Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Recommendation: What Should Danny Do?

As a part of our SWPBIS program in our school, weekly, students earn Fun Friday minutes and monthly, they earn the school-wide incentive. Students must earn a predetermined percentage of greens, blues and purples for that month. We have a different school-wide incentive each month and the students who do not earn the incentive earn a character lesson with me!

Examples of our Monthly School-Wide Incentives
September - Dance Party on Playground
October - Fall Festival Outdoor Activities
November - Minute-to-Win-It
December - Movie and Popcorn
January - School Snowstorm (arts/crafts snow related - decorate school and hot cocoa)
February - School-Wide Bingo
March - March Madness Nerf Basketball Tournament
April - School Beautification Project
May/June - Ice Truck

Every month, I find myself scrambling for lessons and activities that are meaningful for each grade level's character lesson. I always feel like the lesson/activity needs to be a healthy balance between "not too fun" because they didn't earn the incentive and "fun enough" to keep the kiddos engaged! I say scramble because no matter how well-planned I am, after compiling the SWPBIS data for the whole school on the day before the incentive, I'm ready to go home exhausted! Nonetheless, I get home and examine the composition of my character lesson groups, then develop a lesson that makes the most sense for them.

The week before Winter Break came and there I was, again trying to figure out what the lesson would be. If you are an elementary educator, you know how difficult it is to contain the kiddos' excitement during the week before the holiday break! So, I decided to give myself a break and "just" read a book this time around. Sometimes I read a book, but I always have an activity to go along with it. Not this time!

Product DetailsFrom my book collection, I pulled a brand new book I purchased this fall and have been waiting for the right time to use it. What Should Danny Do? written by: Ganit and Adir Levy was the perfect choice for December's Character Lessons!!! THE KIDS LOVED LOVED LOVED THIS BOOK!!!

As a kid, I was always drawn to the choose your own ending chapter books and as an elementary school counselor, I have used the book Bully on the Bus by Carl Bosch in lessons many, many years ago. I have been searching for years for a choose your own ending picture book! One day, What Should Danny Do? popped up on my Facebook page and I bought it literally 10 minutes later!

The story-line is about the choices Danny makes during a day at home and the consequences of those choices (positive and negative). As I read, periodically my students were asked to choose what reaction Danny should have to the situation. What should Danny do? The first time through the kids were really adamant about making the "right" choices, but the school counselor in me took them back to the beginning to make the "poor" choices so they could see those consequences as well. This is where the learning happened. I was completely amazed by how much they connected to the story-line and how they began to predict what the consequences may be. By doing this, they were able to remember back to the "right" choice and were able to have really thoughtful discussions about the two very different paths for each dilemma that popped up. 

I can't wait for the authors to come out with a school specific book! 

No doubt about it, I would recommend you run out and buy this book. You will love it, your students will love it, and through your discussion points, they will learn so very much!! Clicking on the picture or link above will take you to Amazon (these are affiliate links). Follow the authors on Facebook....sometimes they offer deals (this is how I got my book). 

I wish you a wonderful 2018!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

School Counseling Card Organization

This circled green container was my nemesis each and every school day morning for my 19 year career. It contained all of my "cards" I used for games, discussions, class lessons, group sessions, etc. Thrown in the box, the cards were either bundled up with rubber bands, separated in Ziploc baggies, or clipped together. Everyday, as I was gathering my materials for that days' activities or the next days' events, I had to practically empty out this container to FIND the cards I was looking for. Not only was it frustrating to search for what I needed, it was such a huge waste of my time. For a few years I've been thinking about a better system of organizing all of these cards -- there HAD to be a better way! I needed something to make this daily chore easier and quicker for me!

Then I came across a post from Lucky Little Learners - in which she talked about organizing her infamous Brag Tags. She introduced me to these Iris Extra Large 4x6 Photo Keepers and it was like an "Ah-Ha" moment for me. I am not kidding you, I was so happy to see this product...these containers were going to organize all of my CARDS!!!! Gone with the dreaded card container, gone with the daily searching and frustration! 

I set-out to find the containers. If you click on the photos, you will find them at They are a bit pricey - so shop around. They can also be found at Michael's and at JoAnn's Fabric and Craft Store. The multi-colored ones are super fun, but the clear containers are just as nice. I find the Iris containers sturdy and stack beautifully. Inside the large container are smaller 4x6 containers which will hold each set of your precious school counseling cards. Make sure you figure out how many card sets you have first....when organizing, I had so many more card sets than I thought in that green box. Some were tossed and some were saved to be used again. But, I filled up these containers quickly!

As I was organizing all of the cards, I found that I had some cards that were too large to fit in these smaller 4x6 containers. Iris has some other options for your bigger materials. There is a container that holds 5x7 boxes inside and there is also a greeting card organizer. Both of these would be perfect for organizing the larger sized school counseling cards you have in your closet! Again, I find them sturdy and perfect for doing the job they were meant to do!

Finally, I purchased some removable file folder labels to clearly label which cards are inside each little container. This is a job I will be doing when I return to school in the August. I decided on removable so that I could easily change out the labels in the event that I decide to retire some cards. 

Looking to get yourself a little bit more organized this school year? Treat yourself to these Iris Photo Keepers - you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer 2017 Reading List

Summer just officially began for me - my last day of school was just last week! I am in the midst of my annual beginning of summer clean-up and clean-out at home!! I got to my bookshelf and found some must reads I wanted to pass along to you. 

All of these are easy, super QUICK reads packed with loads of relevant and useful information. These books get you thinking and give ideas you can put into place right at the start of the next school year! 

When you click on the Amazon links, do some exploring to find the best price for these gems. Some of them were written some time ago and prices can fluctuate greatly for new and used books - there are some great deals out there! Don't worry, the amazing information found inside these books,  very much, still holds true today!

Barbara Gruener knocked it out of the ballpark with this amazing book What's Under Your Cape? Superheroes of the Character Kind. Click on the link to find it at Amazon. Not only did it bring back memories of my childhood, I wrote notes all over the pages inside - to help me remember how to translate the ideas into my everyday school counseling life. A must read!

 This was another one of those books in which I took notes and flagged the pages like crazy. Schools Where Everyone Belongs by Stan Davis will really help you to think through your entire school environment. This book will give you helpful information in how to create a caring environment while giving students boundaries. LOVE this book!

I am in the midst of reading this book, Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristin Souers with Pete Hall, but boy does it pack-a-punch right off the bat. Being trauma-informed  and trauma-sensitive is a hot topic right now and rightfully so. As educators and helper folks, we need to understand all we can about the effects of trauma on our students AND on ourselves. This book will help you do just that!

I read this book some time ago and it really helped to remind me of the power of working with the bystanders in a bullying situation. Find Empowering Bystanders in Bullying Prevention by Stan Davis and Julia Davis by clicking here and visiting Amazon. The bystanders being the largest group in these types of situations, and also affected along with those who are bullied, also need attention. Take some time to read this book to help you effectively plan your interventions.

Happy Summer and Happy Reading!