Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Back to School Kahoot Game

 As students get older and enter higher grade levels it seems like the norm for the first days of school to be dedicated to going over school rules, and course syllabi. As a resource teacher, I know students have already sat in classrooms and listened to a lot of "procedure" discussions, so I like to try a different approach to going over library rules and setting the tone of our classes. Integrating new technology into library lessons and helping students become advanced users of technology is important to me. So, the first week with students I like to emphasize my rules and procedures, while also using a student centered approach to engaging students with technology. This year, we played a Kahoot game to introduce myself and review the rules and procedures of the library.
To make a Kahoot, sign up for a free account. You can then create your own Kahoots, like I did to review my library rules and procedures. You can also search public Kahoots that people have already made. Create.kahoot is the website to review questions, edit or make new Kahoots.
To play the game, students will access on any device. 

The game works best with an activboard, as the questions and answer choices will appear on the board and students will select answers on their own device. Students who answer correctly are awarded points and the top 5 students are displayed after each question which promotes friendly competition and keeps the game exciting! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Student Needs Assessment Using Google Forms

Google Forms is a perfect tool for data collection. It allows you to create surveys and export all data straight to a spreadsheet.  I use this tool for many different things.  At the beginning of every year I make a needs assessment form for students in grades 3rd-5th.  The assessment includes the student’s name, grade, and homeroom teacher.  I ask students scaling questions to learn how things are going at home, school, and with friends. 

Scaling Questions: I feel like a leader at school. (1 not at all - 5 I feel like a leader)
I like coming to school. (1 not at all - 5 I love coming to school)
I feel happy when I'm at home. (1 not at all - 5 I'm usually happy at home)
I try my best at school. (1 not at all - 5 I almost always try my best)

This data is invaluable at the beginning of they year. I analyze the data and meet with any student who puts a 1 or 2 in "I feel like a leader at school," "I try my best at school," or "I like coming to school." I talk to students about the reasons they don't like coming to school and depending on the reason add them to a leadership, friendship, or study skills small group. If small group counseling doesn't seem like the best option for the student, I fix them up with a school-wide leadership role, conference with their teacher about things that may help them in the classroom, or continue meeting with them in individual counseling. These students would also be perfect for the "Starfish" program. We will be blogging about that in the next few weeks. Students who answer with a 1 or 2 on "I feel happy when I'm at home" meet with me to discuss what is causing them to be unhappy, and I typically add them to my individual counseling list.

On my survey, I also include a section where students put check marks beside problems that they want me to help them with. I tell them if everything is going well and they don't feel like they need any help then they can leave them blank.

Check-box Questions:
Managing Your Anger
Study Skills/School Work
Problems at Home
Being a Leader at School

Again, I check in with all the students who check a problem that they want help with and add them to my individual or small group counseling list. This year, I had many students check that they wanted help with study skills/school work so I decided to add that topic to my classroom guidance lessons.

The last question on my survey is "What would you like to learn more about in guidance this year?" This allows students to offer suggestions of topics they want to learn more about. I always look these over and try to incorporate them into our classroom lessons.

I can't tell you how beneficial these surveys have been for me. I feel like I learn so many intimate things about my students that I would not know if I didn't ask. I think students this age are sometimes embarrassed to admit they have a problem that they need some help with when you ask them face to face. Answering on the computer gives them a way to express their needs in a safe way.

Throughout the year, I also use Google Forms to give students informal pre and post assessments on topics I teach in guidance class to see if the lessons are being effective, and I send students another survey mid-year and again at the end of the year to see if students’ answers have changed.  Forms are perfect for gathering pre and post data on your small groups counseling sessions as well.

I also use google forms to track the students I see in counseling.  I create a form and put the link on my computer’s home screen so it is easy to access everyday.  The form includes the student’s name, grade, homeroom teacher, and has a drop down box to select the topic of concern the student is having: friendship, home, personal, behavior, school work, anger, grief, etc.  It also has a section to type notes and follow up activity like parent contact, CPS report, counseling referral, or follow up counseling. Taking a couple minutes at the end of the session or at the end of the day to complete these forms saves so much time in the long run.  All the data is automatically placed into a spreadsheet that can be sorted by name, grade, or counseling concern. My experience is at the elementary level, but I also see numerous uses at the middle and high school level for counseling referral forms, interest surveys, college and career data collection, scheduling, and more.  

