"I" Statements Guest Post

Last spring when I was working with a third-grade boy who was new to our school and teaching him how to make an "I" Statement, I asked him if he had ever practiced this before. That's when he said, "No, we didn't have a Peacemaker at my old school." Be still my heart. How do you teach "I" statements?

Well, Tanya's back at the Corner from Montana
to share her satisfrying "I" Statement lesson.


Fr-I Statements by Tanya Kirschman

Traditional French fries are not very healthy for you; however, it’s easy to create some of the healthiest fries around and kids will still “eat them up!" This activity grabs young students’ attention right away and also gives them an opportunity to learn, observe and practice an important assertiveness skill: the “I” statement.

The “Fr-I Statement” activity incorporates Jenga blocks that have been spray-painted yellow to resemble (wide) french fries. Printed conflict scenarios (and more here) on file folder labels are adhered to each block. The labels need to be cut down to fit on the fry, so print accordingly. Six fries fit into each of my fry boxes (I found these boxes at the Target One Spot, but most party stores will have them; you could even ask your local fast food restaurant for a donation.). I placed them on a barbecue-themed tray I own, but a fast-food tray would look even more authentic. 

Explain an “I” statement to begin the lesson:

* By telling the person how you feel, it helps them to better understand your request. We have all felt mad, scared, frustrated, aggravated, etc. and can relate to those feelings.
* Be specific when telling the person what they did; do not say, “when you do that” because they might not know what upset you.
* Ask for something reasonable at the end, “I want you to stop/to give it back/to include me” etc.

Also discuss:

* The “I” statement is a respectful way of asking someone to stop doing something that you don’t like.
* We all have the right to ask someone to stop. 
* Use good eye contact, confident body language and a serious voice tone in your delivery. (Model this as well.)
* Receiving an “I” statement does not mean the person no longer likes you or you aren’t friends anymore. 
* Respond to an “I” statement by saying, “Okay, I’ll stop” or “I’m sorry," but only apologize if you are truly sorry.
* If the person does not comply (stop) you may get a teacher for help. (Later in the year Kelso’s Choice will encourage the use of a second strategy before seeking help, but I keep it simple for now.)
* If the person does stop, you don’t need to alert the teacher because you have solved it on your own. 

Fr-I Statement Activity

I use the Stick Pick app on my Ipad to make sure all students get a turn. When their name-stick is chosen, the student comes forward and chooses a fry from one of the boxes. 

I read or they read the scenario to the class and they put their fry in the red fast-food basket. I always place the “I” statement poster where it can easily be seen. Students can look at it while giving me their “I” statement in response to their chosen scenario. 

I play the part of the person receiving the “I” statement. Varying my response challenges students to think about and share what their next step might be.

Bookmarks are distributed at the end of the lesson. (Barbara suggested the fries for the blanks. I like how they remind students of our Fr-I Statement activity!)  “I” statement posters are also left behind for reference in the classroom.

(“Click on image to print bookmarks. Clipart from sweetclipart.com and clker.com”)

If you want a book so kids can experience the "I" statement modeled in literature, check out The Peace Rose review at Books That Heal Kids.

Thank you, Tanya. What a gift. Your students (and now my readers!) 
are indeed blessed.
Happy birthday to your little angel.


Nothing Is Wasted

Oh how I was blessed last night at the Stephen Curtis Chapman
 Glorious Unfolding concert:

We worshiped.
We laughed.
We sang.
We wept.
We watched.
We learned.
We listened to stories.
We rejoiced.
 With Jason Gray, whose speech impediment doesn't get in the way.
With Laura Story, whose husband's brain tumor doesn't get in the way.
With Stephen Curtis, whose grief from having to let go 
doesn't get in the way.

My take-away was that these AmAzInG artists all have this in common:  
Trust without borders.
Laura Story can say it more beautifully than I.
Just listen ...
Their message that nothing is wasted in our story resonates with me. On the mountaintop where they are so alive or in the dark, dark valley where there's fear and devastation, they are faithful and they trust their Lord, their Higher Power.

Thank you, Carol, for taking me along.
So much to reflect upon, process, digest, pray about and work on.
Nothing is wasted ... nothing. At all. Ever. Amen.


Classroom Community Guest Post

Today I'm excited to welcome my friend Lisa from Growing Firsties. I met Lisa in Wauwatosa this summer for lunch and I felt like I'd known her my whole life and that we could have talked forever. She has a heart of gold and I'm over-the-moon with happiness that she agreed to share with you today.

We're doing a Saturday Swap, actually, so read what she has to say about Classroom Community, then head {here} to see what I'm sharing with her readers.

Not sure I could be more honored to do a guest blog post here on Barbara's blog. She truly IS the Corner on Character!!!!

