Godzilla Gazette, 28

Week of March 21, 2016


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! Welcome back! I hope your spring break was full of wonderful moments, peace, and fun. I hope each of you got some time to rest and relax and take a breather to prepare for the last quarter of school (can you believe it!?). :)

Because the last quarter is so full of teaching, learning, field trips, assessments, celebrations, and activities, it can often be somewhat easy to push aside lessons on SEL and positive behavior due to the very real time crunch we all feel. I want to remind all of us, however, that taking the time to teach and remind our students of these critical "soft skills" will, in the end, give us more time to focus on academics. When the students come pouring into school tomorrow, remember to take a few minutes to review your classroom procedures and routines and to plan for social practice too.

This week's Reflective Practitioner provides three concrete ideas to help our students practice critical communication and social skills. And, while the article highlights the benefits for kids, I truly believe we could all improve our quality of life by following the advice given. So, here's to a fantastic week back, one where we focus our eyes on the good, listen to each other and our students' interests, and greet each other by name. What a warm and lovely environment for all - we can do it!

The Reflective Pracitioner

Help Kids Earn Confidence & Improve Social Skills

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Image courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons by Mike Kera

In addition to academic topics such as science, math, and language, social skills are one of the most important skill sets learned mostly by osmosis during the school day. Students learn how to interact with peers both within their grade and outside of it, as well as with authority figures in the form of teachers, parents, and other adults. There are complex power dynamics that occur even at the elementary level that stay with students throughout school and into their adult lives at the workplace.

The three challenges and exercises below are inspired by Dale Carnegie’s classic self-improvement book, How To Win Friends and Influence People. This is a book that has been admired as one of the best books ever written on social interaction and dynamics.

Challenge #1: No Complaining for Two Weeks

Principle: Don’t criticise, condemn, or complain.

This challenge has the power to change the lives of students significantly for the better. Complaining is a bad habit that can be stopped. There is a truth that states: we see what we look for. The act of complaining is a habit in which we point out things that are negative and bring them to the forefront of our attention, as well as to the attention of people around us. If students are able to eliminate this terrible habit, they will avoid being the victim and start pointing out the more positive things in their lives, leading to a more grateful attitude.

The challenge, which is inspired by A Complaint Free World, is very simple. The goal is to not complain once in two weeks.

  • Step 1: Have your class make their own “Complaint Free” wristbands. They are free to decorate them however they want.
  • Step 2: Put the wristband on whichever wrist your students prefer. The goal is to keep the wristband on the same wrist for two weeks straight.
  • Step 3: If your students complain, they are to remove the wristband from their current wrist and move it to the other wrist. Once they do this, they are to start from the very beginning.

The goal is to keep the wristband on the same wrist for two weeks in a row. What counts as a complaint? Here are two simple guidelines. A complaint is:

  1. A negatively emotionally charged observation about a situation or person.
  2. Whining about a situation or person.

Challenge #2: Talk About What They Like

Principle: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

This challenge is created to instill in students an attitude of genuine interest in others. This works as a great icebreaker in the beginning of class. Far too many people in the world talk to others from a standpoint of “what’s in it for me?”, and then wonder why nobody wants to help them out. When students learn to show that they truly care about what other people like, they will learn a fundamental skill that will take them far in life, regardless of what route they choose to take.

  • Step 1: Ask your students to each grab a pencil or pen and a piece of paper.
  • Step 2: Pair students randomly into groups of 2 and 3.
  • Step 3: Instruct students to play detective and figure out what their partners are interested in.
  • Step 4: After 5-10 minutes, ask your students to separate from their groups. At this point, tell them to research as much as they can about the topic that their partners are most interested in.
  • Step 5: After 10-15 minutes of research, ask your students to regroup. The goal here is for students to now talk to their partners about the topics that they are interested in. Allow them to get to know each other and start finding common interests

This exercise is a powerful way for students to learn that with a little bit of work, relationships can be built simply by taking the time to find out what other people are interested in.

Challenge #3: Say Names For a Week

Principle: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

Far too many times in conversations, we address others using terms of endearment such as “buddy” or “man” or “honey”, but never use their names. While those terms are sweet and can feel warm, there is a special warmth that we each get when we hear our own name. In the classroom, it is not uncommon for giggles to resound through the classroom when a book being read aloud uses the name of a student in the class. Names are personal and using them is a strong social skill to have in their arsenal.

  • Step 1: Tell students that for a week, whenever students begin a new conversation with another person, they are to begin by using their name.
  • Step 2: Challenge students to not only use their peers’ names, but also to talk to as many different people as possible.
  • Step 3: Instruct them to track (1) the names and (2) the number of times they use each name.

