Friday, March 29, 2013

A Career Countdown....3, 2, 1!

Yesterday I had a PLC (professional learning community) meeting with the school counselors in my county, and the topic for our discussion was "Career Ideas".  I LOVE the Career domain in the ASCA National Model and have always spent a lot of time doing career activities with my students.  After hearing all of the great ideas my fellow counselors and I shared with each other,  I was excited to keep the collaboration going in the school counselor blogging world.  So, here are some of my top resources that I have used or will soon be using with my students:

3.  Songs/Books
"Career Bazillions" YouTube Video
 I cannot tell you how AMAZING this music video is to use in classroom guidance, in small groups, or even on the morning announcements for schoolwide use.  My co-counselor and I used it as an intro "hook" for every grade level when we presented our career lessons to K-5 this year.  I originally thought I would just use it for the lower grade levels, but it got such a great response that we ended up using it for everyone.  The older students thought it was just as funny as the younger students did!

I didn't know about the book When I Grow Up by Charise Harper (thanks Cynthia Dunn!), but it immediately reminded me of the Bazillions video and could be used in the same lesson or on its own.  I personally love the idea of having real kids' faces included in the illustrations and think it captures the students' attention in a meaningful way.

Other awesome career books I would recommend are:  When I Grow Up by Weird Al Yankovic, Maybe You Should Fly a Jet by Dr. Seuss and A Hat for Ivan by Max Lucado.   I am especially excited about A Hat for Ivan because I had never heard of it before until yesterday (thanks Sara Foster!), and the lesson ideas that were shared to go with it are adorable.  It will be on my classroom guidance calendar next year, for sure!!!

Finally, I like to do career research with my older students (see more on that below) and the series Careers for Kids Who Like..... (fill in Science, the Arts, Reading, etc...) is a fantastic supplement to any online research that students may do in a computer lab/classroom.

2.  Interest Inventories
There are tons of interest inventories out there that students can use to be directed toward specific career clusters that fit their likes and dislikes.  One of my favorites is the ever popular PAWS in JOBLAND,
which is FREE and can be accessed through the College Foundation of NC website at  It offers an A-Z Job Search, a Job Finder Interest Inventory, quizzes, and lets you explore different career clusters in Jobland.  Also, you can choose to have sound on or off during the activities, allowing you to include younger students or less fluent readers (2nd-3rd) who may not be able to use these activities otherwise.

Another website I really like is Drive of Your Life.  It is intended for middle school students so I typically use it with fifth graders later in the year. Students do have to create a log-in and it is a longer activity, so it is a good site to use if you can partner with your media specialist or technology teacher to offer extension activities after your career lessons.  Students LOVE creating their vehicles as they answer interest inventory questions.  Then, they get to drive along the highway in their car and exit at different ramps to learn about particular jobs that might fit their interests. It almost reminds me of a video game, which certainly appeals to this age group. 

1.  Career Videos/Websites
One of the exciting things about the Internet is that is opens up an entire world that was previously unavailable for our students.  Students who only know about the jobs of doctor, police officer, and firefighter can quickly be exposed to a wealth of occupations, as long as they have access to a computer and the Internet. Along that line, there are some fantastic websites that have libraries of career videos and other information that students can access for career research. has an excellent Career and Technology Education section, which includes "Career Aisle" videos for elementary, middle, and high school students.  There are 16 different career clusters that contain videos on specific careers within the cluster. 

Virgina Career VIEW also has some awesome resources such as Career Town games, a Kids Search job database, and much more! I  used the Kids Search job database this year in my third grade lessons to connect school subjects to future careers. My students were assigned a specific school subject and did research (both with books such as the Careers for Kids Who Like series and online resources) to find names of careers that connected to those subjects.  The Career VIEW website was a  huge help in focusing the students on appropriate careers.

There will be more career posts in my future, but I hope these top resources will be a good start in helping to plan career lessons and interventions.  Happy Counseling!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Don’t Forget the Fun…..Staff Morale Boosters

Do you ever feel like the month of March inches by, as if Spring break will never come? I certainly do, and with four days remaining until this long awaited vacation, I decided to do something fun for our staff as part of our Recruitment and Retention committee....our first annual staff Easter egg hunt!

I thought the egg hunt would be a great morale booster for the last few days, as I believe one essential aspect of my job is to contribute to a positive school climate.  Each day, I think about what I'm doing to help kids be excited for school from the moment I go to morning carpool duty and start smiling and waving to each car (EVEN when my hands are frozen in 30 degree weather) to the moment I say goodbye to my last carpool student in the afternoon.  When I run out of steam at bedtime, I often think about the amount of energy I expend being enthusiastic and positive with the people around me.  And don't get me wrong, there are definitely days where I don't feel "up", but I do my best to find the good in what's happening around me.  Luckily, I work with a FANTASTIC staff that makes it a lot easier to feel great at school, and I wanted to focus on doing something fun for them.