Share in the comments how you use Google Forms in the classroom or in counseling!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Pete the Cat Back to School Bulletin Boards

My sister and I are in a unique situation where I am a Library Media Specialist and she is a School Counselor. We are sharing with you a packet of 4 bulletin board ideas that we used in our rooms this year. The packet includes a set for Being a Leader, Book Care Advice, Reading Strategies, and Growth Mindset.

First, we projected an image of "Pete" on the Activboard and traced, colored and cut him out to add some excitement to our boards. If you purchase our Packet for only $2.50 you can then print pages from the packet on white or colored cardstock and laminate for longer use.  Print multiple copies of the page that says "Goodness Yes" and "Goodness No." You can choose between "school shoes" "sunglasses" or "rockin' guitar" themes. Good luck as you start back to school this year! Go in with a positive "Pete the Cat" attitude!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Elementary School Counselor Room Reveal

I want to share pictures of my room and explain some of the systems I have in place, so that you may be able to use a few of my ideas when setting up your room this school year!  I am extremely lucky as a counselor to have my own classroom. This has not always been the case! I have had a closet office and had to travel to classrooms on a cart as well, so believe me, I understand your pain if you are one of those counselors!  An obvious advantage of having your own room is that classes can come to you for guidance, and you can do so much more, because you have supplies, room to spread out, your own active-board, access to technology, bulletin boards, etc.  A disadvantage is that every year I move to the "open classroom;" the one that the teachers aren't using. This requires me to pack up everything and "redo" my room every year, but I'll take it if it means my own large space!!


This is a view from the front and back of my room. As you can see, I use tables instead of desks, because it is so much easier for students to work in teams, have meaningful discussions, and collaborate on projects.  I highly suggest using tables. I have noticed a huge difference in the atmosphere of my class since changing from desks.


I have 2 pink tubs for each long table, and 1 for my smaller table. Each tub includes crayons, scissors, and glue sticks. Anytime we are working on an activity that requires supplies the students walk over and bring a tub to the table. It works out perfectly and is quick and easy to clean up between classes.  The storage crates to the right are my guidance lessons, separated in crates by nine weeks. Each crate has hanging file folders for each grade level, prek-5th, and there is a file folder for each lesson that includes my lesson plan and all materials that I need. I am planning another blog post explaining my lesson planning system so check back soon.


In the back of my room I have a cozy counseling area. The emoji pillows are new this year, and the students noticed them right away and LOVE them. I have already used them in counseling with a prek student who was very upset.  He came in feeling angry and left feeling happy! SUCCESS! I have many other puppets and stuffed animals that I use for classroom lessons and counseling. I also have Legos, fidgets, Talk Blocks, a doll house, and small hand held activities and games that students can do while we talk, like Find It.  I store many of my larger games and puzzles that I use in small group counseling on a shelf near the futon.



These are my bulletin boards this year. We are a Leader In Me school, so the Pete the Cat board shows ways a leader does and does not behave at school. You can get a copy of this board at our TeachersPayTeachers store. The product in our store also includes Pete the Cat book care, reading strategies and growth mindset in case you do not need the leadership printouts.  I also have a Growth Mindset board, because our school is currently doing a book study of Growth Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci, and we are trying to incorporate these concepts with students, staff, and families.  A friend of mine had Dr. Maya Angelou's quote, "Try to be a rainbow in someone else's cloud" written on her whiteboard for the first day of school, and I thought, "Wow this would make a great bulletin board!" This board is outside my classroom, so I hope as people walk by they will be inspired to be a bright spot in someone else's day!

I hope this helps you as you set up your classroom this year! Feel free to leave a comment or email with any feedback or questions! I hope you keep coming back to the blog. Upcoming posts include "Writing and Organizing Classroom Guidance Lesson Plans," "Needs Assessment Using Google Forms," and "Using Technology to Boost Your Counseling Program." I can't wait to hear what you think! Leave a comment. Good luck as you begin a new school year.