Thursday, February 19, 2015

Using Technology in Documentation

Why didn't I do this BEFORE now!?!

I have seen so many GREAT ideas on Pinterest, especially in the area of School Counseling Programming. In an effort to become more organized, efficient, and data driven, I am entering into the use of Google Drive for all of my important documentation and information.  
I have been thinking of new and more efficient ways to document throughout my program. I followed lead of Emily Hansen at Hanselor the Counselor and her blog in creating my Google Forms.
I have created a Direct Counseling Services Form, Indirect Counseling Services Form, and Parent/Guardian Communication Log form on Google Drive; Google Drive will automatically keep a spreadsheet for all of my parent communications therefore eliminating the need for paper copies! I am also excited in the possibilities of documenting my use of time.

Of course there are always risks with using technology especially as a documentation tool. Considerations I need to be aware of; risks of electronic record keeping and confidentiality. I strongly encourage any professional school counselors considering the use of e-records to consult the 2014 American Counseling Association Code of Ethics,
I am still thinking about other ways I can use Google Drive in my program and will post other ideas that I come up with...needs assessments for students, teachers, and other stakeholders?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Introduction to Coping

Is it a Rock? or Play-Doh Type Problems?

ASCA Standard: PS: B1.4  Develop effective coping skills for dealing with problems

One of my favorite lessons is the "Introduction to Coping" from Gwen Sitsch & Diane Senn's Puzzle Pieces Classroom Guidance Connection, 2007. It teaches children what coping is and what it is not. I adapted the following lesson from "Introduction to Coping" and use the following worksheet to guide the lesson.

Coping is such an important skill for any individual to have. Effectively coping with a challenging situation can change how we think, feel, and/or act, about that event and in effect shape our approach to life.
I use this lesson with elementary and middle school ages. It can be adapted for individual, small, or large group settings. It is a great lesson for any time of year however I always try to fit the lesson in closer to the beginning that way I can refer to the lesson throughout the year.

**Click HERE for a link to the worksheet**

Items Needed: Play-doh (enough for each child to have roughly the size of a large marble) and a rock.

Lesson: Start by giving each student a piece of play-doh with the instructions that they will may shape the Play-doh into anything they want using only their hands and their desk surface. I give them about 3 minutes to do this. While they make their imaginative creations (you may see many "balls", "snakes", and "pancakes") ask students to list of challenges their age group has to deal with; death, illness, divorce, moving, parent changes job, friend moves away, changing schools or grade levels,  Write their answers for the class to see.

*Side Note: You will want to preface the lesson with the "no name rule" meaning in large groups we do not share specific names but students are welcome to do so in private. This will be a time when students may want to share their personal challenges. It is important to acknowledge their experiences however a large group setting does not allow the specific support an individual may need. Work to normalize their experiences and to connect individual experiences to others in the room by asking "has this been a challenge for anyone else or someone you know?" If the individual(s) need more time to share, respectfully redirect them back to the large group and finding an more private opportunity to discuss their challenges.

Ask students to briefly share what they made. Collect the Play-doh to limit future distractions. Next ask for a volunteer (be mindful of the student you choose). Instruct them to use only their hands and desk surface to shape this next object into anything they want. Then give them the rock.

Ask who controlled the Play-doh and how they did this. Go on to talk about how some problems are like Play-doh, they can be controlled by making a change, and some problems are like a rock, they cannot be controlled or changed so you must cope with them. We describe coping as dealing with a problem in a safe, healthy, and respectful way for ourselves and others.

*Side Note: Do to popular culture and various family cultures many students may believe using drugs, most specifically alcohol, is a way to cope with problems. This is a valuable opportunity to teach children that while people believe drugs make them feel better, using drugs will add more problems such as chemical dependency, reduced decision making, increased accidents, etch. Using drugs is NOT coping.

We go on to discuss how coping is a way to help ourselves feel better and take a mental vacation from the problem.

I put this lesson together using Pinterest and Puzzle Pieces by Sitsch & Senn. Thanks to Elementary School for the menu template and to Flourish n Thrive Counseling for compiling a wonderful list of coping skills some of which I used for the "Menu"! I also added the Relaxation Exercises from Taking the Work Out of Blood Work: A Parent's Guide.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Making Mistakes

The Girl Who NEVER Made Mistakes

Really? Not possible, not even for a minute? Everyone, whether they admit to it or not, makes mistakes. At any age accepting mistakes can be very difficult especially in a society where "perfect" is believed to actually exist. The unsaid social and cultural pressure on children to be "perfect" has increased anxiety among the youngest children. As difficult as it may be, letting kids make mistakes and then being there to help encourage them to try again will help to build confident kids.

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein is an awesome book to teach children what a mistake is, mistakes are a necessary part of learning, and mistakes are okay. The character Beatrice Bottomwell helped us to understand there is no such thing as "perfect" and that worrying will not help mistakes.

I have used this lesson with 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. With the 2nd graders, I have them take a pre-survey to assess their prior knowledge and beliefs about mistakes before we read the story and have any discussion. At the end of the lesson, I have them take the post-survey to re-evaluate their beliefs about is amazing to see the impact of one, 25 minute lesson, on students' beliefs about themselves and the world around them.

We learned helpful ways to deal with mistakes; laugh at our mistakes if it doesn't hurt anyone else, find a way to correct or fix it, apologize if our mistake effects others, never give up, and try try again.
The lesson and worksheet was adapted from Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades K-2, by Diane S. Senn and the pre/post survey was taken from Making the Link: Helping Children Link School Habits with the World of Work Grades 2-5 by Lisa King, Ed. S., LPC.
ASCA Standard: A:A1.4: Accept mistakes as essential to the learning process.

