Thursday, May 29, 2014
I can't believe it is the week before the EOGs, and there are only 12 more days of school left this year. Wow! It has gone fast! It feels odd to be wrapping up classroom guidance lessons and small groups and not be starting new ones. I am still looking forward to our EOG pep rally tomorrow (will definitely be sharing my fun skit in a later post!), my middle school transition lessons after EOGs, and the fun lunches I have started with my fifth graders in-between testing days, field days, and award days.
I mentioned in a recent career post here how I was excited to do virtual campus tours with my fifth
graders after discovering the website youvisit.com. I decided to do a popcorn theme and created a sign-up poster to put in the fifth grade hallway that reads "Popping Onto Campus". I laminated the sign-up section of the poster so that I can reuse it for future lunches, and explained the concept to all my fifth grade classes a couple days prior to the first scheduled lunch. After the 22 available lunch spots were taken, my fifth grade teachers removed the dry erase marker I attached with velcro. I took a picture with my iPad as soon as I saw it was full (retouched to blur out names), just in case there was any smudging of names with hallway traffic, and I gave each student a "event ticket" with the date and time on it.
I also sent home a notice to fifth grade parents (see below) to drum up some donated popcorn so we could make the virtual field trips even more festive. After all, what fifth grader doesn't like popcorn?! I have already had several parents send in four or five bags each so I think we will be covered for the rest of the year! When we did our first event today, I let the students vote on which of the 12 campuses they wanted to tour. It was a close call between Syracuse University and Yale University, but Yale won out! After a welcome from our peppy tour guide Jessica, who explained she is a senior at Yale, we walked through numerous spots on campus with descriptions, college information, and even 360 degree panoramic views in many locations. It was really interesting! Also, the pathways were lined with directional arrows that I let students go up and touch on the Smartboard to make it more interactive.
The lunches are optional, but I think I'm going to end up doing five or six before the last day of school based on student feedback. It's also a really good break from the monotonous EOG prep and gives them something else to think about during a somewhat stressful time. Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~Angela
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Today is officially the one month countdown until my last day of school. Crazy, exciting, and scary all at the same time! I could say, "where has the year gone?!", but I can just look back through all my posts to see all the work, time, and energy that has gone into my kiddos this year! And, it has been a GREAT year!
Along with the month countdown comes anticipation and stress over the EOGs so I have started my EOG small groups with third and fourth graders (my co-counselor does fifth grade) as well as classroom guidance lessons. I am especially excited because I get to use an iMovie that my book club made as a technology project once we finished the book, Because of Mr. Terupt (see my post about that here). Three of the students wanted to make the video to help others learn how to cope with stress once we had discussed their favorite strategies for so many weeks. It is really cute and can be viewed below: (sorry for the videography in some parts....it is a fifth grade production and we are low-budget...ha! :) )
My lesson with fourth graders focuses primarily on multiple choice strategies and coping with anxiety based on needs assessment feedback from my teachers. We start out by brainstorming the words they think of when I say we are going to have a lesson about the EOGs (Note: They are not POSITIVE words 90% of the time in my classrooms). Then, I give them a pre-survey that determines the students' prior knowledge of multiple choice strategies as well as their confidence in passing the EOGs. I have them fill out the same survey at the end of the 45 minute lesson to chart growth. See my two pre and post survey examples below:
U= Underline keywords
C= Circle numbers
K= Know what the question is asking
U= Use time wisely
S= Show your work and solve the problem
S= Slash the trash (process of elimination)
I also highlight the strategy of drawing a picture even though it isn't part of the acronym since it is so helpful to students who are not as strong with computation. All of the students get a chance to complete their own math question using the strategies, and I choose one student to come to the Smartboard and show their strategies to the rest of the class.
The second goal of the lesson is to focus on test anxiety, and I begin by assessing where the students are on an anxiety scale of 1 to 10. The students use post-it notes to show where they are on the scale. We emphasize the difference between taking the EOGs seriously and being prepared versus being overly stressed and unable to do your best due to anxiety. Another benefit of this activity is that it gives me a chance to really see what students I may need to follow up with individually or in informal lunch groups.
