School Counseling Escape Room: Social Skills

Thursday, April 5, 2018
Everybody is doing escape rooms these days...and I've jumped onto the bandwagon with enthusiasm! Even though the kids had tons of fun with the safari conversation skills lesson and safari social filter lesson, I knew they would need additional reinforcement of those skills. Because escape rooms are best for review, this was the perfect opportunity to give one a try.


Scatter: A Self-Paced Alternative to Scoot

Monday, March 26, 2018
Scoot is awesome - I remember using it in my high school world history class and thinking it was a way better review activity than completing a study guide packet. There's a lot of school counseling topics you can cover with scoot as well. Unfortunately, it's not a great fit with my students. That is...until I discovered a quick modification I could make.

scatter activity as a self-paced alternative to scoot

Giving Teachers Easy Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness Into the Classroom

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
As I'm sure you're incredibly aware, mindfulness is very hip right now. It feels a bit like we're all being hit over the head with it; everywhere I turn there's another article about it, another book for it, etc. That said, mindfulness is pretty amazing and is particularly important to me because of its research backing. Bonus: Now that it's trendy, some of my teachers are into it!

easy ways incorporating mindfulness into the classroom

I had a classroom with quite a few anxious or otherwise dysregulated students and when the teacher reached out to me, I thought mindfulness would be a great help. After I compiled what I thought were the most appropriate resources, I offered them up to any of my teachers who wanted to start incorporating more mindfulness into their classrooms. Everything was compiled into a long document that I emailed and gave them a hard copy of. Here's some of what I provided them: 

Making "I Have, Who Has" A Little Easier For Your Students

Sunday, March 18, 2018
I love "I Have, Who Has" - it feels like a game and is a fun way to review or apply material. The problem is that I don't like to do ones that are simple repetition ("I have disappointed. Who has disappointed?"). I like the ones that require students to use some brain power to figure out when it's their turn. The ones where they're listening for a scenario or example instead of a specific word or phrase. That can be really hard for some of my students though, especially my EL learners, my lower readers, my students with anxiety, and the kiddos that struggle with auditory processing. So I did some thinking and figured out a way to make the activity a bit more accessible to my classes.

I Have, Who Has activity trick
After I give every student a card, I explain to them how the activity works. (Skip the next blurb if you already know!)

Every student has a card with an "I have" section and a "Who has" section. The person's whose card  says "I have the first card!" goes first. Then everyone takes turns reading their cards, following along a specific order. There's an "I have" that matches every "Who has". It's like dominoes all lined up that fall in a line. You keep going until someone's card has "This is the last card!"

After everyone understands how the game goes, I give them each a post-it note to put on the "Who has" portion of their card. One reason for this is that it keeps them focused on the top "I have" part that they need to pay attention to - otherwise they get distracted by the whole card. The other reason for the post-it note is that it gives them a space for brainstorming key words they might be listening for that gives them the cue that it's their turn. They read their "I have" and begin thinking about what they would hear, what they should be listening for that would tell them it's their turn to go. For example, if it's an activity on choices and consequences and their card says "I have...you will do better on the test." then they might be listening for words like "test", "study", "questions", or "help". If the game is on positive thinking and their card says "I have...I don't love homework but it helps me learn more" then they might brainstorm "homework", "reading", or "boring" as words they could listen for. If the topic is kindness and their "I have" is "ask them to play with you", then they might write "recess", "lonely", and "new student" on their post-it. When it's someone's turn, they read their "I have" then peel off the sticky note and read the "Who has" section.

Spending a couple minutes up front doing this means the game goes smoother. And if the game goes smoother and there is less fumbling and long pauses, then the students get more out of the activity. Our students' attention spans are short and I've found that long pauses can quickly lead to disengagement. They're also more engaged to the responses around them with this prep because they're less nervous about knowing when it's their turn to go.

Last tiny tip for playing "I Have, Who Has": Ask students to flip their cards over after they've had their turn. That way, if the game does get "stuck", you can quickly see who hasn't gone yet to check if they're next.

What other little tricks or tips or hacks do you have for classroom lessons and making them accessible to all?

"Teach, Breathe, Learn" - Review and Book Study Ideas

Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Last year's admin suggested my co-counselor and I run a book study related to SEL as a way of increasing effective SEL practices among our faculty. New admin is less into this idea (read: not going to give us money to buy the books and encourage faculty to do it) but before they came on board, I spent the summer previewing books and jotting down ideas to facilitate talks with our teachers. One of the books I made it all the way through, and thought was great, was Teach, Breathe, Learn: Mindfulness In and Out of the Classroom by Meena Srinivasan.

teach breathe learn book review
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