Active Video Games are not Enough

Recently there has been a rising in “active” video games. While I think this is great and is a way to get some kids off the couch/chair and moving around, it is beginning to be thought this really isn’t enough for our children. This article (http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kelly-murumets/active-video-games-exercise_b_2338119.html ) highlights another way to get your kids out and moving over the break. I will say that while these ‘exergames’ are good to get them up and about it does not help them reach their Daily Physical Activity goal(which is around 60 minutes of moderate/vigerous activity daily).

ParticipACTION is a website that gives a few ides of what you can do over the break (or even all the way up to when the weather is better) to keep active and have fun!

Healthy Lunch for Teachers? No way!

I can totally understand how hard it is to eat healthy when you’re running between classes and the photocopier and the office and your classroom and, maybe, the staffroom fridge. Also trying to stuff it all in the minimum amount of time is also a skill. Here are a few tips and recipes (taken from here) that I’d like to pass on to you. To our health!

  • Reinvent Dinner. Leftovers have long been a teacher-lunch favorite—and we get that warm (albeit reheated) food sure beats PB & J. But a Tupperware of last night’s mystery meat sure doesn’t make lunch something to anticipate. That can change. Food blogger Becky Johnson from We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook says that whenever she makes her Sweet and Spicy Mini Meat Loafs, she makes a double batch and puts the leftovers on thick wheat rolls to pack in lunches.
  • Pack a salad.  We certainly aren’t suggesting that you toss some iceberg and ranch into a Tupperware and call it a day. But we love the idea of making a huge and hearty salad and then eating portions of it in your lunch throughout the week. For inspiration, we asked a few food bloggers for ideas and they recommended this Portillos Chopped Salad, a hearty Baked Potato Salad, a crunchy and healthyAsian Cucumber Salad and this decadent Antipasto Chicken Salad. (Oh, and with all those veggies, it only makes sense to throw in a couple bacon muffins as a side.)
  • Do Sandwiches Better. Sandwiches have gotten a bad rap. And we blame bologna slapped on white bread for this undeserved reputation. But it’s easy to do brown-bag sandwiches better. Buy good bread and add your favorite toppings. Then—and this is the key—pack lettuce, tomatoes, onions and condiments in a separate bag so that your bread won’t get soggy.  When lunchtime rolls around, assemble, eat and enjoy.
  • Soup in a Thermos. We love this idea because if you have a good Thermos, you can skip the line for the microwave and get right to eating. Try this Sippable Sweet Pea Soup (that not only looks amazing, but is also vegan!), Creamy Yellow Pepper Soup or even your favorite soup from a can.
  • Try Antipasti. We know antipasti sounds like a fancy restaurant word, but we take it to mean “a whole bunch of little snacks that taste good”. And, with that in mind, chop up some cheese and deli meat, add raw veggies, pickles, olives and some crackers and you’ll have an easy lunch that looks like it was made in a restaurant.
  • Pack Yourself a (Healthy) Dessert. As delicious as Twinkies are, they’re probably not your best option when it comes to a mid-day pick-me-up. Still, adding something sweet to your lunch can provide the energy burst you need to get you through the day. Probably your best choice is a piece of fruit.  If that won’t work, try a “healthy” cookie like these Blueberry Oat and Nut Bars or one of these low-sugar Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins. 

Junk Food Laws

Recently the school board I work for changed their policies on vending machines. As far as I know, all schools in the system have replaced pop/soda with healthier alternatives as well as the snacks machines. Some schools have even gone so far as to remove them entirely.

When I went to school (which was in the last 10 years) we still had all that ‘unhealthy’ stuff. I will admit that the occasional bag or chips or chocolate bar would be the perfect way to get over that failed test or whatever else had gone wrong in the day. I personally never abused this privilege but I sure know people who did.

I’m curious to know whether these new changes and laws (all over Canada and the United States) are actually going to make a difference in the lives of children?

Junk Food Laws May Help Curb Childhood Obesity This article found on Huffington Post Education, talks about a few studies done that prove that states with strong laws on junk food have kids who gain less weight at critical growth years. I encourage you to read it and form your own opinions.

I’m still going to encourage my students to learn about nutrition and make their own healthy decisions.

Vocal Health

As teachers we spend most of our day talking (or at least I do). If we’re not careful we can seriously damage one of our most important tools. I’ve been battling a cold for the last 2 weeks and I have noticed that halfway through my day I have been starting to have a very sore and dry throat. I can only imagine that after a full day, even being completely healthy, that my voice would hurt a little. I would also like to think that I have pretty good vocal health considering that I have a degree in Music with a major in voice. So here is a handy list for you to keep in mind while you’re in your classroom.

What can we do to help our voices?

