SEL Summer Reading Series: Early Childhood Edition

Today we will be looking at Early Childhood books that have an SEL focus.  There are many to choose from and it was very hard to pick only two!

Free Spirit Publishing has a series of books teaching children positive social skills.  One of my favorites is Hands Are Not for Hitting by Martine Agassi, Ph.D.

Hands Are Not For Hitting

This book gives children concrete ideas for what we can do with our hands, like hugging and playing. It repeatedly asks children to consider, “What are hands for?”

If you like this one, be sure to check out: Feet Are Not for Kicking, and Words Are Not for Hurting.

Our next book is a wonderful resource for any parent or educator with young children.  Austin ISD has adopted it for Prekindergarten and Kindergarten teachers to learn from. The book is called, Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky A. Bailey. The book teaches how to create a positive classroom management system that encourages the growth of emotional intelligence.

conscious discipline

Have you read either of these book before? What did you think? What are your favorite Early Childhood books? Please share with us in the comments section below!

Happy Reading 🙂

SEL Highlights 2012 – 2013: Eastside Memorial Vertical Team

We are continuing with our 6 day series highlighting the different Vertical Teams each day on our blog. Please follow along to hear about all of the SEL successes this school year!

Join us today as we celebrate Eastside Memorial Vertical Team’s accomplishments.

Eastside Memorial High School’s staff has compassion!

  • Eastside has created a “culture of calm” – it is becoming cool to be smart and successful!
  • There is a sense of pride and confidence, and students here take the time to help each other with both personal and academic concerns.
  • SEL is woven into Advisory lessons, school-wide expectations for students, and character education lessons in athletics.
  • Next year’s focus:  Consistency and depth.

EastsideEastside students receive awards for succeeding and making progress in school

Martin Middle School is all about relationship building; from the Principal high fiving students in the hall to teachers using positive language to redirect misbehaviors.  Here’s an example of one way Martin encourages relationships: teachers share personal information about themselves outside of their rooms to encourage a deeper connection between staff and students.

Martin Teacher Door Sign

Allison Elementary was one of the first schools to pilot SEL campus wide.  This year, they have been focused on encouraging a positive culture and climate to reinforce the explicit instruction in the classroom.  The Principal, Mr. Velasquez, at Allison Elementary likes to start off morning assemblies with jokes, often submitted by students.  This practice builds language arts skills as well as contributing to the positive culture and climate at Allison!

“What flies around the Kindergarten room at night? Alpha-bats!”

Alpha- Bat

Allison is also excelling at integrating SEL concepts into core academic areas.

Allison integration Here’s an example of SEL Standard Goal IV Objective A: “uses positive communication and social skills to interact effectively with others,” integrated into ELA.

Blackshear Elementary does a wonderful job integrating SEL skills into other subject areas. Here’s an example of empathy skills and feeling identification integrated into a second grade English Language Arts lesson!

Blackshear 2nd grade ELA Intergration Bulletin Board

Brooke Elementary integrated SEL language into their campus wide behavior management plan so that students are practicing problem solving skills to better learn how to prevent behavior issues.

Brooke Brooke’s behavior management plan linked to SEL strategies

Govalle Elementary has been encouraging adults to model SEL skills as their students learn them. Check out their hallway expectations that include a column for adults.

Student AND Adult Expectations at Govalle Elementary

The Parent Support Specialist also took parents into classrooms for them to view peace areas. Many parents have already created their own peace areas at home!

Metz Elementary did so many awesome campus wide events this year. For No Place for Hate, Metz students lead a peace walk to Zavala Elementary to build new relationships and respect for others.

Metz Peace Walks

Metz also does an SEL focused morning assembly every Thursday where students act out skits, sing Second Step songs, and celebrate their SEL skills.

Metz assembly Second grade students leading the “Calm It Down” dance

Ortega Elementary knows how to build community and welcome new students and staff! Over the summer, teachers developed activities for the first 30 days of school to encourage team building in their classrooms as students coming from several different schools all came together at Ortega. They already have a plan for having student welcome ambassadors to help new students transition in to this caring school.

Ortega Kindergarten teachers at Ortega sharing SEL strategies for waiting during a morning assembly.

Zavala Elementary’s peace areas have really taken off (their Principal, Mr. Fox, created one for his office as well)! One third grade teacher made her own Zen Garden for students to use in the peace area. She took a small Tupperware container and added sand, marbles, and a fork. Genius!

Zavala Fox Peace AreaPrincipal Fox’s Peace Area

At the end of the year, the SEL steering committee celebrated staff for their different SEL skills they modeled during the year.  What a wonderful way to end their first year as an SEL campus!

Zavala Award Ceremony

Eastside VT
Let’s wrap up today’s post with a note of appreciation written by a student at Eastside Memorial.

SEL Highlights 2012-2013: Pilot Campuses & Special Projects

Our next feature highlights the amazing work of our pilot SEL schools and the Athletic Department.

