Sunday, August 24, 2014

Preparing for Lunch Bunch Groups


   


     Many school counselors run lunch bunch groups.  Trying to get every student into a group can be a time consuming process.  Looking at schedules, writing lists, requesting permission from teachers and sending out notices to parents.  Not counting the time needed to set up the actual school counseling activity!

     So today, I am going to show you a strategy with technology, orientation or website posting that can assist with the sign up process, leaving you some time to organize the remainder of the lunch bunch preparation components!

     Begin by thinking of what activities students will have as they return to school: orientation, assemblies, etc..  In our case, we are looking to do a Lunch Bunch meeting with all 9th graders where we discuss the transition process and four year plans.  Since the orientation is being run by the peer leaders each with a group of 9th graders, why not create a QR code system for 9th graders to scan in their lunch bunch meeting time?  Seems complex?  Not really!  All students have a smartphone and a personal learning device (tablet). Let's use the idea!

    Next, let's start the set up process:
         * Create a free account with Eventbrite (www.eventbrite.com) or Doodle (www.doodle.com).  These sites will assist with scheduling events and provide you with a URL link for the time.
         * I used Eventbrite.  In the system, I created a separate event for each of our lunch periods on each day that we will have lunch bunches.  I set each lunch bunch to 10 attendees, but you do the math and how many groups you want to run and set the number you want!  This just eliminated the process of printing up schedules and trying to figure things out by hand! :)
         * In Eventbrite, once the event is published, I will receive a URL link to share.  Copy the URL link for each lunch period you created and go to a free QR Code creator such as https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com/ or www.qrstuff.com.  There are many available, so pick the one you like!  Enter the URL into the area on the QR Code creator and get your code visual!
          * You are almost done!  Since I am sharing this with the peer leaders, I need to give them instructions:
              1) Each student should have the QR code reader downloaded on their phone.
              2)  I will provide each peer leader with a sheet showing dates, lunch periods and the QR code for each lunch period.
              3) 9th graders will have to scan the QR code related to their lunch period with their phone and accept the invite!

     If any student does not attend the orientation, then you can post the dates and codes on the website or email them the link.  Either way they will be able to join!  With Eventbrite, I can actually run lists of who is signed up for what date and lunch period!  Finally, it connects with survey monkey so I can send out a survey of the program adding to the school counseling data I have collected!!!

      How else have I used the scheduling system?  We sent out the link for registering for PSAT so we get an accurate list.  We also sent it to colleges to sign up for the Mock Interview program we offer to seniors as the paper invitation get's lost in the admissions office!  With the 9th grade orientation next week, we took the idea and sent out a link for each counselor and a location for 9th parents to meet their HS counselor!  Folks signed up immediately for all events!!  You get it, there are so many uses!!

     There are so many uses of technology with school counseling!  Just think of how it can help you work smarter and not harder!!  Have fun!






Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sample Electronic Portfolios



     This past month, I had the pleasure of co-teaching a Tech for School Counselor graduate class.  I had previously posted the idea of doing electronic portfolios and thought it would be a great exercise as a final class project.  Not just to see the final creative products, but also to analyze the process of public relations that would engage community, educators, and leaders to understand the role of the school counselor as well as the comprehensive school counseling program.

     I began by assigning graduate students the task of registering for a web page on weebly.com.  Many counselors use Weebly and have provided insight on the ease of use.  Once the logins were done, we discovered that the free account only allowed for the development of five pages.  As a team, we decided to have the following pages: About Me, Lessons, Data, Resources, or if they wanted to change one of the pages to something they were interested in providing, I was open to the creative process.

    Throughout the Tech for School Counselor class, we used different websites related to academic, social-emotional, and college/career readiness topics.  We discussed and created school counseling lessons with the different tools, and analyzed results we would get from the data compiled!

    With permission, I am able to share the different end results for the electronic portfolios my graduate students created.  Enjoy and think about how you might use some of the tech tools you know on your school counseling website or portfolio!!!

Click on the portfolio number to take you to the website.

Portfolio 1



Portfolio 2




Portfolio 3




Sunday, August 3, 2014

Reach Higher with Data



      A few weeks ago, I watched the first #ReachHigher conference where participants shared new ideas and strategies to engage more students into post-secondary options.  It is important to motivate, educate and get students from an early age up through the higher grades thinking about their future and eliminating any concerns with the process.
     I began pondering.  If we are to guide students into post-secondary options, we, as school counselors should understand what ignites their passion and how to connect that passion to opportunities, be it in school or after graduation. I posed the following questions:
1)      What data is available for at least three years that would give the best career interest results?
2)      What careers are predominant to our students?
3)      Have the same careers scored the highest interest for the past years?
4)      How are students learning about the careers of interest?
5)      How can we create individualized learning pathways to support career interests?
     Let me share with you the logical thinking process in this maze of questions!  Although I will speak from a high school perspective, the process can be adapted to all levels.  Our students take the PLAN test (www.act.org) in the Fall as Sophomores.  As part of the PLAN test, students do a career interest inventory and as part of the results the school receives is an individualized report on the Wheel of Work based on the student’s response.  The data compiled included the number of students interested in the given clusters from the Wheel of Work.
     For purposes of this blog entry I made a chart with all of the information, but for a simpler analysis, you can do a chart for each of the career clusters:



Now the big question I am known for: So What?

     As the year begins, this information will assist with new ideas to connect students to their passion and post-secondary options by:
         1)      Reframing the course catalog to identify what elective courses lead to the given career  pathways.
         2)      Developing individual pathway charts for students regarding their four year plan and interests.
         3)      Sharing with department leaders the career cluster graphs and possibilities of infusing class  discussions on different careers related to their courses.
         4)      Create new career related activities for students: monthly themes, presentations, or newsletters.
     
     So there is so much potential coming from a simple data chart that can enhance a school counseling program.  By looking at information from a different perspective, doors can open that lead to great opportunities for students!  Have fun and share some of the data work you have done!