Thursday, August 28, 2014


I got to teach  my #FlatGroovyPoovey "Introduction to the School Counselor" lessons to second grade students this week, and it was SO FUN! They really enjoyed the Flat Stanley book, and I connected how Flat Stanley's feelings changed throughout the book just like ours will change throughout the year. I also compared the adventures we will have this school year to the amazing adventures that Flat Stanley had in the book.

 After finishing the book, students were able to come to the board for some interactive Smartboard activities like sorting between counselor behaviors (helping with problems, helping with reaching goals) and those that were definitely NOT counselor behaviors (yelling, suspending).  They also learned about the "adventures" we will have together like classroom lessons, individual and group counseling, and lunch bunches.

At the end, I pulled out the infamous Flat Groovy Poovey worksheet so I could check for
understanding and have them write down ways I can help them during the school year.  Knowing that every kid could write at least 2 ideas of how I will help them provided some process data, but I also collected perception data and did a pre/post survey to see how many students gained knowledge and knew the name of my job at the beginning and end of the lesson. I think it is extremely important that students have an understanding of who the school counselor is (NOT GUIDANCE COUNSELOR) and what she can help with during the year.

All in all, it was a blast to teach, and the kids got really excited when I gave them the parent letters explaining that I want them to take Flat Groovy Poovey on family adventures this year and email me pictures.  It will certainly be a memorable way to introduce myself to families that  may not know me yet. I am going to create a bulletin board that shares the family pictures I receive and will also Tweet them out. Check out the two I have already gotten- #FlatGroovyPoovey ziplining (my son's!) and having a sleepover with friends.  My Smartboard lesson and the Flat School Counselor worksheet can both be found on my Life on the Fly TPT store.  What fun "Introduction to the School Counselor" lessons have you been teaching???
                      Happy Counseling! ~ Angela 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Off to the Races.....

Here's to another school year!  We are "Off to the Races" at my elementary school with a Kentucky Derby theme this year. Each August we receive our principal's welcome back letter that gives our surprise theme, and I was really excited to see that we were doing a horse racing theme. Luckily, I already had a hat to wear to our opening meeting, and we had a great time dressing up!  Check out my friend Maggie (left) and me (right) below.  I also love a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE and am offering a sale tomorrow at my TPT store. If there's something you've had your eye on, now's the time to grab it up!

After the derby festivities, I had to get focused and start prioritizing because there are so many things to do!  My list has gone something like this:
1.  Organize my office
2.  Welcome and introduce myself to new staff members
3.  Get prepared for county professional development for school counselors
4.  Get prepared for "Meet the Teacher"

I already mentioned I was planning on creating a tree in my office in my last post here.  I focused on that for part of the optional workday last Friday, and I could not be more pleased with how it turned out, especially since I was kind of winging it with my design.  

I hot glued brown bulletin board paper to my wall for the trunk and added the tree hollow.  Then, I twisted up the same bulletin board paper to create the branches.  The leaves were created in different shades of green with my trusty Silhouette die-cut machine, and I hung two paper lanterns I found on clearance at Target to give it a whimsical feel.  Then, I used my die-cut machine for "The Giving Tree" letters. I can't wait for the kids to see it!  

I also put up my Big Deal Problem Scale numbers that I use for perspective-taking activities with my students who tend to catastrophize (more info at my TPT store here).  We will attach problem situations to the clothespin line above the numbers as we brainstorm coping skills. 

With those changes and a new paper cover on my table, I think my office is ready to go for now!

I also wanted to welcome and introduce myself to the new staff, particularly the classroom teachers who I will be working with closely as I help students.  I found these cute tags on Pinterest (go figure!) and printed them on white cardstock.  Then, I attached them to hand soap from Michael's (about $0.85 each after the teacher discount).  I taped a brief list of things I can help them with this year on the front:  Classroom guidance, small group referrals, RtI, parent conferences, behavior contracts, etc., and asked them to post it near their computer so they will have my phone extension and can call me. We have a large group of new teachers this year, and I have a new part time co-counselor so there will be a lot of time spent helping create a positive school culture and building relationships with our new Cleveland Stars.

I am presenting at county staff development tomorrow and can't wait to have our whole group together in one place.  I believe we have a great vision for our PLC this year as we plan to implement more components of the ASCA National Model.  In support of this goal, I will be presenting on the ABCs of the ASCA National Model and will give an overview of the next steps we plan to take as elementary school counselors. More details to come in a future post....

Finally, I was able to spruce up the main hallway and complete the FOUR (yes, FOUR!) bulletin boards I am responsible for during the year.  In keeping with the race theme, I updated my character board where character trait award nominees will be recognized each month. Check out the jumping gates! Each grade level's picture  will go above them. 

