Monday, March 18, 2013

How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character

Paul Tough's "How Children Succeed" is pretty amazing. I'm early on in the book and Tough is talking about how early childhood trauma affects development of the frontal cortex. I keep thinking of how the career exploration process that can be so healing for students who have had trauma and find it difficult to control their impulses. Tough writes about a preschool that allows children to write their goals for play every morning. Career Guidance allows students an opportunity to create daily and long term goals, to explore, and consider who they are as learners.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Women in Technology

     After watching the 20 minutes of the Oscars I could actually stomach, I was so excited to see THIS It's an opportunity for women to share maker stories (much needed after Seth MacFarlane's misogyny, written about here by Amy Davidson, Senior Editor at the New Yorker). How wonderful for students to have an opportunity to see women in science and technology fields!!! A complete Documentary called "Makers: Women Who Make America" is also available to view. The maker movement provides so many opportunities for students to experience the how-to of contributing to our communities. Making and inventing is also what CTE teachers invite our students to DO!
     Next year, I am going to incorporate these videos into my teaching. If we can expose students to representations of women in tech industries and men in nurturing positions, we can really set the stage for all students to have greater opportunities. Also, I love the Tide and home product commercials recently that feature dads doing great work inside the home click here for the long version. It's actually funny!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


    A few weeks ago my second grader asked me how people learn about jobs. First, a jolt of inadequacy: the carpenter's house is never done, right?  I recuperated by saying, "Well, you should be learning about jobs in school." But of course I felt a little guilty for blaming school when I, like Shantelle Raper (October 2nd post), understand the time demands put on teachers for core content. We talked about jobs she knew about and where she'd heard of them. We looked up some jobs on O*Netonline that had to do with animals.  I love the ideas Raper presents. I know we can come up with even better ideas when we work with educators in our buildings.
    Children in primary and intermediate grades absolutely amaze me with the level of rigor they take on in school. Students in first and second grade are already writing nonfiction reports (sometimes, using pictures, modifications or copying). How wonderful would it be for very little ones to write reports on jobs? A counselor could come up with jobs categorized by Holland's codes and kids could research those jobs. Then, the teacher could support with writing and presenting. This really could work with any age group. It's an assignment with a lot of flexibility. The National Career Development Association has some great ideas, here, too. I think it's integral that we start talking about jobs at a young age so students are prepared for all of the wonderful career related opportunities available to them in middle and high school.
   When I worked in the elementary level, we used Positive Behavior Support Initiatives as a springboard for discussing how students contribute to the community. Some rewards included helping younger children or participation in the recycling program. Kids love to help and it's a good way to begin discussing contributing to our communities. Isn't that what this is all about... I mean education. It's all about getting our youth prepared to take over our communities. By integrating Career Guidance into core curriculum, students who need behavior support can begin to understand how they can positively impact the school community, as well.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

From the mouth of a babe.

This Ted Talk is amazing:
Thirteen-year old Logan LaPlante talks about "hackschooling." He uses community resources to augment his home schooling.
Three ideas I hear from this Ted Talk:
1. Social Emotional Development is the foundation of occupational satisfaction. (La Plant talks a lot about how to be happy).
2. We  need to  broaden the meaning of education to include community based learning environments. (career guidance from industry professionals should not just be for CTE students).
3. Some students have resources to engage in these community resources (like, the resources exist in their communities... think about our urban areas). Teachers in blighted and urban areas already try to provide their students exposure to community resources as much as possible. Hear the Ted Talk for ideas we can use in our educational system.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Creating Career Relevance for Core Courses

Cited from 10/1/2012 E-Newsletter of NCDA (
As standardized testing has taken the front line in our schools, we are finding enrichment opportunities, vocational training, and career guidance has periodically been moved into an area of formidable lesser priority. Administrators and core teachers are compassionate to our calling to provide career guidance, but continue to closely guard their instructional time in math and literacy schedules. As career counselors strive to build their programs, it is difficult to create “buy in” from an already overwhelmed school staff. It seems everyone has their own priority.

