Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How counselors can use Common Core

During this warm month of July, I spent some time learning about common core and how to was going to effect schedules, schools, and learning goals. Like many counselors, I run  MTSS: Multi-Tiered System of Support (YES- this is RTI- education loves changing names and keeping us on our toes!), and was intrigued to see how Common Core was going to change us as a state, county, and school.  The importance of differentiated instruction is crucial- even teaching guidance lessons. I came away with 3 "take aways":

1. Since Common Core is so objective: the standard of the lesson, the actions that students will do, the main idea and the learning goal are all listed. By writing the learning goal on the board, saying it out loud, and then having the students recite it back to me. Since their homeroom teachers will be doing this during their own lessons, it will be a good reinforcer for students to see it applied to subjects outside math, science, reading, etc.

2. Often we have curriculum for each grade as counselors and we tweak it to fit the needs of the specific grade. The "Unwrapping" technique will allow teachers (and counselors) to look at a particular standard for their grade,and see where their students were last year, and where they are going in the future. This is helpful for the differentiated instruction in lower and high students. 

3.When I think of Formative assessments, I often think of benchmark, and high stakes tests. This is clearly not the case! Surveys, exit surveys, open ended responses, polling, rubrics, journals, and and writing stories are all ways that counselors can see if our students are getting the information that we are giving to them. Since we do not grade our own students during guidance, we can use these tools to help us measure who understood the information and who needs some extra help.

I am definitely no Common Core expert in the least, but I did come away with a flavor for August and the changes that will be made.

Any counselors out there find out anything else about common Core?! 
I would love to learn more!

With Love and Common Core curiosity,
Your Floridian Chick

Monday, July 22, 2013

Class DOJO

I recently learned about this free (Wahoo!) program and fell in love. It is a classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior quickly and easily!

Living in a society with ever-changing technology, this program allows teachers to record information on their computer, cell phone and/or on their smart boards. Teachers are able to positively reinforce and negatively reinforce any behaviors they want to AND the best part is- they can tailor it to their class and their needs.
Why it is great for counselors: We can use it in our small groups, classroom guidance, and RTI.to can track the behavior of the students.

For parents: Parents and guardians can log onto the website and see their child's conduct grade on a day to day basis. 

For students: It's cool!  They create their own avatar and can make it unique to their interests. They also have the ability to track their own behavior and see what their conduct grade is daily, weekly and by marking period.

I encourage you to check it out for yourself and share it with your faculty! Let me know if you have any questions or comments! I would love your feedback! 

your Floridian chick


Monday, July 15, 2013

Opening my eyes to attendance

I'm happy to admit it-I was wrong. 100%- without a doubt!

During the last school year, like most counselors, I was in charge of attendance. Our attendance is not horrible but at the same time, it can always be improved. After setting up meetings with families, calling families, and sometimes not getting a response, I was starting to feel a tad bit frustrated with students who did not come to school repeatedly.

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about counselor academy. I was able to hear from a lot of different counselors about what they had been doing to improve attendance and the angle they were taking on it. Instead of calling the families when they did NOT show up, they were positively reinforcing the students when they DID show up! Research shows time and time again how positive reinforcement is stronger than negative- I KNOW THIS! I have known this since psychology 101 freshman year. Yet my brain was so fixed on the negative that I could not see the positive.

In addition to these new perspectives, I was told to read the book, Breaking Night by Liz Murray.  WOW! It opened my eyes to a world I did not know about. Liz was a product of drug-addicted parents and a homeless lifestyle. Attending school was probably the last thing on her parents mind; she was truant throughout most of elementary, middle and part of high school before she was able to take control of her life. She not only finished high school, but went on to Harvard. If you have time this summer, I urge you to pick up this beautifully written story and see for yourself what happens outside the walls of a school and the struggles that this girl faced.

My views of attendance have changed this summer and I will definitely be going back to school in the fall with a different perspective and a fresh look at how to improve attendance.

If you've read this book, let me know what you think! It was a game-changer for me, but... 

what about YOU?

Your Floridian Chick

Monday, July 8, 2013

Counselor Academy

What a week! Being the twenty-second largest district in the country has its perks but I think this event takes the cake for counselors. 50 counselors from elementary, middle and high schools in the county got together for 5 days in June and went to town on learning new ways to improve our program!

The head of guidance pulled some serious strings and managed to get Mark Kuranz- the current ASCA director of Professional Development, and a past president of ASCA, as our main speaker. He shared his ideas on the ASCA model, how to implement it in our schools and what to look for when managing data. We even got these 2 books to help us out that I am able to reference often!

Some of the things we created were a month by month calendar of events and programs we plan to do and 
multiple "closing the gap" goals that we would like to accomplish for the next school year. We also talked about struggles that we all are experiencing and got to talk with others about how to try to fix those issues.

I am wondering if any other district/county does this? If so, what is yours like?
June Vs. August
Whole group Vs. Elementary, Middle and High
 Out of state speakers Vs. Using our own counselors as speakers

There are so many ways that this can be done, and I would love to hear your opinions! 

I will be posting later about specific goals I have for this next school year but until then, have a great week! 

Your Floridian chick