Enter to win $300 worth of behavior management books!

PBIS Team Handbook from Free Spirit PublishingThis month we’re giving away The PBIS Team Handbook, along with all of the behavior management books pictured below. (This giveaway closed September 12, 2014.)

How to Enter: Leave a comment below telling us how you encourage positive behavior in kids.


Don't Behave Like You Live in a Cave Dude, Thats Rude Survival Guide for Kids with ADHD Survival Guide for Kids with Behavior Challenges

WordsWound How Rude Vicious WDYSFForTeens

TeachingKidsWithMentalHealthAndLDRegClass Bully Free Classroom Building Everyday Leadership in All Kids Building Character with True Stories From Nature

For additional entries, leave a separate comment below for each of the following tasks that you complete:

Each comment counts as a separate entry. Entries must be received by midnight, September 12, 2014. THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

The winner will be contacted via email on or about September 16, 2014, and will need to respond within 72 hours to claim his or her prize or another winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way affiliated, administered, or endorsed by Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Winners must be U.S. residents, 18 years of age or older.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2014 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

Posted in Bullying & Conflict Resolution, Character Education, Free Spirit News, Learning Disabilities | Tagged , | 193 Comments

Happy Labor Day!

A_lady_walking_her_dog._-_geograph_org_wikimedia commonsThe staff at Free Spirit Publishing is taking a long weekend in honor of Labor Day. We will be spending time with our families, going on picnics, and maybe taking some long walks with our dogs.

We hope that you are also able to take some quiet time for yourself this weekend. It might be a great time to catch up on your blog reading, too! Here are a few of our favorite posts, in case you haven’t read them yet:
Talking to Kids About Friendships as They Return to School by James J. Crist
Puberty Resources for Tweens and Teens by Danielle R. Schultz
Make Kindness Go Viral in the New Year by Justin W. Patchin and Sameer Hinduja

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2014 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Cash in on Learning: Engaging and Authentic Learning through Essential Questions

Richard Cash EdD, FSP AuthorThis past April, I had the incredible honor of working with the Bureau of Education in Hong Kong to train teachers on depth and complexity. The Chinese government as a whole is moving toward great reform in how curriculum is constructed and how teachers instruct. One of my charges was to help teachers take what is considered “mandated” curriculum (in textbooks) and deepen the material for greater, more authentic learning. In this blog, I’ll share with you the initial process we used to take textbook material into greater sophistication. You can use this same process with your textbooks to “raise the floor and remove the ceiling,” defining what really matters and challenging students to ask good questions.

First, we reviewed the overall intent of the units of study the teachers were asked to teach. As an example, I’ll use a unit all sixth-grade teachers are required to teach within a humanities course. The unit covers topics such as global climate change, pollution, and environmental protection. Students are exposed to different text types, including poetry; they develop reading strategies such as identifying main theme and mood/tone in poems about nature and learn to create expanded responses. The teacher text states that the overarching theme is “the environment.”

Air_.pollution from power plant_public domain via wikimedia commonsWhile the environment is a worthy theme, I questioned the teachers as to why a sixth-grade student would really care about this thing called the environment. After much discussion, the teachers realized that the aspect students cared most about was how the environment was changing. At this point we were then able to extrapolate what all students must know, be able to do, and understand by the end of this unit:

  • Students will know specific causes of pollution and global climate change and specific steps in curbing pollution and global warming
  • Students will know different types of poems, vocabulary related to poems, and techniques used in poetry
  • Students will be able to analyze the causes and effects of humans on pollution and global warming
  • Students will be able to identify main theme or ideas in a text
  • Students will be able to interpret tone and mood in a poem
  • Students will understand how humans have changed the environment for better or worse
  • Students will understand how people communicate through poetry

Now that we have our objectives clearly spelled out, we can begin the process of making the learning authentic beyond the textbook. One method to create more authentic and engaging learning is to develop good questions that spark a student’s drive to dig deeper into a topic. This all begins with developing what are called “Essential Questions.”

Earth_On_Stove_ by Lesserland shared through wikimedia commonsEssential questions (EQ) are those questions we ask throughout our whole lives. They are questions that have real meaning for the human experience and may never be fully answered. EQs are what scientists, mathematicians, scholars, musicians, artists, actors, and thinkers ask on a daily basis. They have meaning to all people no matter what subject we are working in. I like to break essential questions into two categories: Universal Essential Questions (UEQ) and Content Essential Questions (CEQ). Universal Essential Questions are just that: universal. They are often devoid of subject matter and personification (such as we, you, humans, people, etc.). Content Essential Questions take UEQs and embed the subject matter or personification into the question, bringing it closer to the curriculum. From the UEQ and CEQ you can then construct quality Unit Questions (UQ) to better guide the learning within a unit of study.

Using the unit on the environment and the concept of “change,” here are some examples:

  • UEQ: Why is change both positive and negative?
  • CEQ: How have changes to the environment been both positive and negative?
  • UQ: In what ways have changes to the laws regarding pollution both positively and negatively impacted the environment?

