Friday, January 6, 2017

Student Grouping- Boys Vs. Girls

Before break, I was in the gym most of my day, which meant I got to observe a lot of my students (and during a holiday game I may or may not have thrown a ball at a few of them who love a good power struggle).

 I noticed that most of the time the teacher divided them up into boy and girls and it made me start thinking about how I group students. Then winter break hit, and let's be honest I did not think about it much more because:

Then yesterday I saw this amazing idea from Smitten With First.

As I was reading it, I thought "ugh boys vs. girls again!"

Now let me start by saying, I LOVE this game/idea and I plan on using a version of it in my own class. For example, how fun would it be to have feeling words on the board and as I am reading a story a student could throw the ball at the word of how the character is feeling? I mean the possibilities are endless. It does not surprise me that this amazing idea came from a district teacher of year. I have such high respect for Michelle Hudgeons and the amazing work she does.

Here is why I took pause: I keep pondering the idea of boys vs. girls  as grouping for games. I have a few students that identify, or I believe is starting to, identify as another gender. I bet you have students that identify as a different gender or are starting to notice that they want to.  The research and articles about transgender students are endless, important, and relative. A recent article in the NY Times stated, that "some developmental psychologists say that children as young as 2 or 3 can express a gender identity that is at odds with one defined by the genitalia." 

So I thought about what it must be like for them when I call out boys vs. girls. I think of the "male" student that feels more comfortable with the "girls" and has told me how much "he" loves "girl things and being a girl." I wonder if they feel that twitch of desire to go with the other team. I worry that I am subconsciously creating more barriers and reinforcing stereotypes. I cringe thinking that I have made a student uncomfortable. I get angered by the sheer lack of creativity it feels like I have when grouping. 

So I started making a list of ways I could divide classes in teams:

- birthday months
- clothing color
- hair color (although having done self portraits with students for years, I am still shocked when students ask me what color hair they have).
- eye color
- those who own a dog and those that don't

Not a bad start.

 I have seen many lists on how to line up students, but when you are trying to create teams with equal number of participants (or close) on each team- how can you do it without saying boys vs. girls? 

So here's my question to you: how would you group for teams that isn't boys vs. girls?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Everyone Loves Bacon! A lesson on popularity, fitting in, and being yourself.

Last month I read The Invisible Boy  with a class and the conversation turned to popularity, fitting in and being yourself. The conversation was so good we needed a follow up lesson. Here it is: 

ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors (Domain/Standard):  
Mindsets: 1. Belief in development of whole self, including a healthy balance of mental, social/ emotional and physical well-being 3. Sense of belonging in the school environment
Behavior- Social Skills:
2. Create positive and supportive relationships with other students5. Demonstrate ethical decision-making and social responsibility6. Use effective collaboration and cooperation skills 7. Use leadership and teamwork skills to work effectively in diverse teams 8. Demonstrate advocacy skills and ability to assert self, when necessary 9. Demonstrate social maturity and behaviors appropriate to the situation and environment

Student Learning Objectives: I can create a definition of popularity. I can work in a group, with a partner, and by myself. I can explain what it means to fit it.

Materials: Everyone Loves Bacon, paper bags, markers or crayons, I Wish slips of paper, post it notes or scrap paper.

 As a table/ group discuss what they think is the definition of popularity. You can also have them discuss what it means to fit in. Then on a post it note or scrap papers ask them to write down their definition of popularity and/or fitting in. This will be a working definition they can change and add to  throughout class. 

Next, read and discuss Everyone

Loves Bacon.  Discuss how the books relates to popularity and fitting in. We also talked about self esteem/confidence vs. cocky and arrogant. If possible (because the class has had previous lesson) ask how it relates to The Invisible Boy. You can also discuss feeling comfortable with yourself and the pressure to fit in.

Next we played a quick game of  Quiz Quiz Trade for review.

Then, I asked students to think about the discussion they had today and the book and go back to their definition. They could add on, change, etc. and then they turned in for their exit ticket.

