THINK Before You Speak Lesson Plan

Saturday, September 17, 2016
The theme for most of the year in 4th grade's Life Skills lessons is positive communication. We'll tie many of our lessons back to the idea "think before you speak". A couple weeks before I started the lessons, I crafted what I thought what an awesome lesson. I was pretty proud of myself. Did I live up to my own hype? Nope.

First mistake was trying to use the "our words are like toothpaste" metaphor with an incredulous and opinionated cohort (see here for my account of this fail).

Second mistake was trying to do something involving centers/rotations (A center for each THINK rule! Students work together to learn about the rule and sort examples and come up with their own! Sounded great!) so early in the year before the classes had established class norms, learned positive groupwork habits, or remembered how to follow directions.

Third mistake was trying to replace the toothpaste metaphor with the wrinkled heart activity using Chrysanthemum - only to find out the teacher had read the story to them the previous week and that the students couldn't handle listening to a story while simultaneously interacting with a piece of paper immediately following recess (rookie mistake).

At this point I was feeling pretty rough, though there were two parts to the lesson that were going ok. My second "hook" if you will was to do Stand Up/Sit Down. We sat in a circle and I asked them to:

This proved to be all the intro I needed and was also a great way to have some movement in the lesson since they were no longer going to be rotating. Everyone moved back to their desks and I projected the THINK poster I made (happy to send you mine, or there's tons for free on TPT).

The examples I'd originally adapted or made up for each of the rules in centers were also successful. They weren't so much of a "push" or "challenge" as I like, but they very clearly illustrated each of the rules. Some of the examples were inspired/adapted from this game on TPT. This time, instead of having them on cards for centers, I made a PPT to walk us through them all. While the answer of "which example fits the rule" was usually pretty obvious, my students still loved writing their answer (with a number or an arrow) on a white board to put up in the air for me. They also loved when, before the examples when I was explaining each rule, I did another example by "picking on" one of them and using them. (Side note: I get more participation when I ask "Who can I pick on for this next example?" than I do for anything else).


By the time I finally got these two parts figured out, I was on my last lesson which I knew was going to get cut short due to a fire drill. I ended it by having the students do a self-reflection exit ticket where they told me which THINK rule is the hardest for them to follow and which THINK rule is the easiest for them to follow. I used a similar exit ticket in the other homerooms and found that most kiddos could self-identify that they struggled with the "true" and "necessary" rules. For my super pro-social students, "inspiring" was their challenge. In some ways, this also functioned as an informal needs assessment to help me identify which THINK rules I need to hit harder and more specifically throughout the rest of our curriculum.

"Necessary is hard for me. I like to talk a lot"

When I get the real do-over of doing this lesson next year and have it down better, I'd like to incorporate either a more comprehensive self-reflection processing sheet (probably will save that for a review of the THINK rules in the spring) or a fun foldable. See below for the foldable I made in anticipation of doing this lesson again next year or in a small group.

Future lessons we were already slated to hit in this area are: body language and tone of voice, social filter, gossip/rumors, "Talk it Out", perspective taking, and quality compliments. 


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