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VOL. 50, NO. 3

Helping Students through Bibliocounseling By DONNA BROWN MASCA Executive Director


ast spring, the May/June 2013 issue of The ASCA School Counselor Magazine had an article about bibliocounseling. As a senior high school counselor, I had not had the opportunity to use bibliocounseling very often. Usually I suggested a book for a student to read, but that was the end of it. Dr. Christy Clapper wrote an article about using Jarvis Clutch — Social Spy with students who are struggling in social situations. You can download FREE lesson plans and materials for facilitating a group using this book from the American School Counselor Association website. I thought the article was interesting, but I didn’t know how this related to me. Fast forward to the beginning of this school year. After thirty-seven years as a high school teacher and counselor and ten years of part-time university teaching, I started work as the school counselor at St. Paul School, a pre-K-8 Catholic school that had never had a school counselor. What an adventure! The first thing I noticed was how short pre-K students are. Soon after I learned that my talking to anyone under the age of ten was akin to the teacher in the Peanuts comic strip—“Whaawhaawhaa.” I needed to learn how to communicate with my

little guys if I were ever going to make a difference at my new school. Then I remembered the article. I started researching bibliocounseling and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of articles and lists of books that could be used to help children understand just about anything from grieving to lying. One of the sites I found—“Books That Heal Kids,” http://booksthatheal—was extremely helpful. The site can be searched by topics as narrow as dog safety or as broad as families. Because I’ve been invited to present some lessons on empathy to the second grade, I targeted that. What a treasure trove! I clicked on empathy and a number of books popped up. Presented in blog fashion, each book is first “reviewed” and then the question “Why It’s On My Bookshelf” is answered. There are also suggestions about similar books, websites, and YouTube clips that support developing empathy in children. The “Resource” section on the ASCA website has lesson plans, scholarly articles and various publications about bibliocounseling. If you missed the May/June issue, download it on the ASCA website. The (continued on page 4)


Useful Apps for School Counselors By THERESA A. COOGAN, Ph.D. MASCA President


he iPad is becoming a popular teaching tool in schools across all grade levels. Beyond the classroom, school counselors can integrate the iPad into their work with students. I am learning how to use the iPad and want to share some of the information that I have learned. All of the apps listed here are free and do not require registration to use. Puppet Pals: This creative app appears to be best suited for the elementary level. It promotes creative thinking, verbal skills, and fine motor movements while creating social stories. When the app is opened, the screen shows three main prompts: “start,” “saved shows,” and “more characters.” By hitting “start,” the student is taken to (continued on page 4)

ATTENTION! All purchase orders and checks for membership should now be sent to: Donna Brown Box 366 Bryantville, MA 02327

When Music Becomes Noise By SALLY ANN CONNOLLY MASCA Counselor’s Notebook Editor

Amplification turns a concert’s music into noise, endangering the hearing health of the audience.


he music was deafening. Literally. Yet I continued to sit there, as did the rest of the audience. We had come for an evening of musical entertainment, first, from the local high school jazz band and, then, from a nationally renowned


swing / jazz / blues group. The excessive sounds emanating from the amplifiers, however, had turned the delightful performance by the high school band into unbearable noise. The sounds were not only unpleasant; they were dan-

gerous. I recognized that. “Noise-induced hearing loss” is the medical term. Excessive noise causes immediate or gradual and cumulative damage to hearing, and it doesn’t matter whether the source of the sound is an explosion, an iPod, or a concert. But I remained seated, socially constrained from escaping the unpleasantness. I stuffed pieces of cotton tissue into both ears. My companion stuffed pieces of napkin. Only after the lady seated next to me turned, grimacing in pain, did I say to myself, “That’s enough. I’m out of here.” Sheepishly I retreated to the back of the auditorium, where I remained for the rest of the evening. Later I discovered that my personal discomfort had been shared. Although they had tolerated the noise, only onethird of the audience returned after intermission. A report sponsored by a federal government agency in Australia says that in order to protect young people, “venue operators, bands and DJs need to be aware of the level of noise being produced in enclosed venues and the damage which can be caused by repeated exposure to this noise.” This responsibility is based upon indisputable evidence. The American SpeechLanguage-Hearing Association says that “of the 28 million Americans with hearing loss, nearly half are the result of damage from excessive noise.” The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 12.5% or approximately 5.2 million children and adolescents between 6 and 19 years of age suffer hearing loss due to excessive exposure to noise. Hearing loss is not our only concern. Repeated exposure to high intensity sound results also in tinnitus and vertigo as well as increased heart rate and blood pressure. Instinctively I had followed two of the recommended ways to protect our hearing. I had moved away from the sound source, and I had blocked the sound. Although my ear plugs were improvised COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK

2012 – 2013 OFFICERS PRESIDENT THERESA A. COOGAN, Ph.D. Bridgewater State University Bridgewater, MA 02325 Tel. 508-531-2640 E-mail: PAST PRESIDENT JENNIFER LISK Medway High School, Medway, MA 02053 Tel. 508-533-3228 x 5107 • Fax 508-533-3246 E-mail: PRESIDENT-ELECT TINA KARIDOYANES Mansfield High School 250 East Street, Mansfield, MA 02048 Tel. 508-261-7540 x3122 • Fax 508-339-0259 E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT ELEMENTARY VERONICA KNIGHT Lowell Elementary School 175 Orchard Street, Watertown, MA 02472 Tel. 617-926-2666 E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT MIDDLE / JUNIOR HIGH MARISA CASTELLO E-mail: KATHLEEN SCOTT E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT SECONDARY JOHN S. STEERE Wellesley High School 50 Rice Street, Wellesley, MA 02481 Tel. 781-446-6290 x4653 • Fax 781-446-6308 E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT ADMINISTRATORS CHRISTINE LUZI Framingham High School 115 A Street, Framingham, MA 01701 Tel. 508-620-4963 x27500 E-mail:

and insufficient, they were a step in the right direction. The third recommendation was not feasible. As a mere attendee I could not turn down the volume. In the future, I will be certain to pack a set of ear plugs when attending a musical performance. This lesson I should have learned earlier. A Disney ice show in Boston years ago and several state-wide dance competitions this past year also had me rummaging through my pocketbook for something to block the noise. Educators need to step up to protect and preserve our youngsters’ hearing. We

should ensure that their learning and recreational environments maintain safe decibel levels. We should provide a curriculum for them and their caregivers that includes information about normal hearing, hearing loss, and the deleterious effects of noise. We should encourage them, in their daily activities, to turn down the volume, take sound breaks, and, if necessary, wear appropriate ear protection. We should also tell them that if they have to shout to be heard, they should muster the courage to stand up and walk away. ■


The incidence of hearing loss in classical musicians has been estimated at 443%, in rock musicians 13-30%. —

----------------------------A World Health Organization report in 1997 on preventing deafness and hearing impairment says that children in North America “may receive more noise at school than workers from an 8-hour workday at a factory.” — The Dangerous Decibels program, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR,

VICE PRESIDENT POSTSECONDARY JOHN MARCUS Dean College 99 Main Street, Franklin, MA 02038 Tel. 508-541-1509 • Fax 508-541-8726 E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT COUNSELOR EDUCATORS MEGAN KRELL, Ph.D. E-mail: VICE PRESIDENT RETIREES Joseph D. FitzGerald, Ed.D. 5 Progress Street, Weymouth, MA 02188 Tel. 781-264-3426 E-mail: EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DONNA M. BROWN Adjunct Professor, UMass Boston P.O. Box 366, 779 Center Street Bryantville, MA 02327 Tel. 781-293-2835 E-mail: TREASURER ASHLEY CARON 25 Belmont Ave., Stoughton, MA 02072 Tel. 508-212-0676 E-mail: SECRETARY ASHLEY J. GUBA 30 Brezner Lane, Centerville, MA 02632 Tel. 508-367-7774 E-mail: MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR TBA COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK EDITOR SALLY ANN CONNOLLY 19 Bayberry Road, Danvers, MA 01923 Tel. 978-774-8158 • Fax 978-750-8154 E-mail:



BROWN (continued from page 1) entire issue is devoted to bibliocounseling at all educational levels. In “By the Book,” the authors — Jami Parsons and Cheryl Nord— suggest that there are really three types of bibliocounseling: 1. Developmental bibliocounseling helps children understand problems, perhaps before they arise in their lives, using stories to acquaint them with issues and solutions. 2. Self-help bibliocounseling is what the name implies. There are many self-help books you can recommend to students, parents, or teachers on a given topic that will allow them to work through a problem and learn new strategies at their own pace. 3. Informal bibliocounseling allows school counselors or librarians to suggest books relevant for certain groups or individuals on particular topics that may be helpful for group discussions in processing current events or problems as they occur. In the ASCA article “Literacy Lessons” by Diana Gruman and Chris Owring, the authors illustrate that “by using your bibliocounseling lessons to also promote literacy skills for elementary school students you’ll discover how willing teachers are to let you into the classroom.” These two articles plus another three will help counselors plan and implement bibliocounseling that will help their students and provide entrée to their school’s academic classes. ■

