Teaching Good Study Habits

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Learn about this study skills resource, STEP UP to Better Grades, by Robin Zorn. - Savvy School CounselorDon’t you just love when you choose a school counseling resource online and SCORE!?  Well, let me tell you about another resource from Youthlight that you should consider adding to your collection of resources.  STEP UP to Better Grades was created by Robin Zorn, the 2014 School Counselor of the Year.  As soon as I began looking through the book at the lessons and all of the activity options included, I began to think of so many ways to use this resource.  Let me tell you more about it.

The book includes a CD with all of the activities and games along with PowerPoints and letters for parents.  Pre- and Post-Tests are also included.  There are core lessons for each study habit and 66 additional extension activities.

Each letter in STEP UP represents a different study habit.

  • S is for Space:  This section focuses on making a suitable work space at home similar to the work space at school.
  • T is for Tools:  This section discusses the necessary tools students need to stay organized such as agendas, keeping back packs and desks neat and in order and creating a schedule.
  • E is for Ending:  Ending focuses on goal setting and prioritizing.  Setting and meeting goals will help students feel successful with their learning.
  • P is for Pay Attention:  The activities involve different ways for students to practice staying focused by challenging students using memory activities.
  • U is for Understand Directions:  This section provides a variety of activities for students to practice following verbal and written directions.
  • P is for Practice:  This area provides ideas students can use to help them remember and learn information by first discovering their learning style and then by learning helpful techniques such as using mnemonics.

One thing I really like about the activities in this book is that most learning styles can benefit from the activities.  Many of the these lessons really get the students involved and moving or using their hands.  That alone is exciting to me, because I believe it’s so important to reach as many learning styles as possible during my lessons.

Another great thing about this book is that it incorporates ASCA standards.  The standards addressed are included in a document on the CD.

Finally, I love how Robin provides activities that tie good study habits to career development.

Like I said before, there are so many ways this book can be used.  The activities may be used for classroom counseling lessons, small groups or individual counseling sessions.  I’m always excited to find new ways to spice up my school counseling program.

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Teaching Social Skills

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Social SuccessI recently acquired a wonderful new resource from Youthlight, Inc. that’s already a “go to” for my school counseling program.  It’s called First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn and is for grades K-6.  Whenever new school counselors ask me what resources I recommend, I always suggest resources by Diane Senn.  I believe I have at least 90% of the resources she has produced.  This latest book does not disappoint!  We’ve just completed our fourth week of school, and I am already excited about using this book in my program.

I often hear from my administration and staff about students needing improvement with social skills.  There are so many different skills that fall under the “Social Skills” umbrella.  Counseling sessions and groups really need to be tailored to meet the specific needs of the student(s).  First Steps to Social Success is a great way to determine exactly what the student needs.

I am already using it with a couple of my individual sessions this year.  It comes with a CD which includes printable handouts and interactive review lessons.  I can’t tell you how excited I was when I previewed the interactive lessons.  I already have and use both volumes of Smart Guidance Multi-Topic Lessons, which are interactive Smart Board lessons, and the children really enjoy them.  The interactive lessons on this First Steps to Social Success CD are excellent ways to reinforce each topic and are sure to make your lessons fun, creative and grab the attention of your students.  This resource may be used with individuals, groups or classes.

First Steps to Social Success includes a Pre/Post Social Skills Assessment which addresses each of the topics included in the book.  The same assessment may be used for school personnel, parents or as a self-assessment for your older students.  The person completing the assessment ranks each skill as either a mastered skill, an emerging skill or a deficit skill.  As with any good pre-assessment, it helps you determine exactly how to approach each individual case.  If you find that several students are emerging or deficit in similar areas, a small group may be formed.

The following topics are included in this resource:

Section 1:  Knowing Myself First – This section is said to be a prerequisite of social skills that reviews skills that are necessary to master before interaction with others.  In these six lessons, students focus on appreciating and valuing themselves, understanding they have control over their thinking and actions and respecting and appreciating the differences in others.

Knowing Myself First - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 2:  Initiating With Friends – The five lessons in this section help students learn to successfully initiate and connect with others to build new relationships.  Lessons focus on body language and facial expressions, finding common interests, starting conversations and personal space.

Initiating With Others - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 3:  Learning Conversation Skills – This section has seven lessons that help students learn to maintain a conversation.  They learn that conversations should be shared, practice “listening” body signals and words, learn friendly voice tone and how to stay on topic.

Learning Conversation Skills - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

Section 4:  Reading Social Cues – The last seven lessons center around reading others’ social cues.  Therefore, the lessons focus on feelings, correctly identifying feelings, observing and processing others’ body language and responding to other people and their feelings.

