Friday, January 28, 2011

School Counselor Blog Turns 2!

I cannot believe it has been two years since my first post on School Counselor Blog! I am so glad I took my dad's advice to start this blog.  Looking back at my first posts I realize how far this blog has come in the past two years. I have grown so much as a blogger and a school counselor.

Writing School Counselor Blog has been an amazing experience and has enabled me to connect with so many readers all over the United States and the world.  I get so many emails from people thanking me for this resource and asking questions.  It is very rewarding to know that School Counselor Blog is helping other school counselors and educators find ideas, resources, and lessons.

Thank you to all of my readers for making this journey such an unbelieveable one!

What is your favorite post, lesson, resource, or idea you received from School Counselor Blog? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Give "Put-Ups" not "Put-Downs!"

"Put Up" Designed by student council member
side two
One of my roles at school, in addition to my role as a school counselor, is co-advising student council with the other school counselor.  One of many the benefits of co-advising student council (especially with another counselor!) is the opportunity to facilitate school-wide programing aligned with our school counseling program.

At our first student council meeting in January, we told the students we were interested in hosting "No Name Calling Week," January 24th - 28th.  We explained that "No Name Calling Week" is a week-long event to foster dialogue about bullying and disrespect.  The students were very excited and began brainstorming ideas.  One of the students had an idea to make and sell "Put-Ups," an alternative to "put-downs."  I was very impressed with her idea, because I have a lesson from Teaching Tolerance about "Put-Ups," but I have not facilitated it at my current school.

"Put-ups" are compliments or positive statements that make people feel good, whereas "put-downs" are negative statements or things said to make someone feel bad. All of the student council members were very excited about the idea of selling "Put-Ups" and hosting a "No Name-Calling Week" at our school.

"Put-Up" designed by student council member
side one
One of the student council members used the postcard function in Microsoft Publisher to design the "Put-Up." One side says "Stay Up with a Put-Up" and the opposite side says "Make someone a star and put them up!"  Students can write their message in the star. Student council members also designed a banner and posters to hang around the school.

During "No Name Calling Week" student council members will sell "Put-Ups" during lunch for twenty-five cents and then donate the proceeds to a charity.  Teachers and staff are able to buy "Put-Ups" for a student or another staff member!  Student council members will deliver the "Put-Ups" to students' homerooms.  Homeroom teachers are encouraged to display students "Put-Ups" on the wall to reinforce positive language and complements.

We are also encouraging teachers to nominate students each day during "No Name-Calling Week" who demonstrate respect and exemplary character.  Nominated students will receive a "shout out" on the morning announcements. By recognizing students for showing respect and kindness to others, we are hoping to inspire other students to demonstrate the same behaviors.

Hosting a "No Name-Calling Week" is a great way to start a dialogue with students and staff about respect and bullying. I love the "Put-Up" idea because it encourages students to compliment each other and focus on the positive. The "No Name-Calling Week" website has lesson plans and resources for hosting your own "No Name-Calling Week." Barnes and Noble has partnered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network this year to highlight books, resources, and information about bullying. Teaching Tolerance also has a great lesson about "Put-Ups."

How are you celebrating "No Name-Calling Week" at your school? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Taking Steps to Make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream a Reality - Part 1

Monday was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  In honor of Dr. King's legacy, I participated in my district's day of service. Hundreds of volunteers, including school counselors from my district, gathered to work on service projects to support individuals in our community. Together we made MLK day a day ON, not a day off.

In honor of Dr. King's legacy, I wanted to find a lesson that would bring the spirit of acceptance and social justice into the classroom.  I facilitate weekly classroom lessons for students in sixth grade, so I am always looking for engaging lessons. I found some great lesson ideas on the Teaching Tolerance website. I combined aspects of two extension lessons, "Take a Stand" and "Keep Moving Display," from the lesson Dr. King and the Movement. This week, I am facilitating the lesson in the three sixth grade classes.

When students enter my room, I explain that I will be reading three quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and asking them to decide if the quote rang true today.  To prepare for the lesson, I taped an "agree" sign on one side of the room and a "disagree" sign on the other side of the room.  I also printed out quotes to display on the board as I read them.  Below are the quotes I use in the order I read them to students:

“We may all have come on different ships, but we’re on the same boat now.”
–    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
–    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
–    Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After reading each quote, I have students stand up and move to the "agree" side or the "disagree" side.  Once students picked a side, we discussed the quote. I ask students to share with the group why they picked the side they chose.

To make the quotes relevant to school and bullying, I ask students if each quote is true in their school.  Students have very insightful ideas about how students often bully each other because of the color of their skin, the clothes they wear, or how they fix their hair and not "by the content of their character."

After our discussion, I ask students to return to their seats so I can give instructions for the second part of the activity.  I read students another quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from a Teaching Tolerance poster I have hanging in my office. The quote is featured below.