To get started with the egg hunt, I raided my children's Easter egg baskets for some plastic eggs and got candy as well as more eggs donated by my principal, co-counselor, and other staff members.  Then, I had some fun with the "Hey Teacher" quotes that have been made so famous by Ryan Gosling.  I took the school appropriate comments and printed quote strips, shortening some that would have otherwise been too risque for school purposes.  If you have never been to the Hey Girl Teacher Tumblr website, click below to see tons of examples.  They are a MUST READ for educators!


Next, I added a quote and piece of candy to each egg.  My co-counselor and I had a great time hiding them in classrooms and in each hallway of the school. We will refill and re-hide the eggs as staff members turn them in so we can make the egg hunt last all the way through Thursday. 

And, if an Easter egg hunt isn't going to work for your school, consider these other morale boosters shared by the "Connected Principals" blog, which is a great source for getting different perspectives on schoolwide issues and ideas. I particularly love this You Tube Validation video that could be shared during a staff meeting.  After all, what staff member doesn't need more of that?!!  Happy Counseling!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Google Docs ROCKS!

I will admit that DATA used to be one of those four letter words to me.  I would come up with pre and post surveys for my classroom guidance units and be so committed to seeing what my students had learned at the end of a bullying or career unit.  Then, my enthusiasm would start to wane as I began sorting through 500 slips of paper and my eyes would start to cross as I counted the yes and no answers for each student to verify they had truly learned the definition of bullying or knew how to refuse and report in a bullying situation.

Enter........Google Docs!  I started creating and sharing Google Docs a little bit last year but was so comfortable and happy with Dropbox (also a great tool!) that I didn't worry about it too much.  However, I am now at a school where I cannot load Dropbox onto  my school computer, and although I still use it to access files I create or update at home, it's not as user friendly as it once was.  So, Google Docs is something I am embracing more and more.

At the beginning of the year I decided to go paperless for my character trait award winners each month using Google Docs. I didn't want to have forty reply emails each time a month passed by and I needed to get the names. So, I created a Google form for my teachers. Here is how I do it:

First, I go to Google Drive, click on the "Create" button, and choose "Form". 

Then, I start to add the questions that I need.  You get to choose the answer type for each question you insert:  text field, paragraph text, multiple choice, checkboxes, choose from a list, scale, or grid.  For the Teacher Name and Student Name, I use the text field. 

I add the grade levels using the "choose from a list" question type. You can also check a box underneath the question that REQUIRES the teacher to answer the question before they can submit the information. This tool helps ensure you get all the information you need and no one forgets to answer a question.

 Once the form includes all the information I need to collect, I click "Send Form" at the bottom.  A pop-up box appears, and I enter my teachers' email addresses.  My school uses Google Mail and I have already created groups for my different grade levels so I can actually type in Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, etc.........and it populates all the teachers' email addresses for me without me having to type each individual address.

Then, the teachers get a beautifully formatted email that they can fill out easily and submit in one minute (OR LESS).  

Once you are ready to collect all your data, you simply go to the "Responses" tab and click on View Responses.  All of your information will be in a fantastic, organized spreadsheet, which you can sort by grade level or teacher as you fill out certificates and plan your photo ops for the month. 

This monthly use of Google Docs is just one of the ways I have started simplifying my data collection so there are NO MORE slips of paper floating around my office.  I also used it recently for my behavior data collection prior to a classroom lesson - see Simon's Hook post- and will be sharing that info next.  
Happy counseling!    Angela

Friday, March 15, 2013

Be a "Free Fish"

My friendship refresher lessons have continued into the upper grades as my co-counselor and I work hard to give students strategies to handle conflict appropriately.  I decided to use the book Simon's Hook, which I absolutely LOVE and use for classes, groups, and individual students.  There are so many variations of what you can do with this book, and I highly recommend it for any school counselor.

In second grade, I like to read the book to make sure the students fully understand the analogy of not biting the hook to the choice of reacting appropriately to teasing.  For third, fourth, and fifth grades, my co-counselor and I decided to switch it up and add a little more excitement with some You Tube videos, a fishing pole prop, and a visual reminder product the students could keep.  Also, I did some qualitative data collection with four classes that contain the majority of our self-referred and teacher-referred students (more on that in an upcoming post!)

To start our "Free Fish" lesson, we showed the following video on You Tube that my AWESOME co-counselor found.

