Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween

Fall brings with it pumpkins, apple cider, and sweater weather, and Halloween. For some, this season is full of fun and excitement. However, for others it can be a time of fear and worry.
Every child is wired differently. What is funny to one can be scary to another. What is exciting and thrilling to one can be terrifying and incapacitating to another.  Parents (and school staff if you do Halloween at school) need to know what individual children can handle.  Adults need to use caution to protect children from unnecessary fears and trauma. If a child is already prone to anxiety and expresses fear, respect their right to feel it. For more ideas check out this link

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mix It Up at Lunch Day

My school psychologist and I had great things planned for this day.  We asked our teachers to mix it up in class today, not just in the lunch room.  However, the super storm has our school closed again today so we will be doing Mix It Up later in the school year.  For all those schools who are participating in this national event sponsored by Teaching Tolerance I hope your students make a new friend and realize including others enriches us all. See their web site for ideas about how to take these important ideas beyond one day.

Friday, October 26, 2012

CHARACTER COUNTS! Week October 22-26, 2012

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States do hereby proclaim October 21 through October 27, 2012, as National Character Counts Week. I call upon public officials, educators, parents, students, and all Americans to observe this week with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
At our school , we celebrated character a different way each day this week.  We tried to make it engaging and meaningful for the students.  Each fourth and fifth grader got a lesson from the counselor reviewing the 6 character traits and an activity that was sent home to share with parents. 
In celebration of character, students were encouraged to wear the following articles of clothing in a joint school-wide effort to support character. 

22 Monday:  “Sock It To Bullying”- Students wear their most “funky or decorative” socks
23 Tuesday:  “Wear a smile and share one with a friend” (School picture day)
24 Wednesday:  “Slip Into Safety”- Students wear their slippers during the school day   
25 Thursday:  “Hats Off To Helping Others”- Students wear their most “favorite or funky” hat
26 Friday:  “Show your character colors”– Students wear a color that represents one of the six pillars of character by grade level: K (blue), Grade 1 (yellow/gold), Grade 2 (green), Grade 3 (orange), Grade 4 (red), Grade 5 (purple).

The week was a success and definitely heightened awareness of our character education program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bullying Foldable

We have a well established bullying program based on the Steps to Respect curriculum so students at every grade level get lessons from the counselor about this important topic.  In fifth grade one lesson is on Bystander Power.  To make the lessen more engaging and memorable while I do a Smart Board lessen on the three types of bystanders the students complete a three part foldable (This takes me 5 minutes for all classes instead of 5 minutes per child out of a thirty minute lesson).  I pre-fold and cut the paper so all they have to do is label, draw, and explain.  As we learn about each type they write 2 bullets about that type of bystander and do a quick illustration to show understanding of the concepts.  For example a Passive Bystander - watches and does nothing and - provides an audience.  The drawing is a silent face of a person.  I want them to draw the bystander not the student who is bullying to focus on the bystander response. We do the passive and Harmful Bystander then talk about how these tow are the same and different, then move to the Helpful Bystander.  The students like creating their own booklet and were eager to take them home to share with families.  They are told to discuss how 2 of the categories are part of the problem, but one is part of the solution.

Monday, October 15, 2012

We had our first Career Cafe today for fifth graders during lunch.  Our first parent guest was Aerospace Physiologist who trains aircrews on the physiological hazards of flight. Our presenter was a female Air Force Corporal who got her college degree via an ROTC scholarship. We had 22 students sign up and attend which was good although we could have handled up to 30.  The preparation was not time consuming and those who elected to attend were very interested.  Six of the boys gave up almost their entire recess asking questions and trying on gear.  Next month our guest will be our school resource officer.  We took the advice from other blogs to start small.  This year we are doing Career Cafe at only two grade levels, third and fifth.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Favorite Icebreakers for groups

My co-counselor and I are still starting some first round groups through the end of the month.  We try to see as many students as possible in groups rather than individually because of our high case load.  The first few session of any group should have an ice breaker or energizer.  Below are my current top 5 favorites:

Name and Activity – The first group session we want to learn the names of the members and something about them.  An engaging way to accomplish this is have each person say their name 3 times in any type of voice they want to use while acting out something they enjoy doing during free time.  The counselor might model Mary- Mary-Mary in a high squeaky voice while pretending to read a book.  The entire group repeats the sequence Mary-Mary-Mary matching the type voice used and doing the actions.  After everyone has gone, then repeat the names 3 times and actions together
Silent Interviews - Divide the group into pairs - try to make mix the group into pairs of children who don't know each other well. Ask the members to introduce themselves to their partner. Instruct the group that from this point forward, speaking is not allowed..  This includes whispering, mouthing words, and making sounds, too! The counselor should model I like jogging by pointing to eye, making a heart with both hands, and jogging in place Inform the group that they must tell their partner 3 things about themselves without speaking, similar to a charades game. These things cannot be physical characteristics. Once all of the partners have finished miming to each other, call everyone back into a circle. Ask each pair to verbally introduce their partner to the group, as well as the three things that they learned (or think they learned). If you are working with very young children, you can do this as a group activity, where one child acts out a hobby for the group to guess.
Snowball Fight - Members write 3 things about themselves on a sheet of white paper. They do not write their names on the paper. Wad it up and on your command, have a "snowball" fight (aim below the waist). At the end of 1 minute, each student grabs the nearest snowball.  They open the ball and read and try to guess who wrote it.
Two Facts (Nonfiction) and One Fiction – The counselor models first by stating 3 things about self, but one is not true. Make sure you model the type of things that fit with the group goal.  Example: I have one best friend, I have moved 3 times, and I love to bike ride. This version of two truths and a lie is a good way to reinforce the concept of fiction and non-fiction and get to know group members.
Venn Diagram of Students - Divide students into groups of three or four. Give each group a large sheet of butcher paper and a different color marker for each person. Have them draw a Venn diagram with an oval for each student. The students in each group are to discuss what their similarities and differences are. After the discussion, they are to fill in the diagram showing their similarities and differences. If a group has a hard time getting started, give them some guidance by asking questions such as, "What is your favorite music?", "When is your birthday?", "What sports do you like?, or "Where were you born?"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Unite Against Bullying

These are the t-shirts our Pupil Services team is wearing for Unity Day today.  Our school social worker made the transfers and ironed them on for us.  We like the Committee for Children’s heart shaped world as the dot for the “I” in Unity.  Our students and staff are wearing orange too. It takes a school wide effort to combat bullying.  We use the Committee for Children’s Steps to Respect materials as the foundation of our bullying prevention program. Bullying can be prevented if we all work together to change the culture.