Healthy Start 2020- Part 1

The Healthy Start project centres around students have to choose something they want to start or stop doing that will contribute to their positive mental, physical, social-emotional, or spiritual well being. This excerpt from the Ontario Health Curriculum helped me see that this project could help meet curricular skills while also helping students with goal setting and other learning skills. “Maintaining good mental health and emotional well-being involves balancing the different aspects of life: the physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual. It involves the ability to think, feel, act, and interact in a way that allows you to enjoy life and cope with challenges that arise,” (pg. 197). This project was essentially inspired to help my students develop and use of strategies for relieving stress, caring for their mental health and/or promoting their overall health, which is especially needed while they are in the virtual school this year.

This is the third year that I have facilitated the Healthy Start BOB project in my Grade 8 Homeroom class. You can read more about previous experiences here. This is a project that I had previously facilitated in January because of the natural connection between a new year and new goals. This year, being in the Elementary Virtual School (York Region’s EVS), learning skill development is more important than ever, so I wanted to teach goal setting and give students more than one chance to set and work towards attaining a goal. Also, this project could help students develop organizational and self regulation skills in more systematic ways. That is why I implemented the first of what will be two Healthy Start projects- a bi-BOB.

The Healthy Start projects asks students to commit to a goal, track it through journaling for 21 days (Steven Covey), and create something to share with the class that reflects their journey and/or accomplishments. I gave students time to journal 3 times each week, and I gave them the option to share their products through a virtual gallery walk, present to the whole class, or present to a small group in a breakout room. Here are some of the goals set by my students:

- Having a better night’s sleep

- Healthy eating

- Drinking water

- Cleaning up/organizing space

- Learning to play guitar

- Playing her flute daily

- Learning to meditate/develop a mindfulness practice

- Regular physical exercise

- Drawing for release

- Strategies for Stress reduction

- Weight management

- Walking outdoors daily

- Using bullet journal

- Become more productive/less procrastination

- Reducing screen time (which is a particular challenge when learning online)

Their products ranged from slide shows to images to poster boards to videos.

Some Student Reflections

I was able to tweak my sleep schedule so that I wasn't tired in the morning. Matt

I think I achieved my goal because now I developed a healthier diet for myself, by eating fewer snacks and eating more of my main meals every day. This also helped me develop a habit of drinking more water than I used to. Zoey

I think I somewhat achieved my goal because I can play a couple chords, switch between certain chords effortlessly, play notes on all strings, can read tab music and play along to a song. I don't think that I achieved my goal in the way that I can't quite play a song yet. I wanted to be able to sing along to a song I play in guitar. Eva

I think I was able to achieve my goal because I was able to find a successful drawing style that really did help me calm down. Selina

I did well with sticking to my goal and doing the meditation for the needed amount for each week. I also journaled when I needed to and wrote my thoughts and challenges and next steps for my Healthy Start goal. Felix

I think that the time I spent procrastinating has gone down by quite a bit and I even found out a lot of new ways to motivate myself. Aubree (Aubree got her inspiration for the 10 Minute and 2 Minute Rule from:

I think I achieved my goal because I consistently kept moving forward without missing a day of exercise. Also I do think I feel healthier, I don't feel as sluggish and overall I just feel better. Andrew

I think one thing I did well is that I used my tracker well and reflected off of my tracker so that I could improve for the next day. I also took the responsibility to consistently drink water myself and take the initiative to figure out different ways to drink more water for example changing my cup so that it has a straw. Rameen

My Reflections

While tracking the experience is essential, it became mundane and not every student felt they had some new to say for each journal entry. I will reduce the frequency to twice a week and continue to encourage my students to pay with different means of reflections including podcasting and vlogging. Also, I will use more of a variety of prompts to help support the students thinking and redirection.

One great part of the success was to use my weekly meeting time with my students. They have signed up for 5 minutes of 1:1 time with me each week, which is much more useful in a virtual scenario where there is uninterrupted time to support each learner as they need. I could really check in on their progress and make suggestions to help them improve or change their approach to achieving their goal. I loved reading their reflections knowing that we would be revisiting this project and students would have the chance to improve their learning skill, use feedback to do set and attain goals more effectively this time, and to track the data. This next iteration of Healthy Start is paired with our data management unit so that students can notice patterns, determine correlations and have quantifiable and qualifiable data to help them better track and achieve their goals. Being able to have multiple opportunities for my students to make mistakes and learning from hem is sure to be powerful. When some wrote about not achieving their goals, we could look at what they did and did't do and help them better prepare for the Take 2 that they will have and the additional opportunity to grow from feedback and failure.

This is one of the BOB projects that I will be sharing in an upcoming Responsive Presentation for The Mentoree on Tues, January 26th from 4-5 pm EST. If you want to learn more about this and other projects that help students build skill, autonomy, connection and community in face to face and virtual learning scenarios, register for free here.