Wednesday, December 29, 2010

School Counselor Blog Favorite Posts of 2010


2010 has been an exciting and eventful year for School Counselor Blog. In 2010, I created podcasts (including a video podcast), hosted a contest, wrote guest blog posts for other education blogs, and much, much more. When thinking about all School Counselor Blog accomplished for 2010, I am so excited about the future possibilities!  Below I outlined 10 of my favorite posts from 2010 and why they made the list.

Plan to Be Surprised

Plan to Be Surprised is about planning your day, but also being adaptable. Plan to Be Surprised is one of my favorite posts of 2010 because "plan to be surprised," is something I tell myself daily.  Sometimes I have my whole day planned out and have some pretty high expectations of what I am going to fit into my day.  Then, a crisis happen.  An unexpected event can rearrange your whole day... and that's ok.  Thankfully, not everyday includes a crisis. However, adaptability a very important trait to have as a school counselor!

How Did You Spend Your Day?

How Did You Spend Your Day? outlines a whole day and everything I did in that day. It is pretty intense.  It would be really interesting for me to do this again.  You do not realize how much you do in a day until you write it down.  I recommend getting the ASCA National Model Workbook because it has great templates for keeping track of the millions of things you do in a day!


Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling

Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling is about GREs and CACREP programs.  Applying and getting accepted into graduate school can be a daunting process. I got so many questions from readers about graduate school that I decided to follow up this post with Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling Part 2.

Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling Part 2 outlines three tips for prospective School Counseling Graduate students to help them decide where to go to graduate school: Begin Navigating, Location, Location, Location, and Make Connections!

Navigating Graduate School for School Counseling Part 1 and Part 2 made the list because I really enjoy hearing from prospective school counselors and prospective school counseling graduate students. I am presenting "Navigating Graduate School and Professional School Counseling" at the Pennsylvania School Counseling Association Conference in February with my intern for Spring 2010.

Office Space

Office Space outlines my humble office beginnings and gives a tour of my 2009-2010 school counseling office. One of my big discoveries of 2010 was Prezi, a super cool alternative to PowerPoint.  I used Prezi to show readers my office and the items I have inside.  I love seeing other school counselors' offices because I get so many ideas. I love this post because of the tour aspect and I can't wait to make a tour of my new office for the 2010-2011 school year. 


Creating a Portable Sand Tray

Creating a Portable Sand Tray was written by a good friend and fellow school counselor, Shelly Blair.  This post was the first time School Counselor Blog hosted a guest post! Creating a Portable Sand Tray gives a simple and affordable way to have a sand tray in your school counseling office.  If you do not have a sand tray yet, I highly recommend it.  Shelly got me a Portable Sand Tray as part of my wedding gift and the students at my school absolutely LOVE it.  So many students use my Portable Sand Tray and get so excited that I have sand in my office.  (They think it is pretty wild to play with sand at school).  I hope to have more guest posts by Shelly Blair in the future, so stay tuned!


Make Connections

Make Connections outlines tips for networking, or as I call it, making connections.  My dad inspired and encouraged me to create School Counselor Blog as a way of connecting to other counselors. I have learned much of what I know about networking from him. My favorite part of this post is the quote from Raising Arizona (one of my favorite movies of all times).  Check out Make Connections to see why! ;)


Interview with Naomi Drew

No Kidding About Bullying: 125 Ready-to-Use Activities to Help Kids Manage Anger, Resolve Conflicts, Build Empathy, and Get Along (Bully Free Classroom)I had the amazing opportunity of Interviewing Naomi Drew, internationally recognized author, speaker, and advocate of conflict resolution and bullying education, about her book, No Kidding About Bullying: 125 Ready-to-Use Activities to Help Kids Manage Anger, Resolve Conflicts, Build Empathy, and Get Along. I decided to make a podcast out of the interviews so that readers could fully benefit from this awesome experience. Interview with Naomi Drew Podcast - Part 1 and Part 2. I also hosted my first contest with the help of Free Spirit Publishing.  I love No Kidding About Bullying and plan to write about using it in classroom lessons for 6th grade this year! 

Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Bullying

Last but not least is my "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Bullying post. I got the idea for this post from a conference and wanted to make sure I shared it with others.  I had so much fun using Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to talk to students about bullying. We talked about which characters were bullied, which characters were allies, and how students could be allies themselves.  I ended the lesson by showing students a picture and reading them a news article about a boy their age who committed suicide because of the bullying he endured. It was a very powerful way to end the lesson.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my favorite posts of 2010!

