A New Savvy Look and Sale

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Blog Button - New2I’ve updated my button and tweaked the “look” of my blog page.  Can you tell what’s different?  I’ve moved from stripes to polka dots!  I wanted a little change without making too much of a change…at least for now.

I’m excited to announce the next site-wide TpT sale happening at midnight tonight:  May 5.  The sale will run through Wednesday, May 6.  During those two days, you can save 28% on all items in my store and most other stores on TpT.  All you need to do is use the Promo Code:  ThankYou for the complete discount.  However, I will be continuing the sale in my store through Thursday, May 7.  Please Note:  The promo code will no longer work on May 7.  You will receive a 20% discount only on Thursday.

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Savvy Guest Blogger: Carol Ekster

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Guest Blogger: Carol Ekster - Savvy School CounselorI taught fourth grade for 35 years. I remember delighting in the times when the guidance counselor came into my room and gave a whole class lesson. Classroom teachers are overwhelmed with curriculum, tests, and the weighty responsibility of educating children today. Counselors are trained to be able to handle certain topics sensitively. Making a schedule to visit different grades at different times during the year is a win-win situation.  And here’s one perfect lesson that is needed by most students…one dealing with divorce. If a child’s family isn’t divorced, then they have a friend whose parents are separated or divorced.

Begin by reading the book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight?-(A Story of Divorce), Carol Gordon Ekster, Boulden Publishing, 2008.  A good read aloud is a fabulous way to introduce any topic. It reinforces language skills and models good writing as well as dealing with the issue you want to bring to the students.

Guest Blogger: Carol Ekster - Savvy School Counselor

You can ask for responses to the story and see what the children reacted to. Ask questions about divorce and why it’s difficult for children.  Those children with parents living together will gain empathy for those in a divorce situation. Those children from divorced parents will know they are not alone.

You can do a follow-up activity relating to goals. Teaching children goals is a way to help them achieve success. Have students write, illustrate, or discuss goals they want to set and how they can meet that goal.

You can also enlist the classroom teacher to help with an art project. Tell the children that in the story Mark was learning to be responsible. That’s a positive character trait.  Draw students’ silhouettes on large white construction paper, using an overhead, and inside the silhouette, have students list their positive traits from A-Z.  (Of course, a rough draft of the traits should be done first, using a dictionary whether on-line or hand-held, in class or assigned for homework.) Cut out the silhouette and place on a background of black construction paper, each child titling it, __(Student Name)_______from A-Z. This makes a beautiful display.  And if you’re a counselor who does not do whole class lessons, try having small divorce groups in your office.

Guest Blogger: Carol Ekster - Savvy School Counselor

Carol Gordon Ekster taught for 35 years and became a children’s author at the end of that career. She now does daily yoga and works on her writing, happy to be able to continue communicating with children.

www.carolgordonekster.com

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Thanks for your guest post, Carol.  Thanks also for providing copies of your book, Where Am I Sleeping Tonight? for two winners!  This giveaway will run through Wednesday, March 25, at 12:00 A.M.. EST.

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Service Learning: Pasta for Pennies

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Pasta For Pennies - Savvy School CounselorA service learning project my school counseling program coordinates is Pasta for Pennies.  You may also know it as Pennies for Patients.  The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society teamed up with Olive Garden to present this great fund raising campaign for children with blood cancers.  Our school has participated in this worthwhile campaign since 2013.  This is our third year.  We’ve been very proud of how much we’ve raised  each year.  In our first and best year so far, our elementary students raised almost $3,000 in three weeks!  We are currently in our final week of this year’s campaign.  If you’ve never heard of Pasta for Pennies, or if you have and just haven’t participated, I want to share a little bit about how it works.

Everything you need to run the campaign is provided for you.  This includes the collection boxes for classrooms and students, posters for classrooms to chart how much money they have raised, daily announcements to read each day, ideas you can use to help increase donations and much more!  A Peanuts DVD, Why Charlie Brown, Why, is also provided to help young students get a better idea of what they are really raising the money for.

