By Grade Level

Conversation Starters, Making Connections and Additional Resources


Elementary: Conversation Starters and Making Connections

5th Grade February SEL Topic: Caring/Kindness/Empathy

Conversation Starters:

1.       Talk about what is a Random Act of Kindness, and how it should be as anonymous as possible. How do you feel when you secretly do something awesome for someone? How do you think the person receiving the Act feels?

2.       How powerful are words? What happens when mean words are said? What happens to people when they hear nice words about themselves? What would happen in your school/home/city/state/country/world if everyone only said positive things? How can you set an example for others to follow?

3.       What are some things you can do to notice when someone else needs help, and then help them?! At home? At school? What can you do if you are not able to help someone?

Making Connections:


1.       Doing something nice in a secret way is fun. It is not important to get a ‘wow!’ or “thank you”… you just quietly know in your heart that you made someone happy. Make a list Random Acts of Kindnesses the student could do. Let the student choose seven to do for one week. Write them on a calendar and ask for feedback after the week is finished. Should this become a habit?

2.       Ask the student to write the names (vertically) of two or three friends. Next to each letter, write a kind or positive word that describes the friend. i.e. NATHAN: N = nice, A = athletic, etc. Make sentences the student could use to give compliments to these friends and others.

3.       Watch The Giving Tree video. What lessons did you learn? Who is like the tree in your life? Draw a picture of a tree, and write on each branch the things from YOU that you can give away and be happy.


Random Acts of Kindness ideas

30 Random Acts of Kindness

5th Grade February T-2-4 Topic: Manufacturing & Healthcare Career Clusters

Conversation Starters:

1.       Do you know anyone who works in the healthcare industry? Why does our city need people who work in healthcare? Which healthcare jobs or tasks can you think of that could be done by robots? Which cannot? Why not?

2.       Look at the list of manufacturing jobs available in Houston. Which are interesting to you? Using the Salary estimate on the side of the page, see how many jobs are listed in each $ range. Do the same with healthcare job listings. What do you see that is different?


Making Connections:


1.       Look around the room. Discuss what kinds of careers it took for each item (i.e. carpet, chair, window, blinds, air conditioning, etc.) to be there: designer, raw materials, manufacturer, delivery, installation, etc. See how many jobs you can list. Try to get to at least 20.

2.       Open this article about the Texas Medical Center. Go through each of the photos at the top of the article. From each caption, write down the number mentioned. Which is the biggest number on your list? Do you think working here will still be possible when you are an adult? Why or why not? What kinds of skills or personality traits will it take to work there?

3.       Gather several small items (i.e. Legos, paper clips, ribbon, sticks, cotton balls, glue, markers, cardboard, etc.) and ask the student to make a new “thing-a-ma-widget” from these four or five of the “raw materials.” Discuss: What would it take to make 100 or 1000 of these new things? How many of each item will need to be delivered to your workshop or warehouse to manufacture these quantities? How many people would need to work there to get them done in one day? Make a worksheet listing all the components necessary. Make a job description for the employees.


Manufacture Your Future

The future of work in manufacturing

Elementary Health Lesson Plans & Activities

8th Grade

8th Grade: Conversation Starters and Making Connections

February 8th Grade SELTopic: Teen Dating Violence

Conversation Starters:

1.       Talk about how romance was for you in middle and high school. What is different today? What precautions should be in place?

2.       Do you think “true love” is possible in middle school? How many adults do you know who are with their middle or high school boyfriends/girlfriends?

3.       What are some healthy boundaries that should be set if you or your friends have a relationship in middle or high school? What will you do if someone restricts your ability to be yourself and be safe?


Making Connections:


1.       Talk about how romance was for you in middle and high school. What is different today? What precautions should be in place?

2.       Do you think “true love” is possible in middle school? How many adults do you know who are with their middle or high school boyfriends/girlfriends?

3.       What are some healthy boundaries that should be set if you or your friends have a relationship in middle or high school? What will you do if someone restricts your ability to be yourself and be safe?


Additional Resources

Love is Respect toolkit

Tips on High School Dating


8th Grade February T-2-4 Topic: High School Course & Endorsement Selection

Conversation Starters:

1.       Which career speaker most influenced your decision when you selected your Endorsement for high school? If you had to start a career tomorrow, what would you like to do?

