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Super Power Problem Solving

Context for this Lesson

Teaching Strategies: 

Topic: Communication and interpersonal problem solving

Subject: Social emotional, empathy, interpersonal problem solving

Focus Question: What is empathy? How do we express and communicate our feelings? What do I need to know/remember personally in order to ensure that I’m ready to positively contribute to my group and the classroom community? What does successful collaboration look/sound/feel like?

Materials Needed: character hat, large paper or white board, card stock, markers for students, glue, decorative materials


Intro and Reading Body Language (Teacher 1) In a moment I’m going to invite in a new student. As they are entering the room, I want you to watch their body language. What is their body telling us/communicating? We may want to keep our voices off, so that we can really use our eyes and pay extra attention to what they are doing. I will know you are ready for me to introduce this student when all eyes are on me and I can tell that you are practicing attentive listening and watching. Ok, I think we’re ready. You can come in Frank and take a seat.

(Teacher 2) Frank enters sulking, head hung low

Transition: I’m going to pause Frank for a moment and we are going to talk about what we see.


Discussion (Teacher 1)

Describe: What do you see? What do we notice about the way Frank came in and the way he is sitting?

Analyze: What is this body language telling us? Where do you think Frank may have just been? What may have happened just before he entered the room? How do you think he feels? What about his body tells us this?

Relate: Why might we want to read someone’s body language? How is this helpful?

Transition: Wow, I am impressed. We have so much information just from using our observation skills and we haven’t even heard what Frank has to say yet. I am going to unfreeze him so that he can talk and maybe we can ask him a few questions.

Teacher in role as Frank (Teacher 2) That project was a disaster and it totally wasn’t my fault. I wanted to make our storybook about a crocodile and Meg wanted it to be about an elephant. She pushed me when I was reaching for the glue and yes it may have gotten a little bit on her dress, but that was entirely her reaching over me for the paints. My mom forgot to make me breakfast this morning, my little brother had his first day of preschool, and I didn’t want to be in Meg’s stupid group anyway. the only way I was in the Purple flying cows tribe was because I just moved here and I had no choice. I told someone that I thought the name was kinda weird and they got really angry and almost punched me.

Transition: (Teacher 1) Thanks Frank, let’s give you a few minutes in our safe space to cool down and relax. Now We are going to use role on the wall to process and reflect on what we learned about our character, Frank.



Role on the Wall Draw the outline of a human figure on paper or board visible to entire group. Explain that the outline represents Frank. Ask the group who is around Frank that might be affecting how he feels inside. What messages might Frank be hearing from each of these people? Participants brainstorm possible messages. Ask participants who might be saying each message; connect messages with the messenger. What other forces/events are affecting how Frank feels? As a result of all of these people, messages, and events, Frank is feeling a specific way inside; ask the group to offer words that describe how they think Frank is feeling. Can connect specific “outside” messages to the inner feelings and visa-versa.

II. Sculpting

A. Demonstrate different types of sculpting: molding, puppet strings, and mirroring.

B. Have two volunteer students attempt sculpting in front of group.Discussion: What did you notice about how they were sculpting? Do you think both parties felt safe and respected? 

C. Pair students, have them stand across from their partner in a line with adequate space. The artists are told to “sculpt” their partner into a statuei of emotions chosen from the role on the wall. The only rule is that you may not put your clay in any position that would make them uncomfortable. After they have finished sculpting, the sculptures remain frozen and the artists walk about their newly created gallery. To “sculpt” you can use mirroring, touching and manipulating, puppet strings, or simply gesturing from a distance how you want your partner to move. Discussion: Describe: What do you see? What are their bodies doing? Analyze: What is that communicating? Relate: What other situations in a classroom do you think could make someone feels this way?

D. Own Statues We know how Frank is feeling now and why. I want you everyone now to make their own statue of how we think Frank wants to feel, the opposite of how he might be feeling now. I’m going to ask half of you to freeze and look around. Raise your hand and tell me what you see. Ok, now the other half do the same. Transition: Great, lets return to our desks now and see if we can help our friend Frank. III. Helping Frank

A. Giving Advice What does Frank need? What could he do? Where could he go? What could Frank tell himself that might help? If we had a student like Frank in our class, what could we do to help him? What could we say? (Scribe advice on board or white paper while other teacher has discussion)

B. Empowering Frank - BOOSTER CARDS It sounds like Frank is having a hard time and that he might need some advice. Sometimes though, it’s hard to hear advice from classmates and we need some time to think through things ourselves. So, I was thinking we could make some BOOSTER CARDS. Think of these as cards that give you a BOOST or POWER if you are having trouble. We are going to take some of that advice that we wrote down for Frank that might be helpful for anyone in a similar situation and make these BOOSTER CARDS. They will live in our safe space and you can access them if you find yourself in a similar situation to Frank and need a BOOST. Take time to make these special. The more care you put into them, the more powerful they will be for someone in need. 

Creating the Cards 1) Each card will have a word or phrase (a brief group of words). let’s take a look at the words and phrases we brainstormed to help Frank and star ones we like. (do this) 2) Think about some of the trading cards you have seen? What parts make up a trading card? Cards often have a picture that help tell us more information about the what the words/phrases mean. Let’s pick a word/phrase. Let’s brainstorm a picture that might go with this word/phrase. Brainstorm ideas. 3) Group can pick from word/phrases that have been generated or they can write their own and then create the picture. 4) If time, do a silent, walking museum tour to look at all the cards. No talking! Then as a large group talk about what phrases they saw in common.


Describe: What did we see Frank go through today?
Analyze: What did we do to explore some of the ways Frank was feeling? How did that feel? What did we do to help?
Relate: What did we do to help Frank feel better? How do you think it helped? How did we work together?