Illustration by Ariel Davis for NPR
I’m a big NPR person. It’s a great resource for listening, and for narrative! This past month I was intrigued by a feature on “EMOTIONAL GRANULARITY”—being able to name or describe your emotions more specifically. The author described an increase in stress in his life being alleviated by his working on “learning more emotion words and emotion concepts from one’s culture.”
There was research to support his assertion that this self-identification was of help; according to Kashdan, Barrett, and McKnight (2015)…
…“evidence suggests that interventions designed to improve emotion differentiation can both reduce psychological problems and increase various strands of well-being.”
We can reframe this information in the light of what we might usually address as speech-language pathologists and literacy interventionists:
In any case, the piece inspired me in some of my activities with elementary, middle and high school students, so here are some ideas for you (also aligning with SGM’s resources related to teaching and branching from the 6 Universal Feelings, see also the Feelings Poster).
YouTube provides a great tool to set context for these kinds of activities. In one group, we have been working within a Star Wars theme. In this clip, Luke receives a demand from his uncle that causes him great annoyance; he’d much rather tinker with power converters than go erase the brains of what he thinks are boring old droids! The clip was a context to pick apart this part of the story with SGM:
As a simple visual support guiding the activity, my students added to a Pic Collage describing different kinds of anger:
This is a co-created image with Pic Collage, made as students contributed ideas. It is also very easy to hand the iPad to students to engage them by typing in the visual. To start, create a Freestyle collage, tap the + in the lower left corner, Web Search for “angry emoji,” select and add an image, and double tap to set it as the background image. Then tap anywhere on screen to add text.
This lesson leads to more lessons. Searching YouTube for a particular resource along with an emotion word such as “anger” can lead you to additional motivating examples. Within Star Wars, you could consider where anger goes, as it becomes an integral plot point, or explore other emotions such as surprise and excitement (view the end of the clip).
In another group, we have been using American Ninja Warrior as a motivational tool. This led to similar lessons around anger using this news story and video (then making a similar Pic Collage describing frustration vs. outrage) and analyzing the surprising, shocking outcomes which sometimes occur when a favorite contestant doesn’t make it through the course or an easy obstacle!
In each case, it is a great idea to use the same context to elicit and scaffold personal narratives from students, or connections to other events. In our region around Super Bowl time my students easily connected to the emotion of outrage, describing Saints’ fans sense of unfairness at their result and the ever-present outrage when the Patriots keep winning. As we say, Go Pats!