Thursday, February 2, 2017

Get Ready For National School Counseling Week


National School Counseling Week is a time to advocate and educate to parents, faculty, administration and stakeholders what our school counseling program is all about.  While a lot of people view it as a day of recognition for counselors, that is not the purpose of this week.  It truly is about getting the word out about what we do to help students.  

National School Counseling Week 2017, "School Counseling: Helping Students Realize Their Potential," will be celebrated from Feb. 6-10, 2017.  You can get a lot of information from the ASCA website about how to celebrate in your school.  



I love participating in all the photo challenges on Twitter.  

Because NCSW is such an important week, I've rounded up some free resources to help you let your school know what you do.

I put together a poster of the 7 Ups of Counseling and daily messages for mailboxes.   You can get them in my TpT store.



I also have an editable crossword puzzle that's perfect to leave in the lunchroom for students.  



Counselor Keri, also has some great kits to help celebrate.

Find it here




Find the Valentine's theme one here.


And, the Hollywood theme here

Keri also has a Guidance lesson for elementary school.



Brandy Thompson, The Counseling Teacher has these NCSW Bookmarks, which are perfect for the kids.  


Find the bookmarks here.

School Counseling Resource Junky has a neat bulletin board display to let everyone know your superpowers.


get your Super Powers posters here.

There's also these gift tags from Traci Brown.


I hope these help as you celebrate NCSW.  Be sure to join in the Twitter photo challenge and share your pictures and celebrations from your school with me.  

Monday, January 23, 2017

Goal Setting For Success


Day 2 with the 8th graders and I wanted to expand on the values lesson from yesterday (click here for the values lesson).  We talked about the quote, "Values are like fingerprints.  Nobody's are the same, but you leave them all over everything you do."  But first, we talked about goals.  This class had already talked about SMART goals in health class last year, but it was definitely time for a refresher.  I asked them to think about 3 life goals that they had for themselves.  I gave them each 3 colored copies of worksheets I had made, and then I gave them directions on how to fold them into a flipbook.  When they were done, they each had their own booklet.  


Inside we talk about the importance of setting goals.  I asked them to name 3 life goals they had for themselves.

Then we reviewed their goals.

Next we talked about the importance of having a positive mindset and the affect it had on your goals.


Then I introduced a few business terms: SWOT or Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.  I explained how our SWOT could make or break our success.  In the business world, not recognizing your weaknesses and threats could overpower the opportunities and strengths, but if we know ahead of time what these hurdles are, we can make plans (using our positive mindsets) to prepare to get past them.  They become speed bumps instead of barricades.

Lastly, I asked students to write their own SMART goals.

At the end of class, students shared some of their SMART goals, and once again tied it in to high school transition.   I have one more day in class with the 8th graders and tomorrow we will talk about "How long is your lifetime."


I'd love to know how you talk about goal setting with your middle schoolers.  What lessons do you do?  Leave a comment below, or email me if you would like to be a guest blogger and share your lesson with others!


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Starting to think about high school transition- Day 1-Talking about Values


Last week I had the opportunity to spend 3 class days with our 8th graders.  I wanted to combine career planning, goal setting, mindsets, and values all in with starting to think about high school.  In a few short months, I will be calling each 8th grader and his/her parents in to talk about future planning and high school course selection.  

DAY 1--Values

I started day 1 talking about values. I introduced the concept of values by holding up a $10 bill and a $100 (OK. . .so I used play money. . .).  I then asked them if they could choose one because I was giving them away, which would they choose.  


All of the students, except one, said "I'll take the $100."  When I asked why, the reasons were all the same.  It's worth more.  The one who said $50, had a great answer.  Because everyone else took the $100, she would be sure to get the $50, and that was $50 more than she started with.

I asked them why the $100 was worth more.  It was printed on the same paper, the same ink was used.  So, it had one more zero?!  

Value, we decided, was what something was worth to us.  What we determined to be important.  After defining value, we talked about how our choices and actions, and our really big plans, usually were decided upon because of our values.  I told them that we would be looking at these values because they will have some importance as we move forward with high school planning.  