I had the amaaaazing opportunity to meet her over the summer....our two hour lunch was over in an instant! We even called one another after we left, it was that good. My heart still smiles thinking about her!

I'm Lisa Mattes from Growing Firsties...

A Wisconsin girl...

Mom to two darling (and semi-sassy) kiddos, Zach (9) & Emily (5)...

former Reading Specialist...

first grade classroom teacher...

blogger & TpTer...

who tends to over-use ellipses & capital letters....

Thanks for reading!

It has been such a lovely, community-building 19 days of school with my firsties...thank goodness for books...I have so many favorites, I guess you can't quite call them favorites...

It's such a critical time of year for building community...a community of learning and kindness and mistake-making...it carries you through the hard times when you have a community of support in your life. We build it in our classrooms too.

A few weeks back I posted about my Favorite First Week Read Alouds and as the year has continued, I've been loving a few more.
This precious book is about a darling girl named Willow who, with an intentional act of kindness, transforms her stern art teacher who has been horrible to her! I LOVE reading this book to discuss change blossoming from an act of kindness. So so so special!

Next up...my girl...Amy Krouse Rosenthal does it again with Spoon.

Spoon I love building community with this unique and highly engaging book...it is terrific for highlighting how we are ALL BLESSED in different ways! Like Spoon, we might notice how lucky others are and not even realize how lucky we are to just be ourselves.

Emily's Art is a stunning book about Emily, a talented artist, whose work is being judged by an unfair judge....who happens to select Emily's friend's work. It is a lovely book for discussing fairness and how everyone's interpretation of beauty is different...that we are all blessed and it's important to feel that on the INSIDE, rather than from someone else telling it to us.

What books do you use to build a classroom community??

You might enjoy the printable I made to go along with the first post...I also updated it for you in Navy & White in case you'd like it that way. :) Feel free to click either picture to download it from Google Drive.


Thank you SO much for letting me share with your followers, Barbara! I am so grateful for your friendship!


PPBF: Year Of The Jungle

I am so very excited about today's PPBF title that I can hardly stand it. I connected with it because my heart aches for the families of men and women who are called to serve in faraway lands and I'm thrilled to have found this sensitive personal narrative about that experience for my shelves. I've seen firsthand the emotional toll that having a deployed parent can take on a child. I've held many a child's hand as he/she worries and frets about how their parent is doing, where exactly they are, what they're eating, if they're safe, and when they'll be back home. And I've even heard them wonder out loud why their loved one 
had to go away in the first place.

Enter Year Of The Jungle by Suzanne Collins. 
Back in 1968, nobody really explained to little Suzy much about her dad going to 
a place called Viet Nam.

Title: Year Of The Jungle
Author: Suzanne Collins
Illustrator: James Proimos
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date: September 10, 2013
Suitable for ages: 4 and up (I would cautiously say 7 and up)
Themes: military, fear, courage
Brief synopsis: Based on the real-life experience of the author as an eight-year-old, this treasure explores the thoughts and feelings of a young child whose father is sent off to the jungle to something called a war.

Opening page: My dad reads me poems by a man named Ogden Nash. My favorite is about a dragon named Custard. Even though he always feels afraid, he is really the bravest of all. And that's what makes him special.

Watch a Scholastic interview with author & illustrator {here}.
Read a New York Times review {here}.
Grab some enrichment ideas from Common Sense Media {here}.
Read Nash's Tale Of Custard The Dragon {here}.
*Use this poem as an opportunity to discuss courage and bravery. 
Click {here} to watch Priority Mail, a news clip about helping military families.

Why I like this book: This book left me feeling so convicted about the phrase Freedom is not free! War leaves so much fallout, so many casualties - literally and figuratively - in its wake. In my son's confirmation class, I watched as an eighth-grade girl sobbed and physically trembled through her faith statement because of how it shakes her to the core each and every time her father deploys. 

In this picture book by the author of The Hunger Games, young Suzy starts out thinking it's kind of cool that her dad will be going to the jungle just like some of her favorite cartoon characters. She's even seen flying with her cat, smiles on their faces, over the ocean toward a friendly forest. But as the days turn into months and the seasons pass, postcards come fewer and farther between and Suzy's emotions vacillate from confused to worried to terrified. The illustrator does an amazing job conveying those changing feelings in his black and white jungle scenes with Suzy and the animals. And when Dad suddenly returns, Suzy must face the reality that 
"He is here but not here."

Pause. Breathe. Again.
I know, right?

Every year, we do something special for our servicemen and women. In the past five years, it's been not only a letter-writing campaign to send notes of gratitude during the holidays, but also a collection of basic-need items and some pamper-me things just for fun. 

