Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Technology in Counseling

As a faculty member in the Master of Education in School Counseling program at American Public University (APUS), I have the opportunity to work and collaborate with amazing individuals that are advocates in school counseling and the counseling profession in general. Below is a link to a blog post on technology usage in school counseling, headed by my program director that I was able to contribute to. While reading it, think about how technology enhances the (school) counseling work that you do in recordkeeping, counseling, and connecting with parents, the community and other professionals. Counseling students, please reflect on how you can be more efficient in your practice with the use of various technology resources. Also, how does technology negatively impact students and school age clients you work with?


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sometimes all you need is....bubbles!

I have a lot of practicum students that when making their initial transition from book learning to application, naturally feel reserved and hesitant when approaching their first individual counseling session. How do I get students/clients to open up and talk to me? How do I apply theory to practice? How do I know if I'm asking the right questions? These are all normal feelings and questions newbies experience and with time and practice the comfort and confidence comes.

I love when situations that arise for practicum/internship students come up in my own practice as a counselor. Recently, I was working with a 7 year old client that frequently broke out into tears, didn't talk, and was overall emotionally immature for their age. These clients can be quite hard to work with because how can you help them work through a problem when you don't know what the problem or cause of the problem is?! When working with this client, I decided to "get back to basics" and really take the extra time to work on forming a connection. To do this, I used bubbles. We simply sat together and blew bubbles. After a few minutes, I noticed the clients expression and demeanour became more relaxed and calm. The second time I did this with them, I simply asked an open ended question, "How has your day been?" and they started talking, and talking, and talking!!

By allowing clients, especially younger clients, to be physically engaged in an activity; drawing, playing with sand, blowing bubbles, or using some other manipulative, they naturally become more relaxed and expressive. Building a positive rapport with all clients you work with is the foundation of the helping relationship. While doing this you get to know them, their interests, how they handle different situations, and their outlook on life. With this information and established relationship you're able to help them work through their presenting issues. The questions from my practicum students and the recent client situation I had served as great reminders to "get back to the basics" and slow down to build that relationship with clients (which might take longer for some than others) while doing something interactive and fun. So, whether you're a new or seasoned counselor; remember to work on building a rapport with your clients and when in doubt...get out the bubbles!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NEW ASCA National Model Webinar!

The new ASCA National Model is officially available for purchase! What better way for novice, seasoned, and inquiring counselors to prepare for the upcoming academic year then to attend a webinar to learn about the changes in terminology and updates to the National Model. To learn more and register for the webiner click here and be sure to get your copy to access the newest tools in the school counseling profession!

Friday, April 20, 2012

1st & 2nd Accepting Differences

For the last rotation of classroom guidance, my co-counselor Cassandra wanted to focus on transition, fitting in, and accepting self and others for who they are. Two books she felt did an excellent job doing this (and I agree!) are Perfectly You and Ellison the Elephant. In the lesson, these topics were discussed, the stories were read, and students had the opportunity to demonstrate their comprehension of the activities while sharing with others what makes them special and unique.

1st grade

Written by one of my favorite Julia's! :) This book covers a wide area of topics for discussion; including, loving your body, eating healthy foods, exercise, accepting yourself, try new things, being positive, the importance of talking to others you trust when you need support, believing in yourself, and being kind to others. After reading the story and having a group discussion, students completed the shield of self-confidence from Small Group Counseling for Children. Students were explained that a shield was used to protect knight's in battle in the same way that believing in yourself and being confident protects you from mean things others might say or do.

2nd grade

This story focused on fitting in and acceptance in yourself and others. After reading this story and having a group discussion, students completed the my personal rainbow activity sheet from That's My Story Too! Students had the chance to see that everyone's rainbow was different and beautiful, much like all of us are different and special in our own way.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Testing Pep Rally

Before spring break, the local minor league baseball team came to our school to host 2 pep rallies!! The K-2 Pep Rally focused on summer reading and preparing for the transition to the next grade. The 3-5 Pep Rally focused on preparing for state testing. For the 3-5 rally, we started off with students singing the testing songs they learned/practiced in music and classroom guidance. For both rallies, students and teachers participated in different activities; including, the fry toss, hula hoop relay, webkins toss, vacation relay, and the pretzel toss. To end both assemblies they enjoyed watching teachers sumo wrestle! The pep rallies were a great opportunity for students to get excited for upcoming transitions and have some fun before state testing. We will certainly ROCK the test!!

