Fresh Picks for 8/8/14

My kitchen counter is heaped with kale, swiss chard, basil, blueberries, tomatoes in a variety of sizes, cilantro, radicchio, beans, and, of course, the ubiquitous zucchini after harvesting my garden and CSA farm share this morning. Before I get going on chopping, preserving, and cooking all that deliciousness, here’s today’s harvest of school counseling resources.  NOSCA’s Guides to the Eight Components of College and Career Readiness Counseling These elementary, middle, and high school guides from the National Office for School Counselor Advocacy “illustrate how school counselors can use the Eight Components to establish a college-going culture across the K-12 pipeline [we’re a pipeline??!!], promote college and career readiness for all students, and close gaps between low-performing or traditionally underrepresented students and their peers.” Clear, easy to read and refer to, and FREE – you need one!   Video Featuring School Counselors Reaching Higher Erin from SCOPE put together this wonderful School Counselors #ReachHigher video of school counselors from all over the country (and at least one from Canada) showing how they’re going to #ReachHigher this year to help their students prepare to continue their education beyond high school. If you need some ideas for goals you can use, there are lots of great examples. You might even start thinking about making a video like this with your students!   Helping Traumatized Children Learn The Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative offers some great resources for schools and staff to help students who have experienced trauma feel safe and be successful at school. provides information, an online learning community, and FREE, downloadable books, Helping Traumatized Children Learn and Creating and Advocating... read more

Fresh Picks for 7/16/14

I find great resources all the time, things I use right away or plan to soon, but often don’t have time to blog about them. So I’ve decided to go ahead and share them here in a regular series called Fresh Picks for School Counselors. (Oh how I’d love to say weekly series, but, well, you know . . .) They may turn up again in a later blog post when I’ve incorporated them into a lesson, activity, or have done some serious thinking about them, but until then (if there is a then), here they are as is. I’d love to hear how you use them! I hope you enjoy the first harvest! Classroom or Small Group Activity: Grit Curriculum Lesson: Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals As school counselors and educators, we use S.M.A.R.T. goals all the time. Here’s an example of how to help students develop perseverance by teaching them how to use and evaluate their own S.M.A.R.T. goals. (It’s also a great reminder for adults who need some clarification about S.M.A.R.T. goals.) The video and accompanying lesson plan from Edutopia show how you can recreate this lesson for students in upper elementary and above.  <a class="smarterwiki-linkify" href="[/embed]"> Information to Share: How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for A.D.H.D.  An all-too-frequent issue: Students coping with trauma may have difficulty concentrating, act impulsively, become agitated, or engage in high-risk behavior, all symptoms which can also indicate A.D.H.D. But responding to behavior as if it is a function of A.D.H.D. when in fact it is a result of trauma (or vice versa) can make matters worse. Sharing this article from The Atlantic... read more

#ReachHigher Photo Project: A Fun Way to Share & Advocate

The #ReachHigher Photo Project is a fun and easy way for school counselors to collectively show our dedication to helping our students become successful learners so that they can achieve success in college or other post-secondary training. All you need is a goal, paper and marker/printer, and a camera! Write your goal, which should be specific and related to college readiness, on the paper, have someone take a picture of you holding your goal paper, and email it to the address linked below by July 20, 2014. School counselors at all levels are encouraged to participate. If you are an elementary counselor, do not despair! Tons of what we do is related to college readiness, even if it is not college specific! We may not have much direct influence on whether or not students sign up for AP classes or complete the FAFSA, but we lay the groundwork for this by working to remove the barriers to success: we help them learn how to be learners, self-regulate, persevere, get along with others, develop good work habits, and have the skills they need to manage and overcome difficult and challenging situations.  The Reach Higher initiative is First Lady Michelle Obama’s effort to inspire students to complete their education beyond high school. She spoke about it, and the centrality of school counselors to its success, in her keynote address at ASCA14. The idea for the #ReachHigher Photo Project comes from SCOPE and Erin Mason, who will be collecting and assembling the photos into a slideshow. For all the details (including a prize drawing), check out the SCOPE post about the #ReachHigher... read more

Michelle Obama Speaks To and For School Counselors

Here it is! Your chance to see the First Lady thanking and clapping for you on this video of Michelle Obama speaking at ASCA14! One of the most exciting experiences in my career was being in the audience for Michelle Obama’s speech about school counselors and the work we do. It was (and still is, thanks to video) engaging, moving, and so, so validating! The ASCA staff clearly did a great job of making sure that the First Lady and her staff understood what daily life is like for school counselors and how much our students need us. I laughed, cried, and was simply amazed that this was happening. I think you will be too. Sharing this video with your administrators, other counselors, leaders, and teachers in your district, and your state agency/department of education is a great way to advocate for more support for school counseling, your students, and yourself. (For tips on easy advocacy, see A is for #ASCA14, and Also for Advocacy.) Share it with your family and friends too, so they can get a sense of what you do everyday and how important your work is! Most of all, enjoy! You deserve it! You might also be interested in:  Coordinating Career Day  ASCA 2013: Diary of a (Not Very) Young Counselor   A is for #ASCA14, and Also for Advocacy   Post-It Note Counseling    Finding a School Counseling... read more

