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High School Flow

location_on Hämeenlinna, Finland

Teaching focusing and thinking skills in high school

Hobbies, part-time work and studies all take time in young people’s busy schedules. High School Flow provides exercises that help students improve their focusing and thinking skills during the school day.

Finland 100

Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

Finland 100

2016

Established

-

Children/users

1

Countries
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
As a student’s thinking skills improve and they learn how to focus on the task at hand, the student can reach conclusions based on analysis.

About the innovation

What is it all about?

The basic school day is stressful and chaotic for high school students. Many young people are torn in many directions and spend a lot of time on mobile devices. All of this emphasizes the importance of practicing how to be present in the moment. Practicing thinking skills, on the other hand, are especially relevant for their future careers and schools should support students with this.

Many high school students have a short-term way of thinking and have problems structuring their studies and using critical thinking. Hectic timetables and divided attentions spur students to choose the quick and easy road. When the results do not match the expectations, kids become stressed and feel inadequate.

The High School Flow model teaches students different methods that help them gain control over their life and their studies. Once students see that their actions make a difference, their learning results sore and creativity blossoms. The students’ wellbeing improves and as they learn to manage their time, chaos in their mind gives way to better problem solving.

This model uses mindfulness to teach students how to be present in the moment and analyze their emotions. Students also learn how to survive hectic schedules and manage shifting circumstances. .

Students learn how to move past roadblocks as they broaden their horizons in challenging exercises and acquire more tools in critical thinking. High School Flow uses methods such as Edward de Bono’s CoRT thinking tools.

High School Flow was piloted at the Hämeenlinna lyceum (high) school in 2016 and the methods continue to support the transformation of the school culture in the future.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

Skills required in the labor market of the future are integrated creatively into the school day.

Impact

Developing students’ focusing and thinking skills and improving their abilities to cope with stress.

Scalability

Just one motivated teacher can use these methods by studying them and receiving training.

Steps

The methods
There are many methods that can be used to develop focusing and thinking skills, but High School Flow uses mindfulness exercises and CoRT thinking methods developed by Edward de Bono. You can purchase the latter online.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness helps people to develop skills for being present in the moment. As you learn how to focus, you act less impulsively and facing things becomes easier. You will experience less negative thoughts, relaxing becomes easier and you will sleep better.

Explore mindfulness and do the exercises until they feel natural. You can find numerous sources for mindfulness theory and exercises on the internet. The Finnish Association for Mental Health has materials you can use to focus on your breathing, relaxation, listening to your body and organizing your thoughts and emotions. You can implement these in your teaching to improve your class’ atmosphere and help students to focus.

A mindfulness instructor visited Hämeenlinna High School  to explain the theory and research behind each exercise to students and teachers before the sessions. We recommend using an expert at least in the beginning to help you get started.

CoRT

CoRT tools aid the user to focus on different aspects of the topic at hand to expand their thinking. The tools also offer ways to tackle mental blocks.

Focusing on different aspects might mean thinking about the effects of your actions over time, putting yourself in other people’s shoes, defining goals or thinking about the good, bad, and interesting sides of things.

Every CoRT lesson is planned to be a complete 45-minute unit. The CoRT-materials will help you teach the lessons.

By purchasing a teacher licence, you gain access to all lesson plans and instructional videos at the CoRT pages. There are different types of licences: a year’s teacher licence costs €199 and licence for multiple teachers €1,199.

Teaching
The lesson plans are designed to take 45 minutes and are taught by a teacher familiar with the subject.

The best results come from teaching all the High School Flow lessons once a week during one period, such as a voluntary High School Flow lesson every Wednesday afternoon. This provides students and teachers time together to learn the skills.

We recommend you use the start of the lesson on the mindfulness exercise before moving on to learning thinking skills. This will calm the group and prepare them for learning new things. The exercises can take anywhere from a couple of minutes to about fifteen minutes.

Promote the course
Promoting the course to students is important, because the students need to understand the benefits of the course. This will bring the course to the attention of those who need help with managing their school days.

You can use short mindfulness exercises from the internet during a morning assembly to promote the course.

The lesson structure
The lesson for learning mindfulness and thinking skills can be comprised of several different exercises.

When choosing the exercises, it is important to remember two things: focusing on one main idea and providing variation. When the main idea of all the exercises is the same, students understand the goal of the exercises, but variation will allow them to find exercises that suit them best.

The exercises may feel difficult at first and it will take time to get used to finding the proper mindset.

Any teacher can lead the exercises, but the teacher must have a good idea what the goal of the exercise is and the ability to explain it to the group. The Hämeenlinna High School has used both an expert and their own staff to teach the lessons.

An example session from the Hämeenlinna School:

  • The teachers receive the material for a mindfulness exercise beforehand. The exercise is conducted during the morning assembly in the classrooms. The material can be a text, link or a tape.

  • Teachers explain the idea behind the exercise to their students shortly.

  • The class conducts a three-minute focusing exercise together in the beginning of the lesson.

  • The exercise is repeated three times.

  • After the first time, giggling is natural but it will turn into mindfulness through repetition. This may take time.

  • You should have a short reflective conversation after the first and last session so students can see how the exercises have developed their focusing and thinking skills.

Thinking skills are practiced one tool at a time. The lesson structure can be as follows:

  • Explain the goal of the lesson – i.e. explain the idea behind the tool that will be used during the lesson.

  • A warm-up exercise to introduce the tool.

  • Conducting 1–5 exercises and processing them. At Hämeenlinna, the exercises were modified towards entrepreneurship, because the students were enrolled in the creative entrepreneurship program. This meant that the exercises included an imaginary company and its development where applicable.

  • Discussing the lesson together or having reflective discussions after each exercise.

Reflection
At the end of the lesson, discuss the exercises with the students.

Reflection can be done through discussions in small groups or a teacher-led class discussion. The CoRT materials include prepared questions for reflection. With mindfulness the reflection focuses on your feelings: “How did the exercise feel?” “How did your feelings change during the exercise?”

High School Flow for the entire school
High School Flow can be just one course or you can embed the exercises into all lessons. You can also use the exercises as a part of homeroom sessions or when you notice a group becoming restless.

It’s best to assign a teacher or two to be responsible for the program, so that the exercises will be used and developed further to better fit your school's needs.

A focusing exercise only takes a couple of minutes, but will calm a class down and focus them on the task at hand. Expert lectures provide a theoretical background for the exercises and you can also introduce High School Flow and the exercises to guardians during parent-teacher conferences.

Often, athletes receive mental training as a part of their exercise regime. Students who participate in this kind of training can act as mentors for other students and teachers.

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