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5 minutes




Computer/personal device, paper/printer, wall space


To help students name and identify emotions based on facial expressions

  • Provide context for the practice (see “Evidence” section).
  • As a class, brainstorm basic emotions (e.g., surprise, disgust, happiness, sadness, anger, contempt and fear).
  • Ask students how someone might be able to identify the emotions we are feeling.
    • Remind students to consider the context in which the emotion is being expressed. For example, when yelling, a person can be happy (if at a sporting event), angry (if in a disagreement) or neutral (trying to tell something to someone far away).
  • Discuss the basic emotions, micro-expressions and cultural nuances.
  • Break into groups (one group per emotion) and find or create five images that represent the assigned emotion.
  • Ask students to practice making the face they would do when feeling their group’s emotion.
  • Discuss why it’s important to know about and identify these different emotions in oneself and in others.
  • Discuss how they wish to use this practice in class.

NOTE: Co-creating classroom norms of inclusion, respect for diversity, compassion, and collaboration will help create discussions with a positive and safe emotional climate. To ensure respectful dialogue, norms must be co-created before the practice, and students can be reminded of them throughout.

Teacher can demonstrate each of the “emotion” faces. A discussion can center around what students perceive. Are there trends?

Using group activities to recognize and manage emotions engages students in beneficial social interaction, normalizes experiences of emotions, and provides students with a structured opportunity to share and work with others to improve their self-regulation abilities (Domitrovich et al., 2007; Success for all Foundation, 2010). Using practices that model expectations for adolescents and allow them to self-monitor their own behaviour have been shown to increase academic engagement, attention, social competence, recall, long term memory, and improve behavior (Embry & Biglan, 2008).

Domitrovich, C. E., Cortes, R. C., & Greenberg, M. T. (2007). Improving Young Children’s Social and Emotional Competence: A Randomized Trial of the Preschool “PATHS” Curriculum. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 28(2), 67-91. doi:10.1007/s10935-007-0081-0

Embry, D. D., & Biglan, A. (2008). Evidence-based kernels: fundamental units of behavioral influence. Clinical child and family psychology review, 11(3), 75–113. doi:10.1007/s10567-008-0036-x

Success for all Foundation. (2010). Power Teaching Cooperative Learning Handbook. Retrieved from www.successforall.org