Next, ask students to think about a time they might have hidden something about themselves because they wanted to fit in. I asked them to think of things they have been scared to share for fear of fitting in.  
Each student then got to decorate their paper bags with things we know about them, that they are comfortable sharing, that anyone might know about them that isn’t private. I had a bag as an example.  
Then ask students fill out the I Wish slips; I wish my teacher knew.... I wish my class knew..... I wish my parents knew.....and I wish.....,  These slips went inside of their bags, because they are often hidden and take a lot of courage to share. If time allows, students may share their answers.  
Lastly I invite students to leave their bags with me if they want me to know something about them that is on the inside. I took them home over the weekend and read and wrote notes back to the students. 
A student with Down's shared she wished her class knew how scared she got in crowds. 
Plan for Evaluation: How will each of the following be collected? 
Process Data: number of classes taught, number of students in each class
Perception Data:  Number of students able to create a definition of popularity/fitting in. Number of students able to answer QQT game questions.
Outcome Data:  Number of student self referrals about concerns about fitting in or popularity. Number of student self referrals for peer relationships (including bullying and friendship).

Follow Up:  Teacher will be given a copy of Lady Pancake and French Toast for follow up in morning meeting.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

A Peak At Nov's Lessons

Here's what I am doing in Nov. What are you doing?

K- Problem and Solving

We did this FREEBIE color sheet of different situations together to discuss tattle vs. telling. Heads up this is a tough sheet for them so we went slowly. You could also do a big/small problem sort.

Next, we discussed how we can solve small problems by watching Kelso.  I also found this great Big Deal/Little Deal Prezi online.
After that we went back to our color sheet and spun a Kelso wheel I created online to figure out solutions would work. We acted out our problems and solutions. If time allowed we colored our own solution wheels.

I'm clearly no artist. 
In first grade, we are talking about anger management.
First, we read Grumpy Gloria. After reading, we folded long construction paper over to make a book. On the first page we did a "Grumpy Me" cover.

Then on the first page we drew something that makes you grumpy.  
After that we read How To Dinosaur's Say I'm Mad and practiced the two strategies in the book. First we counted to 10 and then we did Belly Breathing on GoNoodle.
After that we added another page to our book by drawing us belly breathing and the back cover was us happy.

3rd Grade- We are talking about coping skills.
First, we read and discussed Silly Billy.  Before reading we made predictions and observations about the book and then checked in as we read to see if they were coming true. We took a brain break to practice our own ways of relaxing by doing Chillax on GoNoodle.
Then we made guesses as to what coping skills were and then I introduce coping skill's using Counselor Keri's Interactive Notebook. Next, we identified the coping skills seen in the story and then used the notebook to pick out and color 4 of our own coping skills.  45 minutes flew by!

5th Grade- We are problem solvers.
First we read and discussed one of my new favorite books What Do You Do With A Problem?  After reading we discussed ways we could solve your own problem using a problem solving tip chart I created with our school mascot. We also discussed what a silver lining is.

Afterwards I gave each student a small sheet of paper and asked them to write down or a real problem they had had this year at school. If they couldn't think of one they could make one up. I gave them a heads up that someone else was reading it, so if it was too personal they could write that down and give it to me and make up another problem. After they were written we threw all our problems into a snowball and everyone grabbed a new paper. Next, they had to find the silver lining in that problem and then if possible come up with one solution.
You can also use this silver lining FREEBIE.

Here is a great silver lining activity to go along with the lesson. I also highly recommend the book It's Tough To Lose Your Balloon.
Also, here is a "silver lining" idiom study.

Friday, October 14, 2016

What book should I buy?

I hear this question all the time! What books should I buy?
Well there isn't an easy answer, because the answer is different for everyone.

First, look at your data! Do a stakeholder survey of topics that are most relevant to them.  I use Google Drive to create an easy Google Form that I can email to parents and teachers. I can also put it online for students. Also, check out your referrals. What are you getting the most referrals for? Next,  check your current inventory, do you have books on those topics? If not, start there! If bullying is not a top issue in your school, but study skills are then you know what books will be getting the most use. So as much as I love the Weird Series for bullying, I would start putting my funds towards books like Annie's Plan.

What is the focus of your school? Where are you heading? I have tons of books on friendship, but I noticed this year I needed more books on handling stress and more titles geared towards our PBIS focus.

Look at your scope and sequence. When I plan out my year of classroom guidance lessons I always partner it with a book. This helps me gauge what topics I might need, but also helps me focus on what books I really want to use.

What do others love? Some titles are must haves like Mr. Peabody's Apples or What If Everybody Did That?. Check out what other counselors are using all the time.

Here are some of my favorite titles:

Here are some authors you can't go wrong with:

Jarrett Krosoczka

Todd Parr

Corey Rosen Schwartz

Mo Willems

Need more ideas? Check out my Good Reads page here:

The where and how of picking the right book!

