Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yeh, we can do that.....

 Picture this, a typical day:
Principal slash science fair judge walks into a 6th grade classroom at 11:00 to investigate a bus report. But instead, Teacher asks principal/judge to take a student next door to do a mock practice interview for a soon to come science fair day. Principal is so excited to do science that he temporarily forgets why he was there.  Said principal/judge takes student next door to do so. Student receives good experience and advice. Student and judge return to class. Principal/judge realizes there are now 25 more students gazing at him with a questioning look because they could all benefit from the same experience. Hmmmm, principal/judge opens mouth before thinking. "Hey, I have an idea. We could use a teacher's iPad to record an interview and then show it to all of the remaining students!"  Teacher is excited. Kids are excited. 12:30 principal takes same student and grabs student's friend at the same time. Borrows iPad from a different teacher and heads to another room to re-create the experience, this time with the iPad recording. Hmmm, how DO you get the video from the iPad to be able to present it???  Principal begins to realize this may be a bigger project than intended and kicks himself because he has lots of things waiting on his desk. But remembers, "people are more important than papers."

1:00 Finish bus report investigating and return to office. Crosses fingers and hits the "Publish" button on the borrowed iPad to send it to the principal/judge's YouTube account (which is blocked at school), but it somehow still uploads to the site because Apple is sometimes magic and no one will understand how that really works. Use a "secret" browser on said principal's iPad to navigate to the YouTube site to check and see if it published. It is.  Making progress.  Copy the link and email it to myself so I can open it up on a desktop pc. Try to convert it to mp4 file using keepvid.com , but can't because site is blocked. Go do a couple of walk throughs and realize it is getting late and you need to return the teacher's iPad, but your project isn't complete.

2:00 Desperately track down the district tech coach via a Google hangout (which can find people practically anywhere in the world if they answer).  Beg her to receive the email with copied link and have her use keepvid. com to convert it to an .mp4 file. Watch her open it up, and try. It works! Then, have her put it in a google doc and share it back to me. Navigate to google docs, take the new mp4 file and link it on the school wiki to be readily available for the teacher's science classes tomorrow. Whew...that should work!

Then, get new idea...

2:30 Call tech coach back on another hangout and ask her if in her "spare time" in the evening after she gets home, to re-download the file back onto the one iPad in the district that probably has iMovie installed, add effects and movie trailer stuff to it to impress everyone and make the student actors feel good about themselves. Then upload it back up to me.

Then, get another idea!  Have tech coach also link it to the teacher's school website so students can also view it at home later.  She agrees! (remember to buy a thank-you bribe from Tim Horton's)

4:30 principal/judge finishes up bus report investigations, conferences with a teacher who is stressing the OAA, writes this blog (because it meets his IPDP goals), and heads for home.

Yeh, we can do that!

http://goo.gl/RhlCW science fair video

http://goo.gl/bYW3o  movie trailer

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Will the "real world" please stand up?

  Have you ever heard phrases like these thrown around?: 

"When these kids get to the real world, they're going to need to work on projects, with real deadlines, and no one is going to give them a second chance like we do." 
Really? Their employer will give them meaningless projects to complete? with unrealistic deadlines? and limited resources to work with? not schedule common hours for them to work with other employees? give them multiple projects to do at the same time? and then fire them because they weren't successful or late? Really? Employers can afford to hire and re-hire numerous employees? Really?

"If teachers worked in the real world, they would appreciate things more."
Really? You think I drive slower to work than I do going home? You think I don't work more hours every week than what I am contracted and paid for? You believe I am not thankful to be surrounded by small miracles every day? You think I don't make a difference? Really?

Where IS this "real world" we all proclaim to be so concerned with? Where is this "real world "we are preparing our students to be successful in?  What DOES the "real world" look like?

I'll let you in on a secret. The "real world?" It's on the corner of 199 State Street.

May we all strive to ensure the learning experiences at our school, and in our district, will always be the "real world" for our students.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Tech My School" in 3 easy steps

  Some fellow educators have inquired of me and want to know about how our school uses iPads and other mobile devices and how we have "arrived". In brief, I would describe it this way:
     Step 1, Cross your fingers and sign a purchase order: 2 1/2 years ago I unwittingly made an administrative decision  to purchase two iPads for my school. I didn't know of any other local schools using them but I was intrigued by the possibilities my building tech leader was beginning to rant about more and more often. It turned out to be a lot bigger decision than I could have imagined at the time. I eventually signed myself and my begging, pleading tech leader up for an iPad training class, which included the iPad in the registration fee. At the time, I shuddered at the cost of such expensive training, but the budget allowed for it and in the second half of our school year, we traveled to Columbus. Not knowing what we were really in for, we began with one iPad for my tech leader to explore their potential in a 4th grade language arts inclusion classroom, and one for myself to see if it had any value to improving productivity of a building principal who valued the use of technology.
      Honestly, I was lukewarm with the classroom potential and I was doubting if it was going to be of any benefit at all for me as a school principal. (Especially, since a desktop PC and Windows software grounded me in my office most of the time.) But, by chance or perhaps fate, the iPad purchase decision happened to coincide at a time when I had begun using my android smartphone more effectively for school work, and I had begun to learn and use something new to me, known as cloud computing via Google docs. Long story short, it didn't take us long to realize what the power of tablets, apps, and cloud computing had on students, staff, and yes, even my administrative tasks. I had drunk the Kool-Aid and there was no going back.
   Step 2, Have Christmas in July: Now that we were convinced and excited about the use of these new devices, we wanted to expand it by putting more of these devices in the hands of our staff and students. With a combination of local AEP vision grants and federal Title funds, I purchased enough iPads for all of my grade level teachers and intervention specialists. This time, I was not lacking in confidence of the decision and was excited for my staff to be "early adopters" and to experience some of the productivity curve I was experiencing. With a crazy plan, I invited all of my staff to a training in the middle of the summer. "Come to the training, receive an iPad."  Everyone attended the week after the 4th of July. I realize everyone has a different learning curve, but I rarely see a staff member in the building today without their iPad close by. (It is not my purpose to expound in this blog on all of the ways staff and students are currently using them as that would fill too many pages. I would encourage you to follow their own blog posts or google+ pages for that.)
   Step 3,  write a grant, receive $10,000 from eTech: We added several more iPads to the 4th grade inclusion classroom and I am exploring the potential of a chromebook at the same time thanks to winning a grant. The projects and learning scenarios have been more than satisfactory this year because of it. Combined with a proliferation of students bringing their own iPads and tablets, our school is experiencing a mini explosion of devices. Our tech director has scrambled to keep the wi-fi infrastructure up to par and we have survived the "bumps in the road." The challenge now is to continue to increase number of devices throughout all grade levels and provide professional development to staff so they can continue to exploit student learning styles and to stay one step ahead of the next wave of tech.
What's next? First, I need to help and support our sister schools as they begin traveling the same paths that we have traveled these past couple of years. Second, I see step 4 for us involving several iPads in a classroom, connected with AppleTV devices to whiteboards or large screen televisions, and probably more chromebooks in classrooms.
    It's an exciting time, but with our school district in deficit spending now, it looks like I had better start looking for the next big grant....   Keep calm, carry on!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is it you?

