Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mix It Up at Lunch Day 2014

We participate annually in the Teaching Tolerance Mix It Up at Lunch Day held each fall.  The Student Services staff organizes this activity which includes all our students in grades 1-5.  We try a different way to sort the students on a rotating basis. Last year we used various colors of jelly bracelets. This year we had 5 colors of pencils engraved with "Mix IT Up Day 2014" and gave a pencil to each child as they entered the cafeteria.  They sat at a table that had a sign with the color that matched their pencil.  We had sticky notes on the tables and as they talked with a student they don't normally sit with or know well, they wrote down a few facts they learned.  For example, Noah plays hockey and the trombone.  These served as their exit tickets.  When they left the cafeteria they gave their sticky note to a student services staff member to be placed on the giant pencil on the windows of the cafeteria and got to keep the pencil as a souvenir and a reminder to tell their parents about this activity.  To learn more check out this site tolerance.org/mix-it-up

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Free online books for iPad

Educators and parents can get free eBooks on the iPad.  There are over 5000 titles. It asks for your preferences and has many related to counseling including relationships and careers. It also targets the age of the audience. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unity Day

Make it ORANGE and make it end! Unite against bullying!
Sponsored by PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center since 2011

What are your true colors when it comes to bullying? If you care about safe and supportive schools and communities make your color ORANGE on Unity Day. That’s the day everyone can come together—in schools, communities, and online—and send one large ORANGE message of support, hope, and unity. Both counselors and our school psychologist had  ORANGE scarves on today along with over 85% of sthe students and staff.

Career Cafe

We have been doing Career Cafe in our upper grades the past few years. It is a very easy to run component of our comprehensive counseling program.  Today was our first session for the year. A parent of a fifth grader came to share his part-time job as an umpire (currently a girls high school softball umpire and summer tournaments on weekends).  He explained to the students who signed up to attend this particular session that even though he has been umpiring for over 30 years he has to take a test (now online) twice a year to keep up his certifications. He started at age 14 and told the kids about umpiring as a job since 8th grade. He brought all his gear including his 4 rule books and case study book for unusual circumstances. He used to be the head umpire for the whole area and train young umpires. It was a great example how someone who grew up loving sports could stay involved while he does another job which really supports his family (software development). Students learn so much from actually meeting and interacting with people who are passionate about their careers.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Character Counts Week

To focus students attention on the 6 pillars of character we are joining the nationwide celebration of "Character Counts Week." Today we are dressed in blue for trustworthiness, etc. On Wednesday we will wear orange for fairness and Unity Day.  On Friday we can wear either red or purple. Read more about charactercounts.org/getstarted/

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Groups Galore

We have begun our heavy time of the year leading small groups because we finished Parent Teacher Conferences last week.  We started with some of our first and second grade groups this week, will do groups at all the grades next week, and finally at the end of October do the pre-assessments and begin our intervention groups.  We have 1.6 counselors and a population of over 730. Last year over 300 students participated in a small group with a counselor. That was 46 groups! For each group we lead we have a binder with the session plans, assessments, books, and activities. Examples of session plans for two of our groups can be found in the Group pages on this blog. We try to pre- and post-test all our groups.  For each group, students have a folder where we save all work done in group until the final session. We run 3-4 session" Lunch Bunch" groups for any kindergarten student whose family want them to participate.  We are able to pull groups during instructional time in Kindergarten - grade 2. All our grade 3-5 groups have to be done in conjunction with lunch. Our most popular groups have to do with self-regulation or emotion management.  Every group has a catchy title related to the topic. For example, this picture shows my emotion management group preparation for the first session of "Smiling Faces" for first graders. We are scheduled back to back with groups and lessons which requires everything to be laid out an ready when we leave for the day in order to be able to deliver this level of direct service. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bullying Prevention Month

Our newly updated bulletin board displays some of the many Apps that address bully prevention.  Some of these are for students and others are more useful to staff and parents. This reusable bulletin board background shows off our program's "brand" and is a big time saver.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Emotions Matter

The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence says, "Emotions drive learning, decision-making, creativity, relationships, and health" yale.edu/ruler/ Our theme for classroom lessons in October is Emotions.  In the early grades we are primarily working on identifying and labeling feelings.  In grades two and three we teach subtle distinctions between feelings using the Mood Meter and teach about empathy.  In grades four and five we focus on teaching the strategy of taking a Meta-Moment to reflect on emotions, thus helping with emotional regulation. Learn more about the Yale Center's curriculum the-feeling-words-curriculum/