Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brain Break - Do Nothing for 2 Minutes

Here is a brain break which I learned from my colleague John Foulk. It is one now which my students request ALL the time - it is called "Do Nothing for Two Minutes." Like the title implies, students do NOTHING for two minutes. It is an actual website, which count downs from two minutes, and the point is simply to do nothing during that time. 

I have been doing this particular brain break once a week for the past couple weeks, and it is not as easy as it sounds. Doing nothing for two minutes can be very difficult, because:
  1. students are unaware of how long two minutes can be.
  2. students are not accustomed to doing nothing for a certain amount of time.
When we do this brain break, I will project the Do Nothing for 2 Minutes website on the screen and tell students that they are to do nothing for two minutes. This means no phones, no doing other work, no moving, no talking, no laughing, no listening to music, no non-verbal communication with anyone in the classroom, i.e., doing nothing. I have a deskless classroom, so students can lie down on the floor if they wish. They can sit in their chairs and close their eyes. However, if during those two minutes, a student does "something," then the time is up, and we go back to work.

  1. I am not one into mindful, focused brain breaks, since I am more of an active "brain breaker". However, I can see the benefits of doing them.
  2. The website plays wave sounds during the two minutes - very calming and soothing.
  3. In the beginning, it does take some "training" for students to realize that doing nothing means doing nothing. The first couple times, students will last around 30-45 seconds, because they will start looking around the room, make eye contact with someone, and start laughing or communicating non-verbally. Once I call out students for that and announce that time is up and time to get back to work, they learn quickly.
  4. Students really do like this one, because it gives them a chance to "rest up" during class. I always get students asking "Can we do nothing for TEN minutes?"
Give this one a try, and do nothing for two minutes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Earlier this week, a number of Spanish teachers at my school shared with my department about Storyjumper, a digital storytelling web application. Essentially, Storyjumper allows for users to create digital storybooks with texts, illustrations, voice recordings, music, and sound effects. Below is a digital storybook which I created for a reading using Storyjumper. The story began as a dictatio of 8 sentences, but I was able to create a Tier 2 embedded reading of the story using Storyjumper:

  1. I like that having text, illustrations, and narration at the same time gives learners double, even triple input.
  2. I like this SO MUCH better than screencasting a PowerPoint, because it has more of a storytelling feel to it, since it is a digital book.
  3. It is a FREE web resource. However, if you wish to publish what you create, you can sell it on Storyjumper.
  4. Being able to add music and sound effects does make your book more compelling and interesting to listen to.
  5. I wish that StoryboardThat had a narration and sound function, since it already has a digital comic book feel to it.
  6. Drawbacks
    1. Compared to StoryboardThat, Storyjumper does have limitations with the amount of provided illustration choices and their capabilities. One can import pictures into Storyjumper. With StoryboardThat, there are a lot more illustration choices and what one can do with them (cropping, changing angles, poses, etc.)
    2. Although Storyjumper does provide music and sound effect choices, they are limited.
Here is a video tutorial of Storyjumper:

Although Storyjumper does have its drawbacks, this is a web resource which I will be using more in the future.