Sunday, September 29, 2013

Out of the Box Red Ribbon Week Ideas

Sunday, September 29, 2013

In 1985, a man and his wife were having a peaceful day out together when they were met by five brutal individuals who pushed the man into their car.  After a month of worry and searching for the man, he was found horribly disfigured and dead in Mexico.  The man was DEA agent, Enrique (Kiki) Camerena, and the outrage over his death started the largest anti-drug awareness campaign in the country known as Red Ribbon Week.  Those outraged over Camerena's death began to wear satin red ribbons and formed coalitions to warn others about the dangers of drugs.  Camerena was passionate about stopping the drug trade from Mexico and once told his mother, "I am only one person, but I want to make a difference"!
Enrique (Kiki) Camerena
In schools, we often promote drug awareness and wonder, "will my efforts make a difference"?  I have been coordinating Red Ribbon Week Campaigns for over 10 years and will continue to do so because I hope I can make a difference in preventing a young person from using drugs or alcohol. However, Red Ribbon Week has more of a personal appeal to me as I am the parent and sister of two family members who regularly used drugs.  I personally can tell you that drugs have had a negative impact on my family and caused a lot of pain. As Camerena was passionate about stopping the drug trade from Mexico, I desire for the trade of drugs to our children stop in our local communities.  Being the mom of a child who has used substances, I have seen the underside of the drug culture in my community.  I understand how drugs are passed from student to student in schools, the location of drug paths behind businesses and subdivisions in my community, the names of convenience stores that sell synthetic substances, the names of dealers in the community, and the inability of the administrators in our local schools to prevent sales. Now that I know this information, what do I about it?
Major Drug Trade Routes in the US

Synthetic Marijuana is a huge problem in our community!

Red Ribbon Activity Ideas

This year, I want to really make an impact on our high school students during Red Ribbon Week.  The "Just Say No" banners, wearing funny socks, or pithy sayings are not enough for me anymore.  I want to create a Red Ribbon Week that stands out to our student, parents, and faculty members.

Ideas for Educating Adults

First, I want to show the economic impact of drug sales on our country and communities.  Showing drug trade routes in the state, the cost of health care, the loss of work time hours, and the cost of incarceration can show our parents and faculty members that drugs is no small problem.  Often our adults think, "it is not a big deal in our community". Here are some links that can be used to educate adults.

Links Between Terrorism and Drugs
Drug Use and Its Connection to Terrorism
High in Cars-Seniors Driving High Under the Influence of Marijuana
Emergency Room Visit Statistics
Think Marijuana is Harmless? Think Again!
Every Day Substance Abuse Use by Teens
Spice Linked to Psychosis, Brain and Kidney Damage
Drug Use Impacts Decision Making

Just Think Twice-website with information for  adults and students with drug facts, resources, videos, and information.

Second, I want to educate our faculty on how to be aware of what is going on around them when it comes to identifying drug use. Using our law enforcement is a great way to educate adults on what they need to look for in our schools.
Youth Drug Trends in High School

Third, involve our faculty in experiential activities that drive home the fact that drugs and the brain don't work well together.  Some activities can include driving or walking under the influence with drug goggles, the impact of learning while on drugs, and testing your short term memory.
Scholastic Magazine Teacher Lesson Plans
Drugs and the Teen Brain Video
Classroom Activities for the Classroom
Brain-Body Connection
Quiz About Medical Marijuana

Fourth, teach parents to set guidelines for safe parties at their home by encouraging non-alcoholic activities and events, provide supervision, and not allow alcoholic beverages or drugs on their property.

Fifth, inform parents and guardians that they can prevent themselves from becoming an "accidental dealer" by locking up their prescription drugs from their students.  The fact show that kids, especially in rural areas, begin to experiment at home from prescription drugs. Also, give parents resources to take inventory of their prescription drugs and safe disposal of medications.
Are you an accidental dealer?
Drug Inventory Sheet
Safe Drug Disposal

Student Campaigns
There are several websites that you can visit can find ideas for student activities in your school.

