Friday, December 12, 2014

Armadillo Tattletales

Every year I read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook to our second graders, reinforcing the difference between tattling and reporting.  This year our first graders are in desperate need of this lesson but I can't bring myself to take away this second grade tradition!  I know, it's silly.  So after a few minutes of research, I stumbled upon the story Armadillo Tattletale by Helen Ketteman.  Not only does it touch on tattling, it also includes an important lesson about being noisy too.

The first graders really enjoyed the silliness of the story, and were a little appalled at one part (with the alligator) but they enjoyed the tale and understood the message.  To reinforce and evaluate if they truly understood the difference between which information they should report to an adult and which information they should keep to themselves and try to resolve independently, I had a fun activity planned. I typed up different scenarios and printed them onto post-its (you can download the template here) with a cute picture of an armadillo.  Then I blindfolded each student (with my Viking hat, of course!) and spun them around before they attempted to place the scenario as a reporting situation or a tattling situation.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Practicing Listening Skills

Who doesn't need to practice listening skills?

In second grade I planned a lesson to focus on improving our listening skills.  The first activity was a test...but I didn't tell them that.  I handed them each a sheet of paper and asked them to get out 6 different colors to complete the activity with.  I explained that I was going to give them a set of directions to complete, and I was only going to say each instruction once so it was important for them to listen carefully.  If I said "Simon Says" before the instructions they were to do them.  If I didn't say "Simon Says" before the instructions they were not to do them.

Then I went through the following simple steps:
  1. Simon says draw a tall blue rectangle.
  2. Draw a green triangle in the middle of the blue rectangle for the nose.
  3. Simon says draw 3 yellow eyes inside & near the top of the blue rectangle.
  4. Simon says draw a bunch of orange triangles to look like hair on top of the rectangle.
  5. Draw a red half circle ear on each side of the blue rectangle.
  6. Simon says draw a large purple smile toward the bottom, inside the blue rectangle.
  7. Draw one black arm coming out from each side of the rectangle.
This is what I ended up with:

Here are some examples of what they came up with:

We quickly realized that some our drawings were dramatically different.  I explained to them that they can see how well they listened based on how close their drawing resembles mine.

Then I read The Worst Day of My Life Ever by Julia Cook.  In this story, the main character has difficulty listening and following directions.  Students easily tied the ideas in this book to Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, but what's nice about this story is he has an opportunity to fix it.

For our second activity we were going to really need great listening skills, so we brainstormed some tips that could help us be more successful.  We used some of the ideas from the story to help us figure out the skills we needed to succeed.

Now that we were prepared, I introduced the next listening activity.  I pulled out baggies of legos that had matching pieces (same size, same color, same quantity) and they became even more excited.  I explained the simple rules, modeled it with a student, passed out the legos & privacy folders and we began!  You can download the instructions here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Good Sportsmanship

Developmentally, students in third grade begin to get more and more competitive when it comes to organized games at recess.  They're in that in-between zone of wanting to independently play a game but not quite having all the communication skills necessary to referee the rules and still require adult supervision.  Students aged 6-9 years are still recognizing that others may have opinions that are different from their own and they are still navigating competition.  As adults we can help them see things from different perspectives and closely monitor these games to intervene when necessary.  After some incidents at recess occurred revolving around fairness and competitiveness, I thought it would be a good idea to do a lesson on sportsmanship. 

We began by brainstorming what sportsmanship is:

I also went over this helpful chart that you can download here from Teaching Trove.

I reinforced that when we play games, it is not about who wins - it's about having fun.  When we choose to play a game, we are choosing to accept one of three outcomes: we will win, we will lose, or we will tie.  We will not always win.  We will not always lose.  We will not always tie.  We show good sportsmanship when we stay positive no matter what the outcome of the game is.

Next, I introduced the game we would be playing today.  Yay!  A game!

The game is called "Transformation" Rock, Paper, Scissors. First we went over the rules.  We established a consistent count before you show which hand gesture you chose.  Then I explained the transformation part.  Everyone starts out as an egg by squatting down low and waddling like an egg.  "Eggs" find another egg and play of game of rock-paper-scissors.  The winner turns into a chicken, the loser stays an egg and goes off to play another egg.  Chickens move on to find other chickens,  The losers of each round go down one level and the winners go up one level.  Students are always transforming so there are many winners and losers.  The levels are eggs, chickens, dinosaurs, & all-knowing being.  Once you get to "all knowing being" and win, you keep your title and continue playing.  I found this game here.

The students had a blast!  After about 10 minutes of play we all sat down in a circle and debriefed on how well we utilized sportsmanship and how well those we played were.  We talked about what else went well in the game and what we could work on next time.  You can download the pictures here.

It Only Takes 1.

This week in kindergarten we read One by Kathryn Toshi.  After many weeks of lessons on bullying behaviors and awareness, this book illustrates the simplicity of how each of us can be an upstander.

We reviewed the 4 qualifiers of bullying (mean behavior, repetitive, on purpose, trying to control/have power) and elaborated that once someone bullies it doesn't mean they always will.  Standing up for ourselves or someone else in need takes away the power from the situation.  Once one of us stands up, more are likely to join and put an end to the mean behavior.  I then handed out a large "1" to students to decorate how they can be an upstander.  Here is the link to the cute "1" I found.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tough: Exploring More About Bullying

In fourth grade we continued reading the next book in Erin Frankel's series, Tough.

This story takes on the perspective from the student that is bullying.  Before we began the story, we brainstormed ideas on why people choose to bully:

After the story we checked our chart to see how many of our ideas were represented in the story.  Then I had students log on to a few different websites that have videos and games to reinforce concepts related to bullying.

Here are the links:

It's My Life

Stop Bullying

Stop the Bully

Kids Against Bullying

Habit 4: Think Win Win

Habit 4

Monday, December 1, 2014

Come Learn about Lee's Leadership Academy

Come join us in the library at 8:30am on Tuesday, December 2 to learn more about our 6th Grade Program!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

My Mouth is a Volcano

In kindergarten we read My Mouth is a Volcano written by Julia Cook.  Toward the beginning of the year we read another story about interrupting (see post here) but it's always a good reminder to reinforce appropriate social skills.  Students enjoy this book and end up laughing at the predictable sequence that occurs each time he has a thought - words pop into his head, slide down his tongue, rumble in his tummy, get pushed by his tongue and erupt!  It is only when he is interrupted by others that he starts to feel the effects and changes his behavior.

After the story we brainstormed ideas that we can try when we are about to "erupt."  We wrote them erupting out of a volcano!

Then I had students pick an idea that they would try when they're about to erupt, and write it on this cute printable from Miss Gibson you can download here.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Practicing Our Peace Path

One way students can resolve conflict is by using the Peace Path.  The Peace Path is a 7 step process that guides children through effective conflict resolution with peers.  Students complete each step in the process before moving to the next, with each peer completing their part.  You can download a copy of it here.

The Peace Path follows the STEP method that our students are introduced to during their Second Step SEL Lessons.  Each student is given an opportunity to express how they feel and what they need/want.  Their peer shows empathy and understanding by rewording their feelings and wants/needs.

In order to illustrate how quick and easy it is to use, I asked our Principal and Assistant Principal to model the Peace Path for students to watch.

Afterward I had students pick a problem to practice using the path themselves.