Great Ideas from Austin I.S.D. !!

It is already November! Schools in AISD have been excelling with SEL innovations these last few months.  Today we will be sharing just a few successes and highlights.

Andrews Elementary

Mr. Flores at Andrews Elementary excels at using technology to teach social and emotional learning.  One of the apps who uses on his iPad is Puppet Pals. This app lets you create short puppet shows in minutes.  You can record student voices and use student pictures for characters.  Watch this short example of one video Mr. Flores created helping students identify feelings and show compassion.

After the students watched the video, Mr. Flores asked students to take photos of a partner on an iPad and write about how the partner was feeling.  Check out what one pair said.

Empathy Writing Example, First Grade

How do you use technology in your classroom? What are your favorite education apps?

Andrews Elementary also models SEL competencies by focusing on staffs’ strengths as well as focusing on students’ strengths!

Focus On Our Strengths

Harris Elementary

A Second Grade teacher at Harris Elementary worked with her students to write a clear job description for both students and the teacher. The entire class signed the expectations to show their commitment.

Student and Teacher Responsibilites

A Pre-Kindergarten teacher created this breathing star for students to use in her Peace Area.  The idea comes from Conscious Discipline which is a “comprehensive self-regulation program that integrates social-emotional learning
and discipline.”

Breathing star from peace area in PK at Harris Elementary

Pecan Springs

Teachers at Pecan Springs all teach Second Step lessons at the same time each week.  Snail is part of this SEL curriculum in Kindergarten and First Grade.  He loves to visit with the students each week!

Second Step Lesson

Do you use puppets with children? How do your children respond?

Bilingual Respect Writing Example

This teacher reinforced the idea of showing respect with a bilingual writing and illustrating exercise. It always helps me to see and hear what it means to show respect!

Sims Elementary

Sims Elementary not only uses Peace Areas with students, but also with adults. Below is the Peace Area in the staff lounge that the counselor created.

Teacher's Lounge Peace Area at Sims Elementary

What would you put in an adult Peace Area?

Angry Bird SEL Bulletin Board

Sims keeps students motivated about SEL by incorporating their interests into the bulletin board displays.  Who knew Angry Bird was such a SEL supporter?!

What wonderful SEL strategies have you been using this year? We love to hear from y’all! 

Have a wonderful Thursday! Don’t forget that you are fabulous!

I Am Fabulous

Brain Break Wednesday: Brain Yoga

On a recent visit to Sims Elementary in AustinISD, I saw a teacher doing “Brain Yoga” with her students.

Brain Yoga

I hadn’t heard of brain yoga before so I did a little investigating.  The concept comes from a book called SuperBrain Yoga by Choa Kok Sui. The idea is to harness yoga techniques to increase students’ ability to focus and learn.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Hold your right earlobe with the index finger and thumb of your left hand. Make sure that the thumb is facing away from you. (Or touch your left hand to your right shoulder.)
  2. Hold your left earlobe with the index finger and thumb of your right hand. Once again, make sure that your thumb is facing away from you. (Or touch your right hand to your left shoulder.)
  3. Press your tongue to the roof of your mouth.
  4. Inhale through your nose, and slowly lower yourself into a squatting position.
  5. Exhale as you slowly stand back up.

Would this work in your classroom? Share your thoughts below!

Compassionate Educator- Feeling Vocabulary

Non Violent Communication (NVC)  is a way to communicating that helps you “resolve conflicts with more ease, learn to ask for what you want without using demands, begin to hear the true needs of others with less effort, and strengthen your personal and professional relationships.” (http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/aboutnvc/aboutnvc.htm)

This style of communicating can have a large impact on schools. The compassionate educator series shares resources from NVC that can be used in educational settings as well as life in general.

This week we are thinking about how to build feelings vocabulary. A wide-ranging feelings vocabulary provides deeper self-connection and an enhanced ability to express yourself to others. These skills can strengthen compassion in any learning environment. Help your students enhance their feelings vocabulary.

Feelings poster

With your students, make a list of feeling words, and try adding a new word a day for as many days as you can. Put your feelings vocabulary in a prominent place in your classroom. Each time students feel an emotion that isn’t on the list, invite them to express it by saying it aloud or writing it on the board.

Share what you think! What is important about having a large feelings vocabulary? How do you build feelings vocabulary in your life?

Brain Break Wednesday: Greeting Frenzy!

