Monday, April 29, 2013

Use Your Voice To Keep Your Counselor Notes!

I'm still (actively) on my quest to keep paperless counselor notes.  Previously, I shared how I used Google Docs and my trusty iPad  to keep track of the students that I see daily.  So my wheels have be steadily spinning on what other options can be used to keep paperless counselor notes.  So here's my next "discovery" (if you want to call it that) on keeping (somewhat) paperless counselor notes.

Dragon Dictation is a free (my favorite price) app that converts speech into text, which means you simply just talk and Dragon turns what you say into written text!  Dragon is also available to use on computers (but you'll have to purchase the software).

So how did I use Dragon to keep track of my counselor notes?  Well, I decided to do a 2 week "Dragon Counselor Note Challenge" where I was to keep track of my counselor notes on Dragon for 2 weeks and share my experience with you.  Before I get started with my review, I'll share that #1, I did keep paper notes (as I've always done before going paperless) for the 2 weeks and #2 I have some prior experience with using Dragon from my high school teaching days (this was a unit that we covered in my class).   So here goes...

Each day, I keep a list of what I do each day in my personalized school counselor notebook.  I created this daily template myself where I record which students I've seen, parents called, classes visited, to do list, reminders and general daily info (nothing too detailed).  At the end of each day during my Dragon Challenge, I simply read my day to Dragon to record my notes.

Now to use Dragon, you must speak EXACTLY like you want Dragon to "type" it into text, meaning that you have to literally dictate punctation, spacing, etc.  So if I were to say today is: Monday, April 5th, 2013.  I would need to say it like this today is (colon) Monday (comma) April 5th (comma) two thousand thirteen (period).  For a list of commands for Dragon, click here.

Here's how using it on your iPad works:
Open the app and simply tap on the plus symbol, which means new note (at the top right corner) then the" tap and dictate" button.  Then talk away!

Ready to record!

Once you're finished talking you'll see what you said as text.  You can also type and correct misspelled words and/or type more info as needed (you'll see the keyboard at the bottom where you can type).

What's said is quickly & easily turned into text!  Notice the keyboard below the screenshot, this is where you can type and edit what was converted into text.  

You can email your notes to yourself or someone else or copy and paste the notes into a word document that you just add to each day.

So what's my take on the challenge?  Well I liked using Dragon, but it still doesn't quite make me want to switch from my paperless student notes through Google Docs.  But I do like the convenience for me to give myself quick voice reminders.  You could talk about your day as the day progresses, you would just have to remember to record your memo, that would be the tough part for me...remembering to record my notes.

Do you use Dragon for your student notes?  I'd love to hear your take on using it for student notes.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Counselor finds at the Target $1 Spot

As much as I try to ignore it, the Target $1 spot gets me almost every time. I had a whole basket full of stuff, but after some reality thinking "do I really need this" some things were put back.  Here are some counselor finds I just recently bought....

Squishy balls, these students love these & so do I!

Book about careers!

Cardboard book holders (not put together yet)

Cardboard book holders (great for categorizing books).  I would have gotten more, but I got the last 3 in the store. 

I've already put my items to good use already!

Have you recently found any other good counselors goodies (that are affordable).  Please share!

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Great (free) Paperless App for Groups

Running a school counselor group is a fun and interesting learning adventure for both myself and the students in the group.  In the past, I've kept a notebook with attendance, notes, reminders, etc.  Again in my attempt to head to the road to paperless school counselor tasks, I'd like to share a fantastic (free, my favorite price) app that will help you keep your groups organized WITHOUT paper!

Teacher Kit is a must have app for groups!  So here's how to set up your groups using the app:

-Add a new group (the plus symbol at the top) and give your group a name (for the purposes of this post, it'll be called "Practice Group". 

Add a new class (or group)

-Once you add the group, it'll appear on your "shelf", which lists all the groups that you've created.  Tap on the door to "open" your group.

All your groups appear on the shelf.  You can have multiple groups.
-You can now begin to add students to your group.  Tap the plus symbol at the top right corner and you will be able to add the students.  From here you can add info, parent contact info and even a picture of the student!  As you add the student info and click save the picture will appear with their name in a "school desk" icon (by the way you can move the desks around for changing seating charts around).  

Add your students in your group.

You can add images of the students in your group. 
-To keep attendance for the group click on attendance and tap on each student to mark either present or absent.  You can also add other choices for attendance.  For my book club groups, I have options such as read aloud, and brought snack (also way for me to keep track of info).

Keep track of attendance
-To keep individual notes on students in the group, click on behavior, choose the student you want to take notes on which will open a new window.  Click on the plus symbol and type what notes to you want to input (be sure to give your note a title), click notes and tap description (this is where you type your notes).  You can also use this to track positive or negative behavior.

Add your student notes
I LOVE this app and no longer have a need for my group notebook for keeping attendance or just general student notes.  I'm really feeling this counselor  going paperless plan!

For a more detailed description on using this app, check out this tutorial on YouTube:

Do you have an app to recommend to keep notes/attendance on your groups?

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Your 3 Words Lesson

I got the inspiration for this activity from awesome school counselor Julie Ford who shared this in her Lessons That Sparkle session at last years ASCA conference.  So how many of you have seen or heard of the "Your 3 Words" campaign that was featured on Good Morning America a couple of years back?  Well I hadn't until Julie was so kind to share.  Your 3 Words is exactly what it share 3 words (and that's it) about family, friends, motivation, positivity, humor, pretty much anything but you can only use guess how many words...3!!!!

So I decided to try this out with my 4th grade classes.  I talked about how people can make a lasting impression and it can be both positive and negative and that they would the opportunity to leave an impression here at JYJ but with only 3 words!  Boy did I get some strange stares then when I told them about only using 3 words.  I then showed them the video (see below) of GMA's your 3 words.  I'll warn you the song is very catchy and gets stuck in your head.

After the video, I showed the classes a few examples that myself and the counselor intern did for our 3 words.

School Counselors Rock (this is totally true)

This is also so true, sign created by counselor intern Dhruti.

I gave each student a half sheet of construction paper and told them to think about their 3 words and the power that they held.  I can say that they really got into it.
Nothings Too Hard

Always Aim Higher

Students work on their 3 words
As they finished, I took group pictures using my iPad of all the students holding up their signs which I printed and posted on a bulletin board (along with some the signs that they made).   I got lots of (positive) comments from students, teachers and parents about this activity.

Holding up our signs (I took pictures of every student holding up their sign, using my iPad).

Your 3 Words for the bulletin board made using Word (I printed these on colored cardstock).
Finished product!  I didn't have enough room to post all the signs the students made, but I had everyone's picture holding their signs.
Who knew that sharing 3 words would bring out such powerful and dynamic thoughts!

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break!

It's one of my most favorite times of the year...Spring Break!   Signs such as struggling to get up, being worn out and being just a tad on edge point me in the direction to a much needed break.  I plan to use this week to rest, relax and most importantly break!  I hope that you do the same during yours.  See you next week! Pin It