CBT Baseball

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Right after I graduated from grad school, I went back to take a CBT class. Besides being a phenomenal course (with a stellar instructor), the textbook I got for it was actually worthwhile. Cognitive Therapy Techniques for Children and Adolescents: Tools for Enhancing Practice had some actually tangible strategies for doing this kind of work with a population this is still developing metacognition (PS Kindle version is way cheaper). My favorite idea from it was essentially CBT baseball. It's been over 6 years since I read the book, so I'm guessing my version is probably an adaptation of what was described in the book. The first time I used it was in a therapy position with a client that struggled with anxiety. In my role as a school counselor, I use it more often for negative thinkers and anger.

Goal Setting in 4th Grade - Part 1 - All About Goals

Monday, December 12, 2016

One of the options for the academic skills unit I gave my 4th grade teachers was a 3-part lesson on goal setting. Another was for an "all in one" goal setting lesson. I had one teacher pick each, so lesson planning/editing I went. So much of what I was finding on goal setting in my searches for was about saving money to buy expensive things, or working hard to do something like get in the school play - not a fit for what my teachers were looking for. Or it was just a bit above my students, academically and/or developmentally.

I decided the three main components to goal setting that I wanted to include were: what are goals/why are goals important/what are types of goals, what makes a goal a "good" goal, and personal goal setting.

Journey to Friendsville Review

Friday, December 9, 2016
Picture from Child Therapy Toys Website

Because social skills/friendship groups are the most common small groups we do, we're always looking for awesome interventions for sessions. Games of course, are a hit with both us and the kiddos. More often than not, we're more successful just adapting regular board games to fit our needs, but sometimes "therapeutic" games can be great as well. I wrote here about Socially Speaking as one that I thought was worth the money.

Journey to Friendship Island is a game I would consider a win as well - though its $50 price tag is a bit hefty. Some of my thoughts/comments:

Confict Resolution Review: Rotations

Last year I devoted an entire lesson in 3rd grade to reviewing the skills taught in previous lessons and I think it was well worth the time. This year I decided to do the same.

Last year I used both a Mario and a Jeopardy game (pre-created PPT templates with my Qs added in). They were a big hit, but it did require whole group attention for 45 minutes straight (that's a challenge for many adults I know!) and I'm not sure how much it helped to cement ideas in their minds.

Because so many of my lessons with 3rd grade this semester have involved sorting and/or task cards, I decided rotations would be the way to go. I tested something similar out last year and while it wasn't perfect, I decided I wanted to give rotations another shot.

Staying True to You Lesson Plan

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Last spring, my 4th graders became overly focused on being cool and some of my 3rd graders started doing really...well..stupid things...because others told them to. I wanted to do a lesson on peer pressure but needed something that was elementary appropriate and had nothing to do with substances. Something about staying true to yourself. And something that wasn't about accepting yourself for being different.

I found an unlikely winner in the book Sorry! by, of course, Trudy Ludwig. As I mentioned here, the book certainly does discuss genuine vs. disingenuous apologies, but the real focus is on staying true to who you are. The book is rich with discussion topics.

Identifying and Ignoring Distractions Lesson Plan

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Have you ever asked the teachers to tell you what they want a lesson on, and they tell you, and then you regret asking a little because you have no idea how to accomplish what they want? No? Maybe it's just me...

This year's most requested academic topic lesson is "Identifying and Ignoring Distractions". Yowza. That's a biggie. When I first was tasked with this last year, I did an exhaustive google search. While I got some great ideas for the identification side of things, I struggled to connect with finding a solid way to teach kiddos how to ignore them.

Just Say It! Communication Skills Resource Book Review

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Because positive communication is a major theme in my 4th grade Life Skills curriculum this year, I was excited to check out Just Say It! by Kathie Guild. The cover says "6 Fun and innovative lessons designed to teach students communication skills to use in everyday interactions." It states grades 2-5. At $22, it's pretty well priced.

This link has 16 sample pages, including the Table of Contents, which I always find useful: Just Say It! Sample Pages

My take aways:

Problems Inside vs. Outside of Your Control Lesson Plan

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Part of 3rd grade's problem solving unit, after we tackle conflict resolution, is to identify problems inside vs. outside of our control. As many, many other counselors have done, I start with a hands on visual to introduce the idea (though I don't use play-doh). This is the specific way I've worked it:

Time Management Lesson Plan

A repeat request from both my 3rd and 4th grade teachers is a lesson on time management. There's a lot of different ways that this can go, but I focus on time spent in school...with a heavy emphasis on independent work time. This is the plan.

Compliments Lesson Plan

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
As part of our 2nd grade social skills/friendship theme, we did a lesson on giving quality compliments. Without a stellar mentor text, we turned to Sesame Street. While the "short" version of this video focuses only on complimenting physical appearance, my co-counselor found this "extended" version that covers a broader variety of traits. We start the lesson by watching it:

And stop at a few points to ask:

  • What is a compliment? 
  • What were some examples of compliments? Ask after each example – what KIND of compliment was this (outside vs. inside, physical vs. what’s in your heart… any wording you want)? 
  • How did the compliments make Ernie feel? 
  • Why did Bert say “well, they are all true!” before he walked away?

