Google+ Elementary School Counselor blog, by Scott Ertl, Elementary School Counselor: 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Read and Ride program gets national press coverage to promote Active Learning!

Read and Ride programs help students ride exercise bikes while they read fun magazines and books. Visit:

Schools are able to collect free equipment and magazines from within their community for students to use in their classroom and/or in a dedicated room for a Read and Ride program.
  • Reading is fun!
  • Students release extra energy!
  • Exercise is noncompetitive!

Jenna Wolfe and Matt Lauer feature the Read and Ride program on the NBC Today Show. 

View the NBC Today Show segment here.
Queen Latifah promoted the Read and Ride program on her national talk show. 

View the Queen Latifah segment here.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

3 Ways To Get Free Bouncy Bands!

  3 Ways To Get
Free Bouncy Bands!

Bouncy Bands help students:
  • Release extra energy by bouncing their feet or stretching their legs while they work quietly.
  • Stay on task longer by relieving their anxiety and stress so they stay calm while they work.
  • Move without distracting others or making any noises.
1. Make a video. Teachers can receive one free Bouncy Band for a Chair or a Desk in exchange for creating a 1-minute video showing what you like about it or how it helps. You don't have to show the student's face--just their feet using the band is sufficient to demonstrate how it is used. Email to request a parent permission form if you'd like to have a student say something or have his/her face shown in the video.

2. Take the initiative and apply for a 1-page Donor's Choose grant. (Print out your grant since it is excellent documentation for your yearly evaluation to show leadership.) Here's a link for 4 tips on how to get funded, along with a sample application that you can copy and paste:

3. Submit a Research Proposal to monitor the effects from students using Bouncy Bands in your school. If your proposal is accepted, you will receive 10 free Bouncy Bands for your school. This is a great way to document how you are making a difference in your school. Keep this data for your yearly evaluation. Download the proposal form here:

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

First Lady, Michelle Obama, addresses school counselors at Orlando ASCA conference

2014 ASCA conference 
in Orlando 
was awesome!

View the video from First Lady, Michelle Obama, as she affirms the role of school counselors and launches her new "Reach Higher" initiative to encourage students to graduate high school and attend a 2 or 4 year college. President Obama's 2020 goal is for the U.S. to again be the world's leader in college admissions.

(If you prefer, you can read the transcript here.)

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Free role models promote respect and prevent bullying!

School Counselors can invite 
state pageant winners to their school 
for free appearances!

The national Miss High School America pageant is occurring at the same time as the ASCA conference in Orlando. Upon talking with Amanda Patterson (National Director) and Becky Brown (Executive State Director), it was exciting to hear about their awesome community outreach that the girls do. Since August of 2013,  150 winners have made over 2,770 appearances at schools to promote their national "The Crown CARES" (Creating A Respectful Environment in Schools) programs.

School counselors can request for their state pageant winner to come to their school to provide a free program at your school. They are not just a pretty face, these girls are talented, confident leaders who can articulate their triumphs over many areas towards achieving their state recognition. Ever year, the national winner receives a $10,000 college scholarship.

Be sure to contact this organization right away to schedule a free appearance at your elementary, middle or high school right away!

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Students love this interactive career website!
Teaching careers can be:
  • Fun
  • Simple
  • Hands-on
  • Computer-based
  • Free!

If you have the luxury of being able to sign-up to use your school's computer lab, you can bring your first-third grade students during classroom guidance for every student to explore careers, test their career knowledge, watch short and informative videos about different careers, and complete worksheets to record what they learn!

If you are not able to bring an entire class of students for a guidance lesson in the computer lab, you can let teachers use a computer for a center with the PAWS in Jobland website as a bookmark, along with 40 different lesson plans.

Jobland helps students learn about different careers in:
  • Information/Technology
  • Arts, Audio-Video Technology & Communication
  • Manufacturing
  • Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
  • Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • Government & Public Administration
  • Architecture & Construction
  • Hospitality & Tourism
  • Marketing, Sales & Service
  • Agriculture, Food & Natural Science
  • Health Science
  • Education & Training
  • Human Services
  • Finance
  • Law, Public Safety, Corrections & Security
Job Finder asks students 26 yes/no.maybe questions to match their interests with jobs.

