The 20 first graders in my classroom are fervent technophiles with strong emotions that both send them into ecstasies of delight and dark places of self-doubt and fiery frustration. One thing they are truly amazing at is listening to stories, either read live or an audiobook, and taking away the lessons that they learn from those tales--truly applying them to their every-day lives.
This brilliant group of emotional fire-crackers are from diverse backgrounds, but united by a love of learning.
Some have non-traditional family structures, some hear a language other than English at home, and some have unique medical needs. Together we form a warm educational community--much like a family--where we support each other through the highs and lows of learning as well as our non-study-related struggles. Sometimes we bicker and sometimes we rub each other the wrong way, but through it all we have each other's back and work hard to make sure everyone feels safe and cared for all the time.
My class is lucky enough to have a bunch of physical books that we also can access via audiobook. Many of these books teach great lessons about empathy or about ways characters cope with stress. My students can't get enough! Because they are young and many are newly-fledged readers, having books read aloud is a less frustrating way to access these more complex texts. With more headphones available in the classroom, more students can access these books--even using headphone splitters to listen to the books together. After listening to recorded books as pairs or groups of three, students can share with one another the lessons the characters learned and think about how they might apply to their own lives--making the social-emotional learning applicable to their daily lives and helping it to stick. The headphones can also help us listen to calming music as a stress-conquering technique!
My students are young and they don't always notice right away when they've encountered triggers that could send them to a dark emotional place.
Sometimes, by the time they realize they need to use a calming strategy, it's too late for it to be very effective. A Pip biofeedback device, which is a little hand-held gadget in the shape of a seed, sends information about an individual's stress level right to an iPad. A paired app can encourage a child to calm down by displaying a visual that gives them real-time feedback on how well their calming strategies are working. This makes the opportunity to calm down like a game when it can otherwise feel like a chore or, even worse, a punishment. As students become more aware of their their triggers and physical manifestations of stress, they can start to use calming techniques when needed without even needing the Pip to help them.
If you donated to this project, you can sign in to leave a comment for Ms. Mileham.
DonorsChoose is the most trusted classroom funding site for teachers.
As a teacher-founded nonprofit, we're trusted by thousands of teachers and supporters across the country. This classroom request for funding was created by Ms. Mileham and reviewed by the DonorsChoose team.
DonorsChoose makes it easy for anyone to help a classroom in need. Public school teachers from every corner of America create classroom project requests, and you can give any amount to the project that inspires you.