It’s Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison’s east side, and 16 third-graders — 10 boys and six girls — enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Settling this group would normally seem a tall order, but once the children are instructed to sit in a large circle and to clear their minds, the antsy energy appears to vanish. The students, some with developmental disabilities, have all eyes on the “ooze tube,” a liquid gel drip version of an hourglass that visually encourages relaxation. Those who can’t quite reach complete calm put their hands on their heads to help. Within minutes, the room goes from playground-style pandemonium to a state of Zen not commonly associated with a grade-school classroom.
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