COOGAN (continued from page 1) a screen where up to eight actors can be selected. Some characters are already included, and the student has the option to take his/her own photos. I recommend that you take a picture of the student and make the student an “actor” in the show. Once the actors are selected, a backdrop is selected, again from an included scene or an uploaded photo. The next screen allows the student to tell a story. When ready, the student or counselor hits the record button at the top of the screen, and the app records audio and movement. Students can drag the characters around the backdrop during the recording. When finished, they can title the show and save it. The show can be replayed or exported, and it will be stored in the “saved shows” section on the homepage. my Homework: This app is best suited for the middle school level, but it could be integrated across all levels that have take-home assignments. The app is for the student’s use, but it connects to the teacher’s app, which syncs with the class and all of its contents. When the app is opened, the screen is divided into two areas: “classes,” where the student can enter all of his classes; and “homework,” where the student can enter detailed assignments. If the student enters the classes manually, the app allows for various school schedule formats (e.g., block scheduling, alternate days, period scheduling). The student can add a de-

Listen Smart “Listen Smart: Safely Handling the Power of Sound” is a 15-minute video for grade levels 7- college. It features interviews with some of today’s most popular musicians (including Ozzy Osbourne, Wyclef Jean and Moby) as they talk about the kinds of long-term hearing damage that can occur when music and other sounds are played too loudly. Students are given a detailed look at the mechanics of sound as well as an easy-to-follow description of how the human ear works. As the video progresses, viewers are offered the tools necessary to understand why high-decibel sounds can create such unintended havoc on the body. — http://


tailed description on the “homework” side of the screen, which includes prompts for priority level, due date, description, and programming reminders. When the homework is completed, the student can swipe to the right, and the app will draw a line through the homework listing and put a check mark next to it, indicating that it was completed. To delete an item

iPad apps can facilitate student success in school as well as their planning for the future.

from the homework list, the student swipes to the left, and the app will ask for confirmation before it is removed. Career Explorer: This app is best suited for the high school level, but it can also be used with advanced middle school level students. It promotes independent learning and critical thinking, while enforcing multiple postsecondary options. The app —which is game-based — guides students through the career exploration and decision-making processes and helps them to learn more about the processes as well as possible occupations and education. When the app is opened, the screen shows playing cards. The student selects one, and a scenario is presented. The student moves forward, making career-decisions he/she considers best. Several different options can be explored, and detailed information is given about each career decision. The student is then given a choice to pursue that decision or to reevaluate the other options. The data used in the app, especially the wage information, appears to be based mainly on resources from Nebraska. Regardless, the app illustrates the career decision-making process and the several points where small decisions can shift the direction of the career pathway. This can be a very useful lesson for high school students before they make their postsecondary career decision. ■ COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK



Disentangling for Growth By VERONICA KNIGHT MASCA VP Elementary


n recent years, it appears that few of us are able to completely escape the ripple effects of trauma due to the seemingly increasing occurrence of natural disasters, atrocities of war, and pervasive violence and their immediate, persistent, and repetitive reporting. In our schools, we are receiving more children who have relocated from wartorn countries, witnessed neighborhood or domestic violence, and experienced personal abuse and/or neglect. The challenges these children face can be so complex, and the struggles can feel overwhelming. Recently I read an article in Children in a Violent Society called “Experiencing Violence in a Developmental Context.” The authors, Steven Marans and Anne Adelman, provide a helpful concept for reframing these challenges. The recurring term, “disentangle,” evokes an image of pulling apart knotted


strings. These knotted strings symbolize the result of trauma colliding with the work of growing and developing for children. The developmental task disrupted by the trauma depends on the age of the children when the traumatic experience(s) occurred, resulting in different skill deficits. For infants it may be the ability to learn to tolerate big or difficult feelings. For toddlers it may the ability to feel safe enough to explore the world. As

