Monthly Archives: July 2012

STOMP OUT BULLYING Banner Project!

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My principal wanted me to create an anti-bullying group for four 4th grade boys. One boy was consistently victimized by bullies and the other three boys were perpetrators of bullying to several students at school. For our first session together, I wanted us to create an “Anti-Bullying Pledge” for our school and then to create a banner to display in the entrance-way of our school. I found three anti-bullying pledges online and had my students look through them for ideas in creating their own pledge. Here are the 3 pledges that I used…

  1. “Anti-Bullying Pledge” from http://www.bullying.org
  2. “Anti-Bullying Pledge” from Arkansas Safe Schools Initiative
  3. “Steps to Respect Anti-Bullying Pledge” from the Steps to Respect Curriculum

The students worked together to underline the parts of each pledge that they thought were the most powerful and effective. We then combined pieces of each of the pledges to create our own pledge:

“I think being mean stinks. I won’t watch someone get picked on because I am a do-something person not a do-nothing person. It is up to each of us to make sure that bullying does not happen. Bullying bites! Report bullying! Be a role model. Tell a grown-up that you trust!”

After writing our own pledge, I gave the students a large banner and markers to use. We decided to write “STOMP OUT BULLYING!” on the banner and to trace each of our shoe prints onto the banner (get it, stomp our bullying, feet stomp…clever, eh?) Then, each student wrote a piece of our Anti-Bullying Pledge on the banner, as well as any other comments that they wanted to add. One student added, “Be a rockstar, not a bully!” and I added, “Bully free is the way to be!” We then decorated the banner with all sorts of different shapes and designs. Here is how it turned out!

It took us a total of 2 sessions (about 1 hour and 15 minutes to write the pledge and to finish the banner). The boys were VERY proud of their work and were thrilled to hang the banner right in the entrance-way of the school.

I stand in the front of the school every morning, and it was so neat and rewarding to see them look at the poster and discuss it with their friends. This was a fun and worthwhile project that I would definitely recommend to anyone! It could also easily be adapted for use with a wide range of ages!

Who is Your School Counselor? Back to School Lesson!

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My supervisor at my elementary school internship used this activity at the beginning of the school year to introduce herself and her role to the students, and she even used it in interviews to show the principal what she could bring to their school! I wanted to use this activity this year, but couldn’t for the life of me remember all of the things that she put inside of the first aid kit. I googled and pinterested and could not find the activity anywhere…until the next day, when I decided to search again, and Savvy School Counselor had posted it 2 hours earlier! Many thanks to her and her ever-creative blog for brushing up my memory on this great activity!

My first aid kit looks very similar to Savvy School Counselor’s and the pieces that I included inside of it are almost identical to her’s. I used a pencil box that I got for .99 cents at Target and taped the label onto it that says “School Counselor’s First Aid Kit.”

Inside of the kit I included the following items… (most of which were already at my school, I just had to find them and put them together!)

  • Tissue: Counselors help you dry your tears when you are feeling sad or overwhelmed. Counselors  remind you that it is okay to cry – letting out our feelings is healthy and helps us heal!
  • Toothpick: Counselors help you “pick out” your problems and make sense of them.
  • Milky Way: Seeing the counselor is always a “treat” – it never means that you are in trouble! Also, just like a treat, counselors can help you feel better when you are sad or upset.
  • Star: Explorers from long ago used the “North Star” as a guide to help them stay on track and  find their way when they were lost. Like the North Star, the counselor can help you if you are feeling lost, confused, or unsure about how to solve a problem.
  • Penny: Pennies have value and are often considered lucky – “Find a penny, pick it up…all day long you’ll have good luck!” The penny reminds us that each and every one of us is valuable, special, and lucky to be who we are!
  • Band-Aid/Bandage: Counselors can help heal your wounds (the invisible ones that are deep inside of us) and make you feel better.
  • Eraser: Everyone makes mistakes and the counselor can help us deal with our feelings when we make mistakes. She can also help us learn how to not make the same mistake again in the future!
  • Life Saver: Counselors are there to talk to you and help “save” you from scary, sad, or stressful situations. Counselors will help you “stay afloat” throughout the school year by giving you support, guidance, and love!
  • Cotton Ball: Counselors are full of warm fuzzies and compliments! Seek us out when you are feeling blue, and we’ll help cheer you up!

Also, I can’t find mine at the moment, but including headphones would be a great idea to remind students that counselors are great listeners.

I included these index cards “cheat sheets” in the inside of the box to help me remember the purpose of each item (just in case I forget!)

I plan on using this kit with K – 2nd graders as a way to introduce the role of the counselor in a fun, easy to understand, and engaging way. I will begin the lesson by asking students what a first aid kit is usually used for. Then, I will open the kit and choose one item at a time. I will pass the item around the room and let students feel it. I will ask students, “What is this item and what is it normally used for?” I will then ask students, “How does this item relate to what a school counselor does?” Once students have answered, I will then give them my explanation for each item.  At the end of the activity, I will ask students to summarize what they have learned with the following questions:

  • “What does a school counselor do?”
  • “How can a school counselor help you?”
  • “What is an example of a time when you might want to talk to the school counselor?”