Note that I began the UEQ with “Why,” I began the CEQ with “How,” and I began the UQ with “In what ways.” This rule of thumb can assist you in going from very broad to more narrow questions.

Here is an example based on the concept of “revenge” in a unit on Hamlet:

  • UEQ: Why would revenge be justified?
  • CEQ: How does the desire for revenge propel character actions?
  • UQ: In what ways did Hamlet’s desire for revenge move the plot?

Another example based on the concept of “measurement” in a math unit:

  • UEQ: Why is standardized measurement important?
  • CEQ: How do various countries’ differences in measurement cause confusion?
  • UE: In what ways can we better prepare people to be less confused by differing measurement standards?

AdvancingDifferentiationTo begin the process yourself, you can check out Chapter 2 in my book Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century. In that chapter, I provide a lesson sample (pages 18–19) and template called the “Concept Development Workshop” (page 20) to assist you in getting your students to craft their own essential questions. I’ve found that when I have students generate the EQs, they are more likely to pay attention to answering the questions because they own them. Try it in your classroom; I know you will find that students will enjoy the process and even begin crafting their own EQs without your initiation.

Do you have a class or textbook you can challenge through essential questions? Tell us about it in the comments.

Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally. His most recent book is Differentiation for Gifted Learners, coauthored with Diane Heacox, Ed.D. He is also author of Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century.

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2014 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Guest Post: 7 Steps to a Classroom Free From Bullying

by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein, author of Stand Up to Bullying!

PhyllisKaufmanGoodsteinPix2ForFreeSpiritBullying has become an omnipresent word in media headlines.

That’s not surprising, because bullying occurs every 25 minutes in classrooms and every 12 minutes on school playgrounds. Peer-on-peer aggression has been part of human culture for centuries, but that doesn’t mean we have to live with brutality. The simple fact is that bullying happens because adults and children allow it to continue.

Teachers can say “NO!” and put a stop to abuse. In fact, some educators already do; researchers found that bullying varies in classrooms from 0 to 54 percent. Educators at the lower end of the spectrum are ending harmful behavior by proactively creating anti-bullying plans. The best time to start is before the school year begins.

These seven steps will jump-start your anti-bullying plan.

1. Create an anti-bullying environment. Saturate classrooms with posters illustrating the types of bullying, its painful consequences, and ways students can counter aggression. Use catchy slogans such as “The End of Bullying Begins with You” and “Be a Buddy, Not a Bully.” Search “anti-bullying posters” under Google Images for more ideas.

Prepare classroom supplies that have anti-bullying-themed labels attached. For example, include erasers (“We will erase bullying from our classroom by speaking out against harmful behavior”), stickers (“We will stick together by including everyone in all activities”), and pencils (“Getting adult help is the ‘write’ thing to do, if we can’t stop bullying ourselves”).

Later on, let students design their own posters, work on anti-bullying projects, and discuss bullying, tolerance, diversity, and acceptance.

girl_being_bullied_in_classroom_3_girls-c-monkeybusinessimages_-dreamstime_com2. Explain your position on bullying. On the first day of school, tell students that bullying hurts, and that because you value and respect each student, you will not allow abusive behavior in your classroom. You must back up your words by immediately intervening in bullying incidents and using each incident as a teachable moment. Discuss what happened, the harm it caused, and positive ways to meet needs. Appropriate consequences that teach, not punish, should round out the lesson.

3. Nonnegotiable expectations. Bully free behavior must become a nonnegotiable expectation, giving its elimination the same priority as rules about calling out, standing on desks, and getting out of seats. When these actions occur, teachers stop what they are doing and respond, “Joe, you can’t stand on your desk because you can fall and hurt yourself.” Addressing aggressive behavior every time it occurs sends a strong message: Bullying will not be tolerated or accepted.

4. Classroom rules against bullying. Create anti-bullying guidelines with the class and prominently post them on classroom walls and doors. Afterwards students can create and sign a contract agreeing to the rules. Tape a copy to children’s desks or inside notebooks as a gentle reminder not to bully and to help those who are bullied.

5. Focus on improving relationships. Bullying experts refer to bullying as a relationship problem. One such expert, Dr. Debra J. Pepler, endorses using “social architecture” and “social scaffolding” to effectively develop healthy relationships and erase bullying. Social architecture, according to Pepler, is “the opportunity to structure children’s peer groups to promote positive peer experiences and to minimize or deconstruct negative experiences.” Social scaffolding is defined as a set of “supports required to provide children with the skills, capacities, and social cognitions to move out of the bullying and victimization roles.”

Boxwood_PS_Street_signs_Empathy upload by CHinaFlag public domain on wikimedia commonsYou can help improve students’ relationships by providing a bullying education; teaching friendship, conflict resolution, and social skills; setting up activities that encourage relationships, respect, and kindness; creating peer support programs; increasing empathy; stressing the role of bystanders and their accountability; and using strong classroom management skills.

