Classroom Survival Skills

There are lots of different school counseling materials available, and one is called Skillstreaming. This is a curriculum that looks at several different skills and breaks them down into small steps. I used this curriculum for our “Classroom Survival Skill” lessons in the month of March.

Each grade level focused on two skills, and while they may seem like basic skills, it was either a good reminder of how to successful do each skill, an introduction to each skill, or a combination of the two. In kindergarten, we focused on listening and asking for help. In first grade, the two skills we discussed were saying thank you and being prepared. Second grade focused on following instructions and completing assignments. In third grade, we discussed contributing to discussions and asking a question. Fourth grade’s lesson was about ignoring distractions and making corrections. Finally, in fifth grade, we discussed listening and setting a goal.

In April, I will still be using the Skillstreaming skills as our focus, but this month’s skills will be more emotion-based. These are more focused on showing your feelings, understanding others’ feelings, and being able to identify feelings.

I am also having fifth graders complete a google form about what they are worried about as they transition to middle school as well as what they would like their middle school teachers to know about them. I also asked them what they wish we would have spent more time on. This will help guide next year’s lessons too. I already have a few students who have said “lockers” was something they are worried about, and I’ve talked with our school library teacher, Mrs. Anderson, about getting some combination locks for students to practice with. I’m hoping they leave fifth grade feeling a bit more prepared and less stressed!

Parenting in the Digital Age

I come across lots of good articles out there, and thought I’d share this one. It discusses how to be a parent in this digital age we are in.


Steps to good digital parenting

Here are six steps the Family Online Safety Institute recommends taking in order to be a good digital parent:

1. Talk to your kids

Your child is still learning to make good decisions on their own — whether they’re 3 or 17.

This is where you come in.

Talk to them early, and often, about peer pressure and why they should resist it. Be open and direct. Remind them that they should never do anything they are not comfortable with — online or offline. Let them know to tell you if someone asks them to do something that they think is wrong and not to talk to strangers online. With all the craziness in the world these days, you really can’t remind them of this enough!

2. Educate yourself

Not familiar with a game your kids love? Learn how to play it! Hear your kids talking about a new social media app? Learn how to use it! Search online for anything you don’t understand — there’s a wealth of information out there about almost every app and game created. You might find that you enjoy the same games or apps your kids do — and it might open up whole new lines of communication between you!

3. Use parental controls

Almost every online platform offers parental controls to help you restrict the types of content your child can view. Use them and check periodically to make sure they’re working.

4. Set reasonable time and usage limits

Set rules about how much screen time is acceptable and what your kids are, and aren’t, allowed to do online. The Family Online Safety Institute suggests putting a family contract in place that includes sanctions if agreed-upon limits aren’t followed.

5. Be present

As the Family Online Safety Institute put it, “Friend and follow, but don’t stalk.” What does that mean? It means if your child is old enough for social media, you should “friend” them — but respect their space, and don’t be the parent who comments on every photo! You should also talk to your child about what’s appropriate and what’s not appropriate to share online — from personal information to photo choices.

6. Be a good role model!

You can talk to kids all you want about limiting screen time, but if they see you on your digital devices all the time …. well you’re saying one thing, but certainly sending a different message! When it’s time for the kids to unplug, you should too. Find something you can do together — go for a walk, play a game, or even curl up together on the couch to read a book.

State Testing Schedule

It’s the time of year for state testing! This morning, I updated my calendar to include the state testing days and times for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade. These tests are used for a variety of purposes, and it is very important your student be here to complete the tests. I would also encourage taking measures to ensure your student gets enough sleep, is on time to school (even if they are on time for the test, being tardy can through a student’s whole day off), have a good breakfast, and feel they are ready for the test! Let’s show our best Everett Eagle Effort!

Just About 3/4 Done!

Wow! We are just about 3/4 done with the school year! It’s hard to believe, and even harder to believe since it is going to feel like it’s below 0 all day. What an awful winter! As a side note, there has been a higher prevalence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to our extended winter weather, and you may want to talk with your primary care provider if you are feeling more depressive symptoms than normal.

On Friday, I finished up that last career lesson. I had a BLAST teaching these lessons to all grade levels in February. In kindergarten, the students loved being detectives and guessing the careers people had based upon the clothes on their clotheslines. In first grade, we read Weird Al’s silly book about different jobs, and then students were able to pick what they’d like to be. In second grade, we used Chromebooks to navigate the Paws in Jobland website and students were able to read about careers that fit with their interests. Third grade used a paper and pencil career interest inventory, but then used the O’Net website to explore careers in their “career color.” Fourth and fifth graders used the online career interest inventory on to explore careers which fit with their interests. It was a blast for all students and for me!

This month, we’re tackling different skills. These “classroom survival skills” range from ignoring distractions and making corrections to asking for help and being prepared. Be sure to ask your student what skills Mrs. Harris talked about this month!

We also added another mindful breathing technique to our repertoire. Each month, students learn a different breathing technique and this month it’s all about the bumblebee breathing. Ask your student which breathing technique is his or her favorite, and have them demonstrate!

Career Fun!

As of today, I’ve finished the career lessons for all of the 2nd and 3rd graders! I’m halfway through 4th and 5th grades too! We have been having so much fun exploring careers.

