Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Student Council Fundraisers

In addition to being the counselor at school, I happen to be one of our Student Council Association advisers. We have about 20 student members from 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade and it is mostly a student run organization.  We meet once a month after school and we typically host monthly fundraisers for different organizations.  I love being a part of SCA because it teaches children about the importance a giving to others, caring about our community, and helping those in need.

In November our project was titled "Can the Office." The goal was for students to bring in enough cans to fill up our front office and make the principal and office staff work out in the hallway!  The food drive was very successful, and we donated many boxes of food to Lake Christian Ministries in Moneta, which serves about 1400 families during the holiday season.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tracking Data with NoteCounselor

Unless you have been living under a rock somewhere in a remote forest, you have heard about the importance of accountability in the world of education.  School counseling, is no exception.  This is only my 3rd year as a school counselor, and the budget has had me worried every year about keeping my job.  My 1st year, the "higher ups" wanted the elementary counselors to show how we had spent our year; how many students we helped, parents we met with, guidance classes we had taught, etc. Luckily, I had tracked my sessions and classes the "old fashioned" way with paper and pencil notes.  After submitting our data, administration was able to see the impact we have on our school community, and thankfully, counselors were not put on the list to be cut in our county.

This year, another elementary counselor who works in our county told me that she uses NoteCounselor (created by Amanda Lee Chambers).  Three years ago, when she was asked to send in her documentation, all she had to do was pull up a yearly report, with just one click of the mouse!  The day she told me about this program, I went online at http://notecounselor.com and ordered it. Four days later, I got NoteCounselor in the mail and started using it, and I would definitely recommend it to all school counselors.  It provides a very simple format, using Microsoft Access, that allows you to keep notes, track individual and group counseling sessions, log classroom guidance lessons, and much more.  It also categorizes task as indirect and direct counseling services and prints reports accordingly making it easy maintain a comprehensive program at your school.

Take some time to visit http://notecounselor.com/.

Does anyone else use this program? If so, leave a review here and, if not, tell us what program you do use.

**noteCounselor, LLC copyright © 2004, 2007, 2010 Amanda Chambers
**Microsoft Office Access is a registered trademark of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and other countries.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Career Cafe

I frequently visit The School Counselor Blog.  The author, Danielle, started a new career counseling initiative at her school and encouraged others to try it out.  After reading both her blog post and her article published in the Pennsylvania School Counseling Magazine, I decided to give it a whirl. Based on her ideas, this is my version of Career Cafe...

Front Side
Back Side
I created these postcards on Vistaprint.com and got 100 for free! I just had to pay for shipping.  Career Cafe is going to be a 5th grade program at my school.  First, I plan on having every student complete a career inventory to determine what careers they are most interested in.  Then, I'm going to recruit family and community volunteers that have careers similar to the ones my students are interested in.  My plan is to have 2 volunteers come each month on 1st and 3rd Fridays during 5th grade's lunch time.  Any student whose career inventory results match up with the volunteer that is coming that Friday will receive one of these postcard invitations.  They will bring their lunch to their classroom where they will be able to listen to the guest speaker.

I think this will be a successful program because students will be learning during lunch, which means no instructional time will be used! Teachers will really appreciate this.  Also, students will only be attending career cafe sessions that they are interested in. This will increase student behavior and provide for a more positive experience for the volunteer speakers.

I will let you know how it goes! Does anyone have any suggestions??

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Conflict Resolution Vokis

In guidance classes, students have been learning about effective conflict resolution skills.  They have learned to use "I" Messages when someone is doing something they don't like.  "I" messages allow students to express their feelings and to be assertive with students who are not treating them positively. 

I recently came across this awesome website: www.voki.com.  Using free trials, students can search through many different characters including animals, political icons, randoms, and other people and add accessories, backgrounds, and speech.  I let my 5th grade classes play around on this website and create a character for their conflict resolution project. Using a "text to talk" function online, each voki gives advice to a hypothetical student who is a concerned bystander to bullying.  Students were asked to created a "voki" character that answered this prompt....

