College Week Reboot - Everything Else

Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Besides the college week Morning Meetings, my co-counselor and I coordinated a few other things. 

1. Morning Announcements 
(updated and non-city specific ones are included in this College Week Morning Meeting Activity Pack!)

MondayThis week is College Week and each day this week you’ll learn something new about college. EVERY student at this school can go to college. With hard work, nothing can get in your way.

Tuesday: Did you know that there are over 25 colleges in the Nashville area? Your teachers have gone to some of them: Vanderbilt, Lipscomb, Fisk, Trevecca Nazarene, and TSU. You can learn more about these and other colleges at the college fair tonight at the Tennessee State Fairgrounds from 3:30-7:00pm.

Wednesday: Did you know that in college you pick a major to study?. Think of it as your favorite subject. In college you get to pick your own classes. For example, if you want to learn more about animals, you will take classes on animals. If you want to learn more about computers, you will take classes about computers

Thursday: Did you know that college graduates earn, on average, about $20,000 more a year than people who don’t go to school after high school? That means going to college could earn you almost one million more dollars in your life than if you don’t go! Also, remember that tomorrow is College T-Shirt and Colors Day. Wear a college t-shirt or a polo in your favorite college color tomorrow.

Friday: Did you know that the creator of Spongebob Squarepants has two college degrees, one in marine biology and one in animation? There are so many amazing jobs that you can get with a college degree.

2. Non-Fiction Challenge

As mentioned in Monday's announcement, students who checked out a non-fiction book from the library during college week got a chance to score a bookmark for our local NHL team that also served as a "buy one get one" ticket coupon. To be eligible, students had to turn in a super short worksheet of sorts (with their name, the book title, and one question about the text) when they turned in their book.

3. Related Arts Collaboration - Computers Class

We worked with our computers teacher to collaborate on 1st/2nd and 3rd/4th lessons. One thing counselors in our district are tasked with is helping boost students' technological skills and so we relish any opportunity work with her and infuse college/career/SEL into computers class.

For the 3rd/4th lesson, students visited the Monsters University website and then completed a pretend "college application". The website went down for a year or two but IT CAME BACK! And then it was down again.

4. Related Arts Collaboration - Everyone Else

An email that went out to our other related arts teachers:

"Hey! Next week is College Week. If your lessons are not set in stone, it would be awesome for you to incorporate something college-related into your classes next week. Below are some ideas off the top of our heads that fall in line with your area, but y’all probably have even better ideas.
Art: design your own logo/mascot or college pennant or discuss art-related majors or do an art activity with them that you did in a college art class
Music: learn/discuss fight songs or discuss music-related majors
Health: learn about the kinds of food in college cafeterias (even more delicious than elementary cafs!) or discuss health-related majors
PE: Discussion or YouTube videos on things you can study in college if you love physical education, some sort of college trivia activity where students use movement to indicate their guesses/answers, watch a segment of a college sporting event and then discuss 1) how awesome it is to go to these and how students get to go for cheap and 2) what sort of skills they saw the athletes use that they've learned in PE (overhand throw for example), discuss the different club sports/activities at a school like UT (i.e. How can you stay fit and have fun in college?) and then play some of them.  Discuss/recreate “mini” college bowls

Please let us know if you’d like any help/support from either of us in this!"

5. Bulletin Board

About two weeks before college week, we asked all faculty and staff to complete a short google doc survey about college (major, degree, extracurriculars, etc.). My co-counselor made a bulletin board with graphs from the data and then classroom teachers were given a handout with extension questions (generated by our numeracy coach) to talk to their students about when they pass the board.

College Week Reboot - Morning Meetings

This post contains affiliate links.

**In the last couple of years, I've updated these plans quite a bit and added more visuals to them so they would work for younger grades as well! To find them ready-made, check them out here in my TpT store.

TpT College Week activity pack for elementary students

Last year I really scrambled to put together a college week; this year I had bigger plans and a super co-counselor who was as passionate as me about really rocking the college and career components of our program this year. Our school's daily schedule is TIGHT (I mean, can't-cram-anything-else-can-barely-fit-science sort of tight) and so we knew that any programming needed to integrate into what was already happening in our classrooms and curriculum. One of the ways we managed this was through creating Morning Meeting plans (sans greetings) for the week. This is the overview for the plans for my 3rd and 4th graders (though I think this could work for 2nd-6th):

College Mythbusting
What are some colleges you’ve already heard of or know about?
“This week is a special week called College Week. I went to college at ______ to study _______. What is 1 thing that you already know about college?”

I Have, Who Has w/Local Colleges
Who is someone you know that is in college or went to college?
“Yesterday you thought about what you already know about college. Today, think of 1 question you have about college.”

Inside/Outside Discussion
If you were creating a college, what would you call it?
“Colleges come in all shapes and sizes. Some are in the country, some are in the city. Some are old, some are new. Some are big, and some are small. Have you ever been on a college campus?”



I’m Not Sure

Majors A to Z – going around in a circle, students take turns naming things starting with A to Z that you might be able to study in college. Teacher matches what was said with a major of study (ex: Student says “castles”, teacher says “European history”. Student says “Macaroni and cheese”, teacher says “Culinary arts”.)
What do you think you’d like to study or major in in college?
“In order to get into college and graduate from college, you need to be college-ready. One part of being college-ready is being a strong writer. What other ways can you be college-ready?”

Three Corners
What did you learn about college this week?
“Each and every one of you is capable of going to college – I know you can do it. Sign your name on this message if you’re planning to go to college.”

Career Day Speakers - Nitty Gritty Details

Friday, September 5, 2014

Last school year I attempted to orchestrate career speakers for the first time. I'd found some other posts that wrote about how they did it, but every school is really different and I found that no one else's logistics matched our needs. In the event that what we did may work for you, here's some of the nitty gritty details of ours.

