It's Leadership Day - 2009

"Today is LEADERSHIP DAY 2009. This is a day in which Scott McLeod, a professor at Iowa State University, invites educators to share why and how we use technology in our careers." (Theresa Reagan one of many of my PLN twitter friends.:)

As a self-proclaimed technology advocate I believe that technology is only one piece of really big leadership puzzle. Throughout my technology learning I have probably done a little of a disservice to my teachers. One of the main reasons I began to use technology is to make my life run more efficiently and to help other principals. I have always said that teachers have the teacher right next door that they can go to at a moments notice. A principal on the other hand does not have a next door principal.

The most powerful benefit I found in all the Web 2.0 tools is opening the door wide to your school. If you use these tools to their potential Web. 2.0,1, 3.0 (whatever everyone wants to call it now) it can be like having a window into your child's day at school. There is absolutely no excuse for a parent not to know what is going on in their student's school....if the school is using these tools(or any webbased tool) to their advantage.

The future is today! I no longer have a tolerance for a fear of technology. Our students have figured it out so it's time to buck up!!!

Twitter Addiction - How bad have you got it?

How addicted to Twitter are you? Are you willing to admit it? I actually just saw a tweet by @stevejmoore regarding a twitter addiction quiz. I don't really need a quiz to determine how bad I am.
Not so much that I actually "tweet" very often but I have to load whichever twitter application I am currently using on my iPhone, constantly, just to see if I missed anything. (Kind of like being back in HS again. Just had my 20 year reunion:)
Back up applications - "just in case:)"
TwitterFon - This is my current application of choice:)

It is quite ridiculous to try to "catch up" on tweets when they are coming in at 200 per 20 min.. Yet I find myself trying to scroll down through all of them at every chance that I get. That is only because I am "following" a lot of people.
I think I hit the twitter "tipping point" about 6 months ago where I really "got it." Not sure people are going to give it the old "college try" before they get to their own "tipping point." At least I can say I was a tweeter and Skyper BO! (Before Oprah)
What will be the next technology time-suck/addiction? Please don't tell me!!!

*Disclaimer - Blogging with children. Please forgive grammar and typos.

Crazy Easy Podcasting!!! OMG!!!

Okay this has a waaaayyyyy cool factor! Crazy easy!

Set up a phone.io account. Call your number and leave "voicemail." Embed in blog.

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Why my presentation totally TANKED!!!

Have you ever presented to an important group of people to get them to think passionately about something and make a hard decision?

Well I did tonight and...IT TANKED!!!!

The purpose of my presentation was to persuade. My task was to persuade the school board to take action/make a decision on something?

My advice:(I am taking full credit for the ultimate demise of the presentation.)
  • When presenting in an innovative way..explain to the audience that the presentation is going to be different than presentations you have seen before. (You need to also know your audience. I think this group would have preferred bullet points, whiz/bang, charts and graphs, small print and lots of color mashing. BUT I AM NOT BITTER!!!:):):)
  • Explain that the handout includes the words and information, but the presentation is going to be just that, a PRESENTATION NOT A READ-A-LOUD!! (Once again, less bitter.)
  • Read the expression on your audience face. I probably should have stopped after the first two slides and asked for questions. The topic was a controversial topic so it really wasn't that the presentation actually tanked. The audience didn't "get it" because there were other "issues."
  • Pauses ??? In my research of good presentation design with PPT, I read that you should pause to let the slide speak for itself. That was awful!!! I should have just whizzed right through it after seeing the expressions on their faces. The pauses were like black holes of silence. (Ok, the other elementary principals were laughing hysterically in the back of the room. They "got it.")
  • Know when to use humor. Clearly I should have STOPPED and just opened it up for questions and turned the presentation off.
  • No regrets. You have to start somewhere. "Digitial immigrants"(for the lack of any newly adopted terms) need to be introduced to engaging presentations at some point. Especially if they play powerful rolls in education. It gets boring after months of "death by ppt."
  • Reflection - I think I am going to call in sick for the rest of the board meetings this year:)
  • Reactions - There were about 10 staff members in the audience that this was going to directly affect and they had the wind knocked out of their sails. I need to wake up early and buy donuts for them in the morning.
Good Night!

iPhone + Document Camera - My 2 Best Friends

This is my first attempt at using the document camera. Oh my gosh!
Some teachers were asking how they could use their iPhone to log their career ladder hours so I used this experiment as my first document camera recording.