The Quiz allows students to show what they know and what they learn from Jobland.

The ABC Search give students an opportunity to find information about 128 different careers!

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Thanks for the nice comments from my ASCA article!

Thank you!

I appreciate your thoughtful comments about my article in the May/June issue of ASCA's "School Counselor" magazine.

The title of my article is, "A Perspective Shift: Students who are having a difficult time reaching their goals often need a shift in perspective. Learn how you can help them make this adjustment." If you are an ASCA member, click here to view.

I can't post the article on this blog. In order to view the article on the ASCA website, you have to be a member. If you're not a member, JOIN ASCA to stay current with counseling research and best practices!

As the school year is winding up this week, I am looking forward to attending the ASCA conference in Orlando from June 29 - July 2. I am especially looking forward to seeing some of my favorite presenters (Julia Cook, Eric Sparks, Ed Jacobs, Russ Sabella, along with my Carolina colleagues: Fran Hensley, Nicki Neumann, Beth Lindsey, and Angela Poovey). Being around so many excellent counselors is inspiring, refreshing, and well worth the time!

I will be presenting my "Fun Ways to Create Goals, Track Progress and Monitor Success" session on Tuesday. I enjoy breaking it down for counselors to create simple ways to use data with individual counseling sessions, group counseling and even classroom guidance. NCYI will be selling my Progress Cards and Playshops books at their booth.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

Team Building Tips!




Most students LOVE Field Days--especially after all of the testing is finally over! I like to connect my last guidance lessons with the Field Day activities to help students practice working together and to help them see how their results can really improve when they show good teamwork.

One simple activity is for the students to stand in a circle, with each student holding a pencil. I simply time how long it takes for a Wiffle® Ball to be passed completely around the circle from start to finish. The only rule is that everyone must use their pencil to move the ball.

Before we begin the activity, I ask students what would excellent teamwork look like? They say things like, "Good listening, encouraging words, being patient, don't yell at people who drop the ball, etc." 

I make a chart on the board like this:

Time# Drops
Trial #1______________
Trial #2______________
Trial #3______________

I ask students to estimate how many second they think it will take for the ball to go all away around the circle. We count the total number of students to help estimate the time. We also estimate the number of drops that will be made.

After the first round, we compare the numbers to our estimates. Was it better, worse, or the same? What were some good examples of students showing good teamwork? Who was patient? Who was focused? Who watched others while they waited to see what works best? Who was encouraging or nice if someone dropped the ball?

Before starting the second trial, I ask the students to share with each other what they think would be necessary for the time and/or drops to improve. Who can share how THEY want to demonstrate better team-building skills?

After the second trial, a similar conversation helps students analyze their performance. How would team-building make a difference in a factory where workers are making toys? How would saving 15 seconds make a difference over an 8-hour shift? How much money could you save if you could prevent 2 drops (damaged toys thrown away) every hour?

In the comments below, please share some of your favorite team-building activities with students.

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Advice for parents enrolling their Kindergartener

5 tips for starting the school year off with the success! 

I enjoy meeting parents who are looking for the perfect school for their child. I appreciate their intentions and I can understand their fears. They want their child to be safe, make life-long friends, learn, and start their school career on the right track. This is admirable that they are taking the initiative to make the most informed choice in a school for their child.

If the child is transferring from another school, I like to ask parents why they are leaving. Did they really try to work it with the teacher, counselor, administrator or are they just leaving and hoping for a better result somewhere else. I caution them that switching schools is a big deal and that it should really be the last resort if they weren't able to resolve the problem. 

