Friday, October 5, 2012

Getting Groups Started

Well, it's the first week of October and i'm finally getting my groups organized.  It's been busy around here, so I'm glad to finally get some "routine" to my day.  Every year, I change something about the way I conduct groups--trial and error if you will.  Sometimes it's the content I teach (depending on student needs, new resources, or fresh ideas), and other times it's the organization and behavior management of groups.  So here's what I've done this year:
Groups I have beginning October 1st:

Self Control (grades 1, 2, 3, and 4)
Family Changes (grades 1 and 3)
Self Esteem (grades 4 and 5)
Anger (grades 3 and 4)

First (after receiving parent permission),  I decide what day of the week and what time we will meet (most of my groups meet at lunch).  I use a document, Group Layout Form, to organize my days.  I will not be conducting groups on Fridays this year so that I will have additional time to catch up with individual students.

Next, I set up my group table (well, 2 desks put together).  I'm hoping to add a tablecloth to make it more appealing.  I'm so excited to have this space for just my group stuff this year so it will be easily accessible.  It's right next to the round table where groups meet.  See below.  It includes a copy of my group expectations, a basket for pawprints and stickers (keep reading), my group layout form, paperclips (for clipping finished work), my 7 Habits talking stick, and all of my group materials/files.

I have 2 ideas going for behavior management.  In all of my groups, each student has a purple pawprint (we're the Wildcats) with their name on it.  When they are following group expectations (see Taming the Test for my expecations), they will receive a sticker for their pawprint.  This idea came from another school counselor, and kids are loving it!

For my 3rd grade anger group, we are in need of a little more structure. Therefore, I've decided to use the angry bird game found on pinterest.  The students will earn cups for following expectations, and will get to play the angry birds game for the last 5 minutes of group.  They are all really into Angry Birds so this should go over well!

As far as organizing lesson plans, I have decided to use a form found in Dianne Senn's Small Group Counseling for Children which lets you list all students and your lesson topics including warmup activity, etc.  This book is a great resource!!

How do you organize your small groups?