Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Play That Funky Music

I love incorporating music into my lessons, because I think it really sets the tone. So I have created several play lists for my classes.

My Current Playlist:
"Better Together"- Jack Johnson
"You Were Born"- Cloud Cult
"People Watching"- Jack Johnson
"Life Less Ordinary"- Carbon Leaf
"Let Your Troubles Roll By"- Carbon Leaf
"Safe and Sound"- Taylor Swift
"Mango Tree"-Agnus and Julia Stone
"The Wind"- Cat Stevens
"Shed Their Fear"-Yael Meyer
"Keep On Pushing"- The Impressions
"The Weight"- Aretha Franklin
"You Are The Best Thing"- Ray LaMontagne

Relaxing at the DSRR (My play list to encourage the kids to calm down and mellow. Perfect for the classes I see right after their recess.)
"Fairytale"-Enya (anything Enya is always on)
"Edwards Lullaby"- Twilight Soundtrack
"Dirty Rain"- Ryan Adams *for 6th grade and older
"Heartbeats"-Jose Gonzalez
"The Light"- The Album Leaf
"For You"- Coldplay
"Where The Road Meets The Sun"- Katie Herzig *for my middle and older kiddos
"Home"- Dierks Bentley

*Also one of my teachers shared this iTunes App for Relaxing Melodies.

Helping Hands Playlist
"With My Own Two Hands"- Jack Johnson
"You've Got A Friend In Me"- Toy Story Soundtrack
"We are Gunna Be Friends"- Jack Johnson

Get Energized Playlist
"Good People"- Jack Johnson
"Life Less Ordinary"- Carbon Leaf
"Harlem River Blues"- Justin Townes Earle
"Amazing Life"- Jem
'Pride and Joy"-Stevie Ray Vaughn
"Groove Is In The Heart"- Deee Lite
"Different People"- No Doubt
"Raise Up"- Ledisi *for my older hs students
"Stand Up"- Sugarland
"You've Got The Love"- Florence and The Machine
"Even Better"- U2
"We Take Care Of Our Own"- Bruce Springsteen

My favorite song to play for 1st and K- "Sharing Song" by Jack Johnson!

Here is a great Christmas play list created my one fun blogger I follow:  http://www.backdownsouth.com/2012/11/merry-music-monday-vol-5/

What music do you play? Share your favorite play list.

Labels and Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Labels and Self Fulfilling Prophecies

See anything funny about the wording on this kennel card? We did and so do the brand new managers of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. So starting this week, Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter will be removing all stereotypical language from their signage and describing each dog's individual personality traits rather than tired and outdated definitions. We can imagine this is going to help their adoption rate in really BIG ways too.

Thanks guys! We salute you and look forward to seeing big and happy changes roll out at your shelter. Learn more by liking Bad Rap on Facebook.

When I saw this I started thinking about labels and the self fulling prophecy.

I have seen lots of lessons on labels on Pinterest and around my school. I have seen activities where a student draws a picture of themselves and then adds labels like "smart, funny, etc." So if a child labels themselves smart will they live up to it?

When I was in school I remember learning about the idea of a self fulling prophecy and not thinking too much of it. Now I feel like I reference the idea daily. According to Wise Geek. com "The self-fulfilling prophecy is a statement that alters actions and therefore comes true. For example, a person stating “I’m probably going to have a lousy day,” might alter his actions so that such a prediction is fulfilled by his actions."

I truly believe we live up to what we think we are capable of, but also we live up to the stereotypes placed upon us. For example, if you are so certain (despite all evidence to the contrary) that pitbulls are likely to bite then you will probably be skidish around the breed and treat them differently than other dogs, maybe even be cruel to them. If the dog picks up on this and eventually becomes so scared or frustrated that they do act out, then you are going to say "see told you so."  The opposite could be true. You could believe the facts and know that this breed is snuggly, loving, compassionate, and protective; then when you treat them with love and respect and they do the same in return say see "pits are amazing" (something I say daily also.)

So the same is true for our kids. This is why I know some teachers that want to know nothing about a child's educational and behavioral past. They want to make their decisions and form their own opinions,  and thus not letting others sway how they treat a student.

The past two years I have had a student who is so attention starved that he acts out behaviorally. He is mean, hurtful, rude, and finds every way to get under you skin. Last year the kids had enough and when the teacher asked them to give input into their new seating arrangement every student in the class requested that they didn't have to sit by him. This year I feel like he is living up to that image, he is full filling his own self full-filling prophecy. If everyone hates him then he is going to do things to make them hate him. The students gave him a the nickname "not so smart" and this year I see him making "not so smart" choices.

