A School Counselor Lunch Bunch Linky Party

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I was so excited to see this linky party on Tabitha’s blog, Scrapbook of a School Counselor.  Lunch bunch is one of my favorite things about my school counseling program.  You can check out my lunch bunch posts by clicking HERE.

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For me, lunch bunch is a time to connect with students in an informal setting.  It is an opportunity to focus on a variety of needs within my school’s population that I may not otherwise have the chance to address during my classroom counseling lessons.  It also allows me to get more small groups in during the school year that will not take away from instruction time.  I usually have between 4-6 students per lunch bunch.

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I usually find activities that do not involve writing or coloring.  This usually includes a book, discussion cards, or a discussion cube.  Some activities with laminated cards work well during lunch bunch also.  Some lunch bunches are just a time to get to know students.  During these types of groups, we mainly just chat and learn about some of the things we may have in common with each other.

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Over the past few years, I have created a schedule which includes each grade level (K-5) in my school.  On a good year, I’m usually able to see children from each grade level between 7-9 times which is up to 54 groups.  To do this, I create a schedule which allows me to see two grade levels per week.  I send the form found in this blog post to each grade level the week before their assigned date.  The teachers are able to select the students they feel need the topic OR they tell me a need within their grade level they would like addressed.

This year, I am having lunch bunch groups with all of the new first through fifth graders in our school.   This will probably take me until the end of September to accomplish, but I am enjoying meeting them all.  Once I’m able to get through those groups, I will begin to plan out the rest of the year.  I may tweak my Lunch Bunch program some this year and see how things go.

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I use my lunch bunch time as a way to reward good behavior as well.  In our school, students are expected to S.O.A.R.  S is for Show respect, O is for Order and Safety, A is for Awesome attitude, and R is for responsibility.  On occasion, I ask teachers to send their “SOARing” students for a mini celebration of sorts.  Their accomplishment is a big deal and I make sure they know it.  I usually invite an administrator to stop by and give pats on the back as well.

 

If you would like to participate, here are the instructions:
-Create a blog post titled “A School Counselor Lunch Bunch Linky Party”
-Place the Linky Party logo (above) in your post.
-Answer the questions (above). You are free to copy and past Tabitha’s headers as I did if you’d like.
-Submit your blog post link by visiting Tabitha’s blog post which is linked above . Be sure to link to the actual post, not your homepage.

 

Thanks, Tabitha, for creating a great linky party!  It’s so great to learn and get new ideas from each other!
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Lunch Bunch Anyone?: Getting to Know You

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The first lunch bunch sessions I hold with my first through fifth graders are “Getting to Know You” sessions for new students to our school.  Teachers choose students from their classes who they feel I should get to know.

At the beginning of the session, I showed students the self-referral forms on my door and talked about how to make an appointment with me.  I also shared my School Counselor’s First Aid Kit.  We talked about their old schools as well as things they enjoyed about their new school.  Then we used my “Getting to Know You” cards.

Ice breaker statements are always a great way to learn more about your students.  They get them thinking, and I’ve found the students really enjoy sharing about themselves with me and the group.

I made these “Getting to Know You” cards to use with every grade level.  To make them, I cut a few sheets of card stock into quarters.  I printed and cut out the title for one side of each of the cards.  I also printed and cut out the statements for the opposite side of each of the cards.  I used a glue stick to glue them to the cards and then I laminated them.

The statements on the cards came from the book 201 Icebreakers.  This book has just about any icebreaker activity you’ve probably ever participated in!  It has icebreakers for all audiences from children to adults and small groups to large presentations.  I chose the “Favorite Things” activity.

I have used the cards for my new student lunch bunches over the last week and a half.  I read them aloud for my first grade friends and they took turns answering them if they wanted to.  The older students pulled their own cards, read them aloud, and answered them.  I also gave group members opportunities to answer the questions other students pulled.

I really liked that these simple “favorites” sparked wonderful conversations among new friends.  Students were excited to share about the crazy stunts their pets have pulled as well as sharing about their favorite place to be.  I enjoyed getting to know the new personalities.  It was nice to even see the more quiet students open up during the conversation.