Then, we held a values auction.  I gave them a list of values that we would be putting up for auction.  They needed to determine if it was something they would bid on and determine their maximum bid.  When they were set in determining what they were bidding on we started the auction.


I was interesting to see what each class valued.  There were a lot of trends, and even a few surprises.  

Here are a few pictures of what the kids had to bid on.




If you are interested in a copy of this lesson, you can find it on my TpT store here.  It really was a great lesson, and can be used for discussing transition, careers, or character education.  

What we talked about was how our values impacted our choices and decisions.  So if we valued education and going to college, then it might be important to keep taking a foreign language in high school because it was an admission requirement to many colleges.  We also talked about how our values could affect our career choices.  One of the highest selling values for every class was "a career I love" so trying to figure out what we wanted to do for a career is important.  

How do you talk about values?  When do you get students excited to think about what matters most to them?  Leave a comment below and let me know!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

You've Been BOOed

Yes, I have jumped on the BOOed Bandwagon.  If you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that I really try to create a warm and caring environment--both for my students and our staff.

I was at Target yesterday and found these cute You've Been Booed candy bars.  I bought 4.  One for each grade level (5,6,7,8) to start the boo rolling.




I printed out the "I've Been BOOed!" door sign and attached it to the candy bar with a black ribbon.  I then took the directions and the candy and placed it into four different mailboxes.  The goal is to have teachers and staff members get a candy, hang the poster on their classroom door and then pay it forward by BOOing someone else.  The ultimate goal is to have the whole school BOOed.


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Our Hidden Beauty

My lunch bunch groups were talking about what makes us special and unique.  Here is a recent lesson that I did with them that teaches about looking beyond our first glance and looking deeper.

To begin, I had students take a piece of paper and their favorite color marker.  I asked them to them hold their marker just above the center of their paper and close their eyes.  I then said "Go" and gave them about 5 seconds to scribble on their piece of paper before telling them to "Stop!"

When they were done, everyone held up their scribbles.  The girls giggled as they looked at how "funny" or "ugly" some were.  

Next I asked them to really look at their DRAWING and to turn it into a piece of art they would be proud of.  I watched them as they rotated their scribbles and searched for something they saw in them.  

Color was added, a few extra lines, and soon each one had a masterpiece.  

When they were done, I asked them these questions:

  1. What did you think when I first asked you to turn your scribble into a piece of art?
  2. How difficult was it to look past the scribbles and find something special in what you had drawn?
  3. How are our scribbles like people?
  4. How are our masterpieces like us?
  5. What have we learned from this?
It was neat to hear them talk about how we all have hidden talents inside of us.  One 6th grader told me, "Some people may think you look ugly, but they're only looking at the surface.  Others will look deeper and see you as beautiful."  This is, exactly what I wanted them to think about.

Here are their masterpieces.  Each one is as unique, individual, and beautiful as my girls.


In this picture, I wrote down some of their thoughts next to their drawings.


Let me know what you think of this lesson.  How do you help students see their inner beauty?  Leave a comment below and let me know.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Getting Ready For 4th Grade Visitors!



Each year we have our fourth graders come for a visit.  It's part of our transition to middle school.  It takes a lot of planning and putting together, but it is a special program for both the current 5th graders and our soon to be 5th graders.

Starting in January, I contact the 4th grade teachers to start planning dates that the students can come.  I also need to put in a bus request to transfer our students from one building to another, as well as, contact our dining services manager to let her know when the 4th graders will be eating lunch in our building.

In addition, my lunch bunch students begin working on videos to show the 4th graders.  They do a "Welcome to Middle School Video" and we will also show our "Everybody" video that is about how we include everybody and how at Lansing Middle School, bullies are not welcome.

Today, was my tour guide training.  I spent lunch with 30 students going over the rules of being a tour guide and talking about what makes for a great tour guide?  We talk about what it was like for them when they were in 4th grade and making the transition.  How did they feel?  What were they worried about?  What kind of impression did they want the 4th graders to have when they come to visit?




