By Grade Level

Conversation Starters, Making Connections and Additional Resources

Elementary

Elementary

April 5th Grade SEL Topic: Perseverance

Conversation Starters

1.       Read a story together. Which characters showed perseverance? How did this trait benefit the character(s) in the short run? In the long run?

2.       Look up these words in a dictionary: perseverance, tenacity, adversity, persistence, grit, failures, overcoming, risks. How do these words tie together? How does this relate to studying in school? What are some ways you can learn perseverance?

3.       Talk about a time when you (the adult) were discouraged, but kept trying until you reached success. Ask the student if your story reminds him/her of anything they are going through.  Discuss how the disappointments can turn into valuable lessons. Praise the student for the trying, not the end result.

Making Connections

1.       Use this article or this video to learn to tie some knots using a rope or shoelace. Point out to the child that it takes a while to learn something new. Keep trying until the students gets to the point the handout or video is not needed to do it right. Once learned, use one of the knots to attach two things together. Ask: How does it feel to learn something new after trying so many times?

2.       Watch the video in this article together. Use the video debrief questions to discuss what the llama went through, and how it ended up to his benefit to keep trying.

3.       Freeze a coin in an ice cube, and tell your student to get it out without out smashing or putting it in the mouth. What how many creative ways can they come up with to get the coin? Of course you get to keep it!

Resources:

5th Grade March T-2-4 Topic: Careers in Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources

Conversation Starters

1.       Why is it important for kids to get interested in a career in the field of natural resources? What would happen if people were not studying and taking care of our natural resources?

2.       What is the connection between people who work in the Agriculture field and others who work in Natural Resources-focused jobs? Do they need each other?

3.       Do all crops contribute to our food supply? What are some that do not? i.e. cotton, trees, lavender, etc. Point out items around the house, school and neighborhood made from plant-based products and underscore the idea that someone somewhere had to grow these plants before they became products.

Making Connections

1.   Plan a menu for your favorite dinner. Find a recipe for each item and make a grocery list. Think about where each ingredient comes from, and what kinds of jobs were involved along the way to get it to the store (farmer, truck driver, box maker, scientist, etc.).

2.   Start an “adopt a tree” campaign on your campus or in your neighborhood. Get your friends and family involved in watering, feeding, and measuring the growth of “their” trees. Collect seeds from the parent trees and start baby trees. How will this effort make the future better?

3.   On a United States map, write in one crop that grows well in each state using this list. Put a star next to the foods you like best.

Resources:

8th Grade

8th Grade

April 8th Grade SEL Topic: Interpersonal Relationships/Cultural Diversity

Conversation Starters

1.       From which countries or backgrounds do some of the kids at your school come? What do they have in common with your culture? What is different? Is there something wrong with being different? Why are some people are afraid of people not like them? What are some ideas to bridge differences?

2.       What are good things to do to build a relationship with a new person? What would not be helpful?

3.       Culture is a shared set of practices and traditions that characterize a society or group of people. What characterizes yours? Your friend’s? Your teacher’s?

Making Connections

1.       What would happen if we said all people with brown eyes are bad? When we stereotype people, sometimes we say, “All ______ do that,” we lump all people from one group into a specific behavior. A challenge: Every time you or someone in your family says “All those _____ are like that,” put a quarter into a jar because it is not right to lump behaviors by groups. Use the money collected to buy something for a friend who is different from you.

2.       Culture is a shared set of practices and traditions that characterize a society or group of people. Make a list visible things that show cultural things, food, clothing, ceremonies, language, etc. Next to each item, list how these look like in at least three different cultures. Then, invent a make-believe culture. What will the cultural items on your list look like in this new culture. What do they all have in common with your culture?

Resources

April 8th Grade T-2-4 Topic: Self-Awareness/
Review Prelim T-2-4 Plan

Conversation Starters

1.       Based on your self-awareness today, what do you think you will be doing when you are 5 and 10 years from now? What steps do you need to take now to reach this goal?

2.       Do you wanna be a millionaire? What would you do if you had $1 million? How will you make this money? Which careers pay high amounts of money? Do you think money is the key to happiness? What would be good about making a good living? What else would be important, other than money?

3.       What does employability mean? What skills are employers looking for in their workforce? Which skills do you already have? What skills can you learn in high school that will make you stand out as an exemplary employee?

Making Connections

1.       Let’s talk about you: personal interests, abilities, personality (Make a list). Google song lyrics using the words you wrote down, and see if there are any songs that describe you. Make a cover for a CD that features ‘your’ song.

2.       List three problems/issues facing our country or world today. What kinds of people will be needed in the future to solve them? What do young people need to be aware of now to become part of the solution?

3.       Look at the volunteer opportunities for high school students in this article. Which is most interesting to you? What self-awareness would you gain by volunteering there? What will it take for you to get to the volunteer location? If you ride the Metro bus, where will you be picked up and dropped off (Use the Metro Trip Planner tool to figure this out)? How much will it cost? What skills will you learn that could be part of your high school resume?

Resources

11th grade

11th Grade

April 11th Grade SEL Topic: Stress Management & Self-Care

Conversation Starters

1.       Have you heard of the fight, flight or freeze response to stressful situations? Has this ever happened to you? How did you overcome the stress? How can this technique be used to deal with future stress?

2.       Some people think that drinking or drug use will help them relax. How do these behaviors actually increase stress?

3.       How does being overcommitted cause stress? Discuss the term work-life balance and why the student should get in this habit now. Learn to say no, even to things that might be fun. Practice some diplomatic ways of saying “no.”

Making Connections

1.       Belly Breathing. Use the instructions here to practice this stress relieving technique that can be used anytime, anywhere.

2.       Make a Stress Awareness and Action chart. Write the word STRESS in a vertical arrangement. Next to each letter, identify something that is stressful that begins with that letter. Next to this, write something that will help you cope with the stressor that also starts with the letter.

3.       Let your mind wander. Close your eyes and think of one thing that makes you happy. Now let your mind wander only to positive images, and enjoy the how this changes your mood and calms you down.

Resources:

April 11th Grade T-2-4 Topic: Apply Texas/Common App

Conversation Starters

1.       Much has been in the news about cheating on college admissions. What do you think of this? How satisfied will you be when you get into college on your own strengths? What do you think will happen to the students who are part of this scandal when they apply for jobs?

2.       What does it mean to “remain in the best academic shape as possible” now and throughout the remainder of your time in high school? What should you do if there was an event in your life that messed up your Grade Point Average? Some tips are here.

3.       If you could go to college anywhere, where would you go? What are your reasons? What is the benefit of going away from Houston for college? What are the benefits of staying in the Houston area?

Making Connections

1.       Experience a virtual tour of over 600 colleges here. Which ones use the Common App (mostly out-of-state and private colleges)? ApplyTexas (most in-state schools)? Direct applications?

2.       What does it cost to apply to college? Make a list of colleges you have heard of and look them up online to find out the application fees. Did you know that students who receive Free or Reduced Lunch qualify to take the SAT or ACT for free, which in turn makes them eligible for application fee waivers? Some colleges also offer fee waiver applications. Here is an example.

3.       Print out the sample ApplyTexas pages. Write in your information so you know what you know and what you still need to find out. Look at these essay prompts to begin to formulate (and draft!) ‘your stories’ so you are well-prepared when it is time to submit a real application. Use the “Page Instructions” tool in the upper right corner of the page for more information.

Resources