Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Teaching Life Skills to Children and Teens with ADHD

Teaching Life Skills to Children and Teens With ADHD (2016) describes the Life Skills Program created by author Vincent J. Monastra at his ADHD clinic. It features practical strategies for helping children and teens develop essential life skills at home, school, or in a support group setting.
Some of these skills include:
Engaging others in conversations
Seeking out confidence-building experiences
Responding appropriately to teasing
Establishing friendships and social networks
Trying group activities to avoid isolation
Developing healthy eating, sleeping and exercise habits
Solving problems and getting organized
Showing sensitivity to others' emotions
Each chapter includes exercises to help  teach, model, and guide children in trying out these skills. Interactive checklists, quizzes, and guided journal entries are provided as tools for reflection and for engaging children and teens in ways that are interesting and fun. I particularly like the Life Lesson "Kindness is Contagious" which fits in perfectly with my theme for February. This guide gives a counselor good activities to use in small groups. There are 12 life lessons that could easily be the format for a small tier 2 group. I have used many of the activities with individuals. The guide is a resource I recommend to most of the parents of my upper grade students who are identified as ADHD.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Celebrate Diversity Theme: Judgmental Flower

One of my favorite authors and former school counselor and teacher, Julia Cook’s strategy is ‘Read a Book, Teach a Child a Life Lesson’. In her book The Judgmental Flower, she talks about a purple flower who appeared in a blue flower patch. It is a great book for grades 3 and 4 to discuss cultural diversity and racial prejudice. It promotes being open-minded and looking at another's point of view - very important life lessons especially for upper elementary students. I use it in small groups because we use Second Step and MindUp for class lessons mostly. If you are not using an evidence-based curriculum this would make a great starting point for a class lesson on celebrating diversity.
Check out another resource for free lesson plans and materials that go along with Julia Cook's books published by Boys Town boystown/lesson-plans

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The WorryWoo series helps children in grades 1-3 understand emotions and how to cope with them. Andi Green created the charming WorryWoo monsters and has a web site with free lesson plans worrywoos.com/ I use the books in small tier 2 groups aimed at emotional and self regulation. The students love them! My favorite is Don't Feed the Worry Bug so I was excited to find that Green had teamed up with Dr. John to offer advice to parents on how to help children manage feelings.

I first purchased Helping Young Worriers Beat the WorryBug: A Practical and Fun-filled Guide of Therapeutic Ideas and Activities, a practical, 41 page guide designed to support anyone interested in helping children thrive emotionally. Written by Australian Child-psychologist Dr. John Irvine and illustrated by Andi Green, this guide helps children and their parents evaluate, understand and beat the WorryBug. This booklet focuses on anxiety which is the top referral reason at my school. The first part explains anxiety, then Dr. John explains how mindfulness and thought beating coupled with games and activities can reduce the WorryBug with positive and engaging strategies for children. It contains lots of great ideas to suggest to parents of the children in my groups. He has a very helpful "Corner" on the WorryWoos web page like this one on "The Amygdala HiJack" amygdala-hi-jack He has  written booklets to accompany each of the WorryWoo books.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

NSCW Flyer

I will be putting copies of this flyer all around my school next week to inform stakeholders about school counseling. The flyer is simply the ASCA download NSCW/HappyNSCW.pdf and QR Codes that provide information about our district's program, the link to my school counseling web page, and my school counseling blog. I have a paper flyer that describes my program but it only gets updated once a year and our school is trying to be more green. I am hoping this will encourage stakeholders to actually read my web page and blog since it is a lot of work. nottingham.apsva.us/counseling/

Friday, January 27, 2017

Celebrate Diversity Theme

Our school is becoming increasingly racially diverse and we want all children to feel welcome and accepted. Our community and country are becoming more diverse and children need awareness about differences and help understanding how culture influences beliefs. We have to get along with people who may have very different values. Culturally sensitivity begins with an awareness of our own background. We need to teach young children about race and culture because stereotypes can become fixed by age 9 http://identity_stages.pdf Each fourth grader did a family interview about their heritage and background before I taught the counseling lesson in January. As part of my lesson they each decorated a hand cut out with symbols of what makes them uniques. Many of the fourth graders told me how much new information they learned about their family from this assignment and they love seeing their hands on the bulletin board. I would definitely repeat this lesson!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Choose Kindness Theme: Reading About Kindness Makes Your Brain Happy