  • Turn the TV or radio down – instead of talking over the top of them.
  • Give up smoking – This is the best thing you could do for yourself vocally (and health wise).
  • Drink lots of water – especially when talking or singing. Try to consume 7-9 glasses a day.  Teachers should have a bottle of water in class with them (I drink 1 cup of coffee and/or tea in the morning and drink a full water bottle in the afternoon).
  • Take fresh air breaks – especially in smoky or noxious environments (or when you’re in a classroom with no windows, like many of us are)!
  • Warm up! – Before your first lesson of the day, or even at the beginning of the day, find 10-20 minutes to vocalize/talk.  This will prepare your voice for talking during lessons.
  • Rest your voice – especially after lots of singing or talking.
  • Pace your voice – don’t use it too much, too often. Have rest breaks in between periods of use (vary your activities).
  • Find alternatives to modeling – Play a recording of a famous singer singing their piece, explain what you are looking for musically in a particular phrase, or conduct the student as they sing.  Remember, you don’t have to model for every student every day (This is directed to music instructors, mainly).
  • Try whistling instead – there are many ways other than yelling to let your class know of your support, also consider using instruments or a different sound cue to get attention.
  • Swallow – instead of clearing the throat or coughing all the time, try swallowing, it reduces the abrasion.
  • Avoid too much stress – this goes without saying! Stay relaxed and your voice will thank you.
  • Don’t whisper – keep whispering to a minimum as it is quick to cause vocal fatigue. I am terrible at this one.
  • Good posture – an upright, balanced posture is very helpful in reducing stress on the body and promoting optimum vocal tone.
  • Avoid drying out medications – like certain allergy medications, antihistamines, etc.

Borrowed from: Vocal Health for Voice Teacher

150 Ideas to Show Kids You Care

I was reading a previous post on 20 Things Students Want Us to Know About Teachers/Education and it reminded me of something I saw a few months ago. I felt that the list from MindShift was insightful in pointing out what might be wrong with our educational system, but few specific pointers in how to improve. I was especially interested in kayymm’s comment that perhaps we don’t need to love, but respect our students. I linked to the original article from MindShift and some comments were also saying that teachers should not be trained in counselling because it’s not their job. I agree that it’s not our jobs to be counsellors, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an impact on our students as people, rather than just academically. I found this list (150 Ideas to Show Kids You Care) posted in my operetta director’s house. She has taught music and drama for 10+ years and has two daughters. Here are some of my favourites.
Smile a lot.
Acknowledge them.
Learn their names.
Seek them out.
Ask them about themselves
Tell them their feelings are okay.
Set boundaries that keep them safe.
Be yourself.
Listen to their stories
Forget your worries sometimes and concentrate only on them.
Notice when they’re acting differently.
Present options when they seek your counsel.
Suggest better behaviors when they act out.
Feed them when they’re hungry.
Delight in their discoveries.
Share their excitement.
Notice when they’re absent.
Give them space when they need it.
Contribute to their collections.
Discuss their dreams and nightmares.
Laugh at their jokes.
Use your ears more than your mouth.
Make yourself available.
Show up at their concerts, games, and events.
Apologize when you’ve done something wrong.
Wave and smile when you part.
Thank them.
Point out what you like about them.
Clip magazine pictures or articles that interest them.
Catch them doing something right.
Encourage win-win solutions.
Give them your undivided attention.
Ask for their opinion.
Be curious with them.
Let them solve most of their own problems.
Let them tell you how they feel.
Help them become an expert at something.
Tell them about yourself.
Be consistent.
Give them a special nickname.
Ask them to help you.
Deal with problems and conflicts while they’re still small.
Chaperone a dance.
Tell them stories in which they are the hero.
Believe in them.
Nurture them with good food.
Be flexible.
Notice when they grow.
Be understanding when they have a difficult day.
Give them good choices.
Respect the choices they make.
Accept them as they are.
Become their advocate.
Encourage them to help others.
Believe what they say…

Full list available here: http://www.cyc-net.org/today2000/today001211.html Though not all these ideas would be pertinent to teachers, it gives us a starting point as to how to look after the real people who come into our classrooms. Here are some others that have occurred to me since I started teaching:

Buy cookies at their bake sale, let them hang out in your classroom at lunch, phone home just to let their parents know they’ve made an improvement. Do you have any others?

Childhood Obesity Epidemic Infographic

This is something that isn’t discussed enough. NOT (please detect the sarcasm). It’s all over the place but things just aren’t moving fast enough in the right direction. I don’t know too many schools in the board that I’m currently in that provide lunch for the students. Aside from “Fun Lunches” or special days and things like that. Most parents provide lunches for their kids. I think it’s the parents that need to be educated in providing well balanced lunches for their kids. Sadly there is no way to enforce this… Maybe we should go back to all the school providing lunch for their students?

‘Adopted’ from USC.