One of the most valuable literary lenses in my classroom is the reader response, or reader, lens. This lens encourages reflections and connections to the reading. As a lesson planning framework, I connect learning lenses to engaging activities that help students apply the lens to the work.
Recently, I’ve been researching the connection between kinesthetic awareness and reader response lens, and I came across a journal article by Virginia Zimmerman called Moving Poems: Kinesthetic Learning in the Literatur Classroom. This article made a connection between teaching poetic meter and physical movement in the classroom. Because I personally use yoga as a way to “tune in,” I immediately saw a connection with reader response lens and my current poetry unit.
Overview of the Yoga Ed. Training
Let’s start with an overview of the training. The 8-week training is grounded in research and begins with a solid philosophical foundation for teaching yoga to children and teens. I appreciated this broad age group because I plan to teach yoga in my classroom as well as at home with my own children.
This foundation was followed with practical applications for teaching yoga. These topics focused on the class environment, trauma-informed instruction, and lesson planning. I particularly benefited from the trauma-informed instruction as a complement to my general teaching knowledge.
I appreciated the asynchronous course content. All of the content is available at the beginning of the course. In addition, each week there is a live optional check in to support the weekly material. As a busy mom of two who is currently teaching full time, I really appreciated that I could work ahead and choose to attend the live lesson if time permitted. Because this was a really busy time for me, I often would watch the recap of the filmed live sessions, and I found this whole setup perfect for my situation.
The lesson planning process was a week-by-week process that built up to a completed lesson plan and a culminating project. Although I was very familiar with yoga in my personal practice, I didn’t even know where to start with a lesson plan for students. This program walked me through an excellent approach that very closely mirrors my lesson plan process. It’s clear to me that this project was developed by educators! For my final project, I filmed a 20-25 minute video of the lesson plan I developed throughout the course.
Using Yoga in the ELA Classroom
One of the most valuable parts of the class was that I learned how to apply their content and philosophies in my classroom. As I mentioned, my research has overwhelmingly pointed to the value of kinesthetic awareness in the classroom. Here are the three ways I will use my Yoga Ed. training to teach yoga in the ELA classroom:
1. Reader Response Lens
As I’ve already mentioned, reader response is all about reflection and connection. Using the Yoga Ed. lesson planning framework, I plan on creating thematic yoga lessons that connect to a literary theme. For example, my Yoga Ed. final project was a gratitude lesson plan. I began the lesson by reading a beautiful poem called Remember by Joy Harjo, a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation and the 2019 Poet Laurette.
Then, we followed up with a reader response discussion about the universal theme of remembering and gratitude. This discussion helped us set an intention for our practice, and throughout the warm up, yoga poses, partner work, and relaxation students (my daughter filled in for my final project since we are currently virtual) used their physical movements to connect to this theme. For example, we “remembered” the sky in Warrior I pose and the ground beneath us in plank pose. This was a great way to connect reading, personal connections to the texts, and a physical connection to the analysis.
2. Brain Breaks
Brain breaks, a intentional mental break designed to help students refocus and relax, are often associated with elementary students. However, I’ve observed their value in high school classes as well. For instance, in my AP classes, students are required to complete high-stakes assessments. Brain breaks are a great way to provide a mental break from those high-stress tasks, but also provide a way for students to learn targeted strategies for dealing with the stress. For example, balloon breath is a short easy strategy to teach breathing awareness.
While I wouldn’t teach an entire Yoga Ed. lesson for a brain break, I now have a toolbox of strategies to use separately for these brain breaks. Some examples from the class are breathing practices, stand alone yoga poses, partner work, yoga games, or relaxation practices.
3. Creative Writing Club
This final example is specific to my school, but there are so many ways to adapt it to your situation. I am a creative writing club advisor at my school, and my Yoga Ed. training has provided me with an excellent way to teach an entire lesson to my Creative Writing Club. Of course a Yoga Club could be a stand alone club; however, I personally like the connection to my creative writing club.
The whole focus of our creative writing club is to write creatively to produce our Literary Magazine. Our literary magazine is a school-wide creative writing publication. Yoga promotes awareness, mindfulness, and creative thinking. It’s perfect to help students re-focus and channel their creativity through mindfulness.
If you’re interested in learning more about reader response lens and literary lenses in general, check out my Literary Lenses Activities Bundle.
Click here to read the article by Zimmerman that was mentioned in this post.
My Trauma-Informed Yoga for Youth training was provided for free by Yoga Ed. in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.