SADD-lots of great ideas for student activities.
Drugs Are Dumb!-See a list of Red Ribbon themes and related activities.
Heads Up-interactive activities for students showing them how drugs affect brain function.

Some out of the box student activities to take your Red Ribbon Week to the next level!

Ghost Out-every 30 minutes the Grim Reaper will visit a classroom to take the soul of a student who has died from a drug/alcohol related crash.

Don't Let It Be You-a coffin is placed in the cafeteria or hallway. As the students walk by they naturally want to take a peek to see what is in it.  Many students are surprised to see a reflection of themselves in the coffin with a sign warning them about the dangers of using drugs.

Mock Car Wreck-students enact a horrific car wreck in the front of the school.

Connect Red Ribbon Week to Homecoming Activities-download the kit from SADD.

SADD Homecoming Kit
Homecoming Manual
Homecoming Pledge Card

Red Ribbon Certified School Application- Become a Red Ribbon Certified School by showing your commitment to show your school's commitment to healthy families, resiliency skills for students, and teacher retention.

Some additional resources for Red Ribbon Week
2013 Red Ribbon Guide
Red Ribbon Week Fact Sheet
Take the Red Ribbon Pledge
Information on Drugs of Abuse
How Drug Addiction Occurs in Teens
Videos about Drug Use in Teens

Red Ribbon Week Supplies

Scholastic Posters

What activities will you be conducting in your school for Red Ribbon Week?  Please feel free to share!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Celebrate Conflict Resolution on October 17th

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In 2005, the Association for Conflict Resolution created Conflict Resolution Day to celebrate the growth of conflict resolution in organizations, businesses, government, and schools. The purpose of Conflict Resolution Day is to:

  • promote peaceful means to settle conflict.
  • promote the use of conflict resolution in schools, businesses, organizations, and communities.
  • recognize the contributions of conflict resolvers.
  • create world-wide celebrations on the third Thursday of each October.

How can your school participate in Conflict Resolution Day?

Download the School Conflict Resolution Kit, post your events on the Association of Conflict Resolution Website, and advertise your events in the media...very simple!

Some suggested school activities for Conflict Resolution Day:

1. Have students write down ways they solve their conflicts peacefully.  Post these problem solving ideas in a public place so students can view different methods used by their peers.
2. Have students and/or teachers nominate peacemakers from each grade.  Announce the winners on Conflict Resolution Day and award them a certificate.
3. Host a poster or art contest displaying themes of peace.
4. Have students sign a conflict resolution pledge to solve their problems peacefully.
5. During lunch, handout tips on how students can solve conflict peacefully.
6. Sponsor a peace cafe where students can participate in a facilitated discussion around a film or topic.  Kennesaw State University sponsored our peace cafe in 2011 around the film, "Odd Girl Out" and the topic of bullying.  This was a great way to bring awareness to two topics: bullying and conflict.
7. Have your school principal or superintendent issue a Conflict Resolution Day Proclamation. A proclamation is provided in the ACR School Toolkit.
8. Hold a Mock Mediation to promote your peer mediation program.
9. Create a peace quilt by having students draw peace themes on quilt sections.
10. Order t-shirts and/or buttons for your peer mediators to wear on Conflict Resolution Day.

2013 T-Shirt Design

For additional ideas for Conflict Resolution Day, download the Conflict Resolution Day Calendar app created by Bill Warters. The calendar is filled with historical and practical information, timelines, games, quotes, videos, and other full text resources (view last year's calendar for activities).

Celebrate Conflict Resolution Day on October 17th!

Monday, September 23, 2013

October is Bullying Awareness Month

Monday, September 23, 2013

The month of October is packed with several student awareness campaigns from the popular Red Ribbon Week to Teaching Tolerance's Mix It Up. Every October, at our school, we are constantly moving from one project to the next hoping to fit in all our plans.  However, one awareness campaign that stands out to most students is Bullying Awareness. 