Pasta for Pennies - Savvy School Counselor

Campaigns last for three weeks.  Before you begin, you will receive boxes with all the materials you will need to run your school’s campaign.  You will have letters to send home with each of your students along with individual collection boxes for each child.  You’ll have classroom collection boxes to assemble and labels to affix to the front of each box.  I usually put the last name of each teacher on the labels.  I also label one for the office and one for the cafeteria.

Pasta for Pennies - Savvy School Counselor

Pasta for Pennies - Savvy School Counselor

Pasta for Pennies - Savvy School Counselor

This year was the first time we had a campaign kick-off assembly.  Our area’s Senior Campaign Manager came to speak. With the help of students, she gave a visual example of the white and red blood cells and platelets in the body and what happens when cancer cells cover up and crowd out the healthy cells.  Captain Chemo (a teacher volunteer donning a cape and wig) finally came to save the day.  She went on to explain how the money our school raises will be used to help kids fight blood cancers.

Our campaign will end this week.  In our first two weeks, we’ve raised over $1,500!  I’ll do my final collection at the end of the week to find out our final 2015 total.  Which brings me to counting the money.  This is probably the most challenging part of the campaign.  The good thing:  Our local bank has a coin machine.  The challenge:  I have to transport all of the money each week and pour the coins into the machine one classroom at a time in order to record the individual totals.  This can be a little time consuming, but I’m always excited to see the end result.  Additionally, I count the dollars and record the amounts for each class ahead of time so I can just hand them to the teller.

Pasta for Pennies - Savvy School Counselor

Classes earn Gold, Silver and Bronze Champion pennants for raising $300, $200 and $100 respectively.  The class who collects the most money during the campaign wins a pasta lunch catered by Olive Garden.  The restaurant delivers salad, bread sticks and spaghetti to the school.  Which brings me to a great perk:  I help the teacher of the winning class serve the lunch.  So, I get to enjoy the Olive Garden lunch each year!  It’s a really delicious perk!

Pasta for Pennies is an excellent service learning project.  It is a great way to instill good character in your students as it reinforces kindness, compassion and generosity.  So if you haven’t already, think about participating in this great campaign.  It is truly for a worthy cause.

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Middle School Transition

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Middle School Transition - Savvy School CounselorMy school counseling lesson for 5th grade this week is all about transitioning to middle school.  I really enjoy talking with my 5th grade friends about going to 6th grade.  There are many things they are excited to experience, but there are also some things they are unsure about.  This lesson simply serves as a time to discuss all the feelings they have about transitioning from elementary to middle school.

To start the lesson, I gave each student a copy of the Middle School Transition form I created for discussion.  The form has three feeling faces, and the students chose the one face that best describes how they feel about going to 6th grade.  Next, they explained why they feel that way.  The majority chose the smiley and straight face while very few chose the unhappy face.  I asked several of the students to share with the class.  Some of the reasons they stated were:

“I am excited to meet new friends.”

“I don’t have to stay in the same class all day.”

“I get to choose electives.”

“I’m excited about meeting new friends, but I am going to miss my old friends who aren’t going to my new school.”

The last statement is key for students in my district because it is very large.  My 107 or so 5th graders are going to 15 different middle schools.

Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor

After the students shared, I asked them to work with a partner to brainstorm lists of all the things they are excited about and all the things they are unsure about.  The conversations I heard while walking throughout the classroom were interesting and seemed to be sincere thoughts about how they are feeling.  After a few minutes, I asked them to share from their lists.  As they shared, I squashed any “myths” and explained some things in further detail.

Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor

 

Middle School Transition - Savvy School Counselor

Click the link below to print your copy of the sheet I’ve used in my classes.

Middle School Transition

Next, we watched a video I found on YouTube which was made at a school in Texas.  Even though the video mentions some specifics about their particular schools and district, it worked perfectly for my lesson.  It included both 5th graders and 6th graders.  There are lots of great tips shared by staff members as well as students.  The students in the video give advice and also share their fears about going to middle school.  There were times during the video where I would pause for more discussion or to restate comments as they would relate to our school district.

