Friday, December 10, 2010

Be a STAR!! Stop, Think, Act, Review!

As any other counselor out there I am sure, I have a few students who struggle with making approriate choices at school! For these students I have created a visual reminder to keep in the classrooms to remind them to make good choices - to stop, think, act, and review. I have seen the STAR decision making model in several other curriculums. It is simple to remember, and the STAR can serve as a visual reminder to the student to stop and think without even saying a word.

I created my own poster to be used in the classrooms of the students using this decision making model. The poster talks the student through the steps - Stop, Think, Act, Review. Some other good resources for Stop, Think, Act, Review are classroom lessons from the Missouri Guidance Model. They have one lesson called Star Deputies, and another lesson called Star Deputies, Unite! These lessons would be great to do in the classroom (since I am sure that several students could benefit from discussing decision making!), and then the posters could be used to reinforce the concepts taught to those students who need a little more. I plan on also using the problem solving sheet included in the Missouri Model lesson to process with students as they are trying to make a difficult decision, or after they have made a poor decision. We've also been using the sign language symbol for "stop" as a visual reminder as well.

What other resources do you have to assist students with decision making? I know that there are many more out there, I would love to hear about what works for you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Using Data to Drive Your Program

Today the High School counselor and I are attending one of our AEA school counselor workshop in Pocahontas to work on developing our comprehensive counseling plan. After working on developing our beliefs and philosophy statements last time, today we are looking at our plans to deliver intentional guidance and our closing the gap plans.

For my closing the gap plan, I am looking at my student discipline data. In addition to using disciple data collected by the principal, I am also asking teachers to record data about behaviors that they observe in their classrooms. Using this data, I am hoping to identify those students who need more. Once hose students are identified, I plan on starting some small guidance groups.

I'm hoping today to continue on working to develop our comprehensive guidance program, and especially working on how to use data in my program. I can't wait to get back to school on Wednesday and start putting all of these pieces together!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Getting to Know the Counselor

I have been doing lessons the first few weeks of school on "Getting to Know the Counselor", but the lesson I have been doing in 5th grade so far is my favorite. To introduce myself as the new school counselor, I first show the students a powerpoint so that they can get to know a few things about me. Throughout the powerpoint I ask the students about some of their favorite things and interests, so I can get to know them to! This is a great way to break the ice with the students and a great way to help the students begin to feel a little more comfortable with me.

Next I ask for volunteers to come to the front of the room and put on various pieces of a costume. Each volunteer puts on a piece of the costume, and reads a script when it's their turn that describes an aspect of my job. The students love it, and it is a really interesting a different way to introduce the school counselor!

Next we discuss the componenets of the guidance program and the word confidentiality. I share with the students ways that they can notify me that they would like to visit, and we discuss different things that a student may want to come to talk to the counselor about. We also review how to fill out the Need to See the Counselor forms, and where my office and mailbox are.

Lastly, we do an activity together called "Record of Me". In this activity, the students make records and list each track on the record as a detail about themselves. I have the students share their records at the end of class, and I bring a record that I made to share a little more about myself as well. We usually listen to the Primary Focus "Start Dreamin'" cd while we work on our records.

Any way that you introduce yourself to your students, it is important that the lesson cover the components of the guidance program, the process for contacting the counselor, and confidentiality. Sharing a little bit about yourself and encouraging students to share about themselves is a great relationship building activity for that first meeting as well. Here is a link to the lesson plan if you are ever interested in using it for yourself!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new school year! I have taken a new job this school year as the elementary counselor in Humboldt, Iowa. I will be working at two school buildings this year, with 500+ students and growing.

To introduce myself as the new school counselor, I did a lot of work before the school year started to get my program ready. Over the summer I created brochures explaining the elements of the elementary guidance program. I wrote seperate letters for our K-1 school, and for our 2-5 school. I also wrote letters to send home to the parents introducing myself and explaining some of the things we will be doing this year in guidance.

At open house night, which was the night before school started here, I handed out some of the brochures to parents and I handed out stickers to the students as I greeted them at the front door. It's a challenge doing events like open house when you work at two schools, but I balanced it out by spending one hour at the K-1 school and one hour at the 2-5 school.