A is for #ASCA14, and Also for Advocacy

I am still processing all the wonderfulness that was #ASCA14: amazingly dedicated (and fun) colleagues, inspiring sessions, meeting blog and Twitter friends in real life, making connections for future collaboration, picking up some school counselor swag, oh, and did I mention seeing and hearing Michelle Obama speak about, thank, and REALLY GET school counselors????!!!! I’ll have more to share with you as all the new info and resources settle in and percolate, but I don’t want to wait to tell you about the super-easy advocacy opportunity we have right now. Here’s a simple but powerful way that you can advocate for school counseling to your local stakeholders about the role and appropriate responsibilities of school counselors, and the need for reasonable, effective caseloads and quality professional development and training. First, the info. Then, a how-to. The Info An incredible thing has happened! The First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, which builds upon the White House commitment to expanding college opportunity, recognizes the importance and necessity of school counselors in meeting the goal of having all students complete their education past high school. They need us, they need more of us, they need us to be freed up from non-counseling duties, and they need us to be more knowledgeable about college and career readiness. And they’re working to help with all that.   On June 30, the day before the First Lady spoke at ASCA14, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a key policy letter to the chief education officers of all the states to “call attention to the urgent need for highly effective school counselors and discuss the importance... read more

Enjoying ASCA14, Whether You’re There or Not

By this time next week ASCA14 will be over and you and I will be either (1)  overtired basking in the afterglow of attending and/or (2) feeling good about everything you got out of it, even if you didn’t go. Whether you’re going to be there in the flesh or not, you can still join in and feel a part of it all and get some great ideas and resources. I will be there, and hope to meet you. Some of the School Counseling by Heart readers I met last year have become my very good friends! That one time, at ASCA Camp . . . Here I am with the first person I met at ASCA13, also a Rebecca! I’m the old Rebecca on the right. If you see me, please come up to me and say hi! And if you see the young Rebecca, say hi to her too – she’s super nice! You’ll be able to find me for sure at the Opening Session in what is bound to be the teeny-tiny Vermont contingent, at the Tweet Up on Monday at 5:15, and at my presentation, Teaching Students to Recognize and Report Sexual Abuse, on Wednesday at 9:00am. Whether you’re going or not, make sure to download the ASCA14 app, which is available for phone, tablet, and computer. It’s a great tool for navigating while you’re there, but the best thing about it is that you can access the digital “handouts” from the sessions, including mine, even if you’re not in the room (or the state) when they’re happening. Another great way to feel a part... read more

Kid-Created Career Trading Cards

Kids have lots of fun at Career Day, and are exposed to a lot of new possibilities, but how can we be sure that they’ve truly understanding the concepts that we want them to learn? More and more in recent years, I’m incorporating ways for kids to demonstrate their learning as part of the units I teach. Sure, it takes additional class time, but it also enriches and deepens their understanding and, when they have the opportunity to share their work with others, that of their classmates. It also helps me assess their learning and the efficacy of my lessons. One example of this is the Career Trading Cards assignment, which serves as a follow-up to Career Day, provides a way to address Common Core writing standards within counseling lessons, and results in some very nifty, personalized thank-you gifts for our Career Day guests.    The student-driven, technology-based  CareerSmarts unit offers several ways to assess student learning: For each career they explore through web-based career exploration and in-person interviews during Career Day, students fill out the Career Investigation Survey, which gives me an idea how well they can apply their knowledge of multiple intelligences and whether they understand the educational requirements of each job. For the unit’s final project, students create avatars of themselves in their future careers, in which they synthesize what they have learned throughout the unit and apply it to their favorite topic – themselves! The Career Trading Cards help kids demonstrate the depth of their learning during Career Day.  To create their Career Trading Cards, kids use the Trading Cards app , which is very engaging and... read more

Coordinating Career Day

Career Day is one of the highlights of the technology-based CareerSmarts unit, but for the event itself and the lesson right before it, students use face-to-face interpersonal skills instead of using technology. They do, however, build on what they have already learned through technology about multiple intelligences, interests, and careers, and gather more information that will help them create their digital final projects. It takes a lot of work to coordinate Career Day, but it’s so worth it. The kids learn so much and have a wonderful, fun experience. The guests are so impressed with the kids’ knowledge and professional demeanor. And your administrator, colleagues, and parents think you’re pretty great too! After Career Day is over, you’ll be exhausted, but also very fulfilled! No point in you having to re-invent the wheel, so here is everything you need to prepare for and run your own Career Day. Planning for Career Day The Nuts and Bolts. At Career Day, which lasts for two hours, each student interviews three different guests in groups of 2-4 students. You need enough guests to make sure that the variety of careers represented reflects all eight multiple intelligences. (To meet this need and to keep the group sizes small, we had 17 guests for 44 students last year.) The guests stay at their interview stations and the kids rotate according to their personal interview schedule. Here is the schedule we use: 8:45-9:00 Guest check in; Students go over schedule, practice professional skills 9:00-9:15 Intro in Library 9:15-9:20 Guests go to interview station; Students dismissed to interview 1. 9:20-9:35 Interview 1 9:35-9:40 move 9:40-9:55 Interview... read more

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