Reading Social Cues - First Steps to Social Success by Diane Senn (Youthlight, Inc.)

The written and hands-on activities throughout the book are both relevant and well thought through.  Along with the interactive review lessons on the CD are graphic cue cards.  There are 25 social skills lessons in all.  There is also a student assignment form and parent/teacher reinforcement form that can be used to help students continue to practice the skills outside of the individual sessions or groups.

I truly believe I am just scratching the surface with what I can do with this resource.  If you can’t get this resource now, I encourage you to put it on your school counselor wish list.

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Introducing the School Counselor Giveaway

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~A great new book about Introducing the School Counselor by Erainna Winnett~I recently received my copy of a new book for introducing the school counselor.  The book is called Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives by Erainna Winnett, and it is geared toward Kindergarten through 6th Grade.

The role of the school counselor is explained throughout the book as a new student, Raymond, meets and talks to his new counselor for the first time.   The following description is found on the back of the book:

“Mrs. Joyce, the school counselor at Emerson Elementary, uses high-fives to connect with her students. When Raymond moves to town he’s not sure what to think of Mrs. Joyce. He enters her office nervous and full of questions, but it doesn’t take long for him to trust the caring counselor. By learning exactly what a school counselor does, Raymond finds he has nothing to fear and much to gain from friendly Mrs. Joyce.”

“Building relationships is one of the primary jobs of a school counselor. Whether it’s giving a high-five, a thumbs-up, a fist bump, a handshake or a hug, finding a way to connect with students is vital. “Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives” is a fun-loving story that explains the important role of the school counselor.”

The very last page includes an idea from my Meet the School Counselor Ideas post!  I am very excited to be a part of Erainna’s great book.

Enter this giveaway to win your own copy of Mrs. Joyce Gives the Best High-Fives signed by Erainna.  This giveaway will run through Thursday, August 14 at 11:59 P.M. EST.

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Leo the Lightening Bug-Perseverance

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Leo the Lightening Bug- A great book about perseverance!When teaching about perseverance in my school counseling program, I always reach for one of my favorite books by Eric Drachman.  Leo the Lightening Bug is an adorable story of perseverance.

Little Leo is the “littlest” lightening bug of all his friends.  When you look at the cover of the book, can you guess what Leo’s problem might be?  You probably guessed it:  Leo can’t make his light.  All of his lightening bug friends are able to make their lights.  Leo’s mom lets him know he simply needs a little time and practice.

Leo decided to practice making his light, but as much as he tried- he still couldn’t light up.  It didn’t help things when his friends laughed at him when they saw him.  At this point, Leo is so frustrated that he flies away to a cave and cries.  After some time, he remembers his mother telling him he needed to practice.  Before long, in the midst of a thunder storm, Leo is finally able to light up!  He’s so proud of himself that he declares he could be “King of the lightening bugs!”

You’ll enjoy reading this story, but you will especially love hearing the story narrated on the CD which is included with the book.  The little voice of Leo will warm your heart, and the sound effects are just great!  You can hear a few excerpts from the book HERE on the Kidwick Books website.

If you don’t already have this wonderful book, add it to your list of future purchases!  It’s a winner!

Over the past couple of years, I’ve used this book with my Kindergarten friends.  I always include the song “Never Give Up” from my character song collection.  Initially, I always used it each year with second grade. After reading the story, we would talk about how Leo showed perseverance in the story. The students were given the opportunity to share how they have shown perseverance.  Next, each child was given a sheet with six boxes to create a short comic strip illustrating perseverance.  This idea came from my former intern Rachel.  Here is the sample comic strip Rachel created to help the students understand what to do.  It shows a little girl learning to ride her bicycle.  She falls off, but she gets back on and tries again- showing perseverance.


Through the years, I have always enjoyed seeing the comic strips created by the students.   I created comic strip tables for the eight character traits my school district uses.  Click HERE to download this FREEBIE from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

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.  Also, don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY for the Social Skill Builder iPad App!  It ends Friday night at 11:59 PM, and three will win!


