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.



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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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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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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Where to Eat During ASCA14

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Where to Eat During ASCA14If you’ve ever read my About Me page, you will already know that I am a big Disney FANatic!  This will be my first ASCA conference, but when it comes to Walt Disney World- I’m home!!!  So although I can’t yet contribute to the ins and outs of an ASCA Conference, I can give some tips about navigating “The World.”  So, I thought I would give conference attendees a taste of some of the quick service restaurants available at and close by the Swan and Dolphin.

First of all, a quick (or counter) service restaurant is one where you can simply walk up to a counter, place your order, take your food and find a table to eat.

If you are looking to stay onsite at the hotel and not venture out into “The World,”  there are a couple of places you can pop into at your leisure.

Picabu is located in the Dolphin and is open 24 hours a day.  It offers breakfast daily from 6 A.M. until 11:30 A.M.  You can also purchase pre-packaged items here from refrigerated cases such as sandwiches, desserts and salads.

Check out Picabu’s Breakfast Menu.

Check out Picabu’s Lunch/Dinner Menu.

Splash is located in the Swan near the pool.  It offers pizza, soups, salads and sandwiches.

Check out the Menu for Splash

There are several table service restaurants also located at the Swan and Dolphin ranging from causal dining experiences to signature dining.  Table service restaurants have servers and you should be prepared to give a gratuity based on the level of service you receive.   Some of these may require ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) to guarantee seating.  For more information about dining at the Swan and Dolphin, check out this link.

If you ARE ready to venture out,  a nice stroll to the Boardwalk area may be up your alley.  There is a walkway from the Swan and Dolphin that will take you there.


The Boardwalk Bakery offers quick service for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Here, you will find soups, salads, sandwiches and lots of sweet treats!  Click this Boardwalk Bakery link and then click view menu to see a complete listing of what’s offered.  Just use the drop down arrow at the top to see the different menus.

The Boardwalk Pizza Window is open from noon until midnight and offers pizza by the slice and whole pizzas.  Click this Boardwalk Pizza Window link to see the menu.

There are also several snack carts in the Boardwalk area with various offerings such as hot dogs, pretzels and funnel cakes as well as popular table service restaurants like Flying Fish Cafe, Kouzzina by Cat Cora and the ESPN Club.

Finally, if you REALLY want to venture out, hop on the complimentary Disney Transportation and head to Downtown Disney.  There are several options to choose from.  Two of my FAVORITE counter service restaurants are located there.

Wolfgang Puck Express has never disappointed me!  It’s a quick service location with a table service feel.  You place your order at the counter and your food is delivered to your table. There is a nice variety of offerings here from soups, salads and pizza to bacon wrapped meatloaf.  Check out the Wolfgang Puck Express Menu.  This restaurant is located in the Marketplace.  There is also a Wolfgang Puck Cafe on the West Side which offers table service.

My Wolfgang Puck Express Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf- Delicious!!

Another great option in Downtown Disney’s Marketplace is Earl of Sandwich.  This is another place that has yet to disappoint with it’s variety of sandwiches and wraps.  Check out the Earl of Sandwich Menu.

Along with these two great choices are a variety of table service locations and snack windows.  There is Wetzel’s Pretzels, Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood and Ragland Road.  Check out the Downtown Disney Dining options.

Not only is there great food, you can shop and enjoy some of the fun entertainment in the Marketplace.  You can also go bowling at Splitsville or catch a movie at the AMC Theatres on the Westside of Downtown Disney.

If you’re hitting the parks, like I will be after the conference, and want to know where to eat…catch me at the conference and I can give you some suggestions!

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Social Skill Builder App Updates and Giveaway

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Social Skill Builder App Giveaway on SavvySchoolCounselor.comLast year, I wrote a review about the Social Skill Builder App.  This app comes in a full version and a lite version.  You can check out my previous post to learn more about what the app offers.  There are new modules included in the “My School Day” section.   When I first posted about the app, there were only four modules.  Now there are ten.  Like before, the newer modules include videos of various school day situations followed by questions for students to answer.


Social Skill Builder

Here’s a little about each of the newest modules included since I posted last:

Transition Time demonstrates how students should respond during a transition.  The example used in the module is the end of recess.

Social Skill Builder- Transition

Cubby shows the appropriate way a group of students should use their cubbies along with expected behaviors when several students are at the cubby area at one time.

Social Skill Builder- Cubby

Lunch Time demonstrates how students should find a seat in the cafeteria and table manners.  It also shows the correct way to go through the lunch line.

Social Skill Builder- Lunchtime

Social Skill Builder- Lunchtime







Eating shows students’ expected and unexpected behaviors when eating such as chewing with your mouth closed (expected) and wiping your mouth with your hand (unexpected).

Social Skill Builder- Eating

Social Skill Builder- Eating







Team Games 1 and Team Games 2 focus on appropriate ways to play, what to do if someone gets hurt and good sportsmanship.

Social Skill Builder- Team Games

I have used the app with my social skills groups, and they have enjoyed using it.  I would love to hear from those of you using Social Skill Builder with your students.  If you have used it, please leave a comment and share how it has worked for your students.

Something that has changed since last year is the price of the app.  If you want to purchase the full version, it is now $19.99.  The Lite version is still $2.99 and allows in-app purchases of additional modules.

Here’s another chance for someone to win a code for the FULL Version of the Social Skills Builder App- a $19.99 Value.  All you need to do is enter this giveaway before 11:59 PM (EST) on Monday, April 21.
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