Sunday, September 20, 2015

Orange and Blue: October's Colors of Bullying Awareness!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

October is bullying awareness month and there are lots of opportunities to support students and bring awareness to this issue that impacts so many students. 

Blue Shirt Day 
Start the month of October by encouraging students to wear blue to stomp out bullying.

Encourage leadership at your school by promoting the "Let's Make a New Friend" campaign.  Give your students ideas about how to make a friend with a peer at their school who they do not know.  Some ideas include inviting that student to an after school activity or club meeting; asking him/her to sit with them at lunch; or starting a conversation with someone who sits alone on the bus.

Unity Day
Encourage students to wear orange to take a stand against bullying.  Take photos and post them to Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook using #UnityDay2015. Also, get the staff involved in the campaign by asking them to wear an orange ribbons during the day.  

You can order additional shirts designed by celebrities at this link!
Here is one that I like for myself created by actress Allison Stoner!!

Some additional activities from PACERS includes:
  • You are Not Alone Kit - toolkit that can assist you in creating schools where students feel empowered.
  • Educational videos by teens and experts - educate students on what to say to bullies and bystanders.  This page includes a quiz and additional resources.
  • Digital Petition - Have your students go to this link to sign  the petition to stand against bullying at their school. 
  • Project Connect - Create an orange unity chain and put up your cafeteria or another high visibility area.
  • Create a school wide unity banner and have students to sign it. Here is one that you can order from PACERS.

 Make kindness go viral by participating in acts of kindness in your school like posting positive messages in the bathroom, lockers, and in the hallways. 

Need more ideas? 
Check out this Educator Informational page from STOMP Out Bullying
From the For High School Counselors Blog:
Check out my post from 2013 for additional ideas, links and resources. Also, check out my blog on the importance of helping those who are bullied. 

Hope you got some good ideas, but please feel free to share your ideas with me as well!!


National Principals' Month: A Great Opportunity for School Counselors!

I would like to take the focus off school counselors for moment and shine the spotlight on our principals.  Over the years, I have some really remarkable principals who valued my job as a school counselor while others barely recognized my existence.  However, I have always determined that I would be supportive of that principal whether he or she was my biggest cheerleader or critic. 

According to the ASCA, the three major components of developing an effective principal-counselor relationship include:
  • mutual trust
  • effective communication
  • a shared vision
While these are definitely important, there are additional characteristics. These characteristics include:
  • opportunities to share ideas
  • school counselor participation on leadership teams
  • joint responsibility in the development of goals
  • mutual respect
  • shared decision making on student success initiatives
  • a commitment to equity
Want to know more about developing an effective principal relationship?  Check out these resources!
Principal-Counselor Relationship Toolkit  - great resources with assessments, worksheets, and ideas.
College Board: Relationship between the counselor and principal audio file
#SCCHAT-Counselor/Principal Relationship
From the Counselor's Office: Counselor-Principal Office
#PSCChat - Join counselor Nicole DiSilvestro and Principal Sam Fancera for great ideas on   improving the principal-counselor relationship.  Next chat is 9/28/2015.

So, regardless if your principal is Ron Clark or Principal Trunchbull (Matilda), National Principals' Month (every October) is a great way to show your principal that you appreciate his/her leadership and commitment.  Check out the following list of ideas and I am sure you will find something in this list to help you establish a better relationship with your principal!

Principal Trunchball

Ron Clark

                      List of Ideas

Set up a banner where students, staff, and parents can write notes of appreciation.

Create a giant "thank you" card from staff members.

Provide a weekly treat for your principal.

Write letters of support to your superintendent showing support for the principal.

Decorate your principal's door showing appreciation.

Arrange for different staff members and students to show their appreciation each day on the intercom.

Tweet your gratitude using #ThankAPrincipal.

National Principal's Month

Friday, September 18, 2015

Show Me the Money: #HSCCHAT September Chat

Friday, September 18, 2015
Although I missed the chat in real time, I was super excited to read the transcript from #HSCCHAT regarding scholarships for students.  This year my youngest child graduates from  high school and I am actually in the parent role this time.  Finding scholarships was never a interest for my other two kids, but this kid is different!  She is very motivated to write essays, comb numerous websites, collect community service hours, and hold leadership positions.  So,  since she is actively working the plan,  I don't  mind helping her search for scholarships.  Even though I have extensive knowledge about scholarships, I learned some great tips from Ashley Hill (@prepforcollege) that I think you will find helpful!! 