During the month of October there are several days dedicated to educating students about bullying and its harmful impact on students.  

October 7th-Stomp Out Bullying is sponsoring its fifth year of its Blue Shirt day to stomp out bullying.  
October 9th-The National Bullying Prevention Center is sponsoring Unity Day to show students who are bullied that others care about them. Students and educators are encouraged to wear orange.

Unity Day Guide
Informational Flyer

Unity Shirt

October 17th-On GLAAD Spirit Day,  GLAAD encourages the public to wear purple to support LGBT youth. 

November 17th-23rd-Bullying Awareness Week of Canada is sponsored by At this site, one will find a weekly schedule of events, a Anti-Bullying Pledge,  and the ability to order wrist bands for students.  Also, educators are invited to take the online Bullying Course.

  Stand Up to Bullying Wrist Bands

  Educator Course

Additional Resources:

It Starts With Me Bullying Kit
Guidebook for Schools
Bullying Resource Guide
October Tip Calendar
Student Action Plan
Bullying Quiz
Addressing Bullying Situations by Teens
What Can You Do to Stop Bullying
Student Bookmarks
Information for Parents

Other Websites:

Bully Free-includes free materials and courses for educators.
Stop for parents, teens, and educators.
Netssmartz-resources regarding cyber bullying.

If you are participating in a Bullying Awareness campaign, please feel free to share your ideas and resources!!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

175 High School Counseling Websites and Resources

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Now 175 High School Counseling Websites and Resources!!

Check out the websites and resources for high school school counselors.  If you have additional websites or resources, please feel free to share!

State Guidance Web Sites    

Arkansas Guidance and Counseling
Arizona Department of Education School Counselors
Connecticut Comprehensive School Guidance and Counseling
Florida School Counselor Resources
Georgia Department of Education High School Counseling Resources
Kansas School Counseling Resources
State of Kentucky School Counseling and Psychological Services
Indiana State Guidance Resources
Iowa School Counseling
Maine Counseling Resources
Maryland Public Schools Counselor Website
Michigan Department of Education School Counselors
Mississippi Counseling Curriculum
Missouri Comprehensive School Guidance 
Nebraska School Counseling Website
New Hampshire Office of Guidance and Counseling
New York Guidance and Counseling
Nevada Career and Guidance
North Carolina School Counseling Resources
Oklahoma Counseling Website
Oregon School Counselors Website
Pennsylvania Counseling Resources
South Carolina Guidance and Counseling
Tennessee School Counselors
Texas Guidance and Counseling
Virginia School Counseling and Student Support Website
Washington State School Counseling and Guidance
West Virginia Guidance Curriculum Site
Wisconsin Comprehensive School Counseling Model

State School Counseling Associations

District of Columbia
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
West Virginia