Tough!- A Bully’s Perspective

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Weird Series- Tough!- Activity Sheet included-  savvyschoolcounselor.comI have thoroughly enjoyed presenting The Weird Series by Erin Frankel during my school counseling lessons with my fourth grade friends.  I wrote previously about the book Weird! which tells the story from the perspective of a victim and Dare! which told the story from the perspective of a bystander.  Last, but not least, is Tough!  Of course, this book comes from the bully’s point of view. My students were hooked after the first book.  They were all ears during the second lesson and were very excited to hear the last book of the series.  The students have enjoyed discovering similarities between the books.  Each had a signature symbol- from polka dots, to stars, and now hearts- which helped drive home a similar message:  Know Yourself. Be Yourself. Sam is the main character in Tough!  Readers get a peek into Sam’s world at the beginning of the book as the author reminds us of situations and comments she’s made to Luisa and Jayla from the previous two books.  As Sam tells the story, we see her brother calling her names and taking her guitar away from her.  It appears Sam has had her share of being picked on, and it turns out she stays “tough” in order to keep others from bothering her.  Her teacher, Mr. C, reaches out to her, and she soon decides to accept his help.  Just as we’ve hoped, Sam begins to listen to her heart and takes a turn for the better by the conclusion of the book. All three girls have a club at the end of each book.  Sam has the Kindness Club.  Her activities include a great reflection activity suggested to her by her teacher Mr. C called “Picture This.”  This activity allows her to write her thoughts on paper in order to help her see how her actions affect those around her.  After dividing a piece of paper into four equal sections, she labels the sections with four questions:

  • What did I do?
  • What did I hope to get by doing it?
  • What happened when I did it?
  • How can I get what I want without hurting others?

She then draws pictures to go along with each of the questions. Using this idea, I created an activity sheet called “Picture This” with four equal sections.  Each section has a question at the top and space underneath for students to either draw and/or write their answers.  During the lesson, the students can complete the sheet using Sam’s story OR they may refer to one of their own situations.  It’s also a good idea to give a blank copy to the classroom teacher to use as he or she sees fit in the future. Click the picture below to print a copy of the activity sheet.

"Picture This"- Activity Sheet to support the book Tough! by Erin Frankel- savvyschoolcounselor.com

  The Weird Series is one worth having on your counseling book shelf!  Thanks to Roxanne, from Books That Heal Kids, for bringing this series to my attention on her blog last summer. Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you. Be sure to let me know how your lessons go along with any new ideas you decide to add.

Dare!- A Bystander’s Perspective

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Dare! (The Weird Series)- savvyschoolcounselor.comIn a previous post, Weird!- A Bulling Victim’s Perspective,  I wrote about one book from The Weird Series by Erin Frankel.  The book Weird! is written from the perspective of the victim in a bullying situation.  Today, I’ll be focusing on the second book in the series: Dare! This book is written from the bystander’s point of view.  Like before, this school counseling lesson was used with my fourth grade friends.

One thing I really love about the series is the parallel story line.  The main character, Jayla, is often seen standing nearby in the first book.  In Dare!, we are given the opportunity to learn more about what Jayla was really thinking when she saw and heard Sam bullying Louisa.  We even discover that Jayla was so scared that when Sam “dared” her to say or do mean things to Louisa- she would.  She doesn’t like feeling used and thinks about some of the things she wants to say to Sam.  Readers are reminded of different episodes in the first book, but this time they’re from Jayla’s perspective.  She soon realizes that doing nothing is unfair to Louisa and to herself.  She decides to make her own “dare” by standing up for Louisa even though she is scared.  She prepared herself with responses to give just in case Sam lashed out at her for saying how she really felt.

When Louisa went back to being herself, she acted like she didn’t care if Sam called her weird.  Jayla acted like she wasn’t scared along with some other bystanders.  Like Louisa, she noticed that Sam began to leave her alone.

Like the first book, Dare! has notes from the main character after the story.  Jayla has the Courage Club.  Her activities include a discussion of feelings.  Jayla felt bad when she just stood by and did nothing.  For this activity, the students think of words other than “bad” to describe how they might feel in a bullying situation.  There are a few sentences for students to complete with another word for bad.  Jayla felt good when she finally stood up for Louisa.  Students now think of words other than “good” to fill the blanks in a few sentences.  There is also a brief reminder about the difference between telling and tattling.  I used these activities for our discussion after reading the book.

The Courage Club also includes a discussion about being prepared to stick up for someone who is being bullied.  I created this activity sheet to use with my fourth graders to close out the lesson.  In order to be prepared, the students wrote statements they can make or actions they can take when they see or hear someone being bullied.  The students were able to share their ideas with their classmates before we concluded the lesson.

Click the picture below to print a copy of the activity sheet.

Activity for Erin Frankel's book Dare! created by SavvySchoolCounselor.com

Louisa had her polka dots which represented being who you are- Never lose your polka dots.   In Dare!, Jayla has stars.  The author reminds students- “…your brightest star shines from within.”  Hmmm, I see hearts on Sam’s shirt at the end of this book…  Tune in later for a post about the book Tough! to learn more!

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates! As always, I’d love to hear from you.  I am really loving this series, and I hope you will too!