Bilingual/ESL/EFL teaching and counseling products that you can't find anywhere else!

New School Counselor Group, Psychotic Student Support, and ESL/EFL Valentines & St. Paddy's Day Fun!

As one of our amazing colleagues put it in her notes to teachers- "Since educators, administrators, and school counselors all work together to support students, thank YOU for being one of the "3 Musketeers"  So Happy Belated National School Counseling Week to us all!  And Happy Valentines Day!!

In this post, we will cover some of the best highlights of the 2016 Texas School Counseling Conference which are great to incorporate into any school cousneling program, no matter the location.  As well, we will detail the latest, best practice techniques that we are using in our own ESL/EFL classes.  As always, you can click on any of the green links below for a free resource.  But first, a few Bilingual Learner updates...




  • CALLING ALL COUNSELORS:  We are super excited to announce that we now have a Texas School Counselor Facebook group to share ideas, exchange resources, answer questions, and support each other on all things related to school counseling!  In addition, this group supports the goals of advocacy and striving to align TX school counseling programs with the national ASCA model. Please  join our FB group if you haven't already and then add all your counseling colleagues to our group so we can build this resource to support counselors! Here's the link to join:
  • ESL in the Middle Volume 2 is coming!  We hope to get the bulk of it written over Spring Break, so look for its publication in late spring or early summer!
  • Relajate: Bilingual Stress Management Group Counseling Guide is here!  Check out this link next week to see a preview!
  • The revision of Tranquila: Bilingual Anger Management Group Counseling Guide is here and it is better than ever!  With 2 additional sessions, plus lots of additional activities, you will find everything you need to help your Spanish speakers manage their anger in healthful ways.  What's more,  if you purchased Tranquila in the past, we have a free updgrade for you!  If you'd like your free PDF of the updated guide, email us at with your name, the date you purchased Tranquila, and where you purchased it (our website, TPT, Amazon, etc) and we will get your free upgrade right out to you!
  • We won't be posting our regular monthly blogs in the near future in order to free up time to publish.  Instead, we will post mini-blog posts here as we come across some resource or info that we just have to share with you.  And, as always, you can follow us on our Bilingual Learner page to get real time updates of resources, info, and free downloadables.


So, I just got back from the Texas School Counseling Association’s (TSCA) 2016 conference in Dallas where it was overwhelmingly evident that this is SUCH an exciting time in the school counseling profession- in session after session, I watched the foundation of a comprehensive, best practice counseling program model being laid for Texas.   No where was this more obvious than during the presentation to offer a preview of the 2016 Revised Texas Model School Counseling Guide! Here are some of the highlights of the revised guide:

An updated explanation of counselor duties under the four components (with a list of non-counseling duties like bus duty or 504 coordination OUTSIDE OF THE GRAPHIC!!!)


Plus, multiple pages solely dedicated to helping counselors avoid non-counseling duties!!  Oh, Hallelujah!

The new guide will also include an explanation of the responsive services component that differentiates between preventive, remedial, and crisis responses.


And finally a pyramid showing where each of our counseling duties falls within the RTI tiered system.

Some of the other amazing TSCA 2016 presentations included: 

Author Julia Cook's key note speech on Grit and Determination-- she talked a lot about these two qualities as being major determinants in student success, as well as turning off technology and establishing best practice boundaries. She gave a wonderful, engaging, and hilarious talk with some great guidelines for counselors and educators! 


And I also went a little fan-girl when I got to talk with her at her book signing...







There was an amazing presentation by social worker Benny Malone about how PSCs can support psychotic students such as:

1.  helping the family/student understand the illness

2.  helping the family see the need for treatment after diagnosis by a doctor

3.  helping the student regain the confident sense of self that will help foster a return to their previous level of functioning

4,  providing assistance with housing, employment, and school

5.  educating the student and family about relapse prevention in the following ways: 

  • avoiding stress-induced relapses
  • CBT therapy as helpful in healing
  • meds (if prescribed by a doctor) needed for at least 3 yrs after psychotic episode

She also provided an info gathering tool for school counselors called the At Risk Protocol for Early Warning Signs in Students; you can email the author here to request a copy and provide feedback on her protocol.  


