Western Reserve Public Media

Credits Teacher Guide & Worksheets How to Use The Language of Trauma and Loss Overview


How to Use The Language of Trauma and Loss

It is our hope that teachers using this program make sure that their classroom is a safe place for children so that students can communicate experiences in their lives. Teachers are not expected to be guidance counselors. Rather it is hoped that they will, through these activities, have a better understanding of why behaviors occur and, in turn, know when they should make a referral to a counselor or an appropriate authority.

Listed below are descriptions of the videos and correlating stories. While we encourage teachers to adapt these lessons to suit their own needs, we offer below the Curriculum Committee’s intended use of the programs.

  1. First, teachers will watch Video One. It explains the effect of trauma and loss on brain development and the role of the teacher in developing a “safe” classroom. Dr. Bruce Perry, a leader in this field, offers his expertise.

  2. There are three videos and correlating stories, each of which is designed for specific grade levels. The teacher has the option to either show the video or read the story first. At the end of each video, Perry discusses important areas of concern for teachers and students.

    a. Video Two, Elementary — Bridgett Bunny’s Ordinary Day That Wasn’t tells about a bunny that has always been happy but suddenly becomes quiet and withdrawn because a sad and scary thing has happened to her. She meets Mr. Owl, who listens to her and helps her understand what has happened. The students are never told what the sad and scary thing is. This allows students to think about their own experiences while listening to the story.

    b. Video Three, Middle School — The Story of Erica tells about a pleasant girl who moved away and then came back as a very different person. After some time, she reveals her problem to the class.

    c. Video Four, High School — Erica’s List features an older Erica who has been sent to the office for being belligerent. This leads to a discussion of why these behaviors occur, with an emphasis on stimulus-response reactions.

  3. After the students have watched the video and/or read the book, the teacher (either on the video or live) will ask the standard questions about the story to determine students’ levels of understanding. These questions focus on plot, character, setting, problem and solution.

  4. For each grade level, the teacher guide offers language arts lesson plans that are keyed to the story and that match state standards. These plans can also be used as a model with other stories.

  5. Self-healing activities can be found in the teacher guide and on the Web site. These include activities that allow students faced with trauma or loss to reestablish a feeling of safety and some degree of control over their surroundings.

  6. The teacher guide and Web site offer a section called Literature Connection that contains an annotated list of books for classroom use. The Web page also contains Web links to lesson plans and activities for many of the books.

Using the context of language arts standards, The Language of Trauma and Loss strives to help teachers understand the importance of providing a safe environment, both physically and emotionally, for students. It also gives teachers and students a better understanding about why some behaviors occur. While teachers are not expected to be counselors, it is hoped that this program will help them identify children whose behavior shows that they may need professional help.


Copyright©2005, Northeastern Educational Television of Ohio, Inc. All rights reserved.