Then we move to the rug and make a bubble map of the different types of things we can compliment people on. This took a bit of prompting but most classes were able to give ideas in the areas of: appearance (pretty, clothes, shoes, etc), personality (nice, helpful, smart, funny), and skills/talents (sports, math, reading, video games).

Then we headed back to desks and projected some sentence stems and read them together.

We tried two different things for our application activity:

Option A: Compliment Circle


  • Turn to person sitting next you, knee to knee, eye-to-eye.
  • Give that student a compliment. 
  • Student responds by saying thank you, turns knee to knee to next person, repeats with the next person 
  • Ask student what they noticed you doing, what they noticed their peer doing (saying thank you, listening, etc.), and what the rest of them were doing while you were giving a compliment 
  • Go around the circle giving each student an opportunity to give and receive a compliment (using the sentence stems)
  • How did it feel to receive a compliment?
  • How did it feel to give a compliment

Option B: Compliment Chain

I'll start of by saying this worked way better with my 3rd graders last year than with my 2nd graders this year. The essential idea was to give each student a strip of colored paper, have them write a quality compliment on it (using the sentence stems), and then make a paper chain with them. There's a couple ways you can have the teacher "use" the chain later:
  • Students write hypothetical compliments (not to any specific student, but compliments that would be appropriate for a 2nd grade classmate). The teacher has students remove a link when a) they're having a bad day and/or b) students can earn the opportunity to remove a link...and then they read the compliment and give it to someone who it fits! OR
  • Students are each given the name (secretly) of a classmate to write a quality compliment too on their strip for the chain. Teachers can have tons of options of how/when to decide to have these delivered.

Talk it Out

Saturday, October 29, 2016
A few years ago, our 3rd and 4th graders were just plain old mean to each other. Half the time, it was coming from them feeling wronged by the other person and believing that meanness was the appropriate response back. The standard Kelso's Choices lesson wasn't cutting. Cue: TALK IT OUT

I went into each room and explained, taught, modeled, and practiced using specific sentence stems to talk it out with someone when you're upset with them. MAGIC happened. Well, sort of. In every room where the teachers made any effort (big or small) to reinforce this, conflict went significantly down in every room. It's now become a mainstay in our program. This is a rundown on how we teach it.

In all of my classrooms, I start by "picking on" a student that I pretend has been talking through my lessons. "Why are you always talking during my lessons? You're driving me crazy kid!" vs. "I feel frustrated when you talk while I'm teaching because then your classmates can't hear me. Could you please save your talking for a better time?" I ask the students which would make them more likely to start listening better - and tada! They are introduced to 'talk it out' and have begun to generate buy in that it's an effective practice.

With K and 1st, we read The Peace Rose. It can be hard to get your hands on, and it's ridiculously simple and short, but it's the perfect model and mentor text. We read the story, then ask the students to recall the words the characters used to solve their problems and write them on an easel. We whip out a fake rose (a "gift" from our friend Kelso) and then have students come up in twos and practice using Talk it Out with the rose given scenarios we provide them. I usually avoid lessons that involve everyone coming up and practicing something because this usually requires the class to have crazy strong attention spans, but it always seems to work here.

With 2nd grade, we review the sentence stems involved (usually by projecting them) and model a couple examples. If the class has done "quiz, quiz, trade" before, then we provide them with pre-written statements and practice this way. If not, or if they're just not ready for this sort of activity, we have the students sit in a circle and read cards in whisper voices to themselves and then pass. After a couple rounds, have 1-2 students read theirs aloud before we continue on. We also included some apologies in our cards.

With 3rd grade, I hit Talk it Out pretty hot and heavy. After a lesson specific to the action options in Kelso's Choices (ignore, walk away, wait and cool off, go to another game, share and take turns), we talk about our "peace words". Students share their ideas and we add them to the board in a bubble map of sorts. Then I re-introduce the sentence stems, adding in the "because" element (more for their own self-awareness!). I model it twice and ask them to tell me what they noticed about my body language and tone of voice. Then we briefly discuss why we tell the person how we feel and what caused it. Our first practice activity with this is using pre-written Talk it Out statements in a modified "quiz, quiz, trade" (more like "read, read, trade"!). You can find these statements here. Without prompting, they usually respond appropriately to one another's statements which is a great bonus. When I've done this with older/more mature groups, we process after what it felt like to both deliver and receive these messages - but my fall semester 3rd graders aren't usually read for this. 

Then it's time for a challenge - I have the students write their own statements. Each kiddo gets the sentence stems in a sheet protector and a skinny dry erase marker. I project several of the conflicts from my key ring of conflict situation cards (as many as time allows). After each scenario, I have one or two students read their statement aloud.

