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.

video

No Biggy! 1st Grade Lesson

Friday, October 21, 2016

This blog can be a little "big kid heavy" since I only service 2nd-4th, but my co-counselor does amazing work and I want to share some of her great ideas a swell. As part of the self-regulation theme she is using in 1st grade Life Skills lessons this year, she delivered a lesson using a book beloved by us both: No Biggy! This book is an awesome tool we've used in every grade as a way to teach some basic cognitive coping.

The lesson starts with a video clip showing a really young girl getting pretty frustrated over her blocks falling over:

This video leads to a short discussion on the girl's problem: Is it a big or small problem? Does her response match the size of the problem? Was it too small or too big?



Then my co-counselor read No Biggy!, asking:
  • What was Kiki’s problem?
  • What did her parents teach her?
  • What was Kiki able to do once she told herself “no biggy”?
There are two different activities she created to use to apply the lesson of the book. For each class, she selected the one she thought was the best match to the class's strengths and challenges.


Option A:

A piece of paper folded/divided in half.  On one side it says: "I might feel frustrated when…" and on the other side it says: "But, I know it’s NO BIGGY!" Students draw a picture of the problem and their solution on each respective side.
Option B: 

Create a powerpoint with images (muddy shoes, dropped food tray, etc.) and ask students to talk about what’s wrong in the picture.  Then with a partner or their table group, have them discuss solutions to these “no biggy!” problems

video

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