Information School Counselor Resource Pages

Above the Influence
Association for Conflict Resolution
American Counseling Association
American School Achievement Institute Counseling Resources
Anti-Bullying Resources
ASCA Podcasts
Back to School Resources for School Personnel
Baldwin County Schools Counseling Resources
Baltimore City Schools Counselor Resources
Bullying Course
Buffalo City Schools Guidance Resources
Bob Turba's Cyberguidance
Bullying UK
Bullying Reporting Form
Bullying Resources
Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence
Child Trauma Toolkit for Educators
Cobb County Georgia School Counselors
College Week Live
Conflict Resolution Education
Conflict Resolution Information Source
Counseling Resources
Denver Public School Counselor Resources
Depression Calculator
Development Assets for adolescents (ages-12-18)
Drug Free Prevention
Education Resources for Trichotillomania
Guidance Resources Homepage
Frisco Guidance Department Resources
Fairfax County Virginia School Counseling Model
Fairfax County Schools Virginia Web Resources for Counselors
Guidance Web Links
Gwinnett County Georgia School Counselors
High School Counselor Webmix
High School Counselor Week
Intervention Central
Jefferson City School Counselor Resources
Kaarme Counseling Tools
Lebanon School Counselor Resources
Manitoba Student Services Resources
Mapping Your Future
Massachusetts Department of Education Bullying Resources
Mental Health First Aid
Mississippi High School Counselors Resources
Montgomery Public Schools Counselor Webpage
Murietta Valley California School Counselor Resources
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for Counseling Admissions Counseling
National Association of Peer Program Professionals
National Bullying Prevention Center
National Center for Crisis Management
National Center for School Engagement
National Center for Youth Issues
National Office of School Counselor Advocacy
National Safe Place
National School Counselor Climate Center
Newport News Guidance Resources
No Name Calling Week High School Resources
No Place for Hate
Not in Our School
Ontario School Counselors Resources
Paulding County Schools School Counselor Services
Preventing Suicide-A Kit for High School Educators
Promote/Prevent-Crisis Response
Red Ribbon Week Resources
School Counselor Resources by Russ Sabella
School Counselor Blog
School Counseling Online Professional Exchange
School Counselor Resource Center
School Counselor Technology Smackdown
Shelby County Schools Counselor Resources
Students Against Violence Everywhere
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
SUNY Counselor Web Resources
Susan Spellman Counseling Resources
Teaching Tolerance
Technology Resources for Counselors
Teen Dating Violence Awareness
Texas High School Counselor Resources
Texas Suicide Prevention
Trauma Resources
Tuscon Public Schools Counseling Resources
Alaska Department of Education Suicide Resources
UMASS Amherst CScore Resources for Counselors
United Federation of Teacher Counselor Resources
University of Clemson Dropout Prevention Center
Valdosta High School Counselor Files
Virginia Alliance for School Counseling

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mix It Up Toolkit-October 29, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

For 10 years, the Southern Poverty Law Center has sponsored Mix It Up in schools across America.  Mix It Up is an excellent opportunity for students to learn the value of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion by meeting and talking to new people during lunch. To incorporate Mix It Up in your school, Teaching Tolerance offers many resources for educators to use to plan for a successful event.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mix It Up

Steps to implement Mix It Up

1. Create a planning group or go through a club or organization (SADDSAVE , Peer Helpers , etc.) -my school's SADD chapter (Students Against Destructive Decisions) will plan and carry out the event.

See the Mix It Up Checklist

2. Determine your goals-have two main goals in mind:
  • Get students to sit with someone new.
  • Get students to engage in conversation.
3.  Make it festive- include a theme, decorations, colors, music, entertainment, prizes, or a flash mob.
Use colored table cloths

4. Publicize the event-publicize in the media, Teaching Tolerance facebook page, twitter,
you-tube, and posters.
Mix It Up High School Poster


Contact: [Name]

[SCHOOL NAME] to Break Down Social Boundaries
on National Mix It Up at Lunch Day

On [DATE], students at [SCHOOL NAME] will participate in the 11th Annual Mix It Up at Lunch Day, a nationwide event designed to foster respect and understanding in schools.

Sponsored by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project, Mix It Up at Lunch Day encourages students to cross social and racial boundaries by sitting with someone new in the cafeteria for just one day. By taking this risk, students can break down the lines of division in a safe, controlled environment, meet new people and help build an inclusive and welcoming school community.

WHAT:          [SCHOOL NAME] to participate in 11th Annual National Mix It Up at Lunch Day event

WHEN:          [DATE]

                        [CITY, STATE] 

5. Take pictures        
High School students participating in an activity!!
6. Evaluate-evaluate how your event went by having students complete a brief survey.