This is a fun exercise that may get silly, but it is a great way to teach a memorable lesson. Encourage students to use names whenever possible when talking to others. This is a way to show that they respect others and they recognize others as individuals.


While social skills are extremely important in today’s world, they often are not a part of the curriculum itself. As such, it often falls on teachers to invent their own creative ways to help foster and grow these skills successfully, rather than leaving students to fend for themselves.. Communication is one of the most important skills and factors to successful careers and relationships. The three challenges and games above are great ways to instill great social skills into students in a fun and lighthearted way.

Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events - National School Breakfast Week

Spring Break Birthday

  • Happy Birthday, Sarah Warner! - Saturday, March 19th :)

Monday, March 21, 2016 - A Day

  • Happy Birthday, Stefanie Nguyen! :)
  • TELPAS Computer Assessment - 8:00 am - Lab - Elise, Grace
  • ARD - 8:40 am - Office - Meghan, Nicole, Grace
  • MFC Meeting - 12:00 pm - Library - Ruthann, Grace
  • ARD - 2:00 pm - Office - Margaret, Angela, Grace
  • Grounds Work Day Planning Meeting - 3:00 pm - Office - Diana McM, Claudia, Grace

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 - B Day

  • STAAR Prep - 8:00 am - Office - Grace
  • Lock-Down Drill - 1:00 pm - School-wide - All
  • Staffing Conference Call - 1:00 pm - Office - Grace
  • STAAR Training, Option I - 3:00 pm - TBD - ALL STAAR Test Administrators

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 - C Day

  • LPAC Assessment Meeting - 9:00 am - Office - Elise, Grace
  • 1st Grade Field Trip - 9:45 am - Inner Space Caverns - Alma, Sharon, Suzie
  • Assistant Principal Interviews - 3:00 pm - Elise, Grace, Maria
  • Instrument Screening - O.Henry - 6:00 pm - Lisa, Jimmy
  • Most Likely to Succeed Film Screening - 6:00 pm - Cafeteria - All Invited

Thursday, March 10, 1016 - A Day

  • Vision and Hearing Screenings - 8:00 am - TBD
  • CST Meeting - 10:15 am - Office - Angela, Elise, Kara, Grace
  • ARD - 12:15 pm - Office - Margaret, Diana McG., Chad, Kara, Grace
  • Title I Seminar - 2:00 pm - Delco Center - Grace
  • ARD - 2:00 pm - Learning Lab 1 - Janie, Kirstie, Grace
  • STAAR Training , Option 2 - 3:00 pm - Library - All STAAR Test Administrators
  • CAC Virtual Meeting - All CAC Members

Friday, March 25, 2016

  • School Holiday

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • If you haven't already, make sure to take the Educator's Ethics Course through AISD's HCP.
  • Make sure to utilize reading/writing workshop and small group instruction during core.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To Kirstie for creating a deliberate SEL plan for her class to build a more positive community!
  • To Lauren for speaking at SXSWEdu!
  • To Stefanie, Diana McG., Cindy S. and Diana McM for helping out at the Maker Ready session at SXSWEdu!
  • To every teacher and staff member who stayed at school the week before spring break and made sure all continued to go well for our students!
  • To Robin and the SEL Committee for planning our fantastic Peace March!
  • To Jennifer for having the students create lovely peace posters in art class!
  • To everyone for creating chants and going with the flow on Friday for a truly inspiring Peace March!
  • To all for helping to communicate our early release and helping end the week smoothly!

Upcoming Events:

  • 3rd Quarter Honor Roll Assembly - March 28
  • Historic Commission Meeting at Mathews - March 28
  • STAAR Writing and 5th Grade STAAR Math- March 29
  • STAAR 5th Grade Reading - March 30
  • 6th grade Camp Champion! - March 30-April 1
  • Staff Meeting - March 31
  • Family Maker Night - March 31
  • Annual Fund Kick-Off - April 1
  • STAAR ALT 2 Submission Window Opens - April 4
  • Class Picture Day - April 5
  • Kindergarten Round Up - April 5
  • Principal's Coffee - April 8
  • International Festival - April 8
  • Librarian Appreciation Week - Week of April 11
  • EOY TPRI/DRA and CPMS Window Opens
  • School Tour - April 11
  • Science Presentation - April 12
  • Staff Meeting - April 14
  • 4th Grade San Antonio Trip - April 15
  • Elementary 6th Grade Dance - April 15

Website to Explore:

http://www.goodreads.com/- As the site states, "Meet your next favorite book!" I love to read - there's something about a good piece of literature to dive into a different world and gain empathy for others through a character's eyes. There's also nothing like a well written, thoughtful book about our craft to make you think and push you to try new and exiting things. I ordered and am reading four this week! :) The point is, if you like books, this is the site for you - it's got lists and recommendations for personal reading and for the classroom. Enjoy exploring!