Friday, March 30, 2012

4th & 5th grade musical TeSt PrEp!

I had the opportunity to collaborate with my friend and colleague Jenny, the music teacher at my school, to rewrite some popular songs (making them about testing), record her singing them, and both of us cover them during classroom guidance/music. The 4th grade song was the Lazy Song originally by Bruno Mars and 5th grade sang Test Time Baby , originally Ice Ice Baby from Vanilla Ice. :) Music is a great way to help students remember key points of testing (and other important concepts) in a fun and catchy way! I so enjoyed collaborating with the music teacher and look forward to doing it again in the future.

During classroom guidance, 4th graders also did a skit about test taking from Skits, Raps, & Poems for the School Counselor. 5th grade completed the activity Keys to Success from Puzzle Pieces: Classroom Guidance Connection K-5 where emphasis was placed on following directions, concentrating, and thinking before making a selection. Even though covering testing strategies isn't the most exhilarating topic, by introducing material in a fun and engaging way, students (and the counselor) wont shudder when the words 'Today we're going to talk about test taking strageties' come up.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Test StReSs First Aid w/ 3rd grade!

With testing season upon us, and the 3rd graders experiencing state testing for the first time, I introduced them to my 'Test Stress First Aid Kit' created using Puzzle Pieces: Classroom Guidance Connection K-5. In this activity, students identified different items within the first aid kit that they can use to help them be successful at taking tests; items included: a picture of an island (positive thoughts/happy memories), a pair of glasses (have all your tools with you, look at the teacher/follow along/don't move ahead), a stethoscope (listen to the teacher/directions), pencils (be prepared, use number 2 pencils that are provided), alarm clock (get to school on time, take your time), plastic food items (eat a healthy breakfast), ice pack (chill out, keep your cool), a pillow (get a good nights sleep), a stress ball (don't stress/relaxation techniques), and a picture of a brain (think about the answers, process of elimination). Using visuals is a great way to keep students engaged and to use various learning styles to help them remember what we discussed. At the end of the lesson we sang "Don't Worry Be Happy" with the words rearranged about testing. The words were obtained from the ASCA listserve and the music was provided by my counseling friend, Deanna that collaborated with a teacher to sing/record the music.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

K-2 Friendship

K-2 students have just completed a guidance rotation on friendship. First they discussed what it means to be a friend and how they are friendly to others. They then read a story about friendship (below are the books read to each grade level) and as a reflection discussed and participated in the activity, Words that Help or Hurt Friendships from the Creative Small Groups for Grades K-5 activity book.

Books on Friendship:

K- How to be a Friend

2nd grade- Enemy Pie

Enemy Pie is also available online with graphics at http://www.storylineonline.net/!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

4th & 5th grade Friendship

4th graders learned the do's and don'ts regarding apologies and how to give a sincere apology from the book Sorry by Trudy Ludwig. In this activity, students discussed the importance of apologies, how to give and receive one, and how actions speak louder than words-showing someone your sorry rather than just saying it. Discussion questions and extension activities were used from the book, That's My Story Too! In this activity students also had the opportunity to share their likes with classmates to build relationships. They also identified qualities they look for in a friend and qualities they possess that make them a good friend.