When parents are enrolling their Kindergartner, I always give these 5 recommendations:

  1. Attend Open House, join the PTA, and sign-up for one of the committees. This will get you involved and hep you meet other parents. Attend school functions and meet other parents. This will show your child that you are also a part of the school.
  2. Play on the playground over the summer. Bring a picnic lunch. You will probably meet other parents and this will be a great way for your child to familiarize their self with our campus.
  3. If your child has never attended a preschool, you need to start practicing being apart. Let them join a day camp over the summer in an area of interest to them. If you've never had a babysitter, this is the time to start. They need to get used to other adults in authority.
  4. Read to your child. Ask them what they think is going to happen next. What are their favorite parts of the story? How many details in the story can they remember when they retell you the story?
  5. If the child has ADD, Asperger's Syndrome, Anxiety Disorder, or any other health concerns, I recommend for the parents to email the principal over the summer to request the best teacher placement for their child. I suggest for them to request: a teacher who will not be leaving for maternity leave for 6-8 weeks and have a substitute teacher, a teacher who will not be retiring in the middle of the year and have a replacement, and a teacher who is firm and consistent while also caring and compassionate. Most principals have an idea of teachers who are leaving for maternity leave, retiring, and who works best with students need the structure.
In the comments section, please add any other advice you give parents on your school tours.  

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Test Taking Tips -- with a fun visual to prove a point!

5 Top
Test Taking Tips

Read the test taking tip in the triangle. Did you notice anything? Read it again. 

Most people don't notice the "the the" in the sentence. This is a fun way to show students how important it is to slow down when they read. In our efforts to help students stay calm and show what they know for the tests as school comes to a close, it's helpful to share some top test taking tips:

1) When you have questions where you are unsure, give your best guess and be sure to return to those questions when you are finished with that section of the test. Your brain might be able to recall the answer after it has had a "break." Decide if you should circle the question in your test booklet or write on a separate sheet of paper which questions to re-visit. Be sure to check with your test manual for guidelines about writing in the test book and/or answer sheet.

2) If allowed, write your answers in your test book. Check that your answers match your answer sheet after every section (5-10 problems) to make sure that they don't get misaligned.

3) Work at a medium pace, not too fast or too slow. Decide ahead of time if you need to slow down to stop yourself from trying to finish first or if you need to speed up instead of thinking too long and confusing yourself by over-thinking the answers. 

4) Eliminate the answers that are obviously wrong. Choose which answer is the best answer instead of which answer is correct. Don't try to be clever in coming up with an argument for why one answer "could" be correct.

5) Remember: "This is only a test. I'm going to take this time to show what I know. I've worked hard learning a lot of information this year and I can figure this out. I'm not expected to remember everything, but I am expected to do the best that I can.

Feel free to add your favorite test taking tips in the comments below.

You can download the Test Taking Triangle above here.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Help students discover similarities with others!

Fun way to find
common interests!

  • Friendship Groups
  • Following Peer Mediations
  • New student orientations
  • Teachers use at Open House
  • PTA meeting "Ice breaker"

Everyone likes to have fun! However, most people don't like feeling rejected by asking someone to play or do something and being told, "No. I don't like doing that!"

This quick activity helps partners find shared interests and then encourages them to decide what they would like to do together for fun. Students feel safe and excited when playing this game.

Within minutes, partners are excited to do specific activities together. It is perfect for introducing new students to classmates and for friendship groups to create actions plans for students to get more involved with others.

Counselors (and teachers) can complete a card and make copies for students to see how many things they have in common. (It can be fun to ask students to make a prediction of how many things they think they have in common with you before they complete the card.) Afterwards, count up the total number of common interests. This can be a quick way to overcome apparent differences to see shared interests instead.  After all, we are much more alike than different.
When students complain about being bored at home on weekends (especially when visiting a non-custodial parent where they might not have as many friends in the neighborhood), this activity can be a fun way to initiate new activities and places to go together. 
Another extension to this activity is to ask students to underline their 3 favorites. When students have different favorites, ask them to explain why they like it so much. Sometimes this can inspire the other student to try something new. 

After helping students resolve a problem, ask if they would like to play a quick game before going back to class. (You can guess their answer.) First, ask them to predict how many things they have in common. Even though they "resolved" the problem, most students typically don't see a lot of themselves in the other person. Following the activity, ask them to give you the total number of similarities. Ask if they were surprised. (They usually are.) Ask if there's anything that they would actually like to do together some time. Propose if they have a great week practicing the positive behaviors from your conference with them, you could follow-up with them next week to actually do one of the activities together. Of course they can do things together before then, but you are offering a way to stay accountable and provide an opportunity for them to have fun together in the near future.