I had recently done a multiple intelligences lesson with my 4th graders and so while I wanted the students exposed to a variety of careers, I wanted them to keep thinking about careers that aligned with their interests and strengths. From the beginning, my intern and I decided to group career speakers into career clusters. We used:

  • Health and Body
  • STEM
  • Community Helpers
  • Music and Art
  • Other/Etc.

We knew that we also wanted a plan where:
  • Students didn't move
  • Students got to hear from 3+ speakers
  • We didn't need one gazillion speakers (most students' parents are employed but not necessarily in "careers" so it was a little tricky to get speakers)
  • All 375ish 3rd and 4th grade students could participate

This was how we did it:

1. Email all of our staff, faculty, friends, and family in the area to ask for referrals for speakers. As we received them, we entered them into a google doc spreadsheet with their name, contact info, whether they'd been contacted, and whether they'd been confirmed. 

2. Email/call referrals and ask (beg) them to come speak to our students. As they were confirmed, I started to form rooms (for example Rm 9 - STEM - Biomed Researcher, Civil Engineer, Physics Professor, Audio Technician) and then emailed them more info.

Information provided to our career day speakers with some suggested talking points.

3. About two weeks before the event, all students in 3rd and 4th grades were given a slip to indicate their top two preferences for career clusters. I sorted them a few different ways and created a pile for each. I then created a little business-card sized "pass" with a room # and the students name and teacher name. Next year, I will have the room compositions created ahead of time, have the students rank the rooms in order of preference, and I will just highlight the room they are assigned to.

Students were sorted into different classrooms based on their stated interests based on our Multiple Intelligences lesson. These teacher created student passes contained the information on what classrom to go to and what careers were represented.

4. The day before the event, I sent information to all of the teachers involved so they knew how to help orchestrate things that morning. I also had a "room host info sheet" that I sent to teachers whose classrooms we were using.

5. The morning of the event, all the speakers checked into one place where I gave them donuts, coffee, and a schedule for their morning. After a brief welcome speech, we escorted them to their rooms and got the show on the road! 

6. Students had a worksheet to fill out while listening to help keep them engaged. I admit, I was worried about some of my special friends acting out a little but all the students were on their best behavior and seemed to really enjoy the morning.

Elementary Career Day worksheet to keep students engaged with speaker

I received more direct positive feedback from teachers about this than about anything else I've ever done - they were so grateful for their students to have had some exposure to different careers. Several suggested I do a few smaller versions of it throughout the school year (along the lines of blogosphere's famous "career cafes"). My hope for the future is to find a way to provide career speaker programming to all of the grades.

Through the wonderful connections of my school's staff (and an amazing intern with strong ties to the community), these were the careers represented:
-civil engineer
-physics professor
-audio technician
-physical therapist
-recreational therapist
-case worker
-news reporter
-police officer
-elephant sanctuary workers
-professional hockey team sales reps
-fashion designer
-graphic designer

My Brain is Awesome - Academic Confidence Lesson

Tuesday, July 29, 2014
This post contains affiliate links.

The same month I did multiple intelligences with 4th grade, I did academic confidence with 3rd grade. This is a breakdown of our lesson:

·         Read A Walk in the Rain with a Brain to the students.

My Brain is Awesome used in a lesson on academic confidence

·         Discussion Qs:

o   What lesson(s) is Fred the brain trying to teach us? (we’re all smart in our own ways, it’s important to try, persevere/keep going, believe in yourself)

o   How can you take care of your brain to make it stronger? (asking questions, trying new things, being healthy, thinking positively)

·         Give students the "My Brain is Awesome" worksheet:

My Brain is Awsome student worksheet

Cartoon drawing of your brain (can use color, can do whatever you want because it’s YOUR brain)
3 things your brain is really good at (not including sports); encourage specificity (examples such as “multiplication facts”, “solving problems with friends”, etc.)
-  3 thoughts you can think while taking a test to be more confident (I had to give examples of the OPPOSITE to help them understand this)

Student sample of completed My Brain is Awesom WorksheetStudent sample of completed My Brain is Awesom Worksheet

Any time I have students do a worksheet, I try to come up with an "early finishers" extension activity because I know they will be finishing at various times. Because I had an upcoming career event, I asked students to brainstorm as many careers as they could think of on the back of their sheet when they finished, even if they weren't careers they were interested in. Some of these kiddos struuuugggglled with this! I also got some very amusing answers. Of note was the fact that the majority of students listed companies that people could work for, not understanding that there are lots of different careers one can have within a company.

Early finisher student activity idea of listing careers on back of any worksheet.

Social Support After Loss - Activity

Monday, July 28, 2014
One of my really mature 4th graders faced a lot of loss and turmoil during this past school year, the worst being the death of a grandparent. A large portion of her grief was due to feeling as if no one else could fill their role in terms of how they made her feel and the support they provided her.

The first thing we did was write up a list of all the ways this person supported her, as well as their personality traits that meant the most to her. Then we made a list of other people in her life that could provide her with these things.  This student likes anything crafty/artistic, so the last thing we did was write the characteristics of her grandma that she'd identified on strips of paper.  We titled a piece of paper with the people in her life that could fill some of the voids. We then matched and glued each characteristic strip onto the paper. 

Elementary age activity offering support to a student experiencing a death in the family. The activity identifies personality traits of the person we lost and matches those feeling to someone that can help fill the void.Elementary age activity offering support to a student experiencing a death in the family. The activity identifies personality traits of the person we lost and matches those feeling to someone that can help fill the void.

She understood that no one could really take their place, but this activity helped her view the loss as less devastating.
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