In a recent article by the Huffington Post they posed the question "Is Bad Body Image A Self-Fulling Prophecy?" I thought this was a fascinating question. I, for one, when feeling 'fat' or 'unhappy,' tend to eat to eat junk, stay indoors, and mope. So if I feel fat and partake in activities that will in fact lead me to gain weight have I fulfilled my prophecy?

So how do we break the cycle, how do we break the prophecy?
How do we change our future? Well here are my thoughts:

1) We teach students how to use positive "I- messages." I think the "I" gives the student a sense of of ownership. If we can teach them to use positive messages then we are setting them up for a postitive frame of mind.

2) Teach our students cognitive-behavioral techniques. One of my favorite series of books is the "What To Do When..." For example in "What To Do When You Worry Too Much" there is a great chapter on talking back to your 'worry monster' and changing negative thought patterns into positive ones. By taking kids from "I'm so stupid, I am going to fail" to "I didn't do well on this test, but with more practice I'll ace the next one" we can hopefully change their prophecy.

 Have you seen the inspirational story of London? Here is dog that despite being abused and loosing his two front legs, probably never thought "I can't catch that ball." No, he probably thought really hard about what we was going to do to catch that ball and did it!

Inspirational videos I think are good to set the mood, but to really get student "buy in" I think our students need to inspire themselves.......

3) So, we need teach our students to be optimistic. Here is a Ted Ed I found from Martin Seligman on positive psychology and the 11th reason to be optimistic.

"Seligman believes that there are three different types of happy lives: the pleasant life, the engaged life, and the meaningful life." One of the dig deeper ideas is to "try what Seligman calls the “Gratitude Visit” [16:53]. Keep a written journal or a video diary to record your feelings before and after the exercise." 

What do you think?

Helping Hands

Hands are not for hitting! Hands are for helping!!

This is a must have lesson for Kindergarden (although I remember working in a high school thinking they needed this lesson too- you know the saying everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarden!)

Here is how I approached the lesson this year:

A counseling must have book.

  • I use the "Magic Coloring Book of Feelings" every year in K to introduce myself and my job. The kids sometimes see me in the hall and say "hi magic book lady." So I start my lesson with this book and it's an instant attention grabber, because they are always begging for it even if I bring it every time.

This year I couldn't find my copy of the book so my awesome music/tech teacher found it online:

  • At the  end of the book we chart what hands are for, what we NEVER do with our hands, and what we should do when we are mad. This is also when I discuss that this goes for people, belongings (throwing, ripping, etc.) and animals! I think it's really important that we include animals in this. *

*Speaking of helping hands and animals. This holiday weekend 65 wonderful, but terrified dogs were rescued from a county nearby.  These poor babies were in deplorable conditions because they were being fought and many had their teeth pulled so they could be bait dogs. I encourage you to extend your discussion to animals. Although I did not discuss this case with my class, we always discuss how to treat others and that we should treat animals the same way. It's a conversation I don't think is happening enough. 

  • After the discussion I have the students create their own hands and write two things they should use their hands for. 

  • To end, if there is time, we review the lesson and then read a book. This year I read "You'll Be Sorry." Which I actually found at Hastings for $1.50!  

*Please consider donating items or money for Operation Broken Chain and the 65 dogs that were rescued by visiting: http://animalrescuecorps.org/ or liking ARC  or Nashville Pittie on Facebook

Monday, November 19, 2012

D is for Data: No Friends We Can't Escape It

This is the face I make every year preparing for evaluations.
Today I was preparing for my evaluation this year and don't get me started because it's absurd to me. So before I get on my soap box let me focus on the current trend I see in counseling: data. We are becoming a data driven program, and the data we use is just as important as the data teachers use. We can't escape it, data data everywhere.

So what are you doing to gather data?
Here's how I am trying to incorporate my data.

First, our teachers sit down monthly for "data meetings." During this meeting our amazing intervention teacher goes through each student looking at the numbers. They discuss who is showing improvement, who needs additional help, who can move out of intervention, etc. I sit in and give them generic information "well there is so home issues I am working on with that student so just remember that when looking at the data."  These meetings are very productive, we often can't fit everything we want to into the meeting. Here is how I see my role in the meetings:
1) Reminding them of the child and the history/story behind the numbers.
2) Getting referrals for small groups (this is a great place to hear teachers talk about so and so and his/her anger).
3) Identifying the students that might slip through the cracks. I like finding the students that are doing fine, but perhaps with a small group on study skills could be even better.

