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MORE TIME 2019-2020: SEL Edition

MORE TIME 2: SEL Edition

Teacher: Noah Patel
School: Roosevelt K-8

The Challenge:
In year two of our grant, MORE (Math, Organization, Reading and Emotional) Time Version 2.0 we wanted intentional time focused on providing students differentiated math, reading, and social emotional supports based on the data informed needs of the group. In order for students to get even more of what they need, every Tuesday from 12:40-3:10pm, students rotate through three 45-60 min “centers” that develop their understanding around 1) a math concept, 2) a reading/writing skill, and 3) social emotional well being.

The groups, led by members of the 6th grade team, rotate flexibly each Tuesday, and are reshuffled each term based on data collected and demonstrated student need in the areas of Math and ELA. Students benefit from a full hour each week of explicit SEL skill development.

The challenge that we were trying to address was how to use data to increase academic performance, create a more positive school experience and a decrease in problematic behaviors. Most importantly, it begins to address the glaring issue of a scarcity of mental health support for our students and ideally leads to emotional regulation as a Tier 1 intervention for all students.

What did your team do about it?:
Teacher development of high quality SEL lessons written into this grant allowed students to be able to utilize their skills immediately in both a reading and math setting. We added intentional advisory blocks to our schedule to provide students with multiple opportunities for application and self-reflection. We complemented these lessons with our existing Second Step curriculum and focused on persistent early adolescent problem areas such as empathy and communication, bullying prevention, emotion management and problem solving.

We collected data on students at the start of the year using iReady and the grant funded IXL diagnostic tests, family & student surveys, and we will be using the top rated SEL growth measuring scale to get more concrete data on the SEL growth of our students. We also built a mindfulness center in each classroom to provide students with calm areas and tools to practice their strategies, reflect, take breaks, or have a flexible work space.

These centers provided behavioral challenges for students who needed explicit norming and practice around utilizing the centers. We also were short staffed for the start of the year which made it difficult. We also encountered problems with the Pearson SSIS curriculum and online platform, which was resolved by tech support. We had issues with finding space for groups many times which needed to be solved by creatively using spaces.

Impact on Students:
The work that we did this year built on the work we did last year, and one of our goals was to try to figure out how to measure the impact on kids in a quantitative way. This was something we were really excited for an invested time and funding into a tool developed by Pearson to measure this success. Unfortunately, after a relatively flawless first administration of this assessment tool, we were able to identify student areas of need which largely coincided with our observations. The second administration was not as successful. It was given the last days in February and by the time the data came back from Pearson it had many errors. During the pandemic we have continued to work with Pearson to get the data so we can truly see any quantifiable gains. We love that kids have begun to embrace this idea.

“If someone interviewed me about more time I would tell them it is a good thing to help me get better grades and help me stay organized and help me calm down when I am mad.”

Teacher Leadership and School Community:
This is only our second year working together as a team, we successfully implemented MORE Time last year and MORE Time 2.0 this year, which has grounded us as a team. It has allowed us to take on new roles and to share responsibilities. Having a dedicated time each week to examine math and ELA data and to discuss the Social Emotional Needs of our students has brought us closer together toward the common goal of “giving every student what they need.” We have worked hard to make sure that we are using protocols to contribute to a shared leadership model and have made sure that we are equitable in dividing the work and using everyone’s area of expertise (ELA, Math and SEL) in order to develop thoughtful, data driven, and research based lessons.

We have shared our model and SEL lessons with the whole school community at professional development sessions. We have also shared our SEL strategies (ie. Mindfulness Corner, Scholastic Choices Magazine articles, Core Value lessons, etc.) with the rest of the middle school team in order to help best serve students who are struggling with behavioral problems so that they too can have success.

Our shared focus on “giving every student what they need” is what drives our work now and will continue to help us work successfully in the future. Our team is open to using data, research based programs, and the expertise of the greater school community in order for our students to reach their full academic and social emotional potential.