2nd graders got onto Paws in Jobland and answered questions to help define what careers would best suit their interests. They really liked getting on to the website and learning about all different careers.

3rd graders took a similar interest survey, and got assigned a “color” based upon their interests. They then used the website to learn more about the careers in their “color” group. There were some fun careers they identified.

4th and 5th graders went to and ranked their interest in different areas. Then they were able to see which careers fit best with their interests, and they were able to learn more about those careers. They REALLY liked reading the average annual wages for the jobs.

I’ve loved being able to read their interests and seeing which careers are the best fit. I am already looking forward to next February when we do the next round of career lessons to see if interests have changed too!

It’s Time for Data Again!

We are a third of the way through 3rd quarter, and the January lessons are just about done! This month we focused on all students learning the new state standards regarding manners and kindness on-line. Here are the state standards introduced this year:

  • Understand how technology affects them and others.
  • Know and use good internet manners.
  • Understand how emotions and intents can be misunderstood.
  • Know the possible consequences of taking a picture of or recording others without permission.
  • Identify and respond to cyberbullying.

In the kindergarten and first grade classrooms, we included a discussion of kindness and how we can be kind in our everyday world. We also brainstormed how each classroom was going to show kindness after reading a book. In 2nd and 3rd grades, we watched a short on-line video about Netiquette, which featured students being interviewed about on-line kindness and manners. We also answered questions whole group about what we had learned. In fourth and fifth grade classrooms, we watched a BrainPop video about Netiquette, and the students answered the BrainPop quiz questions on their own on pieces of paper, which I then recorded and graphed.

Overall, students were able to meet the state standards driven objectives. 61% identified a problem in on-line communication is that you can’t tell the writer’s tone of voice. 84% knew that internet trolls aimed to start arguments, and 88% knew the best way to deal with trolls is to ignore them. 81% of students in fourth and fifth grade identified flaming as similar to teasing in that they both can hurt people’s feelings, and 58% correctly identified the best way to send a text message to a parent (identifying you shouldn’t use too many abbreviations or shortcuts). I am extremely happy to report 97% knew that before posting a photo of anyone on-line, you MUST get his or her permission beforehand. That objective was a big emphasis in our lesson, so I was very excited to see this information stuck!

Moving into February, we will be focusing on careers. I am very excited to do some career exploration with all grade levels!

Half-way There!

In just a few hours, we will be halfway through the 2018-2019 school year! It has been so fun telling students I’ll see them next year!

This first half of the year has been busy meeting students, teachers, and families. I have also been learning about how I can be most helpful here at Everett, and working with staff and students to help with issues that have come up. These issues have ranged from difficulties with siblings at home to friendships at school to understanding how to handle anger.

The second half of the year will look much the same. I will continue with two groups focused on classroom skills such as listening, making corrections when asked, and what to do if you don’t understand the assignment or directions. I will also continue to go into classrooms once a month, and meet with students individually as well. I’m excited, and have already started a folder with ideas for next year!

14 Days to Half-Way!

In 14 school days, we will be halfway through our year! Wow! That’s crazy to think about.

I’ve already started preparing for the lessons for the second part of the year. In January, all classes will learn about on-line manners and kindness as part of the new state standards. Some of the information has been or will be addressed in the final bullying lesson, but I’ll add onto this information, and make sure all grades hear this message. In February, I’m very excited to do lessons about career exploration. These lessons will be differentiated by grade level, and thus will go from the very basics of careers to more in depth exploration of strengths and interests and how these might match up with different careers.

As I mentioned, we are finishing up the bullying curriculum. The lessons have been fairly popular, and they do a great job at really defining what bullying is (versus just being mean), as well as how to handle bullying. I’ve loved the students’ participation and questions!

2nd and 3rd Grade Data

As of today, I’ve finished the 2nd and 3rd grade lessons. These lessons focused on the second “R” of bullying, “Reporting.” Students reviewed how to Recognize bullying first, and then we discussed the need to report bullying to a caring adult and who those adults are in our life. We also spent time discussing the difference between tattling and reporting. The post-test for the lesson was asking students to identify at least three people they could report bullying to if they saw bullying or if it was happening to someone else.

Second graders were given a list of names and they were asked to circle at least three. Third graders were given a paper of paper and asked to write three names of people to whom they could report bullying. Here’s the data!


I’m very excited about the second grade results. Although I would like the third grade results to be higher, I understand writing out names made their task slightly more difficult.

Here’s Some Data for You!

As I have mentioned before, I LOVE data! It’s rewarding to finish a lesson and see the impact it has had on learning. It can also provide feedback about areas that students are still confused about. I haven’t yet finished all of the second bullying lessons, but I have finished fourth and fifth grades. Here is their data.

Fourth and fifth graders’ lessons were about how to be a supportive bystander. The post-test, then, was four statements about how to be a supportive bystander. The students needed to circle “Yes” if the statement was true about a supportive bystander and “No” if the statement was not true.

Of the four statements, you can see that 91.3% of fourth and fifth graders answered all of them correctly. Another 4.0% answered 3 of the 4 statements correctly. I’m so happy that our students at Everett are better able to identify how to be a supportive bystander. They will be practicing the skill in lesson 3, so this will be reinforced again.