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

“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
“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!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Sole Hope--how hosting a shoe cutting party helps build a caring school community!

If you are looking for a way to get students involved, to come together to help a great cause, and help bring your own school community closer, then this might be it!

My friend, Kathryn Hoover, from  Washtenaw International High School & Middle Academy in Ypsilanti, Michigan did a really cool and worthwhile project with her students called SOLE HOPE.  

Here is what Laura had to say:

I'm so proud of our students. They have been working on a community service project for Sole Hope organization. We are cutting patterns from used jeans that will be made into SHOES for kids and adults in Uganda. They get jiggers that burrow into their feet from not having shoes. The infections from the sores can even be fatal. I'm so GRATEFUL for all of the donations from students and families. My cup runneth over. My dad even spent a lot of time cutting apart plastic bottles and cleaned all of it. The plastic is used to reinforce the heels of the shoes. His dear Olpa, was a shoemaker by trade in Germany so I find this special. We are holding an event next Thursday after school to finish making the shoes with both our high school and middle school students. I love seeing how it impacts their hearts. What a special project. The students love it. Best community service project! Here is the link:

It is so therapeutic. I have students who have asked to come at lunch to my office to work on it. Then I talk to them about their lives, academics, etc...while they're working on the project. It's wonderful. Teaches CARING. Contributes also to a CARING CULTURE.

I just put a blurb in my counseling newsletter to parents and to our staff. For a month, people have been dropping off bags of jeans in the school office for me! I finally have enough to hold a shoe making party after school. I've been letting some students work on it already in my office as donations have poured in. Almost too easy.


If you go to this link, it will explain on the website how to get involved. I just paid a $15 donation and they send you a sample, DVD and patterns. It's super easy. We're just tracing and cutting the patterns. Then we send them to the headquarters in North Carolina. Then they ship them to the location in Uganda where they hire local people to make and assemble the shoes with the cut outs we sent. So we don't actually put the shoes together. They do.

All I can say, is that I am inspired to hold my own shoe cutting party at my school. I will ask for jean donations in my summer newsletter and put a team together in the early fall when school begins. What a way to bring everyone together right at the beginning of the year. . .plus think about all those jeans kids won't be wearing because they outgrew them over the summer! Win-win!

Let me know what you think about this program. If you have any other great community service ideas, I'd love to hear them as well!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

New T-shirts are here!

A few counselors on our Facebook pages have asked for a new t-shirt.  Well, here it is!  

Each shirt will give a donation to the School Counselor Community Scholarship, where Jeff, The Counseling Geek and I will send as many counselors as we can to the ASCA conference next year!

Here's the link to purchase your own shirt!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Guest Post--Positive Mindsets-- how to help students from feeling overwhelmed!

I asked my friend Brandy Thompson if she would like to share with other counselors something that she uses in her counseling program that is always a big hit with students, and she replied, "I know just the one!"

Brandy is a school counselor, and has a store on TpT--The Counseling Teacher - Brandy Thompson. 
Below is the lesson on Mindsets from Brandy.  While this is not an actual lesson, the ideas that Brandy has can be used with both individuals and small groups.  I think this would be a great addition to a lunch bunch lesson or a girls' group.  

"Fake it 'til you make it" is my all time favorite advice in life.   While feeling totally overwhelmed and in over my head during my first year of teaching, a seasoned teacher told me to lighten up and pretend to know what I was doing and it would come to me eventually.  Boy, was she so right.  I was able to stop focusing on what I didn't know and notice the things that I was doing well.  I think the same thing holds true with a positive attitude, especially with middle school children.  They need to be reminded that having a positive attitude is a choice that they can make each day.  I feel like it is important to do whatever we can to lift the morale of our tweens during this critical time while they develop their identity.   The Positive Mindset Toolbox was created to give students the necessary coping skills to overcome a fixed mindset.  

The kit includes a variety of "tools" that can be used individually or with small groups.  I am currently using it with a lunch bunch group.  I have asked them to focus on their thoughts and invited them to "change their mindset."  Below you can see them working on identifying things that make them happy.  I have them share their thoughts and we discuss as a group when everyone is finished brainstorming their own ideas.

Students especially love the coloring pages and often ask for extra copies to take home.  These pages are used as stress reducers and positive reinforcement.

I am always telling my kids that the best way to help ourselves  is to help others.  The "Good Deeds Scavenger Hunt" is a way to guide students through reaping the emotional rewards of helping others.

The "Blessings Journal" is often used as homework to reinforce the work we do in the office.  

After surviving a very miserable middle school experience of my own, I am passionate about helping students find their light and shine.

I hope you like Brandy's Positive Mindset activity set.  I bet you are already thinking of ways to incorporate it into your own counseling program.  Check it out in her store and grab it here!