The open house event was a great way to kick off the school year, and I am looking forward this year to what is to come!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Paws in Jobland

For our last career awareness activity in guidance, my 3rd graders are completing a career interest inventory through the program Paws in Jobland. Paws in Jobland is a free online website created by Bridges Transitions Inc. The career inventory on the website asks students a series of questions about things that they like to do, things that they are good at, or things they are interested in, and then presents the students with a list of jobs that they may enjoy. Students can explore jobs that they may be interested in on the website by clicking on different buildings in "Jobland".

The program is easy for students to use, and it reads the questions out loud for students who are not strong readers. I am using it with my 3rd grade class, but it could be used for younger students too. There are lesson plans to compliment the Paws in Jobland website for grades K-2 and 3-5 that are available from the Bridges Transitions website, and there are more resources available to supplement with this curriculum available on the College Foundation of North Carolina website.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Purple Hands In the News!!

Recently the Purple Hands Program at our elementary school made the news! This March when our students were studying the Purple Hands Pledge, our school was lucky enough to be able to partner with Hy-Vee, a local grocery store, to promote the Purple Hands Pledge throughout our community. Hy-Vee printed the Purple Hands Pledge and symbol on their grocery sacks during the month of March. It was a hit! Students began noticing the symbol on the Hy-Vee sacks, and it was a great reminder to the students that the Purple Hands Pledge is important beyond our school walls. It was a great way for students to share with their parents the pledge as well when they asked what the symbol meant!

I think it is a wonderful thing when we can place reminders in our students homes and in our community that the Purple Hands Pledge is important no matter where you go. Several local business that partner with our school display the Purple Hands Pledge poster in their businesses, and it is great to see the students make that connection when they are out in the community to the pledge that we teach at school. If you would like to see a full link to the article, just click here!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Character and Career Connection

To end out the year in our guidance curriculum this year, our third grade class is learning about how careers and good character are connected. The curriculum that I am using for our third grade careers unit is The Character and Career Connection by Amy R. Murray, M.Ed.

Each lesson in the curriculum is based around a character trait. Each lesson begins with a story about the character trait, includes discussion questions to follow the reading with, and then an activity related to good character. For example for the pillar of Responsibility, students read Horton Hatches the Egg by Dr. Seuss. After reading and discussing the book, the students play a game where they draw a card with a responsibility listed on the card. The students must guess what job I am describing based on the responsibility.

Good Character is something that we emphasize all year, and this curriculum is a great way to bring both careers and good character together. The character traits are not the Character Counts traits, but most of the traits in the book can be adapted to meet any type of Character Education program. The book has other great ideas too, such as how to start a "Career Day" or "Vehicle Day" at your school, and a really neat idea about how to honor students who have good character. In the back of the book are also tip sheets to send home to parents as each character trait is studied.

Here are some other resources you can pull from to connect careers with good character:

World-Of-Work Map, Career Clusters, and Career Areas

Career Wordsearch

After Hours Inspirational Stories

The Quote Garden

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Character Counts Awards

Last Friday our school had our "It's a Wonderful School" Character Awards ceremony. The Character Awards recognizes students at our school who demonstrate good character. Each classroom is assigned a character pillar, and students in that class can nominate classmates who have demonstrated that pillar at school. They write a short paragraph or two about why that student deserves that pillar, and an example of a time that they have demonstrated that pillar. All students nominated receive a certificate to recognize their nomination, and one student from each class receives a trophy.

To make sure that the Character Awards don't become a popularity contest, there are character awards that teachers can nominate students for as well. We also give an award for Overall Student of Character for each grade level, and this year we gave an award for the whole school. Other awards handed out were awards for serving on student council, and the Purple Hands Award for remaining on the Purple Hands Honor Roll the entire time a student was at Broadway Elementary.

The Character Counts Superheroes came to the assembly to help present the awards. Each character pillar has it's own superhero, and there is also a superhero for the Purple Hands Pledge. The kids love seeing the superheroes, and it was great to have them help out with the awards!

Below are some pictures from the Character Awards.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Earth Day Activities

To highlight the Character Counts pillar of Citizenship at our school this year, our students participated in Earth Day activities during the month of May. Our grade levels K - 5 each chose an activity related to earth day to participate in during the month. Some examples of Earth Day activities our school did were planting flowers, picking up trash, creating posters to encourage people to recycle, and planting trees.

