Sunday, September 28, 2014

Bullying Lessons for Primary and Intermediate Grades

October is Bully Prevention Month, so I wanted to share a few of my favorite lessons with you.  I love using literature in my classroom lessons and these three do just that.

The first lesson is for Kindergarten and first grade and possibly for second grade too. It is based on the book Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.  The children love this story, acting out the vocabulary words and becoming part of action.  In this lesson we focus on how teasing and calling names is mean and not okay. I got the idea from a great book called Bullyproof Your Classroom by Caltha Crowe.

For 2nd and 3rd grade I like the book Aloha Potter by Linda Talley.
The lesson is about a little angelfish named Potter who is bullied by a crab, Alakuma.  Potter and his friends try various things for handling the bully crab and find some ways work better than others. In the end, Potter and his friends learn some important strategies for handling bullies.  Included with this lesson are solution cards, bully statements and solution posters I created to go with this story.
Marsh Media now has lesson guides and a DVD to go along with this book.

For my students in fourth and fifth grade I like the book Just Kidding by Trudy Ludwig. DJ is constantly teased by Vincent and each time Vincent responds with the phrase, "I was just kidding!"  I don't know about you, but I hear that phrase nearly every day.

This is actually a two part lesson.  The first lesson is an activity titled,"It Depends."  Students are divided into small groups to brainstorm a list of words, gestures, and physical actions students use when "just kidding" and when bullying.  I love this activity because once the groups start sharing their lists you really see the light bulbs coming on in their heads. The lesson concludes with a writing prompt to be completed after the lesson for use in the next classroom counseling visit.

During the second lesson I read the book Just Kidding.  After we discuss the story, I read aloud their writing prompts.  Without using names or identifying information, I read sections of the prompts to the class and we try to determine if the writer had been bullied or if someone was just kidding.
I have also taken their scenarios and made short sentence strips and done a sorting activity by groups where they have to determine if it's bullying, just kidding, or need more information.  Students begin to realize you can't always tell the difference and saying something is a joke makes it no less painful. What may be a joke to you may be emotionally devastating to another person.  Learning to empathize in these situations and recognize the difference in bullying and joking is an important step towards stopping bullying.

I hope these lesson ideas are something you can use during Bully Prevention month.  What sort of Bully Prevention lessons and activities do you use with your students?  Please share below, I would love hear what you are doing.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Google Forms: Collect and Analyze Data to Advocate for Your School Counseling Program

Many years ago, when I first started as a "Guidance Counselor" (that's what we were called back then), I had a wonderful, forward thinking, district level "Guidance" Coordinator.  She saw the yearly budget battles that each Spring found state legislators discussing cuts to School Counselor, Media, Music, and Art positions and decided to do something about it.  As a proactive individual, she believed in the power of data and was determined to protect the jobs of her Counselors.  She had us start collecting data long before collecting data was in everyone's consciousness.  Our "guidance" logs tracked how our time was spent daily and was then compiled into monthly reports to indicate the amount of time we spent performing direct and indirect services to students.  This data collection helped secure School Counselor positions in every elementary school in our county at a time when many other positions were being cut.   Today logging how we spend our time is more important (and easier) than ever as School Counselors around the country advocate for their positions and the ability to determine how their services are utilized in their schools.

As a member of the Facebook group The Elementary School Counselor Exchange, I have read numerous posts about record keeping, accountability, paperless forms and surveys, and a general feeling of  distress at the misuse of our specialized education, abilities, and skills.  In many schools we are the most expensive lunchroom hostess, hall monitor, or registrar to be found.  We are being asked to perform jobs that do not require a Masters degree in School Counseling, and in so doing are being prevented or severely limited in performing the student-centered services that do.  When you think about it, this makes school districts and administrators very poor stewards of the human resources they have in their School Counselor.  Rather than investing their School Counselor resource in services and programs that can close the achievement gap,  administrators are requiring School Counselors to perform tasks that could easily be performed by any number of reasonably intelligent and responsible adults on campus.

