eSpark aims to provide teachers with as much relevant data about their students as possible. How students are feeling has a huge impact on their learning, which is why students start each eSpark session by sharing how they're feeling. To help you make the most of this feature, here are some suggestions for how you can monitor your students' feelings, build relationships with them, and support their learning mindset. At the end of the article, we'll also share some SEL activity recommendations from former teachers on the eSpark team!
Monitor Student Feelings Over Time
You can see how students answered their daily mood check-in on the Activity Report under the "TODAY" column, or you can hover over the icons on previous days to look at past feelings.
You can look even further into the past by changing the date range that is shown on the Activity Report. This can help you notice patterns in how your students are feeling.
These patterns can be a starting point in conversations about how students are doing in school, including in IEP meetings or parent-teacher conferences.
Students' mood check-ins will update live each day, allowing you to see how they are doing before initiating an interaction with them. You can then have a brief 1:1 conversation asking them to explain why they chose a particular mood that day. This creates a chance for them to tell you about their day or what is on their mind, which can help you get to know them better.
We all have bad days sometimes, and for students, this can be a distraction from learning. Mood check-ins create additional opportunities for you to notice students who may need extra support with their work that day. A student who is feeling down may select "mad" or "sad" on eSpark, and it can be beneficial for you to follow up with a face-to-face check-in. If a student chooses the "bored" option, this may indicate that they need their level adjusted on their Quest in order to have a more engaging learning experience. Providing these supports may help improve students' moods and their ability to keep learning on eSpark!
SEL Activity Ideas
Here is a list of SEL activities some former teachers on the eSpark team loved using in their classrooms. Try them out, and let us know what you think!
Mindful Drawing: Give each student a piece of paper and a writing utensil. Provide them with simple instructions for drawing (light lines, dark lines, circles, squiggles, etc.). Have them draw with their eyes closed and focus on listening to the drawing of the person next to them. The goal is to draw at the same pace as their neighbor, so that the drawing sounds the same. You can make the whole class's drawing sounds sync with each other, creating a very relaxing sound. - Jess W., former high school English teacher
Word Impact Activity: Have students write a few words on a piece of paper, then tell them to crumple it up. Next, have them try to flatten it back out. Point out how the paper can't go back to how it used to be - it is changed forever. This can be a lesson about how every person's words affect those around them. - Rachel A., former 5th grade teacher
Rose, Thorn, and Bud: Have students reflect on something positive (a rose), something negative (a thorn), and something they are looking forward to (a bud) at the end of each day, week, or semester. You can share responses out loud in a circle, use them as an exit slip, or collect them in journals. - Alex E., former 3rd grade teacher
Other ideas include singing and dancing breaks, mindful breathing exercises, visualizing and releasing stress, and noise isolation and describing.