Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Problem Solving Lagoon

Another lesson and activity I use with my students in my Anger Management Group, the Chill Club, is a lesson from Puzzle Pieces written by Gwen Sitsch and Diane Senn.  Problem Solving Lagoon can be used in many different groups because it creatively presents the problem solving method and provides students with the skills to solve their own problems.  In this case, those problems that cause them to get angry.  Students are introduced to Freddie the Frog and his problem solving lagoon through a short story. Freddie teaches his friends the three steps to problem solving and comes up with problem solving strategies.  He does not forget to include the rules for managing madness.

After I read the short story to the students, we work on the Smart Board solving problems that are relevant to children.  Students in the group come up with many different ways to solve a problem and then determine if the solution chosen meets the criteria for managing our madness: 1) Do not hurt yourself, 2) Do not hurt others, 3) Do not hurt property. 

 Finally we make lily pads with a wheel of choices to use when solving problems outside of my office. The lily pads are made from 6" plates (I wish I had green plates, but this was close enough) I cut out a triangle shaped wedge to reveal different choices underneath.  I printed the Wheel of Choices (from firstgradeperson.blogspot.com) and attached them underneath using a brad.  Students decorated their lily pads with Freddie the frog, the three steps to solving a problem and the Madness Management rules.  Here are some pictures of those lily pad choice wheels.  I think kids can be so creative!  One child chose to make his with pop-up images!

Counseling using Technology

Do you use Edmodo?  This is a site that we just started using at our school.  It appears to have the look of Facebook, but is a lot safer to use as a way to reach your students outside of the regular classroom.  My students love Edmodo.  I think it is a great way to reach students electronically and continue the conversations outside of my office.  
Edmodo allows Counselors and Teachers to communicate with their students, post discussion questions, polls, and reminders for students in specific groups.  The beauty of  Edmodo  is you can create a "Group" that can be specific to only certain students.  When you create a group, Edmodo automatically creates a group code.  Only students who have been given that code can join that group and see the discussion being held on Edmodo.  I have created groups for each of my small groups.  So my 5th grade Study Skills group will only be discussing with their peers who are also in that group and my 3rd grade Study Skills group will only be discussing with their 3rd grade peers.  If I post a question, poll, or group reminder,  it shows up as an alert in the notification box only for the students in the group I post it to. Like Facebook, students can also send you direct messages and you can reply without the rest of the members viewing the private discussion.
At first, I was a bit worried about students abusing the cyber social interactions.  So far, the discussions have been appropriate and I have not seen any type of cyber bullying.  To be safe, though, I have my group settings set to "moderate all posts" before they are posted.  The students aren't crazy about this, but they are getting used to it.
An example of a discussion question I posted in my 5th Grade Study Skills Edmodo group was, "Today we learned some strategies to focus in class.  Name one strategy you think will work for you and describe how that strategy will help."  I've also used a poll to survey the students on their favorite activity.  Once a student posted, "I wish I could never make mistakes cause I make a lot."  This was a great opportunity for some help not only from me, but from her peers.  One student replied, "yeah everyone makes mistakes if we didn't pencils wouldn't have erasers."  I thought that was a perfect response and it came from her peer!  Hooray!
Edmodo also takes into consideration of allowing parents to monitor their student's accounts. Parents can see what their child is posting, but can not post themselves.

Do you  Edmodo ?  If so, how are you using it?  I would love to hear about your use of technology when counseling students!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Paws" for Career Exploration

This month we are focusing on Careers at our school.  At the elementary level we help children become aware of the many opportunities in their future. So to allow the children to explore what they like and not just what I can talk about in one lesson, I take the children to the computer lab and give them the opportunity research their interests and careers that may interest them.  Our Computer teachers are so helpful!  They will pull up the internet site that I have pre-selected on each of the computers so the children are only researching on an approved internet site.  I have several sites that I like.  For this particular lesson I am using

This site allows students to do an online interest survey called "Job Finder" and provides highlighted interest careers that they can research.  As students walk in, I provide them with a mini book to complete and serve as their assessment.  