children get older, trauma may disrupt their sense of physical safety, emotional safety, or relational safety. The focus of intervention and treatment would be on untangling the disruptions caused by trauma and taking time to examine and reinforce the fibers’ strength, prior to resuming the work of fostering growth along the strings. Although much of this resumption or repairing of developmental tasks may be initiated in treatment, the home and school play a big part in supporting the children’s efforts. In speaking of challenges and interventions for refugee families from Somalia, Saida Abdi, MSW, from the Center of Refugee Trauma at Children’s Hospital, shared some nuggets about how to support families in their journey. She advises that it is important to alleviate immediate stressors for the adults in the family units, so that they are able to attend to the children’s needs. It is also crucial to empower the parents so they can effectively parent their children. Providing translators, rather than relying on their children to bring information to and fro, is a practical way for parents to act as parents. This gives children a sense that things are improving. In the article “Angels in The Nursery: The Intergenerational Transmission of Benevolent Parental Influences” by Alicia Leiberman et al., the authors put forth the powerful concept that when parents are able to retrieve positive, nurturing images from their own childhood, they are better able to pass that goodwill forward in support of their children’s growth and development. This is an important guiding thought as we collect students’ family history, interview parents formally, or simply engage in casual conversations about family dynamics. In the elementary schools we have readier access to parents and guardians that those on the secondary level. As we enter the season of conferences and holiday celebrations, let’s line up those translators, connect with the outside clinicians, and help meet some of the immediate needs of families in support of their efforts to disentangle those knots. ■ COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK

Settling In By JOHN STEERE MASCA VP Secondary

“Protecting Your Hearing Health” National Association of Schools of Music and Performing Arts Medicine Association An information sheet for students on Noise-Induced Hearing Loss


s I begin this new position as Vice President Secondary for MASCA, I find myself feeling similar to many of my freshman students whom I see roaming the hallways of Wellesley High School. A little unsettled and unsure of exactly how to navigate the best course through. An unsettling feeling for sure! At WHS, we have several ways to help ninth grade students transition to their new school, including a first-day orientation program and freshman guidance seminars. One of the newest additions has proved to be the most helpful: our peer mentoring program. Peer Mentors are upperclassmen who have gone through a demanding application and selection process that asks them about their character, personality, and willingness to help ninth grade students adjust and settle into the routine that will help them have a successful journey through WHS. In conversations with the Peer Mentors and former students who have experienced the program, these students have said that what they remember most about their peer mentors was how easy they were to talk with and how willing they were to share their experiences of the various grade levels. I am sure that, in looking back, some of you are wishing that you had such upperclassmen guiding you through high school. School counseling at its most basic is a mentoring profession, so as I move forward in this position, I hope that I can develop with many of the high school counselors throughout the Commonwealth a similar mentoring relationship: a relationship of open conversations and interactions, where I can best advocate for the profession and the betterment of our association. I look forward to meeting all of you and serving in this role for MASCA. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. ■



Getting to Know You By KENNETH A. SILVA, JR. M.Ed. Student in School Counseling, Bridgewater State University


ith student /counselor ratios continuing to grow, it has become increasingly difficult to provide equal services to all of our students. With this in mind I began my internship by setting a goal where, at the very least, I would learn the names and faces of every student assigned to me. Although I must


confess that my caseload is much smaller than the average, I am happy to report that I have made significant progress towards achieving my goal. Before sharing some of the strategies that have fueled my success, I must confess that I have the added advantage of working at a vocational high school. I

use the word “advantage” because I have found that my students are much more accessible than those who attend school in a traditional academic setting. At any point in time, half of my students spend almost their entire school day in their assigned shop, and I came up with a way to take advantage of their lack of movement. What I have managed to do is forge a partnership with the shop instructors. This took a little time and a lot of relationship building. However, I have worked to earn their trust, and they understand that I truly have the student’s best interests in mind. With this relationship in place, I have the freedom to walk into shops any time during the school day and touch base with individual students. Of course, conversations are kept casual and usually center on whatever topic is relevant at the time. However, any student who wants to discuss something a little more sensitive has the opportunity to pull me aside and make an appointment when they otherwise might not. Another benefit of this relationship is the opportunity to ask for twenty minutes here or there, where I can provide large and/or small group instruction. These group presentations have proven to be a vital means of delivering college and career information to my students. I understand that counselors in a school that focuses strictly on academics may not be able to replicate this accessibility. However, I have used other strategies that may be successful in any setting. In addition to regularly passing through the shops, I spend time in the cafeteria during lunch and even maintain a presence in the halls during passing periods. I have found that a handshake or a quick hello can be very helpful towards opening up the lines of communication with both teachers and students. Due in large part to the success of these strategies, I go home each day knowing that not only am I servicing all of my students, I actually know who they are. ■ COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK

RESEARCH NOTES Making a case for the new “R” Adding aerobics to Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic in education could make a difference in student achievement, according to a study reported in The Journal of Pediatrics (February 2013). In their study of elementary and middle school students, Dr. Robert R. Rauner and colleagues found that aerobically-fit children had a 2.4 times greater chance of passing math tests and a 2.2 times greater chance of passing reading tests compared with aerobically-unfit children. Among those students who received free/reduced lunch, the odds of passing the tests were still greater than those of students who were aerobically-unfit. Body Mass Index (BMI), however, did not have a significant effect on academic success. —, Accessed on August 18, 2013.

