Sunday, February 26, 2012

1st Career Cafe

I hosted my 1st Career Cafe on Friday, and it was a huge success! Thanks so much to Danielle at School Counselor Blog for sharing the idea of career cafes.  I know many of her readers have implemented this creative career initiative.  You can't tell from the pictures, but I had about 30 5th grade students come.

The man that came was extremely interesting.  He served in the Air Force for 4 years and then worked for 35 years with Aviation Week & Space Technology, the world's leading aerospace news magazine.  He spent 6 years working in Switzerland and France and manned bureaus in Washington DC, Geneva, Paris, Los Angeles, and New York City.  He served as Editor in Chief and Editorial Director of the Aviation Week group of magazines in McGraw Hill's New York World Headquarters for the last 10 years of his career.  He was able to talk to the students about being in the Air Force, learning to fly when he was 15, and both writing for and being in charge of a major magazine.  He also told amazing stories of all the planes he flew while researching them for the magazine.  His favorite flight was flying the U2.  He told the kids that it went so high he was able to see the curvature of the earth, the last layer of atmosphere, and the black of space from the plane.  He also had a picture of him and President Bush shaking hands.  The 5th graders were so impressed and they asked numerous questions.  It was awesome!  I highly suggest starting a career cafe program at your school if you haven't already.  You can read more about my career cafes here. How has Career Cafe worked for you? Who has come to speak?  Leave a comment and share.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unique Snowflakes

Last weekend we had a wonderful snow storm...thus, we had a snow day on Monday and 2 hours late on Tuesday.  It was a fabulous break for both students and staff! The 5 inches of snow inspired this guidance lesson for 1st grade on Tuesday.

The goal was to teach respecting differences and valuing yourself for who you are.  First, I helped students realize just how many differences they had that made them special by playing a modified version of the game "Trainwreck."  The students sat in a circle on the floor with one student standing in the middle. The child in the middle says "I like people who (insert something that makes them unique, like wear glasses, like to swim, have freckles, love to read, etc..)  Any student who has that "trait" in common stands up and rushes to find a new seat while the students in the middle also tries to find a seat.  The last student standing is the next "it."  This game is fun for children and they also learn new things about their classmates.  We debriefed the game with a discussion.  I asked students if they learned anything new about a classmate, and we talked about how it is okay to be friends with kids who look different from us and like to do different things then they do.  The message was acceptance and our differences make us special.
Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Book)
Next, in honor of our recent snow, we read the story Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.  This wonderful book is about William Bentley and his life of photographing snowflakes.  Through his photography collection we know that no 2 snowflakes are the same.  Every one is unique and beautiful, just like my kiddos at school!  We ended the lesson by making snowflakes and I had the students share them when they were finished so we had another opportunity to celebrate how different they all turned out.  This lesson was very successful, because the students were so excited about snow and they love sharing information about themselves.  What other ways to do you teach self esteem and respecting differences?

Friday, February 17, 2012

New Resources

Attention other school counselors:
I have some school money that I haven't spent yet this year, and I have been browsing the counseling resource catalogs, quite excitedly, I might add.  Here is my list of possibilities that definitely needs to be narrowed down significantly.  PLEASE COMMENT...Have you used any of these? Do you recommend them? Did you find any of them not so helpful?  What other resources would you suggest I look into purchasing??
The Good Mourning Game

Please provide some input on these and other resources you suggest! :) Thanks!

All images came from and

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Put-up Messages

During No Name Calling Week I wrote a post on a classroom guidance lesson where I had the kids write Put-up messages to each other. I wanted to show you the bulletin board I made to post their messages on.  The students love it because they get to search for their name and kind message, and I love it because the whole school can read 100 examples of Put-ups! :) It's a win win.

Helping A New Teacher Fit In Mid-Year

One of our 3rd grade teachers moved mid-year to a new position teaching reading and math to help decrease class sizes, so someone had to be hired to take her 3rd grade position.  As you know, this can be very difficult because relationships have already been built and there is not much time for community building during the middle of the year when everyone is in the middle of SOL lessons!  So, I tried my best to help Mrs. Valentine feel welcomed at Dudley by helping with this much needed bonding process with a classroom guidance lesson.  