Some Activities from Teaching Tolerance Magazine:

What do we have in common?                                    
Fact or Fiction
Romeo and Juliet Classroom Mix It Up Activity
Use questions in a cup

Feel free to share your activities in your school!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

International Dot Day-September 15th

Sunday, September 8, 2013

It's a Wonderful Life

Clarence trying to convince George that he makes a difference.
One of my favorite holiday films of all time is "It's a Wonderful Life".  I have watched every variation of the movie from the original with Jimmy Stewart to the remake with Marlo Thomas.  Even though I have watched this movie countless times, I still get teary eyed and emotional.  After watching the movie, it makes me think what would life be like if I were never born?  My hope is that I have made the world a little better because of my existence.  After I think about myself, I remember those students who often talk about how useless their lives have been and no one would miss them if they were to disappear. Immediately I go into the role of Clarence, the angel, and I tell the student that is simply not true!  At that point it is important for the student to recognize, no matter how small, all the positive impact she or he has made on others.  After a while, the student is surprised, just like George Bailey, how his or her impact would be missed.

Recognizing Invisible Students

Unfortunately, there are so many students who never realize their positive impact in their community, home, or school.  As a school counselor, I feel that it is important to help these
How do you recognize invisible students?
students know that they make a difference.  So, are you looking for an excuse to recognize any of these students for their accomplishments, talents, or potential? I have an idea of how you can creatively acknowledge these students in your school on September 15th or International Dot Day.

What is International Dot Day?

The Dot is a children's story, written by Peter H. Reynolds, about a teacher who tells his young, unbelieving student that she can make her mark or "dot" in the world.  In 2009, an inspired group of educators started International Dot Day to celebrate bravery, creativity, and self-expression in young students.

The Dot Video

 International Dot Day Ideas for Secondary Students

Although, The Dot is a children's story, these themes should be recognized and celebrated among secondary students.  If you are looking for a creative way to appreciate your students, here are some ideas of what you can do on International Dot Day.

  • Have teachers recognize students who are making a difference in their school, community, home, club, sports team, or classroom and present them with a certificate.
  • Tie in Dot Day to 9/11 and talk about how ordinary people can become heroes. Challenge students to be good citizens in their community and school. 
  • Set up a table in the lunchroom where students can receive a earth dot and identify how they will make their mark on the world.  Students will write their plan, put it on a big mural, and receive "dot" candy for their participation.
  • Have students recognize others who have made a difference in their lives and encourage them to write then a thank you letter. 
  • Wear a t-shirt with a colored dot with an inspirational message.
  • Have students recognize teachers who make a difference to them and encourage the students to give them a certificate.
  • Create a bulletin board about using quotes from "It's a Wonderful Life."

To learn more about International Dot Day, go to the International Dot Day face book page or twitter page. You can also download the International Dot Day Educators' Handbook for posters, t-shirts, and other ideas to use with students. 


Saturday, September 7, 2013

How Rude!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Problem

Normally when my door is closed to my office it means that I am in a session or in a conference.  For school counselors, this is typically the universal sign that we do not want to be disturbed.  Until recently, a closed door has provided the much needed privacy that I need in order to speak to my students and parents; however, this year has been an anomaly. I have had disruptions in the past, but normally within the first month of school everyone understands the rules in the guidance office about a closed door.  Last week, I had the strangest experience of interruptions by students, staff, and parents. Wave after wave I had numerous people walking past my secretary and coming to my office to see me.  And, when I say coming to see me, I mean opening my door and interrupting my session.

I think Stephanie sums it up here!

Instant Gratification

What could be the reason for this increase in disruptions this year?  I am not sure if I have a solid theory, but I think one reason could be our need for instant gratification that we are perpetuating in our society. Unfortunately, we live in a society that wants instant results and answers. Our need for quick service, fast food, and instant information started with generation X and has intensified with the Millennials. In an article by the Boston Globe, "Instant Gratification is Making Us Perpetually Impatient", Christopher Muther found that the internet, businesses, banks, and service industries have made millions off our inability to wait for goods and services. 

Here is one of the best recent examples I can think of that of total disregard for others. Do you remember the the infamous interruption by Kanye West of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech?  Here this young lady is receiving a very important reward and in the middle of her speech her microphone is taken and Kanye goes on a rant.  


