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?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Oops I went book shopping.

Oops I did a little bit of book shopping today! Here's a sample of what I got:

The Black Book of Colors

I love the sensory text and how it also incorporates braille. What a great way to introduce what it is like for students to be blind and awareness of differences. I think my special education teachers are going to love it.


What do you do when you get a kite stuck in a tree? What do you do when you have a problem that needs to be solved?  I love this book for problem solving. 

I love this book for kids to imagine what it would be like if there were a bear. What a fun way to introduce empathy! I love this idea of having kids research nonfiction animals and then create a video of what that animal would do if there were human with a career. 

I love that this story covers so many things. You can use it to talk about the real Ron McNair and his journey in becoming an astronaut to focus on the non fiction elements. You can also use it to talk about tolerance, perseverance, or career interests. It really is a book you can pull out and use for so many topics it's a great book to have on the book shelf. 
This book is so fun. You could talk use it as a fun to way to introduce lessons on safety (running down the stairs causes E to fall), tattle vs. telling (E is hurt should be tell?), teachers could borrow it to talk about the letter "e", you could talk about friendship (when all E's friends come to help him feel better), and even how everyone on a team is important (how 'e' is used in the English language.)

I once had a student make me a poster based on the illustration of this book. I loved it. How fun would it be for students to do make their own version- "How friends really work" (as written by Sheldon Cooper) or "How could students work" etc. 

This is a great book to talk to students about a tough feeling.  Perfect for young students and students on the spectrum. 

A fun book to talk about hygiene and loving someone even when their breath stinks. 

Do you have a students who really really really wants something, only to get it and they don't want it anymore? This book is for you. I think this would be fun for jealousy (always wanting what someone else wants), patience, and thinking big decisions through. 

I love this story because it reminds me of the "Who Would Win" series. I do a how would win type lesson for careers- who should get paid more? The kids enjoy it. This will be fun to read with them. I also love the dialogue in this book and having the kids figure out how the characters are feeling as the story continues. 

This is such a fun book. I love all the different topics you can use it for. Believing in your dreams (even if you are a pig that wants to fly), not giving up, asking for help, encouraging others, being a good friend, and more. I also love these books are perfect for students to do as readers theaters to practice taking turns.

I'm going to focus on improving attendance this year, so I can't wait to use this funny book about being at school on time.  Plus it's written by Steve Martin and comes with a fun cd and sing along for large classrooms. Maybe I can collaborate with our music teacher?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Welcome New Readers

Welcome New Readers! 

Brooklyn and Boss Take Over My Program

I had the privilege of going to #ASCA16 this week and boy, oh boy, did I meet some amazing people. Not only did I learn from presenters, I learned from those sitting next to me, the brave wonderful souls that came to my session, and my co-workers who kept up with me as I searched New Orleans to find a dog toy for my pups.

I'll post more about the amazing sessions in a bit (and maybe after a needed nap), but for now I want to share a little about what else: DOGS! Ok stop shaking your head. This is really about infusing your passion into your program. So it doesn't have to be dogs, in fact those that know me know cats are first and foremost my love and are often surprised I have a dog theme. So what is your passion? Sports, cars, food? Infuse your passion in your program and I promise it will ignite a fire.

I met some wonderful women this weekend and gained some new sweet Twitter friends and several asked about how I use my dogs in my program. (Shameless plug : you can also follow them on Instagram). So here is goes:

First, a disclaimer. I use the term "brand" loosely. If are you truly wanting to "brand" your program my I suggest visiting The Counseling Geek site and reading more about my ASCA14 trip. I would say my dogs are a predominant theme/presence  in my program. Here's how they influence what I'm doing:

Brooklyn Barks Newsletter/ Brochures- each month I send out a newsletter about my counseling program affectionately titled "Brooklyn Barks News." In it I have "Brooklyn Bytes" - technology tidbits, "Brooklyn's Blue Ribbon Books"- book suggestions for teachers, etc.

I also send out a bi-annual data newsletter. You can see my end of the year newsletter here.
 There is also a newsletter for NSCW.

Read it here!

The also make an appearance in my program brochures!

Program Services

Meet Your Counselor

Stuffed Brooklyn and Boss:
Brooklyn took over my principals office. Ignore the pills she had just had eye surgery.
Brooklyn and Boss make a yearbook appearance. 
A few years ago I won a "crazy dog mom contest" by this wonderful company, Fuzzy Nation, that sadly isn't around anymore.  Our librarian and her kids wrote a list of ten crazy things I did (always bought them gifts, read the bedtime stories, etc.) and I added #11- "I don't think of of these are crazy." Well I won this larger than life stuffed statue of Brooklyn.  So she started coming to school with me. I put her in the hallway, with large butcher paper or poster board speech bubble cut outs. The speech bubble was changed periodically and said anything from "Welcome new K students" to "Be pawsitive today." I loved it. The kids loved it TOO much and Brooklyn ended up getting scratched and hurt.
So I got a smaller one of Boss (well it's not really Boss but don't tell the kids.) This guys goes with me on the morning news, sits in my window sill to greet the kids coming in, sometimes visits a very lucky and well behaved classroom guidance class, and more. 

