Google+ Elementary School Counselor blog, by Scott Ertl, Elementary School Counselor

Saturday, September 10, 2016

5 ways to Work Out the Back to School Jitters


How to start
the school year
stress-free!

Ok, maybe not completely stress-free, but with as much confidence, peace, and joy possible. Many students struggle with the transition of returning to school. It is sometimes due to a traumatic summer (Move, grandparent's death, divorce, parent's loss of a job, family member incarcerated, etc.) or maybe last year at school was rough and there's fear of this year being even worse. Nevertheless, here are my top 5 tips to start the school year with as much fun and excitement as possible.

1) Many kids get stressed out when there's a substitute and classroom management and instruction changes. Ask the principal to make sure that your child is assigned to a teacher who will be there for the year--with good attendance. You don't want a substitute teacher for 6-8 weeks while the regular teacher is on maternity leave, nor do you want a teacher who is retiring in the middle of the school year and using a sub to fill-in while she uses up her remaining 5 months of sick leave. Principals usually know who these teachers are well in advance. (Most schools have 3-5 teachers every year who have babies or retire and you want to avoid this if at all possible.)

2) Get to know your child's classmates and their parents. Invite them to a community park to play where you are on neutral territory so you can all get to know each other better before bringing them to your home. Have lunch with your child the first or second week of school to help them make a new friend. Help them find similar interests that they might like to do together sometime. (Sports, movies, roller skating, Pokemon Go, or some other activity that they both like.

3) Younger kids like reading the story "The Kissing Hand" and they find it helpful to have something special in their pocket to hold or rub when they are feeling stressed. A special rock, cross, lucky coin, or photo, or love note can be treasured many times in a silent and unobtrusive way.

4) Give your child extra sharpened pencils to bring to school and give him/her permission to share them with others who say that they don't have a pencil. This is a hot commodity in school and always needed. You can even bet more bonus points for having cool pencils with sports or cool designs on the pencils.

5) The most popular school resource right now are Bouncy Bands, which are heavy duty bands that attach to student desks and chairs for kids to bounce their feet and stretch their legs when they feel nervous or stressed in class and they need a quiet way to get some relief. (I invented them 3 years ago and they have been incredibly successful around the world.) They can be purchased on Amazon or directly at BouncyBands.com

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Fun Foot Fiddlers


Foot Fiddlers
keep hands free
for students to work

As an elementary school counselor, I often gave students stress balls, Koosh balls, and other hand fiddlers for them to relieve their nervous energy in class. However, teachers would often take them away from students since they became a distraction instead of being helpful.

While 19 million students have ADHD, anxiety disorder, or a learning disability, most students appreciate having a way to move throughout the day instead of having to sit still for 5-6 hours at their desk every day. There are numerous health, academic, and social benefits for students being able to be active learners in school instead of passive learners.

Some of the above resources have been very helpful for students. However, all of these resources can become exhausting and over-stimulating to children when they simply need a break to "anchor" or not be moving during the day. It can be difficult for students to have 2 different seats so they can alternate between having movement and being still.

Then came Foot Fiddlers! There are many different ways to help students relieve their extra energy, while keeping their hands free to work. Foot fiddlers allow students the opportunity to receive stimulation when they need some relief and then return to "normal." The different resources vary in price, assembly, and effectiveness. In full disclosure, I invented Bouncy Bands, so they are my favorite.

Bouncy Bands for Chairs
$13.95

Kindergarten through second grade students love being able to bounce their feet when they need relief from extra energy, anxiety, frustration, or even boredom. No more dangling feet or leaning back in their chairs.They help students stay focused and behaved in class so they can get more work done. Installs in less than 3 minutes.

Amazon
Kaplan
BouncyBands.com
Bouncy Bands for Desks
$14.95

2-12th grade students enjoy being able to bounce their feet and stretch their legs to allow some movement in class when needed. Students can do better on tests since they can work longer while being able to relieve their frustration and anxiety. Installs in less than 2 minutes.