You can print the statements and the title for the back of each card by clicking these links:

Getting to Know You Cards

Getting to Know You- Back of Card

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Have you held any new student lunch bunch groups?  What did you do with your students?


Lunch Bunch Anyone?: Planning and Scheduling

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At the beginning of the school year, I fill in my school counseling calendar for the year to include classes, regular small groups, and Lunch Bunch sessions.  I typically schedule all of my lunch bunches on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I host two grade levels per week and plan to see up to nine groups per grade level.  You can refer to my post Lunch Bunch Anyone? for more specifics.

Click the following photo to print a copy of the letter I send to teachers for lunch bunch.  You will need to create a letter that meets the needs of your program, but this will at least give you an idea of what to say.  I include a second page specific to each grade level as well with their assigned dates.  The sample includes 5th grade’s schedule on the second page.  I give each grade level their specific lunch bunch dates at the beginning of the year so they know in advance when their dates fall.

This photo shows my year-at-a-glance for lunch bunch from last year.  I post this beside my office door and on my bulletin board inside my office.

I am a planner, so I like to be able to refer to a chart of some sort for things I do on a regular basis.  I created a basic chart in Microsoft Word to refer to each week as I plan my lunch bunch lessons.  I consider it a “living” document that can be changed when necessary.  I just like to have a plan in place.  If new concerns arise within a grade level, I can easily switch out one of the subject areas to accommodate the issue.

Click here to see a Lunch Bunch At-A-Glance for this school year. You’ll notice some blocks say “Reward for SOARing.”  We are falcons at my school, and we “S.O.A.R.” which stands for:

  • Show respect
  • Order and safety
  • Awesome attitude
  • Responsibility

Although a majority of my sessions are planned to target specific areas, I also like to celebrate those students who are “SOARing” as well!

Stick around!  As the school year progresses, I will post about specific lessons I use for Lunch Bunch.  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d like to hear from you.  What other topics do you include for Lunch Bunch?


Creating A Plan for Student Success

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iconOrganization plays a vital role in having good study skills .  I incorporate study skills through various ways in my school counseling program.  I was glad when I came across the book Annie’s Plan.  This book helps students take charge of their schoolwork and homework by giving strategies to use at school and home.  Annie is a smart girl, but she sometimes is distracted by all the things going on around her at school.  I love the examples the author, Jeanne Kraus, uses to show different ways Annie gets off task.  I’m sure we’ve all seen students drawing when they should be listening or completing an assignment.  How about the student who can’t focus on his or her own work because they are too busy watching what someone else is doing?  Of course when Annie gets home, she can’t remember what the homework assignment is.  Both her teacher and parents know she is smart enough to do so much better.  Therefore, Annie’s plan was born!

Her teacher created a ten step schoolwork plan and a ten step homework plan.  The school plan included cleaning her desk, the use of a daily planner and setting daily goals. During my lessons, I discussed with students why each of the items on the lists were important.  The students were open to sharing items in which they could improve upon as well.  The homework plan included having a scheduled homework time, taking homework breaks when necessary, and preparing for tomorrow.  Many students affirmed that they learned at least one new strategy and that they would begin to implement those strategies in order to take charge of their schoolwork and homework.

Complete Schoolwork Plan

 

Complete Homework Plan

I gave each student a handout titled “What’s Your System?” from the book Spectacular Guidance Activities for Kids by Diane Senn.  This activity tied right in with three of the strategies from the book.  The students wrote about their plan for their desk, book bag, and home study area.  On the back, they could also write any other strategies from the book they would like to improve upon.

This is a great book!  I have used it during a fourth grade lunch bunch as well as classroom guidance with my third grade friends. It can be used for individualized counseling as well for students who, like Annie, are capable but just need a plan in place to keep them on track.

ETA (11-2-13):  Last week, I created a new sheet to use with my students.  I included specific areas of improvement from Annie’s Plan.  My third graders did very well using this sheet and it helped our discussion about the importance of using the book’s strategies for school success.  You can download a free copy of the sheet by clicking here:  Annie’s Plan Worksheet.  You may also click the picture below.

