[New Blog] Teaching Justice and Fairness

Living In Today’s World Is Challenging

Young people today are growing up in an increasingly complex world. At times it can seem dangerous and confusing, especially with the incidence of hate crimes up for the third year in a row (as reported by the FBI). Helping your students to feel, and stay, safe yet empowered to confront hate, injustice and inequality is an important outcome of Social Emotional Learning. Knowing how to adequately address these polarizing issues is often a challenge for educators.

Here’s a Strategy That Works!

Grades 2-12

The Sharing Circle provides a simple process and emotionally safe environment that builds a student community that helps build trust and fosters meaningful conversation. The topics discussed in the Sharing Circle provides students the opportunity to discuss and reflect on their own identity and to develop self-awareness and understanding of others.

Here’s a wonderful Sharing Circle from Lessons In Tolerance And Diversity our complete guide to everything you need to know to have success with Sharing Circle Topics

  Here’s Your Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] The importance of Teaching Citizenship to Your Students

Current Reality

As an educator one of your most important roles is to teach your students how to be good citizens. Democracy, and the requisite role of being a participating citizen, should not be viewed as only relevant to adults, or taught somewhere else. Citizenship used to be taught in civics classes. Today many of these programs have been curtailed with STEM and teaching-to-the-test getting far more direct instruction.

Citizenship is Simply This…

Learning the importance of citizen involvement to a well functioning democracy should not be left to chance. It’s important for students of all ages to understand that democratic involvement involves differences of opinion, that there are often an imbalances in the hierarchies of authority and power, that progress can take place with a lack of resources, and that differing issues and perspectives, should be dealt with in a positive, respectful manner. Learning to compromise, and work together for the good of all is good citizenship. Learning how to live together, with all our differences, while maintaining social order can, and should, be taught in schools.

More Reality

Here’s more reality taken from the resource guide, Virtues, Values, and the Very Best You – Building Character in Kids.

Grades 3-9

Students can learn the value of citizenship by experiencing the impact of their individual efforts in the close knit community of the classroom and in the larger school community.  They can learn that they do make a difference when they follow a rule, voice their opinion, vote, properly dispose of trash, work and play cooperatively with other students, listen and stay informed, do their part to make special events successful, respect authority, perform voluntary school service, and keep their parents involved by taking home notices and inviting participation. When meaningful civic values help define a student’s relationship to his/her immediate environment, those values can logically and developmentally be extended to the community, the nation, and the world.

Methods of fostering good citizenship include:

  • Teach civic values through academic subjects, the news, TV, and literature.  Examine the actions of real people and give them citizenship “grades.”
  • Find ways of connecting civic values to home and community.
  • Display photos and portraits of noteworthy citizens, as well as posters and quotations that reflect the virtues of good citizenship.  
  • Teach a process for democratic problem solving that includes consideration for all points of view, discussion, debate, and consensus seeking or voting.
  • Involve students in decision making and encourage them to share responsibility for making the classroom a positive place to learn.
  • Hold regular class meetings to discuss issues and problems that arise, such as disruptive behavior, bullying, cyber-bullying, stealing, social cliques, and hurtful language.
  • Involve the students in the creation and enforcement of rules, and in decisions regarding the consequences of breaking rules.
  • Talk about how you work with other teachers, counselors, administrators, parents, and board members to determine the policies of the school and illustrate for students how their needs, wishes, and requests impact the governing of the school.
  • During election campaigns, talk with your students about voting.  Show voter registration cards and sample ballots.  When elections are over, explain who won and by how many votes.  Cover local as well as national elections, helping students to recognize that individual votes make a difference.

Here is Your FREE Lesson – ENJOY!

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] How to Build Positive Relationships With Students

The Importance of Relating Well  With Students

Most educators today are aware of the benefits of creating and maintaining positive relationships with students. Meaningful relationships do matter. All people want to feel valued and cared for by others, and to be listened to in a non-judgemental manner. Students are no different. Students especially want their teachers to treat them with respect, to appreciate their feelings, desires, hopes and dreams and to recognize them as unique individuals.

Mounting research says that positive teacher-student relationships are the basis for a positive school experience. It increases student motivation and engagement while decreasing the challenges of discipline, absenteeism, and drop out rates. A caring, affirming relationship between teacher and student is the key to this positive learning environment.

How Good Relationships Are Created

Positive relationships are developed in many ways large and small. Showing interest, smiling often, really listening to their concerns, providing positive reinforcement, and acknowledging effort all contribute to relationship building. The process of verbal interaction, coupled with attention and acceptance, is a key avenue to establishing and maintaining positive relationships. It’s through this verbal exchange that you get to know your students as individuals, what they care about, what their interests are, their hopes for the future, what they might be struggling with right now, and how their cultural backgrounds and life experience impacts their school life.

