Monday, January 7, 2013

5th Grade Class Council

In 5th grade, we have finished two units: Bullying, and Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention. Check out the letter below explaining these two units, and then admire the “Thankful Wreath” some of the 5th grade girls made for Miss Wheeler during their “Girls Get the Message” group run by Girls, Inc. of New Hampshire.

November 26, 2012

Dear parents(s)/guardian(s) of 5th grade students,

I hope you all had an enjoyable holiday break and were able to spend time with friends and family. I wanted to take this time to give you an update on the class council lessons that I have been teaching in 5th grade so far this year.

The 5th graders just finished up an extensive unit on bullying prevention. They reviewed how to identify bullying situations and recognize that bullying is dangerous and harmful; therefore, they know an adult must be told when they experience or witness bullying. Students also identified reasons people might bully and what it might feel like to be bullied about differences. Perhaps most importantly, they identified strategies to protect themselves from bullying and help others who are being bullied. Cyber safety was also addressed in this unit. If you or your student have any concerns about bullying, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

Now that we have finished up our bullying unit, we are moving on to drug and alcohol abuse prevention. Through the use of age-appropriate videos and research-based curriculum, students will develop a basic understanding of the dangerous and harmful effects that drugs and alcohol can have on the brain and body. They will identify reasons people may use drugs and alcohol and understand the consequences of decisions related to drug and alcohol abuse. Students will also learn about peer pressure and identify strategies to deflect this pressure. Finally, students will apply effective problem-solving and decision-making skills in order to make safe and healthy choices.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime either at the school phone number or by email ( I am really enjoying getting to know your children; the 5th graders are a very smart and creative group!

Amy Wheeler 
School Counselor, Grades 1, 3 and 5

"Thankful Wreath"

3rd Graders and the Unthinkables

The third graders worked VERY hard to create their own Unthinkables. Check out the drawings below and at the bottom of the post, a letter sent home to the parents explains what the Unthinkables are. Also included: Miss Wheeler's holiday door decoration: What Would the Unthinkables Want for Christmas? The 3rd and 5th graders brainstormed all of the ideas and created all of the "gifts."
3rd Grade New Unthinkables:

Silly Willy: Makes you silly at inappropriate times
 Rotten Ralph: Makes you not want to brush your teeth
 Mat Man: Makes you act like a doormat
Icee Iguana: Makes you pretend to be sick so you can stay home from school
Candy Eater: Makes you eat too much candy
 Music Box: Makes you hum or sign at inappropriate times
Funny Funster: Makes you make jokes at inappropriate times
Bored Billy: Makes you bored during class
Sleepy Me: Makes you fall asleep in math class
Beauty Judy: Makes you only focused on your looks
And those are just a few!

Here is the letter that was sent home:

December 11, 2012
Dear parent(s)/guardian(s),

As we are nearing the end of 2012 and approaching the beginning of 2013, I just wanted to give you an update on the class council lessons that I have been teaching in 3rd grade so far this year.

We started off the school year identifying and noticing expected and unexpected behaviors. Using Social Thinking curriculum, we have considered how our behavior affects how others think and feel about us. Most importantly, the students have learned that they can change how other people think and feel about them by changing their own behavior.

For instance, at school a teacher might say, “It is unexpected for you to be talking to your friend while I am teaching. I am feeling uncomfortable because it seems like you are not listening to what I am saying. If you can be quiet while I am talking, I will know you are doing your best to listen and learn.” This language could be used at home as well, if you are interested in utilizing it.

Each child also identified at least one unexpected behavior that they sometimes do and created an Unthinkable to go along with that behavior.  The students learned that the Team of Unthinkables are imaginary characters that get in your brain and try to take control of your thinking. Superflex is the superhero who provides kids with strategies to “defeat” their Unthinkables.

For instance, DOF (Destroyer of Fun) makes people too competitive. A Superflex strategy to defeat DOF is to tell yourself, “If I stay calm and remind myself, ‘It’s just a game,’ then people will think I am a good sport and will want to play with me again.” The 3rd graders were very creative and together thought of over 40 NEW Unthinkables that you can see displayed on a bulletin board near the front lobby.

After we return from the holiday break, we will begin a unit on conflict resolution. If you have any questions or concerns about your student, please feel free to contact me anytime either at the school phone number or by email ( I am really enjoying getting to know your children; they are a great bunch! 

Amy Wheeler
School Counselor, Grades 1, 3 and 5

Unthinkables Door Decoration:


First Graders Finish I-Care Cat Unit

Well, it's been quite a while since the school counselors have had time to blog. 2012 turned out to be a very busy year! We are in the process of catching up on posting, so in the meantime, we thought we would share some letters that have gone home so far this year for various grades with some examples of completed work. 

First up: 1st grade! Unfortunately, I didn't remember to photocopy any examples of the first graders I-Care-Cat books, but hopefully if you are a first grade parent, you saw them when they came home with this letter way back on November 14th.

Dear First Grade parent(s)/guardian(s),

I hope the beginning of the school year has been great for you and your child. I have really been enjoying getting to know all of them and work with them to improve their skills. I have seen every child during class council lessons once a week in their classroom, most children in small lunch groups, and some children individually, based on their needs.

In class council, we are just finishing up our I-Care-Cat unit. During the past few weeks, the first graders have met the I-Care-Cat puppet, learned his five rules, and created a book to help them remember the rules. The students should have brought their books home with this letter. You can ask them to explain what each rules means, and how it helps make them a better friend. The rules are:

1)      We Listen to Each Other
2)      Hands are for Helping
3)      We Use I-Care Language
4)      We Care About Each Others’ Feelings
5)      We are Responsible for What We Say and Do

If you can help to reinforce these ideas at home, that would be very helpful. The children all have this language now and can be prompted to remember, “Which I-Care-Cat rule should you be following right now?”