What’s Next?
Since this is our second year of implementing MORE Time we learned a lot about how to streamline the program this year to make it work more seamlessly. For example, in More Time Version 2.0 we included more Social Emotional supports such as the Pearson SSIS SEL lessons and evaluation tool in order to get baseline and mid year data on our students’ Social Emotional Needs. We also focused on three rotations ( Math, ELA & SEL) for students to cut down on negative behaviors that were occurring during transitions. Finally, we rearranged our rooms to be more effective learning environments with several options for students to complete work, including our dedicated Mindfulness Center, where students can complete work independently, “take a mindful minute” or reflect on negative behaviors using the dedicated mindful tools in that space.

A lot of things worked even better this year. We spent more time using data to drive instruction during MORE time groups and during two other intervention blocks during the week. We created an advisory group for each teacher that was responsible not only for implementing the weekly SEL lesson but also for checking in with students around scholar levels and setting academic and behavioral goals. And we saw academic success in student’s writing scores soar from the beginning of the year to the mid year on sixth grade Open Responses.

Upon reflection of our successes we still have areas that we would like to improve upon for next year. The first is our Mindfulness Center. This year we reviewed with students the rules and expectations for the mindfulness center but this quickly dissolved and students were not using the space correctly (ie. stealing and breaking the mindful tools.) Next year we will be more intentional in how we introduce the center and strategically spend the month of September, one week at a time modeling the various uses of the Mindfulness Center (ie. reflection space, mindful minute and tools, and work space) and appropriate behaviors.

We also realized that although the Pearson Evaluation tool provided us important data on our students’ social emotional needs, the lessons were too elementary for our students. Next year our plan is to get to know the students for about six weeks and then focus on the needs of that particular group whether it is homework completion, organization, self esteem or bullying and develop lessons to target these needs- based areas.

MORE Time: change of pace/ intervention
Problem: logistics/ space: Yolanda- basically on a cart/ mold/ etc.
Taking out 4th station- makes it more manageable
Our numbers are high
Possibly rotate: people
Positives: SEL/ Intervention
What about stations? Possibly divide group of 18 but difficulties when it is not touched multiple times a week? Station- take a group teach skill
Possibly set up room in a different way- needs to be super structured/ takes practice/ would need two adults in classroom
Need someone for lower level/ another person for at or above grade level

If we can show that our model is successful, it can become a valuable resource to those who have technology but lack a creative use of time, or folks who have outstanding personnel with diverse skills sets in place but are not maximizing these resources.

Helping Others:
Did you create or use a tool or process that others might try?
One process that our team used was designating a team member to a specific MORE Time content area. One member was responsible for planning for SEL, another was responsible for math planning and the third member was responsible for planning for ELA. Each team member would analyze data in order to plan lessons for each intervention group. We also utilized our paraprofessional to facilitate a book club for our advanced students. Overall, this process helped our team divide and conquer weekly lesson planning and implementation of the weekly plans.

Was there a reading or resource you found particularly helpful?
Our team used a variety of resources to aid in the planning and developing of our intervention lessons. For SEL, we utilized TEDed: videos, Pearson: SSIS Curriculum: SEL Edition, Second Step, Scholastic Choices Magazine, the Roosevelt K-8 Core Value Lessons and the SEL Department’s lesson plan template. For Math, we utilized the iReady and iXL curricula. For ELA, we utilized the iReady and the Strategies to Achieve Reading Success (STARS) curricula.

Was there a person, office, or organization that helped?
Our team connected and collaborated with a teacher from the Curley. We initially met her at one of TFL PD’s where she was able to give suggestions of strategies and systems to use for our SEL- Mindfulness Centers. Other than that, we made it a priority for us as a team, to collaborate in order to organize, create purposeful lesson plans and systems, and brainstorm best practices.

How might you share the work or learning with others?
We can share our work with others during whole school professional developments. We can and have explained our M.O.R.E. Time intervention block to our colleagues and expressed how having this time has contributed toward student progress. Also, we can share this work by inviting colleagues to our M.O.R.E. Time intervention block to observe the work and systems that we’ve developed. In doing so we can not only share our work, but create a platform to receive feedback in order to strengthen our practices.