This is also a great time to connect the guidance curriculum to what students are studying in other subject areas. One of our grade levels is learning about plants right now, so organizing an Earth Day activity where the students take home a tree to plant somewhere or planting flowers is a great way to branch science and guidance together! One of our fourth grade classes is learning about marine life in science, and as part of an Earth Day activity they could research endangered species and create posters encouraging others to save them.

Other ideas would be if a grade level is working on letter writing they could write a letter to elected officials encouraging them to protect endangered wildlife in our area if a grade level is working on letter writing, or write a persuasive letter encouraging someone to recycle if a grade level is working on persuasive letters. The art teacher could do an activity where students make art out of recycled materials, or the media teacher could have books out that have to do with preservation or endangered species. There are endless ideas of ways citizenship and earth day activities can be mixed in with the curriculum that the grade level teachers are teaching!

Here are some other great websites with Earth Day activities your school can do. They have songs you can sing about Earth Day, pledges students can take to protect the Earth, and other neat activities

Earth Day Resources:
Kids For Saving Earth
Apples For The Teacher
The Nature Lady

And these resources have grade specific activities: - Seasonal Earth Day - Activity

And here's a website where kids can calculate their carbon footprint:
Zero Foot Print

And here is a blog from the New York Times that has some great ideas too!

NY Times - 10 Ways to Go Green and Mark Earth Day

Between all of these great resources I am sure that there is something for your school to make it a great Earth Day!! Here are some pictures from some Earth Day Activities we did at our school:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Learning About College

In 4th grade this week we are learning about college as part of our careers unit. I think that it is important for elementary school counselors to expose students to what college is and why people go to college as early as possible. Last year when I did this unit, several of the students had already made up their mind that they are never going to college, for various reasons. I think a lot of this is because they don't know what college is or why people go there, especially if no one in their family has gone to college.

Students who have a parent that went to college begin conversations with their children early on about doing their best in school so they can go to college. But students with parents who did not attend college typically are not having these same conversations. This can make a big difference in the future aspirations of the student. Although fourth grade seems to be a little early to be talking about college, I think it's never to early to start forming goals and dreams! Even putting the idea in a students head that college is available to anyone who wants to go can make a big difference.

In our college lesson this week I began by introducing some college vocabulary (tuition, scholarship, major, etc.). I allow the students to ask me any question that they have about college. The first lesson is an introduction to what college is and why people go there. Next week, I will bring pictures and books from the state colleges in our area. We will talk about where each school is located, school colors and mascots, school celebrations and activities, and we will listen to each fight song. I will also bring pictures for students to color for locker signs to show their favorite college if we like! The last week of this unit we will play the Career Pay Day game by MarCo, which connects different careers to levels of education and pay. The biggest questions students have is how long they have to go to school for certain jobs, and how much money they can make! Hopefully this can answer some of their questions.

I haven't been able to find any good curriculums that teach elementary students about college, so for this unit I kind of created my own. If anyone knows of a good curriculum for this topic, please send it my way! I think it is so important to begin encouraging students to go to college at an early age, and I hope to continue to include this lesson as a part of my elementary guidance curriculum.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Bucket Filler Update

The bucket filling unit in 3rd grade guidance has been such a success! Back in February I wrote a blog about a unit I did with the 3rd graders based on the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. Since then, I have seen students throughout our school, not just in the 3rd grade filling each others buckets, and several students have come up to me in the hallway and mentioned that someone had filled their bucket, or that someone was dipping in their bucket. I love to see students rehearsing and applying what we have learned in our guidance lessons, but I am amazed that I taught this lesson two months ago, and I am still hearing students talk about it in the halls! I think it has been one of the best lessons this year.

One activity that I had students do during the Bucket Filling Unit was I had them write a letter to a staff member who had filled their bucket. In the letters they explained what bucketfilling was, and how that person had filled their bucket. I think the teachers loved these letters, I even heard the music teacher mention at the 3rd grade musical rehearsal that the students had "filled" her bucket by doing their best! I think the bucket filling idea h
as really caught on in our school, and it's great to hear both students and staff mention it in their conversations. It's a lesson that keeps on teaching, all on it's own!

