Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I'm Groovy Poovey.....What's Your Hook?

Think back to your school days.  What was memorable? Did you have a spirited PE teacher who taught you how to juggle and ride the unicycle? (I did!)  Did you have a teacher who never wore the same outfit twice the whole year and had pictures of Elvis everywhere? (I did!) Did you have science teacher who did fun experiments and let you bring in exploding volcanoes? (yep, me again!)

The point is, sometimes we need a little excitement, quirkiness, or a "hook" to get our students' attention and help them "get" the objectives we are trying to teach.  Although it has been a LONG time since I had those aforementioned teachers, I still remember them and what they taught me because they got my attention, which is sometimes half the battle with our students.  As a school counselor, I am continually trying to engage my students and give them a prop, hand motion, or saying that will help them connect with what I am teaching and commit it to memory.

My first "hook" is my Groovy Poovey nickname. I use it because #1:  It helps students say my name correctly instead of calling me all kinds of crazy things and #2:  They never forget it and can always tell you the name of their school counselor.  Helpful, right?!!

Here is a sampling of some of my other "hooks" and when I use them.  What are yours?
 Enjoy and Happy Counseling! ~Angela

: Using a Hula Hoop to illustrate the Hula Hoop Space for my Kindergarten students in Good Touch/Bad Touch lessons.

RIGHT:  Modeling a career I would like as an E! fashion reporter on the red carpet for "Career Dress Up" Day during Red Ribbon Week.  We have better things to do than drugs! This event went along with my career lessons in the classroom.
LEFT:  My co-counselor and I starting our "Camp Counselor" introduction to the school counselor lessons at the beginning of the year.  Read more about that lesson here.

BELOW:  Dressed up as "Judge Poovey" for Fairness character trait lessons in the classroom.  Read more about that lesson here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Making a List and Checking it Twice

To say things are busy at my school right now is an understatement. It is hard for me to make it down the hallway without a student asking me when I am going to see them or a teacher relaying a concern about a child.  Sound familiar?! I am also running a lot of small groups simultaneously, and I'm trying to stay organized with so many balls in the air at one time......because that's what school counselors do!

The small groups that I am running are "School Success Groups", and I am using the Stephen Covey 7 Habits to organize our meetings (more on this topic in a later post).  However, I really want daily face time with these students to ensure they are meeting their goals for doing homework, being PROACTIVE and in charge of their behavior, and maintaining "Sunny Thoughts"  when frustration arises.  I can tell that morning meetings with these students get their days started off on the right tone.

So, I followed Santa's lead and have created a check-in sheet to use with my school success students as well as other students that can benefit from frequent check-ins.  I downloaded some free borders from the 3AM Teacher on TPT here.  I chose my favorite and then inserted a table with the headings of Student Name, Days of the Week, and Comments. I started out with 10 rows but could have definitely made 15 or 20, as evidenced by my writings in the margins...ha!

I pasted my sheet on cardstock and laminated it for repeated use.  I write the initials of the students I need to check in with each morning, give them a check mark if they stop in, and a star if they did their homework. I also write any comments about issues I need to remember. At the end of the week, I take a picture of the chart with my Ipad for documentation purposes, and I erase all of the stars and checks.  The lamination really keeps it flexible because as I end current groups or start working with different students, I will simply replace old initials with new ones and continue the cycle.

What I love best is that I feel like my 30 minutes of morning duty time is so much more productive and focused now. The majority of the students are coming each day, and they like it as much as I do!

Also, it's working!!!! A lot of the kids are doing homework more consistently now than they were a month ago, and  I truly believe the accountability piece of knowing I am going to ask them EVERY morning is making a difference.

How are you staying organized in this busy time leading up to the holidays? I would love to hear!
Happy Counseling! ~Angela

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Balloon, Balloon: Don't Let the Balloon Touch the Ground

I had to use that title for my post because it was one of my most favorite childhood games growing up, and I loved to play it with my sister. I find it completely fantastic that I have been able to incorporate it into my J-O-B. Here's part two of my Ordinary Objects Post - Balloons!