Business and industry continue to plea with the education system to ensure graduates are career ready. Soft skills, such as simple punctuality to in-depth problem solving crest their wish lists of employability skills. Our goal as educators is to provide experiences and opportunities which ultimately produce skills and abilities that allow our students to become viable citizens.

As career professionals we can help teachers provide an answer for the age-old question students seem to ask, “Why do we have to know this?” As we learn more about Generation Z, we are finding they are looking for “the why” before they invest their effort. This group is quicker to catch on, but just as quick to turn away if our message is not clear and relevant to their current circumstances in life.

What Can Career Counselors in Schools Do?

  1. Collaborate with colleagues. One of the greatest facets to building strong support for career readiness skills is finding time in master schedules for grade level team meetings. Teachers and counselors should be encouraged to arrive prepared to share ideas as to how they can work together while accepting that no certain program of study is more important than the other.

  1. Promote connections between workplace skills and core curriculum. Provide copies of all course standards to look for areas of commonalities. The expression, “Kill two birds with one stone” can easily be applied in this instance. Share core concepts with colleagues and discuss opportunities to create activities or share teaching methods. For example, measurement is a foundation of math, in addition, measurement can be an integral concept in food science, construction, automotive and technology.

  1. Create a true integration project. A comprehensive integration project or activity is an excellent way to create student awareness of the importance of all subject areas. For example, students could participate in a service-learning project, such as a community landscape project. In collaboration with counselors, teachers should create mini-projects within their classrooms that correlate with the bigger project. For example, in language arts, students could write a news release about the project for the local newspaper. In math, students could create a detailed budget or geometric outline of the project. And in science or agriculture class, students could determine the best plant type for the project. A rubric or grading scale, which clearly outlines the expectations of each teacher, will help students keep track of the requirements. The project should culminate with a career research component.

  1. Build career-related projects using standardized test items. Explore released questions from standardized tests to build project ideas. Most math and literacy items have career related subjects. The test item can be used as a pre-test and post-test encompassing the actual project. For example, a math item using a shelf can be brought to reality in a building and trades classroom. Through collaboration with counselors, the teachers can use common academic terminology and explain concepts in a similar manner.

  1. Create lessons via workplace documents. Create literacy lessons using workplace documents such as, job applications, user manuals, tax documents, legal documents, maps, brochures and recipes. Employers are interested in students applying their literacy skills to workplace scenarios; therefore, in collaboration with counselors, teachers should identify literacy skills that promote college and career readiness using these documents.
As counselors and educators collaborate, they can offer a holistic approach that helps integrate work place skills within the math and literacy curriculum. This team approach will answer students' question, “Why do I have to know this?”

Shantele Raper, GCDFI, has been passionate about Career and Technical Education since she started teaching Business Education in 2002. Her career path led her to Career Guidance where she has served in various leadership positions including, Arkansas Career Guidance Association and Arkansas Career Development Association. She currently works as Instructional Technology Director at Osceola School District and as a Career Development Facilitator Instructor with Knowledge Works. She has a MSE in Business Technology from Arkansas State University and is currently pursuing an EdS in Leadership and Administration. She received the Arkansas Career Orientation Teacher of the Year award in 2009 and she is a National Board Certified Teacher. She can be reached at

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Career Guidance Award - Call for Nominations!!

Do you make a difference in Career Guidance? Do you know someone who does?

The purpose of the 
ACTE Career Guidance Award is to recognize school counselors and career development professionals who are currently making significant contributions in career and technical education programs in their communities and/or states. Recipients of this award must have made significant contributions to advocate, educate and communicate the value of CTE as a viable career option to a variety of audiences, including students and adults. They must also demonstrate exemplary efforts in helping students and/or adults evaluate their abilities, interests and talents that encourage them to develop academic and career goals aligned with career and technical education.

Individuals who are currently employed as full-time baccalaureate school counselors and/or career development professionals involved in career and technical education. A nominee should have been involved in Association for Career and Technical Education activities at the state, Regional and/or national levels, and must have been a member of ACTE and a state association at the time of nomination to the Region level.

The first (ever) ACTE Career Guidance Award winner will be announced on Wednesday evening, November 28th at the Career Tech VISION 2012 (ACTE National, Annual Conference in Atlanta, GA) Awards Banquet.

