Did you know that students can use technology tools to help increase well-being?

Sometimes in my school counseling office I see middle school students who are feeling challenged to manage anxiety.  I hear students report anything from “I feel anxious” to “I’m having a panic attack.”  It can be so hard for people in the middle of intense anxiety to know how to calm their system down to become regulated and comfortable again. 

Technology has given us some new resources that students (and adults) have at their fingertips to increase their ability to confidently manage anxiety symptoms and increase overall mindfulness and well-being.   I first learned of some of these apps a few years ago and  have since used them numerous times with students. I even like to use some of them myself to create an overall sense of calm.

The apps have a variety of resources, including basic ambient sounds to relax to (or have running in the background), guided meditations of varying lengths and purposes, breathing exercises, and even storytelling.  Often, just having students sit quietly while breathing and listening to ambient sounds of their choice helps them feel at peace, regulated, and ready to return to their studies. Who doesn’t need a mental break sometimes?

One of the things that is super exciting to me is that recently students have begun telling me about apps they have found and are using on their own to practice mindfulness and breathing exercises. Sometimes they come to my office seeking their own self-regulation time to use their app in a way they know already works for them, which is so cool! 

Permanent link to this article: https://tech.svvsd.org/family/2020/01/17/technology-to-increase-well-being/

Great Twitter Tech Challenge

Last fall, St. Vrain teachers, principals, and staff members participated in a professional learning opportunity around the impactful use of technology to support student learning.

Who? Nearly 300 staff members across 48 schools and departments accepted the challlenge.

What? Over 750 challenges were completed! The challenges incorporated activities such as podcasting, sketchnoting, creating, coding, storytelling, and putting educational research into action.

Want to be inspired? Search #GreatTwitterTechChallenge to get a glimpse of some of the amazing teaching and learning going on in St. Vrain Valley Schools!

examples of challenges

Permanent link to this article: https://tech.svvsd.org/family/2020/01/16/gttc/

Robotics in St. Vrain

On a recent weekday afternoon, the bell rings to dismiss school. Instead of making their way home, a couple dozen third, fourth, and fifth graders excitedly pour into the library, talking about their robots and plans for the afternoon.

St. Vrain currently has 40 schools participating in robotics with around 115 teams from elementary, middle, and high school.  Last year, 26 SVVS teams advanced to post-season events, including three teams that advanced to world competition. This year, our schools will host twelve robotics tournaments and the VEX IQ State tournament.

When asked what she enjoys most about the robotics club, Brooklyn replies, “Working together, building, and designing the robots.”

Students also enjoy the tournament competitions. “They’re very fun,” says Aaron. “We help each other with problems.”

“And you get to compete with other students around the district and meet new people,” adds Jameson.

Designing, planning, collaborating, reflecting, and solving problems are just a few of the skills that students develop through their involvement in robotics. To learn more about robotics opportunities available to your child, please contact the school directly.

Permanent link to this article: https://tech.svvsd.org/family/2019/12/02/robotics/

2019 Research on Kids, Phones, and Media

Common Sense Media recently released findings from their 2019 census that surveyed parents and children about their media use. A representative sample of more than 1600 tweens and teens provides information on how much time kids are engaging with media and what activities they are engaged in.

Not surprisingly, a couple of key findings reveal that kids are getting their own phones at younger ages and that everyone is spending more time watching online videos.

What should a parent do?

“Though kids’ activities have changed a lot and the ground keeps shifting under our feet, what kids need from their parents remains the same. Being involved and engaged is the key to helping kids learn to use smart judgment, make informed choices, and develop a sense of responsibility in the online (and offline) world.”

Click here to read a summary of the findings.

Permanent link to this article: https://tech.svvsd.org/family/2019/12/01/2019-research/

Maintaining Focus

From a parent of a middle school student:

My son is struggling with balancing homework with fun time on his technology. I’ve tried a number of strategies, but he is constantly distracted with digital wanderings when trying to work. I’m concerned that these habits will contribute to a lack of focus as he grows up. HELP!

In an age of constant dings, beeps, badges, and pop-ups, it’s easy to lose focus and wander down a rabbit hole of distraction. How can we help our children develop healthy habits and maintain focus amidst distractions?

Common Sense Media offers these six tips for helping kids stay focused during homework time.

And Devorah Heitner offers some additional suggestions in her book, Screenwise, Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World.

  • Avoid double screening. If doing homework on a tablet, for instance, silence and put away the phone.
  • If possible, work on homework in a common area in the house, such as at the dining room table.
  • If some of the homework assignment can be done offline, complete that portion first, before connecting.
  • Model your own struggles with distraction and share strategies you use for maintain focus at work and at home.

Finally, on student iPads and other Apple devices, enabling the Screen Time tool in Settings can provide some interesting data for both parents and children in discussions around technology use and time management. Click here to learn more about the Screen Time tool.

Permanent link to this article: https://tech.svvsd.org/family/2019/10/22/maintaining-focus/