Peanut Butter & Homework Sandwiches?!?!?

Peanut Butter & Homework Sandwiches?!?!
Who on EARTH would want to eat those? Martin MacGregor's dog Sadie gives the excuse "My dog ate my homework" meaning again! The story, Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches by Lisa Broadie Cook is an excellent book to teach young students the importance of a positive attitude, no excuses, and taking responsibility to complete our homework.
A new lesson I developed for 2nd Grade this year promotes academic development goals and good homework and study habits.
We began our lesson talking about what our homework expectations were in their classroom, what the work excuse and mistake mean, and why homework is important. As we read the story, we stopped to discuss each mistake Martin made and what a better choice would be if we, ourselves, were in Martin MacGregor's shoes; having a snack before or after doing our homework, using a folder and backpack to carry our homework to and from school, checking and packing our backpacks and folders the night before, working on homework in the same place and about the same time everyday.
After our lesson, we worked as a large group on "Homework Time!" Activity Sheet from Small Group Counseling to circle and find what students were doing "right" and "wrong" in completing homework. We ended discussing homework expectations, what excuse and mistake mean, why homework is important, what each student does to help them be responsible to complete their homework.

The lesson was adapted from Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades 2-5, by Diane S. Senn and the 10 Homework Tips information for the Counselor's Connection Letter was found at

ASCA Standard: A:A1.5; Identify attitudes and behaviors which lead to successful learning.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Who is Your School Counselor?

Kindergarten Lesson
Who is Your School Counselor?

ASCA Standard: PS:C1.6; Identify resource people in the school and community, and know how to seek their help.

A goal for the beginning of this school year was to create lessons to introduce who a school counselor is and for students to gain understanding of what a school counselor does.

The handout I created is based on Coral Canyon Elementary School Counseling: Meet the Counselor. I found the images through a Google Search and used Microsoft Office to add the description. On the back of my handouts, I include a brief "Counselor Connection", a letter home, on the reverse side of every worksheet I give students. Another way to introduce myself to parents and an easy way to give parents ideas to reinforce the skills we learned.

Kindergarten Lesson Meet Your School Counselor!

Using Mrs. Potato Head, I introduce the role of a School Counselor to students. The students were very engaged and liked helping put the Mrs. Potato Head back together. It was a very easy for beginning Kindergarten age to relate with the various pieces and how their school counselor is like Mrs. Potato Head. This was such a successful lesson, I have decided I would use this lesson yearly with Kindergarten age students.

Materials: Mrs. Potato Head (I used a Mr. Potato Head), Meet Your School Counselor Coloring Page, paper book, paper phone, paper "X"

Lesson: Students choose different parts from the bag and place them on Potato Head. We discuss each piece and how it shows what a school counselor does.

Feet: Walks to visit all students in their classrooms

Hands: For helping you or giving "knuckles" to say hello

Ears: For listening to you and your feelings

Mouth: For keeping our talk private and not repeating what you say unless you or someone else are being hurt or are in danger

Eyes: To see all students in our school and look for ways to help them

Book: For reading stories to your class. These stories teach us about being good friends and students.

Phone: To talk to your families or teachers

Bag: To carry many fun things that will help us learn! And of course to bring Marley in.


Monday, September 30, 2013

Where is the School Counselor and How in the World do I Find Her???

Being a School Counselor can be rather busy to say the least. Everyday I travel between two buildings on the same campus and another school 18 miles away every other week (on very rare occasions I have meetings in a third building on our campus). Between three schools, over 400 students, and numerous school staff, and a dedicated office space in one building it can be difficult to find me!

I have found a very helpful tool to let students and school staff know where Mrs. Ziegelmann is. Posted on my door is the Where is Mrs. Ziegelmann sign. I adjust the arrow to accommodate my whereabouts. This communicates to others can see where I am if they need to find me AND the sign is a way to show that school counselors have a variety of places they go!

Making your own is very easy using Microsoft Word, a scissors, and a laminator, however I saw that Vanessa at 's was selling her version on Savvy School Counselor TPT Store and purchased one instead.

Another component to the Where is Mrs. Ziegelmann is the drop box outside my school counseling office in the middle school and outside of the elementary school office. This box serves a variety of purposes; option to report bullying anonymously, self-referrals, leaving messages. Not all students feel comfortable approaching teachers or leaving me a note with the school secretary. I am hopeful this will give students more opportunities to visit with me if they need or like.

Friday, September 20, 2013


September Lessons


Sharing is a very important social skill at the basis for many interactions with others. At the beginning of Kindergarten, some children haven't had the opportunities to learn and practice this skill while others are quite fluent with the concept.

I begin the lesson with a story of Marley eating all of the candy he got while Macy got a sad look on her face and went into the other room. Most of the students understand and infer that Macy was sad because Marley didn't share! We discuss why sharing with friends is important; its nice, makes friends feel happy, makes ourselves feel happy, etch. We also discuss there are many items that are not safe to share with others (I do make exceptions for example sharing an ice cream cone with mom or dad which a few kids said they do).

We read and discuss It's Mine by Leo Lionni. Then I use colored versions of the pictures from the worksheet below for a large group discussions of thing to share or things not safe to share.

The lesson was adapted from Puzzle Pieces; Classroom Guidance Connection by Gwen M. Sitsch & Diane S. Senn and Small Group Counseling for Children, Grades K-2, by Diane S. Senn.