Reading About Kindness Makes Your Brain Happy
The Counseling Programs theme for February is Choose Kindness. We are implementing MindUp by the Hawn Foundation this year and the curriculum includes some good lessons to promote optimism, gratitude, and kindness. It makes the connection to mindfulness by teaching Kindness means caring about or helping someone or something. It is a mindful choice. This bulletin board was designed by our talented School-based Sub who makes most of my bulletin boards. It displays the covers of books that appeal to kindergarten through grade 5, including some of those I read aloud in K-grade 3. Kindness makes the doer, recipient, and observer of the act happier. We wanted to make it easy for children to find books about people who choose kindness.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Got Grit?

Tom Carr, a retired school counselor, thinks hard hats, rope, and running shoes symbolize grit. Carr, like others, believes grit is more important than grades. The Second Edition (2015) Got Grit? is an entertaining collection of true stories of people who had tenacity, perseverance, and who overcame major adversities in their lives. He developed a program in his school to develop "true grit" in four steps: 
Getting along with others (social skills); 
Responsibility (to family, community, church, country, learning, health, nutrition, fitness); 
Integrity (honesty, kindness, compassion, sincerity); 
Tenacity (perseverance, determination).
The book provides ideas about how to implement a Got GRIT program in a class or school-wide.
The Lesson Guide book (2016) and CD offers 24 lessons and activities that can be used in combination with the book (recommended) or independently to teach GRIT to students in grades 3-8. Each of the 4 steps has six lessons. I really like the discussion and lesson on "The Gift of Pain" and a personal GPS (Grit + Pain = Success). To learn more about Got GRIT see  www.gotgrit.org 
To order these 2 books go to youthlight.com While you are on the Youthlight site check out the other 8 books Carr has published. I always like resources that were developed by practicing school counselors because they generally are easy to adapt to my own program. For example, I am planning to use 1-2 of the lessons in my tier 1 classroom lessons in grades 3-5 and the rest in small tier 2 groups.

The Formative Five: Fostering Grit, Empathy, and Other Success Skills Every Student Needs

In Fostering Grit (2013) Thomas R. Hoerr defined grit as tenacity, perseverance, hanging in, and not giving up. Hoerr showed what teaching for grit looks like and provided a sample lesson plan and self-assessments, along with a six-step process applicable across grade levels and content areas to help students build skills they need to succeed in school and in life. The steps for developing grit in students: 1) Establishing the environment; 2) Setting expectations; 3) Teaching the vocabulary; 4) Creating frustration; 5) Monitoring the experience; and 6) Reflecting and learning.
In Hoerr's new book educators will learn how to foster the Formative Five (2017) success skills that today's students need, including
Empathy: learning to see the world through others' perspectives.
Self-control: cultivating the abilities to focus and delay self-gratification.
Integrity: recognizing right from wrong and practicing ethical behavior.
Embracing diversity: recognizing and appreciating human differences.
Grit: persevering in the face of challenge.
The book has a Student Self-Assessment Survey for each of the five skills.
Both these books are published by ASCD so it should be no surprise that the Formative Five relate to all five "Whole Child Tenets": 1) Healthy; 2) Safe; 3) Engaged; 4) Supported; and 5) Challenged. ascd.org/whole-child

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Promoting Optimism

Research has identified three distinct clusters of character strengths: Strengths of Will, Strengths of Heart, and Strengths of Mind. Growth Mindset, Grit, and Optimism are all strengths of will. These strengths are what you might call the “doing” strengths. They help you achieve your goals. Free posters with the character traits are availble free to download at characterlab.org The site also has a Character Growth Card that can be used for teachers and students to assess 8 character strengths. For example:
Finished whatever s/he began
Stuck with a project or activity for more than a few weeks
Tried very hard even after experiencing failure
Stayed committed to goals
Kept working hard even when s/he felt like quitting
Believed that effort would improve his/her future
When bad things happened, s/he thought about things they could do to
make it better next time
Stayed motivated, even when things didn’t go well
Believed that s/he could improve on things they weren’t good at
This is very similar to the KIPP Character Report Card kippnyc.org/kipp-character/