What was your favorite School Counselor Blog post of 2010? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays from School Counselor Blog!


Thank you to all of my readers who make my spirits bright year round! I greatly appreciated all of your questions, comments, and feedback throughout the year! I hope you all have wonderful and relaxing break!

Happy Holidays from School Counselor Blog!


Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a blog where school counselors can share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

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Sunday, December 19, 2010

School Counselor Interview Tips

Congratulations! If you are reading this, you have tackled one of the most difficult parts of job searching, getting an interview.

The following post was inspired by reader who asked for tips for an upcoming interview.  If you are searching for a job or will be on the lookout soon, check out my post Make Connections! I describe how networking is a key part of advancing your career as a professional school counselor.

Below are tips for interviewing for a position as a school counselor.  Do you have school counselor interview tips? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Do Your Homework

My number one piece of advice is to research the school and district before the interview. What is the population (rural, suburban, urban, high poverty, moderate, poverty, etc)? Has the school been in the news media for anything noteworthy (awards, grants, etc)? How does the school/district perform on state tests? The more information you know about the school/district the better.

Most school/districts have websites containing information about the school/district. If you are having trouble locating data on the particular school or district, check out The National Center for Education Statistics website.  The National Center for Education Statistics hosts data for schools, colleges, and libraries all over the U.S. and is searchable by name, city, state, and zip code.

Being well informed about the school and district shows you are interested and willing to be a integral part of the school.

Ask Questions

The school/district is trying to determine if you would be a good fit.  At the same time, you should be trying to determine if the school would be a good fit for you. Ask questions, such as "What are the major roles and responsibilities for school counselors at _______________ School?" "What do you believe to be the most important skills/abilities in a school counselor at _________________ School?" "What is the greatest need ____________ School is facing?"

When you ask questions, be sure to answer them too! The purpose of asking questions is find out if the school would be a good fit for you, but to also prove you would be a good fit for the school. For example, if you ask "What is the greatest need _______________ School is facing?" describe to the interview team how you can combat or fill the need as a school counselor.

Advocate for Yourself

If the interviewer asks, "Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?" or "Do you have anything else to add?" they are giving you a perfect opportunity to advocate for yourself.  A great way to answer this question is to determine what the school is looking for and explain how you match up.  Giving a summary of the highlights of the interview is also a great way to go.

Say "Thank You!"

After the interview is over, it is important to say "Thank You!" It is also important to follow up with a "Thank You" after the interview.  There are many different theories about which method - email, hand-written note, or typed letter - is most effective.  I usually do all three. It sounds like a lot of work, but I feel it is worth it and covers all of your bases.

A "Thank You!" forces the interviewer (and whoever is handling your file) to think about you again. Make sure to include some highlights of the interview in your "Thank You."  Also, include contact information of where they can reach you.  It is great to include a business card.

Do you any school counselor interview tips? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and Bullying


Rudolph The Red Nosed ReindeerWhile holiday shopping, I saw many items featuring my favorite Christmas character, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Amid the nostalgia I was feeling for good old Rudolph, I was reminded of a conference I attended at the beginning of the calendar year.  One of the speakers mentioned using popular art and media to teach classroom lessons.  The speaker mentioned that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer could be used to teach lessons about bullying. 

After watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as a school counselor, it is alarming how much bullying is in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Talking to students about bullying using Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is powerful because it is popular media that they may have already seen before, but may not have identified as bullying behavior. The overall lesson from the movie is to be true to yourself and accepting others. 

"How Can You Overlook That?"
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer begins with Rudolph's father, Donner, being uncomfortable with Rudolph's red, glowing nose.  Santa is disappointed that Rudolph has a glowing nose and hopes that he "grows out of it" so that he can someday be part of Santa's sleigh team. Donner wants to hide the fact that Rudolph is different from Santa and the other Reindeer so he disguises Rudolph's nose. From birth Rudolph is told that he doesn't fit in and has to hide his true self.  

Discussion Points: Rudolph's family is not accepting of him. How might Rudolph feel at this point in the movie? How might it feel to have your parent(s) not accept something about your true self?

"Hermey Doesn't Like to Make Toys!"
Hermey the elf does not like to make toys and is therefore an outcast. His dreams of being a dentist are shut down by the other elves. If he wants to fit in, he must do something he does not enjoy.  The elves ridicule him and make him feel bad about wanting to be a dentist.

