Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weird: The Victim

I came across this great series of books written by Erin Frankel.  Each book takes on a different perspective of a bullying situation: the victim, the bully, the bystander.  This week in fourth grade we read Weird! which is the story of a victim.

As we read through the story, students saw that every time Luisa was teased she changed herself.  Little by little all of these small changes added up to being someone she was not, as well as giving Sam (the bully) power over her.  After a talk with her mom she decided she had to make a change for the positive.  She stopped listening to Sam's taunting and gained the power back as well as her true self.

I asked students to think about characteristics of themselves that others might find weird.  For example, I don't drink coffee.  Although many friends and co-workers think this is weird, it's something that makes me unique, makes me myself.  I happen to enjoy tea instead.  Students were asked to come up with examples of words, phrases, activities, and characteristics that are unique and special to their personality.  Then we created these beautiful star-burst pictures using watercolor to share with others our true selves.

We've been bitten by the Tease Monsters

In third grade we read the story Tease Monster by Julia Cook.  This story does a great job explaining that teasing is a part of everyone's life, but there is teasing that takes away from our life & teasing that adds to our life.  We join "one-of-a-kind" as he figures out which teasing is good-natured and which teasing is hurtful.

Afterword we discussed how we can tell the difference and tips to consider before we tease.  I used many personal examples to show students how very different our feelings can be when it comes to teasing.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Union is Strength

In one of our second grade classes students haven been struggling to make good choices.  Unfortunately it is not all the students in the class that are having difficulty, but the few that are earn negative consequences for the entire class.  Frustrated, some students approached me about ideas they could implement with their class for a positive change.  I welcomed this invitation and scheduled a time to come process their feelings and frustrations. 

I started by showing them the following video, which has 3 separate clips:

I then asked them about the message in each of the clips, what did they have in common?  Students responded with working together, teamwork, helping each other out, listening to each other, protecting each other, etc.  This was a springboard into our discussion of the key to being successful as a group: teamwork.  We talked about the behaviors that happen during lunchtime, specials, transitioning in the hallways, etc. and how we could put a stop to it.  Here is what they came up with:

Friday, November 15, 2013

Free Thanksgiving Meals

2013 Thanksgiving Meals in Austin:

LBJ High School Thanksgiving meal. Provides a Thanksgiving meal for people in the community. 2013 meal will be held Thur, Nov 21, 2013 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Meal will be held in the school cafeteria. Walk-ins accepted, no documents required.  7309 Lazy Creek Dr., Austin, TX 78724.
Givens Rec  Center Thanksgiving dinner. Provides a free annual Thanksgiving meal for the community.
2013 THANKSGIVING MEAL: Sat, Nov 23, 2013 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Walk-ins accepted; no sign-up required. No documents required.  3811 E. 12th St., Austin, TX 78721.
Cantu/Pan Am Rec Center Thanksgiving meal. Provides a free Thanksgiving meal to people in the community. 2013 THANKSGIVING MEAL: Sat, Nov 23, 2013 11:00 am - 2:00 pm. People start getting in  line around 9:00am or 9:30am.  Walk-ins accepted, no documents required. 2100 E 3rd St., Austin, TX 78702.
Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center Thanksgiving Luncheon. Provides a Thanksgiving Meal for the community; sponsored by Mt. Carmel Grand Lodge. 2013 Event will take place on Sat, Nov 23, 2013, 11:00 am - 1:00 pm. Walk-ins accepted, no documents required. 2800 Webberville Rd, Austin, TX 78702.
First Baptist Church Thanksgiving meal. Provides a free Thanksgiving meal to the community, on Mon, Nov 25, 2013 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Suggested to arrive early. Location: First Baptist Church, 901 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78701. Walk-ins welcome; no sign-up required, no documents required.
Pickle Elementary School Thanksgiving meal. Provides a Thanksgiving meal for the St. John community.
2013 Thanksgiving meal will be held Mon, Nov 25, 2013 6:00 pm -7:30 pm. Meal will be held inside the school cafeteria.  Open to St. John’s community members. Walk-ins welcome, no documents required. 1101 Wheatley, Austin, TX 78752.
Virginia L. Brown Rec Center Thanksgiving meal. Provides an annual Thanksgiving meal for the community.2013 THANKSGIVING MEAL: Mon, Nov 25, 2013, 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Location: 7500 Blessing Ave., Austin, TX 78752. Walk-ins welcome, no documents required.
HEB  Feast at Palmer Center.  Nov. 26, 4-8PM
Baptist Community Center Thanksgiving dinner. Provide a Thanksgiving Meal for the community. 2013 Thanksgiving meal will be held Wed, Nov 27, 2013, 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm. Walk-ins welcome, no documents required. 2000 E. 2nd St., Austin, TX 78702.
Salvation Army Thanksgiving meal. Provides a Thanksgiving meal for the community at the main location at 501 E. 8th St., Austin, TX 78701, on Wednesday Nov 27, 2013 from 12:00pm - 4:00pm. Walk-ins accepted.
St. Louis Catholic Church Feast of Giving. Provides a Thanksgiving Day meal for anyone in the community at the annual Feast of Giving, located at: St. Louis Catholic Church Wozniak Hall, 7601 Burnet Rd, Austin TX 78757. 2013 Feast of Giving: Thanksgiving Day, Thur Nov 28, 2013 11:00 am - 2:00 pm or until food runs out. Walk-ins accepted, no documents required.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Conflict with The Zax

Conflict is a normal thing that happens in life when two or more people disagree about something.  I read The Zax by Dr. Seuss because it is a short & sweet, perfect example of conflict.  There is a north-going Zax and a south-going Zax that both refuse to stray from their path when they bump into each other.  They try to resolve their conflict by yelling and each refusing to move...for 59 years!  Students cannot believe the Zax have not heard of Kelso's choices and immediately start offering up suggestions.