Our school system uses the MindUp program developed by the Hawn Foundation in Kindergarten through grade 8. The curriculum has a whole unit on "It's All About Attitude" including a lesson on Choosing Optimism and a recommended reading list Mind-Up-Optimism_sm.pdf

Books on Grit and Growth Mindset

Reading children's books can help explain the abstract concepts of grit and growth mindset to young students. I love the book Whistle for Willie (1998) by Keats and have shared it with hundreds of children to teach perseverance. A new book on my shelf Nadia: The Girl Who Couldn't Sit Still (2016) by Gray is a example of how biographies are a great genre to teach these concepts. Another great biography is Salt in His Shoes by Michael Jordan's mom and sister.

There are several good lessons online that use The Most Magnificent Thing to teach goal setting, grit, and/or growth mindset including  MostMagnificentThingTeachingGuide and https://twowritingteachers/spires/ The latter has a very good anchor chart similar to the one I develop when teaching growth mindset in grade 2 and 3.

Here are others I use in grades K-3 in either tier 1 class lessons or tier 2 small groups:
Giraffes Can't Dance by Andreae & Parker-Rees
Flight School by Judge
You Can Do It Bert! by Konnecke
What Do You Do with an Idea? by Yamada
The Dot by Reynolds
Ish by Reynolds
Extra Yarn by Barnett
Making A Splash: A Growth Mindset Children's Book by Reiley
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Raschka

I typically teach goal setting, grit, and growth mindset together in tier 1 lessons in September. I also cover these important topics in my resiliency tier 2 groups.

Grit: The Key to Your Success

I have used this video as the hook for classroom lesson at the upper grades but it could also be used in small tier 2 groups to encourage grit.

How to teach GRIT

Education has been talking about Grit, motivational drive that keeps you on a difficult task over a sustained period of time, for a dozen years based on Duckworth's research. Duckworth focuses on both stamina of effort and also stamina in passion and interest. She said, “Grit is not just about perseverance over time, but also passion over time.” She believes students need to be taught to focus on tasks in front of them and control their “grass is always greener” thinking. She also believes promoting a growth mindset increases grit. Amy Lyon's shares a great lesson for 5th graders based on an interview to help students understand how grit leads to success edutopia.org/grit-perseverance-walk-video I love to have students interview people to learn and then bring what they discovered and share it in some way with their peers. If you want other ideas to teach grit including book suggestions look at edutopia.org/blog/true-grit

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Body Image Concerns and Resources

Kids are starting to develop concerns about body image at younger ages than you might think, According to a 2015 report by Common Sense Media body image is learned very young. Children are aware of body issues and methods to control body size and appearance by the time they are preschoolers, and many young children start exhibiting socially motivated distortions in their body perceptions. The report, Children, Teens, Media, and Body Image, is a compilation of the existing research on how kids and teens feel about their bodies, "I think there's a lot of talk about teens and body image, and many parents become aware of that when kids hit puberty, but kids as young as 5 are already expressing a desire for a body that is thinner than their current self or future self," said the author of the report. More than half of girls and one-third of boys as young as 6 to 8 think their ideal weight is thinner than their current size.By age 7, one in four kids has engaged in some kind of dieting behavior. I encourage you to read the report body-image-report.pdf
CNN reporter Kelly Wallace used the Common Sense Media report to put together a special story with videos and a summary of key points in the research that is very informative http://body-image-kids-younger-ages/
What can we do to help young students develop a positive body image?
Kids Matter has a great article with the reason why schools need to be involved as well as tips for working with parents kidsmatter.edu.building-body-image-school I incorporate biblio counseling in many of my lessons and small groups. A great summary of good books on this important topic is at Celebrating Every Body: 25 Body Image Positive Books for Mighty Girls I want to add 2 of my own new favorites The Inner-Beauty Secret by Keisha Howard (2015) that I have shared before and Julia Morphs and Learns to Accept Herself by Rosalinde Block (2017). These are both available from https://youthlight.com  Both these books speak to kids who are anxious about being “different,” to recognize the unique, inner beauty that is within them.  There are posters available to download to accompany Julia Morphs. In my school body image is a hot topic among our second grade girls (and parents) so this is where I am using these two books on self-acceptance.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

