Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Mindful Writers

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Today we talked about the word, MINDFUL. I asked my sixth graders what it meant. Almost all of them had heard of it before...that surprised me. When I asked them to tell me what it meant, I realized where they heard it. Adults use that word to remind students to be empathetic and respectful. One student gave this example, "My mom tells me to be mindful of my sister who's doing her homework at the table."

I get it. That makes sense. It's not what the word means to me, it's not the exact meaning that comes to mind. I think of the word in terms of being in the moment, being present, being aware. We talked more about that and talked about why we, as writers, would benefit from being mindful. Students got it! 

"I'd be calm and relaxed." 
"It would be easier to think of ideas."
"I'd notice things I'd never noticed before and it would be easier to write about it." 

We practiced being mindful for ten seconds. It was amazing what we noticed in just ten seconds of no distractions. One class struggled with these seconds. A student started talking to an object of the shelf as a joke. We talked about why talking won't work while being mindful. It's distracting. Once all the classes got it, they were hooked.

A mindful walk outside followed. (Thank goodness the rain stopped!) We spread out and we practiced noticing and focusing on our senses. We stopped and concentrated for a minute. They we walked again. Stopped and repeated it. Their notes were amazing. They noticed how loud the engine of a bus is. Some noticed the wet and green grass. Others noticed the trees, the colors, the beauty.

Soon this will develop into writing. If I'm being mindful right now, I hear cars zooming down my street. I noticed the glare from the computer screen and I notice the absence of Bella's snoring. (I just checked, she's not asleep.) I feel the warmth of my soft grey socks. The cool iced tea quenches my thirst...I am no longer parched. 

This entire experience brought me back to something I learned in college. I read a book by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk. In the book he talks about being mindful and uses the example of eating an orange...

"When you are truly here, contemplating the orange, breathing and smiling, the orange becomes a miracle. It is enough to bring you a lot of happiness. You peel the orange, smell it, take a section, and put it in your mouth mindfully, fully aware of the juice on your tongue. This is eating an orange in mindfulness. It makes the miracle of life possible. It makes joy possible."

Here's to more moments of mindfulness today!


  1. I love this idea. Especially being mindful while eating the orange.

  2. Michelle, this is great! I do this with second graders, and every time I do, I am reminded why I need to do more of it. Have you read or studied under Jon Kabat Zinn? The Mindfulness Meditation courses he developed are fabulous... mindful eating, mindful washing of dishes, mindful walking, mindful showering, etc. It's life changing. Maribeth

  3. I can imagine that your students welcomed the opportunity to be mindful. It's a way to quiet the mind, but also to honor ourselves as observers.

  4. Teaching kids to be mindful -- to stop and take in the moment -- is SO important today. With video games, instant chats, texting, etc., there just is no slowing down of their minds. I try to do mindful breathing in my classroom every day. It really helps!

  5. My teaching partner does what he call mindfulness as a breathing exercise. I'm sharing this with him. I love the juicy orange paired with the quote!

  6. A former colleague did mindfulness exercises with her students, and used a Tibetan singing bowl to call them to group, or to the small meditations they did. Her class was a joy to visit, as I imagine yours, too, Michelle. This is all wonderful to hear.

  7. What a great activity to do with your students. I try so hard to do breathing with my kids every afternoon after recess to get us ready for the last part of our day and to be more mindful! The kids really love it too. It helps us to maintain routine and procedure! I love the picture at the end of your slice too! :)


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