Mental Health and the Little Things

mental health

Yesterday saw Mental Well Being week roll out in my school. Both the SPHE and RE departments have made a huge effort to ensure that every student in the school will have classes focusing on how to mind their mental health. As part of the RE department I researched a few resources to use within the senior cycle religion classes. Having trawled through countless blogs, sites and handouts, I highly recommend checking out spunout.ie.

In particular, I think the ‘little things’ section would work very well in the classroom. There are three short videos, each with someone from spunout.ie discussing their experience of going though a difficult time, and focusing on how the ‘little things’ helped get them through it.

In terms of raising awareness and discussion about mental health, the clips could work really well in the classroom.

Alan’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_0o2C02xIY 

Una’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LO43cGcOlbw

Robert’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j-suBO7k_M

Watching the videos would give a great opportunity for students to take a moment to identify what ‘little things’ work for them and their mental health.

Following the videos, it would be a good idea to discuss some tips for minding mental health, which include:

  • Keeping Active
  • Talking about your problems
  • Doing things with others
  • Eating healthily
  • Staying in touch
  • Drinking less alcohol
  • Looking out for others
  • Sleeping well

Teaching about Prejudice

prejudice

I love doing this with my students! It’s all about prejudice, and every time I’ve used it, it’s been really effective. I have used this a number of times since I found it 3 years ago, but unfortunately, I couldn’t find the original source before posting here. If I manage to track him/her down, I’ll update this post! So here it goes….

1. Ask all your students to step outside the classroom as you set it up.

2. Place a pair of sheets ( link below) on a few desks around the room.  Make sure the sheet with the image is facing down, and place the sheet with text on top of it, facing up.

3. Ask the students to come back into the room.

4. Explain to them that you want them to imagine that they have just got on board a bus to go into town. There are no totally empty seats and so they must sit beside one of the people already on the bus.

5. Invite the students to walk around the room and read the sheets. Each sheet has a label on it, such as ‘granny’ or ‘person with mental illness’.

6. Ask the students to pick the ‘person’ they would choose to sit with, and stand beside that sheet of paper.

7. Invite the students to explain why they chose to sit beside that person rather than others.

8. When the students have an an opportunity to explain, one by one, go to each pair of sheets and reveal the real person behind the label.

9. Look at the students’ reactions, and invite some responses.

Here are the sheets you place on the desks: Sheets for People on Bus . Each pair begins with a sheet with a label on it (e.g. A Granny) and the next sheet is the real person behind the label.

Notes:

(a) Mary Robinson is a granny, but may be significantly different from a student’s general concept of ‘granny’. Robinson was the first female president of Ireland and went on to become the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

(b) When Jackie Chan first went to America he was a refugee.

(c) J.K. Rowling has suffered from depression and once contemplated suicide.

(d) Nelson Mandela was convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the state and spent 27 years in jail

(e) As a child Jim Carey was homeless for a period of time after his father lost his job. His family slept in their car.

Junior Cert Section B : Homes in Palestine at the time of Jesus

Capernaum 

At this stage in the year many of us will move on to teaching our students Section B. One of my favourite parts of this section is teaching about life in Palestine at the time of Jesus. While in Israel last year we visited the ruins of Capernaum, an important town in the bible stories of the New Testament where Jesus performed healing miracles. I took some photos of the excavations there, particularly of the homes and the synagogue. Hopefully they’ll be of some use to you in the classroom!

Ruins of Houses in Capernaum

Ruins of Houses in Capernaum with the synagogue in the background

Ruins of houses in Capernaum

Ruins of houses in Capernaum; notice the doorways into the rooms and houses

Ruins of houses in Capernaum

Ruins of houses in Capernaum

Ruins in Capernaum, with a path running between two groups of houses

Ruins in Capernaum, with a path running between two groups of houses

Ruins of Capernaum, with  paths dividing the houses into blocks

Ruins of Capernaum, with paths dividing the houses into blocks

Notice the jars etc in the foreground, which would have been used for storing oil, etc.

Notice the jars etc in the foreground, which would have been used for storing oil, etc.

Reconstruction of windows from the houses

Reconstruction of windows from the houses

Ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Inside the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Inside the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Inside the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Inside the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum

Interior pillars in the synagogue of Capernaum

Interior pillars in the synagogue of Capernaum

Games played by children carved into the stone on the synagogue floor

Games played by children carved into the stone on the synagogue floor

Games played by children carved into the stone on the synagogue floor

Games played by children carved into the stone on the synagogue floor

How Post-Its Can Change Your Teaching

post it

I’ve been using this little gem since I started teaching. It’s tried and tested and….it works!

Grab a stack of Post-Its and give one to each student. Tell each student to write on the back of the Post-It (below the sticky piece). Then at the end of the lesson / topic / whenever you feel like it, ask the students to write down one question they have about the topic. Then get the students to fold over the Post-It so that it’s sealed. You can either take them up and address the questions straight away, or take them up at the end of class so that you can read through them in advance and possibly research some answers.

This is one of the most simple and easy teaching tricks, but its so effective. Immediately you can see if there are any gaps in your students’ knowledge, or if they have any questions. Students love it because they don’t put their names to their question, so they don’t have to worry about asking what they think might be a ‘stupid question’ and risk being laughed at. I love because it gives me a brilliant understanding of where the students are ‘at’. Occasionally I will read a plea from a student asking me to go over something again, or more slowly, with the student admitting they didn’t want to ask in front of everyone else. That’s the beauty of anonymity – pretty much total honesty!

You can use this in pretty much any subject, but I have found it particularly useful when doing poetry and novels in English – it helps clear up any gaps in understanding pretty quickly and gives me a great indication if students have grasped the topic / poet /  novel!

Hope you find this helpful!

New Years Reflection

2015

While we all make fun of the ‘New Year, New You’ campaign that seems to be everywhere this time of year, there’s no doubting that New Years gives us a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect over what we have achieved over the past year. It also allows us to think about everything we’d like to achieve in the year ahead.

I think one of the most important things we can teach to our students is the importance of reflection. It’s a skill that encourages us to learn from past mistakes, acknowledge previous victories, take stock of where we are and determine where we want to be. It’s a skill that can help in all areas of life. They say experience is the best teacher, but this is only the case if we reflect on experience.

The new year gives us a wonderful opportunity to encourage this in the classroom. I found this worksheet on Pinterest (the original creator is thirtyhandmadedays.com) and used it with my 1st year students.

(no one mentioned drinking green goo or running at 6 a.m!)

Enjoy!

What is Cultural Context ?

Ms. Troy's Blog

Students struggle to write about cultural context and sometimes its because they don’t actually know what cultural context is and they get confused. I want to use this blog post to focus on what students can write about when discussing cultural context.

So what is Culture?

¢Has been defined as the ‘total way of life of a people’. It is collective rather than individual. It is created by groups interacting with each other over a prolonged period of time.

¢When we compare cultural context, we compare how the characters in different texts organise their society, how they behave, how they think and feel and what matters to them.

¢We look at the ordinary lives of men and women in a particular setting created by the author: what is called ‘the world of the text’.

¢What we are seeing is a reflection of the real world, not reality itself.

¢What kind…

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