The Brighton Education Fund is providing staged funding for the development of a Counseling Library at Council Rock Primary School. The library will provide a rich collection of children's literature that focuses on a wide variety of family and mental health topics. A unique aspect of this project is that the literature collection will be enriched by the development of a set of activity suggestions for each book. The activities will provide teachers, parents, and counselors a framework within which to simultaneously address a child's counseling need and build on the 6+1 writing traits that are emphasized throughout the K-12 writing program in Brighton.
Mark Henretta, a counselor at Council Rock, is the prime mover behind this project. He is collaborating with Maryanne Bieter, Council Rock Media Specialist, in making literature selections and with Libby Jachles, ELA Specialist, in developing activity suggestions.
The first funding phase enabled the purchase of 83 children's books that embrace a wide variety of mental health topics including:
The selections are written at a variety of reading levels and provide a variety of opportunities to focus on the different 6+1 writing traits. The project planners purchased hardcover books that will withstand frequent use.
During the 2003-2004 school year, Mark Henretta prototyped this approach, developing bibliographies to provide parents with appropriate literature around topics their children were experiencing. Parents were very grateful for these resources. He also developed activity suggestions for a few literature selections. He and others at Council Rock found it extremely helpful to be able to immediately access this material as children presented issues that were impacting their lives. Teachers and parents reported that the follow up activities in the classroom and at home were helpful in facilitating discussions about the areas impacting the children.
A typical use of the fledgling library involved a child who had experienced a family change. In working with this child, Mark read one of the literature selections that targeted changes in family. He and the child took turns reading and then discussed the story to make connections to her situation. They then worked on a project highlighting the areas we discussed. Part of the project involved writing and focused on the 6 + 1 writing trait of organization. The student initially worked on the project in Mark's office, then continued working on the writing part of the project in her classroom. A few weeks later she and Mark finished the project in his office. The student's teacher reported that the writing assignment was a very productive use of her writing workshop time. The child was very excited about her work and eager to show other adults, which provided the child with additional opportunities to discuss her situation and feel supported by other adults around her.
During the summer and the 2004-2005 school year, Mark Henretta will continue working with Libby Jachles to develop activity suggestions for each selection. The activity suggestions will outline the topics covered in each book, areas to discuss with children, activities for children that focus on the literature and their own life situations, and writing strategies that highlight the 6 +1 writing traits. Click here to see a sample Activity Sheet.
Brighton Education Fund is committed to supporting a second round of literature purchases as the work on activity sheets progresses.
story and photo provided by Mark Henretta
July 31, 2004