Friday, December 23, 2011

A Few Career Resources

Believe it or not, I am still wrapping up career lessons with my fifth graders.  My wonderful media specialist and I are co-teaching the last couple of lessons so that we can incorporate technology and research into the unit.  The students are completing a Holland’s personality inventory to figure out which of the six personality categories might fit them best:  Artistic, Conventional, Social, Enterprising, Realistic, or Investigative.  Then, students are exploring the careers and researching details about the occupation such as the degree required for the job, what subjects are used in the job, and what might be positive/negative about the job.  Although I do not require students to research a job from their personality category,  if they don’t see any job that piques their interest,  my hope is that personality inventory will provide another piece of information that will get students thinking about career choices.

In creating and delivering these lessons, I set up stations where students were able to rotate and use different elementary career resources.  I have always used the Bureau of Labor and Statistics website,, because it provides the best information about degrees required, current pay information, and outlook for the future on so many different occupations.   This year, I introduced the website, which the kids loved.  I primarily used the website at a Smartboard station to let students access the career video files, but there is a wealth of information I will continue to explore next year.  Finally, my technology teacher extended my lessons by using the website, , during technology time.  This website and interactive game really caught the attention of my fifth graders, especially some of the male students, as they designed a car while answering interest inventory questions.  Then, students were able to drive along a “highway”, entering and exiting as they explored different occupations.  Many of the students asked if they could play the game at home, which they can, and I was pleased to see the enthusiasm.  I hope all of these lessons will culminate in at least one of my classes creating a wax museum for my first graders to tour, but it will depend on the time available.   Either way, we have had a great experience exploring careers!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Career Week

Last week was our Career Week, and I was so pleased with our student participation.  On Monday, I showed a video of my friend, Jason Houston, who is an Air Force pilot.  He answered a few questions about his job, connecting school subjects and higher education to the career of a pilot.  On Tuesday, I showed a similar video of a staff member’s husband who is a nurse. I always enjoy showing  nontraditional careers for both genders, and it was great to show a male nurse.  I also started asking trivia questions about our staff members’ previous career paths.  The answers could be found on a “Career Path” bulletin board that I created especially for Career Week. It was fun to see the kids reading about their teachers’ and other staff members’ careers and learning about what the adults wanted to be when they were in elementary school.

On Wednesday, we had Career Dress-Up Day.  I saw a lot of community helpers — doctors, veterinarians, teachers, police officers, as well as business people, lawyers, artists, rock stars, scientists, and engineers.  The students showed a lot of enthusiasm with their costumes, and even those who didn’t dress up were exposed to career ideas just by being at school…truly a win-win situation.  On Thursday, I added a new event for this year’s Career Week — a door decorating contest. I used the motto “College and Career Ready”, and  teachers  voluntarily participated in decorating their doors with their alma mater or favorite school.  I was overwhelmed to have 40 staff members (teachers and teacher assistants) participate in the contest, especially during a month with report cards, lots of standardized testing, and teacher-parent conferences.  What a great bunch of staff members we have! It was amazing to see the kids talking about the different schools.  I decorated my door with UNC-Chapel Hill memorabilia, including a picture of me in my graduation outfit and attached my actual graduation cap with tassel to the door. I can’t tell you how many children asked me about the picture or commented on the fact that I was a Tarheel.  I could tell s few students even had lightbulb moments while discussing the different degrees I had gotten in order to be a school counselor.

Our final event on Friday was a Career Day for Kindergarten and fifth grade students. Each event lasted about two hours  and highlighted a few different careers.  All of the speakers were fabulous!   The fifth grade students loved seeing science experiments and a live snake, exploring a bucket truck from Progress Energy, hearing about work at the Geek squad, and seeing hair styling tools, among many other careers.  The Kindergarten students especially loved the the tools used by a policeman and a veterinary movie. They also  learned about the jobs of principal and scientists.  It was really invigorating to see students excited about future careers and understanding how school could help them reach their career goals.

