My Take on Pixar's Inside Out

When the trailer for Pixar's Inside Out, I became very excited. It was my hope that this movie could help me teach some of my students to understand feelings, particularly with understanding others' perspective. What I did not expect is how accurate this movie would represent depression and trouble with mental health. Don't get me wrong, the movie isn't perfect and many of the things are up for interpretation.

Inside Out is a story of an 11-year old girl name Riley who moves from Minnesota to California because of her dad's job. This move causes an uproar in Riley's emotions. Her emotions are represented by 5 characters - Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust. Not only are these emotions in Riley's brain, but also in the brains of her parents, teacher, and other characters within the movie. 

One unique element that my husband noticed was that in Riley's brain, each emotion is unique. In her parents' emotions and other adult's emotions, they mirror the person they represent. For example, Riley's mom's emotions all have glasses and similar hair-dos and one is primarily the leader. In the mom's brain, it appears that sadness is the "head emotion" and in the dad's brain, it appears that anger is in charge.

While the "anatomy" within the brain is highly inaccurate :-) , Pixar has created a way to talk about the brain and emotions in a very kid friendly format. The main five emotions are all located within Headquarters and control a mechanical panel of buttons and levers that impact how Riley acts and reacts to situations around her. Also located in headquarters are Core Memories, which are snapshots in Riley's life that formed her personality. Riley has several "personality islands" including family, hockey, honesty, and goofball.

After Riley's move, she goes to her first day of school. When asked to share something about herself, Riley begins to talk about hockey, one of her core memories. She starts off happy and full of Joy, but when sadness touches the core memory, she begins to cry, forming a new core memory. Up until this point, Joy has been the emotion in charge; after this new core memory is formed, Joy and Sadness get lost and sucked up a tube to a different part of the brain.

After Joy and Sadness are lost and out of headquarters, Fear, Disgust, and Anger are in control. Through a series of events, Riley's personality islands begin to crumble. As things continue to complicate, Riley's emotions begin to lose control of her actions. While not a perfect example of mental illness and depression, this part of the plot really spoke to me. Having some experience with mental illness and depression, the loss of personality islands was a pretty accurate representation for me of what happens to feelings and personality when depressed. When dealing with depression, you don't just lose all the happiness and Joy in your life, you also lose the other end of the emotional spectrum, Sadness. Most of us have seen the old Zoloft commercial talking about how you're not yourself when depressed, and I feel the personality islands crumbling help to show this in an understandable way.

Without spoiling the ENTIRE movie, the emotions learn that Sadness is just as important as Joy because it causes others to want to help Riley. I found this to be an incredibly touching lesson because often times we tell ourselves or others not to feel sad, but Sadness is a very important part of our lives. Fear, Anger, and disgust are also necessary.

To sum up, I loved Inside Out! I am excited to use the trailers, clips, and plushies to help my very literal students to visualize their emotions and others' emotions.

Another favorite part of the movie for me was the teacher's emotions. Maybe you can relate.

I hope you enjoyed my review of Inside Out!

Summer Speechin'

For those of you who work in schools, summer is either right around the corner or you are already enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Summer break in my district starts on Thursday and I am so excited. My tiny closet of a speech room is heating up by the day and even with 2 fans, I'm having difficulties staying cool. Most of my treatment has been push-in this week to avoid dealing with kids having heat stroke.

As a child, I thought these breaks were for students; they're not. Breaks are for the school staff. I am so excited for several things. 1) No more super early mornings. 2) Time for naps. 3) Interviewing for clinic positions. Even though summer is almost here, my thoughts turn towards fall and how my kiddos will grow and fair over the summer.

Of course I could never just let my students go free for the summer. Luckily enough, several parents have actually ASKED for homework and returned it with their child over the past year. Maybe I've been doing the homework incorrectly, but I rarely receive the homework back after it's been sent home.

My new favorite version of "homework" is to give students a "homework word." This is something related to articulation, a vocabulary word, or our high stakes testing vocabulary word of the week (from Natalie Snyder's High Stakes Testing - vocabulary builder). I love how this works. The idea of these homework words are to pick words that the student uses on a regular basis and challenge them to use their awesome speech skills with it. For example, one of my students has been working on his /s/ sounds all year. With his input we picked homework words like "Sonic, Sega, super, and awesome," all staples of his daily vocabulary. WOW! I did not expect how well this would work for this student. Before I knew it, he was using his /s/ on these words in every day conversation. He even started to ask what his homework word would be. I started using this with other articulation students with great success and began expanding it towards my language and social skills caseload.

Unfortunately, I can't give my students weekly words or concepts during the summer break. Here comes the summer homework packets! Just a few of my favs.

-{FREE} Summer Articulation Homework Calendars from School House Talk
-{FREE} Summer Packets and Parent Letters from Speaking of Speech
-{FREE} Pictures from Mommy Speech Therapy
-{FREE} Speech Minute Calendar from me

-{FREE} Summer Language Homework Calendars from School House Talk
-{FREE} Editable Life Science Vocabulary from me (middle school)
-{FREE} Editable Earth Science Vocabulary from me (middle school)
-{FREE} Editable Prefix/Root/Suffix Vocabulary from me

There are so many more, but these are FREE for anyone. Happy Summer!