Social Emotional Learning at Queen Anne Elementary
Currently, QAE has several small SEL programs, and an informal SEL culture. Some programs, such as Roots of Empathy, are better at teaching self-awareness and social awareness. Others, such as Kelso’s Choices, work on conflict resolution, a specific skill found in the relationship skills competencies. The PTSA has underwritten the programs, and has worked to place the programs strategically throughout the grades. The current small SEL programs are building the ground work for a larger, more formal SEL curriculum that Mr. Elliott and the teaching staff aim to implement.
In addition, QAE’s staff has trained in the Positive Discipline in the Classroom curriculum. The principal, teachers, and school counselor choose the Positive Discipline for its effectiveness, flexibility, and deep resources for SEL skill-building. Teachers have adopted the Classroom Meetings, Positive Time-out spaces, and Mistaken Goals techniques. They have also incorporated the PDC strategies of Kind but Firm, Focus on Solutions, Learn from Mistakes, and Connection Before Correction.
In the future, QAE may adopt a school-wide, “off-the-shelf” SEL curriculum. Mr. Elliott and the staff are researching programs, with the assistance of the SEL committee. However, it is important to note that SEL has been offered since QAE opened its doors. From the first day of school, teachers and staff have employed the SEL best practices of: connecting with each child as an individual; valuing and validating emotions; Monday Morning Meeting; cultivating compassionate citizenship and acts of empathy; and encouraging children to be decision-makers in their education. Indeed, a hallmark of the staff at QAE is that they value and promote a learning environment that is grounded in trusting and respectful relationships.
SEL Programs in 2013-2014
Currently, there are several SEL programs for students that take place during school hours.
Positive Discipline in the Classroom - (All Grades) - Developed by the nationally acclaimed author Dr. Jane Nelson, the Positive Discipline in the Classroom program teaches important social and life skills, and is designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities.
The Positive Discipline in the Classroom is the foundational SEL curricula for QAE. All staff are trained in the curriculum and participate in additional trainings such as the school year kick-start refresher course, the trauma literacy course, and 1:1 classroom meeting training.
Key components of the program are:
- Creates a classroom climate that enhances academic learning
- Uses encouragement rather than praise and rewards
- Instills valuable social skills and positive behavior through the use of class meetings
- Promotes the understanding of the motivation for students' behavior instead of looking for causes
K Summer Round Up
The Kindergarten teachers met with small groups of incoming students during summer vacation. The goal was to meet the children and get to know them, as well as to introduce them to one another.
Characterworks - (4th Grade) - The curriculum was designed by long-time educator Beaven Walters. Characterworks encourages students in their social and emotional growth by utilizing the performing arts as a primary tool. Prior to the beginning of the program, Ms. Walters meets with the classroom teacher(s), and they select a theme that the children will explore, such as conflict resolution.
The Characterworks program begins with a series of fun lessons filled with activities and exercises aimed at developing aspects of the student’s personal character. After the initial lessons, the students will segue into learning, rehearsing,and ultimately performing a musical play based on the selected theme.
Characterworks Mini Curriculums- (2nd & 3rd Grade)
In second grade, the focus will be on a storybook drama approach focusing on different character traits, such as kindness, respect, courage, responsibility. Ms. Walters will use children’s stories to introduce the different traits while helping students make connections to their own lives. Then students work on activities such as role-plays, tableaus, improvisations and short skits based on traits discussed in the books. The program will culminate in the class presenting short skits in small groups based on the books that were covered during the program. Additionally, this program includes a facilitated parent discussion on a parenting topic of focus.
In third grade, familiar folk tales and fables will be used to explore the character traits discussed in the stories and how they relate to our lives. Similar to the 2nd grade program, the students will work on activities such as role-plays, tableaus, improvisations and short skits based on traits discussed in the books. The program will culminate in the class presenting a short (10-15 minutes) musical play (with minimal sets, costumes and blocking) based on a familiar folk/fairytale, such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Jack and the Beanstalk, Aesops Fables, etc. Additionally, this program includes a facilitated parent discussion on a parenting topic of focus.
Kelso’s Choice—This curriculum is designed specifically for younger children (K-5), and equips them with age-appropriate tools to manage conflicts. Kelso’s Choice teaches children to distinguish between big problems (e.g., problems that are dangerous, against the law, or cause a child to feel unsafe or frightened), and small problems. The only solution for big problems is to report them to a trusted adult.
If it’s a small problem, students are encouraged to try at least two of the nine problem-solving strategies before reporting the problem to an adult. If, after two attempts, the child is unsuccessful at solving the problem, it is time to ask an adult to help.
Problem-solving strategies include:
- Go to another game or activity
- Share and take turns
- Respectfully talk it over and listen to each other
- Ignore the problem behavior
- Tell the person to stop the problem behavior
- Make a deal or compromise
- Wait and cool off before attempting to solve the problem yourself.
For more information, go to www.kelsoschoice.com
Emotional Literacy Library - (K, 1st and 2nd Grade) - In Fall 2011, our kindergarten teachers decided to build a library of picture books that identified emotions and named them so as to increase each child’s Emotional Literacy. Emotional Literacy is the ability to recognize, understand, and name in oneself and others, as well as the ability to manage and express one's emotions productively.
In 2012-13, the teachers selected more titles to add to their classroom libraries:
My Friend is Sad by Mo Williams
My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss
The Feelings Book by Todd Parr
It is Okay To Be Different by Todd Parr
Ish by Peter Reynolds
The Dot by Peter Reynolds
How Are You Peeling by Saxton Freymann
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Chopsticks by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Ish by Peter Reynolds
One by Kathryn Otoshi
Spoon by Kathryn Otoshi
Zero by Kathryn Otoshi
Little Miss Plants a Kiss by A K Rosenthal
Mrs. Biddlebox by Linda Smith
Teachers hope to add more titles in the future. Click here for links to more EL titles.
Roots of Empathy - (1st Grade) - Roots of Empathy (ROE) is an internally recognized, evidence based curriculum that teaches emotional literacy and empathy. ROE brings a baby into a classroom, once a month, and uses the baby’s growth, vulnerability, and natural magnetism to teach about emotions and empathy.
For more information, go to www.rootsofempathy.org. An excellent video giving an overview of the program is provided on their site.
The World Peace Game (4th Grade)
The World Peace Game is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. As “nation teams,” students will gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.