I also made a bulletin board at the end of the unit that I placed in the 3rd grade hallway that identifies some of the ways that students can fill buckets at school by having good behavior. Seeing the bulletin board in their hallway has been a great way to reinforce the lesson as well. If you have never taught a lesson using this book, I would suggest that you try it! The idea of bucket filling has really caught on at our school, and I think it is a lesson that could be taught at any level. Below is a picture of the bulletin board I made for the 3rd grade hallway!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Whenever cancer resources come my way, I usually push them aside, because I think that I will never use them. Unfortunately, I had cancer hit each grade that I work with this year in different ways. At the 3rd grade level, a staff member discovered he had cancer, at 4th grade a teacher, and in 5th grade a student. Suddenly I had to tackle a topic that I was hoping to avoid. Luckily, the LiveStrong organization was there to help!

LiveStrong has several resources available to use to help address the topic of cancer with students, whether it be a staff member, a teacher, or a student who is affected by cancer. In 3rd grade guidance we used a curriculum that included an Arthur video about a cafeteria worker getting cancer. Since I am not a doctor and do not have all the answers about how cancer affects the body, I was glad to have this video which explains how cancer and it's treatments work in kid friendly terms.

The website has videos that can be used with older kids as well. I like the LiveStrong program because it focuses on survival. H
earing that a staff member or student has been diagnosed with cancer can bring up a lot of memories and emotions from students who have lost a loved one to cancer in the past. In our LiveStrong unit, we focused on survivors of cancer, and how each person deal with cancer differently. I wanted the students to know that cancer is not a death sentence, and to focus on the idea that many people survive from cancer, and can even become stronger afterwards, as Lance Armstrong did when he went on to win the Tour de France. Many students know the story about Lance Armstrong, and focusing on how Lance Armstrong survived and became even stronger makes students feel more comfortable about the topic.

Each grade level showed their support for the person dealing with cancer in different ways. In 3rd grade, the students wrote cards and drew pictures for the staff member dealing with cancer, and wore yellow on Mondays, which was the day he receives his chemo treatments. In 4th grade the students wore pink on Wednesdays to show their support, which is the day that teacher receives treatments. Last week the students took a picture to send the teacher to show them how they are dressing in pin
k on Wednesdays, and a few students made her a book which included the picture. In 5th grade, I have seen multiple acts of kindness and consideration for the student dealing with cancer, especially since she has started attending school again. Another great resource we used in 5th grade was the children's hospital in Omaha, which sent someone up to talk to the class about the student's condition before she returned to school.

LiveStrong has a great deal of resources you can use if this is ever an issue you have to handle yourself. Below is a picture that the 4th grade students sent on a day they wore pink to support their teacher! Any little action the students can take to show support makes them feel that they are helping and supporting their teacher as she fights her battle with cancer.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't Laugh At Me

In 3rd grade guidance this week we are reading the book "Don't Laugh at Me". Don't Laugh at Me is program developed by Operation Respect, an organization founded by Peter Yarrow. Operation Respect aims to establish school climates that reduce the emotional and physical cruelty some children inflict upon one another by behaviors such as ridicule, bullying, and in extreme cases, violence.

In guidance we are reading the Don't Laugh at Me book together, and then watching a "music video" Peter, Paul, and Mary where they sing the Don't Laugh At Me song. The kids love singing the song, and after this lesson I usually have requests from students to play it again throughout the rest of the year!

Part of our professional development this year has been focused on vocabulary development. I have included this into my lesson by introducing four "feeling" words before the book at movie that I want students to identify on the faces of people. We are working on expanding our feeling vocabulary beyond "happy" and "sad". Before we read the book I introduce the words "humiliated" and "ashamed". We discuss the meanings of these words, and the students identify pictures of people in the book expressing these feelings. After reading the book, we work on the feelings "courageous" and "proud". During the video I ask students to pick out people who are expressing these feelings. Using the vocabulary instruction also helps students to connect with and emphasize with the characters in the book and video, which is the goal of Don't Laugh at Me.

