Character Trait Review

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My school district has adopted eight character traits.  Each month, we focus on one trait.  As I visit students during classroom guidance, we talk about the trait of the month.  Students take turns sharing examples of how they have shown the character trait in their daily lives.

The school year is coming to a close, and I wanted to review with my second grade friends all we have learned this year about good character.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to incorporate foldables into some of my classroom guidance lessons.  I created this simple foldable to use for the character trait review lesson with second grade.  Similar to my preparation for the testing tips foldable, I drew and copied the lines on manila paper ahead of time and pre-folded the paper. The students only needed to cut the seven lines on the left side of the paper to create the eight flaps for this foldable. Using a document camera, I demonstrated where and how far to cut. (I loooove the document camera!)

After cutting the flaps, the students wrote one character trait on each flap.  Using the document camera, I displayed each character trait one by one as the students wrote them.  The next step was to write a kid friendly definition of each trait on the opposite side of the flap.  I shared each one by one for the students to add to their foldables.

Next, the students wrote one sentence for each character trait beginning with “I will…”  I asked them to write how they will display each trait going forward. I showed examples of each, but I encouraged them to come up with their own.

Finally, the students used the remainder of the time to decorate and color their foldables. Some of the students volunteered to share their “I will” statements for a few of the character traits.  Many of them really thought about areas where they could improve in order to show the traits.
I’m always looking for new character education ideas to use in my school counseling program. I’d love to hear your ideas. Connect with me!

It’s A Jellybean Jamboree!

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I really, really enjoy visitng my Kindergarten friends.  They are like little sponges and are always ready to hear something new.  A few years ago, I came across the resource Jellybean Jamboree by Susan Jelleberg.  As with many school counseling resources I order, many times I can only go by written reviews of the product or just the description alone.  This purchase was a great choice for me.  It is amazing how you can copy, color, and laminate a picture of a jellybean, tape it to a ruler and have the complete attention of a Kindergarten class!  I call them my “Jellybean Friends” and bring all six of them on separate occasions.  I usually have my jellybean friend hiding as to not be seen before the big reveal.  Because each jellybean friend comes with a different lesson to portray, the students are always very eager to find out about it.  What color is the jellybean?  Is it happy or sad?  Is it nice to the other jellybeans?  Whenever possible, I try to tie the jellybean’s story in with the character trait of the month.

I begin the school year with Emotional Eugene, The Feeling Blue Jellybean.  He comes with me to my first lesson of the year as I introduce myself to our new Kindergartners and talk about feelings.  As I teach them about what a school counselor is and does, Eugene’s situation warrants itself for a referral to his jellybean counselor.  They begin to understand that if they ever feel blue, as Eugene does, I am available and they may come and talk with me.

Me Maureen, The Self-Knowing Lavender Jellybean, visits when I talk about respect.  I use her to remind the students to show respect for themselves. We spend a lot of time talking about how to show respect for others, property, and the environment as well.  Maureen helps me tie in eating healthy foods and exercising in order to take care of (respect) oneself and to also have confidence in individual abilities.

Ornery Ordean, The Misbehaving Green Jellybean, helps me talk about Self-Discipline. He doesn’t always think before he acts and ends up making poor choices.  He can be a bully, at times, towards the other jellybean friends, so he also helps me facilitate a discussion on a kindergarten level about bullying.

Friendly Francine, The Neighborly Pink Jellybean visits when we discuss the character trait kindness. She is a very friendly jellybean, shares with others, and fills others buckets with kind words and good deeds.

Angry Arlene, The Grumpy Red Jellybean visits when I focus on anger management.  My kindergarten friends are so cute as they listen in disbelief to the things Angry Arlene does to the other jellybeans.  By the end of the lesson, we hope we’ve given Arlene some helpful tips on being a good friend and controlling her anger.

Decision-Making Dean, The Problem Solving Orange Jellybean, visits when I talk about good judgment.  Dean thinks about the choices he makes and tries his best to always show good judgment.

Since I’ve used Jellybean Jamboree, not one school year has gone by where I haven’t visited my first grade friends for our first guidance lesson and heard, “Which jellybean friend did you bring today?”  When I tell them the jellybeans only visit kindergarten classes, they are actually pretty disappointed! This reminds me that the jellybeans really make an impact, and as long as they do, I will continue to share them with my kindergarten friends!

Do you use the Jellybean Jamboree units?  How do you incorporate them into your school counseling program?  I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!


When a Volcano Erupts…In Class!

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As I visited our six first grade classrooms for guidance this month, it wasn’t hard to discern which students had problems with “erupting.”  Many of them “erupted” during my lesson.  It was fun to watch their volcanoes simmer down as I read this great book by Julia Cook.  My Mouth is a Volcano focuses on those little ones who blurt out and interrupt.  This book has an activity guide which has several wonderful activities to use with the kids.

paperback and activity book

The story is another book about Louis.  If you are familiar with It’s Hard to Be a Verb, you already know him well.  When he has something to say, he feels all of his important words rush from his head down onto his tongue. After some rumbling, grumbling, wiggling, and giggling, those words push up against his teeth and before he can stop it, he erupts. Louis doesn’t quite understand why this upsets his friends and family until a couple of his classmates “erupt” him during his moment in the spotlight.  After getting a dose of his own medicine, Louis talks with his mom.  She suggests that when those words push into his teeth, he should bite down hard to keep them in, push them out through his nose, and let them float there until it’s his turn to talk. Louis was so surprised those words waited there until he was ready to breathe them in and speak!

