Sunday, October 20, 2013

The "Pool" of Depression

This is an activity I modified a little from a great Health teacher named Deb Tackmann from Eau Claire WI.  I simply added a few things and found a great video to use as an added attention getter. 

The basic goal of this activity is to get the kids to grasp the sensation of what depression might feel like using a physical crisis to compare with an emotional one.  It works well in helping teens understand what a depressed person might experience emotionally.

First I prep the kids with the video the kids start to freak out a little as the baby gets closer to water and I need to reassure them that everything works out so not to stress.  (Your girls who babysit are the most uncomfortable) 

Once the baby falls in the pool I pause the video.  I ask the class what the baby (I call him little Bobby) might be experiencing or feeling.  After getting a few responses I hand out the comparison sheet. I have the kids (either in pairs, groups or individually) come up with a least 5 comparisons between little Bobby and a depressed teenager.  I usually have one student give me an example as a starter.  (Both are scared, both are struggling, if no one helps they both can die, etc .. )  I can use the answers from the original question of what they thought little Bobby might be experiencing or feeling as a way to kick start ideas.  I give them about 3-4 mins to write their comparisons.  I then ask for individuals or groups to share their responses.  I use those responses to highlight out how a depressed person might feel and linking it to a person drowning so the kids grasp the connection.

After getting a number of responses I shift the question to the bottom half of the comparison sheet.  Now I pose the scenario of “what if little Bobby’s mom just happened to be looking out the window and saw little Bobby reaching for the ball in the pool and just as she turned to run out she hears him fall in the pool.”  Now the kids make comparisons between how little Bobby’s mom and friends of depressed teens are similar?  Again, I have a student give an example aloud as a starter (Both are scared, both are the first to be able to help, both have a limited amount of time to get help, etc …) Again I give the kids about 3-4 mins to come up with comparisons.  The goal here is to get the kids to see the similarities between a concerned mother and a concerned friend.  I also want them to make a connection to the urgency of helping. 

By now some of the kids are getting antsy about what happened to Bobby.  I then play the rest of the video where it shows how little kids are taught how to survival swim as a drowning prevention program.  When it is all finished I ask, “what do these kids have to protect them from drowning?” … the answer am looking for is “SKILLS”.  I have them make the connection of developing physical skills of swimming to reduce the risk of drowning just like we need to build resiliency skills to reduce our risk of developing depression which leads to suicide. 
It has worked as a great intro to the depression/suicide unit and takes a difficult concept of understanding how a person feels with a scenario the kids can connect with like an infant drowning.  It also sets up the next lesson called “Bulls Eye” which is a lesson about comparing what supports are available to a depressed teen vs. little Bobby.  

Look for the “Bulls Eye” lesson in my Blog soon ….

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Orienteering ... Finding your way

With some changes in teaching assignments this year I am getting back to my PE roots.  This year I am teaching more PE and have welcomed the change in scenery.  PE has changed for the better since I last was a full time teacher in Kinesiological management.  Two of my classes are Adventure PE.  Being a bit of an outdoorsman I have been loving this new class.  One of the units we have done has been basic orienteering.  It has been a while since I have used a compass so I needed a little refresher not to mention how to teach a class on this. 

I went on YouTube to get some refreshers on how to use a compass or come up with some activities to do.  I stumbled across a great tutorial that was quick and easy to learning the basics of the compass.  

I decided instead of me trying to teach the same info why not have the kids come into the computer lab and get all the “bookwork” out of the way all at once.  Plus, anyone who has ever tried to have kids sit in a gym or in the bleachers to “teach” will know it is hard to maintain their attention.  The computer lab is a familiar environment for them to do some sit work.
I use with my PE students to be able to contact and provide information to them that they may need for class.  (It works great because I can share docs and videos so I am not picking up papers in the locker room after each hour.)  I put the video link right on edmodo for them to pull from.  I also created a note sheet where they can label the compass and write down the steps to using it.

Note sheet click HERE

Day 1:
I handed out the note sheets and had the kids pull up the video and watch it and fill the note sheets out.  It took all of 20 mins from start to finish.  (I had them pull up some info on as the orienteering unit leads into the geocaching unit).

I created a simple orienteering course for the kids to follow.  I had my morning class do it in the field house (it was wet & dewy) and my afternoon class went outside so as long as you have an open space it should work.  I created 3 different courses just to offer a variety.  Once the kids finished one course they just grabbed a new card.  I color coded each course to make it easier.  The courses are not any harder than the others … just different.

