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!