Anyway, I especially love that elementary school children would work to earn the money that they'd need, then go shopping and buy these things for someone they'll likely never meet. 
To express gratitude and appreciation.

I hope this video clip works for you; this first grader actually did chores to earn money that she could shop with to pick out the stuff she wanted to bring. Can't you just feel her joy?

The past three years, we've also donated our surplus Trick-Or-Treat candy to the troops through Operation Gratitude. It's so gratifying to share our stash with those who serve.

As difficult as it is to do sometimes, we must make a point to stop and say thank you when we see a man or woman in a military uniform. And their families deserve our gratitude, too. Click the picture below to read about the surprise homecoming that this little one got from his father a few years back.

Finally, ask your students to put themselves in each of these character's shoes. What would it be like to be the dad? What kinds of things do you suppose he misses while he's away? Why is his face so distorted when he returns? What would it be like to be Suzy back then? How about now? What about the brother or sister? And the mom? And try to imagine being Rascal. 

There's so much more you could do with this new book. 
When you think of something else, 
I'd love for you to share your reflections below.


Character Honor Roll

Our fourth and fifth grade campus is reviving our Character Honor Roll. Yay! We know that get more of what we focus on, so I'm hopeful that this incentive project will make a positive difference with our oldest learners.

As faculty and staff catch someone doing something TeRRiFCC, they tear off a yellow slip from their pad, complete it and give it to the student(s). 
Eventually these slips will make their way into this bin.

Names from the bin will be read at lunch every other Friday to publicly recognize students who are living life guided by our six pillars of character - 
Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility, Fairness, Caring, and Citizenship. 
Recognized students will then be added to our 
Character Honor Roll Wall of Fame. 

I know that one of my second graders wishes he were already eligible for that Honor Roll because after the new initiative was announced at our morning community gathering, he wanted to nominate himself for one of those golden tickets. He told me that when his friend Carson got hurt in P.E. class, he wrote him a nice note and gave him some money so now Carson has enough money to buy a hamster. Sure enough, Carson had some change in his hand, so I asked how much he'd gotten, to which he answered, "I think it's 26 cents!" 
Oh, to be back in second grade and be the recipient of his thoughtfulness.

Anyway, click the link to listen to The Character Road, a song I wrote for these character kids when they were still at our Westwood campus. I can't wait to see the amazing teenagers these leaders will become and TeRRiFiCC things they'll do as they follow the character road.


Pay-It-Forward Quarters

Sometimes I find myself wanting an afternoon snack but not having any quarters on me, so I decided to try something new in our teachers' lounge at our 
honor-system vending venue.

Here's where it gets good. I put $3.00 worth of quarters in the envelope, but when Mr. Whitlock spied the new addition to his refrigerator, he counted the quarters and there were a few more than we had initially. Hmmmmm . . .

This begs the question: Could this turn into a 
take what you need, give what you can 
refreshment spot?

Click {here}, {here} and {here} for more 
Random Planned Acts of Kindness ideas.
And then visit this adorable new blog - Inspire Me, ASAP - for a lesson on kindness that you're sure to love.

Happy Wednesday!


My Character Cape

Look what my friend Denise made for me to wear at this year's

Yep, it's a Super Cute Cape. 
For Counselor or Character.
Or Caring.
I'm going to wear it next time I present.

Today I'm super excited because I'm guest posting at CEP's blog; 
click the CEP graphic above to read all about my session called 
Character Is Our Super Power.

Will you be flying into DC for the Forum next month?
Don't forget early-bird registration through next Monday.
I'd love to see you there!


My Kindness Campaign

I've heard it said that kindness begets kindness
and I'm here to tell you that I'm finding it's true. 

As some of you know, our friends at Kind Spring encouraged participation in their 21-day Kindness Challenge and, 
now more than halfway through, my emotional reserve is overflowing.

 The more I look for ways to be kind, the more my heart swells
 with kind thoughts, words, and actions! 
And then, the more I reach out, the happier I feel. 
Here is some of the stuff that I've been able to do:

As I intentionally seize opportunities and open hearts with a kindness key, I can then savor the synergy of the Global Kindness Movement knowing I positively helped spin it in the right direction.

Next challenge ... to widen that circle of caring and share a kindness with a stranger. Care to join me on my kindness campaign?


Coming Home

It's that time again, when high school football teams celebrate Homecoming and students everywhere eagerly await to be reunited with their college-aged friends who are able to make it home. Do you have a Homecoming game?

Myrlene Kennedy (an Assistant Principal at FHS when I worked there and the Principal for a few years before moving to the District Administration Team) does such a great job of keeping in touch with former students and reaching out to them to welcome them back with a nice reception for their twenty-year class reunions. School pride and loyalty are important to Dr. Kennedy. Now in her 55th year of educating hearts and minds for the future, Dr. Kennedy started teaching before I was even born. I admire her passion and am inspired by her dedication. She amazes me. 

