This lesson and its resources will help you introduce your students to their brains and its incredible abilities.

The Lesson Plan: Growth Mindset Lesson Plan

Materials you’ll need:

Let me know how it goes!

Hugs,

AK

 

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