5th grades participated in a discussion on friendship/peer relationships and did a skit from the book, Skits, Raps, and Poems For the School Counselor. In this activity, students discussed the difficulty in getting along with others, what kinds of problems they have with friends, and the different ways they attempt to resolve their conflicts. In the skit, extreme behaviors/personalities are presented that are sometimes present in friendship issues: aggression, tattling, jealousy/control, talkative, and low self-esteem/confidence. As a reflection, students had the opportunity to share how they would handle different situations where friends (or themselves) felt or displayed these adverse behaviors.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

3rd grade recipe for friends

A great book to read with 3rd graders on friendship is What's the Recipe for Friends? by Greg Williamson. Just like a recipe for a cake or pie needs the right ingredients to taste good, a friendship needs the right ingredients too. After sharing ingredients that make a cake (flour, sugar, butter, etc.) students were asked what ingredients are needed in a friendship (politeness, kindness, sharing, etc.). There are ingredients that can be added to much or that shouldn't be added at all that can spoil a recipe. Students had the opportunity to discuss ingredients/components that would make a cake and a friendship spoiled and/or ruined. After reading the story, students created their own recipe from the book Spectacular Guidance Activities for Kids. Students were able to identify many qualities that are needed for a friendship to be successful and were able to see that we all focus on different components/qualities in our friendships, and that's ok too! It's also important to emphasis to students that we can't expect from others, what we're not willing to give ourselves. It's a great reflective piece to have students think about what they can do to enhance their friendships.

Friday, March 2, 2012

4th & 5th grade Career Awareness

4th grade

To enhance awareness of different occupations while identifying individual skills, interests, and abilities, 4th graders completed a career scavenger hunt from the book Making the Link: Helping Children Link School Habits with the World of Work (grades 2-5), where they asked questions of peers i.e. Does someone in your family work in a career that works with cars? Do you think good behavior is important in a career? Can you think of three careers you might want to have when you grow up? After allowing time to interview peers, we went through each item and students shared their interests. This activity was a great way for students to positively interact with each other while exploring careers and making the connection between school and the world of work.

5th grade

In 5th grade, I used my National Board lesson to present to students key terms; including, job, job description, career path, and career cluster. After learning about these key terms, students completed a group activity where they read a career path, identified the different jobs that individual had, what all those jobs had in common, and the career cluster of that job. Students then applied this knowledge to themselves by identifying the things they are doing now to help prepare for a future job (getting to school on time, wearing appropriate clothing, doing their personal best, working well with others, etc.) and what their interests are to determine what careers they might like to have based on interests, skills, and abilities. Exploring career clusters is a great way to introduce terms and language that will be used in middle school, where they will spend more time on interest inventories, participating in a career class/exploratory, and later participation in Individual Graduation Plan (IGP) conferences to determine course of study based on future interests and goals.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pasta 4 Pennies

February 6-24th we collected change for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Pasta 4 Pennies is a great way to get students involved and help make a difference in the lives of children suffering from Leukemia. No matter how much or how little a student was able to contribute, every penny certainly added up!!! The class that won the pasta party from Olive Garden collected over $400 with the school total of $3,907.94!!! What an amazing amount of money raised in 3 short weeks. Our school really does ROCK!!

Learning about good blood cells during the Pasta 4 Pennies Assembly

Bad blood cells at the assembly

Captain Chemo saving the day!

Monday, February 27, 2012

National School Counseling Wk. Recap

With the end of February upon us, I thought it would be a great time to wrap-up some of the exciting things that have happened at my school; including, National School Counseling Week! National School Counseling Week was February 6-10th and each day we did a different activity to promote the school counseling program. On Monday, student received stickers that said "My School Counselor Helps Me Succeed!" and an Acts of Kindness Bingo Board to complete during the week. On Tuesday, the school counselors were on the morning show and read "Roses are pink, your feet really stink" by Diane deGroat. It is a book on friendship and the importance of saying nice things to others. Wednesday was college logo day! Students and faculty got to wear a college logo from their favorite school. Teachers also shared with students information about their college experience. On Thursday, students had the opportunity to complete an activity sheet called "One thing I like about _____ is...." and give it to a classmate. Every student in the building was able to receive a nice 'note' from someone in their class! Friday was career dress up day where students got to dress up as the career they would like to have one day. Overall, National School Counseling Week was a huge success thanks to everyones participation. Click here for a copy of the activities that were completed during the week.