All Grades

Engaging in meaningful conversation with your students is vitally important to making them feel you care. Creating goodwill and positive connections don’t happen readily when attempted on a haphazard basis, but should be a regular, imbedded part of a classroom or group setting. Sharing Circles provide a smooth, easily implemented strategy for creating just such an experience. Through the emotional safety of sharing established in the Sharing Circle process to the provided topics which cover the whole range of human experience, the circle assists you in getting to know your students as individuals, to learn what’s important to them, their backgrounds and culture, their strengths and challenges. You get to know who they are in all their unique dimensions. Another important aspect is that you, as the teacher or counselor, get to share about yourself too. It’s by sharing your humanity with your students that you create a two way bond of mutual caring and concern.

Here’s a wonderful Sharing Circle from The Sharing Circle Handbook our complete guide to everything you need to know to have success with Sharing Circle Topics

  Here’s Your Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Building An Emotional Vocabulary in Children

Why An Emotional Vocabulary Is Important

Helping children build an emotional vocabulary encourages a firm foundation in social and emotional competence. Being able to identify what you are feeling and to be able to effectively understand what others are feeling is a necessary part of social awareness. In order to correctly identify feelings in yourself and others you first have to have words for those feelings. There is a large and varied vocabulary of emotions and feeling words beyond happy, sad, and mad. People of all ages need an assortment of words for their feeling vocabulary in order to express their feelings well, and to be able to read and respond appropriately to the emotional cues coming from others. A feeling vocabulary that is large and complex permits children to discriminate between feelings and to effectively communicate to others what they are experiencing. Being able to accurately identify and label feelings in others allows children to understand and successfully manage social situations.

How An Emotional Vocabulary Develops

Elementary

Children acquire this vocabulary of self-awareness and social-awareness by direct instruction and by observing what’s happening around them. Many experiences, both purposeful and happenstance, help children develop an extensive feeling vocabulary. Hearing feeling words used around them, having stories read to them that use rich vocabulary, and participating in social activities all encourage children to expand and label their feelings appropriately. In today’s classrooms and counseling groups the development of social and emotional skills and related vocabulary should be fostered in multiple ways and through presenting a variety of activities. Today’s blog activity comes from the book, Social and Emotional Learning Activities For The Elementary Grades, and provides an effective way to expand the feeling vocabulary of your students.

Here’s Today’s Activity and Experience Sheet

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Developing Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

Shaping Self Esteem

Students who believe in themselves, perceive themselves as being “OK,”   and are not debilitated by knowledge of their weaknesses are considered to have a healthy degree of self-esteem and a sense of mastery or self-confidence.  They try new challenges and do not strongly fear failure.  It is likely that they have experienced success more than failure, and probably when they were successful, a significant person noted it and commented on it to them.

The ways in which significant others respond to what we do plays a critical role in whether or not we see ourselves as masterful.  If others let us know they recognize our efforts and comment positively when we try or succeed, our awareness that we do have capabilities increases.  Conversely, without favorable comment we are less aware of our capabilities, even if we experience success. 

The Importance of Sharing Circles

Grades 4-12

Through participating in Sharing Circles, students are routinely encouraged to explore their own endeavors and successes, and hear positive comments about their efforts.  All the topics are designed to heighten students’ awareness of their own and others’ successes.  Failure is a reality that is also examined.  The objective, however, is not to remind students that they have failed; instead Sharing Circles enable them to see that falling short is a common, universal experience.

Comparisons and judgments are not made.  The circle is not another competitive arena, but is guided by a spirit of cooperation.  When students practice fair, respectful, noncompetitive interaction with each other, they benefit from the experience and are likely to employ these responsible behaviors in other life situations. 

  Here’s Your Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Helping Kids Manage Fear

We hope you’re having a terrific spring. Today’s activity and Experience Sheet are from a book about three formidable feelings, grief, fear and anger.

The Reality

Children cannot be protected from them and they can’t be immunized against them. At various points in their young lives, they will suffer the loss of goals, hopes, dreams, friendships, pets and people. They will fear failure, abandonment, punishment, rejection and countless real and imaginary threats to their safety and security. And there will be no ducking their wrath. They will spend countless hours reacting in anger to siblings, peers, authority figures and themselves.

Grades 3-8

Grief, fear and anger are significant emotions, so weighty in fact that they often drive children to think irrational thoughts and engage in unreasonable behaviors. Such responses left unchecked can easily spiral into destructive actions. If we want children to succeed in life, we must equip them with the tools to manage these intense feelings. Grief, fear and anger are annoyingly persistent companions, popping up regularly throughout life.