    Have you ever noticed how things that are new to you seem to be mysterious and sometimes even scary to begin using? But then you become more familiar with it. You use it more often.  Eventually, you start "living" it. And then you wake up one day and suddenly realize you have a whole new perspective on what it really is and what you can do with it and maybe even think you can't live without it now. This is how my journey down the road of technology in school and office seems to me. The newest things (at least new to me) never cease to amaze me. Who are these people that develop this stuff and continue to wow us? Are they young, old, boy, girl, alien? Are they US citizens, Asian, other? Are they OUR students? Will they be our students when they get older? CAN they be our students? I hope so! I want to help our students think beyond merely accessing and using technology to play their games, listen to their music, type on their documents, but have a real part in developing and distributing it to help mundane people like myself do my job and have fun doing it. I don't know for sure, but I bet they make some pretty good money at it, too. Here's to the next generation! May you be patient with us.

my first glog, simple but useful>>   Learning Target Glog

Monday, January 7, 2013


  I read a blog today about the top 3 things for 2013 that will impact education. Good article and the last sentence speaks volumes:

"Predictions are always dicey, of course. But no matter what 2013 may bring, one thing is certain: education’s reputation as a sleepy, slow-to-change sector of society is gone. Keep your eyes on education and learning over the coming year, because a lot of exciting and disruptive change is on its way."

The "disruptive" word makes me remember reading a book a few years ago with staff "Who Moved My Cheese?." 


Friday, January 4, 2013

Clogs, Glogs, and Blogs...

  I made the mistake of letting my self-proclaimed geeky friend facilitate a training for my staff today. She has a habit of using and modeling the newest technology gadgets or applications in the education world. I guess she is doing just what I asked, "walk the talk and use what you sell" kind of thing. Today, she used glogster to present her topic of internet safety curriculum for our students. I have seen blogs and articles about glogster before, but like so many times, it has been "click, skim read, click and move on." But, today when I saw her glogster page/poster with a video, pictures, wordle info graphic and so on, it really struck me how visually powerful it was and the implications it had for me as a facilitator during professional development and also for teachers in the classroom. So.....of course I had to experiment and make one of my own. I see blogging and glogging becoming a way of doing business in my little corner of the street. Now, can anyone teach me clogging?

I sent the note, didn't you get it?

Earlier this week I began a new one-way messaging system with my parents and staff. I used an app called Remind101. It was so caveman easy!  Quickly made two groups, sent an email out to the people who would benefit from text AND/OR email alerts from me (school) and sat back and watched people sign up. Now, from any device (my android phone, my iPad, any internet computer) I can quickly send out an alert or reminder and let everyone remain anonymous. In a classroom setting, I could quickly send classroom reminders to my parents about a project due or praise for displaying great classroom manners. No more, "I sent the note home in your child's backpack, didn't you get it?"

a website to learn more>> Notes Home

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Back flip or front flip?

  I was reading another article about "flipping" the classroom. This statement jumped out at me.

"If we can now have the capacity to have content delivery happen at different periods of time … it's silly to have students sit and watch in class" and then do the hard work at home, Reich said.

Flipped classroom news article

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Putting this onto business sized cards to give to students as a reminder...

5 Ways to make a difference in your learning:

Show UP - everyday

Move UP - front

Sit UP - straight

Look UP - make eye contact

Hand UP - ask questions
Credit to Bill Sanders

Finish your year with these 6 "Be"s

Be Present- not just physically, but emotionally and mentally present

Be Punctual-punctuality is a sign of respect

Be Prepared- prior planning prevents poor performance

Be Professional- dress, talk, conduct, and learning

Be Positive-everyone is watching

Be a Communicator-share everything and listen to everyone

(credit to Dwight Carter-Gahana Lincoln HS)

Common Core? Yeh, we know that stuff

Read a blog today about a company who dissected the Common Core and ended up making a list of 1500 learning targets grouped by grade and subject. They added a comment column to tell teachers a little more about the prior year and following year standards. Selling them to teachers for about $10 each. Thinking maybe my teachers may start to charge me for their work on Common Core. :)