Have you ever heard teachers talk about how they have loads and loads of free time during the school day with which to carefully address social issues such as self esteem, kindness, and bullying? Yeah, me neither! This is the dilemma that I have personally encountered many times in the classroom. As teachers, we of course want to ensure that our students master the academics, but we also want them to be well-rounded, productive members of the world at large, too. Especially now, as schools and districts move toward new systems of teacher evaluation, teachers want to cover everything, but feel immense pressure to cover that which is directly tested. Social learning is a gray area much of the time, though no one would disagree that students who feel safe, secure, and valued in their school environment can more easily focus on academic learning. Enter integrated lesson plans!

I am thrilled to be offering some fully-developed (and free!) lesson plans written by yours truly over at Michelle’s new site Teaching Kindness that align with both the new Common Core Standards as well as the CT state framework while reinforcing important themes such as kindness, acceptance, and empathy. My goal was to develop lessons that provide a time and space for the discussion of social issues while still fully addressing the appropriate standards. The first is a third grade lesson plan about helping those in need in your own community that addresses two Common Core literacy standards and one CT social studies standard. The second is a Common Core literacy lesson for 6th-8th grade that helps students practice using a respectful and supportive tone when writing for an audience of their own peers– something with which I’m sure we can all agree middle school and junior high students could use practice! Want to use one in your own classroom? Simply print it out! Make copies and share them with your colleagues! Make sure to tell us if you use them, and we’d love to feature you over at Teaching Kindness!

I’ve always felt strongly that educators need to provide scaffolding and guidance to their students when it comes to to the social world. So much research supports the fact that students who feel comfortable in their school and community are more readily able to master academic tasks, and it’s our job to help create schools that give students the tools for social, as well as academic, success. I’m thrilled to collaborate with Michelle on this new endeavor to help this important cause.

Stay tuned, more lesson plans will be coming in the near future!

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