Ms. Rush's 1st Quarter Newsletter

School Counseling Info for 8th Grade

What New Things Did Quarter One Bring?

Sometimes parents think that school counselors only work with students who have significant needs. Not true! I work in direct service with all of my wonderful 8th Graders. I just taught a lesson in all of the 8th Grade Science classes, and met with 89% of the students for "Minute Meetings." (The only students I didn't see were the ones who were absent or otherwise occupied - but I will catch those kids for the spring "Minute Meetings.") Last year, we focused on Mindsets, and this year's emphasis is on Coping Skills.

"Minute Meetings with Ms. Rush" - Take a seat and let's meet! :)

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Capturing the Data!

The 8th Grade students are very knowledgeable about a variety of topics. I so enjoy working with them during school counseling classroom lessons; in fact, I learn as much from them as they learn from me. At the beginning of the lesson, I gave the students a pre-test to determine what background knowledge they had about the following concepts: coping, resilience, and persistence. After the lesson, I gave the students the same assessment (post-test) to gauge what knowledge they gained, as a result of my time in the classroom with them. The results are outlined in the images below.

DETAILS/SUMMARY

**The graph is the pre-test question (i.e., asked of the students before the lesson) and the pie chart below shows the responses for the same question, given during the post- test.** (Basically, I used Survey Monkey for the initial test and then switched to Google Apps for the post-test.)

63% of students could identify the definition of "coping" accurately, before the lesson.
80% of students could identify the definition of "coping" accurately, after the lesson.

71% of the students could identify the definition of "resilient" accurately, before the lesson.
93% of the students could identify the definition of "resilient" accurately, after the lesson.

Bottom line - the students gained knowledge as result of the instruction provided. Yay!
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Where Do We Go From Here?

The data shows that a majority of the students should readily be able to identify the meaning of the concepts cope, resilience, and persistence. We completed a few activities to ensure that they truly digested the meanings - the kids completed a brief vocabulary exercise and worked in pairs to analyze the lyrics to Shakira's "Try Everything" for evidence of portrayal of the concepts in the song.

My main goal now is to move the 8th grade students from analysis of these concepts to actual application. One of the best ways to apply, utilize, and exemplify the spirit of coping, persistence, and resilience is to set challenging personal goals. Each of the 8th Graders chose two goals - one academic/learning goal and one personal goal in an area of their choice. They completed the SMART goal form below and their homeroom teachers will be meeting with them once a quarter to help the kids monitor their progress in completion of those goals. The "Developing, monitoring and reporting on personal goals" image below shows the cycle shows what we will be trying to accomplish with the students during the quarterly reviews of their SMART goals. (Image of cycle below taken from www.education.vic.gov.au/studentlearning/studentreport.)

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8th Graders analyzing "Try Everything" song lyrics

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What Can You, as 8th Grade Parents, Do To Help?

Over the course of the school year, I will be working with the 8th Graders to provide direct instruction in the area of coping skills. We will discuss the importance of identifying coping skills that work for each individual student, and also will talk about the need to distinguish between positive coping skills and negative coping skills.

You can talk with your students now about the ideas of persisting in the face of difficulty, coping with adversity, and trying to develop resilience. You can also inform yourself about the mental health concerns currently facing our youth - I suggest that all parents Google the term "student fragility" to learn more about students in crisis. There is a lot of current research available for parents that emphasizes the need for our students to develop strong coping skills before they leave your homes to attend college, or enter the work force.

Tidbits I've Learned, and would like to pass on....

Facts:

1. Students best commit information to memory when they make personal connections between the new information they are trying to learn, and their own life experiences (this practice is called "deep encoding" and we tried it in the classroom - the kids wrote a few sentences about how the ideas of coping, persistence, or resilience related to their personal lives) - source: Deep versus shallow encoding study by Craik and Tulving

2. Most of the 8th Graders cannot name 5 coping skills (this will change after we have our next coping skills lesson)

3. WCPSS has a great link for parents who are applying to Magnet schools - access the link below to see if your student will have any sort of priority in the application process, based on your home address: http://wcpss.net//site/Default.aspx?PageID=4501

Check out the 8th Graders' Career Interests!

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