Discussion Points: Being your true self. Career interests/abilities. How does Hermey feel in this scene? Hermey is not interested in being an elf and would like to be a dentist. How could Hermey's interests and abilities help him choose a career in the future? What is preventing him from choosing a career field of his interest/abilities? Name some careers that are non-traditional careers for males/females. How might it feel to enter into a career that is non-traditional for your gender?

Reindeer Games
When the reindeer are playing games, the other reindeer discover that Rudolph has a glowing nose. Rudolph is ostracized and called names by the other reindeer. Commet, his coach tells the other reindeer that Rudolph is not allowed to participate in any more reindeer games. Clarece is the only reindeer who is an ally to Rudolph and accepts him. Even the adults in the scene contribute to Rudolph being bullied.

Discussion Points: Forms of bullying including: Name calling, isolation, and exclusion. Also, Being an ally and finding a trusting adult. If you were one of the reindeer, how could you be an ally to Rudolph? What could you say to the other reindeer? 

"Seems to Us Kind of Silly That We Don't Fit In"
Rudolph decides to run away after an encounter with Clarece's father. He meets Hermey, who wants to be a dentist. The two sing a song about being misfits and not understanding why they don't fit in with the others. 

Hermey and Rudolph embark on a journey together so they can be independent together. Along the way they meet Yukon Cornelius who  befriends them and becomes a travel companion. 

Discussion Points: Ramifications of bullying. Being an ally. How does it feel to be bullied? Someone may feel like they want to hurt themselves, kill themselves, or runaway from the situation. What should you do if you are feeling like killing yourself, hurting yourself, or running away? What adults can you identify at home or at school who are allies to students? How can a student be an ally to another student?

Island of Misfit Toys
All of the toys on the Island of Misfit toys are homeless because no children would want them. Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius vow to tell Santa about the misfit toys so they can find homes.  

Discussion Points:  Rudolph, Hermey, and Yukon Cornelius are allies to the misfit toys. How are they allies to the misfit toys? Because of their kindess and thinking of others, they are able to help the toys find homes. Teaches students about doing something kind for others. Building social interest in students can help combat bullying. 

Let Your True Colors Shine Through!
When Rudolph returns the other reindeer still ridicule him, but he ignores them. Rudolph braves the storm to find his family and Clarece. 

Suddenly, everything the main characters were bullied for turns out to be an asset. Utilizing their combined skills and talents, Hermey the Dentist, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and Yukon Cornelius save everyone from the Abominable Snowman. Yukon Cornelius "reforms" the Abominable Snowman, who ends up helping the elves put the star on the tree (even "Bumbles" have redeeming qualities and skills!) When the weather turns treacherous and foggy, Rudolph becomes the star of the snow by saving Christmas with his red glowing nose!

Discussion Points: Accepting and Celebrating Differences. Being an ally. Everyone apologizes to Rudolph and Hermey, but the damage was already done. Although the movie ends on a happy note with the characters proving everyone wrong, real bullying situations do not always end that way.  This is also great time to talk to students about how they could support someone who is bullied by standing up to the bully by telling them to stop, and telling an adult. Encourage students to inform a trusted and supportive adult.

Rudolph The Red Nosed ReindeerRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Bullying
I plan to show Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to all of the sixth grade classes and use the discussion points I provided the week of Christmas break. Depending on the amount of time teachers are willing to have me in their classes, I am planning to either show the whole Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie or just scenes selected scenes that I highlighted. I wanted to get this idea today so others could plan this idea into their schedule before winter break if they want. 

I ordered the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer DVD on Amazon in preparation for my lesson. A Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer book could also be used to discuss bullying with students.

How will you utilize Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to teach a lesson about bullying? Are there any movies or media you use to teach students about bullying? Comment below, email metweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.



Thursday, December 9, 2010

School Counseling Gift Ideas for Interns, Grad Students, and New School Counselors


'Tis the season for December graduations, school counseling internships coming to an end, and holiday gift giving! I decided to make a series of gift idea guides to take the guesswork out of gift giving for school counselors.

The following gift ideas are suggestions for school counseling interns, graduate students, and new school counselors. The gifts ideas mentioned would make great gifts for anytime, not just the holidays! All of the items I mention have either received as a gift or I have purchased myself.

