Monday, March 31, 2014

Organizational Tools for School Counselors: Google Drive and Google Docs

Monday, March 31, 2014

I hate to admit that I have been kind of a slow starter when it comes to using Google Docs and Google Drive. Maybe it was the winter blahs, but now that it is spring, I am ready to incorporate Docs and Drive in my office! 

 What is Google Docs and Google Drive? 

Google Docs is a productivity app that allows school counselors to create different types of online documents, work on them in real time, and store them in their online Google Drive. The great thing about Google Docs is that you can access your documents from any place, any computer, or even without the internet!

New to Google Docs? Check out this starter kit from Google.

Google Docs Starter Kit  

This past Sunday, SCOPE or the School Counselor Online Professional Exchange, sponsored an online event featuring the organizational advantages of using Google Docs and Google Drive in school counseling. This event was hosted by Maryland's new School Counselor of the Year, Jeremy Goldman.

SCOPE Online Event-Google Docs and Google Drive


Still don't know where to start, check out this tutorial on how to create a Google document.


Google Docs Tutorial


  Here is another school counselor using Google Docs in her PK-12 school counselor practice!

Check out the blog by The Independent School Counselor and her post on Google forms.

Check out this great website by Jeremy!

Pikesville High School Website

Pikesville High School School Counseling Website
Check out this fantastic school counseling site for great ideas to incorporate in your school counseling department.

Check out this great site from the school counseling tech guru, The Counseling Geek...


The Counseling Geek

The Counseling Geek
A great site to show school counselors how to incorporate technology into their practice!

Want to know more about how to incorporate technology in your office?  Think about attending the ASCA Pre-Conference on Marketing and Branding Your School Counseling Program.

You can meet the Maryland School Counselor of the Year and the Counseling Geek in person.  Attend the ASCA14 Pre-Conference called "Branding and Marketing Your School Counseling Program".

 Branding & Marketing Your School Counseling Program

Oh, check out the latest edition of the School Counseling Magazine with great information on technology!

School Counselor Magazine

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kicking "Butts" 2014!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kick Butts Day is this week and the typical "smoking is bad for you" campaign will be presented to students and staff around high schools in America. I have to admit that I have a real bias against smoking and tobacco products ever since my grandfather died of emphysema in 1996. Therefore, you know that I will be leading the "please don't start smoking" charge in my school!

According to Livestrong, there are many reasons why teens smoke. Some of the reasons include:
  • Peer pressure
  • Rebellion and Image
  • Family Life (parents are against it or they smoke themselves)
  • Being naive to the harmful effects of smoking
  • Cultural messages from advertisements like the cartoon image of Joe Camel
Why Teens Smoke?

In my own observations, I would like to add two additional reasons that I think teens smoke:
  • To release stress
  • To loose weight-this one is a big one for females!

 What is Kick Butts Day Campaign?

This year, our school received an opportunity from our local health department to complete a study regarding smoking awareness at our school. One of my peer helper classes decided to take on the project and complete an extensive investigation regarding tobacco awareness in our school.  In this study, our students found that the tobacco policy in the school handbook had not been updated in some time. Some of the suggested updates from the students included the prohibition of candy cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, hookah pipes, and vapor cigarettes.  In addition, the students found that there was no signage inside or outside of the school to indicate that tobacco was not permitted on school grounds. The students felt that the school took it for granite that students knew not to bring tobacco or tobacco products on campus.

This week our school had its first test regarding vapor and flavored cigarettes on campus.  Apparently, some of the students were bringing these cigarettes on campus because the handbook did not expressly prohibit their use on school grounds. The peer helpers saw this as a great opportunity to educate the student body about all tobacco products and their dangers.

On Kick Butts day, our students will conduct a campaign to bring awareness about the dangers of smoking by conducting the following activities:

1. Hand out pamphlets and information during lunch about the dangers of smoking and its long term effects.
CDC Facts About Smoking on the Body

2. Raise awareness about what chemicals are in a cigarette.

3. Show the student body that not everyone is smoking by asking smokeless students pledge to remain smokeless by signing a pledge.