I chose a couple of ideas from the activity book to share with the class.  One activity suggested having the students take 3 1/2 x 5 index cards and coloring one side red and the other side green. On the red side, the students would glue a button or a picture of a button to the left.   An up arrow is placed to the right of the button. This stands for “button up.”  On the green side, the students would write “Speak With Good Purpose.”  Because our guidance time wouldn’t allow for this, I decided to make a larger card for the teacher to use in his or her classroom. When the teacher wants students to wait before asking questions, the red side can be displayed.  Once the floor is open for questions or discussion, the teacher can display the green side.  I reminded the students that although the green card is displayed,they should still raise their hands and wait until the teacher calls on them.  I also shared a tip called “Sqoooze it or Lose it!” This strategy simply suggested that when you have something to say, “sqoooze” it between your fingers (fingers crossed) and place it in your lap until it is your turn to speak.  The students liked the idea and some even began “sqooozing” as I continued on with the lesson.

Front and back of the card

I enjoyed doing this lesson with my first grade friends.  This book can be used across grade levels.  The activity book has a variety of ideas including ways to politely interrupt when it becomes necessary. There are also writing extensions and even directions for building a volcano.

Have you ever had a volcano erupt during your guidance lesson? 🙂 As always, I would love to hear from you.  Connect with me!

Lunch Bunch Anyone?: Preparing for the Test

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End-of-Grade testing time is just a few weeks away in my state.  One objective of my school counseling program is to assist teachers and students as they get closer to that big week.  My most recent lunch bunch sessions with upper grades have focused on test taking strategies.  A resource I have enjoyed using for a couple of years now is Excite Me!  Motivate Me!  Test Me! by Sandra Robinson.  There are several great activities to pull from this resource.  Because the students are eating lunch, I make sure to pull the activities that center mostly around discussions.  One exception is the card game pictured below. There are 15 cards, and each one has an answer on the top of the card and a question on the bottom of the card.  One of the cards says “start” at the top.  The student with that card reads the first question on the bottom of the card.  The students stay engaged because they may have the answer to the question.  The person with the answer says “I’ve got it,” and reads the answer aloud to the group.  That person will then read the question on the bottom of the same card they just read the answer from.  This goes on and on until the last answer is read. The bottom of that card says “The End.”

I also use another set of cards which helps facilitate a great conversation.  During this conversation, the students are able to make connections to many of the tips and strategies their teachers have already given them. Many of those teachers would be happy to know the students have retained those tips and are able to share them confidently with the group. These are some of the tips I also used on the test taking foldable.

The main message I make sure to give the students before they leave is this:  Do your best, but don’t enter testing time worrying about what will happen if you don’t get the scores you desire. Many students fear they may be retained if they do not pass these tests.  I don’t know about you, but I think those thoughts add an extra level of unnecessary stress to children.  The bottom line is, the tests give just one of the many snapshots of the school year for each of them.  What also matters are quarterly grades throughout the year along with having satisfactory work habits.


Before the students prepare to leave, I give each of them a laminated bookmark to take.  On the bookmark are important things to remember as they prepare for the upcoming tests.  I like that it says to wear comfortable clothes.  I also tell them to layer.  It’s better to have a jacket to put on or take off if necessary.  Being too hot or too cold is definitely a distraction!

I would love to hear from you.  Connect with me!

8 Tips New Test Takers Should Know

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I was determined to find a new way to review test taking tips with our third graders this school year.  As everyone knows, this is their first year taking the “Big Test.”  In the past, I have worked with third graders in small groups using student data for my ASCA National Model plan.  This year, the teachers requested a testing tips classroom guidance lesson for all of the students.  After looking through one of my favorite testing resources (Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! by Sandra Robinson) along with Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger by Janet Bender, I created this Testing Tips Foldable.

Both resources give many similar test taking tips.  Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger includes ten test prep cards.  I used a few of the test prep suggestions from Tyler Tames the Testing Tiger to create five of the flaps, and I used five of the discussion cards from the back of the Excite Me! Motivate Me! Test Me! book for the other five.  Here’s an explanation of each tip:

  • Be PreparedThis flap is where the students wrote important things to do like getting a good nights rest the night before and having a good breakfast the morning of the test.  They also included having number two pencils .
  • Reframe Your ThinkingSome students don’t believe they can do well on the test.  This flap includes positive self-talk such as  “I can do it” and “I am ready for the test.”
  • Stop, Look, and Listen– This flap reminds the students to be still, look at the test administrator, and listen to the directions.
  • No Fear– Many third graders are nervous about the unknown.  They also fear they will not go to fourth grade if they don’t pass.  As they wrote notes on the back of this flap about not being afraid and doing their best, I told them that these tests are just a small piece of data used to determine whether or not they will go to the next grade.  I also told them it is important to work hard throughout the school year because their quarterly grades are just as important.
  • Plug it In– This flap reminds students to use each of the multiple choice answers to fill in the blank.  Some won’t make sense and will help them narrow their choices down.
  • Jail the Detail– This flap reminds the students to circle or underline the key words in a test question.  They can look for the key words in the reading passage or determine how to solve a math problem by using this tip.
  • Stash the Trash– Many times, there are sentences included in test questions that really aren’t important.  This tip reminds students to cross out any unnecessary information.  This includes answer choices they already know don’t belong. This tip can also be called “Slash” the Trash.
  • Zap the Maps– Students sometimes don’t look closely at keys and legends on standerdized tests.  They will see a chart with four triangles and say the answer is four. However, one triangle equals 3 according to a key near the chart.  This makes the answer twelve.  This tip reminds them to pay attention to the key of a chart, graph, or map.
  • Pace Yourself– Our students are given PLENTY of time to take their tests.  That being said, they need to pace themselves.  This just means not rushing through the test and also watching the time and making sure they are not going too slow as well.
  • Check it out– This last flap reminds students to check over their answers when they have completed the test if there is time left.  If they have a bubble sheet, it’s also good to check it for stray marks.
Inside the foldable is a bulletin board idea from the “Testing Tiger” book (which I made a smaller version of) and four additional helpful tips for students to refer to as well from the Excite Me! book.  I used manila paper, made copies so lines would already be there, and pre-folded them. The students only needed to cut the lines to make each flap, and we were ready to begin.  Although the students were exited to decorate and add some “flavor” to the foldable, our class time focused on content.  They had time near the end to draw and color.









The former teacher in me can’t help but love the idea of using foldables in the classroom.  After I discovered them, I just had to find a way to incorporate a few into my school counseling program.  This is my first attempt, and I was excited to see it all come together. I’ll be sharing another one soon, so come back! I’d love to hear from you regarding test taking activities you’ve used.  Connect with me!

Template on TpTTemplate on TpT- Version 2

Like this idea but not sure how to make it?  No time to purchase the two resources mentioned in this post?  Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers Store to purchase two versions of my template for just $3.50. All you’ll need to do is choose your 8.5 x 11 paper and copy!  The lines are provided for your students along with my very own tips for the inside!  (Please note- the product in my store can NOT have the same pictures on the inside as the example here on my blog due to copyright.  If you want the comics seen on the original project up top, you will need to purchase the two books mentioned and make the project from scratch with your students.)

Test Taking Scoot is also a fun to review and involves movement.

You may also like this Testing SMART Bingo Game.  It’s available for whole class or groups.  My Test Taking Board Game is also a great test taking tips reviewing tool.

The three products come in a Test Taking Bundle for a 20% savings.

ETA:  So after the fact, I realized I said there were only 8 tips, but low and behold there are 10!  Too late to change the blog title now, or no one will EVER find it! 🙂

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You can also follow my TpT Store to keep up with my latest products and freebies

National Boards: Start Planning Now!

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This is the time of year when teachers and school counselors around the United States begin to consider pursuing candidacy for the National Boards for Professional Teaching Standards.  I was in this boat back in 2008.  In the spring, my school district offered a special information session.  This session explained the process and the amount of time and dedication needed.  Like most, I was in a fog as I took in all of the information shared that afternoon.  Having now completed it, I believe- at least for me- going through the entire process helped me to better understand it.  Like many of you, I heard varying opinions about what it took to do it, how “hard” it was, and where I needed to start.  I believe you have to approach the NBPTS process in a way that works best for YOU!  What worked well for others may not be the way you should go.  I will be sharing posts on this subject on my blog to give my perspective and approach which helped me to achieve certification my first year. Keep in mind, however, that it can take up to three years to certify.  Although I really wanted to finish the first year, I knew in the back of my mind it could take longer.

I began my summer break that year planning to read and get to know the school counseling standards.  This was a suggestion offered to me by a NBCT co-worker.  I said okay, packed up my office, and left for summer break.  She was right!  Why not use the summer to get a head start so I would be ready to begin my entries after settling into the next new school year?  I had good intentions…

Do as I Say, Not as I Did! 🙂

So… I didn’t read my standards over the summer.  I still wasn’t sure if I was going to go for it.  Knowing what I know now, I would have been reading and highlighting throughout the entire summer.  What I didn’t “get” until the fall when I finally did start reading was this:  The standards are telling you what an accomplished school counselor’s program should look like, and as you read through those standards, you will hopefully find your program meets many of them.  You will also discover the areas in which you can improve and where your program may be lacking.  If you are reading these things over the summer, you have time to plan how you can implement those missing links into your program.

You can find the standards for school counseling here.  When you get there, just follow the link that says “download standards.”  Unless you enjoy reading lots and lots of information on a computer screen, I would suggest printing them all.  For me, it helped to have them in my hands so I could jot notes and highlight key points.

Stick around,  I will be posting again soon about the NBPTS process.  Will you be taking the big leap into your National Boards this year?  I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!