Polka Dots

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A School Counselor Lunch Bunch Linky Party

I am participating in the Scrapbook of a School Counselor Lunch Bunch Linky Party! Counselors have so many different ideas when it comes to lunch bunches. This is how we Lunch Bunch!

I use lunch bunches in several different ways. I have the students for about 25-30 minutes, so we go full speed the minute that we start. Since my office is a ways away from the cafeteria, I keep a stock of spoons, forks, knives, napkins, straws, and snacks in my office. I always meet my groups in the back of the cafeteria and before we leave I ask them at least five times if they have everything they need. Our students can often get "seconds" if they buy hot lunch, so I always advise those students to get another helping if they think they will need it. 

For Kindergarten students, I use it as a "getting to know you" tool. Every Monday, I take six Kindergarten students (three from each class) and invite them to lunch in my office. I simply take a roster into the classrooms each Monday and call off the names of the students next on the list. I run through the entire roster and then start over again. I can usually get in at least four rounds before the end of the year, so that's usually my goal. Since I teach Social Skills classes each month at the Kindergarten level, I don't feel pressure to run a small group. I see the lunch bunches with my Kindergarten students as a way to get them excited about small groups. They really look forward to coming and are always asking when it is going to be their turn. So even though we are not focusing on a specific topic or skill, I feel like I am creating an "insurance policy" - get them excited about lunch bunches now so that they will carry that excitement with them when it's time to meet and work on specific skills. 

For grades 1 through 5, I use a traditional small group format. I meet with approximately six students on a weekly basis for five weeks. I was meeting for six weeks, but found that my last session of the year would have to be cut short, so I decided to condense them all so that I could fit in about four sessions during the year. I work with teachers to determine the topic or focus of the group. I usually focus on Friendship & Social Skills with 1st and 2nd graders. For 3rd through 5th, I focus on Self-Esteem, Girl Relationships, or Impulse Control and Boy Relationships. 

For my middle school students, I usually meet with a slightly larger group (up to 8 students) in a classroom. We meet weekly and tend to focus on more academic topics such as decision making, organization, test taking strategies, and study skills. 

For my Kindergarten groups, we usually play a "getting to know you" game, read a story, or just talk. 

For my 1st through 5th grade groups, I break the time up into two sections. For the first 10-15 minutes, the students focus on eating their lunches while I either read a story or tell them about the day's topic. I use that as my "teaching" time so that the students are able to eat and then are ready for the activity during the second section. After every is (mostly) finished with their lunch and we have read/heard about the topic, we move on to the activity. This may be a group discussion, art activity, role play, game, or skit. This section lasts 10-15 minutes and we save the last 5 minutes or so to review, debrief, and clean up. 

For my middle school groups, I try to combine lecture and discussion. While the students start eating, I will outline the day's topic and give them any background information they may need. Then I open it up for discussion. The students share their ideas and are able to ask questions. 

I meet with the K-5 teachers at the beginning of the year and provide them with a handout that outlines what groups I will be offering during the first round. On the back the teachers can list their chosen topic and the students they have selected as well as two alternates in case someone doesn't want to or cannot participate. I give the teachers a list of students that I have worked with in the past. I work with the teachers to help select students that have not participated in a small group or who have and may need additional support. 


For the middle school students, I give them a survey at the beginning of the year to gauge interest in small groups. The students are able to circle potential group topics such as friendship, stress management, grief, divorce, etc. I take the information from the surveys and either create a Lunch & Learn series if there are enough students or follow up with students individually if there aren't enough for a group. 

We have three lunch shifts so I divide the groups so that I am meeting with one or two groups each day and still allowing myself time to eat lunch. I DO NOT eat lunch with the students. I am too busy opening milks, reading a story, passing out supplies and keeping the group on schedule to eat my own lunch with them. 

Mondays - Kindergarten and 3rd grade
Tuesdays - 1st and 4th grades
Wednesdays - 2nd and 5th grades
Thursdays - Middle School

I know that there is some discussion about how much you can actually cover during lunch and if having a small group during lunch time is possible or effective. This technique has worked well for me and the students really enjoy it. I get to spend time with them, we get to cover the topics that they need help with, and I am not taking them away from their core subjects (which the teachers don't like) or their specials (which the kids don't like). 

I made "Lunch Bunch Passes" for the 1st through 5th grade students. I give them to the teachers the day before and then the students wear them to lunch on their day. It makes them feel "official", adds to the fun, and helps the cafeteria teachers and parents know what is going on. It is especially helpful when students ask for "seconds" at the lunch counter.

I have these passes laminated and hanging on lanyards so that I can write their names with dry erase markers and continue to reuse them. 

I send paper notes home after each session. I like to keep the parents informed about what we are covering in the group. Often the students will have some sort of writing or drawing activity associated with the day's topic. I print the activity on one side and the parent note on the other so that parents can see what their child did that day.

That's the basics of my lunch bunches. I really enjoy the time I get to spend with my small groups and they seem to enjoy it as well!

How to do you Lunch Bunch?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing how you organize your lunch groups! It's helpful to see how you can combine lunch with learning/activity.