Child abuse has lasting effects A recent study by researchers at the National Academy of Sciences found that abuse has lingering effects on behavior and academic performance.

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“But while so much remains a mystery about the causes of abuse, and why some children respond to treatment and recover and others do not, the researchers said what has become clear, with the advances in brain science in the past 20 years, is just how devastating and longlasting the effects of abuse can be on the structure and the function of the brain. Research has found that abuse and neglect can influence the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates emotions, particularly fear and anxiety. Abuse has also been shown to change how the prefrontal cortex functions, the part of the brain responsible for thinking, planning, reasoning, and decision-making, which can lead to behavioral and academic problems.” — Brigid Schulte, “Effects of child abuse can carry over, study finds,” Washington Post, September 13, 2013.

Seeking help may indicate risk of dropping out A study of approximately 14,000 tenthgrade students in six Norwegian counties

found that dropping out of school was related to mental health services. “Seeking help from the youth health clinic and consulting mental health services, were associated with increased level of high school dropout 5 years later. Frequent attenders (≥4 contacts) had the highest odds of dropping out. Yet, boys who saw a GP and girls attending the school health services regularly over the previous year were less likely than their peers to drop out from high school…. Adolescents who seek help at certain healthcare services can be at risk of dropping out of high school later. Health workers should pay particular attention to frequent attenders and offer follow-up when needed. However, boys who attended a GP regularly were more likely to continue to high school graduation, which may indicate a protective effect of having a regular and stable relationship with a GP.” — Lisbeth Homlong et al., “Can use of healthcare services among 15–16-year-olds predict an increased level of high school dropout? A longitudinal community study,” BMJ Open 2013;3:e 003125 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003125.

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NEWS OF NOTE Conference for mental health professionals planned On Friday, November 8, the Massachusetts Association of Guardians ad Litem and the Massachusetts chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliatory Courts will present a conference for mental health professionals, including school counselors, who work with families in the process of separation or divorce. “When the Court and Clinical Practice Collide: Working with High Conflict and Divorcing Families” will focus on the ways clinicians can provide effective counseling to children who are experiencing high conflict and whose families are involved in the legal system, while also avoiding ethical and legal pitfalls. Presenters include mental health clinicians, attorneys, and members of professional ethics boards. Location: Regis College, Weston, College Hall, Room 202. Time: 8:30 a.m. –

5:00 p.m. To register, go to www.conf

Funding for school counselors lags “In a recent call with reporters, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said he expects legislators to continue to talk about mental health issues as they relate to school safety. Duncan said that although it is not the sole cause, the link between mental illness and school shootings is ‘huge,’ and that the Department of Education plans to push legislators to invest more in schools that do not have the resources to hire more counselors…. On Aug. 16, the department announced it will give $12.3 million to 35 school districts across the country to fund counseling programs in ‘targeted’ elementary schools. Congress is also considering the Student Support Act, a bill that would set minimum ratios for school coun-

selors, psychologists and social workers. Kirsten Barnes, president of the California Association of School Counselors, says the growing concern and acknowledgement of a need for more counselors are encouraging, but legislators and other leaders need to make sure any changes are sustainable.” — Allie Bidwell, “Lack of Funds Leave School Counselors Struggling to Find Balance,” http:// -of-funds-leave-school-counselors-struggling-tofind-balance, September 16, 2013.

Free resource about online safety offered A free interactive e-book is being made available by NBCUniversal’s “The More You Know” Learning Series. To download Growing Up Online: A Must Have Guide for Parents, Teachers and Kids, go to ebooks.

Changes coming for a collision sport “The Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute, a nonprofit cofounded by Cantu [Dr. Robert] dedicated to the study, treatment, and prevention of brain trauma, reported that there were 350,000 concussions that resulted from practice in high school football last year as compared with just three resulting from practice in the NFL….Concussion prevention demands changing attitudes and techniques at the grass-roots level of the game. Coaches can do it or someone will do it for them.” — Christopher L. Gaspar, “Drawing up a safer way to practice,” Boston Sunday Globe, May 4, 2013, p8.

From One Second to the Next A 35-minute PSA about the dangers of distracted driving by Werner Herzog Made available by AT&T at





Massachusetts School Counselors Association, Inc. COUNSELOR’S NOTEBOOK Sally Ann Connolly, Editor


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Counselor's Notebook, November 2013  
Counselor's Notebook, November 2013  

The November 2013 issue of the Counselor's Notebook, the official periodical of the Massachusetts School Counselors Association.