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.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Midnight Lesson Idea

Sleeping before school starts is the worst! However, it does lead to some midnight lesson ideas.

I recently got this book, The Black Book of Colors.

"Living with the use of one's eyes can make imagining blindness difficult, but this innovative title invites readers to imagine living without sight through remarkable illustrations done with raised lines and descriptions of colors based on imagery. Braille letters accompany the illustrations and a full Braille alphabet offers sighted readers help reading along with their fingers. This extraordinary title gives young readers the ability to experience the world in a new way."  (

About the same time my librarian texted me about introducing this amazing graphic novel, El Deafo

"Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.

Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school--in the the teacher's the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it's just another way of feeling different... and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend? " (

And then my brain started going crazy!!

Icebreaker activity- Marshmallow Game:
1) Build a structure using marshmallows and toothpicks. Hide it somewhere where the students can't see. I use about 5 marshmallows and 4 toothpicks. You don't have to make it overly complex.

2) Break the students into teams. Each team needs to assign the following jobs (you can rename however you want):

Eyes- this will be the only person who can see the structure.

 Ears- this person will listen to the "eyes" and relay the information to the "mouth". 

Mouth- Listens to "ears" and shares information with the rest of the team. 
Hands- the rest of the team who listen to the mouth and build the structure. If your class is too small you can just assign eyes, ears, hands. 

* Deal breakers: I limit the time they have to assign each role. If they can't all agree their team is disqualified. Once you have decided you can't change jobs. Again, once you have a job you have to keep it or your job is disqualified.

3) How it works- (I will explain the role of each person and the game before we play.) 

I will take the "eyes" to see the sculpture. Only they can see it and they can go back as many times as they want to see it. They can NOT touch it or move it. They must then describe what they see to the "ears". Then the the "ears" describe what they heard to the "mouth." I stress the importance of whispering so other teams can't hear you. Think of this like a game of telephone. The "mouth" then tells the "hands" what he/she heard. The "mouth" can NOT touch the materials. The "hands" are the builders who must recreate the sculpture.

4) I walk around to monitor the teams and the first team to recreate the sculpture wins. 
*Deal breakers- if your team gets beyond a whisper you will be disqualified, using unkind words or being disrespectful will also get you out of the game. 

5) Come together to process the game. Discuss what worked, what didn't, what team building skills they had to use, what team skills they would improve if they did it again, and most importantly how they used their senses to accomplish the job.

*An alternative version of this can be found at:

Next, Share El Deafo with a book trailer. 

Trailer follow up discussion questions:
*What did they notice in the trailer?
*What are they wondering?
* What are the challenges the main character is facing?
* If you couldn't hear, what daily challenges would you face?