*My husband calls at the end of this video. Oops:):):)

Reflections for Missouri Principals Conference

This is the 2nd year that the Missouri principals conferences offered an Internet Cafe. The hotel charges $10 per day for internet connection so one day of the conference we sponsor a wifi room. This is an 8AM - 4PM open room with 3 workshops and open lab time to come and check email, get online etc.

8AM Workshop on Blogging - Poor attendance. Principals up too late the night before:) My loyal followers from my district did brave the early times and come heckle me:) Only 3 others joined us but seemed to enjoy the time.

9:00am-11:00am - This is sacred time that we cannot offer workshops so that principals have time to visit the vendors in the exhibit hall. This was open lab time and we did have some principals come in and out. I think they are considering moving this to 10:00-12:00 and offering a 9AM session. Might get more participation at a later time.

11:00-12:00 - PLN workshop - I felt this was over their head and I didn't do a very good job presenting. My thoughts were all over the place so was my presentation:) I am pretty sure not many understood Twitter at all but signed up for accounts. You have to reach a "tipping point" in Twitter to understand how powerful.

Noon - 2:00 Open Lab - Lots of people were here at this time. Some working on their own stuff but MANY wanting to know more about things I have done or was doing. This was a GREAT collaborative time. A college professor hung out for about the whole afternoon and we had awesome conversations. He just got a Mac so we were learning from each other. (Just realized I need to do a sign up sheet and start a contact list next year. Don't remember his name:))

2:00-3:00 Google Hype workshop - TOO MUCH FOR ONLY AN HOUR! I should have just picked one thing. I think I overwhelmed them and I didn't even get to everything. Principals LOVED Google but couldn't wrap their heads around it.

EXHAUSTED - Next year some other principals offered to help. This was my 2nd year and I don't schedule a break for myself or get to go to any other workshops. It is hard to give up being their for open lab time because that is when the collaboration is the greatest. But I do need to get some PD for myself. There were really good RTI sessions.

This summer I will be offering longer session of a blogging workshop and Google workshop for Admin. Seem to have a lot of interest so far. We will see what the summer brings!

Any suggestions for the future?

Principal Miller VP - Episode One

Okay, I am really going out a limb here to post a video of myself. I am trying something a little different. This is taking forever to upload but says I can continue to edit while the video is uploading. I am actually alarmed by how long a 30 sec. video is taking to upload. Would love your feedback for using a something like this. Not sure how time efficient it is going to be.:):)

Didn't expect the video pic to look like this at the start:):):) Oh well.

Melinda's Blog Class

Melinda is doing a great job presenting. She is probably going to regret letting me use her computer. I have complete access to all her stuff. It has taken me a minute to orientate to the mac, but I have it down now.

MAESP Blogging workshop

Good Morning! I am currently show MO administrators how to blog. Boy we are having a great time and they are all wide awake at 8AM on a day away from school.

P/T Conference via Skype

First let me just say that I got up early enough this morning to make it to Starbucks to make this post. Didn't seem like I was every going to post to my blog again lately.

A couple weeks ago my teachers and I had the pleasure of hosting a parent conference through Skype. I have permission from the family to share that experience. I will not be sharing the content of the conference but how it came to be.

