Friday, July 2, 2010

Stress and Anxiety Picks

Although it’s now summer, I know that many teachers are already planning for the coming school year, and thinking about ways to improve their classes. At an end of the year event last month, I overheard an elementary school teacher talking about how students in her class handled stress, and how over the summer she planned to do some research on students and stress management. That got me thinking.

Stress is a part of everyday life, and it affects everyone from infants to the elderly. Some stress is normal, and can be even be beneficial at times. We’ve all heard of athletes or students who say that they perform better under pressure, and indeed, some do. But too much stress is overwhelming, and can manifest itself in negative ways, such as through physical ailments, decreased academic performance, and the like. Studies have shown that today’s students are under more stress than those of previous generations, and that student anxiety levels are at all-time highs. According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 44% of the kids interviewed said that their stress was particularly related to school. Students also regularly mention anxiety over academic performance, social pressures, and extracurricular activities. At its most extreme, stress and anxiety can lead to drug and/or alcohol use, self-destructive behavior, and suicide. Most commonly, anxiety and stress can adversely affect student academic performance.

School districts are increasingly recognizing the value of directly acknowledging kids’ anxiety, and incorporating into the curriculum methods to decrease student stress. Many schools have added yoga, deep breathing exercises, meditation, tai chi, and other practices to help students manage their stress and anxiety. Regardless of the method used, most students find that learning to effectively manage their stress allows them to keep anxiety at bay and to feel more in control of themselves and how they respond to stressful situations. My picks this week all focus on resources that address student stress, including the physical responses our bodies make to stressful stimuli.

Grade 3 Lesson on Stress
Subjects: Language Arts, Emotional Health
Grade: 3
In this lesson, students learn about the physical and emotional responses to stress and anxiety. They also learn the difference between good and bad stress, as well as how to manage stress. This lesson is offered by NC Healthy Schools, an initiative of the North Carolina Departments of Public Instruction and Health and Human Services. The project provides research, lesson plans, and other resources for educators.

Do You Have Math Anxiety? A Self-Test
Subjects: Math, Emotional Health
Grade: 6-12
This self-test asks students to rate their math anxiety by answering ten questions using a scale of 1-5. A list of tips to reduce math anxiety is also available. This resource is offered by Math Power, a help site created by math professor Ellen Freedman. The site provides study tips, math videos, quizzes, and more.

All Stressed Out
Subjects: Biology, Emotional Health
Grade: 7-9
In this interactive activity, teens will find out what exactly stress is, how it effects the body, why it happens, and steps they can take to cope with stress. This activity was created by, an online health science learning site designed to help educators and parents communicate important health concepts to students. The site offers lesson plans, interactive games, activities, webquests, and more.

~Joann's Picks - 7/2/2010~


  1. Handling stress is not something that we normally focus on in the classroom (probably because it is not tested on). But the stresses of school and life are increasing for students. It is important that teachers take the time to help students understand stress and work with how to handle it.

  2. I agree...many teachers need to learn to handle stress, too, so why not learn as we teach it to our students!


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