No Name Calling Week Wrinkled Ralph Lesson

Second Step first grade lesson "Handling Name-Calling" teaches students to first breathe to calm down, try ignoring, and if it continues be assertive. Tell the other child "I don't like being called that name. I want you to stop." If it continues, tell an adult. I use wrinkled Ralph as the hook for the lesson. I begin with a blank outline and just the name tag that says Ralph. I then talk about how sometimes kids make fun and change peers names like "Rotten Ralph" and then discuss other common types of name-Calling (appearance, skills, etc.). The red labels have mean names and I wrinkle the figure as I stick them on the outline. You can take them off and let them see the wrinkles are still there - just like mean names get stuck in a person's head. The Blushful Hippopotamus is a cute story where the hippo's sister calls him mean names, but his friend changes them all into kind words. I have them write down 6 kind things to say to a peer, like the friend in the book. The main idea of the lesson is "Words Can and Do Hurt" and school is always a No Name-Calling Zone, not just this week.

Friday, January 13, 2017

No Name-Calling Week Quit Calling Me A Monster

Need a book for next week...I think my Kindergarten and first graders will enjoy this. I am going to use it with the Second Step lesson on Name-calling.

Teaching Self-regulation to Children

Back in 2014 I wrote about the value of Chapin's book, "Helping Young People Learn Self-regulation" that includes physical, emotional, and cognitive strategies. Self-regulation is a set of skills necessary for academic success, emotional control and healthy social interaction. I have used the theory and activities from this book for the past few years mostly in small tier 2 groups with students who need more support to manage stress related behavior.
This new Self-Regulation Smart Guidance resources has 10 interactive skill-building lessons. Use it on your computer or Smart Board to teach and reinforce the skills Chapin outlined in his first book. (Note: There is also a teen version of the book.) This tool can used for individuals, small groups, or classrooms. The technology provides an engaging format and the detailed lessons give specific talking points and scripted instructions. It is easy to download all the lesson plans that include high quality worksheets for each lesson. The lessons must be taught in the order they are arranged on the DVD. Chapin emphasizes learning to regulate the body must always come first, followed by emotions, and finally cognitive skills. The lessons on the DVD use language that explain strategies in kid friendly terms. For example, use soft words like some rather than extreme words like always. I am trying out these new lessons on my third and fourth grade self-regulation tier 2 groups. Both these resources are published and available through https://youthlight.com

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Historical Picture Book on Segregation

I was about the same age as the girls in this book when I realized black kids had separate and unequal schools. Growing up in a all white neighborhood I did not realize many of the limits placed on people of color. One summer my camp went to the black school to play volleyball. I had never been in a run down school with ceiling tiles falling and a ripped net. That is when I really got it that all kids were not being treated equally. My second realization came when my brother wanted his black friend to come to his Halloween Party and my mom told him if he included that friend they could not trick-or-treat because many of our neighbors would not open their door if a black child knocked. My brother never went trick-or-treating again. This book does a terrific job of showing how some black people "fought" against Jom Crow by supporting one another. It is a perfect read aloud as we approach MLK day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Four Simple Questions

Byron Katie uses the four questions and turnarounds to help children manage difficult emotions and fearful thoughts. To turnaround fear and stress challenge the irrational thoughts with 1) Is it true? 2) Can you absolutely know that it's true? 3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? and 4) Who would you be without the thought? I work with anxious kids every day and for my K-grade 3 students these 2 books are terrific to help them dispute their negative thoughts and uncomfortable emotions. There are many free resources on Katie's website  http://thework.com

Monday, January 9, 2017

Positive Self-Talk

One of the skills I teach at every grade level is positive self-talk. I really like counselor Sara Parker's Annoying Nonsense Thoughts.THe book teaches children to turn negative thoughts into a HAWK thought: Happy, Awesome, Wonderful, Knowledge. This is a good general self-regulation skill and especially good for children who are frequently anxious or angry. Her website has terrific ideas for counselors and parents www.friendshipcraze.com She also leads MindUp groups (the program we use at our school) and uses DBT with adults. She has another book P.E.S.T. that you will want to own as well.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Diversity Resource

Teaching Tolerance believes that students learn best when they’re empow­ered, and a key way counselors and other educators can do this is to give students a curriculum that reflects and respects their identities and the identities of others. The curriculum promotes identity, diversity, social justice and action.