You may remember my map from the College Madness post.  This time, I am using it to post stars on the places our new students have moved from after I meet with them in new student groups. I may also list their names or take their picture, depending on how many new students we have. 
Next, I wanted to introduce my new co-counselor and continued my tradition of caricatures by turning us into "horse jockeys" as students are reminded of how school counselors can help them during the year! I don't think there's anything more entertaining than seeing your teachers, TAs, school counselors, administrators, etc. as bobbleheads! Kids love them!

Last, I am already preparing for my goal-setting lessons in September and my Career and College month in October and made a "Goals, Grades, Graduation...Go For It!" college pinwheel bulletin board. I'll give more details on how I did it later but wanted to share my pic for now.

As you can see, I have been B.U.S.Y. but having fun! I can't wait to see all my students at Meet the Teacher on Thursday.  I hope each of you has a fantastic start to the school year (if you haven't started already)!                
                     Happy Counseling! ~ Angela

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Lovin'

Summer is ending. I am not in denial about this fact and actually feel like I have been able to enjoy it and get rejuvenated while also working on projects that I don't always have time for during the school year.  So, here's what I have been doing:

 Working on RAMP.  Wow! I knew this project would be a bear, but I wasn't quite prepared for the brainpower it would require. Every time my co-counselor and I sit down for RAMP "work days" I feel like I have gone through a mental marathon by the time we are done, usually 8 hours later.  With that being said, it has been a great opportunity of growth for me. I have had so many "aha" moments that are going to help me be a better counselor next year.  The biggest one has to do with school counseling program goals, which I never really used before this year.  A wonderful friend I met at ASCA shared this Smart Goals worksheet with me, and it really helped me process the data I collect and apply it towards overarching program goals that could then be narrowed down into specific Closing the Gap action plans.  I also have appreciated the guiding examples of exemplary RAMP components found here on the ASCA website.

 Thinking about my office decor.  Last year, the NC legislature deemed that school counselors should not be responsible for  test coordination.  My phenomenal AP ended up with the task and took a huge testing cabinet out of my office towards the end of the year. There wasn't enough time to worry with filling the "hole" before school ended, but now I am captivated by the possibilities for my new corner. For some reason, I really want to put a tree there. Think "Giving Tree" or "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" like these examples (from Pinterest):

I am planning on enlisting my husband to help me with the design and stability factors (he doesn't know this yet), and I have promised my principal that I will do a "scaled-down" version so as to not upset the fire marshall and get a write-up. HA! BUT, I do hope to have my own tree picture to share with you very soon. 

Thinking of new "Introduction" to the School Counselor lesson ideas. You may remember that I did a camp theme for several grade levels in my intro lessons last year. Check out my post here.  I am still going to use those lessons this year, but I wanted to add something new and exciting for some of the classes that had already experienced that lesson.  So, I am going to introduce #FlatGroovyPoovey to my Kindergarten, second, and third grade students this year.  I am still working out the lesson details, but after Internet searching and finding no Flat School Counselors or Teacher figures that would work for me, I made this worksheet. My plan is to teach my lesson and have students write in the lines the ways I can help them during the year (I will help K students).  Then, I will send it home with a letter to introduce myself to parents.  I am going to ask them to take me along on their family adventures this year, taking pictures of #FlatGroovyPoovey in different places.  Then, I will post them on my school website and they or I can post it to Twitter using that hashtag.  I also plan to include my teachers in the fun and will create a bulletin board entitled, "Where in the World is #FlatGroovyPoovey?"  The most exciting adventures will be incorporated into my theme for School Counseling Week later in February. Fun, right??!  The worksheet (with a line to fill in your own name) will be available on my Life on the Fly Store and is already up on TPT at my store here.

Finally, I have been reading...YAY!  I finished Drive by Daniel H. Pink, which I already mentioned I was reading, and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. They were both really interesting books, and it was nice to read something for myself in my downtime.  Now, I am reading more for kids and my book clubs and have finally started the book Crash by Jerry Spinelli.  I got this title last year with my book club grant but haven't used it yet, and I'm thinking it may come in handy with some students that will be rising fifth graders this year. Also, I added two new book club activity packs, Because of Mr. Terupt and Origami Yoda, to my Life on the Fly Store and TPT site if you are getting started with or continuing your own book clubs this year.  They are great for upper elementary or middle school book club groups and are 25+ pages each. Check them out and email me if you have any questions!

Can't wait to get started in another school year with you! What exciting projects are you working on???

Happy Counseling!   ~Angela
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