Friday, June 29, 2012

Top 10 Tech List for counselors

I'm often asked what tech things I would describe as my absolute must have tech websites, apps, equipment, etc. for school counselors.  So since David Letterman has a list, here's my jyjcounselor top 10 list (I have other tech tools that I use, but since I can only list 10) here goes:

#10:  an iPad:  Many school counselors are getting their hands on these nifty tablets.  Having my iPad has simplified and enhanced my work as a school counselor.  If your school district offers you one, by all means take and use it! If your school district is unable to provide you with an iPad, I would highly suggest that you treat yourself by getting one (you won't regret it).  Apple sells refurbished iPads at a discount that are Apple certified and come with a warranty.  I actually brought myself and my parents refurbished iPads and have had no problems with either one.

#9:  If you have an iPad, then the VGA adapter is a must too.  This adapter connects to a data projector which means that you can use it for classroom visits, presentations, class demos on a larger scale (as my students say, it's on the "big screen").  You can also buy a refurbished adapter (I bought one). 

#8: (Last iPad thing)...if you have an iPad, please get a case to protect your (or your school's) $$$.  I bought my trusty purple case from Amazon for $21.  I'd love to show a picture of a co-worker's iPad who didn't buy a case (he wouldn't let me take a pic after I told him that his iPad would be on shown as what happens when you don't get a case) just imagine a screen with about 20 pieces of clear tape on the screen from a nasty fall/drop....not pretty! 

#7:  Dropbox:  Just think of your thumb drive available to you to use on any computer (with internet access) anywhere!  You can store documents, videos, pictures and even music on this amazing online storage.  I use Dropbox every day, I don't have to keep up with a usb stick when I visit classes, I just log into dropbox pull up my lesson and roll!  You can even share files with others that have dropbox too.

#6:  Google Docs:  Oh, how I love the use of Google Docs!  Create survey's, documents, spreadsheets, presentations all on the web.  Think of Office through Google.  You can upload already created files into Google Docs too then easily share the link of your docs with others (no more email attachments).  In fact the Slideshow above was created in Google Docs.

#5: Livebinders:  Online "binder" with weblinks, resources, pictures, videos and more.  I replaced a paper binder of parent resources to a livebinder.  To get an idea, here's a livebinder of school counselor resources I created.  

#4:  Stich.itCreate a slideshow of web links all in one place.  See my previous post on with directions. 

#3:  Prezi:  Takes presentations to a higher level!  Just think PowerPoint times 20.  Prezi is much more interactive and lets you use a little more creativity in your presentations.  I use this for some of my class visit lessons (there's a free iPad app, Prezi Viewer that lets you view your Prezi presentations). 

#2: YouTube:  Of course I know that you all know what YouTube is but did you know that you can make playlist of videos?  I made a playlist of school counseling related clips that would be great to use in either a class visit or small group.  You will need a YouTube login to create your own playlist.  I even have a music playlist for songs I just can't quite justify buying yet.  I just love the playlist feature.

#1: Pinterest:  I love Pinterest and all it's magic of letting us "pin" great school counseling ideas.  If you're not on Pinterest, I highly recommend it.  I've gotten so many great ideas to implement in my school counseling program.

What tech tools are on your list that are must have's? Pin It

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I'm back from Minneapolis

Visiting Sculpture Garden
Oh, where do I begin? (there's so much to share): I had a fantastic fabulous time at my 1st ever ASCA conference!  Minneapolis was great, having nice beautiful weather (80 degrees with no humidity) having a beautiful and fun downtown area, and by playing host to tons of school counselors which could only equal a great time!  The best and easiest way for me to share my experience is through pictures, so here's a few:
The weather was so nice, you could eat outside and enjoy the fresh air!

