Sunday, July 31, 2016

MANIC Monday (and Tuesday!)......

                                                     *Image found on Pinterest from

Teachers, school counselors, and ALL educators, I know how we all start feeling when our "back to school countdown" gets under 20.  Believe me, I know! But, I have also found one way to ease the pain is to be REALLY EXCITED about new materials you are going to use!

Whether that's the book club you have been wanting to start for 2 years and now you finally have the resource (yep, that was me) or an awesome new book and lesson plan to use with your students, it's a lot more fun to start the year with something that motivates you!

Luckily, now is your chance because TPT IS HAVING A SALE on Monday and Tuesday...and everything in the Life on the Fly Store is going to be 28% off......Yes, really! 

Also, I am SO fortunate to be part of a group called Confident Counselors who have created an AMAZING e-book for the sale.  The best part?!!! There is a freebie on every page.

Be sure to check out some new stores and click on the green star to follow them. My Life on the Fly page is below.  Click on the image to download the entire e-book for FREE on TPT.

Enjoy and Happy Counseling! 
                ~ Angela

Thursday, July 28, 2016

It's the FINAL Countdown: Part II

I'm BACK and super excited about some upcoming posts to share resources (new books, websites, counseling resources, the list goes on and on).  I had four days of amazing professional development earlier in July and am also presenting at the Eastern Summer Academy for the NC School Counselor's Association TOMORROW! Nothing like the end of July to start getting you thinking about school again!

As promised, it is time for PART II of my Academic Habits post (and my first offer of bundled lesson plans EVER at my Life on the Fly TPT to the bottom for your special READER deal). School counselors do SO MANY THINGS, and I am loving this infographic that I saw on school counselors affecting student success at the NYU Counseling website (click on the picture to see the entire infographic or visit my Life on the Fly FB page where it is also posted). Note the college readiness and academic outcomes that fit right in line with this post. There are some pretty awesome stats here; perhaps you should also send it to your school administration!

Where are We? 

I ended my last post sharing the data I had collected from my fifth grade students and teachers on what academic habits they needed most to affect their future success.  Although they identified listening skills, study skills, and organization as the most critical, I narrowed it down to two topics that would be most developmentally appropriate, as well as fit into our time constraints for fifth grade.  As an aside, I am constantly thinking about how guidance curriculum spirals through the grades so that by the time students go through K-5 at my school, they will have received multiple lessons presenting varied academic objectives within that domain.  This year, that spiraling curriculum looked like this for my grade levels in bold (and what I have taught for the other grade levels when I was a solo counselor):

K: School is my Job! (Positive feelings toward work and learning)
1:  Whole Body Listening
2:  Homework Habits
3:  Goal Setting, Organization of Materials (backpacks, cubbies, desks)
4:  Goal Setting, Organization of Time 
5:  Goal Setting, Learning Styles

Since I was not responsible for fourth grade this year and my fifth grade students identified organization of time as an area they needed help on, I actually presented lessons on goal setting, learning styles, and organization of time with them. Here's how......

The Lessons: Learning Styles and Organization of Time 
Learning Styles
My fifth grade students all have Chromebooks so I was able to share links with them as we viewed many of the materials in these lessons. It was amazingly efficient and so kid-friendly! We started with Learning Styles because I wanted to tackle study skills in an intentional and personalized way.  Students completed a pre-test on what learning styles they already knew. I have really been enjoying having older students use the same pre/post ticket (like the example below) during lessons to measure growth.  They draw lines through pre-test blank spaces if they don't know the information at the beginning of the lesson and then write it in for the post-test information once they do. I collect them as an exit ticket at the end of the lesson and use it for my program results data at the end of the year.
I then reviewed the following infographic from UltraLinx (yes, I love infographics!) and students predicted what learning style would fit them best to a partner. The students took the following short quiz found at on their Chromebooks to get their learning style results.  One of the reasons I like this quiz is because it gave hybrid results. For example, it might say a student was 70% visual learner and 30% auditory learner rather than giving one rigid type. This flexibility is more applicable to real life and helps kids get away from "inside the box" thinking.

After receiving their quiz results, students were grouped based on their most dominant learning style, which meant I had to be flexible with materials and table groupings since I was never sure how many students would fit in each category. I stayed organized with table cards showing each assigned group.  Then, I gave students overview sheets I created on their dominant learning style and asked them to apply it to a teaching activity. Each group used current Science or Literacy vocabulary (I collaborated with their teachers to create these lists) and planned a way to teach one vocabulary word to the class using their particular learning style. The analysis and application (think Bloom's taxonomy higher order thinking) really helped them internalize their learning style.  Students came up with everything from poems to raps to dances to drawings to teach their words, and it was a fun way for them to practice oral presentation skills, too.

Time Management
Our second academic habits lesson focused on time management, which I also emphasized as an ultra important topic for middle school.  Students started out by sharing all the different extracurricular commitments and homework responsibilities they have. Nothing gets kids more excited about a lesson than being able to talk about themselves, and I have found that turn & talk or stand up, hand up, pair up conversations are a good way to get the ball rolling.  Check out Spencer Kagan for more structured cooperative learning ideas.

Next, students paired up and accessed my Google Drive lesson via a link (again, super easy and efficient if you have that capability).  I had students make a copy of my lesson once they were in their own Google drive so they could discuss the activities and actually type in the document without affecting others.  Students read a sample fifth grade after-school schedule for "Ashley," and we talked about Need to Do versus Want to Do tasks. Then, they organized her schedule electronically in a chart.  Then, they brainstormed discussion questions, which we also shared out as a whole group.  

Finally, students picked one school day and created their own afternoon schedules. I allowed students to choose whether they wanted to create their schedule electronically with my template or with a paper version. We shared model examples of prioritizing time (homework first, including daily reading, getting exercise) as students completed the activity.

This lesson didn't have a pre/post written component, but in the future I plan on using four corners to gather some perception data about how well students think they are doing with organizing time before the instruction and after the instruction.

So, there you have it.  The final countdown for this post is over, but it has just started for the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year! I am down to 21 days in my neck of the woods and plan on enjoying every single one of them before I head back to my school kiddos. I hope I can save you some time and help you enjoy your days MORE by offering my first ever lesson bundle at Life on the Fly TPT. This K-6 bundle includes four lessons (including the two in this post) so you can check that domain off your list for next year! As a special deal for my Life on the Fly readers, I am giving an extra 25% OFF if you buy in the next 24 hours.  

Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

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