“Now I realize that there are those all over who are telling us that we must slow up. … But we cannot afford to slow up. We have a moral obligation to press on. We have our self-respect to maintain. But even more we can’t afford to slow up because of our love for America and our love for the democratic way of life. … We must keep moving. We must keep going.”
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
From “The Montgomery Story,” an address to the 47th annual NAACP Convention, San Francisco, June 27, 1956.

After reading the quote, I give all of the students a piece of construction paper and ask them to trace their feet.  I explained to students that we were going to "keep moving" by taking steps to make Dr. King's Dream a reality.  After students traced their feet, I instructed them to write "A benefit I receive as a result of Dr. King's legacy is..." on the left foot and "One way I will ensure Dr. King's work keeps moving forward is..."on the right foot. 

I plan to use student's feet to create a display titled "Taking Steps to Make Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream a Reality."

Are you planning any lessons/activities connected to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy this week? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: "What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety"

What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety (What to Do Guides for Kids)I am always in search of books I can use for individual counseling, group counseling, and classroom lessons. When I find something great, I love to share it with my readers! What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety was recommended to me by Lacey, a School Counselor Blog Facebook Fan. I knew there was something special about this book the minute I opened it!

About What to Do When You Worry Too Much


What to Do When You Worry Too Much by Barbara Huebner is an entertaining guide to help children overcome and conquer anxiety.  What to Do When You Worry Too Much uses metaphors, stories, art, and writing to help children understand their worries and learn how to gain control over them.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much explains anxiety in kid-friendly terms. The book begins by comparing worries to tomatoes.  Like tomatoes, if you "water" worries by paying attention to them and "feeding" them, they will get out of control fast. Each chapter outlines an aspect of worrying and gives children practical ideas of how to understand and combat worries. The pictures and activities in the book are great.  Students really connect to the stories and examples. If you check out the "Look inside this book" on the  What to Do When You Worry Too Much product page, you can view images from the book as well as read excerpts.


Why I LOVE What to Do When You Worry Too Much


I LOVE that What to Do When You Worry Too Much EMPOWERS students to overcome anxiety and worries. The examples, metaphors, and activities help children understand how worries try to take control in a fun and engaging way. Examples of activities include: creating a sign for worry time, writing what you would say to a worry to make it go away, and learning relaxation techniques. To the right of the page is a picture from a previous post about "Things I would say to the 'worry bully'" to make it go away.

Ideas for Using What to Do When You Worry Too Much


I used What to Do When You Worry Too Much for individual counseling sessions with a sixth grade student; she absolutely loved it!  She loved the drawing and writing activities and she also enjoyed reading the book aloud to me. We did a chapter or two each time we met.  

It would be great to use What to Do When You Worry Too Much in a group setting! Each session could focus on one or more chapters.  A group would be beneficial for students because they would see they are not alone in their experience of anxiety. It would also be helpful for students to hear how others combat their worries and what they say to make their worries go away.

What to Do When You Worry Too Much is very interactive and has many pages where students are instructed to draw or write about an experience. I wrote a previous post about Really Good Stuff Ready to Decorate™ Journals, which would be PERFECT for use with What to Do When You Worry Too Much

How will you use What to Do When You Worry Too Much with students? Do you have any other favorite books about anxiety or worrying? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Grief and Loss Group: Balloon Release

Over the summer I volunteered at a weekend-long grief and loss camp for children.  As part of the closing ceremony, I had the privilege of facilitating a balloon release.

The balloon release was a simple, yet meaningful way to commemorate loved ones who passed away and give closure to the weekend. The children and staff members wrote messages on the balloons to their loved ones who passed away. I asked everyone to take a few moments to think of their loved one as well as their time spent at the camp that weekend.  After a few moments had passed, I did a countdown to release the balloons.  It was mesmerizing to see dozens of colorful balloons floating in the sky.

For the balloon release, I wrote a message to my grandmother who passed away in 2005 unexpectedly from cancer at age 61.  I wrote a personal message to her and closed it saying "You Are My Sunshine." My grandmother always sang "You Are My Sunshine" to me as a child.  The song is very special to me because it reminds me of my grandmother.  She was a sunshine in my life who "made me happy when skies [were] gray" just like the song states.  It was very therapeutic for me to write a message to her on the balloon and to see it drifting up towards the sky.

I wanted to recreate the balloon release experience for students in my grief and loss group.  I explained the balloon release to the students and asked them if they would be interested in doing one. They were very excited about it.  We decided to plan a balloon release for our last group session together.

I began our last session today by asking students about their favorite parts of group.  Students really enjoyed using conversation cubes to start our sessions, hearing other students talk about their loved ones, reading Tess' Tree to talk about stages of grief, and the "Wall of Support" activity from Girls in Real Life Situations.  (Just a side note, my group was with boys, but many of the activities in Girls in Real Life Situations work great with boys too!)

