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Virginia Journal of Education

Your Classroom

Recess Guidelines for
Kids with Asthma

Asthma is the leading health reason children miss school in the United States, causing more than 14 million missed school days a year. That alone is reason enough for general education teachers to understand something about the disease, how to manage its symptoms, and how to create a healthy breathing environment at school. The physical exertion of recess provides a special challenge for students with asthma and their teachers. To help ensure everyone’s health and safety, here are some guidelines for teachers to keep in mind in the recess setting for students with asthma:

1. Develop an asthma action plan for recess. It’s important for the classroom teacher to assist in the development of such a plan, and to thoroughly understand the step-by-step instructions for how to avoid triggers and treat symptoms of asthma. To avoid triggers, teachers need to be cautious of substances that may cause symptoms, such as pollen. To treat symptoms, teachers need to understand when and how a student should take medication from the school nurse.

2. Make sure the student can take asthma medications at school. Classroom teachers should make sure that all medicines needed are properly given to the school by parents. The parents will need to not only supply medications to the school nurse but also follow all guidelines, such as filling out necessary forms. A teacher must be prepared at recess to send the student with a peer to the school nurse for medication when appropriate.

3. Monitor the recess environment. Teachers should pay attention to the playground or other area students spend time in at recess, keeping an eye out for possible asthma triggers. If necessary, students should be moved to a different area. Parents, teachers and the school nurse can also teach students with asthma to self-monitor.

4. Help the student fully and safely participate in recess. The classroom teacher must confirm with the school nurse when a student may or should use medications, such as before, during and after physical activity. Teachers should be realistic about the activity presented to the child and provide alternative activities during recess, with less exertion, if the student is unable to participate in a certain activity.

--by Matthew D. Lucas, assistant professor of physical and health education, Longwood University

Youth Organization Promotes
Living Without Tobacco

Over 1500 Y St. members volunteer across Virginia, organizing events and spreading information in a statewide tobacco prevention youth empowerment program. Y St. has two main goals: to convince younger teens that a smoke-free lifestyle is the real way to be cool and social, and to fight against tobacco advertising that reaches young people.

The organization also offers mini-grants to high school organizations that want to kick off an education project designed to promote a smoke-free Virginia.

For more information, visit

Education Labs Offer
Reference Service

Got an education question you’d like to have a research-based answer to? The new “Ask a REL” can help. The program is a collaborative reference desk service offered by the Regional Educational Laboratories (REL) Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.

All you need to do is visit the Ask a REL website and submit your question. You’ll be connected with the REL in your area, which for Virginia is REL Appalachia, which serves Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. The service provides:

• Referrals, to places such as websites or education organizations.
• References, which may include electronic copies of federal government publications or reports.
• Regionally-specific information.

To use Ask a REL, visit

Bestseller Leads Students
To Help Eastern Peers

Because of Greg Mortenson’s best-selling Three Cups of Tea and the author’s Pennies for Peace organization, educators are inspiring students across the country to raise money to build schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The NEA Foundation is helping this movement; educators can download a free K-12 service-learning toolkit designed to help create effective penny-raising campaigns through schools.

The Pennies for Peace Toolkit was collaboratively produced by Pennies for Peace and the Pearson Foundation with support from the NEA Foundation and can be found at

It provides a standards-aligned, service-learning curriculum for all grade levels, including classroom activities, fact sheets, maps provided by National Geographic, and videos about life and culture in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The toolkit also supplies campaign tools, including letter templates to civic leaders, press release templates, stickers and flyers.

Teacher Institute Focuses
On U.S. Civil War

Want to learn how you can use local Virginia history to teach about the Civil War? Want to trace America’s evolving view of slavery? Those are just two of the workshop topics at the eighth annual Teacher Institute being held July 24-26 in Spotsylvania County by the Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT). It’s free, and includes numerous workshops, battlefield tours of Chancellorsville and Fredericksburg, speakers, networking opportunities and entertainment.

New this year, the Teacher Institute will include teacher exhibits, giving participants a chance to showcase how they’ve been teaching about the Civil War in their classrooms. Teachers are encouraged to bring samples of student work, lesson plans and innovative ideas.

For more information and to register, visit

How to Help a Traumatized Child

According to the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, one in four schoolchildren has been exposed to a traumatic event, such as witnessing violence, involvement in an accident, death or loss of a loved one, some form of abuse, or bullying. Here, from NCTSN, are some tips for educators to help such children:

• Maintain usual routines. A return to “normalcy” will send the message that the child is safe and that life will go on.

• Give children choices. Often, traumatic events involve loss of control and/or chaos, so you can help young people feel safe by providing them with some choices or control when appropriate.

• Increase the support and encouragement given to a traumatized child. Designate another adult who can provide additional support if needed.

• Recognize that behavioral problems may be transient and related to the trauma.

• Provide a safe place for the child to talk about what happened.

• Give simple and realistic answers to the child’s questions about traumatic events. If it isn’t an appropriate time, give the child a time and place to talk and ask questions.

• Warn young people if you’re doing something out of the ordinary, such as turning off the lights or making a sudden loud noise.

• Be aware of other children’s reactions to their traumatized classmate and to the information they share. Protect the traumatized child from peers’ curiosity and protect peers from the traumatic details.

• Be sensitive to the cues in the environment that may cause a reaction in the traumatized student. For example, victims of natural storm-related disasters may react very badly to threatening weather or storm warnings. Young people may increase problem behaviors near an anniversary of a traumatic event.

• Anticipate difficult times and offer additional support. Many kinds of situations can be reminders. If you can identify reminders, you can help by preparing the student for the situation. For instance, a child who doesn’t like to be alone can be provided a partner to accompany him or her to the restroom.

For more information, visit



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