Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Valentine's Day Group Activity

Some of the finished products
Sorry this is a little late, but last week we made some special crafts in honor of Valentine's Day during lunch bunches. Originally, I purchased paintable wooden picture frames, paint, and decals from Michaels, intending only to do the the crafts with my 5th grade girls group. However, one of the boys from the 6th grade group stopped in my office early in the week and saw the bag of supplies and asked what they were for. After I explained, he seemed really interested, so I asked if the boys group wanted to do a project too. He told me he'd check with the other boys and let me know. To my surprise, he was back the next day to tell me they wanted to do a Valentine's Day project too.  So, I went back to Michaels for more supplies. I couldn't believe how excited the students were to give the frames to their "valentines," friends, and parents. I never thought 6th grade boys would be so into painting hot pink heart shaped frames. Who knew? The activity was not only fun, it was a great opportunity for students to be creative and practice social skills, particularly taking turns (with the paint) and sharing (materials and information).

Friday, February 15, 2013

Compliments Count

This week's 5th and 6th grade guidance lessons focused on compliments. Below is my lesson plan.
 235 Envelopes filled with compliments!

Essential Question: What is a compliment and how do compliments impact us?

Activating & Accelerating Strategy: Ask the class if anyone can tell you what a compliment is. Write responses on the board to form the definition. Allow students time to brainstorm examples of compliments. Either give them post-its or allow students to come to the board to record responses. Allow students to think-pair-share by verbally practicing giving a compliment to his/her partner

Teaching: Have students sit in a circle on the floor and make sure they bring a pencil. Lead the class in discussion
1. How do we feel when we receive a compliment?
2. Is it always easy to give others compliments? Why not? (Discuss barriers)
3. Do we compliment others as much as we could/should?
4. Is a compliment meaningful if it isn't sincere?
Distribute a blank sheet of paper to each student and instruct students to write his/her name at the top in large letters. Explain to students that when you say pass, he/she will pass their paper to the right. When they receive their neighbor's paper, they will look at the name on the top and write one compliment. Reinforce that they should be able to think of at least one positive thing about every member in the class, even if they don't always get along. If they are getting stuck remind them of the examples on the board. Continue to pass papers/give compliments until all students have complimented one another.
Some of the compliments I received are now displayed on the bulletin board in my office

Wrap Up & Beyond the Classroom: To wrap up ask students how they can translate this activity into their everyday lives and how something, as simple as a compliment, can improve our school environment. I explained that students would not be getting their papers back today. I will be in the cafeteria throughout the week if they would like to add compliments for students in other grades or classes. I went through all papers to make sure no negative comments slipped in. Next guidance lesson I will be returning their papers in envelopes with a little note from me as well.

The note I wrote 15 years ago
Reflection: Students had an extremely positive reaction to this activity. I was surprised how many students were eager to come up during lunch to add compliments to other student's papers. I was also stopped a lot in the hall and had students come to my office to ask me when they would get their papers back. I decided to do this lesson after my friend Faith randomly posted a picture on Facebook of the message I wrote to her when we did a similar activity back when we were in 10th grade. I couldn't believe she kept the paper.  We weren't friends yet back then, and I wrote, " I don't really know you that well yet, but I  hope we can get to know each other better." Almost 15 years later, we're now bestfriends. Admittedly, I'm not very sentimental, but I still remember when we did this activity. Who doesn't like hearing good things about themself every once in awhile? Sometimes, it's the little things that go a long way.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013