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.

Self-Care for a Stress-Free April!

Exercise more, eat healthy snacks, get a good night’s sleep… We hear these mantras daily in the media suggesting the newest remedy to combat stress. Campuses are also coming up with creative ways to relieve stress.

Find out below what is working in our Austin schools as well as quick mood enhancers that are proven easy and effective. Travis Heights classroom climate - student snack sign up classroom community building and self-care

At Travis Heights, students sign up for healthy snacks to share with the class. 

How to promote self-care if you have 2 minutes:
  • Let someone know you’re thinking of them
  • Give kudos to someone
  • Send some possible dates to get together with someone
  • Smile
  • Stretch
  • Take a few deep breaths
  • Thank someone

Oak Springs April Fool Skit

Nothing beats a laugh to start off your day! The PALS at Oak Springs showcased their comedic talents at their morning seminar to alleviate some testing anxiety and take advantage of April Fools’ Day.

How to promote self-care if you have 5 minutes:
  • Send people in your life a brief personal update
  • Write a thank you card
  • Reflect on what you need relationally in your life right now, and can ask for
  • Respond to an email that’s been nagging you
  • Sit quietly
  • Have a brief conversation with someone you don’t normally interact with
  • Take a short walk

Travis Heights culture - lunch bunch movie watch

In another class at Travis Heights, students enjoy a movie during their lunch bunch. 

How to promote self-care if you have 30 minutes:
  • Play a game with a child or adult
  • Cook with someone
  • Go for a walk with a friend or family member
  • Eat lunch with a colleague
  • Have a “walking meeting” with someone rather than sitting in the office
  • Rearrange or spruce up your work area

Lee STARR Secrets

Lee Elementary students shared their testing tips by writing acrostic poems with their names
How to promote self-care ideas at school:
  • Start faculty, grade level, and department meetings with shout outs
  • Acknowledge the challenges we face, and how colleagues are overcoming them successfully
  • Acknowledge the hard work of our colleagues
  • Ask staff what would lower their stress levels and help them take care of themselves, then do that
  • Make sure all students and staff know how and when they will take breaks and eat during testing days and during any abnormal schedules
  • Hire a substitute for a day to give each teacher a short (~10 minute) break, and let them know in advance so they can plan for something productive for students to do while they are gone (maybe during a test)
  • Bring your own family members/loved ones to work functions and encourage others to do the same
  • Make sure school schedules, expectations, and procedures are crystal clear for staff and students
  • Have a regular, structured communication strategy (some combination of brief faculty meetings and staff bulletins)
  • Bring healthy snacks to school to give to staff with a message of appreciation for their hard work

STARR Secret Poem

Ben’s tip for the N in his name is an important reminder to us all!

Brain Break Wednesday: Pass it On- UNO Style

This brain break comes from the AISD Physical Education website full of ideas for quick energizers.

Pass It On Uno Style

Uno

Grade Level: 1 – 3

Equipment: Uno Cards

Formation: Form a circle around the perimeter of the room

Directions:

1. Teacher hands out one Uno card to each student.

2. Students identify color on card and perform activity that corresponds to that color for 10 -15 seconds:

Blue: jump to the sky

Red: squats

Yellow: twist

Green: swim

3. Students then pass the card to the right and repeat the process.

Variations:

1. Teacher holds up cards to the whole class and they perform the activity that corresponds.

2. Play in partners and give each pair four cards. One partner shows the other partner a card and the partner does the corresponding activity.

3. Teach colors in Spanish.

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

SEL Campus Wide

Social and Emotional Learning can be seen in many ways across a campus.  It may be a teacher teaching a lesson to the whole class on managing anxiety, a student helping another student after a fall on the playground, or a whole campus activity promoting SEL.  As we visited campuses in AISD, we have seen many creative ways to celebrate SEL campus wide. The following images are a few of the stellar examples we have seen so far this year.

Your ideas inspire other educators.  Send us pictures of what you have done to promote SEL campus wide to: selaustin@gmail.com

Linder Learner's Creed - all read daily over the PA

Here’s a way to start off your morning right! At Linder Elementary they use  positive self-talk to set daily goals in this Learners’ Creed.  It can be heard campus wide over the PA each morning.

Zavala Singing Second Step Songs

At Zavala Elementary (above) and Metz Elementary (below) students sing the Second Step songs at a special morning assembly to share the new skills they are learning with the entire student body. At Zavala, Kindergarten and 1st grade students sing The Feelings Song. At Metz, 2nd grade students show off their dance skills with The Calm It Down Song. 

Metz 2nd grade leading calm down dance

A teacher and administrator greet students as they enter Mendez Middle School in the morning, creating a warm and safe learning environment

The friendly faces of teachers and administrators at Mendez Middle School greet students with a smile and a handshake.  Nothing beats a warm welcome first thing in the morning!

Pleasant Hill NPFH

Pleasant Hill Elementary sparked students’ creativity with a No Place for Hate poster contest.

Oak Springs peace banners

Scholars at Oak Springs Elementary created peace banners for No Place for Hate. At morning assembly everyone admired their hard work while listening to The Calm It Down Song. 

Campus and Classroom Bulletin Boards

As we walk through campuses the artistic bulletin boards never cease to amaze us. Teachers across AISD are using bulletin boards to showcase the learning in classes and the creativity of our students or, as anchors of support and of course a little advertising! Look at some of these boards that caught our eye and made it a little hard to walk through the hallways without getting completely distracted! Displays such as these take time and effort and reflect an attention to detail and tremendous pride in your students and school!

Ridgetop Elementary- Empathy Lesson Explained

Ridgetop Elementary Empathy Poem Examples

These thoughtful acrostic poems come from a 5th grade class at Ridgetop where teachers and students are seamlessly integrating SEL concepts with English Language Arts.

Peacemakers at Maplewood

Look at these Maplewood Peace Makers!  Teachers nominate students when they see them spreading the peace campus wide and using excellent SEL skills such as consideration, honesty, and/ or responsible decision making.

Blackshear 2nd grade ELA Intergration Bulletin Board

At Blackshear Elementary, 2nd grade students read “Miss Nelson is Missing” and integrated SEL skills into their sequencing work. Look at all of the feelings each character has!

Martin Teacher Door Sign

At Martin Middle School each teacher posts their favorite book and quote outside their classroom door. What a great start to building meaningful relationships by finding something in common with your teacher or just asking them about what they wrote!

Uphaus Student Emotion Examples

At one elementary school, this teacher had her superstar students create an anchor chart with feelings! Each student became an expert in acting out their feelings and are on their way to recognizing those emotions in their classmates using those facial cues!

Dawson I Show Compassion When

Dawson Elementary students wrote how they show compassion to one another on a hallway bulletin board. Students get an opportunity to add to the board and share their real life experiences!

Thanks to all of the amazing schools who shared with us.  Check out even more pictures of inspiring bulletin boards here or see below!

Please send your blog submissions to: selaustin@gmail.com

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  -Aristotle