Recently I presented on my favorite topic- books! How to use them, share them, and get your students and teachers loving them too. I got some great feedback about wanting to know more about how to find books and then how to decide if it's the right book for you. So here are my tips on picking the right book for you:

Is it the right book for me?

* First, how will you use this book?  Who will your audience be?
Some books are great for classroom lessons, but some are better for small groups. For example, in class I need a book that would be engaging for all students and appropriate for a variety of levels. However, in small groups I can pick books that are more specific to that population. Also, for my ELL students or students on the spectrum I might need a book that's more straight forward and has a limited number of idioms or figurative language. So when I am reading the book I am always thinking who will I be reading this to?

*Next, think about the specific class you are reading to. just because a book is great for a grade level doesn't mean it's great for a class. All classes have their own unique personalities. I have some 5th graders that love Todd Parr and some that would boo when I pulled him out. So know your class and their maturity level. Worst case they do boo and then you know for the future. Also, have your students give you feedback. I am always asking my students to tell me what their favorite books where. I am also not afraid to ask them if we should read it again or if it would be better for a different grade level.

* Ask yourself what is your purpose? What are you trying to accomplish? Are you able to accomplish that by reading this book? Then look at your standards. So if I know I want to have students  in 1st learn how to take turns then I might pick and Elephant and Piggie book. Looking at my standards I know that I could have them do a readers theatre which is age appropriate and allows them to demonstrate they have mastered by goal.

*Check out the ending! I've picked up some amazing books that I thought would rock only to get to the end. For example, a lot of adorable picture books that involve bullying or friendship have "miracle endings" where everything is magically better or believe the problem is solved when one character gets eaten. So if my purpose is teaching my students how to apologize or solve an conflict with a friend I need to see that happen in the book. It's like how you never see anyone on sitcoms go clean toilets- you want it be realistic. That being said some times I love using books as just a fun introduction to a lesson. I use lots of silly, fun books to grab their attention. I've even asked my students to write their own ending for some books.  

*Look at the length! The best picture books are ones that are quick and short. Too many words and they get bored. Practice reading it and time yourself. Think about the attention span of your students and also the length of your lesson. I've picked up really awesome books before, but they were too wordy.  A great picture book is focused and fun.

Where to find a purchase your books:

I don't know about you but I get a ton of "counseling" catalogs with hundreds of titles. 
There are some I love like Free Spirit Publishing and NCYI, but don't limit yourself. Some of my favorite books came from the kids section at Barnes and Noble. Venture out of the self help and psychology section and just hit up the kids section. 

Favorite websites to search for good titles:

Purchasing the book with little or no money:

Beg and borrow from other counselors or the public library
Check out local used book stores- our local McKay's gives teachers $25 a year to spend

No money?
Watch books on Storylineonline, Bookflix, or
You Tube for book trailers or to watch it online.
You can always create your own book or read another counselor's awesome creation at

Need more information about the book? Want to know what others think?

Check out reviews on Goodreads and Common Sense Media

What are your tips on picking a good book?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

September Lesson Plans

Finally getting around to sharing what I've been up to. What a school year!!

Here's what we are doing in our class in September. I'll upload my lesson plans to Google Drive and keep updating them there so check it out here.
K and 1st: Let's Listen

We started by reading Interrupting Chicken.  Then we practiced our skills by learning the chicken dance on Go Noodle.
Then we talked about all the body parts it takes to listen (eyes, ears, body, brain, etc).  We then met Howard B Wigglebottom who is also learning how to listen. After watching our story,
we practiced again by playing Freeze It on Go Noodle.
Follow up: We did a cut and paste activity about whole body listening.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Perfectly Messed Up Books

I share a classroom with 2 art teachers! There's a lot of supplies in that room. Last year I really struggled with my students taking care of our supplies, especially my books. It was made worse when they had a sub! So I was so excited to purchase A Perfectly Messed-Up Story by Patrick McDonnell. It's the perfect book to talk to students about taking care of books and our supplies.

Its an adorable story just going along, until the reader starts to make a mess!

Since I am day dreaming about RAMPing up, I am writing all my lessons in the ASCA template this year. Which lead to me to brain storm ways I can gather perception data (i.e. % correct on team quiz and number of students that can complete exit ticket). So I created a freebie packet to partner with the book.