Polka Dots

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Red Ribbon Week

To celebrate Red Ribbon Week this year, I provided the teachers with short classroom activities and lessons that they could incorporate into their classes. Each student was also given a red bracelet on Monday and asked to sign a pledge card stating that they will remain drug free. I collected all of the signed pledge cards and turned them into a giant red ribbon that is hung in the main hallway. Every class passes the ribbon on their way to the cafeteria, so it is in a great location and can be seen by everyone. I have heard many students making great comments about it as they try to find their pledge card.

Next year, I would like to incorporate many of the great Red Ribbon Week ideas that I have seen on other school counselor website such as themed days, dress up days, and community activities. Since this is my first year at my new school and their first year having a counselor, I wanted to start off slow and get everyone acclimated with the purpose of Red Ribbon Week before I incorporate more activities.

Red Ribbon Week also tied in nicely to our October virtue of Respect. We talked about respecting our bodies, minds, and friendships by staying drug free.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Say Something

For the Respect lesson in 5th grade, we read the book Say Something by Peggy Moss. This is a great book to go along with the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program because it talks about the roles of the bystander and ally. In the book, the main character sees other students being made fun of, pushed around, and laughed at. She comments to the reader that she does not do those things, but she does not defend the other students either. After reading the book, we discussed the terms bully, victim, and bystander. We discussed the different reasons why someone may remain a bystander and not stand up for the victim.

After our discussion we talked about how to "say something" to stand up against bullying. The students came up
with ideas of phrases they could say to both the bully and the victim such as "Stop it! That's not nice!" or "Come and play with me today." We then created a poster with all of our sayings. The posters are hung in the 5th grade classrooms as a reminder for the students to say something and become an ally rather than a bystander.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Simon's Hook - A Lesson in Respect

During the month of October, we discussed the virtue of Respect. In 3rd grade, we read the book Simon's Hook. I actually found a few YouTube videos based on the book (Part 1 and Part 2 can be found here). I ended up showing the students the videos instead of reading the book because they did a better job of explaining the different fish comments. A lot of the pages in the book contain thought or speech bubbles, which I find hard to use in a read-aloud. I thought the videos did a better job than I could. The videos are a little hokey, but the kids really liked them. I think it also helped to keep their attention longer than if I was reading the book in front of the class. We do not have document cameras, so having it up on the SmartBoard for everyone to see is always a plus!

We watched the first two videos and discussed how teasers and bullies will throw out hooks by calling names or making fun. It is easy to get caught by their hooks and make fun back, get angry, and let the hook get to you. The book gives five alternatives for being able to "swim free" and not get hooked.

1. Do little or nothing - don't react
2. Agree with the hook
3. Distract - change the subject
4. Laugh or make a joke
5. Stay away

After our discussion, each student chose one way that they can avoid getting hooked and decorated a paper fish. We hung all of the fish on a poster to help remind the students that they have the power to control their own reactions and avoid getting hooked by teases and put-downs.


September was Responsibility Month. In 5th grade we discussed "Keys to Success" again this year. Here is a new poster from my new school. More information about this lesson can be found in a previous post. We talked about what goes into being a successful student and the need to be responsible.

In 4th grade, we read Shel Silverstein's poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out. We discussed how Sarah's responsibility of taking the garbage out literally started piling up on her. To demonstrate how our own responsibilities begin to pile up if we don't take care of them, I brought a bag of "clean" trash (crumpled up paper, paper towel tubes, empty water bottles, etc). We talked about one of the responsibilities the students' have: taking tests. We went through the different steps needed to do well on a test, such as paying attention in class, completing classwork and homework, reading the textbook or reading book, completing a study guide, studying several days in advance of the test, getting a good night's sleep, and eating a healthy breakfast. After we listed all of the steps, we went through them again, but this time, I asked the students what would happen if they did not do that step and threw a piece of trash on the pile. Soon, the pile so high it began to topple over and we talked about how hard it would be take on the responsibility of doing well on a test when you haven't been paying attention, haven't been completing the work, haven't been reading, and haven't been studying. That responsibility would seem too large and the "pile" would be too tall to tackle. After our discussion, each student wrote a promise to themselves to be responsible this year.


Before I left my school in Virginia, my Girls on the Run team "challenged" me to the St. Louis Rock n Roll Marathon. I somehow convinced my husband to sign up for the half marathon with me. I had never run more than a 5K before starting to train for the half marathon. We began training over the summer after I moved. The training was long and hard and I wanted to quit multiple times.

Finally, race day came on October 23rd. I wore my hot pink shorts in honor of my Girls on the Run team. It was such an emotional day. I was really nervous before we started but once we got going, I felt a lot better. Seeing all of the people cheering on the sidelines was very moving. Around mile 9 I felt like I had hit a wall. I didn't know if I could make it to the end, but I pushed through it. When we finally got in sight of the finish line, I took off, leaving my husband in the dust! :)

When I finished, I was so proud of myself. I wasn't sure if I could really do it, but I am so glad that I took the chance and persevered. And I am so glad that my GOTR team challenged me to it. I think it made me a stronger person, not just physically, but emotionally as well.