Open Circle


Elementary classrooms in Westwood implement a comprehensive, research-based social and emotional learning program called Open Circle.  The curriculum is designed to develop students’ social and emotional skills, such as problem-solving, recognizing and managing emotions, forming good relationships with peers and adults, and considering and understanding the experience of others.  The Open Circle program provides a consistent, structured, safe context for exploring these issues while also building a cooperative, inclusive classroom community.  In Westwood, teachers typically devote 30 minutes per week for Open Circle discussions (often incorporated into morning meeting activities). Teachers have flexibility within the Open Circle curriculum to choose the grade-level lessons that are most pertinent for their students. For example, in a given-week a teacher might select a particular lesson to address an issue that had arisen within the class or a lesson whose theme connects to literature that students are reading.  




Within the Open Circle curriculum, the district has identified 13 essential lessons for each grade level that serve as our anti-bullying curriculum.  These lessons include themes such as:

  • Including one another
  • Showing respect for one another
  • Dealing with teasing
  • What is bullying?
  • What is a bystander?
  • Talking to someone who can help

Same and Different, Like Me


The Same and Different, Like Me curriculum is designed to increase students’ understanding and acceptance of differences among peers and to promote an inclusive environment. The program is co-taught by general education classroom teachers and specialists (e.g. school psychologists, learning center teachers, speech and language pathologists, physical education teachers, nurses, occupational therapists). Grade level topics include:

  • Kindergarten - Disability Awareness
  • Grade 1 - Physical Disabilities
  • Grade 2 - Sensory Disabilities - Hearing and Seeing
  • Grade 3 - Cognitive Disabilities 
  • Grade 4 - Specific Learning Disabilities and ADD
  • Grade 5 - Mental Health and Autism

Teachers assist students in making connections between the lessons in Same and Different, Like Me, the anti-bullying curriculum, and issues discussed during Open Circle.

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