6. Encourage bystander intervention. Increase prevention and intervention by showing bystanders the contributing role they play in bullying even when they think they are doing “nothing.” Teach safe and effective ways to stop abuse, as well as empathy; share research that shows the majority of students do not like bullying and want it to stop.

7. Increase inclusion. Exclusion is the very essence of bullying. Inclusion decreases bullying. Select teams, groups, and partners and make seating arrangements. If teachers don’t do this, students will gravitate toward their friends and leave less popular students alone on the sidelines, increasing their risk of being targeted. Create situations in which classmates work with those they don’t normally associate with. Select games that require many players, are easy to learn and play, and are more fun with lots of participants. Make Vivian Gussin Paley’s “You can’t say you can’t play” rule an ironclad part of your classroom. When children work and play together, they get to know one another, planting the seeds of friendship.

These suggestions will provide the groundwork for caring, accepting, tolerant, and respectful environments where educators are able to devote 100 percent of their time to teaching.

In what ways do you prevent and address bullying?

StandUpToBullyingPhyllis Kaufman Goodstein, LMSW, is an anti-bullying advocate, social worker, writer, and magician. She lives on Long Island, New York, with her husband Arnie, sons Eric and Steven, and dogs Bandit and Chewy. Phyllis is the author of How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms and Schools and 200+ Ready-to-Use Reproducible Activity Sheets That Help Educators Take a Bite Out of Bullying, and coauthor of Stand Up to Bullying!

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

Suggested Resources
Stand Up to Bullying! (Upstanders to the Rescue!) by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein and Elizabeth Verdick has helpful ways students can intervene in bullying.
How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms and Schools (Using Social Architecture to Prevent, Lessen, and End Bullying) by Phyllis Kaufman Goodstein has more strategies on setting up bully free classrooms.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2014 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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Counselor’s Corner: Connecting and Collaborating with Your School and Community

 connections-teachers-desk-suplies-Dreamstime-(c)-PhotkaAs a school counselor, one of the most rewarding aspects of your job can be connecting and collaborating with members of your school and community. I like to think of school counseling as a boat. Building relationships with educational staff and with key people in your city or town can help bring them “on board” your counseling program. Here are a few ways you can partner and pool resources with other faculty, staff, and members of the public.

You are probably already working with teachers to provide classroom lessons and possibly co-teach lessons that align with both American School Counseling Association standards and teaching standards. You can also plan field trips, projects, and other activities with teachers that will meet the needs of all parties.

Last year I was able to teach my career lessons in a math teacher’s course. It was a great tie-in to her curriculum because she’d been teaching students about financial literacy and higher education. We both benefited. I also took all of our school’s 6th graders to a local career and technical college to expose them to one means of higher education.

Specialty Teachers
drum lessons wikimedia commons botmultichilltSpecialty teachers include art, music, physical education, and any other special content area teachers with whom you may interact in your school. These are great people to join forces with—I always feel inspired and amazed by the creativity of these individuals! Specialty teachers can be helpful when you need a creative solution or idea for a program or project.

At schools in my previous positions, I collaborated with art teachers to co-teach lessons in which we focused on a school counseling–related theme and then led an art project to correspond with the theme. This past year, I teamed up with a family consumer science teacher to host a knitting and crocheting group during our school’s activity period.

Specialty Professionals
Specialty professionals you can liaise with include nurses, speech pathologists, school psychologists, occupational therapists, special education teachers, technology/IT professionals, and any other professionals with whom you interact in your school.

These staff can be great allies because of their expertise. You can work with them to support a common cause or run counseling groups on specific topics. It is also great to have specialty professionals to consult with on your cases, as well as on best practices for the issues and concerns they are trained to deal with.

In the past year, I had the wonderful experience of running a social skills group with a special education teacher at my school. Collaborating in this way helped me build relationships with the special education students she served.

Support Staff
receptionist_working_at_desk wikimedia commons by OttawaACSupport staff are some of the hardest working people in your school! They include administrative assistants, paraprofessionals, custodians, and others. I recommend recognizing them and thanking them for their hard work anytime you have an opportunity. Many support personnel work year-round and therefore don’t get a break over the summer. Look for ways you can collaborate with or bring support staff in on various projects and initiatives throughout the school year. It is important to include all members of the school community.

There are many ways you can build relationships with parents inside and outside of school. I recommend connecting with your school’s Parent Teacher Association (PTA) or parent groups that exist in your community. You can ask parents what needs they have and address them throughout the year. If parents are looking for programming on a particular topic, you can work with the organization to provide it.

Last year I organized a book group for middle school parents that I called “Thriving in the Middle.” We read two books over the course of the year and had multiple meetings to discuss them. I hosted one of the meetings at a local bookstore and another at my school. It was a fun way to dialogue with parents both in the classroom and after hours. It also helped me learn some of the concerns they had about their children.

How do you connect and collaborate with members of your school and community?

We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.

FSP Springybook Signature(c)© 2014 by Free Spirit Publishing. All rights reserved.

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