Academy for Social-Emotional Learning in Schools

Student Engagement

5

Oct

Implementing a “Genius Hour” With Your Students

A response to Larry Ferlazzo’s “question-of-the-week,” How can I implement a “Genius Hour” with my students?

Response From Maurice Elias

There has been a lot of talk lately about implementing a “Genius Hour” with students.  Here is my take on it. Every student has genius. And time should be set aside to celebrate the genius of every student. It does not require a single hour; it’s something that can and should be scheduled throughout the school year. You can celebrate two students a week, half hour each; you can celebrate a student each day for 15 minutes—use your imaginations!

My suggestion is that you frame a Genius Hour in terms of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences model. Gardner was interested to see if all cultures defined intelligence in terms of language arts and mathematical skills the way our Western educational culture seems to. Of course, he knew the answer would be, “No.” What Gardner also found is that there are physiological and specifically neurological bases for the different kinds of intelligence he identified—intelligences that collectively are essential for humanity and civilization, with some being emphasized by some cultures more than others.

The eight multiple intelligences (MI) Gardner has identified are:  Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Spatial, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Musical, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, and Spiritual. There are formal ways to assess your students’ multiple intelligences strengths, and Thomas Armstrong has created some of the best, practical materials. But you are likely to know your students’ relative MI preferences pretty well.

Students learn well through their strengths and an opportunity to use their strengths can leverage a greater willingness to work on areas of weakness or learning difficulty. That is the importance of celebrating their strengths. Some students can go through a school day—in fact, many school days—without feeling a sense of celebration or accomplishment. A “Genius Hour” is and should be about recognizing things our students are good at and sharing them with classmates, making it clear that there is no hierarchy of intelligences, only multiple intelligences.

You can introduce the Genius Hour—or whatever you choose to all it—by introducing MI and asking students to identify what they think their strengths are—indeed, expanding their view of what a strength is. You can also have students share geniuses they admire, who display particular MI strengths.

An ongoing celebration of student strengths—or genius—represents finding windows into the soul of children and ways to reach them in powerful and meaningful ways. When students are working within their areas of MI strength, they are able to mobilize confidence and enjoyment in ways that can be cut off if they are “off-modality.”  Thus, it becomes vital for students to have opportunities to be recognized for — and to perform and learn in — their preferred modalities. 

 

Maurice J. Elias, Ph.D., is Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab. He is also author of the e-book, Emotionally Intelligent Parenting  and The Other Side of the Report Card:  Assessing Students’ Social, Emotional, and Character Development (2016, Corwin):

See Larry Ferlazzo’s full blog here:

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2017/06/response_genius_hours_can_be_transformative.html

 

22

Sep

Friends Elem School

The School Climate Problem (and What We Can Do About It)

Summary: This article makes the point about a positive school climate being about every student.  The author stresses the point that “All means all” saying that every student must feel connected to the school regardless of background, needs to be acted upon in practice in the school.  It needs to more than just a saying.

Source:  Peter DeWitt, Education Week Commentary, September 21, 2017

Categories: School Culture/Climate, Educational Equity, Student Engagement, Empathy

23

Aug

An On-Site Advocate for Every Student

Summary:  In this article, Maurice Elias makes a case for an SEL advocate for every student.  Dr. Elias feels that such a program would help to ensure that every child is treated equitably and that the focus would be placed on SEL development.

Source:  Maurice Elias, Edutopia, August 22, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Educational Equity, Student Engagement, Parent Engagement

23

Aug

There Has Never Been a Better Time to Teach Social Justice

Summary:  This article presents ideas from two State Teachers of the Year on how to use literature from the NNSTOY’s Social Justice Reading List.  With current events as they are, it is a great time to teach social justice!

Source:  Lee-Ann Stephens and Katherine Bassett, Education Week, August 21, 2017

Categories:  Restorative Practices, Social Justice, Classroom Practice, Student Engagement

18

Aug

Bite-Size SEL Lessons

Summary:  Snack time can be an opportunity for social and emotional learning instead of simply a pit stop for hungry kids.  Snack time can offer opportunities for building community and sharing responsibilities in the early elementary classroom.

Source:  Kerry Elson, Edutopia, August 14, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, Classroom Practice, Student Engagement, Core Values

16

Aug

HS Students

Yes, Race and Politics Belong in the Classroom

Summary:  This article deals with how teachers can foster a classroom environment that allows for discussion of controversial issues both in and out of school.  The author offers ten tips for teachers to engage students in difficult conversations.

Source:  H. Richard Milner IV, Education Week, August 15, 2017

Categories:  Classroom Practice, Positive Relationships, Educational Equity, Student Engagement

11

Aug

Minecraft

The Fascinating Link Between Minecraft and SEL

Summary:  This article explores how Minecraft can support social-emotional learning.  A new report, How Minecraft Supports Social and Emotional Learning in K–12 Education, published by Getting Smart, investigates the connection between classroom use of Minecraft and the SEL outcomes of K– 12 students.

Source:  Laura Ascione, eSchool News, August 11, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Engagement, Student-Centered Learning

1

Aug

Addressing Hate and Intolerance in Trump’s America

Summary:  This article tells the story of how one school district in Washington State addressed the issue of hate and intolerance toward students who are members of “target groups.”  The author offers some suggestions for activities that will help to “look past hate toward hope.”

Source:  Jennifer Fichamba, Education Week, July 27. 2017

Categories:  Educational Equity, School Culture/Climate, Core Values, Empathy, Positive Relationships, Student Engagement

26

Jul

Is Social-Emotional Learning a Hoax? Readers Respond

Summary:  This post includes reactions from many readers who took issue with Chester Finn’s commentary calling social-emotional learning a hoax.  Read the reactions from educators and others across the county chiming in on the place of SEL in child development.

Source:  Education Week, July 18, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Achievement, Positive Relationships, Empathy

26

Jul

Social-Emotional-Learning Researchers Gather Input From Educators

Summary:  This article comments on the work the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and the involvement of of current and former leaders from the worlds of education, policy, government, and business,  The commission has an ambitious agenda to try to define commonalities in the emerging and overlapping fields of social-emotional learning, deeper learning, mindsets, and student engagement.

Source:  Evie Blad, Education Week, July 18, 2017

Categories:  SEL Basics, SEL Research, Student Engagement, Mindset, Student Achievement