4. Educate students about the new forms of tobacco products being marketed to teens like flavor cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vapor cigarettes.

5. Educate students about the numbers of students who are exposed or use tobacco products in the US.

High school students who are current (past month) smokers 18.1% or 3.4 million [Boys: 19.9% Girls: 16.1%]
High school males who currently use smokeless tobacco 12.8% [Girls: 2.2%]
Kids (under 18) who try smoking for the first time each day 3,000+
Kids (under 18) who become new regular, daily smokers each day 700
Kids (4-17) exposed to secondhand smoke 39.6%
Workplaces that have smoke-free policies 75.1%
Packs of cigarettes consumed by kids each year 800 million (roughly $2.0 billion per year in sales revenue)
Adults in the USA who smoke 19.0% or 43.8 million [Men: 21.6% Women: 16.5%]

6. Visually show students the numbers of deaths per year among Americans from smoking related illnesses on tombstones.

People who die each year from their own cigarette smoking approx. 400,000
Adult nonsmokers who die each year from exposure to secondhand smoke approx. 50,000
Kids under 18 alive today who will ultimately die from smoking (unless smoking rates decline) 6,000,000+
People in the USA who currently suffer from smoking-caused illness 8.6 million

7. Educate students and staff about the "new" addictive forms of tobacco products:


Vapor Cigarettes

 FDA Ban of Candy and Full Flavored Cigarettes
Candy Cigarettes





Best Anti Smoking Video of 2013

I hope you get some useful ideas to use in your school!  Let me know if you conducted a Kick Butts Campaign this year!!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

How School Counselors Make a Difference in Youth Violence!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

If you watch the news, you do not have to look very far to find reports of violence in our high schools.  In fact, there is even an interactive map of school shootings since 1992 that you can view.

School Shootings Since 1992 in the USA

In this blog, I have included a table where you can find your state and the number of shootings in your state (sorry California, you, maybe lose this one). Looking at the average age of the shooters, 168% of the gunmen were between the ages of 10-19 (upper elementary to high school age students).

So, this tells me that we have a lot of violent young teenagers out there with the heart to harm others. So, besides school shootings, what constitutes school violence?
Shootings by State
AK1 shootings (2 dead)
AL8 shootings (11 dead)
AR3 shootings (9 dead)
AZ5 shootings (8 dead)
CA69 shootings (86 dead)
CO6 shootings (22 dead)
CT4 shootings (29 dead)
DC9 shootings (10 dead)
DE2 shootings (2 dead)
FL21 shootings (21 dead)
GA12 shootings (13 dead)
IA3 shootings (3 dead)
IL19 shootings (25 dead)
IN2 shootings (2 dead)
KS1 shootings (2 dead)
KY4 shootings (12 dead)
MA13 shootings (12 dead)
MD5 shootings (9 dead)
MI16 shootings (19 dead)
MN4 shootings (10 dead)
MO8 shootings (7 dead)
MS4 shootings (4 dead)
MT1 shootings (1 dead)
NC10 shootings (9 dead)
NE2 shootings (2 dead)
NJ6 shootings (11 dead)
NM2 shootings (1 dead)
NV7 shootings (9 dead)
NY8 shootings (7 dead)
OH9 shootings (16 dead)
OK2 shootings (4 dead)
OR2 shootings (2 dead)
SC6 shootings (6 dead)
TN18 shootings (24 dead)
TX29 shootings (17 dead)
UT4 shootings (3 dead)
VA5 shootings (36 dead)
VT1 shootings (4 dead)
WA18 shootings (12 dead)
WI4 shootings (2 dead)
WV2 shootings (4 dead)
WY1 shootings (4 dead)


What is School Violence

The CDC defines school violence as "violence that occurs on school property, on the way to or from school or school sponsored events..."

Violence at school can include:

Dating Violence
Sexual Molestation
Illegal Drug Use
And the list goes on...

How Can Schools Effectively Deal With School Violence?

