Counselor Jodi Acker shared with the Cambridge-Isanti School Board how she will offer counseling virtually to Cambridge Primary School students during the board’s regular teleconference meeting on Nov. 12.
As has been reported, last week, Cambridge-Isanti Schools transitioned to distance learning for K-12 due to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the county. Acker said that with the recent development of the COIVD-19 pandemic in the area, counselors have had to think outside of the box to attending student needs.
“We’re looking up new resources that we can use online,” Acker said.
One of the ways counselors have thought outside of the box is by learning to use Screencastify, a Google Chrome extension that offers video and screen recording and editing options, to work with students in creative ways virtually, Acker said.
“That’s how I make all my lessons,” she said. “I’ve had to learn how to edit to make all these videos. So that’s kind of good. I’ve kind of grown and become better at doing that.”
Counselors also regularly use Google Meets to meet with students virtually, Acker said. This ability has allowed them to also meet with parents simultaneously, she said.
Online curriculum for primary students
Acker and her colleagues have implemented what’s called the “Second Step Curriculum,” which includes free webinar lessons for students and staff. She said that it is a great tool for managing the social and emotional health of those who participate in the lessons.
Acker also discussed the ongoing weekly communication she has with teachers regarding questions or concerns they may have about their students, she said.
“I provide them with all my (social and emotional learning) virtual lessons so they can use them,” Acker said. “And I also have my website, which I started working on last year when we went to distance learning, is just kind of growing from there. So it’s a really neat virtual website that kids can use, and parents can access as well.”
Acker’s website is for students, parents and staff. It can be accessed at https://sites.google.com/c-ischools.org/jacker.
The website offers many engaging spaces for students such as the “Virtual Sensory Room,” “Virtual SEL Library,” and “Virtual Calming Corner.”
“For instance, if they click on that yoga mat, it would go to a little yoga-like mindful movement type thing,” Acker said about the different virtual sensory rooms. “And if you go to the fish aquarium, it’ll be a little virtual fish aquarium. There’s bubble paper, that they can sit there and kind of pop it, it’s really neat.”
The virtual library offers a variety of books dealing with social, emotional, anxiety and anger management lessons, Acker said.
“So (there are) different books that the teachers can click on or the students can click on to look at those books,” she said.
The curriculum also offers what’s called the “2020 COVID-19 Corona Virus Journal,” that students can use to write down what’s happening with them and their experience with COVID-19.
“It’s kind of a way to process what’s going (on) and why they’re home,” Acker said.