Next, I will explain to students the self-referral process for counseling. If they would like to talk with me, they should tell their teacher. I will then work with their teacher to set up a time to meet with them as soon as I can. I will also tell students that I will be coming to their classroom once a month to talk about all sorts of important topics, such as how to be a good listener, how to stop bullying, and how to be a good student. We will be playing games, reading stories, and doing art projects together.

My K classes are 30 minutes long, so I will end the lesson here. My 1st- 4th grade lessons are 1 hour, so I will continue the lesson by reading the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We all have bad days sometimes, and it is often helpful to talk to someone who can help us get our feelings out and feel better. I thought that Alexander’s description of his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day is a great example of a time in which students may want to seek the counselor’s help, guidance, and support. Counselors can help turn Alexander’s day into a great, excellent, good, and amazing one! 😉

After reading the story, I will generate the following discussion with students:

  • Why was Alexander having such a bad day? What are some of the things that happened to him today?
  • What could Alexander have done to make his day better?
  • How could the school counselor help Alexander?
  • How could Alexander set up a time to meet with his school counselor?

Finally, I’ll close the lesson by saying that I am looking forward to working with each and every student and am so excited to be starting a new school year!

And…onto the next lesson!

Middle School Transition Video

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This video interviews current 5th grade students about their experiences thus far in middle school. The 5th graders offer advice and help normalize many of the anxious and scared feelings that incoming 5th graders may be feeling as they make the big transition over to middle school.

It’s not the most informative or well-made video, but it does a good job of introducing the topic and giving students a first-hand account of the transition to middle school. It also is a great segway into a discussion of students’ fears, nerves, and excitement about starting middle school.

 

Great Careers Resource for K-4th Graders!

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Paws in Jobland is a free, web-based program that allows students to explore a wide variety of careers in a fun and interactive way. I used this program with 1st – 4th graders, but it may be applicable to K and 5th graders as well.

First, I had my students click on “Job Finder” and take the 26 question “quiz.” This part of the program helps students figure out which career areas they may be interested in by asking them questions about their interests and abilities.

Once they finish the quiz, they are taken to “Jobland.” Each of the buildings in Jobland is assigned to a career category, for example, the school is called “Education and Training,” the town hall is called “Government and Public Administration,” and the police station is called “Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security.” Based on their answers to the “Job Finder” quiz, the program highlights which buildings, or career fields, would be most interesting to the student. When students click on a building and then on a specific career title, they can watch an interactive video that teaches them about the basic job requirements and daily life of an individual in that career.

As my 1st-2nd graders navigated through the videos, I asked them to draw a picture of the career that interests them the most on a handout that I provided to them. The 3rd and 4th graders filled out a worksheet that asks them to list and describe their top 3 career choices.

Once students have read about all of the careers that the program selected for them (based on their answers to the “Job Finder”), they can go back to the home screen and click on “Jobland.” In Jobland, they will be able to see ALL of the careers that the program offers.

Not only did the students really enjoy this activity AND learn a lot about the world of careers, but it was a GREAT way to integrate technology into my curriculum. Not to mention that it really impressed the parents, teachers, and principal! I overheard students talking about their future careers for weeks afterwards! I also provided this link on my school webpage so that students can share it with their parents.

“My Ideal Friend” Puppets

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This is a GREAT activity for a friendship or social skills group that I learned about from my best friend and counseling colleague, Sally. The activity asks students to create an “Ideal Friend” puppet that represents the qualities that they look for in a friend. As the students come to understand the type of friends that they are looking for, they will realize that “in order to HAVE good friends, you need to BE a good friend” and exemplify those qualities yourself. I did this activity with six 1st grade boys, but it could be very effective with any group of elementary-aged students!

For this activity you will need:

  • Brown paper bags (lunch sacks)
  • Markers or crayons
  • White paper strips (5/student)
  • Glue sticks

First, have students brainstorm a list of qualities that they look for in a friend. Examples include someone who is funny, nice, caring, generous, thoughtful – you get the picture. As students name these qualities, create a list for them (this will help the younger ones with spelling later!) Then, ask students to choose 5 of the qualities and write them on the white strips of paper. Next, they will glue the white strips of paper onto the back of their paper bags (the side without the flap). The back of the students’ puppets should look something like this…here is Sally’s example!

Once students have glued their five qualities onto the back of their puppets, they will have the chance to draw their ideal friend! Here is Sally’s example…(what a smile, right?!)

And my example…(what long arms, right?!)

As the students are drawing their ideal friends, generate a discussion about the qualities that they look for in a friend. Tie this discussion into the idea that in order to HAVE good friends, we have to BE a good friend. Ask students how they can be better friends and what steps they can take to make good friends here at school.

This activity was fun, educational, AND gave students something tangible to take home from group – hello, positive PR for parents, teachers, and administrators! I’ll definitely use it again in the future – and hope that you will too!