So, without further ado read on to learn about their amazing progress!

Andrews Elementary:  During a Parent Coffee at Andrews this year, the parents were very interested in the Peace Path process as a process they could use in the home with their children.  After seeing the process modeled at the parent coffee, the Andrews Parent Support Specialist received a request from 20 parents for the Peace Path template!

Andrews 2

Andrews Peace

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Casey Elementary developed it’s very own calm down song and dance! Those Casey Crocodiles really know their Croc Rock!

Teachers at Casey also take turns leading the SEL morning assembly each Tuesday that reinforced their Monday morning Second Step lessons.

Perez Elementary has structured their Second Step lessons so that all staff participates in a lesson. Cafeteria staff, office staff, special area teachers, etc. all join a classroom to help with the lesson.  They also each have a mini Calming Down poster and a Problem Solving poster to wear with their badges. What a wonderful way to build a common language and skill base across campus!

Perez

Character Education in Athletics Project

This year AISD Athletics, AISD Department of Social and Emotional Learning and SafePlace entered a collaborative project to enhance character education within AISD athletics. Each month four 30 minute lessons are written and sent to each of the high school athletic directors to be distributed to head coaches in every sport. Coaches are trained by staff at athletic director meetings each month on how to use the lessons. Coaches use the lessons, enhanced by their words and personal stories to best teach the topics to the student athletes. Each school is also sent bulletin board materials created by Safe Place and designed to match the topic.

sports[1]

This project has reached over 10,000 athletes and will be expanded to both middle school athletics and high school band programs next year.

Moments of greatness awards were given to athletes that personified some of the character lessons throughout the year in public settings. This year’s highlights were great lessons on sportsmanship, teamwork, decision-making, drug prevention, and priorities. One lesson on respect culminated in entire teams of athletes signing the resolution of respect after a rich discussion. The most recent lesson on relationships and abuse was a very strong attempt to reduce violence against women by using the influence of coaches to teach respectful / healthy dating and relationships.

award3[1]

SEL Highlights 2012 – 2013: Austin High Vertical Team

For the next week and a half we will be highlighting different campuses each day on our blog. Please follow along to hear about all of their SEL successes this school year!

Join us today as we celebrate Austin High Vertical Team’s accomplishments. Be sure to share comments, ideas, and questions with us below!

Austin High School: Austin High has been implementing a pilot class called MAPS: Methods for Academic and Personal Success to teach social and emotional learning skills to incoming Freshmen.

The three year data continues to show remarkable improvement.

The freshman class at Austin High School has had a 41% decrease in number of failures and a 38% decrease in the number of disciplinary referrals. We can’t show causality, but we believe the data does show correlation.

Students have built a strong classroom environment and learned many SEL skills over the course of the year. There have been many special events including: a student panel on SEL for CASEL Learning Event, an etiquette luncheon, and a special field trip to hear one of the freedom writers (Manny Scott) speak.

This May, students and families will gather at an area park for a Good News pot luck, where students will share highlights from the year and finish with a positive social event that includes their families.

Students are currently completing semester projects where they will present one SEL skill. They will create a lesson, poster, brochure, movie, short story, or song designed to promote positive social and emotional skills among their classmates.

O. Henry Middle School: The Second Step resource is being implemented during RODEO (advisory) time weekly. The two SEL facilitators and the principal have been supportive of the teachers and students during this time by making sure that materials are readily available to the teachers and by participating in classroom discussions. Next year, O. Henry will have an elective class that will be devoted entirely to SEL. O. Henry has welcomed many interested visitors this year specifically to look at a successful middle school model for SEL implementation. The principal is very proud of the fact that his referral rates have reduced since O. Henry became an SEL campus.

O Henry

O Henry

Barton Hills Elementary:  The teachers at Barton Hills have done a nice job of structuring supportive and nurturing classrooms that promote student learning and sharing of ideas. They experienced their first SEL Learning Walk this year and were proud of the positive feedback they received. Classrooms are implementing SEL instructional strategies in many of the academic areas.

Bryker Woods Elementary: Bryker Woods has done a great job with promoting a positive culture and climate on their campus. Every grade has participated in classroom and school wide activities that promote SEL. When walking in the halls of their campus you can see many beautiful bulletin boards that display SEL related themes.

Bryker Woods

Casis Elementary:  Casis students have enjoyed working on their “No Place for Hate” activities this school year, but especially devoted a lot of time and dedication to the “Peace Pedals” project. The culture and climate at Casis is a positive one and can be felt instantly as one enters the building. The primary classrooms are especially proud of the class promises they have made to their peers and teachers.

Casis Elementary

casis 3

Casis

Mathews Elementary:  Mathews held their SEL assemblies every Friday. Each grade level was responsible for a mini presentation that reinforced an SEL skill or concept. These assemblies also allowed for the appreciation of cultural diversity and for celebrations of staff and student accomplishments.