Depending on the group, I sometimes repeat the 3rd grade lesson to the 4th graders. This year I was able to just review it and then model/teach using reflective listening. Instead of a QQT, we sat in a circle and I gave half of the students the pre-written statements. Everyone turned to a partner next to them, the person with the card read it, and gave it to their partner. Then everyone turned in the opposite direction and repeated. This allowed students to practice both reading and listening/responding. Then I introduced the idea of reflective listening. Without using that phrase, I just explained it was one way of responding to someone when they talk it out with you. We discussed how using it helps us be better listeners and helps the other person know we were paying attention. 

To practice, I have half of the students the remaining talk it out statement cards and the other half of the students received reflective listening sentence stem cards. Then it was time to "read, read, trade!".

How We Teach Kelso's Choices

Friday, October 28, 2016

Kelso's Choice are the best. They provide a common language (and visual) to use throughout the school in regards to "small problems" and conflict. A few years ago, my admin agreed to buy enough posters for every classroom and major common area (cafeteria, gym, etc.) to have one and I used some of my counseling budget to get a DVD (I picked the booster one because the scenarios seemed to be a better match to my school). Pricey, but worth it. It was also great to have the real posters because...I admit...I once handmade my own versions of them and they were pretty rough looking.

Without the curriculum though, I wasn't sure how exactly to teach Kelso's Choices. And then all the TVs and DVD players were removed from classrooms, and all faculty got brand new laptops....that didn't have CD-Rom drives in them...meaning I lost the ability to play the DVD. I tried to find a simple way to get it onto a flash drive, but I haven't succeeded in that yet.

Though I know tons of counselors use Kelso's Choices, I didn't quite find what I was looking for when I did some googling to see how others were teaching this. We also don't usually have more than 1 or 2 lessons to tackle this. This is a brief breakdown of some things we do each year in the various grade levels:

  • In K and 1st, we bought a cheap stuffed frog from Amazon. We bring him to the room, introduce him, and explain that he's going to help us teach what to do when we have small problems. Usually we do this lesson after we've taught or reviewed tattling vs. telling so they have some context.

  • In 2nd, 3rd, and 4th, we're able to ask "Remember when we learned last year how to solve small problems? It has to do with a green frog..." and they almost always remember! This is in part due to them seeing the poster everywhere and in part due to counselors (and sometimes teachers) asking "Have you tried Kelso's Choices yet?"

  • For most grade levels, we show these two YouTube clips. They're meant as previews for the DVDs but they work well to model several of the choices. We stop after nearly every scenario to ask some questions. Here are the clips and some of the questions we ask:

**For all of the scenarios, I ask "What was the problem?" and "What Kelso's Choices did they use?" after each clip**
-What does Kelso mean by "big problems" vs. "small problems?
-What did you notice about how Amy used "talk it out"? (word choices, tone of voice, body language)
-Linda copied her again. Should Amy tell the teacher? Why or why not? How many Kelso's Choices should you try before you go to an adult about a small problem?
-What did you notice about how Amy used "ignore"? Did she tell Linda she was going to ignore her? Why not?
-Is Linda going to stop copying Amy since she's ignoring her? Why would Amy choose to ignore, even if it won't make Linda stop?
-What did you notice about how John ignored Jackie? (ignored with eyes, mouth, and body)

-If you're showing this one right after the previous one, you can start it at 1:00 because both have the same intro.
-What would have happened if Linda told on Jackie for borrowing the pencil without permission?
-If you choose to wait and cool off, what are some things you can do that will help you calm down?

  • To practice ignore in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, I "bother" each table group of students while they practice ignoring me. After each, I reinforce how they ignored with their eyes, mouth, and bodies. The kids love watching me act poorly and it provides a way for them to practice the skill without asking other kids to act poorly (which my students at least aren't usually able to handle). These are the scenarios I use:

-Students are eating lunch and another student comes up and says “Your food looks so disgusting. That's gross. Ugh."
-Students are working and another student sits down and starts humming a song.
-Students are playing at recess and another student says “That game is stupid. Only babies play this."
-Students are lining up at the door and another student cuts in line in front of all of them.
-Students are working and another student says “Your answers are dumb. You should go back to kindergarten."

  • In 3rd grade as the first part of our mini-unit on conflict de-escalation, I projected the non-verbal Kelso's Choices, gave each group a die, and had them take turns identifying when they could use the different choices.

  • We send home a letter to the parents with a picture of the wheel and explaining that at school, we  expect students to use Kelso's Choices when solving small problems with peers.

  • Often times (depending on need), the younger grades get separate lessons on teamwork that focuses sharing and taking turns.

  • One year, we created foldables after learning briefly about the choices. Here's a pic of the model my awesome intern at the time made.

  • "Talk it Out" is MY FAVORITE THING EVER. Other schools call them "I-Messages". We either incorporate this as a significant component in our Kelso lessons OR we do an entire lesson on this. Post on that coming soon.

  • For 3rd and 4th grade, I send the teachers this PPT to have them do Four Corners as a Morning Meeting activity. This asks students to identify, by moving to a certain corner of the room, which of the most popular Kelso's Choices they would use given different conflict scenarios.


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