Taking a Step in the Right Direction

This week’s activity comes from the book Helping Kids Manage Grief, Fear and Anger. The activities, discussions, role plays, simulations and worksheets presented in this book are designed to help children explore, understand and express their feelings in safe and acceptable ways.  Easy-to-understand explanations coupled with skill practice promote healthy responses to intense and sometimes overwhelming emotions.  Children become more centered and focused, communicate more effectively, and demonstrate greater interdependence and understanding.  

Here’s Today’s Activity and Experience Sheet

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Helping Kids Make Wise Choices

Kids make choices every hour of every day — what to read, what to wear, where to sit, what to say. The majority of their choices are routine, the bulk of those relatively inconsequential. It’s not very important what TV show Nancy watches, who Joseph invites to the party, or which hill Mario flies down on his skateboard — or is it? While nothing can guarantee a student’s safety, one thing is certain: When a student makes wise choices, risky behavior is automatically reduced. The instinct for self-preservation is a powerful force, but so are the advertising, peer pressure and promises of instant gratification that lure us to eat junk foods, fill our lungs with killer chemicals and take foolish risks in pursuit of quick thrills. Students who have not been given guided practice in choice-making from an early age (“Do you want apples or a pears?” “If you choose to play soccer on Saturdays, what will you have to give up?”) are more apt to choose out of habit or whim than out of any systematic consideration of alternatives and their potential consequences. The more complex or problematic the issue, the more critical a student”s ability to activate a logical, informed approach to decision making. Without this ability, the student will have little choice but to fall back on old habits, or fall in with the crowd.

Grades 5-9

Factors That Influence Choice-Making Perhaps the simplest form of choice is between “yes” and “no,” between doing something and not doing it. But when you think about the potentially life-changing questions that can be answered with yes or no, it no longer seems so simple. Whether a student says yes or no to drugs, for example, involves a great many variables, among them:

  • Self-esteem.
  • Role models. 
  • Values.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Sense of efficacy.
  • Accountability.
  • Information.
  • Ability to Apply a Decision-Making Process.
  • Support system.

This week’s activity comes from the book Helping Kids Make Wise Choices and Reduce Risky Behavior. As the title implies, this book has two purposes. One is to help students learn to make wise choices. The other is to reduce risky behavior. While making wise choices automatically reduces risky behavior, several risks commonly associated with growing up in our society deserve focused consideration. For this reason, specific activities in this book are devoted to providing information about the dangers of smoking and the safe use of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs. Others teach students how to respond in potentially dangerous or emergency situations and how to resist peer pressure through assertive communication and well-rehearsed refusal skills. Many of the factors that influence choice making are also addressed in this book. Activities build self-esteem, promote healthy lifestyle choices, introduce stress management strategies, teach decision-making and problem-solving skills, deal candidly with anger management, and encourage the use of positive role models and friendships along with broad support systems.

Here’s Your Activity and Experience Sheet

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Recognizing the Importance of Feelings to Learning

Recognizing the Importance of Emotions and Feelings

Try this little exercise.  On a blank sheet of paper draw a line down the center. Label the left side Feelings, and the right side Actions.  On the left side, write a list of as many of the feelings you can remember that you’ve had today. Leave a few spaces between the words.  You may think of a feeling you had in traffic getting to school, or a response to a student, etc. Take only a minute to write this list of feeling words.

Now move to the action side.  Pick out one positive feeling you wrote, and opposite it in the action column, write what you remember you did in response to that feeling.  You may have laughed, said thanks, etc.

Next, pick one feeling that was not pleasant and write down what you did.

Now, pick out the feeling that made you most uncomfortable and write down what you did.

Grades K-12
Grades K-12

Can you see how absolutely our actions are connected to our feelings?  We all respond to our feelings, not in the exact same way, but we all do respond.  Our feelings flow from our emotions.  All people have the same emotions.  Things like love, hate, fear, etc.  The feelings people have as they experience these emotions can vary as can their behaviors in response to these feelings. Emotions generate our feelings, and our feelings are messages that tell us that we are experiencing an emotional event. It is what we do in response to these feeling messages that is a measure of our emotional intelligence.

The Impact of Emotional Intelligence

Because of their connection to behavior, emotions impact every area of life: health, learning, achievement, and relationships.

Managing feelings well and recognizing and responding effectively to the feelings of others enables students to lead happy and productive lives and to master habits of mind that contribute to personal and career success.  We all, parents and educators, must nurture emotional intelligence in the same caring way we nurture IQ.

Think for a minute about the implications of this to what students need to learn – to what we need to teach. What a gift we give to students when we help them learn to channel their feelings into positive behaviors and developing self control.