Let me first say that I can't even imagine having my husband deployed to Iraq right now. That alone would be more than I could handle. To have 3 kids on top of that is a whole other set of issues. During one of my conversations with the mom she mentioned that they Skype her husband often. I just tucked that piece of info into the back of my mind. At one point I received an email from Dad in Iraq. I thought that it was important that we all talk so I suggested we have conference via Skype. Here some highlights/pointers if you ever need to do this:
  • I emailed dad my contact information and asked if he could add me as a contact over the weekend so I could be sure that everything was set by Monday morning when we met.
  • In my email I said I would be available 15 min. before the official conference so we could work on settings. He didn't add me over the weekend but at the designated time he added me as a contact, I accepted, and he called right on time.
  • Iraq time was 7:30 PM and our time was 10:30 AM
  • My laptop was set up on a cart with a webcam hooked up and sitting on top of the laptop. I didn't want to place my laptop too far away from the table becaue I knew it would be hard to hear if the camera was too far away and I didn't have a mic hooked up. We had to use the built in mic in the camera. Ther was limited view but I aimed the camera on the mom and her family.
  • Yes, the mother brought her mom and her brother to the conference. Keep in mind she is trying to raise 3 children while her husband is in Iraq. I have enough trouble raising just two with my husband home more than he is gone:):):)
  • Sound - Here is where we had the most trouble. Dad could not hear very well so I had to sit by the camera and pretty much yell all the information to him. One other teacher would talk loud enough he could hear her but not very well. It sounded like we were all yelling the whole time but we had to. It was not a negative yelling.
  • Paperwork - I would like to email the paperwork in advance this time. I read all the paperwork or explained it as we were going. I think I have enough notice this time that I could email the paperwork in advance so he has it in front of him.
  • Snowball Mic - I am actually going to try to use my Snowball mic this time. It has a long enough cord that I could place it in the middle of the table and he will probably be able to hear better this time.
  • Training on the spot - The teachers didn't realize there was a little bit of a time lag in the sound. Not huge but a couple of seconds. You can't really have a "conversation" you have to talk and then stop and wait to make sure the person on the other end heard you or has any questions. I didn't clarify this very well with the teachers before the meeting but will next time.
My advice: Keep in mind that this is the first time I have done this. Other teachers have done this alot or at least more than me and probably have better advice. My main advice is to get contected on Skype 15 min. before the actual conference is suppose to start. I also tested all my camera views that morning by calling my IT on Skype and having her watch me around the room to see where she could see and hear better. That helped a lot.

Highlight of the conference: After we were done I called for the student to come down so he could talk to his dad. He was so excited. He thought he was in trouble at first when he saw all of us but we left the room and just let them talk for a while. I also think that is why mom brought her family so they could all talk to him.

There are way too many ways to include parents that are unconventional that we need to take advantage of.

You've Gotta Start Somewhere

As the old saying goes...You've gotta start somewhere...That somewhere for me is going to be the Colorado Conversation this weekend.

All the virtual conferences/webcasts/podcasts etc. have been so beneficial that I want to share that with others. Especially my teachers.

Below is the email I sent our district about hosting the Colorado Conversation "virtually" in Missouri. If you read my blog and you live close by, feel free to join us. You will need to fill out the form below so I can keep an accurate count.

So far I have 10 signed up!!!

"Willard Staff,
Free PD is filling up!!
This is just a reminder email regarding this coming
Saturday PD opportunity. Below are the details and form
for you to sign up that you are attending.

Sat. Feb.21st 9AM-1PM Library Station

This will be very informal. Panera next door. You are
welcome to come and go.

I will have PD forms signed for you to receive credit.
What: Live streaming into a technology conference in
Colorado. ((There are MANY live workshops/conferences
every day that you can attend in the comfort of your own
home. We will attend this one together and then you will
be able to "attend" on your own in the future:)

BYOL - Bring your own laptop and headphones. I will have
some extras if needed. You need to have wireless
Link to conference topics you can choose from.
I will set you up but you can "attend" any session you
would like.

Please click on the link below and fill out the form if
you plan to attend. I need to get an estimate of how many
will be attending.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions. I will be
sending a clarifying email before the end of the week.

Melinda Miller, Principal
Willard East Elementary"

Input Re: Pre-Packaged School Supplies

For the past 5 years I have been in charge of our district's elementary school supply list. This is the supply list that is given to the children at the beginning of the year and posted at all the school supply stores in the fall.

This year our committee decided to investigate pre-packaged school supplies. As you will see in the feedback I received, this means a lot of different things to a lot of different people/schools.

I requested feedback from Missouri principals by sending and email through our elementary principals association. Approximately 600 principals were emailed and many responded with info or that they too wanted the info that I collected.

ANONYMOUS - I copy and pasted all of the information into a google document and the link is included below. By clicking on the link you can view all the input that was emailed to me.