Download the Discover Similarities Progress Card (printed 4 per page to save paper)

Please add a comment to suggest additional activities that students enjoy.

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Free Parent Passes, Teacher Passes and Counselor Passes reward students for improved behaviors!

Looking for meaningful incentives for students to earn?

60 Free Parent Passes!
     60 Free Teacher Passes!
          30 Free Counselor Passes!

It often takes students a lot of energy, effort, and practice for them to change their behaviors. Even though some teachers don't think that students deserve special incentives for "doing what they should be doing anyway," most students appreciate recognition for their incremental progress towards achieving their goal(s). We focus so much on "progress monitoring," but we sometimes forget about rewarding students for their progress along the way to help them sustain their efforts.

However, it is often difficult to know what students want as a reward--that isn't expensive or time consuming. These passes are inexpensive--most are free. Students like being able to choose different incentives to work towards.

Progress Cards help students identify specific behaviors to achieve their goals. For example, students who are trying to make new friends may choose to practice giving compliments, sharing, sticking up for others, saying "Good morning" and smiling more to others as their specific behaviors. 2 Free Progress Cards (Friendship Skills and Study Skills) can be downloaded here.  There are 70 Progress Cards in all, which can be purchased and downloaded for only $9.99.

Parent Passes (as well as Teacher Passes and Counselor Passes) help reward students for practicing behaviors towards achieving their goals. These are all free to download and reproduce.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Day joke for kids

April Fool's Day 

Activity for kids

Students search for the words in the puzzle, but can't find any. Then you circle: "April Fools!"

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top 5 Questions Bloggers Want To Ask Their Readers

Top 5 Questions 

Bloggers Want to Ask 

Their Readers:

Just so you know, this information is based on a 100% scientific, double-blind study with a control group and extensive interview of over 3,500 bloggers. Okay, I admit it, this is just what I think every blogger secretly wishes. (I certainly do!)

1. Do you like my post and/or is it helpful? Why don't you like it when it only takes a second?

2. What ideas could you add to the conversation so everyone can benefit even more?

3. Will you share a link to my post on your Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, blog, or email list?

4. Why don't you ever comment? Just a quick "Thanks!" is great. Fewer than 1% of readers ever comment. (This is another factoid.)

5. What would you like to read about? We love suggestions, tips, ideas, and collaborating.

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Monday, March 24, 2014

Need some humor therapy? Here are 10 funny jokes guaranteed to bring a smile.

10 Funny Jokes
to bring a smile!

(or at least a groan)

These are not original by Scott Ertl.
Authors are unknown.

1. Why did the cookie go to the school counselor? 
         -Because it was feeling crummy.

2. Why can't you hand be 12 inches from your pinky to your thumb?
         -Because then it would be a foot.

3. What does Frosty the Snowman eat for breakfast?

4. Knock  Knock.
        -Who's there?
   Cows go.
        -Cows go who?
   No, Cows go mooooooooo!

5. Why do cows wear bells?
        -Because their horns don't work.

6. Why was the cross-eyed teacher fired? 
        -She couldn't control her pupils. 

7. What is the shortest month?
        -May. It only has 3 letters.

8. What kind of car does Mickey Mouse's wife drive?
        -A minnie van!

9. What did the water say to the boat?
        -Nothing, it just waved.

10. A man walks up to the librarian and says, “I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries, please.”         -Librarian responds, “Sir, you know you’re in a library, right?”
     Guy says, “Oh, sorry. [in a whisper] I’ll have a cheeseburger and fries, please.

Telling jokes can have pros and cons.
  • Counselors can show that they can take a joke and tell a joke while retaining their sense of respect.
  • Laughter can create a sense of safety, play, creativity, fun, and joy.
  • Counselors can help students learn a joke to share with friends or on the school announcements to get attention in a positive manner.
  • Counselor can be viewed as a "talker" instead of a "listener."
  • Jokes can become sarcastic and hurt others' feelings without the counselor meaning or knowing it.
  • Some counselors joke too much and they lose others' trust and rapport.
  • Jokes can become inappropriate, vulgar or mean-spirited.