A Book that Keeps on Giving
The Giving Tree 40th Anniversary Edition Book with CDWhen I was an intern, one of my site supervisors gave me The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein as a gift. The Giving Tree is a powerful book about friendship. I greatly appreciated the book because it was not only a thoughtful gift I enjoyed reading, but it was something I could (and do!) share with students.  I have used The Giving Tree in individual sessions and classroom lessons about friendship, kindness, and respect. 

Only One YouAnother meaningful book for school counselors is Only One You by Linda Kranz. Only One You is about valuing and celebrating diversity while encouraging each person to make a difference. The superintendent of my school district read this book to 8th grade at their commencement ceremony. Although the book is geared younger elementary aged students, the themes of Only One You transcend age. Their is also an Only One You fish puppet which makes a great addition to the book.

Rubbermaid 3N83 Collapsible Cargo Crate
A Wheely Great Help
I wrote a previous blog post about my adoration for my collapsible cargo crate. This is a MUST HAVE for school counselors, especially school counseling interns.  A collapsible cargo crate makes lugging around counseling "supplies" such as books, games, toys, and paperwork a breeze.  When I was an intern I did not always have a consistent space to meet with students.  Using my collapsible cargo crate allowed me to wheel all of my supplies to a different room quickly and efficiently. It was also helpful to have everything all in one place.  You can purchase a collapsible cargo crate on the Amazon website or check out your local craft store. Michael's has a program and newsletter for educators called The Knack that contains discounts and coupons.

Put the FUN in FUNctional
In undergraduate college, many students wear lanyards to hold their keys. Working in a school, wearing your keys and identification around your neck is not just a trend, it is a necessity.  Since I do not particularly enjoy wearing a lanyard, I like my lanyard to be stylish. Once I discovered Vera Bradley made lanyards I was so excited! My current lanyard is a Vera Bradley lanyard in Hope Garden.

Lanyards make a great gift for graduate students, interns, and new counselors because if wearing a lanyard is required for safety, it might as well be fun! Lanyards can be purchased on Amazon's website, Vera Bradley, and also on Etsy, a really cool website to purchase handmade items.

Make Room for Lunch
I have received lunchbags as a gift twice from my mom, and they made a great gift! My mom bought me built ny lunch bag during graduate school and I absolutely loved it. It was great to have a reusable bag to transport lunch to my school site. I ended up using my lunch bag to take food to graduate school classes too!

For my birthday last year, my mom bought me a Vera Bradley "Let's Do Lunch" bag in Paprika. I get compliments on my lunch bag all the time! Amazon and Vera Bradley are great places to find stylish and roomy lunch bags.

Need more gift ideas? Visit the School Counselor Blog Store and check out these posts:


Do you have a gift idea or suggestion for school counseling graduate students, interns, or new school counselors?



Comment below, tweetcontact Danielle, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources. Connect with Danielle via emailTwitterPinterestLinkedInGoogle+, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.




Saturday, November 27, 2010

Making Time for Groups

A reader asked what time during the day I facilitate groups.

Q: I really enjoy  your blog. I would like to know what time of day do you schedule your groups?  I can only have them at the lunch hour, so it restricts things a bit.

A: Making time for groups can be challenging, but it is possible!

At my current school I work with late elementary and middle school school aged students (grades 5-8).  Our school runs on a six day learning cycle instead of using days of the week. However, I facilitate groups and programing using days of the week. Below I discuss the times I facilitate groups and the advantages and disadvantages of the times.

Advisory Period, Homeroom, and Study Hall

In a middle school or high school setting, advisory period, homeroom, or study hall may give you enough time to facilitate a group.  Advisory periods and homerooms are usually the same time for all grade levels. Study halls usually occur at certain time of the day, so it may be possible to pull students from multiple study halls at the same time to create a group.  Some study halls have more than one grade level, so you could meet the needs of students in multiple grade levels by creating a group.

Lunch

I meet with students individually and in groups during lunch, but I do not facilitate set counseling groups during lunch. Students have lunch at our school for 30 minutes. Once students get their lunch and get up to my room we have about 10 - 15 minutes of time - not enough time for a counseling group.  I try to reserve lunch times for when students are having a conflict with each other or would like to discuss a concern with me as a group.

If your school has longer lunch periods, lunch might be an option for you to run groups.  It is also possible to work with lunch staff to expedite students getting to your office from lunch. I talk to the lunch staff, show them the passes I give students, and ask that students with passes go first through the line so they can get to my office in a timely fashion. It usually shaves off a few minutes at least!

Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting is a time where homerooms or classrooms meet as a group and facilitate activities to build community. Morning Meeting is part of Responsive Classroom and Developmental Design. All teachers K-8 are required to facilitate Morning Meeting in my school.

