[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] 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] 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] 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


[New Post] Language Development and Social-Emotional Learning Activity for Young Children

As small children begin to organize their worlds and translate thoughts into meaningful sentences understood by others, a sense of accomplishment develops.  They realize that through language, much information can be gained about the world, and others can be influenced to respond to their needs.  They also learn that language is a key to friendship.

The development of language in small children can be supported most effectively by educators and parents when they frequently converse with the children and encourage them to hold conversations with each other.  These verbal experiences strengthen not only the development of language, but also thought, which contributes to the child’s ability to be more self-controlling.  It is important to use concrete terms and normal inflection and pronunciation as in adult-to-adult conversation when talking to small children.  They should never be “talked down” to. 

PreK-Kindergarten

How You Can Facilitate This Learning

Today’s Blog activity comes from our book, Magic Circle: Language Development and Social-Emotional Learning for the Early Years. The process we call a Sharing Circle with older students, elementary through high school, is referred to as a Magic Circle with pre-schoolers and kindergarten students.  As with Sharing Circles, Magic Circles are carefully structured safe social environments wherein young children can perform tasks, express themselves verbally, and receive positive acknowledgement for these actions and expressions.

Oral language is the principle mode of expression of Magic Circles.  By speaking to their fellow circle members (peers and leader) and by listening to what others have to say, children’s growing abilities to verbally communicate are utilized and strengthened.  Verbal expression is then built upon to inspire other forms of expression including art, reading, singing and drama.

Here is a Magic Circle Task entitled I Can Draw a Picture of Myself and Tell You About It for you to use with your children.

The Magic Circle has the same rules and structure as the Sharing Circle. If 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.

Magic 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] An Activity for Developing Self Awareness

Through self-awareness, students learn to give ongoing attention to their internal states, to know what they are feeling when they are feeling it, to identify the events that precipitate upsets and emotional hijackings, and to bring their feelings back under control.

Grades K-12
Grades K-12

Self-awareness allows students to manage their feelings and to recover from bad moods more quickly. Students who are self-aware don’t hide things from themselves. Labeling feelings makes them their own. They can talk about fear, frustration, excitement, and envy and they can understand and speculate concerning such feelings in others, too.

Lacking self-awareness, students may become engulfed by their feelings, lost in them, overwhelmed by them. Unawareness of what is going on in their inner and outer worlds sets the stage for lack of congruence between what they believe or feel and how they behave. Feelings of isolation (“I’m the only one who feels this way.”) occur when students are unaware that others experience the same range of feelings that they do. Without self-awareness students never gain control over their lives. By default, their courses are plotted by others or by parts of themselves which they fail to recognize.

Self-awareness can take the form of nonjudgmental observation (“I’m feeling irritated.”) or it can be accompanied by evaluative thoughts (“I shouldn’t feel this way” or “Don’t think about that.”) Although, in and of themselves, emotions are neither right nor wrong, good nor bad, these kinds of judgments are common and indicate that the neocortical circuits are monitoring the emotion. However, to try to abolish a feeling or attempt to take away a feeling in someone else only drives the emotion out of awareness, where its activity along neural pathways continues unmonitored and unabated — as neuroses, insomnia, and communication failures of all kinds testify.

Your Sharing Circle

Here’s a Sharing Circle for you that will let your students explore one aspect of self-awareness that they have experienced, and will continue to experience from time to time throughout their lives. It comes from The Sharing Circle Handbook, Topics for Teaching Self-Awareness, Communication, and Social Skills for students in grades K-12. The topic is, How Somebody Hurt My Feelings.

  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 – Rules for A Fair Fight

Conflict, violence, and bullying are escalating in schools nationwide. Educators today express unprecedented concern about school and classroom disruptions that steal instructional hours and endanger the safety of students.

Grades 8-12

Some amount of conflict occurs normally in all schools. However, schools that are large, have limited resources, or serve highly diverse populations often experience pervasive conflict. Outside the school, a corresponding escalation in aggressive and violent behaviors exists in society at large. Our culture inadvertently supports violence through advertising, social relationships, politics, the media, and entertainment.

Keeping the Lid On Conflict

Often, conflicts escalate because students and the adults around them don’t know how to respond to disagreements and confrontations pro-socially and creatively. Peers — sometimes even parents —reward aggressive responses to conflict. These responses are modeled on television and in movies, where even the “good guys” maim and kill in order to “win.” Obviously, our society and our schools are in critical need of people with effective pro-social conflict resolution skills.

This week’s lesson focuses on how to bring a more positive , pro-social aspect to conflict.It has been taken from Conflict Resolution Skills for Teens, a learning guide for middle and high school.

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 BLOG – More on Cooperation

Having looked at cooperation and support as qualities of friendship in our last blog, let’s take a deeper look at cooperation and its impact on kids learning to work together.

Grades K-8

In A Perfect World

Ideally, cooperation is characterized by interdependence and inclusion. Everyone is valued for his or her uniqueness. They trust one another, turn to each other for help and advice and, when they experience conflict, utilize positive methods to resolve it. This Sharing Circle promotes cooperation and team building, children acquire many of the insights and skills necessary to interact effectively with their peers, to handle conflict, and to participate productively in collaborative projects and school assignments.

Your Sharing Circle

This Sharing Circle comes from Teaching The Skills of Conflict Resolution, our resource guide of activities and strategies for kids in grades K-8. The topic is, We Cooperated to Get It Done.

  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


A Quality of Friendship

Grades K-6

In keeping with our last blog here’s another activity to expand children’s repertoire of friendship skills.  Being able to cooperate and give support to our friends conveys how we feel toward and are going to behave with our friends.  This is one of the things we DO for and with our friends.

What Friends Do

Once again this week’s activity, Friends Support Each Other, is a cooperative game that comes from our book, Social Skills Activities for the Elementary Grades.  Enjoy!

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