Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Are You Ready for the EOGS?

May is a busy and sometimes stressful month preparing for the EOGs.  Students, teachers, administrators, and parents all want the EOG scores to reflect how hard everyone has worked during the year. So, it's nice to take a moment to have some fun and de-stress before the big testing days begin.  My school took time to do just that during our EOG pep rally this week.  It was quite a spectacle with cheerleaders coming over from the middle school, skits by teachers, and a musical performance by my co-counselor and me.

I found inspiration in this YouTube video featuring the tune of "Forget You" by Cee Lo Green.  Thank you Ms. Watson's fifth grade class! My co-counselor, Amanda, and I changed a few of the words to include EOG strategies we have discussed with students, but it didn't need much tweaking for our use.
The best part of this rap is that the video shows the students dancing at recess, which I thought was really entertaining and a great way to incorporate students into the EOG performances (see below for an example from the video).  I decided a student video would be an awesome backdrop for our live performance and quickly downloaded the iMovie app on my iPad so I could get to work. It was literally as easy as me going to the playground and asking third through fifth graders (who are allowed to have their photo taken) to give me their "best dance move". 
I then edited the different video clips on iMovie and added the Cee Lo Green "Forget You" instrumental version downloaded from iTunes. Amanda and I made up our dance moves to go with the the lyrics for our performance. Then, we decided to give our performance a little something extra and designed EOG shirts to wear for our singing debut.  I created the perfect design at Vistaprint using a line from our rap's refrain, "Let's Do this.... 4s and 3s".  The shirts cost $16 each, and I will definitely wear mine to school on casual Fridays.  We thought it would be cool to go old school with the cassette tape, although I wonder how many of our elementary students even knew what it was. Ha!

Here are some photos of us on the day of the pep rally.
Although I would love to be able to share the video we created on You Tube (it is really cool!), I don't want to violate my students' privacy unless I am able to get permission from all 100 or so that were in the video.  Our media specialist video recorded all of the pep rally so the K-2 teachers and students will be able to enjoy it on our Morning Show.  It was so much fun and a memory I hope our students will have for a long time to come.  What are you doing for your EOG assembly or pep rally?! I would love to hear!  Happy Counseling!   Angela

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Free Fish Follow-Up....Are We Still Swimming Along?

A couple of months ago I wrote about a few classrooms that were experiencing major Spring fever and not in a good way. There was lots of name calling, eye rolling, and leaving classmates out.  I went into the classrooms and presented videos and the book Simon's Hooks, one of my personal favorites.  The students made "Free Fish" cards, which I shared in a previous post.  Here's an update on what I have done since that lesson.

A positive classroom atmosphere (and school atmosphere for that matter) is of upmost importance to a successful school year.  When I think of achieving the right atmosphere in terms of behavior, I imagine a seesaw of social skills.  Students have to learn how to handle the inevitable conflict that will come up, but they also need to learn how to contribute to a positive environment and create the kind of atmosphere they want to learn in each day. There has to be some action on each side of the seesaw to achieve an optimal environment. In that frame of mind, I started having lunch bunches with students in my target classes to focus on the positive behaviors. As I met with one third of the class in each lunch bunch, I followed up on the free fish strategies and gauged whether students were using the strategies, which  ideas seemed the most helpful, and discussed any other recent conflicts.  Then, I read the book Have You Filled A Bucket Today? with them. This series of books by Carol McCloud (see below for another title I have used in the past) is great for promoting positive behavior, and I have used them in personal/social guidance lessons when I am talking about treating people kindly and making friends, as well as in my introductory school counseling lessons in August.  In fact, I am planning on using them again this August with ALL grade levels and creating a bulletin board similar to the one pictured below using student work created in the lesson.

After reading the book, I challenged my students to a game of Bucket Filling Bingo.  Each student received a bingo card at his or her lunch bunch and was instructed to return it to me when the card was completed (Blackout Bingo Style).  In order to have students really reflect on their bucket filling behaviors, I asked them to write the person's name whose bucket was filled with their action in each specific square.  I included behaviors such as asking someone to play, giving a compliment, saying "I'm sorry", and saying "Good Morning".  The students were really excited and have already been turning in their completed cards. I am giving them a small treat from my prize box when they return it, and I hope this "pay it forward" mentality will create a domino effect that continues throughout the final 21 days of school.  Happy Counseling!

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