Amazon
Kaplan
BouncyBands.com

DeskCycle
$159

Students and adults can burn calories while they work. A pedometer keeps track of distance pedaled. It assembles in under 5 minutes. The tension can adjust to fit your desired level of difficulty.

Amazon
mini Pedalers

Foot Fidget
$52.99 - $60.59

Students and adults can rest and bounce their feet on this padded suspension bar. It assembles with tools in less than 15 minutes and can be adjusted for different heights, depending on the desired height.

Amazon
Classroom Seating Solutions

In the comments below, please mention other resources you have found to be helpful with students.


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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Help students turn bad dreams into good dreams

 
While 30-50% of adults are sleep deprived every day, many students are not getting a good night's sleep every night either. One cause is bad dreams and even night terrors.

Here's a fun and simple way to help Kindergarten through second grade students create a "Dream Channel Changer" to help them be proactive and decide which dreams they would like to experience that night.

Feel free to download the lesson for your Active Inspire Promethean board lesson or PowerPoint lesson (Right-click and save these files to your computer.)

Here's a blank Dream Channel Changer and here's a sample to download. 

Students can write and/or draw what dreams they would like to experience when they sleep. Before going to sleep, children can review their Dream Channel Changer to decide which dreams they want to experience while they sleep. If they have a bad dream and awake, they can simply change their channel to one they prefer and return to sleep. This way, they are in charge of their dreams!

Here are some fun ways for children to decide what channels they want to include on their "Dream Channel Changer:"
  • Write or draw pictures of themselves doing fun activities (real or imagined).
  • Cut out pictures from magazines or newspapers.
  • Search for clipart on the Internet.
  • Consider favorite animals, places, people, sports, celebrities, foods, movies, etc.
The Berenstain Bears and the Bad Dream (and 12-min. video available on YouTube) is about how Brother Bear and Sister Bear learn how to have good dreams as well.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DonorsChoose Tips

 
Common excuses for not applying for a grant:
  • "I don't have the time."
  • "I'll never get funded."
  • "It's too complicated. I'll never figure it out."
  • "I don't want to pay the application fees." 
 Good news!
  • It should take you about 20-45 minutes.
  • 70% of grants get funded. 
  • It's only 1 page. Here's a sample.
  • It's free.

5 tips for your DonorsChoose grant: 

1. Look at other teachers who are requesting the same supplies on DonorsChoose.org that you are seeking. Don't plagiarize, but you can take notes and ideas from their campaigns. You don't have to re-invent the wheel, but don't copy and paste their descriptions either.

2. Photos! If possible, borrow or purchase one of the supplies that you are requesting and take photos of students using it. Get them to comment on how or why it is helpful. Make sure you have their parent's permission if you want to use their face in the photo. You want to make this real for the donors to see how their contributions are going to be used.

3. Think like the Donor. They want to do more than just supply crayons. They want to help make your class fun, engaging, and to truly help your students learn. They want to support your creative endeavors to teach students so their year with your class will be forever embedded in their memory. Like you, Donors want to be part of the solution. Help them have an emotional connection with why you want to provide the resources for your students.


 4. Share your Donor's Choose campaign on your personal Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on your school website and emails signature. Even if you are 100% sure that your students' parents won't be able to contribute, you never really know if they can and you definitely don't know who their friends, aunts, uncles, parents, and grandparents would be moved to contribute towards your project. 

Reach out to your community. Send an email to your local churches, day cares, pediatricians, chiropractors, opticians, youth centers, skating rinks, pediatric dentists, and libraries. Simply ask for a $5-10 contribution and ask if they would be willing to share a link to your Donor's Choose page on their social media to help you raise funds. They want to help you and they want to see you succeed. Be sure to give them a thank you note and a photo.

5. Don't wait until you have time. You'll never have "extra time." Just start. Providing needed resources for your students saves your own personal contributions, helps others find out and be a part of your teaching endeavors, you will inspire other teachers to write grants. As well, it shows your current and future principals how you are willing to go above and beyond to help your students find the resources that they need to succeed.

Over 1,400 teachers have gotten their class fully funded so every student could have their own Bouncy Band by using this sample application.

