Wednesday, September 29, 2010

John Halligan Presentation

Today John Halligan gave three presentations to all of our students. My class schedule originally didn't allow me to go at all, but my principal was able to get me coverage for one of the presentations. Seeing as I teach about bullying, this was a no-brainer!

Mr. Halligan's presentation was unlike anything I have ever seen before. There were no gimmicks, no cheesy pep-talks. Halligan's weapon is his own personal experience and his pain, displayed through nothing other than raw emotion, over the suicide of his thirteen year old son due to bullying. This occurred back when cyberbullying was just really starting to be talked about, and when bullying laws weren't in consideration in a lot of states.

Halligan's message was unique because he was honest, choosing to tell things as they were and without any sugarcoating. Audience members could see pain on his face and hear hope in his voice. Admitting to wanting to kill the kid who was the main cyber-bullying culprit against his son, Halligan then recalls how living with that hate was no way for him to live his life. In meeting with the girl who was also a main bullying culprit, Halligan offers his own story of the difficulties of forgiveness and the hope that someday, bullying will end. That girl, Ashley, even appeared on national television with Halligan to talk about the incident and how it has affected her.

Halligan's efforts helped create the Vermont Bullying Prevention Bill, and he was successful in leading passage of another law requiring mandatory suicide prevention education in Vermont public schools. His presentation also focuses on the effects bullying had not only on Ryan, but on the rest of his family as well. Throughout the presentation tears were shed by both students and faculty, and the post-activity discussion in individual classrooms was hopefully another chance for students to decompress after the emotional presentation. With the new focus in Massachusetts on bullying due to the new bullying law, it's hoped that students will take this message and really work to change the culture of bullying that plagues adolescence.

You may view some video clips on Halligan's website from shows such as Oprah, Primetime with Diane Sawyer, and PBS Frontline. I will say that the clips do not tell the whole story, and do not do John Halligan justice. The power of his presentation cannot be captured in video clips.

During his presentation, Halligan offered to students that all it takes is one person to tell someone to stop bullying for a difference to be made. One person to take a stand and help someone in need; one person to become an ally; one bystander who chooses to take a risk in helping someone else. The middle school students who left the presentation today should all challenge themselves to be that one person. And if that can happen, then we're getting somewhere.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back in The Swing of Things...

The school year is finally in full swing and I'm beginning to adapt to our new schedule with relative ease. I'm very excited for this school year and the changes I'm hoping to bring to how I've taught in the past. My graduate course at Boston University has also started and it might be the single most beneficial course I could take up to this point in my young career. We're going to be focusing a lot on skills based health education, and it appears that we'll be looking at things from the administrative perspective a lot; this is something I'm really looking forward to. Because I am already licensed and teaching (as is one other person in the class) my coursework will be slightly different, but not by much. It's going to be exciting to look at what we can do to improve health education and make sure that we are all advocates for our profession.

I have many posts in draft mode with what I'm doing in my classroom for the first weeks of school. Once assignments get turned in and as we go through units, there will be more posts geared towards activities and ideas other health teachers can use in their classroom. There will probably be a lot of commentary by me throughout the first semester as I dig into skills based health education as well. Stay tuned!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Website to Use: KidsHealth

Looking for a way to break down content information in a way that's easy for your students to understand? Need a quick brush up on any health topic? Look no further than

KidsHealth encompasses three websites: one for parents, one for teenagers, and one for kids. All three sites contain information on a variety of health topics. As the site information says, KidsHealth is free of "doctor speak." Information is reviewed by medical experts and has received numerous awards for its content.

I've used KidsHealth many times in my middle school classes. Earlier this year, I posted about using their virtual reproductive systems during a unit on puberty. Their information on drugs and alcohol is also used in my classroom. For back to school night, I mention this website to parents as a resource for them to use if they want more information on what we're learning in the classroom to discuss with their kids.

NOTE: I am in no way affiliated with Kids Health or its parent company!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back to School!

Today is the first day of middle school for the 2010-2011 school year! A new schedule, some slight modifications to our curriculum, and a new batch of sixth graders will all be entering HRMS this year. I'm excited to try out some new ideas in my classroom and will continue to share my journey with all of you.

Today, I'm rockin' the French cuffs and cuff links, and I'll probably be standing on a few desks throughout the day. All in a day's work, I say!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

BU Professor and Dean Discuss School Lunch

While checking Facebook tonight I came upon a link provided by the Boston University School of Education, where I am a part-time graduate student. The link contained a video of Joan Salge Blake, a registered dietitian and professor at BU, and Hardin Coleman, the Dean of the School of Education, engaging in a dialogue about healthy school lunches.

The commentary covers a lot of angles relating to the loaded topic of school lunches. We need colleges and universities to help tackle this issue, because their graduates can hit this from so many directions: from within schools as educators, in the government as policy makers, in labs conducting research, or through helping people in any field such as personal training, etc. Many points mentioned are right on, especially the factors of not eating breakfast (and its effects on how students behave and learn...I'm amazed at how many kids complain about being hungry during the day) and the rushing of the school lunch block. I was impressed with Dean Coleman's knowledge of the shift in physical education curricula, too!

Check it out below!

Watch this video on YouTube

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One Week Left...

One week from today, middle school officially starts up again. Today and tomorrow I'm participating in professional development with some colleagues, and every teacher reports for duty on Tuesday. I've started to set up my classroom again and I'm eager for the year to start!

As the beginning of a new year approaches, I wanted to post a scene from one of my favorite movies. I'm sure some of you will recognize it. A "School Year in Review" post will come before the end of the summer.


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