Our brain break today is a great one to build community at the beginning of the year!

It’s called Greeting Frenzy and here’s how you do it:

1. Tell your class they are going to try to warmly greet as many people as possible in 2 minutes.

2. Model with a student what a “warm greeting” looks and sounds like (firm handshake, looking in the eye, smile, and say “hello” or “good morning/ afternoon”).

3. Set the timer for 2 minutes and watch as the room fills with positive energy as students start to build relationships.

Debrief- asks your students:

1. How did it feel to be greeted warmly?

2. How did it feel to greet others?

3. How can you apply what you just felt to this classroom and your school in the future?

Photo Credit: Yonatan Aljadeff

Photo Credit: Yonatan Aljadeff

Share in the comments about how this worked in your classroom!

Brain Breaks Are Back! Rock, Paper, Scissor- SEL Style

Welcome to the 2013-2014 SEL Department Wednesday Brain Break Series!  This is a place to share and learn about quick energizers and brain breaks that you can use in your classrooms TODAY!

We are starting off with one that was very popular during trainings this summer.  It is Whole Group Rock, Paper, Scissors. This was adapted from Playworks version found here.

This brain break is fast, fun, and a great team builder!

Source: Playworks Louisana

Source: Playworks Louisana

Here are the rules:

1. Review how to play rock, paper, scissor with your class

2. Have students pair up and play one round of rock paper scissors.

3. Whoever wins raises their hands in the air to find another winner. Whoever doesn’t win becomes the winner’s cheerleader and supports them in the next round.  Every time there is a new winner, the cheerleaders from the loser’s side join the cheerleaders on the winner’s side to support the new winner.

4. Continue to play until there are only two people left and everyone else is cheering for one of the two.

5. Give a round of applause for the winner and sit down.

Debrief- asks your students:

1. How did it feel to lose? How did it feel to lose and then become the winner’s cheerleader?

2. If you won, how did it feel to have a cheerleader supporting you?

3. How can you apply the rules of this game to this classroom and your friendships in general?

Here is a video of this brain break in action!

Share in the comments about how this worked in your classroom!

“The time to be awesome is now.”

As teacher’s come back to campuses in Austin, we want everyone to get pumped up and inspired for an amazing year!  Share these videos with friends, teachers, students, and anyone else who needs a little encouragement.

A pep talk from the Kid President:

Ten year old, Dalton Sherman, asks: “Do you believe in me?” to all of Dallas ISD.

Do you believe in you? We here at the department sure do!

SEL Summer Reading Series: Tom Rath, Author Focus

Today we are showcasing an SEL author who has had a lot of influence in schools, homes, and workplaces across the country. His name is Tom Rath.

Rath’s first, and possibly most famous book is, How Full is Your Bucket?, which he wrote with his grandfather, Donald O. Clifton. It became a New York Times bestseller and an instant hit.

This book describes imaginary buckets we all have over our heads. Throughout the day, different things can happen that fill our buckets- like someone sharing a treat with you, you helping a friend, or getting a good grade on a test.  There are also things that can dip into our buckets, like someone calling you a name or you hurting someone else’s feelings.  This book gives children a concrete visual to motivate them to show compassion for others.

How Full Is Your Bucket

Rath wrote several follow up books after this one, including How Full is Your Bucket? Educator’s Edition.

“Organized around a simple metaphor of a dipper and a bucket — already familiar to thousands of people — How Full is Your Bucket? shows how even the smallest interactions we have with others every day profoundly affect our relationships, productivity, health, and longevity.Co-author Donald O. Clifton studied the effects of positive and negative emotions for half a century, and he and his colleagues interviewed millions of people around the world. Their discoveries contributed to the emergence of an entirely new field: Positive Psychology. These same discoveries are at the heart of How Full is Your Bucket?”

-Source: http://www.amazon.com/Full-Your-Bucket-Educators-Edition/dp/159562001X/ref=pd_sim_b_11

How Full is Your Bucket Educator Edition

In 2007, Rath wrote a book version of his online quiz, Strengths Finder.  This book applies the same theories of positive psychology to the workplace. Strengths Finder gives the reader tools to assess their strengths and knowledge about how to grow their talents into even fuller buckets.

Strength Finder

In the video below, Rath explains the background behind his bucket filling philosophy.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think? What is your favorite bucket filling book? Please share with us in the comment section below!

Happy Reading 🙂