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Armstrong Elementary School

Classroom Guidance

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:
 Kinder and 4th grades: Week of April 16
3rd grade: Week of April 23
1st grade: Week of April 30
2nd grade: Week of May 7
4th Grade Guidance
 Week of September 5: 4th grade lesson on respect focused on being a super hero/villain and "bucket filling."  The differences between bucket fillers and bucket dippers was discussed.  Students assessed themselves by contrasting themselves "at my best" versus "at my worst".  Students did an exercise in which they were faced with certain behavioral decisions.  Better versus worse choices were analyzed.


Week of October 2: 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 30: 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 December 4: 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 16: 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 12: Since we just completed 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.  


Week of March 19: We took some time to reflect upon a couple of wonderful experiences we had this week in 4th grade: the WE Texas Day field trip and the campus visit/assembly by Spencer West.  We examined the takeaways from both of these events.  Students were mindful of how they can become people of impact at a very young age.  We examined everyday, easy opportunities to make an impact positively through our actions, words and deeds.


Week of April 16: 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.  Our field trip/visit to MIS is coming up soon so we talked about what to expect.

Kinder Guidance
Week of September 5:  Kinder lesson about making respectful choices.  We read the book Oh No, George!  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 October 2: 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 30: We read the book The Hyena Who Lost Her Laugh.  Hillary the Hyena learns that when she is more optimistic and realistic in her thinking, she feels better and has more success.  She also has more fun with her friends.  We also talked about replacing negative self-talk with realistic, more optimistic statements.  This fits in nicely with our focus at Armstrong on a growth mindset.  School is all about learning; students are not perfect and must take good risks in order to learn and grow.  We all have relative strengths and weaknesses.


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 16: We reviewed and practiced the skill of whole body listening.  Mr. Potato Head served as a model by examining how different parts of the body contribute to whole body listening.  We read Whole Body Listening Larry at School in which the main character helps some new students discover what whole body listening is in various locations throughout the school day.


Week of February 12: 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 19: 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.

Week of April 16: We watched a video of The Berenstain Bears.  Some older bears amuse themselves at Sister's expense by warning her how hard third grade will be and how strict Teacher Jane is.  Brother tries unsuccessfully to convince Sister not to worry. Mama reminisces about Sister starting kindergarten and reflects on how her daughter's feelings back then were exactly the same.  Sure enough, when Sister starts third grade she enjoys the new experience just like she did when she started kindergarten.  This allowed us to reflect upon how far we've come this year as first year students at Armstrong (hopefully boosting our confidence as we try things for the first time or get ready to come back to Armstrong in August).  
3rd Grade Guidance
 Week of September 11: 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 9: 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 November 6: 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 11: 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 22: 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 February 19: 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.


Week of March 26:  As a follow-up to last month's visit, we took a look at a "worry flowchart" to help make decisions about how to handle problematic situations.  We also learned about the differences between being passive, assertive and aggressive.  We learned how to communicate assertively through the use of "I" statements and practiced constructing and delivering them.


Week of April 23:  We took a look forward to talk about the privileges and challenges that come along with being the school leaders as 4th graders during the 2018-19 school year.  We especially focused on the wonderful opportunities through the 4th grade service and leadership organization PAWS.  We also watched a Storyline Online video of Romeow and Drooliet.  This book is a pun on the Shakespearian tragedy but we used our higher level thinking skills to analyze certain themes like acceptance, choices, friendship, differences and conflict resolution.

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.  We examined who deserves respect and how to show respect.  We did an activity in which each student added two new pages to the book: one with a negative effect/consequence and one with a positive effect/consequence.

Week of October 23:  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 27: 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 8: 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 February 5: I haven't done this since I've been at Armstrong; however, I did the same lesson with 1st and 2nd grade because the book fit so well with kindness week and is a great lesson on empathy.  We read the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.  This is a great story about recognizing the differences between wants and needs.  As a lead-in to KIndness Week, we discuss empathy as the main character makes a selfless choice that the reader would have never seen coming based on the book's beginning.  The young boy realizes that the things he has are worth more than the things he wants.  We finish the lesson by sharing different real world school based scenarios and discussing the choices we would make.


Week of March 5: 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.


Week of April 9: We read the books Sorry, I Forgot to Ask by Julia Cook and Sorry! by Trudy Ludwig.  We learned about the importance of a sincere apology.  Keys include being specific about what caused the problem and making amends if necessary.  An insincere apology can add insult to injury.


Week of May 7: We watched a video called "Turning Failure into Success."  Everyone fails at something; we learned strategies for learning from these failures and not giving up.  Vocabulary: diligence, patience, persistence, brainstorm.  Famous figures who did not let initial failure stop them: Thomas Edison, Wright brothers, Michael Jordan.

1st Grade Guidance
 Week of September 18: 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 17: 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 video 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 13: 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 18: 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 29: We read the book Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts.  This is a great story about recognizing the differences between wants and needs.  As a lead-in to KIndness Week, we discuss empathy as the main character makes a selfless choice that the reader would have never seen coming based on the book's beginning.  The young boy realizes that the things he has are worth more than the things he wants.  We finish the lesson by sharing different real world school based scenarios and discussing the choices we would make.


Week of February 26: We read the book The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss (it was his birthday week).  There were lots of opportunity for good discussion about how it feels to be excluded.  Students identified that no sneetch is better than any other sneetch (which of course translates to people too).  


Week of April 2: 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.


Week of April 30: We watched a video of the Berenstain Bears called "The In Crowd."  A new girl moves to town and all of Sister's friends want to be like the new girl because she seems cool.  Sister learns that the most important person's opinion is her own and that it's most important to be yourself.