Here is what I take to "Data Monday's":

Permission Forms to see students we think would benefit from a small group.
A schedule of dates for teachers and copy for each student in the group.

Sample invitation to a small group.
Since I just started attending regularly my goal is to track the students I see in small groups for two years and chart their improvement in standardized testing as well as classroom grades. Check out Mrs. Bunyi's list of "Assessments A-Z."

Mrs. Bunyi's List of Assessments A-Z

Second, surveys. I give a survey for everything. Survey Monkey is the easiest way to collect data and administer pre and post tests, so I send out surveys for everything.

Here are a few examples:
Internet Use Survey-  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KLFPQNL

What Do You Worry About- http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GZNYR2F

Team Building Survey- http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RZVP6C9

How Can Your School Counselor Help You- http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/dsrrcounselingsurvey

Here is another great self assessment I found for small groups  so students can gather their own data. I don't remember where I found it, but if I had to guess it was the ASCA Scene.

Third, I track participation. I have data showing how many parents attend my workshops, how each topic we do a workshop on does as far as participation numbers, the best times and months for workshops, numbers on how many students receive my services, etc. I have a lot of numbers.

Sample of a newsletter I sent out to teachers. It included data for our teachers to see that I don't just sit around all day.

Lastly, I look at behavior by the numbers. This year our school incorporated the behavior section of AimsWeb. It asks teachers complete a behavior survey on every child three times a year, which I know it's timely but it can be so helpful. It also asks students complete a self survey. This program has it's pro's and con's but it makes for good data.

My new favorite data tidbit! Love Pinterest.

Speaking of data, I just started following a super cute website "Life With a Pit Bull By Your Side."
She has a super cute and funny entry on data and facts. For example, did you know in Miami you can own a tiger, but not a pit bull. Also, did you know that in canine temperament tests the data shows that about 86% of pit bulls passed showing no signs of aggression, higher than many other dogs including Beagles.
Don't believe just look at the data:

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Goal Setting and Responsibility: A 4- Part Lesson

Last year I set a goal to have Brooklyn be able to get her Good Canine Citizen award. Well if you spend more than two minutes around my dog you will instantly know we didn't reach our goal. She is a catalyst of bad behavior. So this year my goal has been for her to walk in Nashville's Christmas Parade with other Nashville Pitties.

I always do a lesson on goal setting, but what good is a goal if you aren't organized enough to ensure the  steps are in place to meet it? My goal for Brooklyn was a lofty one, in fact it was too big. So we are reorganizing to reduce the stress of dog and mother. This reorganization made and the stress I put on myself to accomplish made me think about how I could change my lesson on organization.

After a lot of brainstorming and about 5 drafts here is my new lesson for 4th Grade on responsibility and organization:

Lesson 1:

We started with a scavenger hunt. I gave teams either an organized back pack or a messy back pack and a list of items. I started the timer and they were off. Most of the teams with organized back packs finished the scavenger hunt within 2-3 minutes and the teams with messy backpacks anywhere from 4-8 minutes.

They really got into this, especially because I hid stinky socks, cereal, stuffed animals, and toys in the messy backpacks. Next we discussed that if you were organized that would save you about 2 minutes per day, just enough time to recheck your work, 14 mintues in a week, enough time to read a chapter or two in your new favorite book, and about 56 minutes a month, enough time to watch an entire episode of their favorite Disney show.

We ended with a pre-test of work habits so they could identify what they specifically need to improve on.

Lessons 2/3:

We talked about responsibility and what it means. We watched the video "I Can Do It! Taking Responsibility"  which shows the students different scenarios and allows us time to stop and discuss each one.

Next we charted what kinds of responsibilities they had in 4th grade.

We then role played different responsibilities (the examples are from AIM Education) and in teams practiced what we would do. For example:

A new movie you and your best friend are dying to see has just opened up, and your friends wants the two of you to see it this Saturday. The trouble is, your science project is due on Monday, and you and your project partner agreed you would spend Saturday gathering plants in the park. What should you do?

At the end of each skit we talked about the different feelings that come with responsibility: stress, disappointment, frustration, etc.

That lead us to the postcard activity. I laid several postcards around the room each with a different picture on it. I asked the students to (in silence) find a card that represented how they feel about starting fourth grade and the new responsibilities they are taking on.

When everyone had a card we broke into small groups and shared the card we choose and why.

Next I asked everyone to set 3 goals for themselves:
1) Something they could accomplish this week.
2) Something they could accomplish in the next 2 months. (I like to remind them of their work habits pre test here)
3) Something they wanted to accomplish by the end of this school year.