Mathews Elementary

Pease Elementary: Pease Elementary scheduled monthly faculty meetings that focused on SEL related topics. The principal, campus facilitator, and SEL coach met monthly to plan for these meetings. Pease has been proud of keeping their commitments to the staff and class social contracts.

Peace Elementary

Sanchez Elementary: The students and staff at Sanchez worked very hard this year on their “No Place for Hate” school wide projects. Visiting Sanchez parents eating lunch with their children have been impressed with how the cafeteria monitors have been using the “How to Calm Down” strategies and “Problem Solving Steps” in the cafeteria during lunch time.

Second Step Posters

The large Second Step posters hanging in the cafeteria as well as the mini poster lanyards the monitors have been wearing, have served as good visual reminders for using these strategies.

Sanchez Elementary

Zilker Elementary:  The students in the primary grades at Zilker Elementary have been consistent with their use of the Peace Areas and Peace Paths. The principal reported a drop in the referral rate, which correlates with the implementation of these processes.

This year the students in the “No Place for Hate” coalition produced, directed, and edited an SEL infomercial. The video was posted on Vimeo and received many favorable reviews!

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/62585085″>Zilker Elementary No Place For Hate Video</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/btothehill”>Brian Hill</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Small Middle School: Elective teachers from grades 6-8 have been teaching the Second Step resource during TRACK time once a week at Small. Activities that promote a positive school culture and climate have emerged this school year. Students have been receiving Cougar Kudos for using SEL skills. This year staff members submitted fellow colleagues’ names in a box in the office for demonstrating exceptional team work and collaboration. During faculty meetings, there were drawings for recognizing these teachers.  The teachers whose names were drawn received gift cards!

Small Middle School

Small 3  

 Oak Hill Elementary:  Oak Hill has enjoyed celebrating cultural diversity by displaying international flags representing countries from all over the world in their cafeteria. The Oak Hill PTA has organized social gatherings periodically for the school staff, parents, and other members of the community to meet and have international food tastings on the weekends at Oak Hill.  More Peace Areas have been seen in classrooms this year! Oak Hill

Oak Hill Elementary

Patton Elementary:  Patton has been especially proud of their “Bully Blockers” initiative. Students in grades K-5 sign a pledge to not be bullies and to be allies to those who may be targets. They also receive bracelets after signing the pledge. Squad leaders are selected from each grade level to lead a squad that helps to empower other students that may be experiencing bullying. Each squad can earn points for modeling “ally” behaviors.

patton

Patton Elementary

Brain Break Wednesday: High Five Affirmations

It’s the end of the school year and many of us are exhausted. This brain builder is an instant energizing, relationship building, feel good, mood lifter!  Plus it takes under a minute to do and is easy to adjust for any audience.

Have students (or adults) turn to someone sitting next to them and say, “You’re awesome!” then give them a high five.

whale high five

Now watch as the energy of the room takes a dramatic and uplifting turn for the better.

Feel free to put any of your favorite positive affirmations in the quotes. For example, “You work hard and it shows!” “I’m so glad you’re here today!” “I am ready to learn with you!” “You have wonderful ideas!” “You make my classroom a better place!” “You rock!” “You’re a great person to know!”

What are your favorite brain breaks? Feel free to share in the comment section.

Brain Break Wednesday: Human Rain Storm

On this rainy Wednesday, let’s all model ourselves after the sky and make it rain! This brain break encourages everyone to work together and the effect is often very calming.

RainstormSource: http://www.allwalls.net/landscapes-nature-rain-storm/

The leader puts the students in a circle. Say: “We’re going to create a rain storm. I’m going to walk around the circle and I want you to do what I do to make the sounds. You keep doing it until I get back to you with the next sound.”

Start with one student – your “Point Man or Point Woman” who will start each new sound with you. Tell everyone “Do what I do when I come to you, and keep doing it until I come back around to you. Don’t start the new sound until I come back to you.”

The leader starts and they follow these activities as storm gathers, then subtract activities as storm leaves:

The Storm Gathers!
1. Rub your hands together – wind rustling
2. Snap your fingers – raindrops
3. Hit your thighs with your hands – thunder and rain
4. Stomp your feet while you’re hitting your thighs – heavy thunder and heavier rain.

Then the storm quiets
1. Just hit thighs
2. Just snap your fingers
3. Just rub your hands together.
4. Then all stop one at a time because the storm is over

*Adapted from: http://cefkids.com/Game-Noah-CreatingARainStorm.pdf

What are your favorite brain breaks? Feel free to share in the comment section.

Brain Break Wednesday: Stress Management Technique

Our brain break this week comes from a stress management training by Keeth Matheny. Enjoy!

1. Smile   smile

2. Relax jaw, neck, and shoulders

3. Take a deep breath in, then exhale and feel a wave of warmth and heaviness float down your body

4. Check in with your self-talk (what you are saying to yourself)

5. Think to yourself: “I am calm and positive.”

What are your favorite brain breaks? Feel free to share in the comment section.