Google+ Elementary School Counselor blog, by Scott Ertl, Elementary School Counselor: April 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Help students discover similarities with others!

Fun way to find
common interests!

  • Friendship Groups
  • Following Peer Mediations
  • New student orientations
  • Teachers use at Open House
  • PTA meeting "Ice breaker"

Everyone likes to have fun! However, most people don't like feeling rejected by asking someone to play or do something and being told, "No. I don't like doing that!"

This quick activity helps partners find shared interests and then encourages them to decide what they would like to do together for fun. Students feel safe and excited when playing this game.

Within minutes, partners are excited to do specific activities together. It is perfect for introducing new students to classmates and for friendship groups to create actions plans for students to get more involved with others.

Counselors (and teachers) can complete a card and make copies for students to see how many things they have in common. (It can be fun to ask students to make a prediction of how many things they think they have in common with you before they complete the card.) Afterwards, count up the total number of common interests. This can be a quick way to overcome apparent differences to see shared interests instead.  After all, we are much more alike than different.
When students complain about being bored at home on weekends (especially when visiting a non-custodial parent where they might not have as many friends in the neighborhood), this activity can be a fun way to initiate new activities and places to go together. 
Another extension to this activity is to ask students to underline their 3 favorites. When students have different favorites, ask them to explain why they like it so much. Sometimes this can inspire the other student to try something new. 

After helping students resolve a problem, ask if they would like to play a quick game before going back to class. (You can guess their answer.) First, ask them to predict how many things they have in common. Even though they "resolved" the problem, most students typically don't see a lot of themselves in the other person. Following the activity, ask them to give you the total number of similarities. Ask if they were surprised. (They usually are.) Ask if there's anything that they would actually like to do together some time. Propose if they have a great week practicing the positive behaviors from your conference with them, you could follow-up with them next week to actually do one of the activities together. Of course they can do things together before then, but you are offering a way to stay accountable and provide an opportunity for them to have fun together in the near future.

Download the Discover Similarities Progress Card (printed 4 per page to save paper)

Please add a comment to suggest additional activities that students enjoy.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Free Parent Passes, Teacher Passes and Counselor Passes reward students for improved behaviors!

Looking for meaningful incentives for students to earn?

60 Free Parent Passes!
     60 Free Teacher Passes!
          30 Free Counselor Passes!

It often takes students a lot of energy, effort, and practice for them to change their behaviors. Even though some teachers don't think that students deserve special incentives for "doing what they should be doing anyway," most students appreciate recognition for their incremental progress towards achieving their goal(s). We focus so much on "progress monitoring," but we sometimes forget about rewarding students for their progress along the way to help them sustain their efforts.

However, it is often difficult to know what students want as a reward--that isn't expensive or time consuming. These passes are inexpensive--most are free. Students like being able to choose different incentives to work towards.

Progress Cards help students identify specific behaviors to achieve their goals. For example, students who are trying to make new friends may choose to practice giving compliments, sharing, sticking up for others, saying "Good morning" and smiling more to others as their specific behaviors. 2 Free Progress Cards (Friendship Skills and Study Skills) can be downloaded here.  There are 70 Progress Cards in all, which can be purchased and downloaded for only $9.99.

Parent Passes (as well as Teacher Passes and Counselor Passes) help reward students for practicing behaviors towards achieving their goals. These are all free to download and reproduce.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day joke for kids

April Fool's Day 

Activity for kids

Students search for the words in the puzzle, but can't find any. Then you circle: "April Fools!"

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