In the fall of 2019, as part of a regular professional development day in October my district had someone come in and work with us on Social Emotional Learning Standards. We participated in activities, collaborated and I left feeling ready to come up with some ways to more intentionally teach and reinforce social emotional learning in my classroom.
I spent the weekend reading through the materials and came up with an idea of S.E.L. dice. I found a template and printed it out on 6 different colors of thick colored paper, put the activities I thought I could manage on them and printed up a key for myself. Each table bin in my 8th grade classroom got a single die and we used them regularly. My original project is linked below. The GREAT things about it.
- No student ever crumpled or squashed one of my fragile dice. That meant so much to me that they cared for their table bins so well.
- It was right in front of us all the time so we used them a lot.
- Even though I didn’t have it set up in a way that we could just roll and use anything because of prep needed, the kids really liked being asked to pic a die. I’d say, “table group with the pink one pull out your die.” And then I’d ask them to turn to #3.
One Word Whip Around
I really wasn’t sure how it would go with the class. Some of the activities really require kids to put themselves out there. Others put me on the spot in the moment for my teaching. When we did the activity, “One Word Whip Around” as a faculty in our training we were asked to share our one word reflection from the lesson literally everyone was polite. There were a couple of words you could read into and think, “this person really didn’t enjoy this” but you had to know a backstory to even guess.
I wondered how this activity would go in grade 8? I was really afraid to try it as we stood in a circle on our first go round in Algebra at the end of a class. Kids started sharing words that summarized a takeaway from that day’s activity: Awesome! Fun! Meh. BORING. Cool. The range was there. I felt my face turn red as I heard Meh and Boring. I smiled when I heard Awesome. I realized it wasn’t always the kids that I though enjoyed the lesson that did. Some kids I thought were totally checked out had the most energetic takeaways. After the activity we felt closer – more connected.
I shared this with my principal, guidance counselor, grade 8 team and finally my math department. I asked my department if anyone wanted to collaborate with me to make it better. YES! Courtney was interested in developing this further as a summer professional development project. I had really just thrown my dice together and there was opportunity for more deliberate materials. We put in for a summer project. Then COVID hit and stayed we realized we needed this to be more digital than we had planned. This project was one of many pivots for the year.
The finished project
Our project is a Google Slides presentation that you can use in the classroom or virtually. You can use real dice or you can use the dice site we linked to in the program. You can use it as is or you can take it as a launching off pad! If you do the latter and make great improvements, I’d love for you to share it back with me so I can post it here as another option.
Some of our ideas we LOVE and some were our last attempts to finish in our 3 hours of work we were allotted (as with all things teaching we just stopped counting our hours once we hit our cap).
Thank you to Slides.go for the great free templates. Thank you to DiceApp.io for the dice app. Thank you to Trumansburg Central Schools and to our Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Pam Rapoza for approving our summer PD hours. And, thank you to Courtney Kempski for working with me on this. It was a lot of fun to collaborate together.