Good things, when short, are twice as good.
Baltasar Gracian y Morales
“I can do almost anything if it’s only for one minute.” My friend Darla was talking about abdominal crunches, and whenever I have to push through those or something similarly painful at the gym, I remember her words.
I can put up with almost anything for one minute, and when I’m doing something timed and difficult, I’m often amazed at how much effort can be packed into 60 seconds. One minute can change the tone of any classroom or meeting.
For the past few years, teachers have been using this principle with quick brain and body breaks with students to refocus, reconnect, and lift the mood in the classroom. Here are my three favorite uses of the mighty minute. Not surprisingly, none of them involve abdominal crunches.
You can tidy a lot in 60 seconds. The best quick tidy habit at home? According to Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project, it’s making your bed. Starting each day with that little bit of order ensures a tidy end. Every classroom can have a “make the bed” minute baked into the beginning or end of the day for ordering supplies, desks, tables, and displays.
A one-minute stretch does wonders for mental clarity and well-being. “Sitting is the new smoking” according to health professionals in terms of shortening life spans. There are all kinds of apps like Stretch Clock (http://stretchclock.com/) with built-in timers to get you and your students up and moving at regular intervals.
Finally, a minute of silence feels a whole lot longer than it is, and nothing calms a community down more quickly. In professional development sessions a minute of quick writing or silent reading often isn’t really about the reading or writing – it’s there to get teachers out of whatever is distracting them, and into the here and now.
This week we offer our annual spring break edition of the newsletter, highlighting subscribers’ favorite ten features from the past year (in no particular order). I’m so grateful to you for taking a mighty minute (or two or ten) to read the newsletter each week. Here’s to daffodils and sunshine. Happy spring!
Founder, Choice Literacy
Free for All
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Melissa Styger develops A Just-Right Lesson for Just-Right Books using recordings of students reading a variety of texts:
Shari Frost suggests what shouldn’t be on classroom walls: student assessment scores. She explains why this practice can be harmful to students:
Are you more of a Pollyanna or an Eeyore reflector? Heather Rader takes you inside the questions that help us reflect deeply on instructional practices:
Katie DiCesare has wise advice for helping readers who are falling behind their peers but don’t qualify for additional services:
Mary Lee Hahn finds 15 minutes of writing on Friday builds fluency and confidence in her fifth-grade students, and gives her a wealth of formative assessment data at the same time:
Ann Marie Corgill provides some guiding questions to help teachers figure out priorities in their schedules for daily routines:
Cathy Mere puts guided reading in perspective, explaining how it works as one piece of the puzzle when it comes to fostering a lifelong love of reading in students:
Aimee Buckner has advice for helping students write better first drafts:
Karen Terlecky combines teaching kindness, building community, and developing reading skills in Do They Care? Empathy Book Clubs:
When premade reading notebooks no longer fit into her reading budget, Katherine Sokolowski comes up with a unique design starting with generic notebooks, and in the process figures out what’s most important to include in them:
That’s all for this week!