At the end of the session, we took our balloons out on the playground.  I instructed students to take a few moments of silence to think about their loved ones who have passed away.  After a few moments, I told them I would count to three and we would all release our balloons at the same time.  At the count of three, we all let go. It was beautiful to watch the colorful balloons soaring through the crisp January air. 

The students really enjoyed the balloon release. It was a powerful way to end our group together.

Do you have any favorite activities for grief and loss groups? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Looking for more ways to use balloons in counseling? Check out my previous post Fabulous Find: Balloons.

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ready to Decorate™ Journal: Really Good Stuff Product Review

I have been looking for the perfect journal for individual and group counseling and I have finally found it!

Really Good Stuff Ready to Decorate™ Journals are a dream come true for individual and group counseling. The Ready to Decorate™Journals are blank on the outside and have one blank page and one lined page next to each other. The journal is 7" by 9" and has 64 pages. The Ready to Decorate™Journals are available to purchase in packs of 36 or packs of 144. They are a great price too! The Ready to Decorate™ Journals is $1.50 per student for 36 and $1.25 per student for 144 plus shipping and handling.

Students enjoy personalizing their journals and making them their own. The front of the Ready to Decorate™ Journal is blank, which makes it easy to personalize.  Students in my 8th grade girls group enjoyed decorating the front of their journals. I instructed the girls how to decoupage the front of their journals using magazine cut outs, Mod Podge, and foam paint brushes. The loved it! Other students I work with have used markers and crayons to personalize their journals.

The inside of the Ready to Decorate™ Journal has a blank page and a lined page next to each other. I love this feature because it allows for many different kinds of prompts and activities. Students can complete a drawing activity on one page and a written activity on the next page. Having everything all in one journal is great because it makes it easy to keep all of the group activities organized in one place for students (and me).

I have been using What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety for individual counseling with a student I work with. Since I got the journals, she has been recording all the activities we do from the book in her Ready to Decorate™ Journal. The picture to the left of your screen shows an example of an activity I did with the student from What to Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety and how I recorded it in the Ready to Decorate™ Journal. (This is my hand writing and work, not the student's).

The lined pages of the Ready to Decorate™ Journal are great for writing activities. Students can write journal entries, answer writing prompts, and make lists. The picture to the right of your screen is an example of how I used the lined page for a writing prompt. (This is my hand writing and work, not a student's).

There are endless possibilities for using the Ready to Decorate™ Journal with students in individual, group, and classroom settings. Really Good Stuff sent me 12 Ready to Decorate™ Journals in exchange for a product review. I never recommend a product I do not totally love!

The Ready to Decorate™ Journals literally flew off my shelf! I gave some of the Ready to Decorate™ Journals to students I am seeing individually, but the majority of the Ready to Decorate™ Journal went to my current 8th grade Girls In Real Life Situations (G.I.R.L.S) group.  I plan to order more Ready to Decorate™ Journals for individual counseling and groups I am facilitating.

For more product reviews by teachers, visit The Teachers' Lounge, a Really Good Stuff blog.

How would you use the Ready to Decorate™ Journals with students? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Respectful Listening" Skills



I recently began facilitating weekly classroom lessons with 6th grade students. I am planning to cover a myriad of topics with students throughout the remainder of the year. Some of the topics I am working on currently include bullying, conflict resolution, and respect.

For the lesson I facilitated today, I used No Kidding About Bullying by Naomi Drew.  I taught students about "Respectful Listening," through a role play described in the book.  The students identified ways  I was being a respectful listener, including making eye contact, paying attention, asking questions about the topic, and not interrupting.  I recorded their answers on my white board. After the role play, I instructed students to complete a brief checklist from No Kidding About Bullying to assess how well they feel they listen to others.

To get students up and moving while reinforcing "respectful listening" skills, I used an activity from Energizers! 88 Quick Movement Activities That Refresh and Refocus, K-6 called "Walkie-Talkies." Students walk to find a partner, talk to the partner, and walk back to their seat at the conclusion of the activity. I explained to students that during the activity their job was to focus on being a "respectful listener." We came up with a list of topics together to set students up for success in starting conversations. Students were able to refer to our list of characteristics of a "respectful listener" on the white board during the activity. I used my chime to signal when it was time for students to return to their seats.

The students really enjoyed the "Walkie-Talkies" activity. They were excited to share the new things they learned about their classmates and what they had in common that they did not know about previously. I did a whip-share, in which each student shares a brief answer, about how it felt to have a "respectful listener" listening to them.  Some of the ways that respectful listening made students feel included "heard," "important," and "special." We discussed how "respectful listening" can help make a classroom more peaceful. When students are respectful listeners it makes everyone feel heard, respected, and included.

Finally, I had students complete a worksheet from No Kidding About Bullying about a great listener in his or her life.  Students then reflected on something they wanted to work on to be a better and more respectful listener.

For more information and excerpts from No Kidding About Bullying visit Free Spirit Publishing.

How do you teach students about "respectful listening" skills? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.



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