Course Coordinates HERE

Each student got a compass, a course card and a hula hoop.  I had them spread out and stand in their hula hoop.  I then just had them start their course.  If they do their coordinates correct, they should end up right back in their hula hoop or within a few steps of it.  It makes it very easy to see if the kids orienteered correctly.

I was amazed at how well these city kids did on their first try.  The YouTube video made it simple and easy so the activity was a huge success.  The kids enjoyed it and thought it was neat they could use a compass which most never had. 

Day 3:
The kids will create their own 8 step course to plot.  I then have them give their course to a partner and have them orienteer the course to see if it works.

Overall this was a great activity.  The kids loved it and it was a great way to combine some new technology with the old … 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

"Chip" the Habit - An Experiential Addiction Activity

It’s been a while since I have posted a blog.  Summer is over and a new year has started.  I have been asked about ideas for teaching about addiction and I thought it would be a good subject to write about.  I do have a vodcast or two about alcohol and addiction that I usually have the students watch and take notes on.  For an application activity/project I have the students do something that will mirror what an addict experiences especially if they are working to kick the habit. I call the activity “Chip” the habit.

We first have talked a little about addiction but this could be used as an introductory activity to pre-load the lesson.  First I tell the kids they need to get their favorite snack food such as potato chips, Doritos, Oreos, cheese puffs, etc .. they get a chance to pick something they really like.  The students are instructed to open the bag, take out ONE chip/snack item and eat it.  Then they are to close the bag up and leave it on the counter (NOT put away in a drawer/cabinet – that will be important later).  That is the only time they can have a snack like that all day.  No chips or cookies or whatever, only the one time is all they get. 

They are to journal their emotions, thoughts and actions each day.  I usually do a check in during class to see how kids are doing.  If/when kids fail I encourage them to start again and see if they can go longer.  At the end of the week I have them write a reflective response to the activity comparing their experience with that of someone who is trying to stop a destructive habit like smoking, drinking or drug use as well as a more extended class discussion where they can highlight some things from their experience.  

The activity is a great experiential activity that gives the students a sense of what addiction is like.  Hopefully it connects with them in the sense of if they struggle to not eat a chip imagine what a powerful drug can do?? 

Connections & Discussion points:

How did you feel prior to the activity beginning?
(many students talk about how they think it will be easy or it seems a little dumb)

What happened the first time you ate a chip and had to seal up the bag?
(Students talk about how they don’t want to seal it up, it was hard, they were craving more, they got angry, started to get obsessed and thought about it alot.  Many talk about putting the bag in a drawer so they can’t see it … I remind them it HAS to be on the counter in plain sight)

Why did I have you keep the bag on the counter and not put it away?
(advertising, media images, friends/peers, etc.  It is always visible & ‘in your face”, etc)

If you were unable to only eat one chip, what happened?
(ate the whole bag, ate a bunch, felt guilty, stupid, angry, weak … , rationalized to justify eating more than one, “this is stupid”, “I will start tomorrow”, “no one will know”, etc )

How was that like someone who “falls off the wagon”/relapse?
(they do a whole bunch not just a little, they feel a sense of relief followed by guilt and feeling weak, just give up on quitting, rationalize their choice to relapse, etc)

What connections can you make between this activity and addiction?
(It’s hard, it’s all you think about, you get emotional about it, it affects your mood, you see it all the time, I just wanted to get rid of it so I couldn't see it anymore but you can’t, you can’t just have a little you wind up bingeing)

Those are just some of the questions I have used and answers I have been given.  This discussion can get pretty deep and involved which is great.  Kids usually have some very good insight when they write about their experience.

If you wanted to go more paperless or use a little more technology; you could use a back channel activity like polleverywhere, socrative, todaysmeet or edmodo to have an interactive discussion.  You could also use a google form for the kids to use as journal activities for their reflection piece. 

I have used this activity a number of times and it has led to great discussion and comparison points on addiction.  It is a very easy way to have your students get a small taste of what addiction feels like and the peripheral emotions and behaviors that go with it.  Some students have even claimed it has taken a few days after the activity was over to eat those snacks guilt free … J  Maybe it could be a good pre-cursor to your nutrition unit too …

Give this activity a shot and see how well your students can “Chip” the habit