Friday, March 27, 2015

Anchor Charts

Anchor charts are created during the instruction of the lesson or part of a group session. As you present the lesson or strategy, key points are written on chart paper. Once the lesson/session is complete, the chart is saved. This is another vehicle for academic support, especially for the visual learner. The beauty of an anchor chart is that it can be displayed again the next lesson/session. I have anchor charts for each grade level and group. I store them on the easel in my office and use as needed.
For example. the one in the picture is for a session on being assertive in a small group with boys in second grade.  In this group I use a different book for each session from the Shubert series by Conscious This is the anchor chart we went through together before reading the book.  It will be available as a review at the beginning of the next session, then as needed as we work on various problem solving skills throughout the group.  Beginning in third grade I would distinguish Passive, Aggressive, and Assertive but this is what I have found most effective for second graders.

Monday, March 23, 2015

People in My World

This is one of my favorite group activities to get students to talk about the important people in their lives.  The original author suggests specific symbols for people who are close as well as people who have caused hurt or upset.  My students like to use dots and various stickers.  The students always place those people they love the most on the center. It always promotes rich discussion as they share about people in their lives with the group.  These are the plates of students in my grief group.  All of them placed their deceased family member in the center.  It is good for them to see how many people they have that provide them support along with a few people they find challenging.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Exercise Before School Helps ADHD and Anxiety

Research has shown that regular (daily) exercise for people with either ADHD or Anxiety is effective in reducing negative symptoms.  I have found that when students with either one of these challenges walks or rides their bike to school they have a better start to the school day.  I suggest walking or biking to school to parents frequently. I also encourage them to get children with ADHD and anxeity out in nature as much as possible. Here are 2 resources they may help you convince your school to offer more exercise breaks for students and

Friday, March 13, 2015

The Rainbow Fish - Sharing Leads to Friends

My 3 kindergarten friendship groups all enjoyed the story, got the message of the book/lesson, and loved the activity of making a scale.  Many children know the book so it is easy to reread and stop every few pages to discuss some key points. What is the problem? What kind of attitude (or how was rainbow fish acting) towards the other fish at the beginning? What advise did the wise owl give rainbow fish? How did he feel when he gave away his first scale? (Surprised he was not sad. Sharing makes both the giver and receiver feel happy.) After he gave away all his scales how did he feel? (Better about self, pleased he had so many friends). The shining scales made rainbow fish special.  We all have something special about us we can share with others.  For example, I love growing flowers so I share some of my plants with my neighbors. If you are good at singing, you could teach a friend a song...or a gymnastics trick, or how to play a game. 
Activity: I drew an outline of the rainbow fish on bulletin board paper.  I precut scales out of construction paper. I had some large shiny spangles (Lakeshore) that were left from a previous project. I gave each member one scale to draw something that makes them special they could share with a friend. I gave them each 5 spangles to glue on their scale when they finished their drawing and then they got to glue it onto the rainbow fish.  
I am displaying this in my office until spring break. It would be a cute bulletin board for the hall if the lesson was done whole group. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Twitter Chat to Discuss Book

Last night my school tried a Twitter Chat for the first time.  The librarian, the technology coordinator, and the student services team met to organize it and agreed on the questions we would discuss about the book, Growing Up Social (Chapman and Pellicane).  We had two purposes: 1) to discuss aspects of the topic how to find balance in a tech driven world; and 2) to drum up interest in our in person book chat next week in the evening.  The six of us that organized the chat and each posed one question during the discussion all loaded Tweet Deck on our machines so we had a feed to our specific #NESbook. If you have never done a Twitter Chat what-is-a-twitter-chat-and-how-to-make-the-most-of-it We were only successful in having another 6 persons tweeting but others could have been reading the feed. The best thing we did was have multiple people pose the questions, because it flowed like a normal conversation. Our biggest mistake was the time slot we picked (7-8 pm) which in hindsight was terrible for parents with children at home.  We realized in our debrief this morning that time slot is fine for evening meetings at school when parents are free of child care responsibilities (because they have a babysitter or spouse doing things with kids), but the wrong time for this type of activity. The staff that participated all loved the discussion so now we are thinking how we could use it for staff discussions. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Organizing thinking and writing: School Success Skills

In my Step up to Success groups with third and fourth graders, most of them do not construct decent paragraphs.  I have adapted this from the color scheme used in Step Up to Writing where these colors are used to highlight sentences.  I have found that a visual like the house helps some learners understand why the first and last sentences are so important, rather than just highlighting them with a green marker.  I do like the Step Up to Writing program because it is multisensory and meets the needs of more learners.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Friendship Is Like a Seesaw

I love the title of this book by Innes and Agocs (2014) that discusses how to rebalance friendships.  In a small group on friends a good way to introduce this concept is have each member try to balance a pencil on their fingertips. When there is a unevenness in a friendship the book suggests ways to fix the friendship and others can be suggested depending on the age and levels of the members. I think all elementary counselors will want a copy of this book.