Classroom Management: I honestly think getting a dog was the best classroom management "class" I ever had. You can read why here .

I have 3 classroom rules, but we call them "Brooklyn's B's for Best Behavior" I have these signs hanging in the room and we often start class with a picture of Brooklyn and Boss not following each of the rules and discuss what they need to be doing differently. It's a fun, quick way to remind students of our rules. This is going to be a lot of fun when we use these same rules as our school wide PBIS rules next year.
Not respectfully giving our friends personal space!

For positive reinforcement I use several things. Remember, I teach two full days a week so I feel like a part time teacher sometimes. I use Class Dojo, but also the "put your name in a cup" system.
Here's how it works. I have 6 books (and Cosmo) displayed at the back of the room. When a student is being respectful, responsible, and remarkable they can put their name in a cup. The books are numbered and so are the dog cups. At the end of the month I pick one name from each cup and that student wins that book to keep forever. I get books from local used book stores, collaborate with our librarian to use scholastic dollars, and even have had parents donate them. I love books so I don't mind spending some money out of pocket, and it's awesome to see kids work for books!

For classroom "corrections" we have a 3- step system. First, they get a laminated yield sign as a non verbal reminder to slow down and make better choices. Second, they get a laminated stop sign and a reminder to take a break at our relaxation center (which I am totally re thinking after ASCA), and third they fill out a behavior reflection sheet and get a write up. Since I have lots to carry around I use this home depot belt to keep my reminders handy.

*Yes, most of my clothing is dog inspired as well!!

Class Decor: I am in the special area rotation 2 days a week and I use a classroom shared by 2 other art teachers. That's right! 3 teachers, 1 room (and two of them are art!). So to help differentiate my stuff I incorporated my dog theme. Also, throughout the building my displays often have a dog theme, so stake holders know - hey this is school counseling related!
 You can see more here and pictures of my office decor here .

Classroom Guidance: Dogs are everywhere here.  First, if i can I will share a pup story related for to our topic. For example, if we are talking about anger management  and conflict resolution I might start out by sharing this picture.
Brooklyn not respectfully sharing.

The kids love it because it humanizes me. You know the "omg you actually exist out of school" looks and talk. By connecting the lesson to the pups, I am not only making myself approachable, but also making a connection to our kids. Did you know that AVMA says that 69,926,000 dogs are owned in the US?

Of course, if possible I use a dog themed book. So for example, instead of reading If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, we read If You Give A Dog A Cupcake. Instead of The Boy That Cried Wolf we read The Dog That Cried Woof! When we do bucketfilling we read Halle and Tiger with Their Bucketfilling Family.  

Or when we are talking about team work I might share these videos:

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Thursday, July 7, 2016

New book buys

Here are a few books I picked up this week, that I am excited about for next year:

With the help of his imaginary friend, Weasel, Ellison finds his very own voice - a jazzy sound that charms all the other animals!" (

How I want to use:  This comes with a CD so it would be a great read aloud for students (I can save my voice) to talk about friendship and finding your talent. I also think this would be a great book to lend teachers to continue the lesson in the classroom. They can use it as a Daily 5 station and the students can listen to the cd.

"This endearing friendship story about a boy and his dog from a Pulitzer Prize–winning writer gently explores a timeless question: who’s really in charge?
Meet Sid. He’s an ordinary kid. He’s far from perfect. But to Murphy, Sid’s faithful dog, Sid is the whole world. Murphy thinks Sid is the absolute best—and that he’s in charge of everything.
Sid loves Murphy right back, but he can’t help but wonder what Murphy would think if he realized the truth: Sid’s just a kid, and Murphy’s just a dog, and neither one can control the world." (

Topics to cover with this book: self control, friendship, respecting adults/teachers, rules, perfectionism, self acceptance and self esteem, etc.

"A boy rides a bicycle down a dusty road. But in his mind, he envisions himself traveling at a speed beyond imagining, on a beam of light. This brilliant mind will one day offer up some of the most revolutionary ideas ever conceived. From a boy endlessly fascinated by the wonders around him, Albert Einstein ultimately grows into a man of genius recognized the world over for profoundly illuminating our understanding of the universe. "  (