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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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:

example

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!

Principals 200 Club

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Welcome to the start of the new school year! I would write more but this is my 3rd post of the day, the previous 2 were mysteriously deleted!  Feel free to check out my pictures and use my “Office Staff Roles” in principals 200 to help you implement this at your school.  More info to come – promise!Image

Guidance Suite Day 1

Guidance Suite

First off, I apologize for the lack of updates this year.  Some major life changes (did I mentioned I’m engaged?? he put a ring on it!) and also a career change (guidance counselor, woopwoop!) have taken a toll on my free time.  My goal is one post every two weeks, so please check back often for updates!

Today is day one of decorating my guidance suite for the 2013-2014 school year and I couldn’t be more trilled!  I work at a Charter School in Philadelphia  (same one that I worked as a special education teacher) with grades kindergarten, 1st, 5th, 6th, 7th & 8th grade.  There will be approximately 450 students across these six grades.  School starts September 9th and I’m working on decorating (obviously…its the best part!) and putting my schedule together (HELP!).  I will also be researching the topics for this coming school year.  Does your school have a monthly character trait? If so, tell me more!

Positive Behavior Intervention & Support (PBIS) is in FULL SWING this coming school year!  “School Culture” is very important to us, so we’ve changed the title of PBIS to The School Culture Team.  We are working on our “big 8” systems and modeling/role playing with the staff during orientation.  We spent a lot of time this summer with our School Culture Team and designed these school-wide and in-class systems such as arrival, dismissal, hallway transitions, getting supplies in the classroom, etc.  Our staff will hear all about of these proposed systems during the next few weeks and work within grade teams to choose what works well for them.  These systems are written as scripts and seem so silly to write but even sillier to act out (and super entertaining, I must say).  When you act out your plan (literally pretend your staff is your students) you realize what works and what is too wordy.  It can be as small as saying “collect materials” instead of “put your materials away”.  Practicing through role play has also been effective in showing teachers exactly what we mean – when we say repeat, we mean it.  When you do it the way it is written, it will be more effective (especially since we spent so much time tweaking it!).  Have you had any experience writing “scripts”? if so, how did it go over with your staff?

One more small change we are making this year is that students are allowed to be in zone 2 (quiet) in the hallways and during transitions instead of zone 1 (silent).  The reason for this is we are modeling REAL LIFE.  Have you ever had to be silent in a mall hallway? how about an office building?  We want to show our students how to act in the real world.  I’m hoping teachers find this as a blessing and that this maximizes learning time.  Do students have to be silent in your hallways during transitions? How does that work for you?

Best of luck with your school year!  I have a feeling this will be the BEST ONE YET!  enjoy!

Remember, your students & school are a reflection of YOU!  (quoted by my amazing Principal) 🙂 

New Year & Reset

It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to make a complete update to my behavioral world so here is a mini one to keep you interested!

Penny wars was a HUGE success!  We were able to raise $650 in a 2-week period…we collected over 37,000 PENNIES…amazing.  Thank goodness for TD Bank’s Penny Arcade is all I have to say!  Since it was a competition between homerooms, all students will be receiving their incentive this week (who doesn’t love pizza and ice cream!)

penny wars flyer

January has come with a complete reset plan for our company.  It is a time to reflect on practices and reset to ensure that everyone understands.  We did it at the corporate level, school level and now classroom.  I’ve seen a BIG impact in the overall compliance in my classroom and it started with this reset.

On Saturday, our core SWPBIS team went to a PaTTAN training.  With all the hard work we’ve put in this year, much of the training was review but we were able to see data from staff surveys.  From there we created our action plan for better implementation.  It was a great feeling when the presenters from PaTTAN recognized me from the videos on our website!

Tomorrow we will be having our first assembly of the new year, “Positivity Promotes Peace” celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s real birthday and all the successes we’ve had in the past few months!  We will have student performances on drums, we will showcase our award-winning basketball team and kickoff our PSSA countdown in style.

Positivity Promotes Peace

I will be back to update more as time goes on and give some tips for starting SWPBIS and what i’ve learned from this time last year! Hope you are having a wonderful New Year

Upcoming World Tour Day

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First thing first – hope you are home safe with your family!  Second, hope you are using your time wisely and getting work done before the power goes out!  Philadelphia is getting a direct hit so anyone here, please be careful!!

Back to work – On November 16th we will be hosting our 1st Annual World Tour Day!  This will be an incentive for students because they will have to use tickets to participate.  Each teacher will host a country and come up with culture, food, music, and dance activities for rotating classes to experience.  Has your school hosted an International Day or Culture Day?  Share your thoughts and ideas!  More info and documents to share coming soon.

The Vare Cares Way

Is it really only October?! It feels like school has been in session for at least 3 months already.  As I sit here lesson planning at 9pm on a Saturday, I can’t help but miss those summer afternoons in the local coffee shop.  Instead, I’m a few days ahead of my plans (thats a first this year!) but I also have a pretty extensive to-do is on my desk – of which I only crossed one thing off of today.  But you probably came here for an update on Behavior stuff…maybe? Well, that’s what you’re going to get.

As you may be aware, this year we implemented PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention & Support) at my Middle School.  We started giving our tickets for good behavior, have had school-wide character lesson plans and taught our expectations to our students.  Theres a slight difference in the overall culture of the school – but with new initiatives, big changes take time.  We are practicing being patient!  We have also had a few school-wide incentives.  We started off with Spirit Week and our first NUT (No Uniform Today) Day – which was a big success!  Surprisingly, there was not in increase in overall discipline referrals that day, which means we can continue to have them!  Check out the flyer that was sent home and displayed around the school for Spirit Week!


We had our first Vare Cares Awards Assembly last week which was a hit.  Our students are still practicing their behaviors in the auditorium and they needed a few reminders but overall, the behaviors are improving.  Students also were able to vote for a student in their class who exhibited cooperation in the month of September and these students received the Vare Cares Award.  Parents were invited to share in the celebration and it is always an amazing feeling to reward the students who are always doing the right thing.  The other great part is that all students voted (and teachers agreed with their choices!) and were able to notice which students exhibit the desired behaviors. Below you will see the Vare Cares Student Star voting sheet.

We also had a special guest join us to kick off our Vare Cares Assembly and talk about a topic that goes hand in hand with cooperation – bullying.   I hope the students felt as inspired as I did! 🙂