Morning Meeting can be a good time to pull students because it is first thing in the morning and lasts approximately 30 minutes. Teachers and administrators do not mind if I pull students for groups during this time.  I am currently running a grief and loss group during Morning Meeting time and it is working great.

Recess

I have not utilized recess for groups yet this year, but I have utilized recess for groups in the past. At my school kindergarten through fifth grade have a 30 minute recess and individual classrooms have recess at different times. When one class is at recess, other classes are receiving core instruction. If there are multiple students in one classroom who would benefit from a group, I utilize recess time.

In the past when I have utilized recess time for groups, the school where I worked had multiple classrooms at recess during the same time. Recess is a great time to facilitate social skills groups and friendship groups. Students do not want to miss recess unless they are sure they are going to have a good time, so I make sure to incorporate games and play into groups held during recess.

Specials

Specials at my school include Art, Music, Physical Education, and Computer classes. Specials last approximately 45 minutes. Students have a different special every day of the six day learning cycle

Since I facilitate my groups using days of the week instead of the six day learning cycle, students do not miss the same special each time we have group. The administrators at our school have said that school counselors are allowed to run groups during specials for RTII Tier II interventions, which includes counseling groups.

Using specials time for groups can be difficult because it is instructional time. I let specials teachers in know in advance I will be running a group, give them information about how long the group will last and notify them of which students will be in the group.

Times Pre-Arranged by the Teacher

Sometimes, the need for a group is so great that teachers are willing to re-arrange their schedules or make time for a group.

If you determine need for a group, talk to the teachers! You may be surprised at the willingness of teachers to accommodate groups.  At my school, I have hosted group during times pre-arranged by the teacher and they worked out great. The teacher had an investment in the group time, so students always showed up on time and ready to start!

Justifying a Need for Group Time

To determine need for groups, I rely on teacher or administrator referrals, student self referral, my own referrals from meeting with students individually, and results from needs assessments.  When I determine there is a need for a specific group, I screen all of the potential members and determine if they would be a good fit for the group.

If you can prove there is a need for a group, getting your principal and the teachers on board it becomes much easier to justify a need for group time. It also becomes much easier to make time for a group when everyone agrees their is a need.

What time during the school day do you facilitate groups? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

"The Line Game"

I am currently running three groups using the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum. The curriculum is great! I especially like the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum because it allows for flexibility. One of the activities in Girls in Real Life Situations is an activity, where girls stand on a line when they can relate to statements read by the facilitator. An example of a statement includes, "stand on the line if you like the color red." The purpose of the activity is to show similarities and how the girls are connected in different ways.

The line activity in the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum reminded me of "The Line Game" from The Freedom Writers Diary by Erin Gruewll. In Freedom Writers, the movie version of the Freedom Writers Diary, Erin Gruwell (played by Hillary Swank) facilitated "The Line Game" with her students. She instructed students to "stand on the line" if the experience she stated related to them. The statements progress from general to more sensitive subjects. Some of statements included, Stand on the line if you... "like rap music," "got detention at school," "feel safe in your neighborhood," and "ever heard gunshots." I work in an inner-city school with high level of poverty and violence in the community.  I felt like this activity would really resonate with my students because of their life circumstances.

I facilitated "The Line Game" in the second session in all of my G.I.R.L.S. groups. The girls really connected with it. (One of my groups actually wanted to do it more than once.) It is a very powerful activity for many reasons. It helps students realize that they are not alone in their experiences. Students are able to see that many of the issues that they are facing other students are facing as well. They also see that some students may be experiencing hardships they have not experienced. It also allows them to talk about tough topics in a safe environment. I have the The Freedom Writers Diary Teacher's Guide, which has a wealth of great activities! It includes instructions and statements for "The Line Game." You can also view a guide for "The Line Game" activity for free by clicking on the link.

For me personally, "The Line Game" opened my eyes to the magnitude of violence my students face. Before doing the activity with my group I read over the statements to myself and thought about which ones they might stand on the line for.  It was disheartening to see my predictions come true. I am glad the girls felt safe and comfortable enough to stand on the line in front of their peers and in front of me.

The group of girls who wanted to do this activity more than once said that it was their favorite activity they did in the group.  Although they were not able to articulate why exactly they felt it ways their favorite, I believe it was because it validated their experiences and made them feel less alone. At the request of the girls in my group, we did "The Line Game" a final time for our last group session.

