Thank You For The Inspiration

For me, Twitter has proven to be a constant source of inspiration and motivation and I continue to be thankful to the hundreds of teachers in my PLN who freely share what’s going on in their classroom. Some share because they’re proud of a success. Some share because they have an idea that is in need of improving. And some share their mistakes, because aren’t we supposed to model what we teach and learn from our failures?

I am fortunate that I work at a school with a supportive administration that encourages teachers to take risks and try something new, as long as it is in the best interests of our students. I appreciate that this isn’t typical for many teachers but I have noticed that many teachers who have been selected for awards and highlighted for excellence often come from schools that encourage teacher autonomy.

Sharing my resources, lessons and examples of awesome student work, along with the addictive dopamine-fueled reinforcement of a like or a retweet, is one of the reasons why I am as excited to teach #HealthEd in year 24 of my career as I was in year 1.

In the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude I would like to give a shout out to these six tweets that inspired me this week. Please consider following each of these awesome educators and reach out to them if you have questions about the lesson that they have shared.

Kaitlyn Hall is a health teacher in Illinois who I have had the pleasure to see grow as an educator via her IAHPERD sessions each year. She shares freely and her sessions are always a packed house, most recently wowing teachers from across the country with her ‘Poop Happens’ presentation at the PE Institute last summer. Kaitlyn spent the summer reflecting on how to create the most positive culture in her classroom and decided to craft lessons that model and create an expectation of kindness.

“Take-one, give one” tags are a way that students could have a keepsake from their experience in my class. I’ve seen students attach tags to their lanyards, pencil cases, backpacks, and shoe laces. The impact has been school-wide as I’ve seen students wearing the tags that I have never had in class.

Kaitlyn Hall

What I love about this simple kindness activity is that it has students thinking about compliments, creating compliments, passing those compliments on and these tags will prove to be a continual reminder to the recipients that they are cared for. I’m totally doing this for Random Acts of Kindness Week with my Peer Helping students at school.

Sarah Chap has been on my health radar for years now, and not just because she was my #slowchatgiftx gift exchange partner and sent me the most amazing gifts! What I love most about this activity is that it encourages students to reflect upon their health behavior and consider making improvements. This reflection is an opportunity for our students to demonstrate their health literacy to us as they continue to develop a life skill.

There is a future blog post coming from Sarah on this awesome lesson as it contains so many levels that there isn’t time to do it justice in this blog post. Sarah told me that for part of the lesson “students were instructed to create visual evidence that examines how the positive and negative messages from a variety of external and internal factors interact to try to influence the character’s thoughts, feelings, or behaviors. If they were able, students were also asked to examine how the character’s actions could reduce the impact of negative influences or increase the impact of positive influences in order to maintain or improve their health.” 

I finally had the chance to meet Rachel Hervey at this summers PE Institute and she was as impressive in person as she is on social media. She is doing such creative things in her classroom that just following her online will provide you with bite-sized professional development each week. This glimpse into her classroom not only shared her great set-up….I’m envious of the write-on tables, but it also introduced me to the concept of a ‘Silent Debate’.

Rachel had her students look through STI case studies and discussed symptoms and the common lack of symptoms. Students worked independently to research the case studies and then for 8-10 minutes they walked around to a display of the case studies writing their silent thoughts, diagnoses, and their challenges to other student comments. These comments build, questions are raised, and eventually the case studies are ‘solved’.

What an awesome way to encourage thoughtful discussion about an awkward topic, plus safely providing a space for all students to contribute! Rachel, as the teacher, is able to circulate the room and formatively assess students. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!

I wish SHAPE America‘s National Health Teacher of the Year Kimberly Ohara wasn’t based so far away from me as I would love to spend time in her classroom watching her teach. Every time I see Kimberly present I am blown away, particularly with project based lessons. In this lesson she shares how her students used this sleep diary to track not only their sleep patterns but also aspects of their sleep hygiene.

We know that sleep plays such an important role in the development of our students and I my message is that it will help them with sports, arts, academics and their social life. We must encourage our students to make sleep non-negotiable. I haven’t had students actually track their sleep habits…I think I will now.

If you haven’t read ‘Why We Sleep‘ by Dr. Matthew Walker, you really must. This #slowchathealth Book of the Month will change the way that you view sleep forever.

Charlie Rizzuto is another awesome educator whom I met for the first time, and definitely not the last, at this summers PE Institute. Charlie’s tweet is symbolic of everything that I love about Twitter. He shared a resource freely, that was inspired by someone else in his PLN. The tweet blew up and he continued to engage with educators regarding how he created his Choose Your Own Adventure slides. At one point a teacher asked if they could purchase the slides and Charlie freely shared the link. Charlie and I think alike!

Charlie’s scenario features a family reunion in which you choose whether to talk with Grandpa or play catch with Uncle Joe. The story reveals symptoms of a medical complication and you have to react accordingly, demonstrating your ability to respond to someone having a stroke or seizure. This lesson utilizes the power of storytelling, and is unique and engaging. I bet Charlie’s students loved this lesson.

What I found most inspirational about Charlie’s tweet is that for the longest time I have vowed to return to the Choose Your Own Adventure idea, but with a twist. Watch this space for a podcast resource coming from yours truly in the near future. Thank you Charlie for inspiring me.

Erica Valenti is another Illinois Health Teacher of the Year and her tweet is everything that I’m looking for from my PLN. Erica shares her students work, gives thanks to the teacher who inspired her (Christopher Pepper, who inspires so many people), and also tags other educators who she thinks should see the tweet, including her Assistant Principal. Twitter is a great way to show your administrators how good your teaching, your curriculum, and your students are! Erica modified Chris’ activity to suit the needs of her own students and used it to start conversations about healthy dating and responsible behaviors.

If YOU want to try the Human Sexuality Person activity in class then check out the link here from the ‘Be Real. Be Ready’ curriculum….which is AMAZING! This particular lesson is a creative way to get your students talking about Communication & Relationships;
Body Parts & Body Image; Gender Roles; Sexual Orientation; Values and Beliefs & Norms.

Before you check out the ‘Expressing Gratitude’ playlist from DJ Milneshine (my alter ego), I’d like you to consider those educators who have inspired you recently with their willingness to create, share and inspire others. Make sure you are following ALL of the teachers featured above, and don’t hesitate to contact them regarding the lessons shared.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s