 Then, I used my own fishing pole to assess comprehension and let the students summarize what we had just learned in the video about keeping control and power ourselves and being a free fish.  Students worked in cooperative groups to brainstorm hooks that they hear in their own classroom, at recess, on the bus, or in their neighborhoods.  After sharing some hook examples from each group on the Smartboard, I did some pre-teaching on the five strategies that Grandma Rose was about to introduce in the second video.  Then, we showed the second video.


These videos are by far the best supplemental activities that I have seen for Simon's Hook, and the kids loved them! After reviewing the second video, I introduced the Free Fish Card to students (see below for a blank and completed example). We had students fill in the five strategies from Simon's Hook as well as other strategies we learned earlier in the year from our bullying lessons.  It was also a great time to review the times we automatically get adult help (bullying situations and any physical contact) since I had put that strategy in the middle of the card.

To end the lesson, we allowed students to practice being a free fish in an online quiz found here at the
Grandma Rose website. Each class "graduated" after handling five hooks appropriately. The best part is that the Free Fish Cards will continue to be a reminder to students of how to avoid biting the hooks their classmates may throw at them.  Students taped the cards to their desks or pasted them inside their agendas and teachers will be able to refer students to their cards if they hear insults or teasing in class. My hope is that we can all swim free between now and the end of the year! 



Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Fever

If your school is anything like mine, March is a LONG month.  March tends to be the time when students decide they are tired of school, tired of each other, and spring break is still three weeks away.  I have found that the main issues that keep me busy are girl relational aggression and general conflict so I decided I needed to be as proactive as possible and confront the problem head on.  My co-counselor and I put our heads together to plan "friendship refresher" lessons for all second thru fifth grade students. I found a lesson for second grade on , a site that I use fairly often when I need lessons on diversity or friendship topics.  The original lesson was shared by a teacher in Oregon (great collaboration!) and can be found here.  I tweaked it to fit my needs as all educators do and ended up with a fun 35 minute lesson.

I started off with one of my favorite friendship books for the primary grades,  What's the Recipe for Friends?

Then, I moved to a Smartboard lesson I created that had images of cooking tools and ingredients. The students reviewed the book, and I checked for comprehension by having them share what ingredients Freddy had needed to make friends at his new school.  After brainstorming, I asked the students what other recipes they liked to follow at home, and they quickly named brownies, cookies, and PIZZA as common examples.

Earlier in the week, I had called around to several pizza stores to try and get pizza boxes donated for this lesson, as well as future ideas that may come up....after all, what child doesn't get excited when he sees a pizza box?!  Papa John's was happy to help me out (shout out!), which I really appreciated. 

The students and I discussed the basic ingredients needed for pizza:  crust, sauce, and cheese/toppings.  We related each part of the pizza to friendship skills that would help them make AND keep friends all year long (this was also on a Smartboard page).

Crust = Friendly thoughts that give you the right attitude to make and keep friends
Sauce = Friendly words
Cheese/toppings = Friendly actions

Then, the students got to make their friendship pizzas in teams and write their own ideas of thoughts, words, and actions on the paper pizzas I provided.  For second graders, I would suggest brainstorming ideas for each of the categories together before breaking into groups so the activity will not take as long. I also created examples and put them in envelopes in case a team got stuck during the activity.  We shared ideas that the teams brainstormed themselves once the pizzas had all been picked up (by me!) for delivery.

The kids seemed to love this activity and will see a reminder of their "friendship pizzas" each day when they go up on the second grade bulletin board in their hall.

Happy counseling!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Liberty and Learning For All!

Hello! I have been on an extended absence since I switched schools and got used to a new routine, but I am ready to start blogging again!  I thought it was only fitting to start with a celebration post....a celebration of school counselors!  I wanted to share what I did to celebrate National School Counselor's Week last month. My co-counselor and I decided to create a treat for all the staff at my school and created tags that looked somewhat like this:                                   
                              Happy School Counselor's Week 2013


Angela     Amanda     YOU

Thanks for being our THIRD MUSKETEER!

We printed the tags on blue paper and used fancier fonts, layouts, etc. but the gist is there.  We attached each tag to a fun-size Three Musketeers bar and put one in each staff person's box, which the staff seemed to enjoy as a beginning of the week treat.        

In order to incorporate our students, we also decided to do a classroom activity to celebrate school counseling. I drew a huge puzzle on bulletin board paper and then cut out the puzzle piece by piece, numbering the pieces on the back so I would remember how the pieces fit back together.  I then gave each classroom a puzzle piece and asked students to decorate it with pictures of things they had learned during guidance lessons, words they would use to describe the school counselors, or any other decorations.  After receiving the decorated puzzle pieces, I created this bulletin board.

The kids pass by this bulletin board each day in the main hall and always make comments about which piece they worked on in class.  You can see more detail on a few pieces here:


It's great to be back!       
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...