We focused on "Talk It Out" as our Kelso strategy for this lesson.  I explained to students that by using "I Messages" we can let others know how we are feeling and why their behavior is causing this to happen.  We also learned how to respond empathically with "You Statements," showing the other that we are listening and will try something different to fix the problem.  We modeled this communication by using the Kelso and Lilly puppets and real problems that they have experienced.  In addition to practicing a couple of scenarios, we noticed that there are some similarities in each of the statements (feeling, behavior).

Next students were charged with helping these poor Zax talk it out.  They each received a handout with 2 speech bubbles and a list of feelings faces on the back.  Here is what they came up with:

Middle School Presentation

Please join us on Thursday, November 14th at 8am in our cafeteria for a presentation from the local magnet middle schools.

Here are important dates:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feeling Left Out with Friends

It's happened to all of us at some point in our lives.  We make a great friend and we become inseparable.  Then one day our friend hangs out with someone else and we feel left out.  In the story Flabbersmashed About You written by Rachel Vail, we witness this all-to-common playground occurrence.

At first students reactions are that Jennifer is being mean when she plays with another student, but when we look at it closer, she isn't doing anything hurtful.  This is what happens when we feel left out, we quickly jump to blame the other person for hurting our feelings.  We discussed that it's okay when friends want to play with someone different or play a different game than usual.  We can ask to play with them or invite them to play with us altogether.  We can find new friends to play with.  Just because a friend plays with someone different, it doesn't mean that they aren't our friend any more.  If we're feeling neglected we can suggest a play date.

I then told them about Kelso's recent problem:

Dear Lee Students,

I have two friends who want to play with me at recess.  I feel like I'm stuck in the middle.  If I play with one friend, the other feels bad.  What should I do???

Sincerely, Kelso

Using our discussion as a springboard, students wrote letters to help Kelso figure out his next steps:

Letters in Response to Kelso's Problem:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Manners: The Monster Who Lost His Mean

In kindergarten we read a cute book called The Monster Who Lost His Mean written by Tiffany Strelitz Haber and Kirstie Edmunds.  In this story the Monster loses his "M" which is his "Meanness."  He is faced with teasing and exclusion from fellow monsters because he is now only an "Onster."  As an onster he is kind, helpful and makes many new friends.  This story explicitly teaches children the difference between kind and unkind behaviors.

After the story we sorted cartoon monsters into 2 groups, kind behaviors and not kind behaviors.  I found these great monsters available for download on File Folder Fun.

Students then were asked to come up with their own kind phrases and write them on their monster sheet:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lee Elementary Peace Path

In third grade this week we reviewed strategies to solve conflict.  Last year students were introduced to Kelso, so I gave them a blank Kelso's wheel to see how many problem solving strategies they could recall.

After we reviewed the 9 options, I told them that we would be specifically focusing on "Talk it Out," a strategy that we practiced last year with "I Messages" and "Empathic Responses" (see post here), but taking it a step further.

Presenting...the Lee Elementary Peace Path (You can download it here)!

We role played the 4 easy steps to successfully talking it out when we have conflict with another.  I modeled each role with different students, then I let them come up with their own fake problems to act out in front of the class.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Lee Mediators - Part 3

This lesson was focused on the different ways that we deal with conflict.  People choose to deal with conflict in 3 basic ways:
  1. Flight (avoidance)
  2. Fight (competition)
  3. Flow (problem solving)
I handed out a chart for students to begin a discussion of each type of conflict and where the ways they most often use fit.  We also explained the pros & cons of each style:

Finally we talked about which of these methods we use to handle conflict when we are...
  • under certain conditions?
  • with different people?
  • location?
  • being watched or listened to?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Is It Bullying? What Is It?

Bullying is a word that gets thrown around a lot these days when anything goes wrong between peers.  It is our job to make sure students understand what constitutes bullying in order for them to use it appropriately when uncomfortable or unsafe circumstances arise.

With my fourth graders I handed out a quick 10-question true/false survey to find out what they already knew about bullying:

Then I created a chart, inspired by fellow blogger Mrs. Sinclair, that clearly identified the differences between teasing, conflict, a mean moment and bullying.  You can download a copy of it here.

After discussing this, I elaborated further on the definition of bullying by using Savvy School Counselor's "The A, B, C, and D of Bullying" poster:

I called out different scenarios and had each table discuss and come to consensus on where it feel on the chart.  We spent time debating and advocating for where it would best fit under by utilizing the criteria for each.  Some examples included: 
  • Martin called Tom a freak.
  • Each morning Sam tells Jarod he has to let him copy his homework or Sam will embarrass him in front of the whole class
  • Sue rolled her eyes at Kendra when she walked into the room
  • Every day at lunch Sarah tells Joan whom she can sit with at lunch
Finally, we went through the original bullying survey to see how accurate we were and if we had any further questions.  I made students a copy of both the handouts as well as printing out a color poster of each for the teacher to post in the room.