 We start by answering the questions in the "Job Finder" area.  The GREAT thing about this website - all questions and careers are read to the students!  Once the students have completed the yes/no interest questions, a cartoon community with highlighted career clusters is provided.  I ask the children to write down three career clusters they may be interested in.

Then students can start researching careers by clicking on the career cluster of interest and choosing from the list of careers.  A slideshow video is read to the students explaining the many facets of a career.  Students are to record information for three careers in their mini book.

The last page has a mini-mock resume for students to complete.  My hope for them is to realize that everything they do, whether it is making good grades or holding a leadership position in our school, helps them to be a well rounded person that employers will want to hire.  Finally, on the back, more websites are provided for the students to continue their research on their own. 

If you would like to make these mini-books, print side 1: Paws for Careers front side and side 2: Paws for Careers back side/  Paws for Careers Back Side Print them front and back, cut in half, stack and staple.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Anger Journal

Download this for free here
My first lesson with students in my Anger Management Small Group focuses on recognizing clues from your body that you are getting angry.  Together we work on this word puzzle, I Can Feel Anger in my Body Word Puzzle, to unscramble and identify the different  body parts and how they react when a person is getting angry.  Of course kids come up with many different ways.  As the kids tell me how their bodies react, I will illustrate it on the Smart Board.  Kids may say their heart beats fast, they feel like they have butterflies in their stomach, the hair on their arms stands up, their fists clinch, their face gets hot, their ears can't hear anything, their nose is breathing heavy, etc.

 To conclude the lesson, students make Anger Journal Books to record the clues they are recognizing and how they handle their anger.  We made the books out of paper bags.  First, cut the edges of the bottom of three paper bags so they will open like the top.  Stack the paper bags and fold them in half.  Staple in the middle. Now you have 6 pages with pockets.  On the front we glued on the statements we discussed in group.  


On the inside pages, students could decorate with the different body parts that clue them in when they are getting angry.

For each pocket, students put a note card size picture of a body inside.  On the back is a statement to complete when they get mad: Today I felt angry.  I knew I was angry because my body gave me clues. I could feel ______________.  I handled my angry feelings this way ___________.  Their homework is to journal when they get angry over the next week and draw what clues their body gave them when they were getting angry.

Certainly the students can decorate these books and make them more fancy and colorful, but with limited amounts of time, our books focused on just the discussion.    The kids liked these books because they thought the pockets were pretty hidden and it was like keeping a diary.  As students start recognizing their own angry body signals, they will be better equipped to stop and use some calming down strategies.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stick It to Bullies

 February's Classroom Guidance focused on Tolerance.  For our activity, students made "bumper stickers" with Anti-Bullying slogans.  I picked the top 40 bumper stickers and made a wall display to remind students of their pledge to not bully.

Friday, February 10, 2012

More Cooperative Games

Today's Fabulous Friday groups got all tied up in knots and fibs!  We had fun playing some more cooperative games.  
Our first game was Gotcha.  To play this game, students stand in a circle, arms out to the side with their left hand palm up, and right hand index finger pointing down and touching on neighbor's outstretched palm.Tell the students, "When I say the word go, do two things.... grab the finger in your left hand, and prevent your right finger from being grabbed." To make it a little more exciting, I had trigger words the kids had to hear before starting.  The trigger word may have been "school" and I would say rhyming words such as "rule, drool, mule" When they heard "school", they could grab the other's finger - GOTCHA!  It was a very quick game.

The kids got more excited over playing The Human Knot.  This is one of the first cooperative games I learned, but it is great for talking about problem-solving!  To play this game, ask students to form a circle, shoulder-to-shoulder.  Ask students to each place a hand in the middle of the circle and to grasp another hand. Then ask participants to put their other hand in the middle, grasp a different person's hand.        Don't let participants let go of hands - some will be tempted to think the activity might then be over - but it is only just starting.   Explain to participants that what you'd like them to do is untangle themselves, without letting go of hands, into a circle. Participants may change their grip so as to be more comfortable, but they are not to unclasp and re-clasp so as to undo the knot.  I don't know how this works out every time, but it does. 

