Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's on your walls???

If you have read my office page, then you know that I just moved offices and positions over the summer. In my office I have a big closet. The bare closet doors have bothered me since I moved in, but I was not sure what I wanted to put on them. What is middle school appropriate? I was so afraid of putting something up that was too babyish...coming from an elementary school and all. However, after the first two weeks I found myself saying the same things that I had said the previous four years as an elementary school counselor. Even though the conversation was more mature, I noticed the students did not have basic problem solving skills, were confused on what bullying really was, and did not know the difference between reporting a problem and tattling. They were having difficulty identifying how they felt and coming up with ways to calm down when angry or upset. In response to my student's needs, I decided to cover my closet doors with posters addressing these issues.
The posters that I used were from several of the packets that I have in my TpT storeYou can do the same thing by making your own posters. Just think about the issues that come up most often with your students. So far I have been amazed at how many students have looked at and commented on the posters. I have even had students come in angry, and as I give them time to calm down I can see them studying the posters. Students have even referenced them in conversation. Teachers, what do you have on your walls? Make it relevant, because I promise the students read, study, and look at what is posted.

If you want to make your own posters, then make them pleasing to the student's eye. Some hints are:
~Use fun fonts, but make sure they are easy to read
~Use colors that are eye catching, but not so crazy that the message is overpowered
~Use attractive clip art and pictures to support written messages
~Deliver your info clearly and concisely

The posters that I used are from the following packets:
~Counselor's Office Rules - For the Counselor's Office packet
~How to Solve a Problem, Small Problems vs. Big Problems, Reporting vs. Tattling, Bullying or Not - Problem Solving packet
~Anger Rules and Ways to Calm Down - The Anger Hub packet
~Boys & Girls How Are You Feeling Posters - The Emotions Hub packet

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Since my post last week was about using games to make connections, I wanted to follow up by mentioning another game I often use.  Jenga!  Students of all ages love this game.  I have used it with students in kinder up to 8th grade.  This game works great in one-on-one situations or with a group.  Jenga makes for a wonderful icebreaker activity.
On each Jenga block I wrote a question or statement.  Once the student pulls the block they must answer the question before placing the piece on the top of the tower.  Some pieces have serious questions while other blocks have fun statements to respond to.  When students pull the block that asks a question like, "What makes you mad?" they respond without hesitation almost every time.  Take the game away, ask the same question, and the student most likely will be more guarded and less unwilling to share something so personal.
Teachers, there are so many ways you can incorporate this game into your classroom depending on what you write on the blocks.  As a former math teacher, I would consider writing math facts on the blocks.  The possibilities are endless really.  What games do you like to use with students?  Please leave a comment.  I am always looking for new ideas!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Memory Game

So, have you ever been trying to make a connection with a student and they just sit there and look at you like you're crazy?  For the most part, students respond in a positive way as soon as they realize you are there to help solve a problem.  However, sometimes students are oppositional or scared or just plain shy, which puts a road block between the student and yourself.  I have found that turning the situation or problem into a game usually removes the road block.
One game I have found that almost all students enjoy is memory.  The cards in the photo above make up the Feelings Memory Game.  When students turn over cards or get a match  the perfect opportunity is created to get them talking about how they feel.  In this game I used the following emotions: worrying, anger, happiness, scared, silly, excited, sad, and surprised.  By the end of the game, I know what the student is thinking with each emotion, as well as what may trigger these feelings.  This game is in The Emotions Hub packet in my TpT store
The following are a few things to consider if you want to incorporate games into working with students.
~The amount of time in which it will take to play the game.  It is more beneficial to start and finish the game in one sitting.
~Use games that have easy rules to follow and simple scoring.  This will allow conversation to flow fluidly.
~Use games that will keep students engaged and on topic.
~When playing with a group, use games that can be played with a variety of ability levels.