Friday, April 22, 2016

Pay It Forward

Prior to winter break, my 5th and 6th grade guidance lessons were about Random Acts of Kindness and Paying it Forward. With all of the excitement surrounding the holidays and receiving gifts, it felt appropriate to talk about helping others. We watched the YouTube video above in order to spark discussion about what it means to pay it forward. I liked the fact that this video is created by middle school students. After a class discussion, students broke into groups to brainstorm lists of activities they could do in our own school and community. Below are some of the ideas they came up with. For our class activity, students wrote down one act they pledged to do over break on a piece of construction paper that I provided. We discussed how kindness is often contagious. In order to visually demonstrate the "chain reaction" kindness has, students created a festive red and green chain of garland out of the their construction paper pledges. We hung our finished product to decorate the hallway. On their way out the door, students received RAK cards to document any of their good deeds and have them displayed on the Giving Tree bulletin board.
Image result for diy construction paper chain
1. Put together a coat drive
2. Clean up neighbors lawns
3. Write letters to neighbors
4. Make cookies or muffins for teachers
5. Volunteer at the soup kitchen
6. Shovel snow for free
7. Mow lawns for free
8. Make cards for teachers
9. Make motivational posters to put around the school
10. Give compliments
11. Put together a food drive
12. Donate clothing
13. Leave something on the table for the waitress/waiter in addition to tip (like a note)
14. Ask principal permission to throw a party for the 6th grade teachers
15. Put together a bake sale and donate the profits
16. Do a car wash and donate the money to charity
17. Clean your parents room for them
18. Donate books to the library


Monday, October 28, 2013

Red Ribbon Week

Student artwork

Today kicked off Red Ribbon Week here in the middle school. While the celebration started today, the planning began weeks ago. We scheduled daily dress days; today was Mustache Monday. Students could purchase stick on mustaches for a dollar to benefit Student Council. In first period we distributed packets of candy, with the slogan Smarties Don't Do Drugs from Positive Promotions, to every student.

 I began preparing students last week during guidance lessons, so they would have background information on why we celebrate Red Ribbon week. I made a handout with information from that included information on Enrique "Kiki" Camarena and the history behind the event. We read and reviewed the information together. 

In fifth and sixth grade we also viewed the film Natural High and discussed it last week . If you haven't seen this video yet, I highly recommend it. Not only is it free, and now available on the website, it really seems to capture students' attention through celebrity role models and music. In seventh grade, I've been doing Project Alert once a week for the last five weeks. As part of their participation grade for Project Alert, I required students to enter our Red Ribbon Week essay contest or poster contest. Instead of Project Alert last week, we used the whole period to work on essays or posters for the contest. All entries had to be submitted Friday, so I used student artwork to decorate the halls. 

We have activities planned throughout the week, including a door decorating contest on Wednesday and more dress days. Check back later in the week for more pictures and updates. Happy Red Ribbon Week!

Monday- Mustache Monday
Tuesday- Shade Out Drugs (glasses)
Wednesday- Put a Cap on Drugs (hats)
Thursday- Drugs Can't Find Me (camouflage)
Friday- Team Up Against Drugs (sports jerseys/ shirts)

Halls filled with poster contest entries
Smarties Don't Do Drugs

Mustache Monday

The door to my office decorated for Red Ribbon Week- must say I'm pretty proud of my What Does the Fox Say? theme. If you have no idea what this is about, Google it and be entertained. If you work in a middle school this song is probably already stuck in your head.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Glitter & Gossip

A Glittery Gossip Lesson

Here's a fun and concrete way to teach students about how gossip impacts people. I've used this activity with 5th graders and they really enjoy it. I think it could be easily adapted to other age groups as well. I also like to teach gossip lessons with toothpaste, but this resource helps mix it up, if you're like me and get bored repeating lessons. Warning, this can get a little messy!

Write the word gossip on the board. Ask students to define what it means. Record responses making sure to include: information about someone, often hurtful and untrue, spread to others. 

You can do this either as a demonstration or as a contest, depending on the size and behavior issues in your group. As a demonstration, ask for five volunteers to come to the front of the class. Explain that you have a task for them to complete and if they do, you will give them $20 (or whatever amount you have handy in your pocket :) Inform them that their mission is to pass glitter from one person to the next, all the way down the line. However, in order to collect the money, they must make sure that they complete the mission in five minutes. Also, not one spec of glitter is allowed to fall on the floor or desk and absolutely no glitter can remain on their hands. They are not permitted to use water to wash their hands. If you have a small class, you could try to involve all of your students by having two (or more) teams compete to complete the mission at the same time. Ultimately, you are setting your students up to fail. I have done this lesson many times and it is impossible to complete the assigned task, because inevitably glitter flies, falls on the floor, and sticks to students hands. Just make sure to use fine glitter like those pictured above.

