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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Kindergarten: Feelings and Responsibility

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One thing I really look forward to each year in my school counseling program is my very first visit with my new Kindergarten friends.  After seeing grades 1-5 over the last three weeks, it’s finally time to share my first lesson with Kindergarten.  I usually schedule them last intentionally.  I do this as to not disrupt the teachers’ firsts days with them.  They have so many new things to learn including classroom procedures.  Usually by the time I visit, they are ready to sit on the carpet crisscross applesauce with hands in their fish bowls and listening ears.

I had the opportunity to assist with the Kindergarten assessments, so I worked with most of them one-to-one during their staggered entry days.  So, many of them are already waving and saying hello when they see me.

I have thirty minutes to complete this lesson. The first part of my lesson includes my “A Counselor is…” cards I wrote about in a previous post.  These cards are great for explaining what a school counselor does.  As mentioned in my other post, the students learn that a counselor is a friend, a helper, a listener, a problem solver, and a secret keeper.  I make sure to stress that I can keep any secret as long is no one is being hurt.

Next, I introduce my Jellybean Friend Eugene, the emotional blue jellybean from Jellybean Jamboree.  This leads us to a discussion about feelings.  You can read more about Eugene and the other jellybeans here.  I read The Feelings Book by Todd Parr to Eugene and the class.  It is a great book which showcases many different feelings including some silly ones like “Sometimes I feel like eating pizza for breakfast” or “Sometimes I feel like kissing a sea lion.”  This year, I also have Todd Parr’s “Feeling Flashcards” which I am so excited about using.  For the purpose of this lesson, I will share the flashcards for happy, sad, angry, and scared as I discuss the different feelings Eugene has experienced.  I’ve decided to use the majority of the cards during Lunch Bunch and other small groups.  I will also use some cards here and there throughout the school year during future lessons.

Finally, I talk about all of the BIG words they’ll be learning about throughout the school year called character traits.  I share the first trait, responsibility, which is on their very first scoop of ice cream.  I mentioned my ice cream cone and scoops incentive  in the post They All Scream for Ice Cream.  I make a big deal about how big the word is, and we count the 14 letters.  (Then I make a big deal about how they can count to 14!)  I explain what it means to be responsible by sharing the book You Can Count On Me.  This is one of the character songs I sing with my kindergarten friends throughout the school year.  The words in the book are the words to the song.  After sharing it and having them repeat the chorus, we sing along with the CD and give ourselves a “round of applause” by clapping around in a circle.  If time allows, we will usually sing it two times.

To close, I review all the things we talked about during our lesson and add their very first ice cream scoop to their cone.

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What special activities do you use with your Kindergarten students during your first visit?

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.

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