Kindergarten students during College Logo Day!

A second grade class sharing their careers with each other during Career Dress Up Day!

So many students & staff participated in Acts of Kindness Bingo!

National School Counseling Week was the same week as the Pasta 4 Pennies kick-off!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

3rd grade Career Awareness

A few weeks ago (before I began STAR testing!) I did a unit on Career Awareness. I always try to do it after we have Career Day to allow students to gain a sense of different careers before we start talking about them in classroom guidance. For third grade this year, we created Career Sundaes from the book Counselors' Pages and explored the website http://www.bridges.com/. To create the Career Sundae, students identified a job they might like to have when they were finished with school and wrote it on the dish, they identified the education needed for that job and put it on the whipped cream, 3 duties/responsibilities were listed on the ice cream scoops, 3 things that you need to do well to do the job were listed on the hot fudge, and 3 tools needed for the job were listed on the strawberries. This was a wonderful, hands on activity that allowed students to think about their future and more importantly make the connection between how what they are doing now in school is linked to their future career. Bridges.com/Paws in Jobland is a wonderful website that allows students to gain information on different jobs/careers, career clusters, and play an interactive game/quiz to determine what jobs they might like based on their interests and skills.

A sample of Career Sundaes made by 3rd graders

A snapshot of the places to explore in Jobland


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Baking Up" School Success with 2nd graders

In 2nd grade this week, my co-counselor Cassandra has focused on school success. To do this, she used an activity from the Puzzle Pieces book (LOVE Diane Senn!) called, Baking Up School Success. During this interactive lesson, students identified the skills/ingredients needed to be successful in school (listening, participating, using time wisely, following classroom procedure, completing assignments, etc.). As a reflection to ensure comprehension from the lesson, students had the opportunity to draw/write the skills/ingredients they need to have to be successful in school. Students also shared the ingredient(s) they need to work on/stock up in their pantry, to be more successful in school.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

K & 1 Academic Success


Howard B. Wigglebottom revisits kindergarten while teaching listening skills in Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen. Students read the animated book while identifying the importance of being a good listener at school. While reviewing the different components of being a good listener, student complete an animated activity and sing songs to help them remember all the ways they need to listen and how to listen with their whole body. Students love when Howard visits their class!

1st grade

To review the importance of listening and how it helps them be successful at school, students hear the story Listen Buddy and discuss how they use their whole body to listen and why it's important to be a good listener. Students then complete an interactive coloring activity where they are instructed to color different parts of the bunny different colors. They have to use their listening skills to know what to color i.e. color the bunnies nose pink, color the bunnies tail green, etc. Students then compare their bunny to the counselors to see if they match!

5th grade Internet Safety

A special thank you to Ms. Fowler, Internet Safety Education Coordinator from the State Office of the Attorney General for taking the time to come to our school to facilitate a parent night and speak to our 5th graders about Internet Safety. It is very apparent that your heart is with education, everyone really found the information you shared to be so valuable! Thank you for the pencils, brochures, and parent/child internet safety contracts- they will be of great value when parents talk with their children about appropriate use of the internet.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Self Esteem with Adolescent Girls

I recently had the opportunity to be the guest speaker for a Girl Power Group at B Balanced LLC. The Girl Power Group was lead by B Balanced owner Brittany Todd (ACE, RYT). During the group, girls participate in fitness, nutrition, and self-esteem building exercises. Recently they focused on goal setting and she requested that I speak with the girls about self-esteem. When planning my hour and a half presentation/discussion, I naturally thought about the Self Esteem Toolkit by Dove and particularly the video that was created about body image and the media. I adapted the toolkit for my presentation and before ending the session with an open discussion, included from the School Counselor Blog "It's what's on the inside that counts" activity. At the end of the discussion, Brittany had the girls complete an interactive quiz about food and nutrition then concluded the 3 hour group with an hour of Zumba with the girls. I had a wonderful time collaborating with a passionate health and wellness professional that shares my vision of supporting young women in developing physical and emotional health.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Promoting Academic Success with 4th & 5th Graders

