Monday, November 28, 2011

Career Week

Last week was our Career Week, and I was so pleased with our student participation.  On Monday, I showed a video of my friend, Jason Houston, who is an Air Force pilot.  He answered a few questions about his job, connecting school subjects and higher education to the career of a pilot.  On Tuesday, I showed a similar video of a staff member’s husband who is a nurse. I always enjoy showing  nontraditional careers for both genders, and it was great to show a male nurse.  I also started asking trivia questions about our staff members’ previous career paths.  The answers could be found on a “Career Path” bulletin board that I created especially for Career Week. It was fun to see the kids reading about their teachers’ and other staff members’ careers and learning about what the adults wanted to be when they were in elementary school.

On Wednesday, we had Career Dress-Up Day.  I saw a lot of community helpers — doctors, veterinarians, teachers, police officers, as well as business people, lawyers, artists, rock stars, scientists, and engineers.  The students showed a lot of enthusiasm with their costumes, and even those who didn’t dress up were exposed to career ideas just by being at school…truly a win-win situation.  On Thursday, I added a new event for this year’s Career Week — a door decorating contest. I used the motto “College and Career Ready”, and  teachers  voluntarily participated in decorating their doors with their alma mater or favorite school.  I was overwhelmed to have 40 staff members (teachers and teacher assistants) participate in the contest, especially during a month with report cards, lots of standardized testing, and teacher-parent conferences.  What a great bunch of staff members we have! It was amazing to see the kids talking about the different schools.  I decorated my door with UNC-Chapel Hill memorabilia, including a picture of me in my graduation outfit and attached my actual graduation cap with tassel to the door. I can’t tell you how many children asked me about the picture or commented on the fact that I was a Tarheel.  I could tell s few students even had lightbulb moments while discussing the different degrees I had gotten in order to be a school counselor.

Our final event on Friday was a Career Day for Kindergarten and fifth grade students. Each event lasted about two hours  and highlighted a few different careers.  All of the speakers were fabulous!   The fifth grade students loved seeing science experiments and a live snake, exploring a bucket truck from Progress Energy, hearing about work at the Geek squad, and seeing hair styling tools, among many other careers.  The Kindergarten students especially loved the the tools used by a policeman and a veterinary movie. They also  learned about the jobs of principal and scientists.  It was really invigorating to see students excited about future careers and understanding how school could help them reach their career goals.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I just finished an October Respect unit with my second graders that was one of the most fun units I have ever created. I decided to create four lessons that linked Respect to behaviors throughout the school:  on the bus, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the hallways, etc. What I enjoyed most about the unit was the integration of the second grade curriculum (reading/writing) with the ASCA competencies I was covering.
In my first lesson, I was able to use a short story that described a student’s first day on the bus.  We identified story elements such as the main characters and if the story was fiction/nonfiction while also reflecting on the character traits shown in the story and how we felt reading it. In another lesson I used a poem called “The Goops” to highlight bad manners.  As a class, we discussed imagery and the students visualized what they read in the poem.  We also emphasized rhyming words as students took turns reading different lines of the poem.

Another activity as part of the unit was creating a placemat that students could keep.  I found a great template on parents. com that showed a formal place setting, and the students wrote respectful cafeteria behaviors around the border of the placemat.  Before sending the placemates home with the students, we used them in a “Manners Lunch” that I had organized for the students.  I was able to get a local restaurant to donate pasta for all of my second graders, and I supplemented with brownies and bread.  I have never seen students so excited about macaroni and cheese! Many of the students even dressed up for the event and some parents attended without any prompting from us.

When the students entered the cafeteria, they brought their placemats to the cafeteria table, which was covered with a tablecloth.  Plates, utensils, and napkins were located at the end of the table.  The students were responsible for setting their own place setting on top of the placemat template.  Then, they went through the food line and were served lunch as they used polite words.  All the students waited for their classmates to be seated at the individual tables before beginning to eat.  It was a delight to see them putting napkins in their laps, chewing with their mouths closed, and keeping elbows off the table.

The best part is that the final lesson of the unit is focused on teaching the classes the five parts of a letter so that we can write thank you notes to the restaurant that so generously donated the pasta.  Pictures of the event will accompany the letters so that we can show our community the great things we are doing at our school!  I really found the entire experience valuable and hope the experience is something our second graders will remember fondly from their elementary years.
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