In the comments below, please share one of your favorite jokes or how you use humor with classroom guidance or counseling.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

3 free Franklin classroom guidance lessons to use with Activ/Inspire and Promethean boards

Use Franklin to teach overcoming fears, starting school, and sportsmanship!
I created 3 free classroom guidance lessons -- perfect for K-3 elementary school counselors teaching socio-emotional and cognitive objectives! You can easily save the lessons to a thumb drive or download to your school's shared drive to access the files when you present your classroom guidance lesson on the Promethean Board in the classrooms. This is a great way to use technology with students! Like Adobe Reader, you can download the free Read-Only version of ActivInspire software here.

Most counselors already have these Franklin books in their collections. If you don't already have them, check your school library. If not, the paperback books can be purchased for $5-6 each. All 3 lessons also have links to the 10-12 min. movies on YouTube.

Elementary school counselors use Franklin to teach about fears and how to overcome them.
Franklin and the Thunderstorm (ActivInspire lesson: 15 slides)
  • K-3 lesson on identifying different types of fears and what you can do to overcome them. Compare and contrast the book with the movie.
  • Story line: Franklin is afraid of thunderstorms. When a storm approaches while he is playing at Fox's house, a flash of lightning sends Franklin into his shell. He refuses to come out -- even for snacks -- until his friends make him laugh with their tall tales about what causes storms. And when Beaver explains what really causes thunder and lightning, Franklin begins to feel much safer.
Elementary school counselors use Franklin to teach students how to get over their first day of school jitters.
Franklin Goes to School (ActivInspire lesson: 10 slides)
  • K-3 lesson on starting school. Compare and contrast the book with the movie. Students share about feeling nervous starting school, making friends, and getting used to a different place for the first time.
  • Story line: With his new pencil case packed with a ruler, eraser and 12 colored pencils, Franklin is ready for his first day of school -- until it's time to board the bus. Franklin faces the excitement and fear of starting school.

Elementary school counselors use Franklin to teach students how to have good sportsmanship.

Franklin Plays The Game (ActivInspire lesson: 14 slides)
  • K-3 lesson on sportsmanship. Compare and contrast the book with the movie. Students share about being a good sport, cooperation and teamwork.
  • Story line: Franklin can count forwards and backwards. He can zip zippers and button buttons. He can slide down a riverbank by himself. He can even sleep alone is his small, dark shell. And he's trying very hard to be the best player on his soccer team. 

NOTE: If you aren't already a member of TeacherPayTeachers (TpT), it's definitely worth the time to sign-up so you can download LOTS of great resources for free (and for a fee) from working counselors and teachers! Even though it's designed for teachers, there is a School Counseling section.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Use this powerful visual to transform anyone's attitude!

Feel like you are missing something?

Ever think that life would be better if only... 

Always looking for something, but never truly satisfied?

Counselors have a special gift to help others feel grateful
for what they have instead of what they don't.


Simply take a moment to focus on what IS working well in your life instead of what isn't.

For example, when a student complains about not having friends, getting bad grades, or not seeing their father on the weekends, find something positive to think about instead. 

What is there to be grateful for in his/her life? 
  • health?
  • speech?
  • brain?
  • memory?
  • family?
  • hobbies?
  • pets?
  • future?
  • grades?
  • friends?
  • interests?
  • freedom?
  • abilities?
  • dreams?
  • body?
  • sight?
When you feel like there is a hole inside, take your life back by paying attention to what is IN your life instead of what is NOT in your life.

Sometimes being around others who are don't have a fully-functioning body can help us appreciate what we do have. Being around someone with difficulty breathing or speaking can help us appreciate how much we take advantage of our health. We can't change others, but we can change how we perceive our own life and what we focus on each day. 

Feel free to use this handout for students to write down the parts of their life that are working well. Endure the typical "Nothing" response. Consider looking at pictures of others who are missing what we so frequently forget.

For some people, their spirituality is very important. For them, using the red triangle to represent God can be a visual example of what is leading their life. When it is the point of their life and driving their thoughts, words and actions, they don't feel anything missing. When anything else is driving their life, it's easy to feel like it's never good enough, never real, or impossible to attain.

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