The ASCA National Model clearly outlines the role of the School Counselor and gives examples of what is and is not appropriate usage of a School Counselor's time.  ASCA recommends 80% of a school counselors time be spent in direct and indirect services to students. In situations where the skills and services of the School Counselor are being misused or under utilized, it is even more compelling to provide the data that gives an accounting of how we spend our day.  Because many of the things we do are not visible to the eyes of our administrators or colleagues, there is a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation about what our job entails. There is also the confidential nature of some of our services that are not readily apparent to those who evaluate us or have the final say in our programming.  Therefore, we are often called upon to do jobs that
actually impair or interfere with the job of being a School Counselor.  This is where Google Forms can help a School Counselor provide the process data needed in documenting how their day is spent.  There is so much more that can be done with Google Forms in terms of perception data too, but for now let's start with how a School Counselor's day is spent.

The Google Form here is a compilation of duties and responsibilities shared with me by my School Counselor colleagues from the Facebook group The Elementary School Counselor Exchange. The variety of  unrelated duties represented in this form have been assigned to School Counselors leaving them, in many cases, without the time or support to pursue relevant school and student needs.   It is my hope that School Counselors can use this form to demonstrate, with data and visual representations of graphs, how their time is being spent, both in an effort to create change and to show progress towards that change.

The link for the Counselor Activity Log above is a live form.  Please remember to copy this form FIRST before making any additions or deletions you want or need to make this form more representative of your specific situation.  To make your own copy, first open the above link. You should see the form in the gray version.  Don't edit yet.  Once opened, go to File in upper left corner.  Click on File and you will see Make a copy. Click on Make a copy, then you will be asked to rename the form and click ok.  Next, close my form you just used to make your copy. Now go to your Google Drive and look for the form you just renamed. Also be sure, the word shared  is not beside your form.  Shared means your information is not private.  Next click on the name of your form and you should see the gray version ready for you to make your edits.  Now you are ready to make edits and personalize my form for your usage!

Remember, I made the link to this form public so I could share it with you all.  That means the responses  (if anyone is thinking of just using the link to this form) are public too.  Anyone on the web can see it. So please, do not put student information in the form above before making your own private copy.  Usage of this specific link without copying to your Google drive first will result in your data being recorded in a shared file and anyone on the internet can see your confidential student information.

As you begin making entries to your form, data will be recorded in a spread sheet like this one.  Your Google Drive will have a document titled with the name of your form and the word responses in parentheses. If you want to sort your data, open the responses document, go to Data, click on the column you want to sort and choose sort from A-Z or sort from Z-A.  When you are ready to view your data in graphs, open your form, click on Responses and then Summary of Responses  to view your graphs and data.

Many thanks to the School Counselors who shared their unrelated duties with me for the creation of this form.  It is my hope you will find it useful as you document your daily activities and strive to gain the support you need to bring your program in line with the ASCA National Model.

Do you have a method for recording how you deliver services to students? What have you found most effective for collecting process data and giving administrators an understanding of your job role?

If you are interested in more information about Goolge forms, or how you can quickly and easily create your own, follow this link to my post with step by step instructions, with pictures!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Classroom Management: Positive Behavior Cones

Managing classroom behavior is often a topic of concern for School Counselors.  Our training is geared more for the one-on-one interactions found in individual counseling, parent conferences, and teacher consultations. The managing of small groups is okay, but the classroom for many is daunting. Whether you are comfortable with classroom management or still looking for just the right tool, perhaps you will find the use of Positive Behavior Cones a  helpful idea.

Shortly before school started, I found these cute little cones with positive sayings on them at my local Dollar Tree.  I had no idea what I would do with them when I bought one of every color, but I was certain they were a "must have" and I would figure it out later.  Pre-planning began and I set up my classroom putting one on each table.  During pre-planning week ideas begin to form in my head and by the time school started I knew how I would use them.  Now, after 4 weeks, I am happy to share how I am using Positive Behavior Cones to assist with classroom management.

A Little Background
We are a PBIS school and our behavioral expectations spell "PAWS" (our mascot is a Bulldog). All of our students know Perform Personal Best, Act Responsibly, Work and Play Safely, and Show Respect.  Last year, we created  a school-wide behavior incentive program which involved classes earning a bone for good behavior. Each faculty and staff member was given 10 bone stickers each month to give away around campus to students or classes exhibiting PAWS behavior (but never to their own class).  Every classroom was given a paper dog bowl and were working towards earning bones. A menu was created listing rewards in 25 bone increments. When a class reached 25 bones they were able to exchange them for a class reward, which was provided by our administration. Once they turned in their dog bowl with bones, they would get a new one and start the collection again.