Registration (I got there early, hence no lines)

Opening Session

Exhibit hall opens

Keynote speaker Dan Savage

Inside the exhibit hall

With ASCA executive director Dr. Richard Wong

ASCA celebrates 60 years

Neat Tweet up name tags made by Danielle Schultz

#scchat Tweet up
Tweet up with Jen G. from Missouri

Meeting Tabitha from Scrapbook of a School Counselor Blog
With Danielle Schultz & Erin Mason

Tech Smackdown sign, click here for the handout

Tech Smackdown team!  Erin Mason, Julia Taylor, Russ Sabella, me (Andrea Burston) & Danielle Schultz
With NC School Counselor Association (NCSCA) president Nikki Neuman at RAMP Awards banquet.

School counselors from my district (Vanessa Barnes, Wanda Moore, Portia Lambright) & me with ASCA president-elect Dr. Sylinda Gilchrist-Banks at RAMP awards banquet
WCPSS Counselors w/ former ASCA president and WCPSS director of school counseling Eric Sparks.

I had a wonderful time being able to connect with school counselors from all over the country.  I was able to meet my counselor blog and tweet buddies face to face which was so awesome!  I had a fun and fantastic time presenting with amazing school counselors Danielle Schultz, Russ Sabella, Erin Mason & Julia Taylor for the Web 2.0 Smackdown! If you would like the handout to the session, click here.    Go ahead & make plans to attend next year's conference in Philadelphia, PA, I certainly am! Pin It

Friday, June 22, 2012

Next stop: Minneapolis, MN ASCA Conference

-Bags packed: check
-Presentation notes ready: check
-Super excited to attend ASCA conference: check

I'm only days away from attending and presenting at my first ASCA conference (click here for information on downloading the conference app). I'm so excited to go (plus I've never been to Minnesota before).  I've heard nothing but great things about attending ASCA conference.  I have a very strong feeling that I'll be coming back with even more ideas for next year.  It's a good thing that I have this summer to plan!  If you'll be in Minneapolis for the conference, please contact me or if you see me at the conference please stop me and say hello (it won't frighten me, I'm from the South so I'm used to it).  I look forward to connecting with other school counselors during this grand event.   Also if you're attending please stop by the Counselor Tech Smackdown Session on Monday, 06/25 from 10:45-12 noon.  I'll be co-presenting with wonderful counselors Russ Sabella, Erin Mason, Danielle Schulz and Julia Taylor.  An upcoming post on my ASCA conference experience will come soon. Pin It

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Counselor Tech Shout out: has got to be one of my new favorite tech tools!  It's a one-stop-shop on combining web links/websites into a slide show, that's super easy to navigate through.  For an example, I combined 8 web links for parents into just one simple link slideshow that I could add to my counselor website.  I also did the same for elementary school counselors in my district that currently have websites/blogs. 

Here's how to use
Once you get on the website, you copy and paste the web links that you want to put in your slide show.  For the example below, I did websites for parents on preparing for transitioning to Kindergarten.  After you copy/paste the links click "Stich it"(it may take a few moments for things to "stich").  After your "stich" is complete you will see "your stich" which is the website where the slideshow of your web links can be viewed.  (by the way don't close this tab just yet).
Click on pictures to enlarge

Next you can name your stich.  You can then give brief descriptions of your web pages (this is totally optional).  Some websites already show a description, again, giving a description is optional.

From there click on your stich web link and view your slide show. Click "next" and "previous" to navigate through the pages. 

Your stich link can be copied and pasted and shared with others through email. The only drawback with is that it's still in beta (testing) form so you can't edit your stich once it's published (this is why I leave the create tab open, you can still add and delete info in that tab).  If you'd like to see more of how works.  Take a look at the Kindergarten links for parents stich and the counselor stich I did for elementary counselors in my district.  Happy stiching!  Let me know how it works for you. Pin It

Monday, June 18, 2012

School Counselor=Fulfilling Career

I recently had an opportunity to attend the graduation ceremony at my Alma Mata NC A&T State University (Aggie Pride) where the speaker was none other than our 1st lady Mrs. Michelle Obama!  During her speech she spoke on how we should be fulfilled in what we do and that we have the power to shape and change the world.  She mentioned how she graduated from law school and worked at a large firm making a lot of money, drove a nice car and had a big office.  She said that those were the things that were "expected" of her but she felt a void.  She didn't fill that void until she took a job working at the mayor's office (taking a significant pay cut) but she said that giving back and helping others helped in filling that void.

