Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Top 10 Tech Tools for 2015-16

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Now that I have a different position, I am trying to establish my new normal when it comes to communicating with students and parents.  One key difference between my role as a high school counselor and a virtual learning specialist is getting use to not seeing students everyday.  Although I still get to talk to students, I am not able to pull them into my office about an issue they may have in the virtual world.  So, my position requires me to be creative, flexible, and organized in getting information out to students   Well, this is definitely an ambitious goal for me, but I think I may have some new tech tools that can help me this year.  So, here are my top ten tech tools for this school year. 

My Tech Tools for 2015-16

1. Awesome Screenshot - Since I will not be able to see the majority of students face to face (I have students at four different schools), I may need to answer questions about their course via the computer.  One effective way of making sure that I understand their questions is to share our screens with each other. 

2. Calendly - This calendar app connects with all your calendars and allows you to tell it when you are available. Use Calendly to assist you in scheduling your parent conferences, meetings, and trainings in under a minute!

3.  Doodle - Sometimes I may need to meet with large groups of people and it gets tiresome sending out copious emails.  One get way to schedule a meeting is by using Doodle scheduler.  Check out how it works by clicking on this link.

4. Dropbox - So let's say your district has blocked all Google products like Google Docs.  What do you do?  Well, you can use Dropbox to store and share documents, files, and more with students.  By the way, my district has blocked Google (sigh).

5. Emaze - I love creating Power Points and Prezis, but when I found Emaze I was blown away with the number of available templates and how easy it is use!  I can create a presentation and share it with my students by using a shared link. Oh, one more thing, you can download a Power Point into Emaze...can you say EMAZING!!  Check it out for yourself!

6. Powtoon - Since you only have seven seconds to get someone's attention, I found simple and creative explanations work the best with students.  One way to do this is by creating animations using Powtoon.   See the short instructional video below.

7. Remind - In a virtual environment, sometimes it is important to get out a message quick.  One way I can do this is by using Remind.  Remind allows you to use time stamps and now has a chat option.  Check out my post on Remind from last year.

8. Scibblar -  Being able to meet with students face to face is important to me in a virtual environment. One way to do this is by creating an online classroom. Scibblar is a free web conferencing service which does not limit the number of meetings, the length of meetings, or the number of students. 

9. Vocaroo - For two years, I have been teaching a peer helping blended course.  This year, I will not be physically in the same building as my students so I have to creatively think of a way for students to practice their skills.  One way to do this is to have the students use Vacaroo so I can hear recordings of their skill practice.

10. Webhuddle - This year I will need the ability to meet with students in real time.  Webhuddle is free program that allows one to meet with students online and even share documents!

As I continue in my new role, I will post any new tools that I find to be helpful!  Check out other tools and tips below!


Teach thought-50 animation tools
Cool Tools for School
Educators Technology-Best web based audio recording
Educators Technology.Great Screen Capture Web Tools

My Past Posts on Technology

Becoming A Tech Savvy Counselor in 2014
Rockin Tech Tools for School Counselors

Monday, August 10, 2015

Youth Mental Health and Conflict

Monday, August 10, 2015

I am so excited that I was invited by the Texas Conflict Coach, Pattie Porter, to speak about youth mental health and its impact on conflict in teens on her blog radio show. I have been a big fan of Pattie for several years and I finally got the privilege of meeting her in Cincinnati at the Association for Conflict Resolution Conference last October.  Pattie interviewed me last week for her show and the interview will air tomorrow evening, August 11th, at 7:00 PM CST on the Texas Conflict Coach Radio Show.

I hope you will listen to my show and join Pattie every Tuesday evening!!

Pattie Porter

Pattie Porter,  LCSW, AAP is the President of Conflict Connections®, Inc. in San Antonio, TX. Pattie has worked extensively in the dispute resolution field for nearly 20 years providing mediation, team facilitation, negotiation training, and conflict management and abrasive leader coaching services to executives, businesses, government agencies and higher education institutions.
Pattie is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and holds the Advanced Practitioner-Workplace Mediator (AAP) designation from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), the Credentialed Distinguished Mediator from the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, and the CINERGY® certified advanced conflict coach and coach-mentor as recognized by the International Coach Federation (ICF). She is currently working on her accreditation from The Boss Whispering Institute® and is an adjunct faculty member in the graduate dispute resolution program at Southern Methodist University in Plano, Texas

Connect to my show!!