The video for Don't Laugh at Me shows individuals with mental and physical disabilities, and I always have to be careful to prepare the students in the right way for the video. The first time I showed this video, I assumed since we just had a lesson on how it is not right to laugh at others because of their abilities or the way that they look, that the students would not point or laugh. I have now learned that I must emphasize this one more time before I press play, otherwise some students will be disrespectful. Other than that issue, I love this book and lesson! We connect it to the Purple Hands Pledge after the book by talking about how body language (laughing, pointing, staring) can hurt people just as bad as hands and words can. This will be a great launching point for 4th grade when we talk about bystanders and bullying, how laughing at a joke a bully tells can be bullying too. The curriculum that goes along with the book is available for free on the Operation Respect website, as well as all of the songs and videos related to the program as well.

Horton Hears a Who

During Read Across America Week, I decided to read the book Horton Hears a Who to my 3rd grade class while we are studying the Purple Hands Pledge. The Purple Hands Pledge is "I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others." Horton Hears a Who has a similar message - Horton is teased by the other animals (hurting with words) when they do not believe that there are Whos on the dust speck. Horton uses his hands (or his trunk!) to help the Whos and protect them from harm. This book has a great message which we emphasized in the lesson -
"A person's a person no matter how small!"

After the book we talked about how Horton used his hands to help others, and had a discussion about bullying. The students made their own "clover" after the book to remind them of the book's message. It was exciting to be a part of the Read Across America Week by bringing a Dr. Seuss classic into our guidance lesson!

To make another connection between the Character Counts program and Read Across America week, we decorated the display case
at our school in honor of the book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" It shows the different careers that students can achieve if they use good character. A picture of the display case is posted below!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Purple Hands Pledge

One of our school-wide guidance program is the Purple Hands Pledge. The Purple Hands Pledge is a promise that students make everyday to make better choices and decisions that solve problems without violence. The Purple Hands Pledge Is:

"I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others"

The pledge was created in 1997 by Ann Kelly to "encourage dialogue about all forms of abuse and violence…from name calling, belittling, put downs, and negative self talk (I’m stupid, ugly…) words that can escalate to suicide and/or murder." Our students say the pledge everyday right after the Pledge of Allegiance, and we have school wide activities throughout the year that support the Purple Hands Pledge.

One school wide activity that we do each trimester with the Purple Hands Pledge is the Purple Hands Honor Roll. The Purple Hands Honor Roll is an award given to each student who has followed the Purple Hands Pledge throughout the trimester. If a student breaks the pledge and uses their hands or words to hurt someone else, a note is sent home and the student is taken off the honor roll. The students on the honor roll have their names posted on a list outside the principal's office, and receive a small prize as well, like a pencil or a wristband with the Purple Hands Pledge on it.

If you would like to find out more about the Purple Hands Pledge, please visit their website! I am sure I will share more information about this program as the year moves along since it is such a monumental part of our guidance program.

Below is a big Purple Hand made of all of the 3rd graders who took the Purple Hands Pledge this year!

Monday, March 1, 2010

End of Trimester

Friday was the end of our 2nd trimester here at our school. At the end of each trimester, the K-2 counselor and I compile all of the discipline data collected by the teachers and our administrators to help us make decisions about our guidance program. Today is the day that I am going to begin tackling this task and putting all of our data together!

In our data collection, we will be using both discipline referrals collected by the office - such as when a student receives disciplinary action from the principal - and also data collected from the teachers in the classroom from when the teacher gave the student a warning or discipline that did not warrant attention from the principal.

Once we have put all of our data together, we will segregate the data by the type of violation - physical, verbal, bullying, classroom disruption, or non-c
ompliance. After the data is segregated, I will meet with each of the grade level teams to discuss with them what the data shows us, and how we can address it as a grade level (increase supervision in hallways, address concerns in a guidance lesson, etc.)

The data we collect each trimester is also used for our closing the gap measure to provide additional support for students struggling with self control. I will be starting new guidance groups next week that focus on friendship and social skills, anger management, and self control. The data we collect each trimester helps me decide which students will go into some of these groups!

Below is a picture of the Purple Hands Honor Roll outside the office at the K-3 school!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tropical Treat Day!

Wow, have I been busy this week! Today is a special day at our school, it is Tropical Treat Day! All week I have been busy planning with the student council and the teachers in our character committee this school-wide activity that focuses on the Character Counts pillar of Caring.

On Tropical Treat Day, our school celebrates all of the acts of caring our school has done this month. In the guidance curriculum for 3-5 grade, we have been focusing on showing that we care about our schoolwork. At the beginning of the month, we learned about ways to show that we care about doing our best on the ITBS with the Test Busters curriculum, and the last two weeks we have been learning about good study habits and classroom behavior that show that you care about your school work. The students have been working hard to do their best, get their assignments in on time, and showing that they care about their school work!

