Social Emotional Learning Activity to Build Relationships with Your Students

bullying social emotion learning activity to build community and character in the grade 4 5 6 7 classroom

I can still remember as if it were yesterday sitting on the after school bus having just attended an extra help session for math. It was a long day, I was tired and none of my friends were on the bus route near my house so I just put my head against the window and was relaxing.

         Unfortunately, that peaceful afternoon ride was disrupted by another boy, a known bully, in my grade.

         I wasn’t the most popular girl in school but I also wasn’t an unpopular person. Years and years later, I realized that much of the reason I couldn’t always be myself was because of the anxiety I suffered so I often liked to blend in and only let true friends know how I felt.

         So here sits the boy in my grade that I never really liked not romantically just not as a person. He wasn’t nice, he was rude and there was no reason for the rudeness. Today, I guess it was my day to be his target. My crime? Not being fully developed on top. Ugh.

         His behavior was terrible and if it happened today, I would tell him off. But because of that fact, I doubt it would  happen today. I do know that even though I was not bullied or made fun of often, this memory STILL pops into my head, even 15 years later into my career as a teacher.

         This is why one day I lost it with one of my seventh-grade classes. 


Their comments to one another were disgraceful. Calling each other “fat pig”, “stupid”, “shut up” among whatever was said that I couldn’t hear. The prior memory popped into my head and I knew that I needed to do something to stop this behavior. I didn’t want one of my students to have a memory like I did pop into their head and have it something negative about my classroom.

         So what did I do? This was an easy exercise that yielded results better than I could have ever imagined.

Gather the following materials:
  •        Chart paper
  •        Pencil
  •        Scraps of different colored pieces of paper
  •        Glue


Prior to the activity, I sketched out a heart across the chart paper. I wrote above and below the heart,

using social emotional learning activities to build relationships with students



The "Do Now" that morning was simply to take 10 scraps of paper. The students were immediately engaged. They had no idea what we were going to do.

         Class started and I told the students how that morning I was cranky. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and gave my husband an attitude for no reason at all. I asked who else could identify with this and had students share their stories. After a few stories, I then told the students I felt bad. I said things that I shouldn’t have and it wasn’t right to my husband. While I knew he would forgive me, I hurt his feelings and that wasn’t nice of me. I then asked the students if anyone ever said something to them that hurt their feelings. I gave students time to think and then told them to write it down.

"On the piece of paper, write down anything that was said to you that hurt your feelings, something that you said that you knew hurt other people’s feelings, or something you say to yourself to hurt your own feelings".

I really wasn’t sure who would take this seriously. While we all know certain students in our class who will, would the students who this activity was REALLY geared toward take it seriously too?

         They did. They all did. My students floored me. They apologized to each other through the notes, they told me things they said to themselves like “You don’t deserve to be here”, they told me things that were said to them by people outside of the class that hurt. Some students cried. After the strips of paper were read, we crumpled them. We did this to say, it's out there and will never happen again in this room. 

         While I wasn’t quite expecting the emotions that were stirred during this activity, it was one I will do each year. There were follow up conversations to be had and check-ins with students but since I did this activity in my classroom, the words that are being used are not ones that will hurt us. 
Words hurt us anti bullying SEL activity to promote kindness in the classroom

I urge you to try this simple activity in your classroom, especially if you feel the classroom climate is a negative one. Not only will it help to become a positive place, but it will also strengthen the bond you have with your students which is so very important, especially in this day and age. 
stop bullying in the classroom by showing students appropriate ways to act in front of one another. Empower students to speak up for one another in this community building activity to promote a kind classroom environment.

Looking for more ideas to develop relationships with your students? Click here to read this two-minute idea

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    Bringing Holidays into the Science Classroom

    Ways to incorporate real life holidays into the grade 4 5 6 7 science classroom



    Making science engaging and interesting is one of the top thoughts on my mind each day. I want my students to love science. I feel that if students develop this love, it helps them to become better learners which will, in turn, create well-rounded students.

    All too often because of different constraints, science may not be a student’s favorite subject or it could be of interest but because of those constraints, they find it boring. This is not acceptable. 



    I try a variety of ways to make science fun; through building background knowledge, to including various forms of technology, different ways to assess students, hands on activities or allowing them to demonstrate their understanding during class time. These strategies have been used by me and have shown student improvement and increased student involvement, but is it ever enough?

    Another way I am trying to engage students is to include the holidays in my teachings. The holidays consume our lives so infusing their content into the holidays allows students to think of the assignment differently. It should be noted that due to many different religious beliefs, I try to stay PC and celebrate winter and other secular holidays. This ensures that I do not unintentionally leave any of my students feeling secluded. 

    Here are some ways to do this



    Review

    I find that this is an easy, fun way to integrate the holidays into your curriculum. Students are wrapping up and displaying their understanding and in doing so, they can show their festive spirit. One way that I do this in my classroom is through color by number activities. As students are answering the questions, they are coloring in a holiday picture. These types of activities look great on display and allow students to self assess their work as they will be able to easily view where their errors are.

    review activities help science teachers tie content to the holidays allow students to have fun while learning

    Research Projects

    Assign students' projects to learn more about the holidays. In science, I find that the seasons, rather than a holiday, and the environment to tie in Earth Day or Arbor Day are good areas to pull into your curriculum. Students practice working on their research, cooperative learning, reading, and writing skills while they learn about snow, endangered species, and pollution.

