Thursday, September 18, 2014

Perseverance: Turn Those Lemons into Lemonade!

We all know this quote, which was surprisingly hard to find on Pinterest due to "new versions" (search and you'll see what I mean), but it is often difficult to keep sight of the "lemonade" part when we have trying circumstances in our lives.

Recently I was browsing through the Elementary School Counselor Exchange and Caught in the Middle Facebook groups (I hope you are ALL members of these online communities.  They have great ideas!), and I came across the most fabulous picture of a kid holding a pile of lemons.  I was immediately intrigued; after all, I LOVE props! After reading the comments, I realized that school counselor Tonya Egas was using lemons in "Introduction to the School Counselor" lessons to explain her role. I immediately began to brainstorm how I could use a bag of lemons in my upcoming Perseverance lessons and created a lesson for my second graders (Smartboard lesson, lesson plan, and worksheets found on TPT here).  I also was inspired by this Perseverance Walk lesson by Amy Lyons.  Thank you YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter for facilitating collaboration......we are all more creative and exciting educators because of you!

I started the lesson like always with my pre/post test gauging students' knowledge of the Perseverance definition.  Then, I related Perseverance to reaching goals this school year and potential obstacles that could slow students down or challenge them.  Students were able to do a cooperative learning activity to share their goals with a partner.

Next, the fun started happening! I chose a volunteer and took one of the example goals of getting 100 points in Accelerated Reader (AR).  As we brainstormed challenges that could slow students down like losing your book, not understanding words, doing poorly on a test, getting sick, and forgetting to read, we gave our volunteer a lemon to hold for each obstacle.  By the end, it was pretty hilarious to see our friend trying to balance all the lemons as he walked towards his goal.


Next, I wanted to incorporate the idea that obstacles   affect everyone, no matter what age, color, gender, or goal you are trying to achieve. Besides being a fan of props, I am also a huge fan of football. So, I was thrilled to FINALLY be able to use this Derrick Coleman commercial that came out around the Superbowl.  It brings a tear to my eye pretty much every time I watch it.  What an inspirational story! We discussed the video as a class and also highlighted some other famous people, athletes and non-athletes, who reached their goals despite obstacles.
Next, we listed subjects and areas of school that could challenge students this year.  The kids did a great job of thinking about potential pitfalls in math, writing, science, AR, and general homework.  I emphasized that we have to use the resources around us and Perseverance strategies to overcome all of these challenges and NEVER GIVE UP! As we brainstormed what those strategies and resources would be, I added lemonade powder to a pitcher of water for each one.  By the end, we had a delicious pitcher of Perseverance lemonade that I shared with the class while they completed an ending work product to apply what they had learned in the lesson. 

I've got to say that the lemonade was a HUGE hit, and the kids were so thankful to have an unexpected treat during the lesson.  I did extend the activity to home by having students interview a family member about their own goals and obstacles in my Perseverance Walk Interview. I hope to post some of these on an upcoming bulletin board or share them in my next lessons in the classroom. 

  Keep turning those lemons into lemonade and Happy Counseling!  ~ Angela

Sunday, September 7, 2014

GRIT...Get Ready, It's Time!

Has the honeymoon period worn off yet?! For some school counselors, last week was your first week of school.  Students eyes were bright and smiles were wide as they came in for that first day of school ready to conquer a new year (at least 99% of them).  For other school counselors, especially my year rounders, the honeymoon period is G.O.N.E.  Reality has set in and there is real work to be done with students, staff, and parents.

I'm about to start week 3 with students and am concentrating on being as proactive as possible so that when the bubbles burst (and they will), I am ready.  In my previous posts here and here I mentioned some of my "Introduction to the School Counselor" lessons.  I am still delivering SMART GOALS with my upper grade students to help them create a positive vision for themselves this year.

I added to my fourth and fifth Smartboard lessons (Here on TPT) and included this awesome YouTube video after I did my pre-test on the best definition for Perseverance and students' perceptions of their goals for the year.  Pretty engaging, right?!

I also am being proactive with my data collection.  Google Docs is truly my friend.  I have my individual counseling form ready to go and have used it already to begin this year's data collection process. You can access the form here to get a better idea of how it looks, and I discussed creating Google forms in my blog post here with character trait surveys. The process is the same for any form, you just change the type of question to the formats below. 
I was able to use the summary of response information at the end of last year to present a nice "School Counseling Data Summary At A Glance" with my staff.  You won't be able to click on all the links but check out the graphics.  I have Google Docs created for pre/post perception and outcome data on all of my classroom guidance lessons and small groups.  It does take some GRIT to stay on top of adding the data throughout the year, but the payoff is so worth it when I can show a quick presentation like this one to highlight my work when it's all said and done.

Most important, I have my ASCA National Model forms completed and ready to show my administrators in my management agreement meeting and in my first advisory council meeting. If you want to get started with the National Model forms, access some of the blank templates here.  The Smart Goals Worksheet is a phenomenal place to start once you have school data so that you narrow in on what your school NEEDS this year.  I also have a 5-page PDF example of my monthly annual calendar from last year with classroom lesson topics, small group topics, schoolwide/parent involvement events, character traits, and bulletin board ideas available on TPT here. All of the classroom lesson topics are cross-referenced with the ASCA indicators and Guidance Essential Standards (picture below) to give an idea of how you can create a comprehensive core curriculum plan throughout the year.

As the above YouTube video emphasizes, take it one step at a time.  It will take some GRIT, but you can do it a little at a time, adding another layer of data or another step of the National Model each year.            
                   Good Luck and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

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