I was first introduced to Energizing Brain Breaks at a workshop run by my local ROE focused on implementing the Common Core Standards. One suggestion for breaking up the monotony of classroom instruction--while simultaneously providing some cerebral stimulation--was the idea of giving students "brain breaks." Brain breaks are a wonderful activity for kinesthetic learners--or really anyone who doesn't like sitting for an entire class period. They also create a mental challenge for students. Specifically, these brain breaks are intended to "cross the mid-line of your body which helps both sides of your brain engage." You can purchase the Energizing Brain Breaks books and DVDs on the official website--my local ROE bought several copies to give away to teachers at the CCSS workshops and I snagged an extra from my principal. Several of these brain breaks can also be viewed completely free on David Sladkey's YouTube channel. (Kuddos to Mr. Sladkey for creating and sharing this fabulous resource with educators everywhere!)
For individuals interested in buying Sladkey's book or DVD, prices as of 12-29-11 are listed at $14.95 for the book, $11.95 for the DVD, or $21.95 for both items, with 50% of the proceeds benefiting Rise International, an organization which helps to build schools in Africa. (Spend a little AND help a little: it's a win-win, right?)
Nerdy Book Club:http://nerdybookclub.wordpress.com/
I'll admit it. At heart, I've always been a nerd. I like to read. I like to write. I like to challenge myself and let those neutrons in my brain fire away, making new and exciting connections to the stuff tucked away neatly in my grey matter. In fact, as a child with limited motor skills and a severe aversion to extended hours of glaring sunlight, I spent many summer days curled up with a good book. Specifically, I remember a volume of Greek myths that I read every single summer; I would spend the hottest parts of the day absorbed in stories of Cupid, Psyche, Prometheus, and Hades. These gods and goddesses, lovers and heroes, became something akin to old friends that I revisited each year when it was simply too hot to go outside and play with my sister. Reading was a priceless piece of my oasis.
This love for books continued until I was in high school where, sadly, my love of books ceased, suddenly and without warning. I don't know exactly what contributed to this sudden dislike for books, but I would guess it was a combination of many things: Accelerated Reader, lack of choice when it came to choosing books, the over-teaching of interesting books. Suddenly, reading became a chore, rather than an activity that I did for fun. Instead of relishing my private reading time, I actually began thinking up ways to pass classes without doing the required reading. What happened to me?!
Recently, however, I have rediscovered the joys of reading for fun. A summer vacation to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter prompted me to go home and begin reading the series. (I mean, they were already on my bookshelf. The least I could do was give them a chance, right?) I devoured the books! Now, I'm like an addict. I just can't stop reading books. I feel that childhood love of literature bubbling back up to the surface as I continue reading. The challenge is that I want to simultaneously burn through as many books as I can, but I also want to savor every bit of the language as I go. As it stands, I am enjoying reading with no other purpose than the ultimate reading purpose--FUN--and my list of "must-reads" is quickly growing as students and peers continue to make recommendations. In short, I'm enjoying the journey of a born-again reader.
In my quest to get more information about excellent reads--young adult literature in particular--I have come across some fabulous resources. One that I have found particularly interesting is the Nerdy Book Club blog. I discovered this website from a tweet posted by Donalyn Miller. (Her book, The Book Whisperer, has been very transformational in terms of my approach to teaching novels this school year.) Currently, the Nerdy Book Club is taking nominations for the best books of 2011. I'm really anticipating the results--great book recommendations from people who love to read books! What more could an English teacher ask for? Visit Nerdy Book Club blog to make nominations, or to hear the buzz from fellow bibliophiles!
Note: Want to know what I'm reading? Check HERE.
Dr. Jessica Pilgreen, Ed.D.