Anyway, Homecoming is a big deal here in Texas.

Just look at the yearbook page from last year's 
FHS Homecoming celebration:

Students select three Homecoming Queen candidates and the Football Team chooses three Football Sweetheart nominees from the senior class. At the game, they crown a Queen and a Sweetheart. Not only was the Sweetheart, Anna, an alumni of our elementary school and the older sister of one of the senior football players, she is also a student with developmental delays who has worked very hard to overcome obstacles and find success. 
It made my heart happy that she had been selected and was being honored with the title of Football Sweetheart! 
Just look at how precious she is and 
what a surprise it obviously was to hear her name announced. 
(See Jacob with his trumpet behind her top left?)

Yesterday I saw this news clip out of Huntsville, Texas, 
with coincidental similarities to Anna's story.
Click {here} to be inspired by these compassionate classmates who are mining for true beauty, inside and out.
 And whether this young lady wears the crown in the end or not, 
my guess is that she'll always feel like royalty.

Don't you just love good news?


Hope For Peace

Happy International Day Of Peace.

Do you know Socrate's Secret?

No fear can withstand the courage and love 
of the peaceful warrior.
Come along in this mystical masterpiece as Danny learns about being 
a peaceful warrior from Joy and her grandfather.

This amazing resource will positively inspire you
and maybe even fill you with hope, for peace.

Click {here} for Peace Day Lesson Plans 
from Unique Teaching Resources.

Click {here} for Parent Child Trauma Resource
 Review and Activities.

Read about Whirled Peace at John Fenwick Academy in NJ {here}.

Click {here} for our last year's Pinwheels for Peace event.

Click {here} to read more about Todd Parr's The Peace Book.

Check out The Peace Rose at Books That Heal Kids.

Visit Cara at First Grade Parade for a freebie Peacemaker booklet.

Then watch how my friend Laurel shares the message that it's
Cool To Be Kind.

Let there be peace on earth ... 
not just for a day, but for always.


PPBF: Super Hair-O And The Barber Of Doom

Today I'm excited about our book giveaway from Tuesday.
Let's congratulate Tanya. She's got a copy of the Standout College Application book coming her way since her comment was drawn from all of the college reflections. Thanks to everyone who entered.

I'm also excited because in a month I'll be in Washington D.C. 
at the National Forum to present a breakout session called 
Character Is Our Super Power. 
Take advantage of the early-bird discount through September 30th if you want to attend. I may even read today's PPBF aloud 'cause it's super adorable!

Title: Super Hair-O And The Barber Of Doom
Author and Illustrator:  John Rocco
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Date: May 21, 2013
Suitable for ages: 4-9
Themes: super hero, caring, friends
Brief Synopsis: Convinced that he gets his power from his hair, Rocco grows it longer as he gets stronger. Until one day he meets a fate that threatens to undo his superhero status. Will he and his peeps still have superpowers once the barber gets ahold of them?
Opening page:  
Every superhero gets his powers from somewhere. Photon Man had his ring. Robo Girl had her bionic arms. My superpowers came from my hair.

Click {here} for video trailer of the book.
Read a review from The Book Bandit {here}.
Visit Disney Dads {here} for another review.
Download a Super Power Homework Page for Parents {here}.
Meet Respect Renee {here} at Savvy School Counselor.

Have kids write and draw about their superpower. Click picture to download this reflection page from my friend Lisa, who first alerted me about this super tale.

Why I like this book:  Remember my review of Wolf! Wolf!? Perhaps I'm just a John Rocco fan, but I think he's got another superstar! In a stylish look reminiscent of an old comic book, this fun new title will give kids a humorous glimpse at the idea that a superpower can come from something external, like hair.

Explore the following with your superheros:  
What do the kids think about Rocco? 
Is his superhero ability really in his hair? 
How do they know?
What does Barber of Doom mean?
What's a villain's lair?
How about dastardly devil?
How are the heroes changed without their hair?
What do you notice about the little girl in the background?
How did the boys help her?
How did she help the boys?
Would it be fair to say that empathy is her superpower?
Then extend it:
What do you think about when you hear the term superhero?
Who is your superhero?
What is his/her superpower?

There's a built-in talking point for enrichment; 
find out what they think about the possibility that 
not all super heroes use their superpowers for good.
It might also be a good time for a graphic organizer comparing some of the old Comic Book superheroes to today's. 
How are they the same?
How are they different?

Do yourself a favor and put this super book in your orbit today!

And don't forget to stop by Super Susanna's blog 
to see everybody else's PPBF picks for today!   

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