Please mark your calendars for Armstrong’s CAREER WEEK May 15-19.
This is a wonderful opportunity for parents to share valuable information and experiences about their careers. You may sign up to speak to your child’s class by accessing the Armstrong Volunteer Website. This is a very special activity, and we look forward to the presentations. If you have any questions, please talk to your child’s teacher, or call our counselor, Dave Ray, at 214-780-3140.
Mr. Ray will be visiting the teacher classrooms on a monthly basis to visit about such things as: respect, responsibility, caring, trustworthiness, fairness and being a good citizen. Check back here to find out more details regarding what each grade level has been studying.
Upcoming classroom guidance visits are scheduled as follows:
Week of August 29: 4th grade lesson on respect focused on "bucket filling." The differences between bucket fillers and bucket dippers was discussed. Small groups brainstormed what a bucket filling classroom looks like, sounds like and feels like.
Week of September 26: 4th grade did an activity called "Walk the Line." It was somewhat silly but the overall lesson had to do with peer pressure and how our peers can influence the decisions we make. Peer pressure can be both positive and negative. By sticking to your goals and resisting peer pressure, you can maintain your self-respect.
Week of October 24: 4th grade talked about the five pillars of being a good school citizen. We made "educated guesses" about what a video on school rules would identify as the "pillars". We then compared our educated guesses with the pillars identified in the video: 1. respect others and their property 2. respect school property 3. follow school rules 4. show good character 5. give back to the school community. Finally, we discussed ways that Armstrong students could be better school citizens....they had some great ideas!
Week of November 28: 4th grade watched a video called "Courtesy is Contagious." We learned about what a "think not" is. Rude or inconsiderate behavior is most often a product of not thinking (or not putting yourself in the shoes of the other person to consider his/her perspective).
Week of January 9: 4th grade watched a video about self-esteem. We learned that self-esteem is determined by how much we value ourselves and our abilities. The program watched was composed of 4 vignettes: all your talents, your best, being different is good, choose who you listen to. Additionally, choosing to be positive is a good way to build self-esteem.
Week of February 6: Since we were in the process of selling ValenKINDS, we discussed charity and considered how truly fortunate we are. We came up with reasons why we are fortunate. We identified that many people in our Dallas community are less fortunate; we talked about third world countries in which many things we take for granted rarely or do not exist. We changed gears to also visit about competition and its positive and negatives (especially here at school). Sometimes competition gets the best of us and we lose sight of what is must important: fun and friendships.
Week of April 24: An experiential game was discussed called "The Cards You're Dealt". Students were randomly given cards and were treated differently by others based upon these cards. The experiment is repeated with someone assigned the role of "upstander" to see how the dynamic changes. Since the 4th graders' days at Armstrong are numbered, we reflected on our time here. We talked about things we've enjoyed at Armstrong, things we'll be glad to leave behind, things we're looking forward to in 5th grade and things we're wondering about for 5th grade.
Week of August 29: Kinder lesson about making respectful choices. George struggles with making respectful choices; he knows the difference between good and bad choices but sometimes chooses unwisely. George learns to make more respectful decisions with the help of Harry (his owner).
Week of September 26: Kinder watched a presentation about the differences between "silly school" and "super school." We were very glad to see that Armstrong is much more like "super school." Kinder students identified many of the ways that Armstrong is a super school including kind, respectful treatment of others. Students identified how time and place influence behavior at school...e.g. classroom, cafeteria, hallway, recess, etc.
Week of October 24: We met Kelso the frog for the first time (1st and 2nd grade get reminder lessons). Kelso is in a video that shows younger students in different scenarios solving their own small problems by using several different choices. The video also instructs students to tell a grown-up if the problem is big (dangerous or scary).
Week of November 28: We read a book entitled I Like Your Buttons!In the story, a girl starts a "kindness chain reaction" by telling her teacher she likes the buttons on her blouse. The good feelings created by this compliment spread out like ripples and eventually make their way back to the girl who started the kindness chain reaction. We then did an experiment in which we used an energy ball. Classmates linked hands to simulate the kindness chain reaction. Between one pair of students, the energy ball lights up and makes sound. If anyone loses their connection in the chain, the energy ball stops glowing and goes silent. Lesson learned: spread those good feelings through your good choices, compliments, smiles, etc.
Week of January 9: Kinder students are very skilled at recognizing the feelings (or emotions) of characters in a story based on facial expressions and context. Kinder students read 2 different "Make it Better" short stories in which Bob and Maria walk to school and play soccer. In each story, one of the characters says or does some not so nice things. Students identified the feelings and possible thoughts of the characters. They also worked collaboratively to come up with an alternative, more positive ending to these short stories.
Week of February 6: We read Decibella and Her 6-inch Voice. Isabella (nicknamed Decibella) often uses a voice that is much too loud for the situation. Her teacher works with her to teach her the difference between the 5 voice levels: 1. whisper 2. six-inch 3. table talk
4. strong speaker and 5. outside; and when to use each.
Week of March 20: We read Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and discussed ways to fill others' as well as our own buckets. Visuals of real buckets and a piggy bank were used to reinforce the effect of making deposits (bucket fillers) versus withdrawals (bucket dippers). We fill buckets through kind words and deeds. The great thing is we fill our own buckets when we fill others' buckets---it feels good to be helpful, friendly, loving, etc. We wrote down and shared ideas of how to fill buckets at home school and home.
Week of April 24: We read The Horse Who Lost Her Herd. Hannah is used to leading her herd in their games. When the herd starts following another pony, Hannah sulks and gallops away. A wise owl gives her advice on how to rejoin the herd: 1. Compliment others to show you like them. 2. Do things to show you care about them. 3. Take turns to show you respect them.
3rd Grade Guidance
Week of September 5: Third grade lesson about friendship and respect. Enemy Pie by Derek Munson is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. The narrator is upset when a new kid moves to the neighborhood because he "steals" his best friend. Dad has a concoction to get rid of enemies----enemy pie. The secret ingredient is that you have to spend the whole day with your enemy and be nice to him. By the end of the story the enemy is gone (having transformed into a friend). All sorts of lessons here like being welcoming to new students, to have a friend you must be a friend, etc. Students completed the lesson by coming up with their own recipe for "friendship pie."
Week of October 3: Third grade read the book My Teacher Is a Monster. Student Bobby saw his teacher as a monster because he was judging her from a very narrow framework. A chance meeting changes Bobby's outlook and Ms. Kirby changes in his eyes. We learned that labeling people can be disrespectful and hurtful. We worked on an activity called "License to Be ME" in which we created a faux driver license that included our strengths, interests and wishes. These were shared in class and we guessed whose were whose.
Week of October 31: Third grade had a lesson about teamwork. We examined the many different teams that we may be a part of...at school, at home, in the community. We watched a video with different vignettes of good and bad teamwork set at school, home and during recess. Students completed a true/false quiz. Students reflected on their own team experiences and shared how their teams had been successful/unsuccessful.
Week of December 5: Third grade had a lesson about friendship skills. We read Kathryn Otoshi's Two which tells the story of two best friends who have a falling out when another comes between them. Lessons learned included understanding the perspective of another and allowing others to have many friends and including all. We worked on a want ad for a friend which included the qualities we desire in a friend. We then reflected on our own personal qualities and compared them to the qualities we desired in others.
Week of January 16: Third grade is learning how to deal with people who use hurtful language. The video "You're Mean! When Words Hurt Us" was viewed. Several vignettes were shown that utilized a variety of strategies including: standing up for yourself, just ignore it, tell how you feel and ask a grown up for help. Excuses that those who use mean language was examined. An exercise how to address these excuses firmly and respectfully was practiced.
Week of February 13: We watched a video of a celebrity reader sharing Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch. The story follows a gentleman who leads a solitary life until he receives a surprise package with a note reading "somebody loves you." Mr. Hatch's life completely changes as does his outlook and behavior. When Mr. Hatch finds out he received the package by mistake, he returns to his life of solitude. His new found friends rally to support him. Students are able to have a great discussion of empathy as they identified how they felt when Mr. Hatch learned that he received the package by mistake. Other concepts discussed included giving compliments, active listening and encouraging statements.
Week of April 3: We read the book You've Got Dragons by Kathryn Cave. This book has to do with worries and offers comfort in following the main character as he finds ways to best deal with his dragons. A follow-up activity called "Things I Can Control in my Life" is worked through as students identify which category (can control or can't control) that particular worries fall into. Ideas for how to deal with worries (as identified in the book and through classroom discussion) are shared.
2nd Grade Guidance
Week of September 19: Second grade read What if Everybody Did That? to identify disrespectful behaviors that impact our friends, families and communities. Little things can add up if enough people make bad choices or if these little things become habits. Each student received a BIG post-it note and created a "respect post-it" with their ideas, drawings and examples of respectful behaviors/choices.
Week of October 17: We were visited by Wise Owl who taught us the "Who" rules for the differences between tattling and telling.
They are: 1. Who needs help? 2. Who is afraid? 3. Who is hurt (or might get hurt)? 4. Who do I tell? Students watched a brief video with different vignettes reinforcing the questions.
Week of November 14: We looked at how we think about ourselves by watching two short videos of authors reading books. We examined perfectionism and how we deal with setbacks (which happen to us all) with Loretta: Ace Pinky Scout by Keith Graves. Additionally, we watched Unicorn Thinks He's so Great in which Goat's jealousy of Unicorn gets the best of him until he realizes Unicorn isn't perfect and admires qualities of Goat. We learned to accept ourselves and appreciate our skills and talents.
Week of January 3: We watched a video in which the "Good Word Fairy" helped kids in conflict examine their word choices. Students learned an easy three step process: 1. Take a deep breath and calm down 2. Tell the other person how you feel by beginning with an "I message" 3. Listen to what the other person has to say.
We learned that bad mood messages only make the situation worse. Being sad, mad, or frustrated is acceptable; however, saying or doing mean things is not.
Week of January 30: It is Kindness Week! So, this week's lesson was a "grab bag" of some of the skills/challenges associated with the different theme days. We discussed compliments, empathy, hearing versus listening and including others. We read a book called Hey, Little Ant that put a different type of spin on empathy.
Week of March 6: We read the book The Way I Act by Steve Metzger. Twelve different life skills or actions are detailed in short rhymes. Students were asked to provide examples from their own lives of how they use these life skills. The difference between feelings and actions was discussed as well as the link between feelings and actions. Feelings are fine; it is what we choose to do (our actions) in response to those feelings where we can find difficulty. The life skills/actions discussed were: curious, responsible, compassionate, trustworthy, brave, friendly, persistent, respectful, cooperative, capable, active, considerate and imaginative.
Week of April 17: We watched a video about the Berenstain Bears called “Trouble at School.” While out of school for a few days with a cold, Brother Bear ignores his make-up work. And when he returns to class, he discovers the consequences of neglecting his responsibilities: he fails his division test. Grizzly Gramps helps Brother learn that it's never too late to correct a mistake.We visited about making responsible choices and not making a small mistake into a bigger mistake. In the video, Brother Bear further complicates his problem by hiding the truth from his family. He eventually works his way out of trouble by telling a trusted adult. We visited about lying by omission and keys to academic and social success at school.
1st Grade Guidance
Week of September 12: First grade read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Almost everyone had read the story before; however, we read with a perspective of looking for ways Alexander could make different choices which would impact the direction his day took. In other words, Alexander's choices contributed to his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day". We then viewed a power point presentation with pictures of items. These items appeared in the story. Students identified the objects and told how each was related to a choice Alexander made. Students then told a different choice Alexander could have made.
Week of October 10: First grade reviewed Alexander and how his choices made his day worse. We then met Kelso, a frog who lives at Willow Pond. We watched a "prezi" of Kelso as he taught as the difference between big and little problems. He also gave us several choices of how we could solve small problems. We have several "Kelso's Choices" posters around school to serve as reminders of techniques we can use to solve the small problems.
Week of November 7: First grade learned what it means to be "considerate." We watched a video with scenes from school and home which included examples of considerate and inconsiderate choices/behaviors. We also learned that when a person is considerate, he/she feels good about himself/herself. Students drew pictures of themselves showing consideration and shared with the class. When we are considerate, it shows that we care about the person. We can also imagine how a person in need feels by putting ourselves in that person's place.
Week of December 12: We built on the skills we learned from Kelso in Kelso's Choices. We specifically thought about anger. We watched a video that dealt with anger and self-control. The emotion of anger itself is ok; however, how we choose to deal with anger can be problematic if we hurt ourselves or others, yell, or break things. We discussed some healthy alternatives for dealing with anger like: stop and think, talk it out, finding an outlet for angry energy.
Week of January 23: In anticipation of Kindness Week, we talked about friendship.....who can be a friend, how to be a good friend, how to make a friend, etc. We watched a BrainPop Jr. video about friends. We took the BrainPop quiz after watching the video by voting in a unique, challenging way.
Week of February 27: We talked about the "happy" people, happy places, happy activities and happy things in our lives. Thinking about our "happies" can help to make us remember what is important and get us back on track if we are experiencing emotions that we find distressing. These "happies" also show our similarities and differences; all of us have "happies" but they are different from person to person. We can notice things about a person by looking at him/her; getting to know someone involves learning about their "layers" which are shaped by their "happies."
Week of April 10: We read two stories about have the phrase "no" as a central theme: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and I Just Don't Like the Sound of No. In each story, the main character is challenged by being told no and attempts to bargain or use different techniques to change the mind of the decision maker. We learned that the best thing to do is to accept "no" for the answer by saying "okay" and following up later when calmer to understand the decision.