Dr. Linda Metcalf's presentation on Solution Focused Counseling in Schools was also fantastic!  She shared many helpful tips and strategies on counseling.  Some of them are below.

  • With disrespectful students, you should get MORE RESPECTFUL as they get more disrespectful because this tends to de-escalate their disrespect.
  • Walk problem students back to the classroom of their referring teacher after you have met with them and ask the teacher to step outside classroom for a moment so you can say, “J and I talked over what was going wrong in the classroom and he has some ideas on what he can do to fix things- can you please watch for what he does differently now?”  She said this is key in getting students to change their behavior with minimal followup work from the teacher.
  • When thinking “where do I start“ over a complex kid with complex problems, just ask, "What are your best hopes for our time together?"  Then work with the student to create one counseling goal from their best hope.

So, all in all, it was a fantastic, though exhausting, 3 days.  I left the conference feeling so, so excited about the best practice path that Texas school counseling is on.  Now, I just have to remind myself that Rome wasn't built in a note to self- baby steps and patience!



So, we just started teaching the intermediate class of ESL in the Middle after graduating our students from the ESL for Beginners curriculum. We've picked up a bunch more students who missed our October registration as well as keeping many of our students from the ESL for Beginners class.  It is inspiring to see the two groups of students come together and work so well at their various levels.  Though all are at some level of intermediate, the range is wide and so we are using lots of different techniques to allow each student to move at their own pace within the class setting.  Below are some of our latest ESL/EFL teaching techniques.


Our more experienced students now run the classroom intro activities such as reviewing the class rules, number card reviews, and leading the class in  vocabulary card games, to name a few.   Since many of these activities follow the same format as last semester, our experienced students have seen the teacher lead the class many, many times in these activities.  Now, instead of the teacher leading everything, she sits in the back of the class as the "student-teacher" leads the class in the activity.  It is so inspiring for the class to have one of their own leading the activities.  Plus, there is no better way for the "student-teacher" to practice and apply their English than by leading a class activity!  

During the Color Me Verby activity, students had a chance to listen to and analyze the structure of past tense sentences.  They got so excited as they played this game, that they were flashing their color cards everywhere! Another cool thing about this activity was that 2 students who never have excelled at English won the game and another student who usually excels in English didn't even earn one point.  Apparently, the game really tested some different language skills!

Another technique that we are having a blast using this semester is the Garfield Comic of the Day- if you want to try it, go to the previous link and show the Garfield daily comic to your class.  Discuss as a class whatever daily comic pops up using discussions question such as: Was the comic funny? Why or why not?  What was confusing in the comic?  How old do you think the comic characters are?  Tell me something you like/dislike about the comic.

And finally, Grammar Structure Musical Chairs is such a simple and super fun activity that we can't believe we didn't start using it years ago!  Since we started using it last semester, our students beg to conjugate verbs while playing musical chairs.  The idea is simple-  set out chairs (one fewer than the number of students playing) and play some music; students must try to sit once the music stops, and whoever is left standing has to conjugate the verb.  The key to the overwhelming success of this activity is to play songs that students love and that have a fast, energetic beat such as Uptown Funk (Bruno Mars), Sugar (Maroon 5), Billie Jean (Michael Jackson), etc.


In closing, we'll leave you with a fun little Valentine activity called Valentine Video Clips- we hope your students love it as much as ours do!  We also want to leave you with one of our fav ESL/EFL St Patrick's Day activities. Happy Holiday-ing!




That brings us to the end of this month's post.     And don't forget to join our new Texas School Counselor FB page here.  As always, you can find out about our latest promotions, free stuff, or our counseling/ESL adventures by following us on our Facebook Page or Twitter Page or Pinterest Page.




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