I use balloons in lots of ways at school, many of which I am sure you also use.  Here's a rundown of my favorite uses.

1.  Individual Counseling/Classroom Guidance with students focused on coping with anger, anxiety, or other unpleasant feelings. 

A balloon is extremely powerful in illustrating how feelings can build if you don't use strategies to calm down and release the "not so good" feelings in healthy ways.  I usually let students brainstorm the triggers that have upset them in the current situation or in the past. As they share the triggers with me, I inflate the balloon each time until it is about to pop.  We relate those pent up feelings to exploding in the classroom and making bad choices.  Then, as we discuss, draw, and practice strategies that could help students calm down, I release the air a little at a time until the balloon is completely empty.

 I have also used this idea in a classroom guidance lesson on anger management.  I incorporated the superhero Incredible Hulk and found this You Tube video.  Every time the Hulk growled, I inflated the balloon. Every time he turned back into Bruce Banner (the normal version of himself), I released some air.  It was a great "hook" to introduce the topic of controlling your anger.

2. Skill practice for appropriate social skills, self-regulation, and any other replacement behavior practice a student may need.

We have all seen the icebreaker or conversation starter balls that you can buy through educational companies or on Amazon.com. They are a great resource and can really help you get to know a student or prompt them to start talking about important issues. I decided to create the "do-it-yourself" version and save $20 with a balloon.  I made the balloon pictured to the right for a student who was having a hard time staying in her space and keeping her hands to herself.  I had already done a lesson about your "Hula Hoop Space"  with the entire class so this balloon activity provided her with extra practice to reinforce the skills. I drew lines to divide up the balloon and then listed actions such as "Show Your Hula Hoop Space", "Practice a Good Touch", "Ask Someone to Move Over", and "Sit Criss Cross in your Hula Hoop Space" on the balloon. We would hit the balloon back and forth a few times and when I said STOP, she would practice whatever skill her hand was on.  The other advantage to the DIY version is you can have specific skill practice for a wide range of issues rather than one generic ball.

3.  Teamwork activities in classroom guidance or small group counseling.

I am currently running a "7 Habits of Highly Effective Students"  School Success Group.  Habit #4 is THINK WIN- WIN.  I am using balloons to practice the idea of teamwork and helping everyone around you be successful.  My plan is to take my group into the gym and give them the challenge of moving the balloon from one end of the gym to the other.  The group will earn one point for completing the task and additional points each time every member of the group touches the balloon.  Following the exercise, we will discuss how teammates helped each other get the balloon, how they communicated, and their feelings on whether they liked completing the activity as a team or would rather have completed it independently. 

You could also incorporate one or more balloons in a classroom guidance lesson on teamwork and pass multiple balloons around the room at a time.

How do you use balloons as a school counselor? Please share and.....Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ordinary Objects

Two ordinary objects have become permanent fixtures in my office lately:  Balloons and clothes baskets

I wanted to share a few quick ways you can use these inexpensive items, which 99% of us already have at our houses, in your counseling office.  My first post will focus on clothes baskets.

Clothes Baskets:
1.  Goal Setting:  I am doing a "7 Habits of Happy/Highly Effective Kids" small group right now, and I absolutely LOVED the goal setting lesson I did with my students using clothes baskets.  It was an idea I adapted from a Goal Setting presentation at last year's NCSCA Conference (wish I could remember the speaker's name to give credit! Email me if you recognize this activity).

I took my students into the gym during the PE teachers' lunch break.  I had them all stand on one side of the gym and gave them each a frog (you could use a stress ball, rubber ball, etc.).  In the first round, I had them cover their eyes and try to get the frog in their basket. I placed three baskets out for five students so they would have more space for their throwing.  We related this action to going through the school year without an idea or vision for where you are going.