Here Are Your Sharing Circle Lessons

Today’s Sharing Circle topics come from the K- 12 book, Guided Discussions for Developing Emotional Intelligence. Sharing Circles are a superb tool for helping students to identify, understand, and manage their feelings, and this book has over 100 Sharing Circle lessons. The topics are, Someone Who Respects My Feelings and A Time I Handled My Feelings Well.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

 

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna


[New Post] Journal Writing Boosts SEL and Academic Skills

Why a Journal?

Grades 4-9

Journal writing is a vehicle for building self-awareness, personal insight, and self-esteem, and is an excellent means of developing language skills, creativity and imagination.  Verbal skills, reading comprehension, and written expression are developed through regular writing, while journal drawing stimulates visual thinking and perceiving.  

Encouraging students to express their feelings in the privacy of the written word allows the release of pent-up emotions that may have no other outlet.  Especially in troubling times, a student can discharge in writing much of the turbulence within. Journaling can help students process emotions and move forward.

In short, a journal can be a good friend — dependable, patient, and nonjudgmental.

Your Innerchoice Resources

Today’s blog provides several journal pages taken from The Inside Story: A Journal of Self-Discovery. Intended for students in grades four through nine, it takes them on a guided tour through many of the rooms where their stories are stockpiled.  It probes a few corners and brushes away the dust on a handful of memories, encouraging students to capture what they discover in journal form. Here are three different, but related, journal pages for you to try out with your students.

………………………………………………………………………..

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna

 


[New Post] The Importance of Listening to Your Students

Many of us don’t realize that by simply listening to students talk and share their inner thoughts and issues we can immensely facilitate their personal development. It’s by sharing their thoughts and feelings and experiences openly and in a non-judgmental setting that students gain important life skills and self-knowledge.  Once they see that we do not intend to “change” them and that they may speak freely without being “wrong,” students find it easier to examine themselves and begin to see areas where they can make positive change in their lives.   It’s through sharing and being truly listened to that students clarify their thoughts, and learn effective methods of self-expression.   With this kind of true listening they are encouraged to go deeper, find their own direction, and express and face strong feelings that may at other times be hidden obstacles to their growth.  The important point is that students really can solve their own problems, develop self-awareness, and learn skills that assist them in becoming responsible members of society if they are listened to effectively.

The Perfect Strategy

The Sharing Circle, which provides both the opportunity for students to be listened to, and to listen to others, is the prime teaching tool that we have developed in our curriculum guides to foster these valuable life skills in all students K – 12.  

Grades K-12
Grades K-12
The Sharing Circle provides a safe place for students to share their thoughts and experience, hopes, and fears, dreams and desires etc. in response to a specific topic.  As students follow the rules of good communication and relate to each other verbally during the circle they are practicing oral communication and learning to listen actively.  It’s through insights developed in the course of pondering and discussing various topics that students are offered the opportunity to grow in awareness and to feel more masterful – more in control of their feelings, thoughts and behaviors.  It’s through these positive experiences of listening and being listened to that they learn more about effective modes of social interaction.

A Listening Forum

Just as the Sharing Circle provides a process for students to learn about themselves through self-expression and exploration, it also teaches students to be good listeners. The rules of the Sharing Circle (listening to the person who is speaking, without probing, put-downs, or gossip) demand that each student give active attention to the speaker. Through the regular practice of good listening by the teacher or counselor leading the circle, the students begin to internalize good listening habits.

Your Sharing Circles


Today we are providing two Sharing Circle topics  designed to promote good listening from The Sharing Circle Handbook, Topics for Teaching Self-Awareness, Communication, and Social Skills for students in grades K-12. The topics are, Something I Like to Do Alone and Something I Like to Do With Other People.

  Here’s Your Monday Morning Sharing Circle. Enjoy!

Do you want more information?

• Leading a Sharing Circle
• Sharing Circle Rules
• Books and Resources
• Free Activities
• Subscribe

Go here:

www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

Here’s How It’s Done

Gather everyone into a circle. Explain the rules for sharing, and get agreement from everyone that they will follow the rules.

Sharing Circle Rules:

  • Everyone gets a turn to share, including the leader.
  • You can skip your turn if you wish.
  • Listen to the person who is sharing.
  • There are no interruptions, probing, put-downs, or gossip.
  • Share the time equally.

After everyone has shared, who wants to share, ask the discussion questions.

You can check the book out HERE.

Just click HERE to open a fully reproducible PDF of this activity and experience sheet…

If you like our blog resources and would like to receive them regularly, please subscribe here or on our website at www.InnerchoicePublishing.com

If you are already a subscriber, I hope you find this activity valuable. Help us grow our blog by sharing these activities and encouraging others to join. Thank you.

Thanks so much for reading!

Susanna