First, I asked the students to raise their hand if they had ever moved to Dudley (meaning they did not attend school here since Kindergarten). Surprisingly, over half of the students raised their hand. Awesome! Empathy should come easier! :) We discussed how hard it is coming to a new school where you don't know anyone's name, or where the gym, library, bathrooms, etc. are. Then, I read them the story First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg.  This story is typically read to younger students in Kindergarten or 1st grade and usually only at the beginning of the year, but it was the PERFECT book to help explain that teachers get nervous when they are new too.  The story is about a girl who doesn't want to go to her new school, because she is very nervous.  All the students think the girl is a new student, but at the end it turns out to be the teacher!

First Day Jitters

Since I did this lesson on Valentine's Day, I included an activity that seems to be very popular. I cut out a heart from red construction paper and told students this is Mrs. Valentine's heart (our new teacher).  Then, I asked students what are some things that students could say or do that would hurt Mrs. Valentine's feelings?  After each response I crumpled a piece of the heart.  After the heart was balled up and in bad disrepair, I asked students what are some things they could say or do that would help Mrs. Valentine feel welcomed at Dudley.  After each kind response I straightened a part of the heart back out.  Finally, the heart started looking like a heart again, but it was still ripped in places and wrinkled, so we had a discussion about thinking before we say or do hurtful things, because even after apologizing and being kind it doesn't take away the hurt someone feels after you've been mean to them. 

Finally, I had every student fill out this All About Me Robot worksheet to help Mrs. Valentine get to know her students better.  The students liked this because they love sharing fun facts about themselves.  I created a bulletin board with a big robot on it and Mrs. Valentine filled it out with important stuff about her. Below is a picture of the board. All in all this lesson was very successful and it could be adapted for introducing a new student as well. 


Friday, February 10, 2012

Positive Frame to Promote Self Esteem

This is a wonderful idea to use with students to help promote positive self talk and build self esteem.  I made this frame as an example while one of my kiddos made one.  I put a picture of the student in the frame and she decorated it with cute foam stickers.  Then, we talked about some positive words/phrases she could tell herself when she is feeling down.  She wrote things like..."I'm popular," good singer," and "smart." She is going to put her frame in her room and look at it as a reminder for how wonderful she is.

 I bought foam frames from Walmart. They come 2/pk and cost about $2.50. I also bought foam stickers to decorate them with. This was such a simple, fun project that I think will have a long term impact on students who make them!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Take A Stand: 5th Grade Bullying Lessons

To capture my students’ attention at the beginning of the lesson, I had them pretend that they were doctors (or counselors) and I was a 5th grade girl who was coming to see them because I’ve been so sad lately.  I said, “You know when are sick or having problems you go to see a doctor or a counselor? Well, today, I’m going to be the 5th grader and you are going to be my doctor. So pretend that I have just come into your office and sat down and you ask me what’s been bothering me.  Once I tell you what’s wrong, your job is to sort through everything you hear and tell me what you think is causing my problems.”  They were all very excited to be my doctor! J  Here is what I said:

“My name is Abby and I haven’t been feeling good lately.  I don’t want to go to school or even play in my basketball game on Saturday.  I have to go to my dad’s house tonight but I don’t want to.  He doesn’t understand any of my problems. This weekend my friends are having a sleepover, but I probably won’t even get an invitation, because last week at lunch everyone was having fun and all I wanted to talk about was my dog that died.  All in all things just aren’t going well at all!”

Then, I asked students what they thought the root of my sadness was.  Most students thought Abby was sad because her parents were divorced and her dad didn't understand her, her dog died, her friends weren't going to invite her to their sleepover, etc...They were a little surprised when I said, "Yes, those are all things that usually really upset students Abby's age, but in her case the thing that was bothering her the most was that other kids at school were calling her names everyday and bullying her.  This is why she didn't want to come to school anymore."  I explained to my students that in this "case study" Abby had serious problems, but none of them were more serious than being a victim of bullying.  I think this helped them think of the effects of bullying in a different way than they had before.

Next we did an activity from the "No Name Calling Week" lesson plans, called Response Cards. Each student got a copy of these cards and cut them apart:
Then, we talked about ways to "take a stand" and who to "ask for help." I read them a couple bullying scenarios from the lesson plan and they held up which option they would do in that situation and we discussed each one as a class.  

In my next lesson, students chose a typical bullying scenario and drew rough drafts of "Bully Comic Strips."  I got the idea from this lesson in the "No Name Calling Week" plans.  They had 4-6 blocks for their comic. The first box set up the setting for their bullying scenario and the second box included the bullying.  In the third box the students were to illustrate a character either taking a stand or asking for help.  And, in the fourth box, they drew the conclusion.  We used Lego Comic Builder to create our comics. Here is my example: