Monday, January 26, 2015

The Great Kindness Challenge

Lee Elementary will be participating in The Great Kindness Challenge this week, Jan 26-30.  This is one week dedicated to creating a culture of kindness on campuses nationwide.  Last year 1,099 schools participated!  Lee Elementary is proudly participating in this proactive, positive bullying prevention initiative!

All students will receive a Great Kindness Week checklist with 50 kind deeds.  Please encourage your child to complete the checklist to show the world that kindness matters.  If your child completes their checklist by Friday, January 30th, have them turn it into Ms. Sepp for a special surprise.

During guidance lessons we will be reading What If Everybody Did That?, The Invisible Boy or Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed to spur our conversation about kindness and paying it forward.

 Then we will watch some inspirational videos...

Here is a glimpse of the many amazingly kind acts that happened throughout the challenge week:

We had 100% participation and ***63 students*** complete the entire 50 kind act challenge, designating Lee Elementary as a 2015 Kindness Certified School:

Monday, January 19, 2015

No Name Calling Week Jan 18-22

During the week of January 18-22, Lee Elementary will be celebrating kindness and observing No Name-Calling Week.  No Name-Calling Week was inspired by the popular young adult novel entitled The Misfits by popular author James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression. The friends create a new political party during student council elections and run on a platform aimed at wiping out name-calling of all kinds. The No-Name Party in the end, wins the support of the school's principal for their cause and their idea for a "No Name-Calling Day" at school.

In classroom lessons we read The Name Jar written by Yangsook Choi.  In the story, a new student moves from Korea to the United States and is teased about her name, Unhei.  To avoid the teasing, Unhei decides that she will pick another name instead, and the students in her classroom start offering up many suggestions.  Will she keep her own unique name or change it?  Check out the sweet story to find out the ending.

After discussing the importance of our names, we had a snowball fight.  Yes, you heard me right!  Each student received a piece of white paper and folded it into 4 equal parts.  In each box we wrote about something different that had to do with our names:
  • Do you like your name? Why or why not?
  • Do you know why you were names this? Explain.
  • If you could pick any name for yourself, what would it be?
  • What does your name mean?
They didn't include their own names on their paper to make the snowball fight extra tricky.  They crumpled up their papers and on the count of three threw them around the room.  Each student found a different snowball to open up and try to figure out who's owner it was from the clues inside.  Once they found their match they discussed what they learned about each other.

The second part of the activity came in a subsequent lesson, and was initiated by our 6th graders in the No Place for Hate Coalition.  As one of our projects for No Place for Hate, the 6th graders came up with a thoughtful project that coordinated with No Name-Calling Week.  Each student would receive a small mosaic tile.  They would write hurtful names they have been called or mean words that affected them with sharpie all over the colored tile.  This would help to heal ourselves by removing the horrible memory of its existence from inside our heads and placed visually onto the tile.  Here are some samples from different grade levels:


The tiles will be crushed, smashed and hammered into little broken pieces destroying the power these harsh words have had on us.  Then, with the tiny pieces left, they will be crafted into a hopeful mosaic art piece to be hung in the hallway at Lee - representing the positive outlook we have going forward at our school.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Self Care in 6th Grade

We, as adults, easily get lost in our daily to do's and prioritize everything but ourselves.  When was the last time you did something selfishly for yourself?

Our sixth graders are feeling the weight on their shoulders with middle school applications, schoolwide projects, science fair and standardized testing just to name a few.  After a relaxing winter break I thought it would be the perfect time to help our sixth graders recognize what they selfishly enjoy and then sprinkle more of that into their stressful lives.  

I first shared the ways I take care of myself with this simple picture:

Then I opened up the discussion for them to start sharing the things they enjoy.  We used a simple graphic organizer that I made in Microsoft Word (you can download it here) to list out ways we can slow life down and show ourselves some love.  I separated the ideas into 3 main categories of self love: our mind, our body & our support system.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Learning about Perseverance

Each month at Lee Elementary we highlight a different positive character trait.  This January we are learning about PERSEVERANCE.  In addition to daily morning announcements about the topic, I try to incorporate the character trait into my guidance lessons.  This week in kindergarten we read The Dot by Peter H Reynolds.  This is a beautifully and simple story about Vashti, a young student that feels she is not an artist.  With a simple kind act from her art teacher, Vashti exudes perseverance and even pays it forward at the end of the story by inspiring another student.
Perseverance is not the easiest word for a kindergartener to say, so we broke it up into parts before we learned what it meant.  Sometimes we feel that something is too difficult for us to do and we want to give up, and having perseverance means that we don't give up.  We keep on trying and working toward our goal, even when it gets difficult.  In the story Vashti starts small with just a dot on her paper.  She showed perseverance when she didn't give up, and eventually she had her own art show.  I had students watercolor their own "dots" (or whatever they chose to paint) to show that they have to strength to keep going even when it might seem hard.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Dare: Bystander vs Upstander

In fourth grade this week we finished up our bullying unit with the much anticipated Dare by Erin Frankel.  This is the third book in The Weird Series that features the same story told from 3 different perspectives: the bully, the bystander & the target.  Students were anxiously awaiting the last character's perspective because it most relates to the position they are often in.

After reading and discussing the story from Jayla's point of view, we created flipbooks to differentiate the behavior of a bystander compared to an upstander.  Whereas a bystander = stand by; an upstander = stands up.  We brainstormed qualities of each and they used their creativity to get the point across.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Respecting our Differences

January is a special month at our school.  It is filled with opportunities for students to reflect on their uniqueness and learn about what makes us each an original.  In addition to observing Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday, we also celebrate African American History Month with a program put on by our fifth graders.  No Name-Calling Week and The Great Kindness Challenge also occur this month.  To reinforce the idea of respecting our differences and treating each other with kindness, we read The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss in kindergarten.

This is one of my favorite stories by Dr. Seuss and the message is so powerful.  Although there is a great (free) youtube video on this story, I always enjoy reading it so I can pause at specific points and engage the kindergarteners in discussion.  Students can't stay quiet once they begin seeing how the star-bellied Sneetches treat the ones without "stars upon thars."  As chaos ensues in the story, a natural discussion comes up and students do not understand why the Sneetches do not accept each other for who they are.  After the story I gave each student their very own star to write or draw what makes them special.

(They chose to decorate our Sneetch with all of their uniqueness-es)