At this point I show the student-made video to the class and we start talking about and practicing deep breaths, set routines, exercises, and positive thoughts. For the set routines discussion, they get to volunteer to come to the board and decide whether the choice would make them feel "FANTASTIC" or "FRAZZLED". The students also get to be involved in writing the positive thoughts they would choose for that strategy.
It has been a fun lesson, and my post-survey data has been great! I have had about 98% of students increase the number of strategies they know in the classes I have presented to so far. Most students have already reported that they feel confident about passing the EOGs on the pre-survey, but a handful of students in each class have changed their answers from NO to YES that they have confidence they will pass the EOGs following the lesson so I know it's making a difference! Feel free to download my EOG Smartboard lesson as a freebie HERE if it will be helpful to you. I would love any comments you have if you download it. THANKS!
Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~ Angela
Monday, May 5, 2014
I may be getting ahead of myself, but there are less than 30 days of school left of the 2013-2014 year, and this weekend weather got me thinking about summer vacation. I love to read and don't get enough time to indulge myself during the school year so I try to catch up during summer vacation. Often, I am researching books that I want to use with parents or students.
I am about to complete my first virtual parent book club and read the book I am using, Talking Back to Facebook, last summer. The virtual book club, which I organized through Edmodo, has been a really cool experience. I wanted to focus on Internet safety and online/social media awareness since I am a co-sponsor of the Cleveland Stars Technology Club at my school---check out our student blog here. I targeted the parents of my tech club members since their children are clearly interested in online projects and technology and also posted the book club opportunity on my webpage. We are a small group, but it has been perfect for my first endeavor.
Our first group meeting was in person at my school, and I provided refreshments as a fun kick-off event. I shared the reading schedule with the ladies, although we got off a little bit with snow days here and there, and discussed what they were most interested in learning about. Each week I post discussion questions related to the assigned chapters and also present a website resource and/or popular app review to the members. Everyone posts responses to the questions as they are able during the week so we get a variety of perspectives on the challenges, concerns, and successes of navigating the digital world with children. I should also mention that the author of this book, James P. Steyer, is the founder of Common Sense Media and his website is a GREAT resource for parents and educators alike as it reviews pretty much every media source you would encounter--apps, websites, movies, tv shows, video games, etc.
Also in book news, I recently finished a fantastic book club with some fifth grade students that was designed to help them learn to cope with anxiety. I mentioned in my post here that I have seen more anxiety in my students this year than I ever have before. Luckily, Because of Mr. Terupt was on my reading list this past summer so I had the perfect book to use in book club with my students. I have talked a lot about my book clubs on the Book Club Page of my blog so I won't re-hash how I run everything when you can read about it here. There is also a short summary of Mr. Terupt on that page, which I have now updated since reading the book. I will say that this book club group was one of my most favorite EVER, and my pre/post data was FANTASTIC. Every child decreased their self-report Likert scale anxiety rating on my post survey compared to the pre-survey, and EVERY teacher reported seeing less anxiety in their students on the teacher post survey.
I changed things up a little this year and let my students take their books home a couple of times after they asked me to do so....they really wanted to see what happened with the characters! It did help because the book is 268 pages long, although it reads MUCH faster with lots of short chapters. It is also an awesome book to use when addressing perspective-taking skills because each chapter is written from the viewpoint of a different character, and they are often describing the same event in multiple ways.
I have been asked several times to create book club materials by school counselors who are interested in running book clubs at their school, and I finally made time to put everything together. The 25-page Because of Mr. Terupt book club activity pack is now available at my Life on the Fly Store. I will tell you that it is extremely comprehensive and includes everything you would need to create your student workbooks and get started right away: a parent permission letter, student pre/post surveys, teacher pre/post surveys and all the other student sheets listed in the user's guide below.
I hope it will be helpful to you and you will love this book as much as I have! If you are more interested in another book that I have mentioned using in book club, send me an email. The others will be coming as soon as I can carve out some more time. Also, I really have started making my summer reading list for the summer. So far, I am interested in the following books (not all are for books clubs as I use different resources for my lessons, Career Cafe events, etc.):
Happy Counseling and Enjoy! ~ Angela