4th grade

To convey the importance of listening and how it contributes to academic success, students played the Listening Game. Students were given cards with information on them that they could not share with their classmates. They were then given three directions: read the directions carefully and accurately, pay attention to what everyone else in the room does, and be confident in your ability to do what is asked. The first time students sat confused, not knowing what to do, and if they did get started with their task, several students would start doing what their card asked and make errors. I then allowed students to ask me up to 4 questions, this allowed them to have a better understanding of the task and what was required of them. Again, most classes made errors and were unsuccessful in completing the task. For the third try, I allowed to students to share with their table mates what their card said to keep them accountable to each other and to help each other out. After this attempt, it was almost certain that they were able to successfully complete the task and they then requested to do it again because of how much fun they were having.

At the end of the activity, I asked students if they were all capable of doing what was asked of them (YES!). I then reminded them that through the combination of: reading the directions carefully, understanding what was asked of them, being confident in their own abilities, asking questions for clarification, and relying on each other as support they were able to do the task successfully. I then said, how many of us have made mistakes or gotten a question or two wrong on an assignment because of careless errors (almost all raised their hands). I then told them that this activity was to remind them of all the important things they need to do to be successful with different activities they complete.

5th grade

To begin the activity, I asked "What does stress had to do with academic success?" students then shared if you are stressed they you aren't going to do a good job on your assignments. I then asked "Is it ok to be stressed?" the answer was yes and it's what you do about it that matters most! I then shared that we all experience stress from time to time and the better able we are at coping and handling it now, the better we will be able to handle it in the future. I then distributed copies of The Stress Cycle for them to complete while we read a packet I created that included pages from Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves where students learned: stresses job description, causes of stress, gauging their own stress level, how a little bit of stress can be helpful/motivating, what to do when feeling stressed, and daily ways to keep stress at bay. Students were able to see that it's ok to feel stressed but when their body tells them they are getting stressed/symptoms of stress (sweaty palms, heart racing, headache, feeling hot, tight muscles, etc.) they need to do something to help them calm down and use positive coping strategies to work through it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

3rd grade Learning Styles

I recently completed a 3rd grade classroom guidance lesson where we discussed and identified learning styles. We first discussed the connection between learning styles and academic success. I asked the students, "Do you ever spend time studying and for whatever reason feel like the information sometimes just doesn't stick? If so then maybe you aren't using your learning style to help you remember the information." The students watched a Streamline video clip called, Everyone Learns in a Different Way. We identified the three main learning styles, what they mean, and examples from each. We then played a game from the Small Group Counseling for Children (grades 2-5) book where students heard questions and selected one of the three answers that was most like them: the eye card (visual learner), ear card (auditory learner), or hand card (kinesthetic learner). At the end of the activity whichever card they had the most of was their identified learning style. Students then completed an activity sheet I made for them where they circled their learning style and two or three strategies they would use the next time they were trying to learn/remember new information.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Career Day 2012

Friday was Career Day from 8-11 where we had over 45 presenters share their career with CD-5th grade students. Each presenter was assigned to a classroom and classes did five rotations of twenty minute presentations with ten minute breaks/transition time between each. After the 5th presentation students went outside for the 'vehicle loop' where they got to see different vehicles the presenters brought, including: a fire truck, electric company bucket truck, hot rod car, police car, undercover car, etc. All presenters wore their work uniform and shared visuals, tools, and did hands-on activities that were developmentally and age appropriate. A lot of the presenters were parents of students at the school but many were also community members that agreed to come and share information with students about their job; including, a local meteorologist and the minor league baseball team. In the afternoon students wrote thank you cards and completed other career activities that were provided for them. It's a wonderful day that the students look forward to each year that allows them to see the connection between school and the world of work. Career day is one of the main events coordinated by the school counselors each year that exposes and educates students on different jobs.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