We also held a fundraiser this month to raise money for an orphanage in Haiti to show caring towards people put in this unfortunate situation. Other caring activities during the month have
included writing thank you notes to people who have "filled a bucket" in 3rd grade, writing thank you letters to teachers and staff members who have made a difference in 4th grade, and cleaning up the planters uptown to get our community ready for spring in 5th grade. Tropical Treat Day is a culminating activity that celebrate all of these acts of caring our students have done throughout the month of February, both inside and outside the classroom.

The students and staff at our school have all donned their best 'Tropical' attire to celebrate today, and in the afternoon we will all head over to the gym to play some games and enjoy some treats! The teachers have set up stations in the gym where students can play different tropical themed games, and there is also a station where they can get a tropical treat! For our tropical treat, we bought a few cases of freeze pops - an economical but delicious tropical treat! Our student council has been working hard this week to decorate the gym with help from our elementary art club as well.

Looking forward to a great Tropical Treat Day!

Monday, February 22, 2010

You Can Succeed in Middle School

Spring is almost here, and that means that it is almost time to send our 5th grade students on to middle school. To prepare our 5th grade students for this journey, I begin with a middle school study skills curriculum during the month of February. We are using a curriculum from Sunburst called You Can Succeed in Middle School. It includes a video about the changes that 5th graders will experience in middle school, and teaches the students organizational skills that they can use to stay on top of their homework and activity schedule when they get to middle school.

In our guidance unit we are focusing on the organization skills, so that we can continue to practice things such as making a monthly calendar, using your assignment planner throughout the rest of the school year. In 5th grade the students begin to have more long term projects due in their science and social studies classes, so this is a great time for them to begin to settle into a organizational style while they still have the support of their elementary teacher.

The video also addresses changes that will happen socially, such as making new friends and joining after school activities. The 5th graders are really excited to start middle school next year, and this curriculum will hopefully give them the preparation they need to be successful academically and socially as they start this new chapter in their lives!

Another great place to look for information on how to prepare students for middle school is on the "I Can" website, sponsored by the Iowa College Access Network. The "I Can" website focuses on preparing students to go to college, but the middle school section has some great advice on preparing students for the work load in middle school as well. Plus, it's a great way to begin introducing college into the conversation and connecting how the skills they learn now will help them in middle school, high school, and beyond!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Adios, Anxiety!

Another small group intervention that I have been using with a group of 4th grade students at my school focuses on managing anxiety. As students begin to move into upper elementary and to middle school, many students begin to feel the pressure of keeping grades up, staying on top of homework assignments, and of course dealing with the new social world that comes along with growing up. To address this issue, I began a small guidance group that addresses managing anxiety.

Since I couldn't find a small group curriculum that addresses anxiety, I have been adapting activities from the What Works When with Children and Adolescents book by Ann Vernon to create small group guidance activities for the group. The What Works When book is a wonderful help in individual counseling activities too, especially with upper elementary students. The author addresses almost any and all things you may tackle in individual counseling as a school counselor. This is the book that I grab when I have an issue with a student and am not exactly sure what to say or which direction to go! It has worked wonderfully for this small group as well.

Today we did an activity where the group members had to say "adios" to anxiety. Each member of the group made a list of the thoughts they have concerning whatever they feel anxious about. On the floor I used masking tape to make a hopscotch board. As I read off each anxious thought, the student identified something they could tell themselves to make them feel less anxious. When they reach the top of the board, each group member said "Adios, anxiety!" Afterwords we talked about positive self talk as a way of coping with anxiety, and how when we feel anxious we often assume the worst, which at times can be a lot different than reality.

The group was great, we got to move around, play some hopscotch, and have some fun while we said adios to anxiety!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hearts for Haiti

For a school-wide service activity during the month of February while we are studying the Character Counts pillar of caring, the 4th and 5th grade students at our school are hosting a fundraiser to raise money to send to orphans in Haiti. Each day after school, our student council walks around the building selling heart-shaped suckers for 50 cents a piece. We got the suckers at the Dollar Store for an extremely good price, so any money raised off the sale of the suckers is purely profit.

