Using iTunes U for School-Wide Counseling Support

Have you heard of iTunes U?

Surviving Middle School

If you have an iPad or iPhone you can download iTunes U which is basically an online course that your students and teachers can subscribe to and have all of your documents/materials and lessons at your fingertips.

This year, I’ve created our Middle School online course, “Surviving Middle School” (click here with your iOS devise) that gives students information from “How to Make Friends”, “What is a Bully?”, “How to Prepare for BIG Tests” and many more topics under the umbrella of School Counseling. Updates happen often so keep checking back for new information and links to helpful websites and apps to use for your School Counseling Program. Hope you find my course helpful for you and your students!!

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Using “Love Notes” in Friendship Groups

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This week in my girls friendship lunch group, I gave each student an envelope printed with their name on the outside (and a little red heart for added love). Inside the envelope, I wrote each student a positive love note such as, “your smile fills any room you are in” or “thank you for your honesty and participation in our group, we are so thankful to have you!”.

The girls LOVED this activity. After they read their special note, I gave them 3 minutes to write their own notes to other group members or themselves. I played some inspirational songs during this time and the girls used markers and small index cards. This special note above was one of the first student notes I received this year and it made me smile 🙂 These positive words of encouragement also came in handy for our next activity which involved a “I’m Special and Unique” Board to help boost self-esteem.

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Bright and Cheery Chevron Digital Backgrounds by Melissa Dalton 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Melissa-Dalton-34

School Counseling Office Design

My office is small, I have to use an unoccupied classroom if I need more space for groups. Here are some pictures of my active workspace – viewer BEWARE! This picture is taken in the middle of the day and the middle of the week…so please no judgements 🙂

I will add more photos when I clean up because I’ve moved the bookcase recently which has added a lot more room – it has really transformed the space!!

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Who runs the world? GIRLS! How to Run Girls Lunch Groups

This year I have a lot of new students (not to mention being new myself!) and some of the students have come from being homeschooled for many years. I have some students that have come to me because they are looking to make friends and have had some bad experiences. I currently have 3 girls groups running during lunch/advisory (we have an hour) which are focused on making and keeping friends. I try to find 5-8 girls that will work good together and learn from each other – it is not hard for me to find students that want to have lunch with me 🙂 My office is pretty small so I go in to an open classroom and bring all of my goodies!

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I structure my girls group as follows:

Ice Breaker: a quick activity to get the students talking…sometimes we start while we are eating and it can be very informal. If the girls are talking, I will step back and watch for good moments to use later if needed.

Group Rules: always read and remind the students of our group rules and our group name (decided during our first session)

Group Goals: using a pre-assessment tool, group goals are designed to help students where they need it most. I review our goals before each session to keep our priorities in mind. Students are able to share their ideas at this time, too.

Activity: the lesson paired with a group activity or discussion that will focus on the goal above.

Recap: student directed activity to make the final connections to our goals and the activity.

Closure: we close out our time together by thanking each other for our time and attention and add any last inspiration for the day. Sometimes I will continue reading a book related to the topic until the bell rings.

Keeping the group structure the same helps me organize my ideas but also helps students know when they can share and when they need to listen. So far, I’m feeling good but just getting my feet wet – more information and example lessons & ideas coming soon!

School Counseling Student Information Sheet

With my new job came over 700 new students. With teacher, administration and student referrals…I had a lot of students to get to know. I created this document to use during a first time session to keep conversation focused on the main goals of school counselors (academic, social/emotional and career topics). You can have students fill out the sheet and then use the information to foster conversation or you can fill it out with them. This sheet gives you an overall look into their lives and will prompt good conversation back and forth. You will be surprised at the information they share based on the rating scale! This is on my teachers pay teachers account for FREE or download below, enjoy!

School Counseling Info Sheet

School Counseling Info Sheet

The Best School Counseling Apps

I am always searching for new apps to use at my school. All of our students have iPads and we are a paperless school – which is super exciting but different! Here is a list of my favorites:

1. Feel Electric – this app lets you create users/players for an interactive feeling game. In the “moodisphere” students have to identify their moods. The program saves your history and allows for students to also learn what the feeling words mean by clicking on the words. For example when you click on the word “panicked” you will see (and hear) the definition “when you’re suddenly really scared of what may happen”. This can be a great conversation starter for you and your students. There are other games students can play – I haven’t had time to experience those games just yet however, since my kids can download this app themselves, i’d love to see them use it in their free time!

I love how interactive this is – take a look!

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2. Haiku Deck – such an innovative and fun idea for education and counseling! Students can choose from a variety of (really great) stock photos, designs and fonts to create a text photo. Here is an example, I made this to show students my happy place:

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3. Pinterest – seriously, need I say more?

4. Google drive – I am IN LOVE with google forms. I use them for everything…student notes, referrals from teachers and parent contacts. All of the responses go straight in to a spreadsheet and keep my information so organized. So easy!

5. Flashcard – this is a great tool for students that want to study for tests. I constantly have students coming in my office with test anxiety – this is a great tool that is fun to use, students can share their cards and you can play games!

I’ll continue updating this often so check back again soon!

Ready for a Change!

Well I’m back. Its been wayyyyy too long. Since my last post I have a new house, new husband, new name and new job. I am happy to say that I’m in the best place of my entire life. With that being said, I’m ready to get back to updating and sharing about my Urban Education Experience! Currently I am a 5th – 8th grade school counselor at a school in Center City Philadelphia. With over 700 students, I’m pretty busy but I am inspired everyday. Check out my new office:

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To get to know all of my new students, I did a small presentation at our Welcome Assembly and also created a video for students to watch during advisory – turned out to be a very quick way to hit everyone! My day’s are filling up fast with drop in students, referrals and meetings. Check back soon for updates about my favorite apps (all of our kids have iPads), new books, videos and accessories I use in my office.