Our last game was Fact or Fib.  Students sat in a circle and would make a statement.  It could be true or it could be false.  The rest of the students would vote if it was a fact or a fib.  Most amazingly, these kids know each other very well, they usually voted right!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ingredients for a Perfect Friendship

Today my Friendship group focused on a Recipe for Friendship.  We compared the ingredients to making a pizza.  There are three main ingredients in pizza: dough, sauce, and toppings. Friendships are the same way.  We have three main ingredients: friendly thoughts, friendly words, and friendly actions.  So I came up with a "Backwards" See-through Book to show how the three ingredients, added together, make for a perfect recipe.

I started by stapling 4 sheets of clear overhead projector sheets together. 

On the last page, we started our recipe with "Kneading" some friendly thoughts.  Students wrote some friendly thoughts around the edges of the dough and attached it to the last page of the book.  Underneath the dough we added the Step 1: "Knead up some Friendly Thoughts." 

This is what the kids put on the page.
The clear pages make a neat layering!
 On the second to last page, students "Poured" on some sauce with friendly words that we can say to others.  Students wrote some friendly things to say and then added step 2: "Pour on some friendly words."  

This is what the kids put on the page.
The pizza is finished and so is our recipe!
On the third to last page (actually the second page of the book if you were turning from the front), students "Sprinkled" on some friendly actions.  Students selected different toppings and wrote friendly actions that they can use.  They then put on the third step: "Add a Sprinkle of friendly actions."  
On the front of the book, students placed the title "Ingredients for a Perfect Friendship".  Since each page is transparent, the layering effect creates a perfect pizza with recipe directions for making and keeping friends!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Terrific Tuesday

It was a Terrific Tuesday and I held my second recess group for whoever signed up.  I knew the students would enjoy the groups and the word is spreading.  Already I am turning students away because they did not sign up fast enough.  I chose three cooperative games that the kids just loved.  I just wish we had more than 15 minutes to play!  
The first game we played was Moon Tennis.  To play this game, I made moon paddles by taping tongue depressors to the back of paper plates.  Students worked together to keep the moon ball (balloon) up in the air.  Before we started, we discussed strategies to try so that we were working together to achieve the goal of keeping it up with 100 hits. Another variation could be to throw in more than one balloon and see how well they do with keeping up multiple balloons. 

The second game we played was Pom Pom Poppers.  I made the poppers by cutting off the bottom third of solo cups (doubled for sturdiness) and stretched a balloon with the end cut off over the top of the cup.  Students loaded their poppers with little, fuzzy pom poms and aimed to get at least 20 pom poms in the goal (trash can).  Watch out!  Those things can shoot far!

Our last activity was to play the Ha Ha game.  It sure was fun and I challenge you to see if your kids can get through this game without falling out in laughter. Have students lay on the floor  and place their heads on another person's tummy, so that everyone is connected.  The 1st person says "Ha", then the 2nd person "Ha-ha" and so on.  The goal is to get all the way through the group without anyone laughing; its infectious if someone starts laughing. I don't think it can be done!  Click on the video below to hear how well our group did.. and this is the second go around.  Silly kids! All in all, the students left smiling:)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Happy School Counselors' Week!

 Happy School Counselors' Week to all my fellow School Counselors.  This year's theme:  Legos - School Counselor's Help Students "Build" Bright Futures. Oh what fun.  We put together just a few things for this special week to say "Thank You" to our staff for being so wonderful and supportive of our program. 
In the Teachers' Lounge, we put out a lego themed display.  We started with bubble wrap spray painted green to look like the lego base.  We put a vase filled with legos for the staff to guess how many legos.  The official guessing forms are standing in a box made of legos and can be placed inside a yellow "lego" box when completed.   Finally, we made a lego frame with a small announcement about the theme of the week and filled a clear soap container with "floating" legos.


Tomorrow we plan on giving out foam legos with a "Thank You" note on the back.  I found thin, 4x6 foam sheets at the Dollar Tree and used the Avery coding label sticker dots to turn them into legos.

On Thursday we will be making mini "Lego" my Eggos with whip cream and blueberries to put in the Teachers' Lounge.  Finally, anyone who makes a guess at how many legos are in the vase will get a congratulatory mini chocolate bar wrapped to look like a lego.  We will give the lego photo frame and lego soap to the 2 people with the closest guesses!