At King Elementary School, we utilize a curriculum called Brain Wise. Counselors teach this curriculum in classrooms, small groups and individually. BrainWise is a researched-based curriculum that teaches critical thinking and problem-solving skills as well as good communication to students in K-12.  BrainWise uses “catchy” language and fun activities to reinforce the 10 Wise Ways.

Ten Wise Ways

Wise Way #1: Wizard Brain over Lizard Brain

In this lesson, students learn about the Wizard Brain and Lizard Brain.  The Wizard Brain is the part of your brain that helps you learn, think, and make decisions.This is where good choices are made. The Lizard Brain is where your emotions live and reactions happen. This is important to keep you safe. But, when you use your Lizard Brain at the wrong time it gets you in trouble. Students also learn that, depending on how we react, problems can turn into much bigger problems or they can become smaller problems.

Wise Way #2: Build a Constellation of Support

In this lesson, students learn to identify people in their Constellation of Support who can help them solve their problems.  They learn to recognize the different sources and types of support and to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful sources of support.

Wise Way #3: Recognize Red Flag Warnings

In this lesson, students learn how to stop and think by recognizing both internal (“inside red flags”) and external (“outside red flags”) signals that warn of problems.  Red flag warnings can tell us we are headed for trouble or that our anger is building. A red face, tight fist, or furrowed brows are examples of outside red flag warnings. Butterflies in your stomach, tight muscles, or a headache are examples of inside red flag warnings.

Wise Way #4: Exit the Emotions Elevator

Students learn how to use an emotions elevator to rate the intensity of their emotions.  We can then use red flag warnings to help us decide where we are on the emotions elevator and signal us that is it time to use the stop and think technique and other self-calming strategies. They learn that it is important to try to seek help from others and use self-calming strategies when they are lower on the elevator. It is easier to stop and think and make a good choice when they are in the “friend zone.” When they are in the “crazy zone” it is harder to make a good choice and they are using their lizard brain. Students also learn about self-calming strategies, such as Yakety Yak Self-Talk or positive self-talk, which helps them to lower themselves on the emotions elevator.

Wise Way #5: Separate Fact from Opinion

In this lesson, students learn the difference between facts and opinions.  This is important because it helps us gather the necessary information to make a good choice and understand that we do not always need to agree on how we feel about something.

Wise Way #6: Ask Questions

Students learn to recognize it is often necessary to gather information to solve a problem.  They learn to identify the kinds of information needed and to form questions that help gather the most useful and accurate information.

Wise Way #7: Identify Your Choices

Students learn to identify multiple choices to address and solve problems.  They learn to recognize the need to be in control of their emotions and be lower on the emotions elevator to think about what their choices are.

Wise Way #8: Consider Consequences

Students learn to assess their choices by considering the potential consequence of their choices now and the consequences of the choice later.

Wise Way #9: Set Goals/Form Action Plan

In this lesson, students learn about the importance of setting goals and forming a plan of action.  Students analyze problems by using thinking skills and learn about the role of goals and action plans to prevent and solve problems.

Wise Way #10: Communicate Effectively

Students learn effective verbal and nonverbal communication skills.  They learn to recognize the impact that negative and positive nonverbal communication can have on problems.  Students also learn about aggressive, passive, passive-aggressive, and assertive communication styles. They also learn how to use assertive communication skills and to understand the value of taking another person’s point of view.

Verbal Prompts to help students generalize Brain-Wise skills:

  • What type of thinking are you using?  (Wizard brain or lizard brain)
  • How big is the problem (kid-sized, medium, grown-up)?
  • What have you done to solve the problem? Can you tell me what happened (the facts)?
  • How can we keep this problem from turning into a great big problem?
  • Who can you go to for help?  Who is in your constellation of support?
  • What did you hear me say?  (communicate effectively)
  • What floor are you on right now on the emotions elevator?
  • I’m noticing some red flag warnings that tell me you are going up on the elevator.  What will help you
  • lower your emotions so you can stop and think?
  • Remember to use the stop & think technique to calm yourself down so you can use your wizard brain (stop, think, take a deep breath, and make a good choice).
  • What strategies can you use to lower yourself on the elevator and get back into the cool zone?
  • Are you able to separate fact from opinion?
  • What questions will help you get the information you need so you can solve your problem?
  • What are your choices?