Friday, November 4, 2011


I just finished an October Respect unit with my second graders that was one of the most fun units I have ever created. I decided to create four lessons that linked Respect to behaviors throughout the school:  on the bus, in the classroom, in the cafeteria, in the hallways, etc. What I enjoyed most about the unit was the integration of the second grade curriculum (reading/writing) with the ASCA competencies I was covering.
In my first lesson, I was able to use a short story that described a student’s first day on the bus.  We identified story elements such as the main characters and if the story was fiction/nonfiction while also reflecting on the character traits shown in the story and how we felt reading it. In another lesson I used a poem called “The Goops” to highlight bad manners.  As a class, we discussed imagery and the students visualized what they read in the poem.  We also emphasized rhyming words as students took turns reading different lines of the poem.

Another activity as part of the unit was creating a placemat that students could keep.  I found a great template on parents. com that showed a formal place setting, and the students wrote respectful cafeteria behaviors around the border of the placemat.  Before sending the placemates home with the students, we used them in a “Manners Lunch” that I had organized for the students.  I was able to get a local restaurant to donate pasta for all of my second graders, and I supplemented with brownies and bread.  I have never seen students so excited about macaroni and cheese! Many of the students even dressed up for the event and some parents attended without any prompting from us.

When the students entered the cafeteria, they brought their placemats to the cafeteria table, which was covered with a tablecloth.  Plates, utensils, and napkins were located at the end of the table.  The students were responsible for setting their own place setting on top of the placemat template.  Then, they went through the food line and were served lunch as they used polite words.  All the students waited for their classmates to be seated at the individual tables before beginning to eat.  It was a delight to see them putting napkins in their laps, chewing with their mouths closed, and keeping elbows off the table.

The best part is that the final lesson of the unit is focused on teaching the classes the five parts of a letter so that we can write thank you notes to the restaurant that so generously donated the pasta.  Pictures of the event will accompany the letters so that we can show our community the great things we are doing at our school!  I really found the entire experience valuable and hope the experience is something our second graders will remember fondly from their elementary years.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Buzzing Along

We have been  busy SOARing with all of our dragonflies in September.  I have been presenting “Introduction to the School Counselor” lessons in all of the K-5 classes.  I am also getting to know our third, fourth, and fifth grade new students during their lunch times, as well as younger new students throughout the day.  A highlight of my intro lessons was an experiment I did with first grade classes.  We were practicing showing different feelings using a Mr. Potato Head lesson I had created on the Smartboard.  As students were changing the eyes and mouths of Mr. Potato Head, we matched each of his feelings to a color.   Red was the angry feeling; blue matched with sad feelings; yellow was matched with a sunny, happy feeling; and green was matched with scared feelings.  As I added drops of food coloring for each feeling into a “Feelings Cup”, the water turned a murky black color.  We talked about some of those “not so good” feelings making us feel dark and gloomy. As I talked about how the school counselor could help change those dark, gloomy feelings back to happier feelings, I added bleach to the dark water.  The kids were astonished when the water got lighter and lighter, eventually becoming clear again.  It was a delight to see the impact this “magic trick” had on them.  I hope the message will stick as I try to do my best to turn the “not so good” feelings into better feelings this school year.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My First Blog!

Welcome to "Life on the Fly", my school counseling blog.  I thought the title was fitting since we are the Dillard Drive dragonflies and work hard to SOAR each day.  It's also a constant whirlwirld being a school counselor to 700+ students, and I often feel as if I'm "on the fly" at all times.  I hope you will enjoy this blog as we "Race to the Top for Excellence" this school year.

Today was the first day of school, and it was great to see and hear all the excitment in the hallways.  I loved meeting new Dillard students and their families, as well as seeing familiar faces.  Now I just have to start practicing all the names! I will begin going into classrooms to introduce myself tomorrow and will be in all 33 K-5 classrooms by the first week in September....whew!

Feel free to post a comment if you are enjoying the blog, have a question, or just want to say "hi".  Also, be sure to let me know if you are interested in helping out in the counseling office this year.  We welcome any volunteers.  Here's to a great 2011-2012 school year!
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