Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kindness Counts and The Potato Chip Champ

One of my favorite authors is Maria Dismondy.  I have purchased several of her books and recently came accross the "Potato Chip Champ".  This book can be used in so many ways AND there is a fabulous teaching guide on the author's website! I divide my students into centers for this unit and the students always have a lot of fun! 

The Potato Chip Champ

Book Description (from Maria's Site):  Champ and Walter Norbert Whipplemoore are about as different as two kids can be…well, except for their love of baseball and potato chips. Champ had everything, but always wanted more. Walter had very little, but was never seen without a smile on his face. In the end, it is Walter and some crunchy potato chips that teach Champ a lesson about character that can't be taught in school.
You can purchase the book HERE.
I love that the character's in this story are BOYS who love baseball and potato chips.  I have a hard time finding stories that the boys relate to and my 3rd graders seemed to love this one.  The story has a great message and reminds kids to be kind to others. 

Centers: All of these activities can be found HERE.

1)  Discussion Center 1:  Comprehension Chips

2)  Discussion Center 2:  Comprehension Catcher

3)  Writing Center 1:  Catching Connections

4)  Writing Center 2:  Share the Good News

5)  Service Center:  R.A.K. challenge

6)  Drama:  Sing about Character

7)  Game Center 1:  Kindness is Catching

8)  Game Center 2:  Pathway to Empathy

9)  Creativity:  Character Cards-Create a baseball card for champ

You can find the teaching guide here:  Teaching Guide

My students loved the potato chip comprehension questions!

You can connect to other lessons HERE and HERE

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

School Anxiety/Refusal

It isn’t unusual for a students to have some anxiety at the beginning of the school year.  In fact, I spend a good chunck of my time calming down crying children that first week of school. But for some students, school causes so much anxiety that they will do anything to avoid going.  This behavior is called school refusal. 

Student's who fall in this category are students who are cronically absent, constantly ask to see the school nurse, or who cry excessively as the school day is starting.  Once any medical issue is ruled out, it is time for the school counselor to step in.  

Here is some information on school anxiety/refusal:

School Anxiety/Refusal

School refusal is a BEHAVIOR and a CHOICE!

The student thinks:  When I don’t feel well I CAN’T go to school.

I’m not going to school because I don’t feel good.
I will use my coping strategies to get to school.

Somatic Symptoms:  Stomach aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting

These symptoms most often occur during PE, Math and lunch.

What causes school anxiety/refusal?

Starting school, moving, and other stressful life events may trigger the onset of school refusal. Other reasons include the child’s fear that something will happen to a parent after he is in school, fear that she won’t do well in school, or fear of another student.

Often a symptom of a deeper problem, anxiety-based school refusal affects 2 to 5 percent of school-age children. It commonly takes place between the ages of five and six and between ten and eleven, and at times of transition, such as entering middle and high school.

Children who suffer from school refusal tend to have average or above-average intelligence. But they may develop serious educational or social problems if their fears and anxiety keep them away from school and friends for any length of time.

There are four functions of school refusal:

·        Avoidance of negative affect (somatic symptoms)

·        Escape from evaluative or social situations (social phobia, OCD, perfectionism)

·        Attention seeking behaviors (separation anxiety, gaining sympathy from family)

·        Pursuit of tangible reinforces (video games, internet, sleep, drug use)

If you allow your student to stay home:
·        Their world gets smaller and smaller.  Anxiety starts with school and then it spreads to other situations/places.

·        Your child will not learn to manage feelings of discomfort.

·        Your child will not learn to experience disappointment.

·        Your child will not learn appropriate conflict resolution.

·        You child will not learn how to appropriately communicate his/her needs.

·        As an adult they will stay home from work when they experience somatic symptoms.

·        You are teaching your child that they CANNOT manage.

·        You are sending a message to your child that they cannot handle school.

·        Your child may turn to unhealthy ways of dealing with anxiety as they get older-such as alcohol, drugs, self-harm, etc…


School Anxiety/Refusal Parent tips
Things you should NEVER say to your child when they are feeling anxious:
·         You’re not sick
·         You are making yourself sick
·         You will be fine
·         You’re going to have a great day
What you SHOULD say to your child:
·         How do we manage that feeling? (ask once)
·          I know you and I know that you can do this.  Tell me what you are going to do if you start to feel sick. (once)
·         Nothing else-Do not respond to pleas to stay home or complaints about somatic symptoms. 
Parents need to:
·         Be consistent!
·         Talk to the student the night before
·         Show that the PARENT is in charge
·         Have the child ride the bus when possible
·         Make being sick unpleasant-no tv, no attention, no sympathy

·         Let your child manipulate you
·         Show that you are upset
·         Give in!
·         Act anxious yourself-this makes the child more anxious
·         Coax or reassure-the child needs to take responsibility
·         Dote on your child when they are sick.  This reinforces the behavior
·         Talk about the teacher/school/other staff in a negative way in front of the child
What the school counselor can do:
·        Provide information about anxiety
·        Give suggested response techniques
·        Graph anxiety
·        Teach ways to manage somatic symptoms
·        Analyze situations that cause anxiety
·        Match student up with a peer
·        Provide fidgets, stress balls
·        Provide time for journal/drawing
·        Match physical symptoms with coping skills and provide time to practice
·        Teach mindfulness and grounding techniques
·         Provide a worry box

I will be sharing a 6-week unit on school anxiety/refusal in an upcoming post.