I offered nine small groups during the 2017-2018 school year. Many of the groups were developed based on learner’s needs and teacher referrals. This year I was able to offer a small group experience for all kindergarten and 1st grade learners. I offered a social skill group based on the Sanford harmony curriculum. All 124 kindergarten students were able to participate in nine sessions in rotating groups of five students. It was a very positive experience because all students were included.
In doing the Mindset and Behavior tool at the beginning of the year and with the focus on self-regulation to help reach our school goals, I noticed a gap in academic achievement lessons. In previous years during core curriculum I have used a curriculum called “School of Champions: A study skills program for young students” by Rosanne Sheritz Sartori. Because of the decrease of lessons this year I could not do this curriculum in the classroom so I decided to pick out the best 6 lessons and run it as a small group for all 110 1st grade students in rotating groups of five students.
I also had the opportunity this year to collaborate with South Dakota State University and provide a co-facilitating group opportunity for counseling graduate students. Stephanie Fritz, Chelsea Molden, and I co facilitated two separate emotional regulation groups. During the second semester Cruz Trujillo Rodrigue; Rhiannon Nedland (SDSU Graduate Students) and I co facilitated the 3rd grade anxiety group. The experience was positive for all involved and it is a partnership that I plan to continue.
Most of the groups were developed to fill in gaps from the needs statement and to hit topics that aren’t taught during core curriculum or that are an extension of core curriculum. Most of the time students are selected based on teacher and parent recommendations.
The “focus” group highlighted in this section was chosen because it was developed to address the Gap Goal for student achievement By June 2018, the number of identified Gap Group students reading levels below benchmark will decrease from 56% in the 2016-2017 school year to 40% in the 2017-2018 school year. Students were chosen for this group based on their standard based report card scores in the section of social development and work habits after first quarter. I ran a report on Infinite Campus to identify the biggest needs in the 1st grade class. My report showed that 49 learners still had an emerging skill (depicted by a -) in one or more areas of social development and work habits. The highest numbers were in listening attentively (28) and staying on task (39). Learners that had emerging skills in both of these areas were invited to attend group totaling 16 participants. All those invited participated. Of those 16 participants, 7 were identified gap group students.
The lessons were modified from the scholastic “MindUp” curriculum and also used mindfulness activity taken from www.cosmickids.com a free resource for kid’s yoga and mindfulness videos. This was my first time running this particular group. My principal was able to observe one of the lessons as her feedback was “The students are so engaged! I love how you utilize every minute and that the lessons are giving learners a skill to be successful in the classroom. I love the integration of the mindfulness videos from Cosmic Kids! Learners think about what made them successful or not in the activity as well as how it can correlate to the classroom.”
Perception Data showed that averages for learners increased in all areas: I listen closely to what my teacher says (B-SS 1); it is easy for me to pay attention (B-SS 2); I know how to calm and focus my body (B-SMS 2); and I know what it means to be mindful (B-SMS 2.) I wanted these questions to be driven by chosen ASCA Mindset and Behaviors for Student Success: B-SMS 2. B-SS 1
Outcome data showed that four learners gained the skill listening attentively; five gained the skill staying on task; and 14 of the 16 participants made growth in some area of social development and work habits. Although the outcome data shows growth, next year I will create a better scale to show growth. Right now the +/- system is all or nothing. I would like to create a scale to see if group member make any progress, even if it wasn’t enough to warrant a + for that skill.