Heather R

Re-thinking Learning for the 21st Century

Mindfulness Bottles


My Design and Build co-curricular group made these mindfulness bottles. When students are feeling upset or anxious they shake one and breath deeply as they watch the glitter and gems settle to the bottom. Students made one for each classroom in the Junior school and there is one for each table group in the Grade 4 classroom.

The process:

The bottles were purchased from Michael’s. They are plastic so that they won’t break if they drop.

Fill bottle with one bottle of clear glue (Dollarama sells 177 mL bottles for $1.25 that work perfectly)

Place a tablespoon of glitter inside the bottle.

Add gems and food colouring (if desired).

Fill the rest of the bottle with warm water.

Hot glue cap to the bottle.


Students created labels for the mindfulness bottles with permanent vinyl using a Cricut machine.



I have been using these mindfulness bottles in my classroom for the last month. Students really enjoy shaking them and watching them settle, but I’d like to see students being more “mindful” when they use them.

How might we?

I have arrived at the following question:

How might we teach Junior School students self-regulation strategies to help them reduce their anxiety? 

I chose to focus on this question because I have noticed an increase in student anxiety in recent years. Interestingly, I have noticed my own anxiety increase during that time as well so teaching students strategies to help reduce their anxiety will likely help reduce mine too.

Here is my action plan road map:


I appreciate all of the feedback I received from teachers at other schools at the last face to face session.

These suggestions have given me a lot to think about. I’m going to start by asking students if they know what anxiety feels like and what is making them anxious (if anything).

@nblair @jbairos @hmcclure





Power of Three

I really enjoyed the first face-to-face session. Someone else tweeted that it was “introterrifying”, which it definitely was, but despite the fact that it pushed me far outside my comfort zone I really appreciated the opportunity to meet and collaborate with CIS Ontario educators. I am the only Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher at my school so I do a lot of planning independently. I really enjoyed learning about what is happening at other schools and the tour of the York School was great! I love that teachers are encouraged to share the great things that they are doing and we aren’t hiding what makes our schools great. I was really struck by how welcoming and friendly everyone was. Thank you @nblair for being a great facilitator and @jbairos, @mwilcox, and @amacrae for being great coaches. The connection through social media has been amazing as well. I love seeing the resources that other people are sharing.

Now that I’ve had some time to get to know the students in my class this year I have identified three areas that I would like to try to help them develop further. I have a very high achieving class which is capable of working above grade level expectations. First, I want to help them develop their critical thinking skills. I want them to learn to delve deeper and really develop their thinking. I plan to help them achieve this goal by teaching them to use the Integrative Thinking tools that I learned about at the I-THINK workshop I attended in August. They will learn how to use the ladder of inference, pro-pro chart, and causal model. Second, I want to help them learn to persevere and be resilient. I want to encourage them to take risks and not expect perfection. Third, I want to help students learn ways to support their mental health. I’ve been teaching for sixteen years and I have observed an increase in students who are anxious.

I plan to ask students about their needs using these prompts:

Tell me more about what you would like to learn this year.

Explain something that you would like to try, but you are scared to try.

Describe what you worry about.

I think their answers to these questions will help me plan learning opportunities that meet their needs effectively.



My best learning experience




When I graduated from high school my high school music teacher described me as her left and right arms. She believed in me and allowed me to take on a lot of responsibility within the music program and school. Looking back, I think that the confidence that she had in me helped me develop a lot of necessary skills to become a good teacher. She took an interest in my life and we still communicate with each other twenty years later.

I feel that collaboration is the most important learning skill in this day and age. It does not surprise me that I feel this way as a sense of community is very important to me. It is important that students learn to work well in a group and value the opinions and traditions of others. Students also need to learn how to resolve conflicts effectively and move forward to achieve their goals. These are skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.




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