    Using research projects to acknowledge earth day in the grade 4 5 6 science classroom

    Experiments

    Tie in STEM projects or experiments the day before a holiday. Often times these are the days that are hard to plan for anyway with many students absent or students who just do not have the capacity to learn on these types of days. Instead of showing a movie, allow students to learn more about the winter months, build a pot of gold, trap a turkey, or design their own experiments

    winter and seasonal experiments will inspire and engage upper elementary school students


    Integrating the holidays into your classroom doesn’t have to be hard. It will allow students to have more fun as they become more engaged with the different activities that they are completing and furthermore, it will open your students' eyes to see that science really is everywhere. Making these real-life connections to science in our everyday lives is important for students to make connections to understanding that science is all around us. 




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      Groundhog's Day Ideas for an Upper Elementary Classroom

      Recognizing Groundhog's Day with FREE activities for grades 4 5 6 upper elementary classroom

      One way I am trying to motivate my students this school year is by recognizing the holiday calendar and designing activities that will authentically fit into our curriculum. Often, as students get older, holidays fall to the wayside because the connection to the curriculum is lacking. Students do not have the repetition of the holidays and then forget which holiday is which and when it is celebrated. To keep this real life information fresh in their minds, I have been trying to come up with ways to recognize secular holidays with my students while being conscious of state standards.

      Read to find ways to easily include Groundhog’s Day into your curriculum:

      Groundhog’s at Hoghaven


      This is a free site but you will need to be able to run Flash Player in order to access it. On this site, students can take a tour to see what groundhogs look like and where they live. They have access to several videos that will give them information about groundhogs, the holiday, how and where they live underground. After students scour this site, they can take a test to see how much they learned and then feed Thor, the instructor on groundhogs, his favorite treat, a hotdog!  

      I like this site and would use it in my classroom to give students more information about groundhogs and the holiday. Students love to learn information on their own and working in collaborative groups will help them learn from one another so the information sticks. 

               How does this fit into your curriculum?

      Students are using 21st Century technology skills through accessing the internet to locate information about a specific topic.

      Having students locate information from the text will check off CCSS RI 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 and 5.6 because they would be quoting from the text and drawing inferences, determining the main idea of the text, explaining the relationship between the groundhog, other animals and their interaction with the land, determine the meaning of general and academic words, and analyze the similarities and differences in point of view based on the different web links. 

      In addition, this activity can also help you check off NGSS by learning about the groundhog. Learning the habits of the animal will lead you to NGSS 3-LS 4-3. 


      Groundhog.org

               This site seems to be THE PLACE to go for all things Groundhog’s Day. In addition to all the happenings revolved around this holiday, there is an area on the site specifically for teachers. The activities that are included range from pre-school to high school and include reading, social studies, math, and English-language arts ideas. The materials are print and go and the ideas are limitless. Some ideas that I have:

      •          Use the vocabulary terms and definitions. Upload them to Quizlet (F-R-E-E) and have students play the assorted games on there to become familiar with the words. This will increase vocabulary skills and most of the work is already completed for you, so you have very little prep to do!
      •        Shadows: This activity can allow you to bring science into your classroom. Students can go outside or use materials like a flashlight and paper to make various shadows. Have them measure the length of the shadow and research what makes shadows have different lengths.  
      •      Number Plot: Students can get into the Groundhog’s Day spirit by making a graph of GH Day and coloring it in. This would then make for a great bulletin board display. 
          

         How does this fit into your curriculum?

          Depending on your curriculum, each of these activities very easily meets the CCSS or NGSS standards. Learning content specific vocabulary is a skill that is needed to help students gain background knowledge on different topics. 

          Science curriculums throughout the United States teach different topics at different times but learning about shadows would be part of an earth science or measurement curriculum as you are talking about animals, earth, the sun, and the angle of the sun to create a shadow. 

          While the Groundhog's Day website claims the number plot is a high school activity, any students studying graphing in the upper elementary or middle school could easily complete this activity. This would reinforce coordinate graphing skills.
      Three FREE groundhogs day activities to use with grade 4 5 6 students


      WebQuest

         Allow students to use teacher approved links to learn about the ins and outs of this holiday. This activity will have students access different sites to learn about the hibernation habits of animals, what a groundhog is, its lifestyle and habits, the origin and traditions of this winter holiday and use the information to decide whether or not this holiday is one is fact or legend. 

         I love activities like this because students can work collaboratively in stations or 1:1 depending on the technology you have available in your classroom. Either way, students are navigating websites and reading to explore information. When students are completing tasks in this manner, they tend to do a better job than when the information is presented to them.


      How does this fit into your curriculum?  

         Like the other activities, this lesson incorporates and strengthens 21st Century technology skills. Students are using the internet to find information, write or type information, and compare and contrast different sources. 