In fact, the Pew Institute conducted a study on instant gratification and found that people under the age of 35 often live hyper-connected lifestyles which produce negative effects like agitation and impatience. Pew researchers predict some potential societal changes that may occur because of our need for immediate gratification.  Some examples include: conversations will become shorter without the usual pleasantries, concerts and movies may become shorter, and people will settle for the first response to an answer rather than getting a second or third opinion.   In my own experience, I have seen a change in people in the last ten years. I have seen the growing impatience in customers waiting in line in the pharmacy, anger on the freeway from slowing down at a caution light, and the other day when I was on the plane a man started yelling at passengers because they were not moving quick enough for him to get off.  Indeed a very sobering thought about the future for our students and a problem for which I do not have a easy solution. So, you may be asking what has me writing this post on instant gratification? Well, I will share my experience with you.

An Unusual Day

I am in a really intense session with one of my students who is revealing to me a problem that she has never shared with anyone.  The suspense is building and she is finally getting the courage to tell me what has been bothering her when...knock, knock, knock.  I try to ignore the knock, but it continues.  I open the door and it is my peer helpers asking me how they should decorate my door for College Color Day.  I quickly answer their questions and go back to my session when...knock, knock, knock. I looked at my student and say to her, "Excuse me one more time." It is a staff member wanting some data information for my principal who is in a data collection meeting at the county office.  I give her the information and go back to my chair.  Finally, we get to the problem and we are in an intense conversation when (you guessed it)...knock, knock, knock. The student and I look at each other as if Ashton is going to suddenly appear and I said to her that I will let them leave me a message on my door.
I am thinking..."Where's Ashton?"
Two seconds late there is another knock on the door.  "Ughhhh!" I got up and opened the door.  This time it is a parent who got past my secretary.  "Oh, I didn't know you had someone with you!" I explained that we are in a session and that I will be here for a little while, but she was welcome to wait.  Finally, our conversation continues.

As we continue to talk, the student begins to cry and process what is going on in her life. We are now deep in conversation when...knock, knock, knock.  By this time, the student and I look at each other and laugh.  "Go ahead and open the door Dr. Morton." I looked at her with a sheepish grin and opened the door to see another group of peer helpers standing there with another question about the project.  At this point, I shake my head and ask them to come back when my door is open.  As I am outside my door, a couple of adults try to grab me to get some information. I quickly explain that I am in session and I need to get back to my student, but they continue talking to me.

My face at this point!!
Without totally losing my professional stance, I find my secretary and ask her to watch my door with her life. She grins and says, "I got you boss." I walk calmly back to my office, put my "please do not disturb sign" on on my door, and close the door.  When I am in my office, I apologize to my student and tell her that I promise that we will not be bothered as I have someone guarding the door.  We both laugh and she looks at me and profoundly states, "I wonder how other kids feel when they are trying to tell you something serious and people keep knocking at your door. I should make you a REALLY big sign to put on your door."  At that point, I felt like a heel! As a counselor, I am supposed to provide a safe, secure, non-disruptive environment for my students; instead, I felt like a failure.  At this point in my career, I realize the closed door is not enough to keep out disruptions and I need something that is going to make a real statement.

Making a Visual Change May Help!

I think that one of the problems in schools is that doors are full of notices, flyers, signs, and other cute posters that people often do not notice them.  
Try to find the Do Not Disturb Sign on this door...

Unfortunately, my door is contains a lot of cute posters, flyers, dates and so when students or parents come to my door, they may not notice my sign that says "Please Do Not Disturb" or "In Session". So, I have decided to post some of my finds that may help people stop and take notice before they knock or try to enter my office. 

Initially, here is what I want to put on my door, but I think it may be too sarcastic.

In my shopping around, I found some signs that may work. From simple door hangers to professional door signs.

Check them out...

Here are some professional signs

Here are some colorful counselor-made signs

Other Sites for finding and making signs for your door...

Make Your Own Door Hanger-door hanger template.

I hope this will make a difference for me and maybe for you too.  If you have some great ideas, signs, or suggestions, please feel free to post!