Application and info here:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thoughts to all School Counselors in Colorado

Colorado has been hit hard with tragedies this past Spring/Summer.
The Guidance & Career Development Division would like to take this time to honor the role of School Counselors at this time. Despite the summer breaks, Counselors have been called to duty to respond to families and students who have been impacted by fires, deaths, tragedies and crisis.
Please know we salute all types of 'guiders' here....and currently hold in our hearts the 'guiders' in Colorado this July.

We'd like to share the poignant message from one of our favorite Senators:
Love Back

Yesterday 4 million coloradans went to work, played football in their front yard, strangers opened doors for each other, people gave blood, offered shelter, served hot meals, held grandkids, played pick up basketball and committed unnumbered acts of kindness and gentleness. One Coloradan dressed up like a villain and believed that by showing up at the site of America's mythical hero he could slay our actual heroes.

Its true there was no batman sitting in the theatre to fly down and tackle james holmes, as he hoped their might be. He had tactical assault gear covering his whole body ready for America to fight back.

But love is more organized than that, love has cellphones, and ambulances, nurses and doctors, complete strangers and policemen and emergency responders always at the ready, love has nurses who will jump out of bed in the middle of the night and get a family member to watch their child so they can rush to the hospital and save the life of someone they've never met, love has first responders who will walk into a Bobbie trapped building to save the lives of neighbors they will never meet. it must be lonely being James Holmes, spending the first part of your life planning alone for an act act that will leave you sitting alone for the rest of your life. For the rest of us, life is crowded, Love is always only 3 numbers and one movie seat away.

We have lived our country's history as a chapter of wars, and many of those wars we have been blessed to win. we are a team that loves each other and will fight for each other, and if you punch us in the mouth we will fight back.

That is one of our obvious strengths, but it is not our greatest strength. America's awesome strength to fight is overwhelmed by its irrepressible strength to love. James Holmes took 12 lives last night. Love saved 59 lives. Policemen on the scene in minutes, strangers carrying strangers, nurses and doctors activated all over the city But we didnt stop there, love saved the 700 other people who walked out of the Aurora movie theatre unhurt. But we didnt stop there. Love saved the 5000 who went to see batman all over colorado, and the 1.2 million who saw it all over the country, who walked in and out safely with their friends, arm in arm. but we didnt stop there, love claimed the 4 million other coloradans who went to bed peacefully last night, and who woke up this morning committed to loving each other a little deeper. the awe of last night is not that a man full of hate can take 12 people's lives, it is that a nation full of love can save 300 million lives every day.

I sat this morning wondering what I could do to help: give blood, support victims, raise money, stop violence, how could we start to fight back?

My friends were texting me they had plans to take their kids to batman tonight and now wereafraid to go. Others who were going to play pick up basketball or go out to dinner who were afraid to leave home, who thought they would bunker down in their home and wonder, how do we fight back?the answer is
We love back. We live back. We deepen our commitments to all the unnumbered acts of kindness that make America an unrrendable fabric. We respond by showing that we will play harder, and longer, we will serve more meals, play more games, eat more food, listen to more jazz, go to more movies, give more hugs snd say more thank yous and i love yous than ever before.

So while james Thomas settles into the cell where he will spend the rest of his life, wondering what we will do to fight back, we will love back. We will go to a park this afternoon and play soccer, we will go to the playground and restaurants and movie theatres of our city all weekend and all year.

He should know not only that he failed in his demented attempt to be the villain, but that batman didn't have to leap off the screen to stop him, because we had a far more organized and powerful force than any superhero could ever have. even the twelve lives that he took, this nation will love so strongly and so deeply that we will ensure they get a lifetime full of love out of a life he tried to cut short. And the 59 lives we took back, will be so overrun with love that they will live their lives feeling blessed every day, and every one who ever meets them will pass on in an instant a love they never knew they earned but we will never let them forget. in a movie theatre in aurora 50 years from now, one of last nights survivors will be waiting in the popcorn line and mention that he was in theatre 9 on that terrible summer night in 2012. And inexplicably, with an arm full of popcorn, a total stranger will reach out and give that old man a huge hug and say, i'm so glad you made it. Love back. We've already won.