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!


Weird!- A Bullying Victim’s Perspective

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My major focus in my school counseling program this school year has been on bullying.  I have had extensive conversations with my fourth and fifth grade friends especially.

This month, I’m using the book Weird! from the Weird Series with my fourth graders. This series is written by Erin Frankel.  Weird! is one of three books in the series which focuses on the victim’s perspective.  The other books, Dare! and Tough! focus on the bystander’s and bully’s viewpoints respectively.  Each book includes notes from the main character along with activities and reflection questions.

Weird! is about a girl named Luisa.  Sam, from the Tough! book, says everything Luisa does is “weird.”  Luisa goes on to give several examples of the things Sam considers “weird.”  This affects her so much, she begins to change and stops being herself.  She stops telling funny jokes and decides to stop wearing her favorite polka dot boots. If you look closely at the pictures, you’ll notice Jayla from the Dare! book.  She doesn’t like how Sam treats Luisa.  Soon, Luisa decides she must change her way of thinking.  She went back to being herself no matter what Sam said about her, and she acted like she didn’t care.  She soon noticed that Sam began to leave her alone.

I decided to use the activity “Recycle Your Thoughts” from Luisa’s Confidence Club at the end of the book.  Students cut out eight circles, or polka dots.  I  pre-cut several colorful circles from construction paper and made plain, white dots on regular paper.  On four of the dots, students may write some of Luisa’s negative thoughts or some of their own.  I made the white dots for this purpose.  On the other four colorful dots, the students change their negative thoughts into positive ones.  They may also decorate them.

 

I like that this activity has the students crinkle up the negative dots and symbolically toss them into the recycling bin.  They may then keep their positive dots to decorate a notebook or to hang on the wall in their bedrooms.  They can also tape these dots to their bathroom mirror where they can read these positive affirmations each day.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!  Have you used the Weird Series in your school counseling program?  What activities for this book have you used with your students?


Simon’s Hook Giveaway!

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If you’ve read my post Don’t Bite the Hook, you already know that Simon’s Hook by Karen Gedig Burnett is one of my favorites to share with students when it comes to teaching them how to handle being teased.  If you’re not familiar with this great book, check out my previous post to learn more.  It is a great book to add to your school counseling library!

There will be one winner selected to win this prize.  I will contact the winner by email to request the mailing address where he or she would like their new book sent.  I will order it and have it delivered directly to the winner.  You may enter this contest by using the Rafflecopter widget below this post.  There are several ways to enter.  You will receive three entries for subscribing for email updates.   Two entries are given for liking Savvy School Counselor on Facebook or pinning this giveaway on Pinterest.  One entry is given for following Savvy School Counselor on Twitter and one for liking this post on Facebook.  

Enter to win before 11:59 P.M. EST on Sunday, July 8th.  If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.  Thanks for participating!

Congratulations to my Savvy Giveaway winner:  Deirdre N.!
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Who’s Made a Difference in Your Life?

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Kathryn Otoshi wrote a wonderful book simply titled One.  I first heard about it from one of my colleagues during a regional counselor’s meeting.  After joining Pinterest, I came across this book again, and I decided I would add it to my growing list of books to buy for my school counseling program. Though there were dozens of “pins” about this book, I was fortunate to find a link to the blog Entirely Elementary School Counseling  which had a wonderful lesson to use with the book.  Although this is a picture book, the counselor used this book with her 5th graders to close out the school year.  This was a perfect idea for me to use with my students.  I have used the Steps to Respect curriculum with my 5th graders throughout the school year which addresses bullying in several of the lessons.  Our last Steps to Respect lesson was about bystanders and what they should do when they find themselves in that position.  We talked about reporting versus tattling too.  We discussed why it is important to let an adult know when they witness bullying along with when it is safe to stand up for someone.

As our final classroom guidance lesson, I shared this wonderful book with my 5th grade friends and adapted the lesson plan format I found on the blog.  My fifth grade friends are so cool and “grown up,” but even they enjoy sitting on the floor around a storyteller to hear and look at pictures in a picture book. I shared this lesson five times, and you could hear a pin drop at least 98% of the time.  It really got them thinking, and they made appropriate connections to the story during our discussion after I finished reading.  In the first class, the students shared about the one person who has made a difference in their lives.  Additionally, I showed this great video from YouTube in order to give a visual of the story for the students.  It features the author, Kathryn Otoshi.  When the video ended, I gave each student a 3 1/2 x5 index card.  I asked them to write about how they would be the one to make a difference. Not surprisingly, the discussions about the one person who has made a difference in their lives resonated with me.  So, when I visited the rest of the fifth graders, I asked those classes to write about that one person on their cards instead.  As I walked around and silently read each of their cards, I was thrilled to see how much thought they were putting into what they were writing.  Many wrote about a parent and  a few mentioned current or former teachers. My name showed up as well.  I was really touched by many of the students’ words about the things their parents and teachers have done for them. While they worked, I took pictures of them in groups of three so I could crop the face of each student and add it to the index card for the hallway display. Once I cropped all of the their faces to make individual pictures, I printed thumbnails of each photo.  This was the perfect size for the index cards.  I did a brief description of the display and printed a copy of the cover of the book to display with it.

I decided to make copies of the cards where students wrote about former teachers in order to present them to those teachers.  As much as their words moved me, I knew those teachers would appreciate knowing they made a difference in the life of a student.  Needless to say, happy tears were shed by a couple of them. It was wonderful to see their reactions.

Is it just me, or do you feel a little misty when sharing this book?  I mean… I kept it together, but I had to really focus to do it. What are your thoughts on this wonderful book?  I’d love to hear about any lessons you’ve done with it.  Connect with me!

ETA- April 14, 2013:  I created this sheet to use this year with my students and wanted to share it with you all as well.  It’s simple, but gives the students a chance to reflect on who’s made a difference in their lives as well as how they can make a difference in the lives of others.  Click on the picture to print a copy. (Font by: An Apple A Day in First Grade)


Don’t Bite the Hook!

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Simon’s Hook is a wonderful book about how Grandma Rose teaches Simon to deal with teases and put downs.  It is one of my favorites to use with my second graders.  However, I keep it on stand-by for individual counseling sessions across grade levels as well.  The author, Karen Gedig Burnett, takes an all too real problem for children and gives them a very clever approach to dealing with it.  Simply put… Don’t bite the hook!  You see, this book uses fish to illustrate how to handle the problem of being teased by others- the fishermen.  Burnett, or Grandma Rose I should say, gives five important rules to help encourage the fish to stop biting the hooks:

  • Don’t React to the Hook
  • Agree With the Hook
  • Laugh or Joke About the Hook
  • Distract the Fisherman
  • Swim in Another Part of the Sea

There are lots of laughs as I read the responses the fish give the hooks as they learn each of these strategies. The goal for students is to remain a “free fish” although the “fisherman” are always throwing hooks to catch them.  I always ask students who have been fishing before to explain what they  do if the fish aren’t “biting.”  More often than not, the fisherman will find another spot to fish. See the connection?

One key message in this book is to NOT throw hooks at the fishermen.  I always make sure to remind students that saying mean things back to others doesn’t make them “free fish.”  Instead, they also become fishermen.  When we finish reading the story, I “throw some hooks” using examples given at the end of the book and give students a chance to respond using one of the strategies discussed. If you don’t have this book, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Karen Gedig Burnett also has a wonderful website called GrandmaRose.com which has extra activities to use with this wonderful book.

This is just one of the lessons I have incorporated in my school counseling program regarding bullying in addition to using the Steps to Respect curriculum.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  You may leave any comments here or visit my contact page to email me directly.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!