Annie's Plan Worksheet

Stick around!  You can follow Savvy School Counselor with free email updates.  As always, I’d love to hear from you.  Connect with me!


Lunch Bunch Anyone?: Preparing for the Test

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End-of-Grade testing time is just a few weeks away in my state.  One objective of my school counseling program is to assist teachers and students as they get closer to that big week.  My most recent lunch bunch sessions with upper grades have focused on test taking strategies.  A resource I have enjoyed using for a couple of years now is Excite Me!  Motivate Me!  Test Me! by Sandra Robinson.  There are several great activities to pull from this resource.  Because the students are eating lunch, I make sure to pull the activities that center mostly around discussions.  One exception is the card game pictured below. There are 15 cards, and each one has an answer on the top of the card and a question on the bottom of the card.  One of the cards says “start” at the top.  The student with that card reads the first question on the bottom of the card.  The students stay engaged because they may have the answer to the question.  The person with the answer says “I’ve got it,” and reads the answer aloud to the group.  That person will then read the question on the bottom of the same card they just read the answer from.  This goes on and on until the last answer is read. The bottom of that card says “The End.”

I also use another set of cards which helps facilitate a great conversation.  During this conversation, the students are able to make connections to many of the tips and strategies their teachers have already given them. Many of those teachers would be happy to know the students have retained those tips and are able to share them confidently with the group. These are some of the tips I also used on the test taking foldable.

The main message I make sure to give the students before they leave is this:  Do your best, but don’t enter testing time worrying about what will happen if you don’t get the scores you desire. Many students fear they may be retained if they do not pass these tests.  I don’t know about you, but I think those thoughts add an extra level of unnecessary stress to children.  The bottom line is, the tests give just one of the many snapshots of the school year for each of them.  What also matters are quarterly grades throughout the year along with having satisfactory work habits.

 

Before the students prepare to leave, I give each of them a laminated bookmark to take.  On the bookmark are important things to remember as they prepare for the upcoming tests.  I like that it says to wear comfortable clothes.  I also tell them to layer.  It’s better to have a jacket to put on or take off if necessary.  Being too hot or too cold is definitely a distraction!

I would love to hear from you.  Connect with me!


Lunch Bunch Anyone?

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In addition to regular small groups, I began incorporating Lunch Bunch groups into my school counseling program during the 2010-11 school year.  My goal was to connect with more students in a smaller group setting.  Additionally, I wanted to address behavioral and emotional needs of students who needed more support outside of my regular classroom guidance lessons.  I also wanted each grade level at my school to have several opportunities to participate.  To do this, I created a schedule which would allow me to see two grade levels each week thus seeing each grade level every three weeks.  This adds up to approximately 54 lunch bunches and LOTS of small group counseling opportunities nestled throughout the school year! Because I’ve worked at my school for eight years, I am aware of the most common needs teachers would like addressed during these sessions.  I plan topics ahead of time and give the Lunch Bunch form to the grade level chairs to share with their teams during planning.  Each teacher can send one student.  If a teacher doesn’t have a student needing the topic, he or she will give the spot to another teacher to use.  Additionally, there is a place on the form for the team to “override” my topic choice and submit their own in order to address a grade level issue or concern.

As state-wide testing time approaches, I have used Lunch Bunch Time to focus on test taking tips and strategies for grades 3-5. Some other Lunch Bunch topics include: anger management, telling the truth (integrity), good manners, self-confidence, staying on-task, and completing assignments to name a few.  Reward Lunch Bunches are also held so teachers can acknowledge students who have been caught being good.  I always share those names with the office and have them announced on Fridays with our weekly school-wide bucket fillers.

Stick around! I’ll be discussing Lunch Bunch in future blog posts.  You are welcome to use this Lunch Bunch Form to schedule your lunch bunch groups.  I punch holes in them and store them in a binder to document the groups I’ve held and the students who have attended.

I would love to hear how you facilitate lunch bunch. Connect with me!