There are countless ways that schools typically deal with youth violence. These practices include implementing zero tolerance policies like: suspensions, expulsions, metal detectors, and law enforcement presence. Although these are often popular, they have a tendency not to substantially reduce school violence. So, what can schools do to reduce school violence? Could it be that involving students and staff members in the process can make a difference in violence prevention? The Centers for Disease Control seems to believe that no one factor causes school violence; therefore, it is going to take a multiple factors to reduce school violence.

CDC Suggestions

The CDC believes that school violence is everyone's problem and is a major health concern like cancer, diabetes, mental illness, or AIDS.  Since school violence is a public health concern, schools should be focusing on preventing violence before it starts.

Here are some prevention strategies suggested by the CDC:
  • Individual level strategies-these include pro-social activities for students and teaching skills like emotional self awareness,  social skills, empathy, social problem solving, conflict management, and teamwork.
  • Relationship level strategies-improving peer relationships, improving staff-peer relationships, teaching staff to model non-violent behavior, helping teachers with classroom management, helping staff understand students from diverse backgrounds, and increasing parent involvement.
  • Community level strategies-supporting effective classroom management practices, promoting cooperative learning, creating open communication and dialogue with parents, maintaining natural surveillance (cutting high shrubbery from around windows and keeping well marked entrances), and creating a warm and welcoming environment (clean restrooms, displaying student artwork and school's logo or mascot).
  • Societal level strategies-addressing social norms about the acceptability of violence and ensuring that the school promotes strong educational growth for staff and students.
It is my belief that school counselors have a great opportunity to make a difference in their schools in youth violence prevention!  In fact, since next month is Youth Violence Prevention month, you have the opportunity to really shine in your school.  How do you ask?  Let me give you some tips.

Tips from the Idaho School Counselors Association:

  • Create a mentoring program to assist students with academic and peer concerns.
  •  Provide group counseling to students with academic, career, personal-social, or social needs.
  •  Facilitate a program to address the needs of your school (peer mediation, peer listening, peer tutoring, teaching conflict management skills) to extend your reach into the school.
  • Employ restorative practices as an alternative to zero tolerance.

Tips from ASCA:

The American School Counseling Association says that school counselors have a great impact on school violence and should engage in the following activities:

• individual and group counseling 
• advocacy for student safety 
• interventions for students at risk of dropping out or harming self or others
• peer mediation training, conflict resolution programs and anti-bullying programs
• support of student initiated programs such as Students Against Violence Everywhere
• family, faculty and staff education programs 
• facilitation of open communication between students and caring adults
• defusing critical incidents and providing related stress debriefing
• district and school response team plan

Here is  the ASCA Position Statement on School Violence if you need it in writing!

It is my belief that each school counselor should create his or her own personal school violence prevention plan using the CDC and ASCA positions regarding school violence prevention. If you need additional resources or assistance, I have several links below to help you get started.  A great time to start is in April for Youth Violence Prevention Month. These organizations: SAVESADDNational Association of Peer Program ProfessionalsAssociation for Conflict ResolutionStudent Peace Alliance are great places to start to get resources, toolkits, and to start a program like peer mediation.

And now, a Call To ACTION!!!

As a youth advocate, please consider supporting the Youth Promise Act to end zero tolerance policies and promote policies that prevent violence in youth!! This is a great way to fund programs that we, school counselors, implement in our schools.

As promised, here are the additional resources you can browse to find information.  Also, I love to hear what you are doing in your schools to make a difference in youth violence prevention!

Education is the vaccine for violence.
                      Edward James Olmos   


CDC School Violence Fact Sheet
School Violence Stats
Center for Disease Control Prevention Strategies for Schools
CDC Youth Violence Prevention Resources
Do Something Bully Text Campaign
Veto Violence
SAVE Youth Violence Prevention Activities
Broward County Schools Anti-Bullying Secondary Schools Activities
Broward County Schools "Planting the Seeds of Prevention" Curriculum Book
UMASS School Counselor Violence and Crisis Resources
Office of Juvenile Justice
FCCLA: Stop the Violence