We then shared our goals with our small group and then with the entire class. I collected the cards and will give them to our students in two months with a personal check in note written on each.

**In the past I have done this icebreaker with my faculty and with 6th grade. They filled out the card like an actual postcard and I mailed it to their homes half way through the year.

Lesson 4:

We continue our talk of responsibility and stress.

First in groups they draw what it feels like to be stressed. Then each group shares and we look for similarities that we all have.

Next we watch the Brain Pop on stress and at the end they go back to their drawings and surround themselves with things they can do to help alleviate their stress.

To finish our series we take the same work habits post test and see if we have improved!

Since I only see this grade once a month this 4 part series starts in Sept and ends at Christmas break. Before I know it the sleigh bells are ringing!

My Book Wish List

My amazon cart is always full of books. Right now it has almost a $100 in books sitting in my cart and I keep talk myself in and out of hitting purchase.

Here is my wish list:

I follow "Ruby" on Facebook and I love seeing all the pictures and read about all her adventures. I really want to get her "pawtograph" one day.

I went back and forth on this book when I saw it in the store. On the one hand I think I will love it, but on the other even the cover makes me want to burst into tears. I am a sap for anything animal related. I want to be brave and get through this one.

Well this one isn't on my wish list anymore, because when I went to blog about it Amazon said they only had 11 copies left in stock. Darn you Amazon and your sneaky ways. I'll let you know how it is.

Recently there was an episode of "Pitbulls and Parolees" where a young pit from Nashville was forced to leave the state for good and live with Tia at her sanctuary for the rest of her life. At first I was furious that this was her only option, but many pits don't get a second chance at life and so for that we are grateful. I have some students that I want to read this with so we can discuss second chances and not taking life for granted.

Our librarian just got a copy of this and I am itching for a copy of my own. This book is very well written and has lots of personal stories. I want to incorporate this into my lessons on judgements and fact vs. fiction.

Speaking of second chances. Here are 3 books about dogs that have all over come struggles. What inspiration!

Amazon got me again! This one came up as a recommendation and it's like Amazon knows I can't say no to that cover.

I might be spending half my holiday gift budget on myself this year =/

Down the Rabbit Hole

This is actually an entry about time, and when I thought of time I thought of Alice In Wonderland.

Here are my current favorite timers. I use these in small groups, in the classroom, and for individual students that have trouble staying on task.

Timer Tools- This software is loaded on my computer so I can easily pull it up on the SmartBoard. There are a variety of clocks; a countdown timer, hourglass timer, stop watch, and spot light timer are among the many.

Visual Timer-  One of our students with Autism had this one day and I fell in love. On a whim I asked our Central Office if I might have a few to check out to teachers and I got two! (Never hurts to ask right!) If I had a limitless budget I would get every teacher in my school one of these clocks. It runs on a battery and you can set it to however much time you are assigning to a project. The red it a nice visual for students about how much time they have and it disappears as their time decreases. I especially love the three sizes, the small is great to put on a students desk and the largest is perfect for the entire class to see.

Sand Timers- I love "old fashioned" sand timers. I have picked up a few on clearance at Kohls and stores such as TJ Maxx. I love them as decor as well as for practical use.

Diabetes: A paws-itively great lesson on health

Diabetes and Dogs make for an incredible class.
This week we had two special guests visit our students in 2nd-6th grade! 

The first was Mrs. Reeves, a mother at my school and a diabetic herself. She read this book with our students:

Product Details

The Great Katie Kate Discusses Diabetes by M. Maitland DeLand 

The class then discussed what they knew about diabetes and she explained what it meant to live with diabetes. It was so interesting to hear our students discuss this matter. Many of them shared they believed you got diabetes from eating too much candy and that it meant if you had it you couldn't ever have cake or sugar again. She discussed myths (that it is contagious) and explained how they tracked carbs not sugar.

Next Ann Walling, Owner and Trainer of the Diabetic Alert Dog program Borderland explained to our kids how she trains dogs to help alert a diabetic when their sugars are too low or high. She demonstrated the training process, explained the science behind it, and then demonstrated what an alert looks like. What was so interesting was that during the demonstration wonder dog Minnie alerted to Mrs. Reeves to check her blood sugar levels. When Mrs. Reeves did, sure enough she was low!

I loved this new spin on our health lesson on diabetes and health. It was a great way to get parents, stakeholders, and the kids involved.

Our librarian just got this book in so students can continue to learn more about diabetes:

Product Details

Even Superheroes Get Diabetes (Insulin Comics) by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and Micah Chambers-Goldberg (May 1, 2007)