“Wonder”

When the book “Wonder” arrived on the scene I knew it was special.  I knew that it had the potential to help children understand empathy, diversity, and acceptance.  My school used “Wonder” as a One School, One Book read.  Everyone loved it.  However, when the movie came out it became not just special, but a phenomenon.   I arranged for our entire school 3-8 grades to see it at a local movie theater.  The kids were capitavated, but then I was like “Now what?”.  How do we keep momentum of CHOOSE KIND going?  In doing some research I came across a younger children’s version entitled, “We’re All Wonders”.  It is also by RJ Palacio.  I immediately purchased it and started working on how to incorporate it into our school culture.

I first read the book to K-5 classes.  For the 3-5 graders we did some quote art with quotes from “Mr. Browne’s Precepts”.  For the younger grades we did some role plays about kindness, but I wanted to take it beyond my classroom lessons.

If you’ve read any of my other posts you know that bulletin boards are not my thing.  I don’t particularly enjoy them and I’m defintley not good at them, YET.  (See what I did there, Mindset).   However, I know that they can be a powerful tool so I decided to step outside my comfort zone and create the “Choose Kind Challenge” using the book “We’re all Wonders”.

I choose 12 different acts of kindness  and printed them on slips of paper.  I them put those slips in the envelopes you see on the board.  Students may choose one of those or do something of their own choosing.  Once they have done an act of kindness they can come and put their name on the board.  The school goal is to fill it up so much that no more names can fit.

I’m still not the Monet of bulletin board creators, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out and excited to see what the students do with this challenge.  Even though I’m a bulletin board novice there is not doubt that bulletin boards can make your counseling program POP!

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It’s OLYMPIC TIME!

Who doesn’t LOVE the Olympics?  As a counselor, the Olympics are a treasure trove of stories for perseverance, goal setting, teamwork, and so much more!  This year I did some research on resources that I could use to integrate the Winter Olympics into my lessons.  While there is a lot out there I found two that I really felt were perfect to use in my counseling program.

NBC Sports, Sports Champions, and Sports Engine have teamed up to bring the US Olympic athletes to you!  Clicking on this link will take you to the lessons that they have created for your use!  There are videos of the US Olympic athletes talking about goal setting, teamwork, diversity and perseverance.  There are even lesson plans that go with each one divided up by K-3 and 4-8.  These would be perfect for a classroom lesson, small group, or to send to teachers as an additional resource.

At my school I facilitate a STEAM class.  I found a set of videos from the Vancouver on Science 360.  There are videos that discuss the science surrounding a variety of Olympic events, including snowboarding, figure skating, curling, and more!  As we watched the videos we also would discuss the various careers that are involved in the making of an Olympic athlete.  This included Sports Scientist, Ski Makers, etc..  NBC Learn also has a great set of videos about the science of the games.

Everyone loves the Olympics and what better way to make your program POP than to get involved in the game!  GO TEAM USA!!

Technology and Transition

How do you or your students make good, sound decisions about class selections at the next level (High School/Middle School) without really seeing what the class is like?  Are we just making a shot in the dark and hoping for the best?  This question really bothered me and then it occured to me – why not immerse our students into a class?  Using Google Hangout my 8th graders were able to actually witness a freshman english class!  Setting it up was really simple.  I emailed one of the high school english teachers to see if they would be interested.  The english teacher immediately e mailed me with an enthusiastic YES!  She gave me her schedule and then I worked with our ELA teacher to set up a mutual time to “hangout”.   The high school English teacher called me via google hangout and voila! we were able to be a part of her high school english class.  After doing her lesson the high school teacher then took some time to answer questions from our 8th graders.  100% of our students said they felt it was a worthwhile activity and helped to alleviate some anxiety that they had about english.  It was so great we are going to try to this with all our subjects.  This is a great way to make transition POP!

Google Hangout

College Talk Walk

I LOVE getting students outside of my room and being interactive.  This activity was inspired by the story book walks you might see at your local library or playground.  I thought why not do a college talk walk?  I created (on a whim) 9 different activities for students to do as they walk around our building.  The K-5 groups were led by some middle school students who I trained during their lunch time.  You could easily do this same activity with 5th graders as the leaders for the K-4 students.  I put the activities around the building based on the activity.  For example, the activity about the cafeteria went outside our cafeteria, the activity where they had to lay down and spell was out an acronym was in our lobby in order to give them lots of room.

I numbered each activity and had each group start on a different number.  For instance, one group might start with #2 and end with #1.  This kept the groups from overlapping.

This activity checked several boxes for me.  One, the mentor piece, I’m always trying to get the older students to mentor the younger ones.  Two, I chose middle school students to give them that college knowledge refresher.  This activity gave them lots of confidence and encouragement.  Three, it was a fun and developmentally appropriate way for the younger students to learn about college.  Four, did I say it was fun?  It was fun!!

We did this activity on National College Signing Day.  I used the Better Make Room logo on my signs to advertise this program to the older students.  We also watched a video from Michelle Obama before we went on our college talk walk.

Feel free to use this activity to help make your college talk POP!    

This picture on the left shows all the activities that I used.  Feel free to copy.