K-2 Career Lesson

In preparation for Career Day (which was yesterday, went fabulously, and I'll blog more about soon), my wonderful and dynamic co-counselor Cassandra did a rotation of classroom lessons with the kinder-2nd graders on career awareness. To do this in a developmentally appropriate, introductory, and fun way- she read the story The Berenstain Bears on the Job and talked with students about key words/concepts, including: job, career, what their job is (going to school), and tools used for different jobs. To introduce students (and enhance career awareness/exposure- what elementary school is all about) to different jobs, she then played the game Guess What I Am. First she modeled how to play by holding a card up to her face and having students share words/clues about the job to have her guess what the job was. For example, if she held up the card that showed she was a teacher, hints might be: students, pencil, classroom, math, etc. After students understood how to play she called up students one at a time to hold the cards up and have peers give hints for them to guess what they were. Students loved this interactive activity where they had the chance to learn and discuss different jobs. At the end of the activity, students received a copy of an activity sheet called 'When I Grow Up' from the Jumbo Book of Preschool Activities where they got to identify different jobs and draw a picture of what they would like to be when they grow up.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Health/Wellness with Juice Plus+

Over the years, the one motto I've tried to remember and actively live by as a counselor is, "You can't take care of others unless you take care of yourself first." In this profession (along with anything else), it's very easy to get burned out. When trying to manage/juggle multiple things it can be VERY difficult to: take time for yourself, relax, enjoy the moment, exercise, and of course eat health. For me, the past few years have been quite chaotic, so what's one way I've tried to follow the motto? by taking Juice Plus+! I'm not one to endorse or 'advertise' anything and I'm certainly not a sales person- but when you find something that's heavily research supported, great for your health, and works well for you, you can't help but want to share it with everyone!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you get the daily recommended 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables?

Do you eat a VARIETY of fruits and vegetables?

Can you get a variety of 7-13 servings of organic fruits and vegetables for under $1.50 a day?

Chances are you answered NO to at least one of these questions and Juice Plus+ is the answer! Some of the published clinical research on Juice Plus+ has already found that:

Juice Plus+ delivers key antioxidants and other phytonutrients that are absorbed by the body
reduces oxidative stress
reduces key biomarkers of systemic inflammation
supports a healthy immune system
helps protect DNA
supports cardiovascular wellness
supports healthy skin

Clinical research currently underway includes:

Pregnancy health
Nutritional status and various markers of cell health
Nutritional status and quality of life
Periodontal (gum) health
Healthy healing from wisdom tooth extraction
Markers of oxidation in healthy adults

The bottom line is "After looking at all the research done on Juice Plus+, there is nothing else available any place in the world, with or without a prescription, that has been shown to do all these things in the human body." - Richard DuBois MD

Let me know if you're interested in signing up for the Juice Plus+ Effect Program where you can receive $50 worth of free product. You can also have your child participate in the Children's Health Study where they receive 3 years of the product for FREE!!!

For more information, click here or visit http://drisom4juiceplus.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Classroom Mgmt./Teacher Support

Collaboration with teachers is such a vital part of what a school counselor does. One way I like to collaborate is by being in the classroom (beyond classroom guidance lessons) and doing activities that support the teacher and the students. Having classroom meetings is one effective way to build collaboration with the teacher, students, and develop classroom structure. Classroom meetings can be beneficial in teaching students how to work better together (conflict resolution) and develop unity/a positive working relationship. Before winter break, I had the opportunity to facilitate classroom meetings (10 total) for 30 minutes each morning in an upper elementary classroom that was having some difficulty with behavior and following directions. During these morning meetings we did activities on conflict resolution, compliments (the different types, giving/receiving), listening skills, and behavior/consequences. It was so nice to work closely with the teacher, develop a stronger working relationship with the students, and see how they (students and teacher) enhanced their relationship with each other. How do you provide support to teachers that are new or are in need of behavioral/climate assistance?

Check out some of the classroom management resources I use in my store under 'teacher resources!'