It is so wonderful to see how caring and generous our students really are. Many students have used their allowance money, or money they were saving for a toy or a movie to donate to Haiti. One student donated five dollars and asked for only one sucker - he said the rest could be a donation. How big the hearts of these 4th and 5th grade students are!

The fundraiser was easy to put together, and didn't take a great deal of time or money. It was a great school wide activity to support the Character Counts Pillar of Caring. At the end of the month we are going to announce how much money we have raised, and will celebrate acts of caring by having a Caring Cruise party.

S.E.A.L.S. Group

One of my small guidance groups in 5th grade guidance focuses on helping students at school with low motivation. To create an intervention for students who have trouble staying motivated to complete homework or to do their best in school, I started the S.E.A.L.S. (Self Esteem and Life Skills) group. In the SEALS group, we are using activities from the S.E.A.L.S. + Plus by Korb-Khalsa, Azok, and Leutenberg.

In the SEALS book, our group has been working on the activities that focus on Goal Setting. Today we are working on conquering the "Sofa Spud Syndrome" - letting homework, reports, deadlines, and household chores pile up by spending too much time with the t.v., video games, or even just sitting on the couch staring into space! Our district is focusing on vocabulary instruction this year, so we will also learn about what the word "lethargy" means.

After learning about the "Sofa Spud Syndrome", the group members will focus on making one short term goal - one they can achieve before the next meeting. We will celebrate at our next group meeting any progress made towards these goal - big or small! My goal as the counselor this week is to get the students to take at least one step in the right direction.

Dr. Charles Fay of the Love and Logic Institute has some tips for parents who battle with their children over homework. To help children at home get their work done, instead of begging, pleading, bribing and lecturing, he suggests the following:
  • Set aside a time and place for your child to learn
  • Tell you child that they can either do their work or learn by thinking about it
  • Say that you will help them only as long as you don't start arguing
  • Tell your child that you will help only as long as they work harder than you do
  • Allowing your child to take total responsibility for their homework
Most importantly, Dr. Fay emphasizes that parents transfer their energy used fighting with their child into making sure the child is respectful, does their chores, and know that they are loved regardless of the grades they earn. If you are interested in more information, you can sign up for Dr. Fay's weekly Love and Logic emails on the Love and Logic Institute website.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?

This month at our Elementary School we are studying the Character Counts pillar of caring. In my third grade classroom, we are studying the pillar by focusing on the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McCloud. The book is great because it talks about acts of caring and feelings in a language that kids of all ages can understand. The imagery of "filling" someone's "bucket" with acts of kindness is a powerful piece of imagery as well!

The lesson I am using for the book came to me off of an email I received from the mailing list from Bucket Fillers Inc. If you use this book in your guidance program I would suggest that you join, they have some great ideas!! After we read the book together, we talked about ways that students can fill buckets at school, especially their teachers buckets! The students made a list of good behavior choices that would fill their teacher's buckets, and drew pictures inside individual buckets of things they can do in the classroom to fill their teacher's buckets.

I also brought a bucket full of "snowballs" and did a demonstration of what happens to a teacher's bucket when too many students "scoop". The students listed bad behaviors that scoop from a teacher's bucket as I scooped the snowballs out of the bucket, and then listed good behaviors
as we filled the bucket back up. This lesson was a great way to tie our Character Counts pillar of the month, Caring, into a lesson in the ASCA academic domain - good classroom behavior!

Welcome To My Blog!

Hello, and welcome to my blog! I am a 3-5 elementary school counselor in Denison, Iowa. This is my second year as an elementary school counselor, and I couldn't love it any more. I am excited to be in a position where I get the opportunity to encourage and inspire young children to develop into the best people they can be! I created this blog to share a little bit about myself, and about my journey as a school counselor.

While earning my masters degree in education from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake Iowa, I had the great opportunity to collaborate and share lesson plans and ideas with my classmates throughout the program. After being in the field of school counseling for a couple of years now, I realize that I miss the opportunities the program gave me to collaborate and share with others. I am hoping that this blog will be an opportunity for me to share what I have been doing in my classroom as a school counselor, and hopefully collaborate and build upon the resources that I have with the rest of you!

Thank you for viewing my blog, I hope you enjoy it!