In addition, you can check out #HSCCHAT every 2nd Monday of the month. Next month's chat topic will focus on the SAT and hosted by Lauren Gaggioli.

#HSCCHAT-Scholarship Search

Sunday, September 13, 2015

ACT or SAT: Preparing Students With a Plan, Resources, and Study Guides!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

This year I have a senior with a learning disability who is in the preparation stage for taking one of the exams for college admissions. Even though I talk to parents and students about taking college entrance exams, I feel like a novice when it comes to assisting my own flesh and blood.  As I was sitting down tonight to help her gather free study resources, I ran across a Reddit post from students who were talking about how to prepare for the SAT or ACT.  At first I was skeptical about their preparation tips, but after researching advice from the "professionals", I found the kids were spot on!  So, what do students say about preparing for these exams?

student advice can be useful
  • Take numerous practice tests.
  • Practice with official ACT/SAT questions.
  • "Understand how they make easy questions look more difficult than they are and make sure you answer the question that they ask you".
  •  "Start early (junior year) and take the tests multiple times if you can. Almost every student will see their scores improve on their 2nd and even 3rd attempts...after the 3rd attempt, most students' scores tend to hit a plateau".
  • Practice with time constraints.
  • Don't take it...thought I would throw that one in for fun! 
Reddit: Applying to College

Although my daughter is rather nonchalant about preparing for her test,  expecting to take the SAT or the ACT without a study plan is like an athlete running a race without ever training for it! So, how much time do you need to study for the SAT or ACT?  According to FastWeb, students need at least three months to really prepare for either exam. In addition to having a good preparation plan, students need to be educated about which test they should take.

In this post, I have included several SAT and ACT resources for you to share with your parents and students.

Myths About the SAT & ACT


Which Test Should I Take?

SAT/ACT Fact Sheet - Give your students & parents a sheet giving an overview of the two tests.

Comparison Between ACT & SAT Scores

Source: Ebony Sistrunk

SAT Resources

The new SAT rolls out for students on March 5, 2016; therefore, our seniors have to be aware of what to study as they prepare for this exam. So, what are these new changes:

  • The essay is optional.
  • No penalty for guessing.
  • No vocabulary you will never see again. 
  • 400-1600 score range.
  • 3 hours without the essay and 3 hours 50 minutes with the essay. 

Source: Ebony Sistrunk

College Board - Students can download study tips, practice tests, and resources for the SAT.
English/Grammar-SAT Online Prep
Free SAT Prep Test and Resources
Khan Academy SAT Test Prep - Download and a take a real, full length SAT practice exam.  The practice exam is good until January, 2016.
Last Minute Study Plan for the SAT  - for those that need a quick study plan.
Math Study Tips for the SAT  - Considered one of the top six sites when studying for the SAT.
Prepped and Polished
Quizlet  - Students can create study sets and track progress.
Sat Math Problems
SAT Study Plan  - Create a study plan based on when you decide to take the SAT.
SAT Study Plan for Each Grade in High School
SAT Study Tips from Higher Scores
Seven Day Plan for Studying for the SAT  - plan for the procrastinators.
Summer SAT Study Plan

How Many Times Should a Student Take the SAT?

What will the new SAT look like?

Four Tips of What to Do Night Before and the Morning of the SAT

SAT Test Day Checklist
Acceptable ID for the SAT

SAT Test Dates & Deadlines
SAT Test DateOfficial Registration DeadlineDeadline to Order Test Prep Course
Oct. 3, 2015Sept. 3, 2015July 30, 2015
Nov. 7, 2015Oct. 9, 2015Sept. 3, 2015
Dec. 5, 2015Nov. 5, 2015Not Available
Jan. 23, 2016Dec. 28, 2015Not Available

ACT Resources

ACT Practice Tests - Has practice exams to download.   
ACT Test Prep
Free ACT Study Guide - Download this 68 page study guide for the ACT exam.
Nine Tips for Taking the ACT
Vocabulary Words

English Study Tips
Reading Study Tips
Math Study Tips    
Science Study Tips

ACT Test Day Tips
Forty Eight Crash Plan for the ACT  - For those who need a quick study plan at the last minute!
Students with Disabilities
Tips for Taking the ACT
What Does Your ACT Composite Score Mean?

