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2. Set

In this activity…

Students learn about Stormy First Drafts, as well as how to calm emotion and focus thoughts before using Real-Time Resilience skills.


Explain that when students face challenges, make mistakes, feel insecure, or experience uncertainty, their brain likes to make up stories and fill in the gaps, but that the stories they tell themselves aren’t always true. To support this argumentation, refer back to any of the common thinking traps that students learned about in the previous lesson.

Let students know that they can think of the stories they tell themselves as Stormy First Drafts (SFDs) because they are usually flooded with negative emotions, counterproductive beliefs, and inaccurate information. If possible, share a personal example about a time when you believed one of your Stormy First Drafts and how that made you feel or affected your work. Alternatively, share a hypothetical example of a student who is lost in a Stormy First Draft. Then, ask students to brainstorm and make a list of some of the consequences or dangers of believing a Stormy First Draft.

Next, tell students that before they can edit their story, they need to recognize when they are making up a story. To help students catch themselves using a Stormy First Draft or slipping into a thinking trap, encourage them to pause and use the phrase “The story I’m telling myself is…” or “The story I’m making up is…” to talk about their thoughts. Once they have identified a SFD or thinking trap, let students know that they can use Real-Time Resilience skills to reality-check their stories and structure their responses. Emphasize that you mentioned pausing, before identifying a Stormy First Draft and ask students to identify the importance of pausing. Explain that, when students pause, they give themselves the opportunity to calm their emotions and focus their thoughts.

Split the class into four smaller groups and assign one of the four Calming and Focusing strategies to each group. Give each group the “Calming & Focusing Strategies” handout, and let students know that they will have five minutes to read about and practice their assigned strategy. Emphasize that, for now, students should only read and practice the strategy that’s been assigned to their group. After five minutes, each group will be responsible for teaching their Calming and Focusing strategy to the rest of the class. For each presentation, try calling on groups in the order that the strategies appear in the slide deck and, after the group describes their strategy, allocate about a minute to practicing it.

Calming and Focusing Strategies descriptions available in download section.