Monday, March 26, 2012

Bullying Academy

Recently, I received an email advertising the Bullying Academy.  This is a grant funded, web-based program for students in grades 4th-8th.  I decided to try it out with my 4th and 5th grade classes.  First, you have to register your school, and then each student registers and receives a user name and log-in.  For my first guidance lesson, I had time to explain what the academy was, help students log-in, and then take a "pre-quiz." The pre-quiz assesses what students already know about bullying.  That's as far as we have gotten so far, but myself and my students are very excited to pick it back up next week!

Once the students take their pre-quiz, they begin a series of lesson modules that include articles, information, and videos on what bullying is, why kids bully, what to do when someone is bullying you, and cyber-bullying.  The website has "follow along" worksheets for each grade level that the students can fill out while going through the lessons.  I know that this will be important for my students to ensure they read and not just skip to the videos!  After all the students have finished the lessons, there is a post-quiz to assess what they have learned.

My students are using Ipads to complete the Bullying Academy, and I think it will be a very engaging lesson and a new way of learning about bullying.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Positive Thought Thinking Caps

Today, I started talking to 3rd graders about preparing for our state tests.  They don't start until mid-May, but 3rd grade is the 1st year they take them, and they have to take reading, math, science, and social studies.  Unfortunately, this bring lots of nervousness and test taking anxiety, which we know can actually create lower scores.  So, that's where I come in.  I plan on doing a couple classroom guidance lessons on thinking positive thoughts, study tips, following directions carefully, relaxation techniques, etc.

Today's lesson was thinking positive thoughts.  First, we read and discussed "The Attitude Patrol: A Lesson About the Importance of Positive Thinking," from the book More Lively Lessons for Classroom Sessions, by Rosanne Sheritz Sartori.  If you click on the link to the book you can view it, as well as, a sample of the lesson I read today. Next, we brainstormed positive things the kids could say to themselves right before taking a test.  They came up with a great list (I can do it, be positive, I'm smart, I'm going to get an A+, all I need to do is try my best, relax).

Finally, we made "Thinking Caps."  Below is a picture.  They folded the large size construction paper into a paper hat and then decorated them with thought bubbles that included our positive brainstorms.  I also brought in lots of stickers they could use to decorate.  At the end of the lesson, the teacher collected them and agreed to pass them back out for their next test.  I truely believe that having their positive thought thinking caps on will help to improve their confidence and scores, hopefully!! :)

Please excuse the seal. He was just my model!  The kids LOVED these hats. I'd love to hear about other creative ideas you have for helping my 3rd graders with test anxiety.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Stranger Danger

Saturday a local headline read, "Police say man tried to enter a child's window at Roanoke County apartment."  You can read the article by clicking the link on the headline.  This was a very scary story where a man tried to reach in an unlocked ground level apartment window and grab an 8 year old little girl.  Luckily, the man ran when the little girl screamed. While we like to believe that cases like these are rare, it served as a reminder of the importance of teaching our children the potential threat of strangers and important safety tips.  So, this week in guidance 1st and 2nd graders got a good review of "stranger danger."

First, I had students tell me what they already knew about stranger safety and this created very good discussion. Next, I read The Bernstein Bears Learn About Strangers and we talked about a few more safety tips.
To end the lesson, we started watching The Safe Side Stranger Safety DVD. It is about 40 mins long, so my plan is to finish the video next guidance lesson and follow it with some fun printable activities (see below).  Below is a picture of the video that I have. However, it looks like a new one was released in 2011.  My kids LOVE this movie.  It is hilarious, and they have GREAT safety tips for kids. You can also find lots of good resources such as lesson plans, safety week ideas, and printable activities for kids at

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Book Fair Success

I apologize for the lack of posts this week.  We had our 5th grade writing state test, and this is my 1st year serving as Co-Testing Coordinator.  Needless to say, its been a crazy busy week! So, to reward myself for all my hard work, my sister and I took a trip to the Green Valley Book Fair, just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia. The book fair is about 2.5 hours away, but my sister is an Elementary School Librarian, and we are both obsessed with finding good children's books at affordable prices.  Here is a description from their website to give you a glimpse of just how great this book fair is.

Our Story...
Located just south of Harrisonburg, Virginia, in the heart of the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, the Green Valley Book Fair is a discount book outlet store featuring over 500,000 new books at incredible bargain prices. Save 60% to 90% off retail on over 30,000 different titles in more than 60 different categories - including fiction, history, health and self-help, children's books, religion, science, sports, cooking, home and garden, crafts, art, reference, nature and outdoors, and more. 

Now for the fun part.....Here are the counseling books I bought:
These 3 books were hardback copies in GREAT condition for $5.75 or less.

I also bought Me First, Listen Buddy, Hooway for Wodney Wat, Hurty Feelings, and Batter Up Wombat, all by Helen Lester, in paperback for only $2.50 each.  The grand totoal for 8 fabulous books was only 28.00!  I'm very excited to use these books in the upcoming weeks during my guidance lessons. The kids are going to love them.  If you live anywhere near Virginia and are a book lover like me, I definitely suggest checking out the Green Valley Book Fair.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School

It is that time of year....time to start talking about middle school and helping students prepare for the new environment of 500 students per grade level, lockers with combination locks, more freedom, puberty, and peer pressure. This year, my plan is to help my students through a couple whole group classroom guidance lessons, a visit to the middle school, and also some small groups for students who could use a little extra support.
Source Link

I just ordered a set of 5 of these American Girl books: A Smart Girl's Guide to Starting Middle School by Julie Williams.  I plan on organizing my group based on the chapters of the book:

Week 1: Fresh Start: A New Mindset
(What are your worries, concerns, and fears? What do you think middle school will be like? Things to think about before you go. Starting with a positive attitude)

Week 2: A New School: Navigating Your Way Around (practice opening locker combinations, making a good first impression with peers and teachers)

Week 3: Subjects (how to stay organized, new study habits, how to use homework hotline, importance of taking notes)

Week 4: Friends (how to deal with fading friendships and making new friends, avoiding peer pressure, building self esteem and being proud of who you are)

Week 5: Bringing it all together/closing

This is my outline so far. I plan to use the book like a book study and add a few other resources and activities. I'm really excited to get this group started. Do any of you run groups like this? If so please offer ideas and suggestions! :)