Please add your Donor's Choose tip in the comments below.

 
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Globetrotters provide free Bully Prevention programs


Globetrotters aren't just about smiles and games.

They make a difference.


The Harlem Globetrotters do much more than spinning basketballs and shooting 4-point shots. They have been making a difference since 1926 on and off the court. The Globetrotters introduced Nat "Sweetwater" Clifton as the first African American basketball player to sign a contract with the NBA in 1950. Lynette Woodard was the Globetrotter's first female player in 1985 who won a gold medal in the Olympics and joined the new Cleveland Rockers in 1997 with the WNBA.


As part of giving back to the community on their tours, the Harlem Globetrotters regularly visit schools to promote their "ABC's of Bullying Prevention." In collaboration with the National Campaign to Stop Violence, the Globetrotters teach Action, Bravery and Compassion in their school programs.

You can find the schedule for the Harlem Globetrotters (they have 3 different teams on tour) to request a program for your school in advance. Email: info@HarlemGlobetrotters.com


For more information about the program, visit their website.

 Julian "Zeus" McClurkin recently performed at Greene Elementary School in Greensboro, NC and I was able to interview the NC A & T graduate about his rookie year with the Globetrotters. He shared about his passion for helping children dealing with bullying. He laughed when he shared that kids can't believe that anyone would bully him--since he's 6'8" and 220 pounds. But he shared how bullies can attack any size, shape, or color. His emphasis of coming from a space of compassion is the true solution to bully prevention. It's no surprise that even though he has his MBA, his true passion is his ministry. 

Here's a short video of the performance closing where he involves students and teachers into some fun passing the basketball with the classic "Sweet Georgia Brown" music:



When I showed Zeus a Kindergarten chair with a Bouncy Band, he promptly tried it out and commented, "I wish I had Bouncy Bands when I was in school. Even now, I like to bounce my feet when I sit. I can see a lot of kids who would love these!"




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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Read and Ride program gets national press coverage to promote Active Learning!

Read and Ride programs help students ride exercise bikes while they read fun magazines and books. Visit: ReadAndRide.org

Schools are able to collect free equipment and magazines from within their community for students to use in their classroom and/or in a dedicated room for a Read and Ride program.
  • Reading is fun!
  • Students release extra energy!
  • Exercise is noncompetitive!
http://ReadAndRide.org



Jenna Wolfe and Matt Lauer feature the Read and Ride program on the NBC Today Show. 

View the NBC Today Show segment here.


http://youtu.be/6rpb7-I6BIk
Queen Latifah promoted the Read and Ride program on her national talk show. 

View the Queen Latifah segment here.


http://www.educationworld.com/a_news/read-and-ride-program-finds-improvement-student-learning-454116210


http://youtu.be/ovglccUDxXQ



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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 Ways To Get Free Bouncy Bands!

  3 Ways To Get
Free Bouncy Bands!

Bouncy Bands help students:
  • Release extra energy by bouncing their feet or stretching their legs while they work quietly.
  • Stay on task longer by relieving their anxiety and stress so they stay calm while they work.
  • Move without distracting others or making any noises.
1. Use Bouncy Bands as a fundraiser. You can choose from two models. First, for every Bouncy Band that is sold for $14.95, a free one is provided. Or, every Bouncy Band is sold at $15 and the PTA (or School Counseling Fund) can keep $7.50 profit. You can also combine models if preferred. Download the Fundraiser Application: http://BouncyBands.com/Fundraiser.pdf

2. DonorsChoose.org. Take the initiative and apply for a 1-page Donors Choose grant. (Print out your grant since it is excellent documentation for your yearly evaluation to show leadership.) Here's a link for tips on how to get funded, along with a sample application that you can copy and paste: http://BouncyBands.com/DC

3. Submit a Research Proposal to monitor the effects from students using Bouncy Bands in your school. If your proposal is accepted, you will receive 10 free Bouncy Bands for your school. This is a great way to document how you are making a difference in your school. Keep this data for your yearly evaluation. Download the proposal form here: http://BouncyBands.com/Research-proposal.pdf





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