"Hello, This new kid moved into our neighborhood.  He's from a different country, and he doesn't speak English very well.  Some other kids are calling him names and making fun of his clothes.  I wish they'd stop it.  What can I do?" (from Treat Me Right, Kids Talk About Respect by Nancy Loewen)

Click the links to view a couple Vokis the students created: 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

3rd grade reading class

An extra responsibility I have at school, unrelated to school counseling, is assisting in a reading group.  This 9 weeks I was placed in 3rd grade with one of our best teachers.  We follow a 6 day cycle in reading with the 6th day being a writing day and I have found these days to be the best because 3rd graders write the cutest things.  On this particular day, the assignment was to write a persuasive letter for something you need or want.  The teacher asked me to be the example.  What do I want? 

"Well, I really want a sewing machine for Christmas," I said, and she wrote that up on the board.  Then, the teacher asked the students to come up with 3 reasons I could write for wanting a sewing machine.  The 1st student she called on said, "maybe she's poor, and she has to make clothes instead of buying them!" Wow, that student probably had no idea how right she was!  The 2nd student responded, "maybe she has an annoying brother at home and she wants to sew his mouth shut!"  She must have been talking of personal experience!  In our class we call that strategy using "background knowledge!"

Take a look at one 3rd grader's persuasive letter...

This is why I LOVE working with kids all day!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A 2nd grader's perspective on Weather

The following post is an email I received recently from a parent of a second grader at my school.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent.  I think you will find this story to be both hilarious and eye opening.  Its amazing what those little brains are soaking up while we are up there teaching!

Katy’s second grade class has been learning about weather this week and apparently, she is listening quite well.  As she and I were getting ready to study she told me with excitement, “I already know ALL about it!” I decided to drill her on it just to see what all she knew, this is our conversation. (I stopped her right after she started so could grab a pencil and paper to, “take notes so I won’t miss anything.”)

Katy- “Did you know that heat from the sun makes water evacuate? It’s true.  You see, evacuation is when a liquid, you know, like water, changes into a gas, you can call it water vapors too.  I guess because it’s a gas it has to get out quickly.”

Mom- (Trying not to laugh)

Katy- “What? That’s what evacuation means, get out quickly.”

Mom- “Yes, evacuation means to get out quickly, please keep going.”

Katy- “Okay, well we have also learned about concentration.”

Mom- “Concentration?”

Katy- “ Yes, concentration. (eyes roll), it’s when the gas or water vapors, same thing, changes into water droplets.  Humm, I guess it’s hard to do that, change from liquid to gas then back to liquid.  I guess that’s why God named it concentration, I bet He has to think really hard to do it.”

Mom- (Straight faced) “You think?”

Katy- (Also straight faced) “Well yeah, don’t you think so?”

Mom- “I’m sure He does.  Keep going please, I’m really learning a lot here.”

Katy- “Well, there are 3 types of clouds, Curious Clouds, Cumulus Clouds and ummm, Straights Clouds.”

Mom- “Can you describe each one?”

Katy- “Sure, Curious Clouds are thin and feathery, I guess someone was curious how God does that so they named them Curious Clouds. Cumulus Clouds are my favorite ones, God uses them to make the God Show that me and Trevor like to watch.  He makes pictures in them for kids to look at and changes them all time so we don’t get bored, especially when we are riding in the car.  I don’t know how they got the name Cumulus Clouds though.  Straights Clouds are the last ones, they are like gray blankets in the sky because they mean rain or snow is coming and you might need a blanket.  They kind of look like straight walls too so I guess that’s why they named them Straights Clouds.”

Mom- (Still writing frantically so I don’t miss anything!) “I would have named them blanket clouds.”

Katy- “HEY!  I THOUGHT SO TOO! Heh, great minds think alike!  Let’s see, OH YEAH, HUMILITY!”

Mom- “Humility?”

