Social Thinking Articles


Brain Wires and Social Smarts: A Student’s Tool to Reflect on Their Growth

Brain Wires and Social Smarts: A Student’s Tool to Reflect on Their Growth

© 2023 Think Social Publishing, Inc.

A teacher recently shared her thoughts on the end of the school year, referring to it as the time when teachers and caregivers have everything to do and students have… nothing to do. While this, of course, is an overgeneralization, many of us might be able to relate. So how do we finish up the school year with Social Thinking in an intentional, but also realistic way?

Brain Wires

In our new curriculum YASD Teaching Curriculum and Support Guide we include a lesson on teaching students about the brain and learning styles. We’ve had fun and success creating brains out of modeling clay and using pipe cleaners of different lengths stuck into clay to represent the different wires we each have in our brains. Read more about the idea of brain smarts, brain wires, and social smarts.

While this is a popular activity at the start of the school year, we find it is also a great way to wrap up and reflect at the end of the school year. Here are some discussion questions we use in our work with students:

  • What wires have you grown this year?
  • What has helped you grow these smarts? (Specific strategies? Materials? Experiences?)
  • Who has helped you grow these smarts?
  • Which wires are you most proud of?

We also like to encourage thinking and discussion about our future selves. The end of the year is the best time to identify the strategies and supports that can help us launch into next school year. Here are some questions to consider:

  • What do you want your teachers to know about you?
  • What helps you learn?
  • What helps you feel comfortable at school?
  • What strategies haven’t worked as well?
  • What wires do you want to grow more?

Recording student responses now and sharing them with future teachers can be of great help to the next transition. Feeling logistically overwhelmed by that idea? Consider checking out This website allows you to write a (free!) email to yourself, to be delivered on the date of your choosing.

Related Online Course


Social Detective Thinking to Start the School Year

Instructors: Ryan Hendrix Kari Zweber Palmer

Explore the world of social observation and learn how it lays the foundation for better interpersonal relationships and academic learning. Understanding what it means to be a Social Detective (social observer), especially during the start of a new school year, is crucial to navigating change, academic learning, making friends & more. In this free webinar, we’ll explore the highly accessible and easy-to-embed You Are a Social Detective! Curriculum & Teaching Guide. You’ll watch a curriculum lesson taught by a mainstream third-grade teacher, peruse curriculum-generated student work, and discover innovative ways to adapt these social learning concepts for the secondary grades.

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