As she spoke, I couldn't help but feel that I am truly fulfilled in my job as a school counselor.  I could almost describe it as Oprah says "an ah ha moment".  I love what I do and know that I am truly making a difference in the lives of the students, staff and parents that I work with.  Figuring this out takes some time and is a feeling that "you just know".

If you didn't already know, I was a high school teacher prior to becoming a school counselor. I enjoyed being a teacher (and learned a lot from being a teacher) but I felt as though something was missing.  Beginning in my 2nd year of teaching I started working at a new school and was meeting the staff.  I met one of the school counselors and we talked for a while.  She was telling me about herself and how she enjoyed being a school counselor.  She seemed very passionate about her career as we spoke.  As we were ending our conversation, she said to me "you'd really like being a school counselor, it's something that you should consider".  Ah ha!  I hadn't even thought about being a school counselor, I just assumed that I'd always be a teacher.   It was just something about the conversation that sparked my interest in school counseling.  I began to research about school counseling, requirements, job descriptions, etc.  That year, I applied to graduate school and was accepted into a counselor education program.  In a perfect world I'd say "and the rest is history" but that's not totally true.  I needed some time to adjust to my new career as a counselor.  There was the change from working only at a high school to now working in an elementary school, working with a team to working solo, pretty much finding out what works best for me.  It took me several years to figure out what works best for me (and I'm still learning) but I can honestly say now that a simple suggestion from a co-worker (and now friend) lead me to a exciting, fun and fulfilling career as a school counselor.

Message from our PTA, makes you feel so appreciated!

Do you feel fulfilled in your career as a school counselor? I certainly hope so or hope that at least you have an opportunity to find fulfillment.  Sometimes in order to find fulfillment we have to make some changes.  Changing schools, changing districts or just changing up your program a bit can make a huge difference in your "void filling".

How did you get your ah ha moment that being a school counselor was the best fit for you? Pin It

Friday, June 15, 2012

Counselor Blog Shout Out: Counseling by Heart

This month's counselor blog shout out is:

School Counseling by Heart

School Counseling by Heart is a great and thoughtful blog from elementary school counselor Rebecca L. in Vermont.  She is super nice and don't you just love the picture with the heart?  Rebecca gives great tips on what works well in her counseling program such as book suggestions, activities and even strategies on working with students who may have special needs.  I've certainly gotten great ideas from her and this great blog! 

If you know of a great counselor blog or great tech feature to benefit school counselors that deserves a shout out please contact me so that they may be featured in an upcoming post. Pin It

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Counselor Book Inventory

I thought I'd never say this but....I have way more books than space in my office!  I love books and inherited many, many great books from the previous counselor.  Books are great to use with groups, classes, counselor ideas and to share with parents who may need books on a certain topic.  Many times students and parents will ask for books to use at home and I have to begin my hunt for them.  I do have (most) of counselor my books categorized by topic however, the number of books is slightly more than shelf space, which has caused me to resort to other storage locations.  See below:  By the way, based on the (before) pictures, please no one turn me into the TV show Hoarders.
Book shelf (before the inventory)
After I ran out of shelf space I moved on to the file cabinet
After I filled one drawer, on to drawer #2!

I've run out of shelf & file cabinet space, so I'm forced to use the floor!