Katy- “Yeah, I don’t know why they call it that, it’s not even funny.  It’s just where the water vapors/gas are in the air, that’s not funny.  Well, I guess it was to somebody.  Oh, I know, maybe it’s the OTHER kind of funny, you know, like strange/weird/odd, that kind of funny.  Maybe they couldn’t think of the right word so they said humility ‘cause it means funny too.  I get it now.  Heh!”

Mom-  (Laughing now!) “I bet you’re right!”

Katy- “I know, right! (Laughing!) HUMILITY!  HAHAHAHAHA!

Mom- “Please, keep going.”

Katy- “Well, hummm, oh, Participation, it’s any kind of water that falls from the sky like rain, sleet, hell or snow.  Why do they call it “Hell” Mommy?

Mom- “Not H-E-L-L, it’s H-A-I-L, it’s spelled differently and pronounced a bit different too.”

Katy- “Oh, that’s good.  Anyway, in order for it to do any of that, the weather, concentration, clouds, water vapors, humility, they all have to participate, you know, join in, so it all works together like a team.  HAHA!, A WEATHER TEAM!”

Mom- “Good one!”

Katy- “Thanks!  Well, if too much of it participates at the same time, it causes a flood usually in just a short amount of time.  Remember?  We just saw one on tv last week.”

Mom- “I remember.  It was bad wasn’t it?  I wonder what those people will do?”

Katy- “Well I know.  They will wait for a “dryout”!”

Mom- (Please don’t let me laugh!)  “A “dryout”?”

Katy- “Yes, a “dryout” is when it quits flooding and there is no rain or anything for a long time and everything just drys up, you know, a “dryout.”  Sometimes though, it can last too long and the plants and stuff start to wither up and it dies.  “Dryouts” aren’t too good unless you’ve had a flood then you want it and don’t mind the plants and stuff drying out ‘cause you can just plant more and water them with your watering hose like we do.”

Mom- “I’m sure.  Tell me more.”

Katy- “Well, that’s all we’ve learned so far, we just have to study it now because we have a test on Thursday.  I’m going to make an A+!”

Mom- “Well, If I was your teacher, I’d sure give you an A+, maybe even an A++!”

Katy- “REALLY?”

Mom- “YOU BET!”

Katy- “Thanks Mommy!  Did you write down everything I told you about weather?  You can look at it when you want to know what kind of weather we are having and you’ll know.”

Mom- (Loving this kid more than anything in the world!) “EVERY WORD!  I didn’t miss a bit.” (This is where my  medical transcription degree really helped!) ”

Katy- “Good.  I love learning about weather!”

Mom- “It sure sounds like you do!  I think though,  that maybe we need to go over your study guide together a little bit.  Okay?”

Katy- “Sure, but I’m telling you, I already know it all!”

Mom (Hugging her and knowing I’ll never be able to thank God enough for her!)  “God has great plans for you one day!”

Katy- “I know He does and I can’t wait!”

How blessed am I that I was chosen out of all the other mothers in this world, to be her mother?  What have I done that was so deserving?  I will never be able to thank God enough for trusting me with that honor.  I just pray that I can help guide her in the way that God is trusting me to do.  She is already such a beautiful light in this world.  Yes, I am truly blessed!

Goals for my blog

Share ideas and collaborate with other school counselors
Keep a running log of guidance lessons
Offer tips to parents and professionals
Track all of those fun, cute, and entertaining things kids say.  They do say the “darndest things!”
    Does anyone have any other suggestions??

    Monday, October 10, 2011

    New to Blogging

    Blogging is definitely a new experience for me.  To be honest, I have no idea what I'm getting myself into.  After spending hours trying to get the design of my blog absolutely perfect, I have finally given up and decided to just get started no matter what the actual blog looks like.  I am anxious to build a list of followers and get started sharing my experiences as an Elementary School Counselor with you all.  My goal is to post lessons, resources, advice, and fun stories that other counselors, teachers, and parents will find helpful and entertaining.