Curious about what I do with my first grade students?

My boss wrote a little article for our school’s website. Enjoy!

Students learn to pay attention to their breath by picking up a pebble on their natural inhale and putting it down on the natural exhale.

Students learn to pay attention to their breath by picking up a pebble on their natural inhale and putting it down on the natural exhale.


At the 2013 AISL Conference, I’ll be doing a workshop on integrating meditation and peace studies into your curriculum. This Baltimore area  conference runs from Wednesday, April 24- Friday, April 26, 2013. My workshop will be held on Thursday, April 25th in Annapolis. More information can be found here, and I’ve pasted a workshop description below. See you there!

A Peaceful Library: Integrating Meditation and Peace Studies into Lower School Curriculum

During this session, Angela Baccala, Pre and Lower School Librarian at the Key School, will present two units oriented around peace and social justice. In one unit, Angela teaches meditation to first graders, as a way of setting the tone for a peaceful classroom. Then, after sharing of literature on the theme of world peace, the students find their own ways to integrate peace into their lives at school. In a third grade unit, with a focus on dictionary skills, the children explore the meaning of the word “peace” through literature and art. Both units seamlessly integrate peace studies with language arts, technology, and art. Angela will discuss ways to integrate meditation and life skills topics within a variety of disciplines, and how teachers can work together toward such an integrated approach.

This past spring I was interviewed by Erich Strom for an article to appear in the September “Back to School” edition of Scholastic Instructor magazine. The article is entitled Ten Ways to Turn Stress Into Success and features a sidebar called “Mind Over Matter,” where my comments appear.

Of course, Erich had to quote me about my colleagues looking at me “like I was insane” when I wanted to add mindfulness to the first grade curriculum?! 😉 Beyond this funny anecdote, Erich outlines some solid ways to “get started at your school.”

Take a look and pick up a tip or two for your own classroom!

Participants practicing yoga at The Key School's Professional Development Institute (2010)

As a part of the Key School’s summer teaching institute: Engaging Minds, Inspiring Ideas, I will be offering a set of two workshops on mindfulness for educators on Friday, June 17th. The morning session will focus on the benefits of meditation and how to develop a personal practice. In the afternoon, we will explore ways to incorporate meditation and other mindfulness techniques in the classroom, with a focus on grades K-8.

If you have no (or limited) prior meditation experience, take the morning workshop or the morning workshop followed by the afternoon workshop. If you have some experience with meditation or have a personal mindfulness practice, you are welcome to join us for the morning session or just take the afternoon.

Please pass this information on to anyone you think might find it interesting and helpful! Thank you!

To Learn More or to Register: https://www.keyschool.org/community/engaging-minds-inspiring-ideas/index.aspx

While in the midst of the heavier academic labors of March, it’s also apparently time to think about summer camp. “Summer” is something I can’t quite wrap my mind around just yet. Nevertheless, I’ve signed on to teach a week-long mindfulness workshop for middle school children at The Key School’s summer camp. I’ll be using curriculum I devised for a Middle School stress-reduction activity (with Lisa Dorsey) along with Kimberly Post Rowe’s “A Settled Mind” book & CD. Here’s the description:

A Settled Middle School Mind

Middle School students face a great deal of stress in their experiences with peers, at school, during extra-curricular activities, and even at home. This week campers will focus on how to identify stressors in their lives and develop coping skills and strategies. We’ll explore sitting and walking meditation, using labyrinths and mandalas, and other relaxation techniques. Campers will receive a CD of guided meditations, as well as other props and tools to keep cool under the pressure of school life.
Entering Grades 5-8 • Cost: $155

At the start of each school year, I work with students on formulating a set of  “Library Agreements.”**  As a group, we work on what ways we can agree to be together in the Library in order to have a peaceful and productive year.  (You can read more about this year’s opening lesson in my blogpost “Let’s Do Yoga!”)

For my first grade students, this sets the stage for a longer unit on peace in the Library.  Our “A Peaceful Library” unit begins with learning to meditate, using the Peaceful Piggy books by Kerry Lee MacLean.  Then, we read a wonderful National Geographic picture book by Barbara Kerley. 

Using Kerley’s photographs in A Little Peace, we take a look at people all over the world engaged in a variety of peaceful activities.   Then, the students brainstorm how they each find “a little peace” at school, so we can make our own “book.”  We go all over the campus and take photographs of our class engaged in their brainstormed peaceful activities.  I put it all into a Photostory and add the song “We Want Peace on Earth” by Robert Alan.  You can watch this year’s slideshow here: A Little Peace Video.

Enjoy! (And let me know what you think!)

**This idea came from my colleague who attended the Peaceable Schools Institute at Lesley University.

My latest blog post also appears as an article on The Shambhala Times!


The version on the Times also features a photo of my own children.  🙂

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