How Many Times Should a Student Take the ACT?

ACT Test Dates & Deadlines (2015-2016)
ACT Test DateOfficial Registration DeadlineDeadline to Order Test Prep Course
Sept. 12, 2015Aug. 7, 2015July 9, 2015
Oct. 24, 2015Sept. 18, 2015Aug. 20, 2015
Dec. 12, 2015Nov. 6, 2015Oct. 8, 2015
Feb. 6, 2016Jan. 8, 2016Dec. 3, 2015
April 9, 2016March 4, 2016Feb. 4, 2016
June 11, 2016May 6, 2016April 7, 2016

Additional Resources:

How to Determine if You Should Retake the SAT or ACT?

10 Test Tips from ASCA

Improving Your Test Score

Tips for Students With Disabilities

Comparison Between ACT & SAT Scores

Yes College: 100 Sites & Apps for the SAT & ACT
Quiz: Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

Info-graph regarding the Differences Between the SAT & ACT

Class of 2017-Getting Ready for the Big Test Checklist

If you have students who don't want to take the ACT or SAT,  there is a list of schools that do not require either exam.  

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Suicide Prevention Resources for Suicide Awareness Month: School Counselor Edition

Sunday, September 6, 2015

If you have ever had a student to complete suicide, you never forget it.  You always think about what you could have said or done differently to change his or her mind.  The thought that bothers me most is that suicide is a preventable death.  The problem is that the topic is often considered taboo in the majority of schools. Wanting to know more, I decided to join our local suicide coalition to find training and resources to break down the stigma that exists in my community around suicide.  Since joining our coalition, I have learned a lot about the signs of suicide, how to speak to parents about an attempt, and what resources to offer our parents and teachers. Thankfully, my confidence has increased and I even train other educators about suicide prevention!

School counselors are often expected to be the school expert in suicide awareness and prevention; however,  many of my colleagues, including myself, are often petrified when we hear the word.  In my humble opinion, I believe that our fear comes from our lack of training, ignorance about protocols, and unfamiliarity with helpful resources.  Since September is Suicide Prevention Month, I wanted to share some resources, training, and helpful information.

After a Suicide Toolkit for Schools 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention 

Ask for Help Cards 

100 Ways to Make It Through the Next Five Minutes 

Bullying and Suicide 

Center for Suicide Prevention - Tattered Teddies Handbook 

Depression and Suicide 

Gay and Suicidal 

Guidance of Students Returning to School After a Suicide Related Absence 

Lifeline Suicide Prevention E-Cards 

Lifeline Trilogy

Memorials After a Suicide  

Mental Health First Aid

More Than Sad 

My3app - Suicide Prevention App

Not My Kid - Video for parents

Prevent the Attempt  - What to say if your organization has an online presence.  

Preventing Suicide A Toolkit for High Schools

Question, Persuade, Refer - Gatekeeper training.

School Suicide Prevention Accreditation

Signs of Suicide  - Secondary Suicide Prevention Program.

Sources of Strength  - School program to prevent suicide.

Substance Use and Suicide Prevention 

Suicide Awareness Poster 

Suicide Isn't About Wanting to Die 

Suicide Help Card 

Suicide Prevention Among LGBT Youth  

Suicide Prevention Resource Center 

Suicide Prevention Guide for Teachers 

Suicide Prevention Primer 

Suicide Shouldn't Be a Secret 

2013 State Suicide Stats 

Suicidal Warning Signs 

Talking About Suicide With LGBTQ Populations 

Teens Reaction to the Anniversary Date of a Peers Death 

Teen Suicide - Facts and Information for Canadian Educators 

Trevor Project  - Resources for LGBTQ teens.

World Suicide Awareness Day  

Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention 

Youth Suicide Webinars

 See my past post of suicide resources from 2014.