Since school's out leading into summer (with teacher workdays), I have the time to do an inventory of all the books that I have.  I can use this inventory to categorize and have a running spreadsheet of the books that I have in my counselor library.  This will also help me keep track of books that I loan out to parents and students during the school year.  Here's what I did:

-I created a survey using Google Docs and used my laptop to keep inventory of the books.  You could also use your iPad, but it's much easier for me to type on the laptop.  My Google Docs survey asks the following questions:
-Book Title
-Number of copies
-Book Classification (examples: bullying, counselor resource, Classroom visit/lesson, divorce, friendship etc.)

I went through each book and filled out a "survey" form for each book.  As you fill out and complete each survey, Google Docs then puts all your "survey" responses into a neat spreadsheet.

Screenshot of the Google Docs book inventory "survey"

Screenshot of Google Docs Spreadsheet

 As I keyed my 252 books into my Google document, I made somewhat neat piles of books by topic so that when they are filed back, I have the books already grouped.  I actually boxed most of the books up because I'm hoping to get a storage cabinet/cart (fingers crossed) to keep the books on and I will give my shelf to a 5th grade teacher buddy.  
After keying the books, I put them in piles, by topic.  The yellow sheet on top lists the topic.
It has taken me 4 complete the book shelf (leisurely, I've been doing other cleaning, end of the year stuff too).  I will need to muster up some courage to tackle the file cabinet drawers with books!  I was able to recycle some of the books to either my counselor's character ed book cart or for "real recycling".  That eliminated  quite a bit of the books that were outdated or I have multiple copies of. 

I copied and pasted my Google spreadsheet into Excel.  You can skip this step if you'd like.  I just like being able to sort and filter in a full version of Excel vs. Google Docs.  Plus if I make an error in my Excel spreadsheet, I still have all of my info in my Google Doc (this is my personal choice, please do what works best for you).

I really was glad to have an chance to go through these books.  Do I want to do it all over again?  Not at all, but it allowed me to have a better idea of what I already have and what types of books I may need to add in the future (which I can add to the inventory list at any time).  This inventory will be great to use next year as an updated way to pull books and resources for parents and students.

How do you keep track/inventory of your counselor books?
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Monday, June 11, 2012

5th Grade Graduation Celebration

 As promised in my previous planning for a 5th grade graduation post, I have pictures from our festivities. 
Graduation Program

Ribbon that all graduates wore

I will admit that I was a little sad to see my 5th graders leave.  It was my 1st year at the school.  I was a little nervous about taking the place of a counselor that retired after 21 years at JYJ. Coming in as the "newbie" at school the kids were so great to work with and were very open and helpful to me.  So I got a little teary-eyed about the occasion.  Two students spoke at the graduation about what an impact the counselor intern and I had on their 5th grade year (tears from me).  Kids were sad to leave and crying (more tears from me) and later on a 5th grade teacher came and told me that most of her class wrote something about how the counselor intern and I had positively impacted their 5th grade year (I lost it here, this is where I did as Oprah says "the ugly cry").  How awesome is it to know that your students think so highly of you?  I think they are absolutely amazing and am flattered that they thought so highly of us, we're just doing out job and enjoying ourselves.

All our planning must have worked because the day/event went well, our speaker, stage decorations and school celebration were fantastic.  The kids were excited, happy and sad (so were we).
Beautiful stage decorations, donated & arranged by a 5th grade parent.
No need for a DJ, use your iPod!

At the school celebration, fun times!
Snow cone truck = total excitement!
Love this picture!

Class of 2012!

After the school day ended, the celebration continued as some of the 5th grade parents planned a celebration off campus for all of the new "graduates".  I thought that this was a great idea taking that many of the students will be at at least 10 different middle schools next year.  I had a blast at both celebrations and felt that it was an excellent way to end the school year!  Here are some pictures from that event: 

The celebration continues....

As soon as I walked in they were ready to dance, I didn't even have time to put down my bag.  Thanks to the parent that snapped this.
5th graders enjoying the beautiful weather!

It's not a party until you see the conga line

me with some of the "graduates"

How was your graduation/end of the year celebration?  I'd love to see pics and hear what you did!  Please feel free to contact me. Pin It