lesson 8 and the Social Studies connection

We are continuing to work on problem-solving with lesson 8. We read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day to show that Alexander has LOTS of problems, and he does not do anything to solve his problems. After the book reading, we have students put some of Alexander’s problems on the class 5 point scale. We stress there are no right or wrong choices, for one student a problem might be a 2 and for another the same problem would be a 4. It depends on the way they think about the problem.

The problem scenario that has stumped me all week is the not getting the shoes Alexander wanted. He goes to the store and his brothers both get the ones they want but the store is sold out of the ones Alexander wants and he gets stuck with “plain white ones.”

 I thought most students would think this was a big problem. It turns out that in ALL the classes we have been in this week, students put this as a size 2 problem. Once it kept happening, I started to realize that getting the right color shoes was a bigger deal to me than most kids. I am the annoying person that goes to Fleet Feet and gets fitted with shoes that are ideal for my feet, running style, but then when I see they are white with purple laces want another pair that looks “cooler.” Haha.

The class challenge for this week is to come up with 3 books/book characters that have problems. Classes rate the size of the problem and come up with a solution to the problem (can be the same or a different one than in the book). We are hoping this challenge will give us more ideas for books with problems to solve.

Now for the Social Studies connection. One of the 2nd grade classes has done a lot to incorporate STAR into class activities. For those that need a refresher, STAR stands for:

Take a deep breath

The teacher and assistant had the class complete the home challenge as a class activity because they felt it was an important enough activity to do as a group (awesome!)

They are incorporating the STAR strategy into the Social Studies lessons about being a part of a community. After all, the classroom IS their community.

As a reminder, STAR has been written on each of their desk name tags. Just another way that visual supports can very easily be incorporated into daily class activities.

And, the most creative way STAR is being used in this classroom? During anchor time! Anchor time is a time of the day when students can get supplemental instruction, work ahead if needed, or catch up on work needing to be completed. One of the anchor time Friday rotations is going to be called STAR, with the idea that students can Stop, Take a deep breath, And Relax…and get caught up!

The connections continue. What fun we are having making them!


excited and grateful

We have gotten some positive feedback about our book proposal submission. For me, the feeling of gratefulness comes with other feelings. I would not have had this opportunity if my consulting position with the school district had not been cut due to budget issues. I loved my job, more than that, I loved the students on my caseload…even the ones that threw chairs, hit teachers, and refused the most basic acts of compliance. What I have discovered as the school year has progressed is that I am much less stressed and really enjoy doing more proactive work. What is that saying? Everything happens for a reason. The other reason for feeling grateful? Both of my kiddos have been in classes where we have done the lessons this year. How cool that I have gotten to teach them (in a more formal way) how to think about others? And, I never could have planned for that to have happened in a million years.

So, I am feeling so incredibly grateful right now. An amazing experience, with an amazing colleague, and a chance to teach my own kids how to be thinking about others kids. What else could I ask for?

Oh, I will ask that you keep your fingers crossed like this girl that our book proposal is accepted for publication. Sorry, I could not resist 🙂

more on the RtI connection

Some students in the 1st grade class we are helping with RtI interventions are on behavior plans. The teacher is incorporating “brain and body in the group” as a prompt for the behavior plan. Since all the students know what they need to do to keep their brains and bodies in the group and have a visual at their desks to serve as an additional prompt, I think this is a great way to remind students of expectations. And for the student that needs more frequent feedback, a daily check sheet can never hurt.

Check out one of behavior plans. Yes, I did use a bit of technology to erase the student’s name, but no other part of the plan was altered. I snapped this pic while the students were at lunch so as not to be a distraction, which explains the lack of circled smiley faces after writing workshop.

The behavior specialist in me would like to see a chart for each day, since the whole week is a lot for a 1st grader to take in visually.  But, I also know that having just one chart (vs 5, for multiple students) is a lot more doable for a teacher. It is obviously helping student X this week. Looks like she is on her way to a Superflex lunch on Monday!

I really felt good about being in this classroom this week. Ginny and I made a BIG deal about how great they were doing keeping their brains and bodies in the group. Also important to note, the class finally defeated Body Snatcher and Brain Eater (lesson 3 class challenge) and had an activity where the teacher counted all 25 students with their brains and bodies in the group!

The teachers also looked more relaxed this week. I think because they felt like they were finally reaching the students and some positives were happening in the classroom. It can be hard as a teacher to recognize what you are doing is not helping the class. It can be even harder to accept new ideas and change your way of thinking/teaching. Being reflective and willing to learn and grow as a professional separates the great teachers from the good ones.

Planning next week for another lesson on problem-solving “more than me” problems. Check back soon.


Glass Man and STAR

Glass Man is the Unthinkable that makes you have BIG reactions to small problems. Check him out.

We introduce the lesson with Ginny very upset because she cannot find something we need for the class lesson.

I teach her how to calm down using STAR:
Take a deep breath

Below is a video clip introducing STAR.

I will admit that I was a bit surprised at how big Ginny’s reaction was and accidentally said “and calm down” not “relax” the first time I teach her the strategy. Haha. I guess I really wanted her to calm down 🙂

We also talk about the size of problems and the size of your reactions to problems. Remember, Glass Man works hard to make you have BIG reactions to small problems.We set the size 1 and 5 problems for the class and then had them come to a consensus about problems that could be 2, 3, or 4.Here is the visual we are using:

So, a size 1 problem would be your pencil lead breaking. A size 5 would be a tornado.

The examples in the middle were as follows:
–> you open your lunchbox and discover your mom did not pack your favorite jello snack.
–> someone on the bus keeps teasing you and calling you names.
–> your teacher says that it is time to turn in your work but you are not finished yet.

The consensus was lunchbox = size2, not finishing work = size 3, and teasing = size 4.We stressed that some problems might be a 2 for one student, but for another it might be a 4. And, the goal no matter what size the problem is to get back to a 1.