• Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
John Helgeson, Ph.D. | @dr_helgeson

John Helgeson, Ph.D. | @dr_helgeson

John Helgeson is a Secondary ELA Curriculum Specialist in the Northshore School District in Bothell, Washington. John has been in education for 18 years teaching middle school and junior high students English, Social Studies, and Drama. He has experience teaching in low-income settings, co-teaching with special education colleagues, and teaching pre-AP/IB honors classes. He has enjoyed teaching in Minnesota, Washington, and Japan. 

John has presented at several local and national conferences including WERA/OSPI Annual Conference, AMLE Annual Conference for Middle Level Educators, ASCD Annual Conference, and the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education Biennial Convocation. Topics have included using physical movement in the classroom; effective reading, vocabulary, and writing instruction strategies; flipping the ELA classroom; and exploring literature circles in a mixed-grade/mixed-ability setting. In addition to presenting these topics, John has written several articles on literacy instruction and physical movement in the classroom. John currently sits on the Executive Council for Kappa Delta Pi. 

In his free time, John enjoys spending time with his family, traveling, reading a good book, running and participating in triathlons. 

Posted by on in Classroom Management

Movement and Routine

The start of the school year is one of the most exciting times of the year for teachers, students, and parents.  While some may argue that point, as a teacher I am filled with elation, nervous energy, and satisfaction in my chosen profession.  

The start of the school year is filled with preparation, and teacher after teacher will tell you how important it is to set-up the classroom in such a way, to greet students, to establish relationships, to build a positive learning climate, and to establish routines and rules. How individual teachers and classrooms go through this process varies.  

Utilizing movement in the classroom is essential, and starting the year off by frequently using movement helps teachers and students get acclimated to the process and helps establish a practice that becomes ingrained in the daily/weekly activity of the classroom procedures.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Movement and Play

My kids started school this week, and the first day of school report was filled with excitement.  Through the retelling of the day’s activities, two takeaways thrilled me the most.  My kindergartener was practicing moves and songs referencing brain breaks and GoNoodle (www.gonoodle.com) videos.  He talked about the importance of getting up to move and reducing the butterfly jitters some kids were feeling.  I felt so proud of how grown-up he seemed while also feeling sentimental of my youngest heading off to school!   

My fourth grader was also ecstatic after her first day.  She talked nonstop about the day’s adventures.  At one point she mentioned how her class went on a walk. We drilled her with questions:  Where did you go?  Did it occur just because it was the first day? Did you tour the school?  She mentioned that her teacher said it was important for them to get outside and walk every day.   

In these times  when schools are cutting recess time to fill the day with academics and other mandated activities, the direction these two teachers, at different schools, were taking was thrilling.  I’m excited for my kids to experience what these teachers have to offer.  Of course academics are important.  Of course, social and emotional learning is important.  However, all three are positively impacted through movement activities, large and small.   

Teachers at all levels have different comfort level with using movement.  Brain breaks can involve songs and silly movements, but also can be as simple as having students get up out of their seats and moving to a different location or stretching at their desks. Movement can be intense or it can be a stress-free experience of simply taking a short walk around campus. The comfort level teachers have changes as teachers continue to practice and incorporate movement weekly and daily.   

Last modified on

Posted by on in Professional Development

rainy weather by kadeddy d5jbciy

I woke up today to cloudy, rainy weather.  While this is not necessarily unusual in the Pacific Northwest, it isn't the norm during the Summer months. The cool, crisp morning forced me to realize that summer is coming to a close.  Luckily, for me, the next school year doesn't officially start until after Labor Day, but I know some students in some states are already back in the classroom, and thousands are preparing for the journies that are awaiting them. 

Regardless if students will be pounding on the door tomorrow, next week, or next month, a majority of teachers are constantly thinking of the new school year. For some, they will be entering the profession for the first time. For others, they will be embracing a new content area, grade level, school, or district position.  And for others, they are inching toward retirement. Each teacher is vital to our educational system, and each teacher needs adequate support.  It is easy to feel isolated.  It is easy to feel restrained by a mindset or a building culture. It is also easy to seek new perspectives.  And, it is easy to educate oneself on current topics and practices.  

As the school year approaches, my renewal notices for professional memberships are appearing in my inbox and my mailbox. As teachers seek to meet the demands of schools, districts, states, they can feel mounted pressure and a level of discouragement can creep into their mindsets as they continue to move through their teaching careers. The level of support in the professional world for educators is something that teachers should be aware of and take advantage of. Educators can search for organizations via the internet, peruse educational pamphlets or newsletters in their school mailboxes, join edchats on Twitter, or talk to colleagues about resources to support their educational interests.  

I have found value in joining professional organizations as a way to network, learn, communicate, and receive support from educational experts and colleagues.  In my conversations with educators, only half are members of professional organizations, and the other half are consistently looking for ways to receive more education and more support. As the school year approaches, I challenge educators, or future educators, to find one educational organization to join. I also challenge educators to embrace the organization and interact with the resources of the organization.  This may entail reading journal articles the organization publishes, participating in a webinar, engaging in a Twitter conversation, or joining a special interest group.  I know educators often feel the pinch of time, but if they can take a few minutes each week, their professional learning will blossom, and the level of support they feel will grow exponentially. 

Last modified on

Posted by on in Student Engagement

Two giraffe at mysore zoo

We recently went to the zoo on a rather warm and sunny day. The animals were active and our kids had tons of questions we loved contemplating the answers to.

Summer has arrived!  The school year is finally coming to an end. This is the time of year when my jealousy of teachers who have already been enjoying summer vacation since May has finally started to subside.  There are so many reasons to love summer—time with my kids, enjoying the sun, traveling, exploring nature, and reading for fun (and professionally).

The best part of summer for me is being able to be outdoors and moving through nature whether it is hiking on a trail, walking on the beach, wandering through the zoo, playing at the park, or running through the neighborhood. Not only do I experience joy for these activities, but my kids do as well.  We talk, ask questions, explore answers, and reach new heights in intellectual stimulation.

It is at these moments when I think about students seated in classrooms during the school year. My mind races around multiple ways to use movement activities in the  classroom as a teacher and during professional development sessions as a teacher leader. Some of my ideas are simple ways to get kids up and moving, and other ideas involve more creativity regarding a specific lesson in a unit of study.

Last modified on