Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Decision Day College and Career Readiness

Media preview
To promote a college going culture even in our elementary school we have staff and kids wear college gear on first Fridays. It works out this week since the White House is asking schools to promote Decision Day or Signing Day as part of #ReachHigher.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Bullying Can Lead to Self Harm

Each year 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury.  Many teens who self harm report being bullied before they started using self harm as a coping strategy for dealing with difficult emotions.  Self harm is one of the many negative results of bullying.  As elementary counselors we need to continue to provide leadership to in school-wide anti-bullying efforts.  To reduce bullying and mitigate its harmful effects all staff must be trained and on board about the importance of receiving bullying reports and developing interventions that reduce bullying behavior. We need to empower students to respond assertively to bullying.  Urge students to speak up and challenge mean behavior.  Teach the students to say "How do you think it is okay to say or do that to me?" or "Talking that way is not right, leave them alone" (for upstanders).

Monday, April 20, 2015

Best book for grade 3 bullying lesson!

This month all our classroom lessons focus on bullying.  We use the Steps to Respect materials from the cfchildren.org as the research base for our program.  We teach all the students their definition of bullying. We try to emphasize being assertive is usually the best response to bullying.  The best book for this message in grade 3 is One by Otoshi.  I use a Smartboard lesson introduction to reteach the definition and the 3 roles in the bullying triangle then I do the following pre-reading questions: Why is this book named One? (Take a few predictions); Have you ever been bullied? (Show by thumbs); Have you ever been a bystander? (Show by thumbs); How do the different colors in the book make you feel? (Based on picture walk) I stop during reading How does it make you feel when Red is mean to Blue? Post-reading I ask How does this story make you feel about bullying. To make sure the students meet the learning objectives they complete a simple fill in the blank handout.  On the back they draw a response to the book with a caption.  Their responses tell me they really understand the message of the book!
If you need discussion questions or a premade handout "Everyone Can Count" check out one.pdf

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stop Walk Talk

This month our counseling lessons all address bullying.  We use Steps to Respect in the upper grades but in the lower grades we have relied on children's literature.  This month I am experimenting using Stop Walk Talk in kindergarten.  I made a Smartboard lesson based on this resources
bullyprevention_es.pdf After our book and discussion, the students do a 3 part picture so I can assess if they have the basic concepts.  As with all my lessons, I continue to tweak it but they definitely got the 3 step model.

Friday, April 17, 2015

4 Square Apology

In Zach Apologizes, when Zach shoves his little brother to the floor, he knows he did something wrong. Even so, it's hard to apologize - especially when he feels Alex kind of deserved it! With his mom's help, Zach learns the "four-square" apology: (1) say what you did; (2) say how it made the other person feel; (3) say what you could have done instead; and (4) make it up to the person. I made a simple form like the one in the book to have my group members complete about a situation when they needed to apologize. Above is a kindergarten child's four square apology.  I like this model because it addresses empathy in step 2. This fits very nicely with the "apology of action" we teach as part of our responsive classroom approach.  
This book is part of the Zach rules series. The other book deals with frustration which I also use. These books are perfect for ages 6-8. There is a Facebook site for the Zach Rules series.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Adoption - National Birthmother's Day and Mother's Day

Some schools go all out for for Mother's Day without thinking about the negative impact it may have on students who have lost a mother through death, divorce, or a birth mother that are adopted. I have had students sent to me sobbing during the lead up to Mother's Day because a well-meaning music teacher decided to teach some songs about mothers. That student's mother had died a few years before but the music teacher "forgot." Mother's Day is often a nightmare for two-dad families. The Saturday before Mother's Day in National Birthmother's Day families/remember-began-national-birth-mothers-day/  Other families built by adoption celebrate the birth mother and adoptive mother on Mother's Day adoptivefamilies.com/parenting/honoring-birth-mothers/ I always encourage staff to think about what they are asking children to do related to mother's day and understand that for some children this is a reminder of a loss not a happy day.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

Study Skills and Organization - SUPER Students

I started my last small group for the school year this week.  We have school through the third week in June so I can do 8 sessions.  I use this resource by Chanaca (Youthlight) for my theme. I like the SUPER Formula: Self, Understand, Personal, Effort, and Results.  We go over the formula and set a goal in the first session.  This group is for grade 4. It is my third study skills group for the year in that grade.  Parents get very concerned after each report card about the impact of missing assignments which always creates a burst of referrals. For my study skills groups in grade 3 I use "STEP UP to Better Grades" by Zorn (Youthlight). For grade 5 I primarily use "Study Strategies for Early School Success" by Sirotowitz, Davis & Parker (addwharehouse). I'd love counselors to post a comment if they have good study skills resources.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Wear Blue April 2 World Autism Day

Working With ASD Students

Most of the students in our school with ASD are in some type of school-based small group counseling. I have included students with ASD in the entire range of groups including self-regulation, social skills, and study skills.  I have had students who required a personal assistant and only once (with a kindergarten child) did I need to have the assistant stay.  I want all students in my school to know I am here for them and very willing to work with them and their families.