Listen to our PRE-RECORDED show on August 11th at 7:00pm CST at Blog Talk Radio. Guest Speaker is Dr. Cynthia Morton.
Dr. Cynthia Morton

Mental health includes decision making, communication, and handling life’s pressure. When an adolescent has a mental health disorder, it may negatively impact the person’s ability to handle stress and interact with others. The National Advisory Mental Health Council estimates that 1 in 5 adolescents suffer from one or more mental disorders. Although mental illness can be mistaken as normal adolescent development, there are signs and symptoms that an adult can recognize. Recognizing these hidden mental health signs early can be important in preventing teen substance abuse, family conflicts, school violence, or even suicide in teens

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Working In a Virtual World

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Well this high school counselor has a new position!   A few days before school started, I was hired by our virtual school as the Virtual Learning Specialist!  Don't let the title fool you because my new position still encompasses my counseling skills, such as: the ability to form relationships
with students; transferring my knowledge of academic, college, and career guidance to families; employing my superpowers of transcript auditing; advocating for students; and collaborating with teachers.  Not only will I serve as counselor, but I will have the ability to develop programs, train students in peer mediation and peer helping, and even teach a class (something I love doing)!!  So, now that I am working in the virtual world, I will have to change the way that I communicate with students.  A  plan that my administrator and I worked out was that I would be able to come into the office later twice a week to assist the kids who need help online.  During those hours, I will to talk to students and parents, communicate with online teachers, assist students with resources,  develop academic plans with students, and contact students who are falling behind (things I normally do all day long if I were sitting at my office).  Working in the online environment will be different, but it gives me the opportunity to experience a brand new world.

Why Get Involved in Virtual Learning?

Virtual learning is still in its infancy and many don't realize the usefulness of a school counselor in this environment. Currently ASCA estimates that less than one percent of its members are employed at online schools. Sure there are many challenges in online education, but school counselors can make an impact in this new environment.  Even in an online world, there will always be the need for relationships and school counselors know how to make positive connections.  This will be important in the future as enrollment in virtual learning continues to grow. The Association for American Educators found that approximately 310,000 students in 30 states attend a fulltime online program.  According to Eric Sparks, Assistant Director of ASCA, one of the challenges for online schools is to provide a comprehensive school counseling program. In fact, one of my goals is to create the second comprehensive online counseling program and strive for Ramp!

Check out Mindsets and Behaviors Webinar if you are interested in going for Ramp.

Diving Into Technology

I think one of the reasons that I feel comfortable working in an online environment (besides a great administrator and coworkers) is the professional development that I have experienced over the last three years in the virtual world. I have been so inspired by my professional development, that I will be adding a new addition to my blog for virtual school counselors. If you have never been a part of any of the professional development in technology, you must check out these awesome counselors, counselor educators, and Twitter Chats!

Experts in Technology

Dr. Erin Mason
Russ Sabella
Susan Spellman Cann
Jeff Ream
Carol Miller

Twitter Chats


I am including a list of resources so you can learn more about virtual counseling, the role of a virtual counselor, and the pros and cons of counseling online.  Although counseling online is not for everyone, it is definitely going to be a niche for school counselors who want a challenge and expand their horizons. 

Learn More About Virtual School Counseling

Role of Virtual Counselor

Virtual School Counseling Brings Unique Rewards and Challenges

Virtual School Counselors

Counseling Is a Virtual Experience for Students at Online Schools

The Growing World of Virtual Schools

Department of Defense Virtual High School

Florida Virtual Campus

Illinois Virtual School

K12 International Academy

Louisiana School for Math, Science, & the Arts

Maryland Virtual Learning Opportunities

Minnesota Virtual School

Nevada Learning Academy

New Hampshire Virtual Learning

New Jersey Virtual School

Oklahoma Virtual High School

Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School

South Carolina Virtual School

Standard Online High School

Texas Virtual School Network

Vermont Virtual Learning Cooperative

West Virginia Virtual School

Wisconsin Virtual Academy

High School Connect

Broward County Virtual Counselor

Centennial Counseling Online Learning Sites

International Association for K-12 Online Learning

North Carolina Virtual Peer Tutoring 

Forsyth County School Digital Learning Continuum Procedures


Online & Blended Learning Conference - March 17-18, 2016

More Resources

US Education Department to Fund $1.6 Million Study on Virtual School Effectiveness

Virtual Snow Days

Online Readiness Tool for Online School

Counseling Is a Virtual Experience for Students at Online Schools

Virtual Counseling Jobs

Virtual Counseling Positions