How will you use "The Line Game" with students? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Groups, Groups, and More Groups!

It's crazy to think Thanksgiving is next week! It feels like just yesterday it was August! I wanted to share about groups I have been running so far this year and groups I plan to start in the near future.

G.I.R.L.S. Groups


Girls in Real Life Situations, Grades 6-12: Group Counseling Activities for Enhancing Social and Emotional Development (Book and CD)I am running two sixth grade girls groups, and one seventh grade girls group using Girls in Real Life Situations (G.I.R.L.S.) curriculum by Julia V. Taylor. The groups are going great! The Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum is working out really well. Girls in Real Life Situations covers a myriad of topics including self esteem, friendships, and stress. I love that the curriculum is flexible and enables the facilitator to pick and choose which activities to facilitate for each topic! I have used some of the activities in the Girls in Real Life Situations with other groups I am running too! I will be writing a review about the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum in a future post.

Grief and Loss Groups


Healing Activities for Children in GriefI am currently running two grief and loss groups.  One group, a group of sixth grade boys, started three weeks ago. The other grief and loss group, a group of fifth grade girls, just started this week.

I have been using a variety of different curricula and activities for my grief and loss groups. I used the "Wall of Support" activity from the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum with the grief and loss group for the sixth grade boys and it went very well. The purpose of the "Wall of Support" activity is for students to identify family, adults, and friends who support them as well as hobbies/activities that they enjoy. I made a handout for students to use to create their wall.

I am also using some activities from Healing Activities for Children in Grief. I plan to have students make memory boxes during one of our sessions. We are also going to do a balloon release at the end of the group. Over the summer I volunteered at a grief and loss camp for kids. Everyone got a helium balloon and wrote a message on it. Then, everyone released the balloons at the same time. It was very powerful.

Tess's TreeTess's Tree by Jess M. Brallier is another book I plan to use with students in my grief and loss groups. Tess's Tree is about a girl whose tree is cut down after being damaged in a storm. Tess's Tree shows an array of emotions Tess is experiencing. I plan to read Tess's Tree with my groups to discuss the stages of grief that Tess experiences as well as talk about how she memorializes her tree. The book is beautifully illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds founder of FableVision.

Future Groups


My Daddy Is in Jail: Story, Discussion Guide, and Small Group Activities for Grades K-5Through the Walls - Children of Incarcerated Parents Group
I am starting groups for children who have a mom, dad, or close family member in jail. I plan to start a group of seventh grade boys and possibly another grade level at the beginning of December. I have facilitated groups for children of incarcerated parents in the past and I work with many students who have a mom, dad, or close family member in jail. I was recently interviewed by the American Counseling Association about my work with children of incarcerated parents. The article, Endangered Innocence, appeared in the November issue of Counseling Today.

I plan to use some activities from My Daddy Is in Jail, Empowering Children of Incarcerated Parents, the G.I.R.L.S. curriculum, and the Seeing Red curriculum,  and some I created. I will be writing more about the "Through the Walls" groups in a future post.

Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for KidsSeeing Red - 6th Grade Boys Group
I am also planning to start a sixth grade boys group for anger management and conflict resolution using Seeing Red: An Anger Management and Peacemaking Curriculum for Kids. I have run groups for fourth, fifth, and sixth grade using the Seeing Red curriculum. The Seeing Red curriculum is one of my favorites because of it's great icebreakers and activities. It students really connect to the activities in  Seeing Red because they are fun and informative.

Girls in Real Life Situations, Grades 6-12: Group Counseling Activities for Enhancing Social and Emotional Development (Book and CD)G.I.R.L.S. - 8th Grade Girls Group
I am planning to start more groups after Thanksgiving break. Next week two of my two sixth grade G.I.R.L.S. groups will be ending.  I am in the process of screening for an eighth grade girls group using the Girls in Real Life Situations curriculum. The students are very excited about being a part of it and keep asking me when it is starting.

I really enjoy facilitating groups. Counseling groups allow me to serve many students at once. I also love that students are able to support and be supported by their group members even after their group is over!

What types of groups are you currently facilitating? What curricula do you use? Comment below, email me, tweet, or share on the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page!

Danielle is a K-12 Certified School Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and blogger at School Counselor Blog, a place where school counselors share innovative ideas, creative lesson plans, and quality resources.  Contact Danielle via email, follow her on twitter, and become a fan of the School Counselor Blog Facebook Page.

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