Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Fun Whole Body Listening Activity for the Beginning of the School Year

I love starting the school year with monster themed lessons.  There is an ActiveBoard lesson called Little Monster Goes to School and it is a perfect story for talking about good classroom behavior.  I like to extend this lesson by teaching students active listening.  I couldn't believe it when I found this monster stuffed animal a couple years ago, because all his body parts are attached to his body with Velcro and can easily be taken off and put back on. Click here to download the posters from "Growing Kinders" at TeachersPayTeachers for free!

We start with the body of the monster and I hold the poster up and ask students, "A monster can listen with his body. Can you?" Then, students tell me how they use their bodies to show active listening. Next, I hold up the eye and stick it on the monster, saying "A monster can listen with his eyes. Can you?" Then I continue going through all the parts of the body that monsters ( and kids) use to show active listening to their teacher and classmates.  The children absolutely love this lesson because the monster looks so funny! If you can't find a monster like this one, you could use a potato head toy.

Finally, I have students work together with their teams to draw the parts of the body they use for active listening on these laminated monster activity pages. One at a time they are supposed to draw one body part and explain to their team how they use that body part to show active listening. Then, they pass it on to the next person and they add a body part, and so on.  After all the teams finish, it's fun to have them share their monsters with the class. They always turn out very cute!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Liebster Award

Cheryl Lassey at the Creative Elementary School Counselor Blog nominated me for a blogging award! It is so exciting to be recognized from a fellow school counselor blogger! Please head over to her blog to find some fantastic and creative counseling ideas, as well as, to see the other award recipients.

This award appears to be a chain award to help spread your blog to new readers.  Which is amazing, because I love connecting with new readers.

The rules are:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
5. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Questions for me to answer:

1. What are your favorite blogs?

(The School Counselor Blog and Jyjoyner Counselor are definitely two of my favorites, but I feel like everyone already follows them religiously, so I'm going to list 5 additional ones)

emyselfandi (This blog is written by my cousin, and while its not a counseling blog, she is a teacher, and she writes amazing real life posts of what she is living on a daily basis.)

2. Why did you start blogging?

A couple years ago, I began reading school counseling blogs and they gave me such great ideas to use in my program. I learned more from other counselors through blogs, than I had anywhere else.  So, I also wanted to be able to share a few of my ideas.  Keeping my blog helps keep me energized and creative.

3. What advice do you have for others who are just starting out with their own blog?

My advice is to keep the ideas flowing! It can be very hard to keep up with posts and write often enough that readers will keep coming back.  However, on the bright side, this is what encourages me to stay creative and energized in my program.

4. Why did you decide to work as a school counselor?

I love children. I wanted to be able to help kids who are struggling at home and at school. I want to be one person in their life that shows them love and can help them problem solve and be the best they can be. We are helping our future and it is a very meaningful job. 

5. What are your favorite things to do outside of school?

Read. Some close friends of mine meet once a month for book club and its a lot of fun.  I love getting together with friends to have "crafting" Pinterest parties. I also love the water (beach, pool, or lake doesn't matter!)

6. What is the best part of your job?

The best part of the job is the relationships you develop with the kids.  Simply being a friendly and caring presence at the school, greeting children in the mornings, giving them hugs, and asking them how they are doing creates a trust bond with students where they are willing to come and share their life with you.  It is very rewarding to help kids live happier lives.

7. How many years have you been working in a school?

This will be my 5th year as an elementary school counselor.

8. If you could only have 5 books in your office which ones would you choose?

I went to graduate school in Missoula, MT and would love to head back west. I think I would really enjoy living on the northwest coast, Seattle, possibly.

10. What is your favorite memory of a teacher from your childhood?

I'm actually going to have give just a general answer to this one. I don't really have one specific teacher or one specific memory that really stood out for me. I just remember loving school. I was also excited to go to school. I had a great little group of girl friends and our school was very small town with a homey feel.  Now, I am at an elementary school in the same county I grew up in.

11. What is your #1 go to resource at school?

Pinterest..... does that count??

I use most of the Julia Cook books/workbooks each year.

I love the Explosive Child, by Ross Greene, to recommend for parents.