This sets the groundwork for you to facilitate a great discussion on how gossip is like glitter. Explain that the reason for the activity is because glitter and gossip have a lot in common. Ask students to describe the glitter: Shiny and messy are usually the first responses. Ask students to identify how gossip is like glitter. Examples of student responses: it sticks with you, it's hard to get it off even if you really want it gone, it's hard to contain, it's easy for it to travel where you didn't intend, it can put the spotlight on someone who doesn't want the attention, it can seem really fun and sparkly but it turns into a big mess. After the discussion, have students put their heads down and put their hand up a.) if they've ever had a gossip or a rumor spread about them or b) they've ever heard a rumor about someone else. Usually, just about every hand goes up

A short story about the dangers of gossip helps students solidify the concept. I use the story below, which can be found at I like it because it's short, sweet, and to the point. However, you could use another short story on the topic to get the point across.

An old proverb relates the story of a person who repeated gossip—some rumor about a neighbor. Soon, the whole community had heard the rumor. Later, the person who spread the gossip learned that the rumor was untrue. The person was very sorry and went to an elder in the community who had a reputation for great wisdom to seek advice. The elder told the person, “Go to your home and take a feather pillow outside. Rip it open and scatter the feathers, then return to me tomorrow.” The person did as the elder had instructed. The next day, the person visited the elder. The elder said, “Go and collect the feathers you scattered yesterday and bring them back to me.” The person went home and searched for the feathers, but the wind had carried them all away. The person returned to the elder and said, “I could find none of the feathers I scattered yesterday.” “You see,” said the elder, “it’s easy to scatter the feathers but impossible to get them back.” So it is with gossip; it doesn’t take much to spread hurtful words, but once you do, you can never completely undo the damage.

Since gossip often involves information that isn't true, ask students whether it is always easy to tell if information is true or not. After listening to a few responses, tell students you are going to do an activity to test their hypotheses. 

Divide students into groups of about four to play the game two truths and a lie. Students should develop two truths for the entire group. They will need to find two things they have in common such as a food they like, a color, a sport, place they've traveled, class they enjoy, favorite movie, activity, etc. Their lie only has to be untrue for one person in the group. Circulate to help groups as needed. Once everyone has finished, call groups to the front of the class to read their facts and allow several students to guess the lie. At the end, review whether it was as easy as they thought to detect the lies

Have students complete the worsheet and review answers as a class.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I'm Back

After taking a little hiatus.....I'm baaaack! No, I didn't spend the time I was MIA on a cool European vacation. The last few months I've been getting the Middle School Counseling Blog at my school up and running. Unfortunately, this blog got a little neglected. In an effort to not be such a slacker, here's an update in photos of what I've been up to recently with new posts coming soon.

Family Time

Nephew Time



Friday, March 1, 2013

Career Resources

This week kicked off my career unit with 5th and 6th grade students. Two very good and free resources for career exploration are Drive of Your Life and Paws in Jobland. In 5th grade, students are using the Job Finder on Paws In Jobland to complete career interest inventories. Upon completion, they can travel through "Jobland" to view potential careers. The program is very easy to use and I like the audio feature, since some students have difficulty reading. I would recommend having headphones available, so you don't have 20+ computers with sound. Students can also search careers alphabetically or take a career quiz.

In 6th grade, students are using the Drive of Your Life site for career exploration.  Students can register so their personal information is saved each time they use the site. This is a great feature, because I plan on using the program over several class periods. Students start by completing an interest inventory and personality assessment. At the end of the first set of questions, students have the opportunity to start building their own customized car. After each additional set of questions, they get to customize a portion of their car. Eventually, students are able to pick the frame, color, wheels, decals, lighting, and steering wheel options. When students are done answering questions, they also have the option to print their personality profile, which gives them their top three characteristics based on how they answered the questions. In the next section of the site, students are given a list of careers, which they can sort alphabetically, by education level, or income, that may be a good match based on their responses to questions. Students can click on a variety of careers to learn more. They must select at least five careers that interest them before moving to the final section of the site where they can drive. While driving, students take various ramps to learn more specific information about the careers on their preferred list