         In addition to meeting technology skills, it also integrates important nonfiction reading and writing skills which are aligned to CCSS. Having students read different sources to gain information to decide whether they believe it to be fact or fiction is an important lifelong skill. (It specifically aligns to CCSS RI 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4 and 5.6 - in case you need to know for lesson planning purposes). 

         Also, it can help you to begin to talk about NGSS 3-LS 4-3 as students are studying the life and habits of the groundhog. 

      Connecting the holidays into your curriculum shouldn't be painful. In addition to the motivation and engagement from the students, recognizing the holidays can also allow students to remember when the holidays occur. Still short on time? Have students complete a crossword puzzle. These activities are great for fast finishers and help to strengthen critical thinking skills. Who knows what kind of classroom conversations can be sparked from even simple activities like this. 


      three groundhogs day ideas to use in the grade 4 5 6 classroom


      Do you celebrate the winter holidays in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below. 

      Five FREE Tech Tools for the Science Teacher


      Science teachers use edpuzzle, brainpop, bbc, quizizz and nearpod to engage and assess their grade 4 5 6 kids


      Today’s science students need a blended learning environment that authentically incorporates technology into their curriculum. Below are five of my favorite technology tools. Each of these has a FREE component, but you can upgrade to benefit from additional features.

      Edpuzzle

      Lately, students have been coming to me with limited background knowledge of scientific concepts. While we haven’t fully transitioned to an NGSS curriculum, we are making strides to do so. One way I try to stay within time constraints to do ALL THE THINGS is through the use of Edpuzzle.


      What is it? 

      Edpuzzle allows you to assign videos for your kids to watch. However, to allow it to be meaningful, educational, and make sure they are actually listening, you can embed multiple-choice questions, prompts, and comments throughout the video. Another cool feature is that it doesn’t allow students to fast forward through it. This ensures they are taking the time to watch and learn from the video.

               I like to assign Edpuzzles as homework assignments or at the beginning of a unit. This saves time in the classroom to allow for more exploration and classroom discussion of the concepts. Since all students now have an even playing field in knowing important aspects of a scientific principle, it allows them to take this knowledge and better understand hands on lessons and answer critical thinking questions. 


      Edpuzzle allows grade 4 5 6 science teachers to assess student knowledge through watching videos. Great for sub plans and easy to implement.

               BBC

      I love the simulations on this site. It’s free, easy to maneuver and allows students to learn important science concepts through bitesize content. They cover many areas of life science, the human body, physical science, and earth science. Some are my favorites are: 


      Brainpop

      I have been using Brainpop for probably my entire 15-year teaching career. The videos are short and to the point which is perfect for my students. Recently, I became a Brainpop Certified Educator which allowed me to learn about so many of their awesome features aside from the videos. Some of these features include:
      -       Educational Games: These are games that were designed to work on specific skills that relate to the concept they are learning about. Many of these games are leveled to allow students to scaffold and build upon their learning.
      -       Make a Movie: Students can show what they know about a topic by creating their own Brainpop movies. You can learn more about how they can do this by clicking this link.
      -       Concept Maps: I like this activity to allow students to create a brain dump of their thinking and make connections within the unit. You can create the concept maps for them to fill in or have them create their own. 

      Brainpop allows students to make connections to their science concepts with engaging activities that elaborate and work on critical thinking skills in science


      Nearpod

      Perfect for sub plans or just plans in general. Nearpod is always a fan favorite among my students. I usually search for premade lessons, although I have also created my own using premade Google Slides or MS Powerpoint presentations that are uploaded and enhanced using Nearpod’s activities. Like Edpuzzle, I like it because my students can be assessed on their work. You can also choose to teach the lesson live, whole class, lesson or let them go at their own individual pace. When using premade lessons, I like the fact that I can edit them to fit the unique needs of my classroom.
      Want to know more about Nearpod? Click the links below to learn more.

      Nearpod is the science teachers best friend because of its free features that are versatile for the science student.

      Quizizz: 

      I always switch around how I review with my students. One of my preferred ways is with Quizizz. This site is COMPLETELY FREE. Some reasons I prefer Quizizz to other sites is because Quizizz doesn’t take time into consideration during gameplay. This feature leads me to believe that my students are taking their time when they are playing instead of quickly choosing a choice like in other games. Also, the questions are on each of the students' devices so that they can easily view the questions on their screen. 


               I also like Quizizz’s music to be less chaotic, allowing my students to have fun without getting out of control. Like the other tech tools, you can search for premade games or make your own. You can even assign them for homework which is a great review or extra credit assignment before an assessment.

      A new feature of Quizizz is that it can be created in many different languages. This is helpful for foreign language and ESL teachers as well as those who are around the world. 

      Another cool feature for those of you who aren't tech-savvy or have students who don't have devices at home is that you can print the quizzes. This allows you to assign it for homework, print in a jam if you don't have access to devices like you thought you would, or for students who prefer paper to digital. 

      Using free tech tools like edpuzzle, quizizz, brainpop, bbc, and nearpod in the grade 4 5 6 science classroom to spark engagement and assess understanding to differentiate instruction in the 21st century learning environment.


               Any questions? Be sure to click the links to learn more about each technology tool or ask your questions below!


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