Blog I nominate for the Liebster Award are:

Nominees Questions to Answer:

1. What advice would you give to new bloggers?
2. How do you use technology in your counseling program?
3. What is your #1 go to resource at school?
4. If you could only have 5 books in your office which ones would you choose?
5. What are your favorite school counseling blogs?
6. What are your favorite blogs that are not work related?
7. What small group resources do you find most helpful?
8. What book are you currently reading?
9. What is the best part of your job?
10. What apps do you recommend?
11. What do you do to "sharpen your saw"? (what do you do for fun?)

Thanks for participating! I think this is a wonderful way to get more blogging traffic! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Office Organization Part 2

I'm finally ready for my office reveal. I've had lots of fun decorating and organizing this past week.

Here is the view as you walk in the door...

I love having tables for my classes to sit at rather than desks, because it is so much easier to build teamwork and I feel like its more homey.  I'm also really excited about my birds hanging from the ceiling. :)

My desk area...

Behind my desk, I have a shelf with a file box for each grade level that holds all of my classroom lessons. Beside that, I stacked milk crates to make a free shelf for supplies.  To the left of my desk is a shelf that holds fidgets, games, and resources for individual counseling.

Here is the area I've set aside for individual counseling...

On my shelf I have lots of little toys and fidgets kids can hold and play with while we talk. I have found that if a child has something to hold on to, it makes them feel more comfortable talking.  I also a have a set of Talk Blocks that I use with students in individual counseling. You can find out more about Talk Blocks here.

My favorite bulletin board...

I hope to keep this board up for most of the year, because I want it to help make every student feel comfortable and safe in my class.  I want all children regardless of their ability, race, gender, SES, etc. to feel welcomed and accepted.  I also want to encourage all of our students to be accepting of everyone.  This is the largest board in my room, so I hope it sends a big message.

Front of my room...

Storage in the back of my room...

Behavior Management System...

This board is in the front of my classroom to make it easy for all my classes to see.  I titled the board, "Are you being a leader?" to go along with our Leader in Me initiative.  I took behavior charts and cut them in half, laminated them, and wrote a homeroom teacher's name on each chart.  If my classes are using the 7 Habits and being good listeners, I will color in one of the circles on their chart at the end of that class period.  Once they have 5 successful classes, we will spend their next counseling class outside for recess.  This is a huge motivator for students to give active listening and good participation during my lessons.  It also allows me to spend some time outside with kids watching them interacting with their classmates on the playground.  Once, they have earned their reward day, I simply wipe their chart off and they begin again.

Hopefully, you were able to get some good ideas for your rooms.  Please leave a comment linking your offices and classrooms so that I can take a look as well. Thanks!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Office Organization Part 1

I survived my first day back! I am moving rooms for the 4th time in 5 years, but I can't complain because I get to have a whole classroom again this year! I love having my classes come to me for classroom guidance, and I have plenty of room for a small group area and a cozy spot for individual counseling.  I took a couple of pictures to share with you of my first day back, and I will post the finished product in a couple days!

I am so excited about my first bulletin board I put up in my room. It has the 7 habits on it, because our school is now officially trained in Leader in Me!!

I will have more boards to show you in a couple days, because my room has 8 bulletin boards!! Next, I had to find a place to store my classroom lessons. One, of my goals this year is to be organized with lesson planning.  You can read more about how I organize my lessons here. However, I have changed from using binders to using file boxes. This is easier than a file cabinet for me because the lessons are out and easy to find, and I have to move so much they are more portable this way. I have a file box for every grade level, and this shelf is directly behind my desk for easy access.

Next, I organized all my new school supplies! I have 3 long tables and 1 round table for students to sit at and they always need scissors, crayons, and glue for projects that we do, so I made 2 of these for each table.

The caddies came from Wal-Mart and were very reasonably priced.  I store them on a shelf with other supplies at the front of my room.

Next, I want to show you my shelf organization. I was blessed with lots of storage this year in the back of my room and it has been a lot of fun organizing all my books, games, supplies, and stuffed animals.

This is just a sneak peak of how I've started setting up my room. I can't wait to share the final product! Check back soon!