Welcome to 2018! It’s a new year and like many people, I like to start the new year by reflecting on the past and planning where I can make some changes and try some new things out. One new thing I thought I’d try was posting news on this blog instead of the newsletter format I was previously using. In all honesty, I was partially forced into this change. I ran out of free newsletter credits on the website that was hosting my newsletters, and rather than investing in one of their plans, I thought I’d be better off using the blog that I already started and subscribe to on an annual basis. So, I’m dusting it off and turning it into something new. If you explore this blog past this post, you’ll notice a few things.
- I haven’t updated it in about 3 years. What can I say? Teachers are busy people, and I found it was a bit more than I could keep up with at that time.
- Previous posts are mostly focused on the subject of writing with a random recipe thrown in. Prior to my current role as the Social Communications Supports Services (SCSS) teacher (a job title that no one in my family can remember) for my elementary school, I taught 4th grade writing/reading/social studies. Before that I taught 5th grade writing/reading/social studies, and before that I taught 2nd grade everything (but that predates this blog). As for the recipe, that was mostly just for fun. I have a secret ambition to have a baking blog, and I may have been indulging in that fantasy a bit at the time of that posting.
- Previous posts may have run a bit on the long side. I will sincerely try to work on this going forward both for the benefit of the busy people reading it and for myself. I may not be off to the best start already. So, let’s move on…
My goals in repurposing this blog is to create a place to share the learning and growth happening for my students with their families and communicate relevant information regarding the supports and instruction I provide. I hope that you find it helpful and informative.
kindergarten & 1st grade
We’ve continued our learning using The Incredible Flexible You book series. Our most recent topics have included thinking with your eyes and body in the group. With thinking with your eyes we talk about how tuning in to where someone is looking gives us important clues about what that person is thinking, as well. We introduced this concept in the form of story where the familiar characters in the story explore space and encounter some extra terrestrials. The children in the story cannot communicate with the aliens verbally, since they do not speak the same language, but by following their eyes, they are able to understand what the aliens want. We further engaged with this idea through games and dramatic play. We talked about how “our eyes are like arrows” and point to what we’re thinking about. This concept is not only important socially for conversational or relationship skills but also relevant academically, as students start to learn that part of tuning into learning and instruction involves using their eyes to see and observe. With body in the group we notice what makes a group (2 or more objects, animals, or people in close proximity) and when someone or something is “out of the group,” another concept which is extremely relevant in social and academic contexts.
2nd & 3rd grade
Our overall theme continues to be learning to be a flexible thinker. Delving into this topic more has led us into the area of problem-solving. We’ve work on brainstorming multiple solutions to a problem, coming up with pros and cons, evaluating the best solution, and reflecting on the possible outcomes. Pushing the students to think of as many solutions as possible (we came up with 9 possible solutions to the problem of getting stuck on a difficult assignment) helps them to move beyond the perceived “right” and “wrong” choices that often lead to frustration or a sense of a lack of control. As a teacher, it helps me to remember that my role is not to swoop in and solve every problem for my students. Plus, my solution may not always be the only right one (yes, I’m learning flexible thinking myself). Along with problem-solving, we did some role playing around negotiating compromises between peers and child-adult interactions. One motto we learned was “Accept no and go with the flow,” where students learned a process for accepting a situation that is not going their way and that by remaining calm and respectful, they gain the favor of the other person and a possible opportunity to get what they want at another time or something else that is desirable vs. engaging in a conflict that leaves both parties with bad feelings. I was impressed with how well the students absorbed this strategy and even came up with real-world situations where they had already tried it at our follow-up lesson. Here’s a link to Accept No & Go With the Flow.
4th & 5th grade
Our focus lately has been on emotions and feelings and how those affect our bodies. The goal is to help students be more in-tune and notice when feelings like anger come up so they can redirect it in healthy ways. We’ve discussed ways to relax and focus on people, places, or things that make us happy. One enlightening activity we did was an anger rating scale. The students (and I) each had our own sheets of 26 different situations and a place to rate our anger reaction to the statement. We gave each situation a rating from 1-10 on how angry it makes us feel, and we engaged in time to share. I personally found it very helpful for my own self-awareness but also recognizing what types of situations trigger the students and how I might use that information to both prepare them for future situations and also advocate for them with their classroom teachers. Here’s a link to the statements, which I found in the book Exploring Feelings by Dr. Tony Attwood.