Please feel free to contact me anytime with any questions or concerns about your child via email (listed below) or phone at the school number. I look forward to working closely with you and your children. Thank you!

                                                                                    Amy Wheeler
                                                                                    School Counselor, Grades 1, 3 and 5

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Welcome Back from Your DBS School Counselors!

Welcome back to DBS! The 2012-2013 school year is just about to start and we are very excited to see all our students and their families!

As you may know, the school counselors at DBS stay with the students as they move from grade to grade. This year, Rebecca Lallier will be working with kindergarten, second, and fourth grade students. Amy Wheeler, our new school counselor, will be working with first, third, and fifth graders. We work with ALL students - teaching in the classrooms, running groups, and working with individual students who need some help with feelings, friendships, and/or behavior. Here's some more information about what we do. Click on the image to enlarge.

School counseling today may be quite different from what you remember from your own school experience. Gone are the days when you only saw the school counselor if you were "troubled" or needed to change your class schedule. (And chances are that you called that person your guidance counselor - a term which is no longer used since we now provide a much broader array of services. Please don't call us the "g-word"!) Now we are known as school counselors and we provide comprehensive programs that include prevention, as well as intervention, to help kids learn and be successful in the areas of academics, personal-social skills, and career preparation. Here's a brief (and amusing) video that explains comprehensive school counseling:

Kids will see us often in their classrooms and around the school. They can ask us for help any time by speaking with us or leaving us a note. You can do the same. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your child. You can reach us by calling school at 802.295.8647 or emailing us:

Rebecca Lallier (grades K, 2, 4) 
Amy Wheeler (grades 1, 3, 5)

Watch here for pictures, student work, and information about our class councils and other school counseling programs. You can subscribe to DBS School Counselor by clicking the email or RSS feed links on the right hand of the top of this page. And stay tuned for our new webpage, coming this fall. We look forward to seeing you at Open House on Tuesday, September 18 from 6:00-7:00pm.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Talk to Children About the Recent Shooting

Tragic events like the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado can be very disturbing to children (not to mention adults). Because going to the movies is such a common activity for kids, the possibility of something similar happening to them or someone they love can seem all the more real. Even if they are not talking about it, it is very likely that they are thinking about it, especially given the amount of media coverage that they have probably seen and heard.

It is important to talk with kids about their concerns, but it's sometimes hard to know where to begin. Here is a link to a guide for parents from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network - Talking to Children About the Shooting.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Brainy Otters

Kids at DBS know a LOT about their brains! In the past few weeks, kindergartners and first graders learned that their brains help them learn, feel, move, sense, breathe, make friends, and solve problems. They made brain hats, which they wore to our Healthy Brain assembly.

Second graders learned about neurons (brain cells) and that healthy neurons have lots of dendrites. (We looked at pictures of healthy and unhealthy mouse neurons!) They also learned about neurotransmission -- how our brain sends electrical signals through our bodies -- and showed how it works by turning themselves into a string of neurons sending a signal. They colored neurons, which now fill two bulletin boards in the hallways.

Third graders reviewed neurotransmission and learned about the parts of the brain and what they do. They assembled brain puzzles that are hanging all over the school.

Fourth graders learned about the brain's left and right hemispheres, and about what happens in the synapses (the spaces between the neurons) to make neurotransmission possible. They also learned about what happens in the brain when a person becomes addicted -- to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or video games.

Fifth graders reviewed everything they already knew (which is a lot!) and learned about how brains are studied in laboratories. They also learned about the effects on the brain of alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, and stimulants such as cocaine and amphetamines.

In all grades, kids talked about ways to keep their brains healthy -- by playing, being physically active, solving problems, reading, building, doing puzzles, imagining, and creating.  We talked about how too much screentime (TV, videogames, and computer) takes up the time that they could be doing things that are fun AND good for your brain.

We had a fun and entertaining Healthy Brain/Screentime Turnoff kick-off assembly, our best ever so far! Mrs. McCullar's 5th grade class did a skit of a game show contest between the Brain Boosters and the Screen Team. Guess who won! The Screen Team had a very hard time meeting the physical and mental challenges, and the Brain Boosters left them in the dust! Mrs. Thompson's 4th grade class performed an epic poem that they wrote as a class called "Want to Keep Your Brain Healthy?" Mrs. Torrey's 4th grade did a skit based on the book Mouse TV, in which a large family of mice finds out that they have more fun doing the activities that they have seen on TV than they do just watching them. Mrs. Vielleux's class presented ideas for fun ideas to do instead of screentime and presented their bright and beautiful banners about healthy brains, which the whole audience read aloud. The Otter and Clifford the Big Red Dog made a special appearance to remind the kids how important it is to read. The second grade led us in singing "Take Back Your Brain." Since it is an annual tradition, the 3rd through 5th graders knew the song too, and the younger kids quickly learned the chorus. The gym was rocking!

Want to listen to it at home? (The kids love it and it's got a GREAT message! Download it here for free!

Brain-O-Mania was a great success (watch for pictures coming soon) and the kids (and some parents, too) were so excited to see the real brains and participate in brain-healthy activities.

All week the kids have been talking about the things they are doing instead of screentime. There has been conversation about hiking, catching frogs, bike riding, fort building, family board game night, arts and crafts, and much more. The wonderful collection in the lobby of recycled sculptures that kids have made at home  grows every day. Kids are earning otters by reading at home in the You Otter Read read-a-thon. Each class is competing to see which one can earn the most otters -- the class that does will win a pizza lunch with the Otter!

Watch for more pictures of the assembly, Brain-O-Mania, and recycled sculptures to come!