CBT Baseball

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

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Cognitive behavior therapy baseball activity: incorporating movement

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 Cognitive Therapy Techniques for Children and Adolescents: Tools for Enhancing Practice). 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
4th grade Goal setting lesson plan, Part 1 of 3

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 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.

Conflict resolution: Super Mario Classroom BlastConflict resolution Jeopardy image

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
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Peer pressure lesson plan - Staying True to yourself

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
Identifying and Ignoring distractions using self-talk lesson plan

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

Just Say It! book cover by Kathie Guild

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
Lesson plan: Deciding if problems are in our control or out of our control

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

Elementary Lesson Plan: Time Management

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.

Compliments lesson plan sentence stems

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

2nd grades Compliment Chain completed during our Compliments Lesson Plan

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.

Teaching Talk it Out: I-Message Lesson Plans

Saturday, October 29, 2016
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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 single Kelso's Choices lesson (written about here and here) wasn't cutting. Cue: TALK IT OUT

school counseling lesson plan for teaching talk-out or i-messages in elementary school

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.

Teaching Kelso's Choices

Friday, October 28, 2016
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Teaching Kelso's Choice lesson plans

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 (and here's a post about the changes I've made with 3rd and 4th grade since I originally posted this):

  • 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.

Inexpensive stuffed frog used when teaching Kelso's Choice

  • 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.
Kelso's Choice non-verbal activity using die

  • 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.

Kelso's Choice Parent Letter

  • 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.
Examples of Kelso's Choice foldables

  • "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. 

  • 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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