2.       Why will it be very important to pass the math and reading on the STAAR test this year? What will happen to your high school schedule if you don’t pass?

3.       When you think about being in high school next year: what excites you? What scares you? What do you think will be the same? Different?


Making Connections:

1.       Start getting more organized now, so when you get to high school, it is a habit. Track assignments, field trips, volunteer work schedule, etc. in an online calendar on your phone or in a planner. Print out or buy a planner/calendar or use this one to start to fill it in with your life and school stuff this spring.

2.       Use the questions and road map suggestions in this article to begin to take steps now to be ready for high school.

3.       Make a list of the things you were IN to in 4th grade (suggestions here). Make a list of fads you like now (8th grade)—are any the same? Do you see a theme that is evolving as you get older? Do you think you will like the same things when you are a senior in high school? Travel into the future, and make a list of what you think you will like in 2023. What does this evolution teach you?

Additional Resources

High School Endorsements

Feb-May calendar

A High School Road Map for Freshman

11th grade

11th Grade Conversation Starters, Making Connections & Additional Resources

11th Grade February SEL Topic: Dating Violence

Conversation Starters:

1.       What forms of physical and emotional violence in relationships do abusers use to get and gain power and control? How can these escalate from verbal to physical abuse?

2.       What are the first steps you should take if you have a concern about an action or behavior in a relationship?

3.       What is the connection between self-esteem and dating violence? Why do people stay in abusive relationships? What do you think should be done about this?

Making Connections:

  1. Which parts of the Dating Bill of Rights would you feel comfortable communicating to a dating partner? Which would be difficult? Practice stating these rights in your own words to affirm your rights to yourself.

    2.       Start a Love is Respect campaign at your school. Ideas are here.

    3.       Take the Dating Abuse Quiz. Are you in any of these situations? Do you have friends who are? What should you do?



    National Domestic Violence Hotline; 1-800-799-7233

    Defining a Healthy Relationship for Teens

    Is Change Possible in an Abuser?

    Respect: Types of Dating Violence

    Dating Violence Lesson Plan (scenarios, warning signs, cycles)

    Dating Bill of Rights

11th Grade February T-2-4 Topic: Are You On Track to Graduate?

Conversation Starters:

1.       According to an article in U.S.News & World Report, a record number of students are on track to graduate from high school in 2020. Low income and minority students still lag behind. Why do you think this is the case? What ideas do you have to bridge the gap?  What do record numbers of graduate s mean for: a. getting into college? b. finding a job.

2.       When you were in 8th grade, you chose an Endorsement for high school in order to earn the Distinguished Level of Achievement. What is your Endorsement? Are you on track to have this Endorsement on your transcript when you graduate? What are the benefits of graduating with this achievement?

3.       This month, you are meeting with your high school counselor to be sure your graduation plan is on track. Why do you think it is important to be sure now vs. at this time next year? What part of this process is your responsibility?

Making Connections:

1.       Review your progress toward graduation in Skyward Family Access – Grad Reqs and Endorsement modules. Take note of any gaps. What is your plan to get on track?

2.       Finish Strong—this is it! Spring semester of your junior year is really the final time to get your grades in stellar shape prior to college and career applications taking place in the fall of your senior year. Open your Naviance account and use the Super Match feature to see the GPA expectations at colleges you are interested in attending after graduation. Set goals to get your grades into this range before the end of your junior year. Discuss why colleges and technical schools care about your grades (use them to accept the best candidates)

3.       Plan to take the SAT and ACT multiple times between now and the fall. Look at the testing schedules and sign up for upcoming tests now (fee waivers are available for students on Free or Reduced lunch plans). Use a planner to make a study schedule prior to each exam date, using study tips,, Schmoop (enter magic word: SPRINGBRANCHROCKS), and other websites.

4.       Make a list of the places and props you will use for your Senior Pictures next year. Which of these ideas do you like?


Additional Resources

Article: Graduation Rate

TEA Graduation Toolkit

ACT test dates

SAT test dates

Khan Academy SAT test prep

SBISD Course Catalog