REVISED SECTION As part of our large group curriculum, we develop plans for collecting process, perception, and outcome data on the lessons that we deliver. Each year, three lessons are selected for detailed analysis so that we may deliver lessons more effectively, improve data collection, and determine which lessons to continue, add, or discontinue. The lessons chosen this year, one in first grade on handling mistakes and two in fourth and fifth grade on managing emotions and problem-solving, were selected for their relevance to our program goals, school improvement plan, and links to our program’s vision and mission.
The lesson on handling mistakes was delivered to 111 first graders in five classes of 30 minutes each. Prior to the lesson, most first graders (98%) believed it was ok to make a mistake, however, only 7% could name a strategy for handling making a mistake and only 68% selected an appropriate strategy for moving forward in a mistake situation. Through a story with discussion and a follow-up written activity, students learned that when a mistake is made during a learning activity they do not have to restart the entire activity. Following the lesson, 87% could name a positive strategy for handling mistakes and 92% selected an appropriate strategy for moving forward in a mistake situation, exceeding our goal of 80% in both areas. Similarly, when comparing above average reading grades of first grade students from first quarter to second quarter, we found a 5% increase in above average achievement, exceeding our goal of a 2% increase.
Given the positive student outcomes, we will continue delivering this lesson to first grade students. Next year, we plan to incorporate more growth mindset activities into our core curriculum for all students via the establishment of a “mindful moment” activity at the start of each lesson. We are considering offering parent and staff education on how to encourage a growth mindset among students.
The emotion management lessons were delivered to 258 fourth and fifth grade students in 12 classes of 45 minutes each. Through videos, group discussion, turn and talk partner work, and skill practice, students were taught steps for calming down strong emotions. After the lesson, 83% of students believed strong emotions affect actions, 72% believed they could manage their emotions, 81% could name the calm-down steps correctly, 81% knew how strong emotions affect their bodies, 77% could demonstrate the calm-down steps, and 86% could demonstrate belly breathing to calm down. Perception data exceeded our goal of 80% on all items except two. It should be noted that as this lesson was being taught, it was discovered that some students were unclear of the definition of the words “emotion” and “demonstrate,” both found in the items on the survey that did not meet the goal of 80%. In subsequent lessons, a deliberate effort was made to clarify terminology during administration of the assessments.
The problem-solving lessons were delivered to 267 fourth and fifth grade students in 12 classes of 45 minutes each. Through videos, group discussion, turn and talk partner work, and skill practice students were taught steps for solving problems with others. After the lesson, 98% of students believed they were responsible for their own actions, 88% could state a problem without blame, 90% could name the problem-solving steps, 92% could think of safe and respectful solutions, 91% could identify consequences, and 90% could demonstrate the problem-solving steps. All perception data items exceeded our goal of 80%.
For both the emotion management and the problem-solving lessons, we compared discipline referral data from first semester (before the lessons were taught) to second semester (after the lessons were taught,) and found that fourth and fifth graders reduced their discipline referrals by 38% (from 13 to 8.) This exceeded our goal of a 25% reduction.
The emotion management and problem-solving lessons will continue to be part of our core curriculum. In future years, we will revise and/or clarify any perception survey items that may contain unfamiliar terminology. We plan to review the calm down and problem-solving steps during our introduction lessons in September so that students are reminded of these strategies and can use them from the start of the year. Likewise, we have purchased anchor charts of the calm down and problem-solving steps for classrooms to give students daily visual reminders of curriculum. We intend to ask teachers to designate an area in each classroom as a “Problem-Solving Corner” where students will be asked to work out peer conflicts before seeking adult