Reframing Assignments For Middle Schoolers

Posted by Lynne Kenney, PsyD on December 23, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

How can you help kids deal with BIG feelings or emotions? With all the stress kicked into high gear by the holiday season -or any time kids are overly anxious- help children to understand and reframe their feelings and life experiences by having a Cognitive Conversation that recognizes and acknowledges their emotions and then lets them decide how long they want to continue to feel that way…

Consider a conversation that sounds something like this:

Kids! We all have BIG feelings sometimes. Some experiences bring us feelings of frustration, anxiety or anger. Let’s talk about times when we might make a decision about how long we will be “in” our feelings and when we will choose to let them go.  Will we be “in” our feelings for 10 seconds, 10 minutes or 10 hours? You decide.  Here’s an example…

 

If you waited in line for an ice cream cone and when it’s finally your turn, you learn they are out of vanilla ice cream, you might say to yourself, “That is super frustrating. I was so hungry for a vanilla cone.  I’ll give this 10 seconds and then ask for a chocolate one.”

I’ll Give This 10! is a practical tool for feelings exploration, cognitive reframing and mood modulation.

 

In I’ll Give This 10, we learn how to recognize that when we are having BIG feelings, we name them and then tell ourselves how long we plan to experience these BIG feelings. We usually choose to “feel our emotions” for 10 seconds, 10 minutes, or 10 hours. Of course, this “rule of 10” is a cognitive construct, it could be 2 minutes or 27 minutes. But children get “10,” so it is a wonderful starting point to help a child to determine:

  • “HOW BIG is this feeling?”
  • “HOW LONG am I going to let this feeling determine my thoughts and behaviors?”
  • “WHEN will I let this feeling go?”

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Written for teachers, educators, and clinicians whose work involves playing, talking or teaching children who would benefit from better executive function and social-emotional learning skills, 70 Play Activities incorporates over 100 research studies into printable worksheets, handouts, and guided scripts with step-by-step directions, to empower children to learn and behave better. “With 70 Play Activities we aim to improve the trajectory of children’s learning by integrating the newest neuroscience with activities children love!”With over 70 activities designed to improve thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior, your tool-kit will be full and your creative brain will be inspired to craft your own meaningful exercises. 70 Play Activities is available at amazon.com

 

Everything really comes down to solving problems. To be successful and a leader in your field, you not only have to come up with good solutions; you need to be innovative. And that can feel like waiting for lightning to strike.

Tina Seelig, author of Insight Out: Get Ideas Out of Your Head And Into the World, has been teaching classes on creativity and innovation at Stanford University School of Engineering for 16 years, and she says most people don’t have a clear understanding of what those things really are.

“Imagination is envisioning things that don’t exist,” says Seelig. “Creativity is applying imagination to address a challenge. Innovation is applying creativity to generate unique solutions. And entrepreneurship is applying innovations, scaling the ideas, by inspiring others’ imagination.”

Once you understand this framework, you can put it into action, she says, and the way to innovate is to look at situations from a fresh perspective.

Reframing a problem helps you see it as an opportunity, and Seelig offers three techniques for finding innovative solutions:

1. Rethink The Question

Start by questioning the question you’re asking in the first place, says Seelig. “Your answer is baked into your question,” she says.

Before you start brainstorming, Seelig suggests you start “frame-storming”: brainstorming around the question you will pose to find solutions. For example, if you’re asking, “How should we plan a birthday party for David?” you’re assuming it’s a party. If you change your question to, “How can we make David’s day memorable?” or “How can we make David’s day special?” you will find different sets of solutions.

“Refocusing the question changes our lens,” says Seelig. Memorable is different than special–memorable might involve a prank, for example. Once you reframe the questions, you might decide to select the best or address them all. Each new question opens up your ability to generate new ideas.

2. Brainstorm Bad Ideas

When an individual or group is tasked with being creative, often there’s pressure to only come up with good ideas. Seelig likes to challenge teams to only think of bad ideas.

“Stupid or ridiculous ideas open up the frame by allowing you to push past obvious solutions,” she says. “There is no pressure to come up with ‘good’ ideas. Then, those terrible ideas can be re-evaluated, often turning them into something unique and brilliant.”

Once you have a list of bad ideas, brainstorm how they can become good ideas. In one of Seelig’s classes, a bad idea was selling bikinis in Antarctica. A group that was tasked with making this idea a good one came up with the idea to take people who want to get into shape on a trip to Antarctica. By the end of the hard journey, they would be able to fit into their bikinis. Their slogan was “Bikini or Die.”

“Selling bikinis in Antarctica sounds like a really bad idea. But within five seconds, when asked to look at it differently, the team came up with a way to transform it into a really interesting idea,” she says.

3. Unpack Your Assumptions

Another way to reframe a problem is to challenge its perceived limitations or rules. Ask, “What are all of the assumptions of the industry?” Make a list and turn them upside down by thinking about what would happen if you did the opposite.

Seelig says this is a hard exercise, because a lot of our assumptions are deeply ingrained. “Cirque du Soleil challenged assumptions about what a circus is. Instead of cheap entertainment for kids, they turned it into a high-end event for adults that competes with the theatre or opera,” she says. “In addition, Southwest challenged the assumption that airlines had to have fixed seat assignments. This opened the possibility of having riders line up before each flight–a radically different approach to seating.”

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