Friday, February 22, 2013

Sugary Self Esteem

Today I was stress eating donuts because I never got paid. I always reach for sugar when stressed, so isn't it funny that my self esteem group is called "The Cupcake Club."

Last semester I had a "Jelly Bean Self Esteem" group, and I have many repeat participants so I wanted something new. So I stole this the idea from "Elementary School Counseling". It's the perfect follow up to my Jelly Bean group.

First we read "Cupcake" a great story about a cute vanilla cupcake who feels out of place being just ole vanilla. Cupcake tries to become more exciting and ends up making a friend who loves cupcake for cupcake.

Next we started working on our "Cupcake Journals." Many of the pages I got from "Elementary School Counseling," and several others I drew by hand.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


My little girl is spoiled, and I swear it's like she has no idea she is a rescue. Sometimes I giggle and look  at her and think about the fact that she doesn't know any different; she thinks the life of a puppy is sleeping, eating, playing, and loving.

I have an individual student I work with that does not know that life. She is your "at risk " kid in a nutshell. Well a few weeks ago we were talking about her birthday, which was amazing, but she kept focusing in on the fact that she didn't get what she wanted. Forget that her mom tried to throw her a party, they had a special dinner, I gave her a special Valentine, she didn't get what she wanted.

Then I happened across a pin on Pinterest which lead me to a great blog: " Jenny's Sketchbook." The author has amazing art talent and started her own gratitude journal. I loved looking at the colorful pages and since my kiddo loves art as well, I had an idea:  We would make her own gratitude journal!

I am not even remotely as talented artistically, but I started a few pages to get her thinking and left several blank for her own ideas. She is loving the discussion of gratitude as much as me.
What was interesting about this was how hard it was for her to think of words that described her.  

You have 45 seconds to judge me....

Not really, but that's what today's lesson is about. Making snap judgements based on things we have read or have seen on the internet and using our eyes to judge people, instead of getting to know them.

This lesson has several activities and stopping points for discussion and I have done it with 3rd- 6th grade, but you could easily do it with middle school and yes I would do it with high school.

First, I like the students to have an open discussion so I remind them of our socratic seminar rules.

Then using the smart board I showed them this pup and asked:

I let the students openly share their judgements about the dog and have discussion about what they would do and think if they saw him at the park, etc.

Then I let them meet Jack Frost, the after of the dog above!
Read more about this sweet boy and his journey here:

After we discussed first impressions I let the students play the shoe detective game. I do this game almost every year so you can read about it more here:

The game is very easy and fun, but best of all your teachers will love you because it ties in critical reading and thinking skills such as using schema and evidence to create an inference.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Top Dog Books....Collaboration With Your Librarian

First, I have to brag on my good friend, our school librarian, Mrs. Svarda for being school and district teacher of the year. She is simply amazing at everything she does. One of the many things she excels in is collaboration, and I am always taking advantage of it.

Here is this months Top Dog book display. For those of you who are new to my blog, my character education program is called "Top Dogs" and you can read more about it here.

Today one of the most amazing mom's ever helped me amp up my display. First, we had paw prints leading to the book display with a rug I got in the dollar bin at Target. It's a fun way to draw student to my display while reminding them (through my brand) that this probably has something to do with counseling.

We add some fun paw displays and surrounded the books with words that you may find in the definition our character education word of the month- "caring."

Before you bark...

Here is my version of the famous THINK bulletin board....

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The single best tip I have gotten this year.

 I want to share a tip that our counseling supervisor shared with me this year. It has to be one of the single best tips I have gotten this year! Often when students are angry, frustrated, mad, upset, struggling we say "Do you need help?" and then probably follow up it with a little talk that goes something like :

Teacher: "When you need help you need to ask an adult for help. I can't help you when you get upset, you need to use your words and calm down."
Student: cries get louder
Teacher: "Use your words. What do you say when you are upset?"

 Well as my supervisor pointed out many of our students don't have the maturity or skills to do this yet. When we ask them if they want help we are teaching them that if they get frustrated enough and melt down, then someone will step in and help. So instead of asking when the student gets upset just look at them and say "I need help." That's it. Model the words you want them to use.

Sounds crazy right, well I tried it out this week. I was working with a student that just won't complete any work. I could see he was getting frustrated so I said " I need help."  He looked at me puzzled so I continued "I would be glad to help you....." We did a problem together and I let him continue alone. A little while later I could see that same look so I said "I need help" and we repeated the scenario. As if on cue (seriously it was straight out of a training video) another girl walked up and said "Ms. Filtness can you help me?" I went above and beyond with the "Yes_____ I would LOVE to help you. Thanks for asking for help." You would have thought she won the lottery. About two minutes later my student looked and me and said "I need help." I almost fainted with excitement. He got it!

I shared this strategy with another teacher who has a student that melts down. We are creating a cool down area for him and I suggested when he got upset to just say "I need to go to my cool down spot." Today he melted she used the cue and I am happy to report he pouted right over to his spot. I'll blog more on this later, but I had to share this tip!

Saw this on FB and fell in love. Had to share.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Happy National School Counseling Week

It's National School Counseling Week!!Yay!!!

This year I decided I had to celebrate and advocate for my program (and all of you). So here is my week, what are you doing?


This month’s Top Dog word is courage. Courage means being brave and meeting a challenge without giving in to fear.This week is National School Counseling week! Do you know about all of the special things school counselors do? Counselors help students face their fears and encourage students to be brave every day.
This week to celebrate National School Counseling week Ms. Filtness is hosting a trivia challenge. Each day we will read a trivia question about Ms. Filtness and her program. If you think you know the answer write the answer, your full name, and teachers name on a piece of paper and turn it in to Ms. Filtness by lunch. Winners will be announced at the end of the day.