Cones and Bones
While unpacking my new room I found a lot of left over bone stickers.  Obviously, I had not been giving away my fair share of bones each month!  I decided the best way for me to participate in this school-wide incentive was to offer my classes the opportunity to earn bones during their lessons with me. So as I did my introductory "Meet the Counselor" lessons with each class, I talked about what PAWS looked like and sounded like during my classroom counseling lessons.  I explained to the students as long as everyone was following PAWS their cones would remain on their tables. At the end of class, if I had not removed the cones at anytime from any table they would earn a bone.  However, as I am teaching a lesson, if a member of their table is not following PAWS, I will give them a reminder one time then will remove their cone.  In order to promote continued compliance with PAWS, good will, and a "we can do it" attitude, I provided a way to earn their cone back.  I told the students in a very dramatic way they could pout and get mad because they lost their cone or they could decide to correct their behavior, follow PAWS, and I would return their cone for making a good choice.  As long as every table still had their cone at the end of class, even though they may have lost it at one point, I would award them a star. When a class had earned 3 stars they would receive a bone.  There is a list of classes posted on my door where I record their bones and stars. So far, the students are loving it and I have given away 4 bones and numerous stars. The first 2 weeks of school as I introduced the Positive Behavior Cones, I did not take cones off the tables, but told them, "If I had started the program today, you would have lost your cone for that."  I wanted them to get use to the idea of the cones and see and hear what I would remove cones for.  I always talk about  PAWS when removing a cone. "That's not showing respect to talk when a classmate is sharing.  So I will have to take your cone."  In the past 2 weeks, I've had 30 classes (I am in the Special Area rotation) and only 2 have left with no star or bone.  I am very pleased and so are my students!

So, how can this work for your classroom management?
Well, you may be thinking, that's just fine but we don't have a school-wide incentive program to use as a reward.  No matter, you can still make this work for you. Classes that keep their cones for following whatever rules or procedures (yours, classroom teacher's, school's) you choose to follow could earn a sticker. Three stickers (or whatever number you decide) could equal a popcorn party, or extra recess, or lunch in the classroom with a movie (inexpensive things you could provide).  Or if the classroom teacher has an incentive program with marbles in a jar or letters to spell a word like recess, playground, or whatever, classes could earn a couple of marbles or letters for keeping all their cones. If classes lost a cone, but earned them back maybe they earned half a sticker or just one marble or letter instead of 2.  Talk it over with the classroom teacher to see if they are willing to have you incorporate the use of Positive Behavior Cones in with their classroom incentive program.

Even if you didn't have a chance to get these Positive Behavior Cones at Dollar Tree, you could use any object to represent the cone. Maybe make and laminate table tents with positive sayings on them, or use those 3 sided clear acrylic photo holders. The choices are up to you and limited only by your imagination.  I'd love to hear your ideas for managing classroom behavior or a unique way you have used the Positive Behavior Cones! Please be sure to share below.

Do you use an incentive program when teaching classroom lessons?  What works for you and your school?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meet the School Counselor: Making a "Counselor Catcher"

My students with their "Counselor Catchers." 

A new school year makes me want to start fresh with so many things.  This year I was interested in doing something different with my fifth graders for their "Meet the Counselor" lesson. So I thought I would let them tell each other what a School Counselor does, but it had to be in a fun and engaging way. Since only 4 of my 72 fifth graders were new this year and all of those had come from local schools with School Counselors, the "Counselor Catcher" was born.

This lesson took about 45 minutes and was done with only my fifth graders, although I imagine 4th grade could handle it as well.  During my lessons, one class had a fire drill and another was an early release day so I ended up with only 30 minutes.  In those classes we only got to play briefly, so I collected their "Counselor Catchers" to finish the game and debrief in our next lesson.

