Return to Headlines

Pound Ridge First Graders Strengthen Both Literacy and Social-Emotional Skills

 a student displays her work to the class

Pound Ridge Elementary School first grader Sequoia Roberts stood in front of her class displaying a drawing she made of a character from Ruby Finds a Worry written by Tom Percival. The picture featured a girl with eyes looking off to the side and her mouth in a tight line.

“She is worried,” Sequoia said, describing her drawing. “She is not looking and her mouth is turned down.”

Teacher Allison DeLesia asked Sequoia how Ruby’s feelings changed during the story.

“By the end of the story, Ruby got excited,” Sequoia said. “Her body language changed and the imaginary worry in the picture shrank.”

When DeLesia asked what changed Ruby’s emotions, Sequoia was quick to reply.

“She talked about it,” she said simply.

This classroom discussion was part of a lesson that combined literacy and RULER work. RULER is an approach to social-emotional learning that is implemented districtwide. It gives students the tools to recognize, understand, label, express and regulate emotions.

During the lesson, DeLesia (and Sequoia) modeled labeling and expressing a character’s emotions through clues in the text and illustrations before students did the exercise with a book they were reading independently. Students were also encouraged to plot their characters’ feelings on a Mood Meter, which is a tool that is used to help label and manage emotions.

DeLesia also spoke to the class about Ralph Tells a Story by Abby Hanlon, which the group read together earlier.

“In the beginning, Ralph was feeling anxious,” DeLesia said. “We drew a picture of how he was feeling – his energy was down and you could see he was anxious from his body language.”

The class also plotted Ralph’s emotions on their Mood Meter to help visualize them.

“With stories, as in real life, things can happen to change our emotions,” DeLesia said. “As the story progresses, Ralph starts feeling proud of himself. His body language changes and we can tell from his thinking and his actions that he is feeling differently.”

“This lesson is part of the introductory RULER lessons for lower elementary,” DeLesia said. “The goal is to recognize and accurately label emotions and how they are linked to behavior. My hope is that students will become aware of their emotions, notice others’ emotions and learn that events can alter and change them. This ties into literacy to reinforce that strong readers learn to recognize how characters are feeling. These skills build comprehension as well as an understanding of story structure.”