Before the students left I asked them to write on a post it note (or the board) how they were going to be an awesome tour guide.  Here is what they had to say:


"I will be sort of a comedian!"

"I am going to be kind and helpful to the kids, be a good example, and be awesome!"

"have fun and be respectful"

"Be fun.  Be Happy."

"I will teach them all the tricks and tips."

"I'm gonna be kind, funny, confident, and smile for the entire time."

"I'll allow them to ask me questions.  I'll talk loudly and clearly.  I'll walk fast.  I'll be positive and respectful."

As you can see by there responses, I think I have a pretty good group!

Over the week, our 4th graders will come to visit.  I will have my Lunch Buddies, who will meet the students as they get off the bus, walk them to recess or lunch and then talk with them about the middle school rules and what they learned over the last year.  Then when lunch and recess is over they will walk them down to my room to meet the tour guides who will waiting for them.  Locker practice and the showing of a few middle school videos will round out their time with us.  

If you need help putting together your own program, you can get this one in my TpT store.  It has the training materials and worksheets to make your incoming students feel special and welcome.  Here is the link.

Field Trip To Middle School Transition and Tour Program

In addition, here are a few older posts about the transition program.  

I'd love to hear what you do for middle school transition.  Leave a comment below and let me know!




Monday, May 9, 2016

Building Champions--a small group curriculum for boys!


Building Champions: A Small-Group Curriculum for BoysOne of the things I love most about being a middle school counselor is running groups.  I love being able to talk with the kids up close and personal while teaching them skills at the same time.  What I have learned over the years, is that some groups (actually for me--most groups) should be single sexed and not co-ed.  Their needs are different.  Girls are OK with just talking, boys, on the other hand, like to be moving.  Even the quietest ones become talkers when you have them physically doing something.

I am proud to say that after working with boys for several years now, I wrote a curriculum just for them called Building Champions.  A fun-filled game plan to help boys of upper elementary and middle-school age build trust, respect, and peer connections, Building Champions covers the topics boys most want and need to become better friends, classmates, and citizens. Numerous hands-on and interactive experiences maintain group members’ interest and allow them to practice targeted skills while learning.

Eight group lessons cover the following topics:

  1.  Introduction to Building Champions
  2.  Breaking a Sweat (Goal Setting)
  3.  In the Huddle (Integrity and Respect)
  4.  Hands In (Relationships)
  5.  Game Time (Leadership and Teamwork)
  6.  Sitting on the Bench (Self-Control)
  7.  The Last Play (Confidence)
  8.  Shake Hands, Game Over (Being a Good Sport)


Each lesson after the first includes three teaching options to address the needs of different types of groups. A CD included with the book provides reproducible items, including lesson “exit slips,” student handouts, and program organization and progress tracking forms.


Here are some reviews that have come in about Building Champions:


“Carol Miller’s book Building Champions is absolutely the best group curriculum for boys out there. The activities, themes, handouts, and materials are easily laid out for school counselors to follow and implement in their school counseling programs. Additionally, the curriculum is aligned with the ASCA Mindsets and Behaviors, which is an extra bonus! I would highly recommend Building Champions to every school counselor.”
—Malti Tuttle, PhD
School Counselor, Marietta, Georgia

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“Who better than a school counselor to design a curriculum for champions? Carol Miller has focused on how boys can improve their academic, social/emotional, and career goals to become champions. I love how she has used a variety of learning styles to focus on each student’s strength. See for yourself how this resource can improve your program.”
— Lisa Koenecke, MS, MCC
Middle School Counselor, River Bluff, Wisconsin
Past President, Wisconsin School Counselor Association
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“Carol Miller truly understands the nature of boys! Being a mother of three boys and a school counselor to hundreds more, I appreciate the hands-on activities and analogies that she uses throughout Building Champions.”
—Mindy Willard, MA
High School Counselor, Franklin, Wisconsin
2013 American School Counselor of the Year

Interested in owning your own copy?  You can pick up a copy here or stop by the Research Press booth this summer at ASCA in New Orleans!  I'll even be there to sign it!