Preparing for the "Counselor Catcher" Lesson
I have my own classroom with tables and chairs for teaching classes.  Each table was pre-set with a canister of markers and either four white papers or four green papers on it. These were already printed with my questions and cut to size (8 1/2" x 8 1/2").  The green and white papers each contained a different set of questions. This makes it easier when playing the "Counselor Catcher" game to ensure students are asking and answering different questions and choosing different partners.

I have included the templates for the two sets of questions I used here and here.  After downloading my question templates you will need to make a few changes as some of the questions on the templates are specific to my school.  Feel free to adapt the questions to your role and your school situation.
A word of caution when copying templates!  Every printer/copy machine prints/copies differently. The printer I used at home for my original template copied the template differently on the school copy machine.  And even though it is a square it mattered where and how I placed it on the printer glass. Test print a copy of each template before making all you need for the lesson.  I didn't and I wasted a lot of time and paper!

Once your questions are changed to reflect your needs, copy half the number needed of each template in a separate color on regular printer paper.  I chose white and green printer paper because that is what I had, but feel free to use whatever colors you have available in order to distinguish between the two sets of questions and who can be partners with who.  Also, I do not recommend using card stock for this activity as it is too stiff.  Next, cut all the papers to size by trimming off the bottom 2 1/2 inches. This is best done with a paper cutter.

Make some extra copies of the question templates and practice folding these yourself before class. Although there are pictures on the slides, it helps to have practiced and to have a "Counselor Catcher" folded that students can see at the various stages in person.  Ok, download  and review the powerpoint (I have a space where you can add a photo of yourself if you want, or if not just delete it), gather your markers and your question sheets and you are now prepared to teach your class how to make a "Counselor Catcher" and how to play the "Counselor Catcher" game!

Presenting the "Counselor Catcher" Lesson
After a brief introduction to my classroom procedures and meeting our new students I told the boys and girls this year, rather then me reminding them about all the things I do, we would be making "Counselor Catchers" and they would be asking/telling each other about my job.  Many of the students had made "Fortune Tellers" or "Cootie Catchers" before and others didn't know how, but wanted to learn. So, there was a sense of excitement about what we were going to do.

Next, I turned on the Meet the School Counselor: How much do you know about your School Counselor? powerpoint and walked them through the steps of making their own "Counselor Catcher." With our "Counselor Catchers" complete, I explained  how to play the game (also on the powerpoint) and then gave them about 5-7 minutes to play the game, remembering they could only partner with someone who had a different color "Counselor Catcher" from them.  When I called time, I gave them another 5 minutes to partner with someone who had the same color "Counselor Catcher" as they did.

 Debriefing the "Counselor Catcher" Game
After completing the game, we returned to our seats to debrief.  I found there were some questions the students did not know and some they did not understand.  Yikes!!!  Had I not given a good explanation in previous years about my job role or did they still have summer brain?  The student's feedback gave me good information about what I needed to do differently in explaining my role and ideas for better wording of my questions on the "Counselor Catcher."  These were fun classes to teach with my 5th graders and definitely an activity I would do again.  I was thinking, could I possibly adapt the "Counselor Catcher" (maybe a "Bully Catcher") as a fun way to assess what my students have learned at the conclusion of a future unit?

What I learned...
This activity told me so much more about my students than just what they know or didn't know about the job of the School Counselor.  It was very informative to see who could follow step by step directions and who couldn't, or didn't.  It was interesting to observe how they helped one another. Did they offer encouragement and show their table mates what to do, or just do it for them? Who got frustrated and gave up or got an attitude?  Who asked for help and who sat there and said and did nothing? Also, I found the boys in my fifth grade classes seemed to struggle more with the paper folding than the girls.  Overall, I felt I got a sense of who my students are as individuals and problem solvers better than with anything I have done with them in a long time.  Wow!  I think I learned more than they did!

Here's hoping you have found this idea intriguing and are willing to try this activity with your students. Not only was it fun and engaging for all of us, but the students had a chance to review the role of the School Counselor and I had a chance to get to know my students on a deeper level. I highly recommend it!

What types of "Meet the Counselor" activities have you tried?  Have you ever done anything with paper folding?  If you try this activity, please let me know how it goes! I would love to hear about your experience. Thanks for stopping by!