Odd Girl Speaks Out Small Group Series Part I: Sessions 1 & 2

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I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to see all of my middle schoolers in small groups by taking a part of each class from Library about 5 times throughout the school year. My middle school groups are divided into girl’s and boy’s groups, and we cover topics like conflict resolution, body image, gender stereotypes, and communication skills.

The group that I will be sharing in this series is my middle school girls 5th grade small group, which I have based around the book Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons. For those of you who are not familiar with that book, it includes stories written by real girls about their experiences with things like peer conflict, cliques, and popularity {issues that are VERY real in the lives of my 5th grade girls}. Today I will tell you about how I run the first two sessions of this group, and over the next two weeks, I will be posting about the other 3 sessions, so you will have all of the resources to implement this group with your students.

*I begin all of my small group sessions with a check in, which consists of what we refer to as “pows” and “wows.” A “pow” is a bad or disappointing thing that has happened recently, and a “wow” is a good or exciting thing that has happened. This allows me to quickly check in with students and assess how they are doing, while giving them an opportunity to learn more about their peers.


Middle School Girls 5th Grade Small Group – Odd Girl Speaks Out – Sessions 1 & 2

Session #1

  1. Check-ins {*see above note for that process}
  2. Introduce the small group and it’s purpose to the students.
  3. Facilitate development of group rules {I usually make a small poster with the rules they create to hang in my office during their future group sessions.}
  4. Play icebreaker game {This year I have been playing the game 2 truths and a lie to serve as an icebreaker and get them excited about group.}
  5. Introduce the book Odd Girl Speaks Out by Rachel Simmons, and explain that the group will be reading stories from this book during group sessions.
  6. Read “Growing from the Pain” story from Odd Girl Speaks Out {pg. 8}. — The author of this story writes about a girl named Alyssa who made the her life miserable in middle school by spreading rumors and attempting to turn her friends against her. The author later realized that Alyssa’s popularity was fueled by people being afraid of her, and she decided not to give Alyssa any power over her anymore by letting it go. The author writes that she is thankful for her experiences with Alyssa because they made her a stronger person.
  7. Discuss the story as a group.
  8. Introduce activity: Give each student a piece of paper, and instruct the group to write at least one thing that happened last year that they are choosing to let go of. Have them think about pointless drama or things they are holding on to that can be let go. Each member will shred her paper and vow to let it go and start the year with a clean slate.

 

Session #2

  1. Check-Ins
  2. Review group rules
  3. Read “She Copied Me” from Odd Girl Speaks Out {pg. 61}. — This story is written by a girl who was constantly “copied” by another girl name Mara. She writes about how annoyed she was every time Mara copied her and tried too hard to be her friend, and she recounts being very mean to Mara in order to get her to stop. When Mara decides to move on and search for someone else to be friends with, the author of the story realizes that she probably missed out on a really good friend because she was so petty and mean.
  4. Break students into dyads to answer the following questions {I normally print these questions on slips of paper to give to the pairs as they talk to each other}:
    • Do you relate to anyone in the story?
    • How to you think Mara felt, and why do you think she “tried too hard”?
    • When someone copies you, do you think it’s annoying or flattering?
    • What could the girl who was copied have done differently?
  5. Come back as a group, and allow students to share their answers
  6. Talk about the following quotes from the story:
    • “If trying to be her friend was that hard, I couldn’t imagine being her friend.”
    • “I obviously made the wrong choice.”
    • “If people don’t like you for who you are, then don’t bother being their friend. You are special in your own way.”
  7. Introduce activity: Pass out black squares of construction paper, and instruct group members to write or draw at least 3 things that make they dyad partner unique or special. Allow girls to share what they wrote/drew with the group {see examples below}.

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*Just a small note about the book: there are some sections that have language more appropriate for high school age students, so be sure to screen each section before reading. Sometimes I omit a particular word if I think it is inappropriate for my students.

Check back next week to see my curriculum for the following group session!


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