Lunchtime Chats: An MJS Pilot

Cult of Pedagogy, an education blog written by experienced middle school English teacher Jennifer Gonzalez, should be followed by every educator. Her content is very concrete and can be easily adapted in all K-12 classrooms. You can follow her on Facebook and Pinterest or just follow her blog and get emails when new articles are posted. Recently, she posted a very interesting article about Piloting. This is the new wave in PD. It is a teacher-led, grassroots approach to solving a problem or fulfilling a need in our classrooms and school.  Click here to read the article! 

So, when Lisa approached me about an important need she found: that teachers have little time to really discuss curriculum across a grade level, at least in middle school, I thought maybe Piloting could work. This is where the ‘Lunch time Chat’ idea was born.  Our first Lunch Time Chat will be focused on 6th grade. Lisa will be meeting any 6th grade teacher who would like to participate in P-3 to problem solve how 6th grade can become more cohesive in what we teach. We will open this up to different grade levels next month.

If you see a problem or need you would like to solve, see me and I would be happy to schedule a Keep Calm time for interested people to come together!

#teachingisbetterwithfriends #keepcalmandlearnsomethingnew #mjspilot



The Case for Doodling In the Classroom

Have you ever been teaching something you find very important and you look down at one of your students and they are deep into a very detailed doodle? You think to yourself: “How could this student not be paying attention? How rude of them!” But, did you know that there is probably a higher chance that the doodlers in your class are actually retaining more information than the student who is obediently staring at you as you speak? Yep, that’s right. As much as we might hate to admit it, doodling can and should be allowed in our classrooms. I fought it for a long time, but I am a fervent believer in doodling today.

According to many studies, doodling effectively aids in executive functioning and multi-tasking. One study concluded that people doodling during a lecture could recall 29% of the the information given while the non-doodlers averaged 5.8%. In fact, they attribute this retention to the fact that doodling does not allow the brain to day dream, which takes a lot of the brain’s energy away from the task at hand. Doodling requires way less energy and keeps the brain focused on the speaker.

So, what if we started class one day by saying, “Students, I am going to share this information. I want you to listen and engage in class discussions at times. But, while you are listening, I encourage you to doodle.” We know that every student will be so excited for this. And, all of us with those fancy white board tables will rejoice at the fact that doodling is actually aiding in their learning!

Now, what if we then said, “Students, not only are you allowed to doodle, today I am going to teach you strategies for how to improve your doodles. Maybe you can even draw what you hear or see in the text.”   Taking notes with doodling even has a name: sketchnoting! It is the new spatial note-taking device that is hitting the education world by storm.

In fact, here is a sketchnote sharing different ways you can use doodling in your classroom!


Source for this picture

EdWeek: The Power of Visual Note-taking

If sketchnoting interests you, I encourage you to do a simple search for it on Google and you will be so surprised at how much is out there!  Give students who learn spatially a chance to learn their way. Outlining is not for everybody!

Tips for beginners and doodling and the link to my cover picture


Susan Reedy Get’s Mindful

We have an amazing opportunity on Monday, October 10th. Susan Reedy is spending lunch with us to teach us mindfulness exercises. If you have never heard her speak, I highly recommend you find a way to get to this. Susan has an amazing ability to lift your spirits and validate your emotions.

Below is a short teaser from Susan about what to expect during our first Mindfulness workshop:

“The practice of mindfulness can sometimes generate images of a wise guru sitting in full lotus, fingertips and thumbs touching, while breathing “ohms.” And while there are formal practices of mindfulness that involve these types of sitting practices, mindfulness is also a state of being in the world. A way of acknowledging whatever happens around you with kindness and curiosity. Being fully present, compassionately aware, and always curious about your experience.

Informal mindfulness practices can be incorporated into your every day life. You can be mindful while eating, walking, washing dishes, shampooing your hair, or petting your dog. Learning to be mindful in your daily activities has been shown to have positive affects on your mental outlook, your impulse control, and your capacity to tolerate stress and pain.

If you would enjoy spending 30 minutes experiencing some informal mindfulness practices (including some tasty cheese and fruit), as well as try out a formal sitting practice in which to find room to breathe and take care of your body and mind, join Susan Reedy on October 10 at 12:20 in room H16.”

(If you are unable to make this one, she is already scheduled for another Mindfulness Workshop November 4th during our November PD series!)

Think Restore and Refresh isn’t for you? Think Again!


Hopefully you have all already heard about the new PD series, “Keep Calm and Learn Something New.” During the October series, we are offering two Restore and Refresh yoga classes. The first class, scheduled for Friday October 7th at 2:45pm,  will help us let go from the stressful week. The second class,  Tuesday October 25th at 7:15am, is meant to help you focus for the coming day. Both will be amazing and you should definitely participate!

Here are the top 3 reasons you should join us at one or both of the yoga sessions!

  1. You are already stressed and it isn’t even October yet. According to research conducted by the Mayo clinic, “A number of studies have shown that yoga may help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.” Yoga has also been linked to increased blood flow causing blood pressure levels to naturally lower.
  2. You have never tried yoga before.  This class is geared towards all levels and focuses on breathing exercises and careful deep stretches. Janine Glass, our certified yoga instructor, personalizes each move based on ability, injuries and individual requests.  See her website for further information about her qualifications. Kimmy and I have taken her YogaWorks restorative class and Janet is a regular because of her Goal 6 grant! See any of us for questions and concerns!
  3. You want to learn more about yourself and your body.  When I attended Janine’s class, just by looking at me she knew that I was left-handed, I suffered from lower back pain, which she pin-pointed to a knot on my lower right side and I have pain in my feet due to high arches. I didn’t even know I had high arches! (Now you know way too much about me!) The point is, she is incredibly knowledgeable and I left the class feeling more aware about how I can support my chronic pain through better shoes and regular massages! (Emphasis on massages) 🙂

Click on this to sign up for Restore and Refresh or another workshop!


Click on this to print the PDF