Sunday, April 29, 2012

Preparing for Testing

We officially have one week before testing begins and I'd like to share what we plan to do to energize and prepare our students.  I love this idea from the Polka Dotted Teacher.  On the Friday before testing begins she sends home baggies filled with Smarties and a note with test taking tips on it.  This helps remind students   (and parents) to get a good night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and come to school with a positive attitude.  It think this is a great way to prevent problems the morning of testing day and definitely plan on doing this
We also plan on providing treat bags to every students during the test.  We usually include a piece of gum, some chocolate, smarties, and a life saver.  We hope this makes a long, hard test seem not so bad.  It also provides some energy for their brains.

Our school has planned a very fun incentive to help ensure that students try their best on the test.   As teachers monitor and walk around, they will be paying attention to which students (hopefully all of them) are trying hard. After all tests are completed (they last about 2 weeks at our school) the students who tried on every test will be rewarded with an hour of fun on 4 huge inflatables.
Lastly, after all testing is completed we plan on having a celebratory parade called "A Parade of Success" for students and parents.  It is our way of thanking both the students and parents for all of their hard work this year.  Every student will make a paper plate sign that lists one accomplishment they had this year.  For example, they may have "I moved up 4 reading levels," or "I know 50 sight words," or "I know all my multiplication facts."  Then, every student will hold up their sign and march around our track while teachers and parents cheer them on.  This will be a wonderful way to build self esteem and pride in what all students have learned.  Afterwards, we are going to thank our parents with homemade cookies and lemonade.  Now, I just can't wait until testing is over so we can enjoy this fun day. I will definitely let you know how it goes.

What does your school do to help students during the long testing weeks?

Do you do anything to thank parents and students at the end of the year?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Visit to "A Leader In Me" School


Imagine a school where students or friends, as they call them:

Say, "yes ma'am" and "no ma'am"
Don't roll their eyes or shrug their shoulders at teachers
Shake hands with other students friends and congratulate them
Are able to speak publicly like congressmen
Are actually self motivated to work hard on homework and schoolwork
Set academic and personal goals and track their own data
Live and embody the 7 habits of highly effective people
Celebrate diversity and welcome all students friends
Learn and practice the top 10 skills employers look for when hiring
Excel in the classroom

Sound too good to be true?

It's not.

This is what I witnessed at the Leadership Day at A.B. Combs Elementary School in Raleigh, North Carolina.  They are the magnet  leadership school that the book A Leader in Me, by Stephen Covey, was based on.  They have integrated the 7 habits of happy kids and highly effective people that Stephen and Sean Covey developed into their school's atmosphere and curriculum.


Our school did a monthly book study of A Leader in Me and we are slowly trying to adopt it.  However, it is going too slow if you ask me.  I understand that teachers have SO MUCH on their plates, and it can be very scary to introduce an entirely new paradigm shift at a school, but in this case I think it will solve so many more problems than it would create.  The 7 habits leadership model teaches students life skills of setting goals and living up to their potential, as well as, collaborative problem solving and getting along with others.  A.B. Combs and other leadership schools are proof that by molding all students into productive and enthusiastic leaders, schools will have less behavior problems and more motivation for learning.  In the long run, I think teachers would be amazed.

If you haven't already, you definitely need to read A Leader in Me and consider bringing this model to your school!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Take Control of Testing

I apologize for the lack of posts recently, but I have been on a much needed spring break vacation at Myrtle Beach.  I have spent the entire week tanning and relaxing sharpening my saw.  Anyway, the day we get back from break teachers will be frantically preparing their students for the state tests.  From a counseling perspective, I work with students on tips for doing their best and controlling their anxiety like getting a good night sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, taking deep breaths, reading directions carefully, slashing the trash, taking your time, and doing your best, etc.  Guidance lessons on test taking tips can turn boring real quick. That's why I loved this idea from from Pinterest.  I found a coloring page of a blank remote control here and using the ActiveBoard we had a class discussion on important tips students can remember to help them do better.  I wrote a tip over every button on the remote and I explained to students that they can control how they do on the test by following these tips just like you control what the players do on video games.  The students were excited to make their own right when they saw the picture of the PlayStation remote! It was a great activity to make test taking fun.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue

If you are an Elementary School Counselor, then I am sure you know how wonderful Julia Cook's books are.  If you do not use her books for your classroom guidance lessons, then you may want to start right away!

I recently read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue to our 2 kindergarten classes and it was a HUGE hit.  Tattle Tongue is when your tongue turns yellow with purple spots and it starts to itch and grows long when a kid tattles.  The book does a good job of teaching the difference between tattling and reporting. I think it is very important to encourage kids to tell adults when students are being mean or bullying, but teachers really struggle with kids telling just to get other kids in trouble.  The book teaches "4 rules of tattling: be a danger ranger, be a problem solver, now or later, and MYOB (mind your own beeswax)."

After reading and discussing the story, the students made tattle tongue masks.  I copied a page from the workbook and the students colored the face, glued it to a paper plate, and poked holes for their eyes.  I let the kids take their masks home to share with their families, but I gave an extra one to the teachers to use in their classrooms.  Both teachers keep their mask close at hand, and if a student is tattling (not reporting) they hold the mask up and say "think about it, you don't want to get tattle tongue!"  They say it works really well. Do you have other ideas for using A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue in the classroom? If so, please share.