After the video, many of the students had thoughts to share about what they learned from watching the video such as how organization is important when it comes to keeping up with homework and assignments.  We used the remainder of our time to discuss open house dates for the different middle schools and our 6th grade registration night.

Over the next few weeks before our 6th grade registration night in April, I will hold lunch bunch groups for the individual middle schools.  During these sessions, we will talk about information that is specific to each school and look at elective forms.  I usually have about 6 groups for our 3 largest feeder schools and combine most of the rest into 1-2 more groups.  Students leave with copies of the elective forms so they have time to think things through with their parents before they complete and sign the official paperwork in April.

What are some activities you use for middle school transition lessons?

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School Counseling Group: Attendance Matters

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Attendance Group - Savvy School CounselorIn my school counseling program, I have enjoyed doing attendance small group sessions.  My students have really enjoyed the activities and seem to get the big picture of why regular school attendance is so important.

The small group meets six times.  Each year, I use attendance data to form the group and include it as part of my ASCA National Model Plan for the school year.  For the past two years, I’ve worked with third graders.  The selected students usually have 15+ absences from the previous school year.

During our first session, the students brainstorm reasons why school attendance matters.  This year, I had them brainstorm on their own sheets first.  I used discussion cards to help students who couldn’t think of enough ideas for their sheets.  While we discussed the different ideas, they were free to add them to their own lists.  We concluded by filling in the bubble chart together.

Session one- School Attendance Matters Group - Savvy School Counselor

For the second session, the students made a foldable.  Inside, they wrote about Responsible Routines. After assembling the foldable with the labels, they wrote under each flap giving responsible routines for the morning, after school and at night.  This includes routines such as waking up on time to get to school, having everything ready for the next day the night before and going to bed at a decent hour.

Responsible Routines Foldable - Attendance Matters - Savvy School Counselor

When we met for the third session, the students watched two videos about the importance of school attendance.   One video is an attendance rap and the other shows the staff at a school, along with students, talking about different reasons why it’s important to attend school regularly.  While watching, they write points from the videos that stand out to them. Afterwards, the group members share their notes. Next, we begin making  a fortune teller using information shared by the group along with the brainstorming sheets from the first session.

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Our fourth session involves finishing the fortune tellers and completing the  “Set the Scene” activity.  “Set the Scene” allows us to discuss the path from good attendance in school to a career.  The students cut out, sequence and glue six strips in order and illustrate each on the filmstrip sheet.

Attendance Fortune Teller- Savvy School Counselor

Attendance Fortune Teller - Savvy School Counselor

"Set the Scene" - School Attendance Matters - Savvy School Counselor

During the fifth session, we play an attendance board game.  This game  includes questions about the information from the first four sessions. If there are any activities that students need to finish from previous meetings, time is allowed during this session.

When we meet for our final session, we play Roll and Respond.  Students roll a die and respond to sentence starters about attendance. Before leaving, they complete an exit ticket which reflects what they’ve learned during the small group.  They take all of their completed activities with them to share with their teachers and families.  

After we have completed the small group, I continue to keep up with the attendance patterns of each of the students when I meet monthly with the attendance committee at my school.  I will also meet again with the students to review what was learned in our small group.  Individual sessions are held with students who continue to have attendance concerns.  The good news:  This year’s attendance data for the group is looking good and is much better than what they ended the school year with last year!

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It’s a Savvy Cyber Sale!

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cybersale

Tomorrow is Cyber Monday!  So the Savvy School Counselor Store is participating in the Teachers pay Teachers Site-wide sale.  The sale begins tonight at 12:01 A.M. (December 1) and will run until 11:59 P.M. on Tuesday, December 2.  Everything in my store will be discounted by 20%.  You can also receive an additional 10% discount when you use the promo code TPTCYBER upon checkout.  These discounts will be in addition to my already discounted combo and bundle packs.

Be sure to check out my monthly school counselor activity packs.  They are sold individually, in seasonal combos and as one Mega Pack.

I have several people who contact me to make specific requests. So I created this Google Form. Do you have a request for a product? Tell me about it. If I create it, you will receive it free!

Follow this link to leave a request:  http://goo.gl/forms/le071npx2s

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