During the second round, I took all three baskets and placed them on the opposite side of the gym, about 30 feet away from the students.  We related this basket "attempt" to choosing goals that are too hard.  In the third round, the baskets were placed right in front of their feet. The students immediately knew that this round showed the goal was too easy.  In the fourth round, the baskets were placed about 10 feet way to signify an appropriate, challenging goal. Most of the students made the basket by their second attempt, but a few took three or four tries. Finally, I held one of the baskets in the fifth round and "assisted" them by moving the basket as they made their toss. We related this round to teachers, parents, and school counselors who will support students in reaching their goals, which can make things easier. 


2. Icebreaker Time:  Kids LOVE to try and toss my frogs in the clothes basket when we meet for individual counseling, especially kids that have a hard time sitting still or feel uncomfortable with traditional "talking" at a table.  I find they open up and are much more relaxed if we start talking while playing the frog toss game.  Sometimes we will even take turns and switch once we have gotten a certain number of frogs in the basket.

At first, I was just putting the basket on the other side of my office so I could take shots with my students, but then I got the bright idea of hanging it on a hook that has randomly been on the back of my office door since I moved to my school.  I now call the game Hook Ball.  The new basket placement also frees up floor space in my pretty small office...truly a win-win! Check it out:

3.Skill Practice Motivation:  I met with a student last week who needed to work on prosocial skills (hands to self, talking nicely, working appropriately in centers).  I wanted to make our skill practice more fun, so we turned it into a game.  Each time she got two frogs in the basket, we would stop, model, and practice one of the skills we were working on.  After she practiced, she got to take more shots.  It definitely made our session more enjoyable, and we still talked about her classroom progress while she was playing.

Do you have any other uses for clothes baskets? I would love to hear!  
Happy Counseling ~ Angela

Friday, November 8, 2013

I HEART School Counselors!

Wow....what a great NCSCA conference! Thanks to those who came to hear my session- "Beyond Career Day."  I was able to talk to many of you after my talk and throughout the rest of the conference, and I really enjoyed meeting new friends and reconnecting with my old ones.

The stellar, Andrea Burston, from JYJoynerCounselor
blog (above) and enjoying time with fantastic counselor friends I have worked with throughout my career (below).

Also, I am linking some of the handouts from my presentation for those who attended and would like to download them OR for other readers who could use some career resources.

Bobblehead Kids - Kindergarten
A Hat for Ivan - First Grade
Family Career Tree - Second Grade
QR Scanvenger Example- Fifth Grade

  Enjoy and Happy Counseling!  ~ Angela

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Conference, Technology, and Grants---Oh My!

I have been busy getting ready for my presentation at the NC School Counselor Association's annual conference this coming week. It is a fantastic professional development opportunity, and I am so excited to see colleagues and learn from all the brilliant school counselors out there.  I will be presenting a session entitled "Beyond Career Day", as well as co-presenting with Linda Brannan, the Student Support Services Consultant, for the NC Department of Public Instruction.  I am sharing some of my work on the Guidance Essential Standards.  Here is a link to the NCSCA website if you are interested in any other info about the conference.  If you are also attending, stop by and see me!!!

After the conference, I will be back to posting more regularly because I can't wait to share all the career and college awareness activities I have been doing in October at my school.  I deemed it "Career-College Month" and have been having organizing and presenting schoolwide, grade level, and classroom activities to get my students excited about post high school educational opportunities and future careers.

Also, I am tremendously excited to post that I received a Bright Ideas Grant last week....yay!  If you remember, applying for grants was one of my goals over the summer (See Double Take: What Are You Going to be Next Year? ), and I was awarded $900 from the South River Electric Membership Corporation.

I am going to use the money to buy Ipads for my Technology Club, which involves about 60 fourth graders (we split into three different groups throughout the year).  We meet every Tuesday after school to work on technology projects that incorporate character education, anti-bullying strategies, leadership ideas, and anything else my students can think up!  Please check out our blog - Cleveland Tech Stars  and leave a comment. The kids would love it!!!!

Happy Counseling!   ~Angela
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