ROUGH DRAFT - My apologies for the mess of the document. There is so much information that I do not have time to reformat everything and get the information out in a timely manner.

DISCLAIMER - If you would like to know more information from a particular school (they are only identified by number in the document) email me and I can put you in contact with that school.

School Supply Feedback Link

I've been "tagged" - 7 things:):):)

NASCAR FAN - I find that people are shocked when they find out that I LOVE to watch car races. It's not just NASCAR necessarily, however that is my favorite. But I just love watching and going to car races.

Scrapbook-aholic - Since I never have time to scrapbook anymore, i.e. have children:), I seem to have become a "scrapbook supply collector." This means I still buy the stuff but never actually scrapbook:):) Kind of like buying clothes that you never wear.

Tech Geek Wanna-be - I love all technology in all it's forms but I often need lots of help to figure things out. Bought a MAC because of peer pressure from @scottelias and still don't know all the bells and whistles of having one:):) Just because I podcast, blog, twitter, FB, etc. doesn't mean I know how to "program" :)

Starbucks Addict - Pretty self explanatory!

Homesick - My husband's family and my family are 4 and 6 hours away. Sometimes I just need a "mom-fix" to see my mom and hang out. I don't think I would ever move back but I wish I could see them more often. That's why we live for Skyping.

I am an indoors person - I wish we could afford to pay a landscaper to plant beautiful flowers and fix our yard up all fancy. Dirt, grass, bugs, extreme cold or hot, allergies etc. keep me from embracing my inner-"green." We support recycling and environmental awareness as long as I don't have to be outside:):):) Spring and Fall are my favorite seasons.

Harley Envy - I want a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Let me rephrase that and say I WILL SOMEDAY HAVE ONE. That kind of contradicts my last "thing." My parents have had Harley's for over 10 years now. I used to go on rides with my dad before I had kids and it was so relaxing. Only day long rides for me. Not road-trips and vacations.

There you have it! A once in a lifetime look into the REAL Melinda Miller:):):)

February Teacher Motivation

The month of February can be a loooooooong month! Sometime there are no breaks to look forward to. Judy Domeny Bowen sings about the February Teacher Blues in her album Teacher Therapy. What better way to liven up the month than to have a little fun?:)

The idea for Fabulous Friday's in February came from a colleague of mine that is a principal at on the other Willard Schools. Rhonda does Fabulous February and does something for each day of the month. I am not able to keep up with that so i just do Fridays. You would have to decide what works for you. With everything that is going on with our economy and all the job stress, we need something to lift our spirits. Maybe you can tweak this to work for your school.

This year we are going to have a theme.."Guess Who?" You may have done a rendition of this in your school but I am going to lump them all together into 4 Fridays.
Below is the letter to the teachers. I put this on fancy Valentine paper and then put it in their mailboxes.

"We have a theme this year!!! Below is a list of the Fridays in February and the PICTURE that you need to bring to participate. Nikki will be creating a bulletin board outside the office that we will change weekly to display our mystery pictures. This is meant to be as little work for you as possible. Just for fun!!!

You can start turning your pictures in to Nikki ASAP. If you do not have a picture you are welcome to check out my digital camera to take some.

Each week there will be a “form/test” that goes with each theme for you to guess and turn in your answers. Since this will be in the hallway you are welcome to have your students help or play along.

Feb. 6 - Guess who's...Feet?
Feb. 13 - Guess who's...Spouse/Significant other?
Feb. 20 - Guess who's...Pet?
Feb. 27 - Guess who's...on Vacation?

Secret Pals: We also have Secret Pals in February. This has been a lot of fun in the past so if you have never “played” let this be your year to try it out. Someone from Service Committee will come around for you to draw your secret pal Jan. 30 and the sneakyness begins Feb. 2nd. We will have the BIG REVEAL Monday February 23 after school. Everyone is welcome to come to the BIG REVEAL"

Assessment Wall Pre-Post

You may be wondering a "pre-post" is. Well let me just explain. I have been wanting to post about our assessment wall since November and it never works out. Yesterday I used my Flip video camera to record the wall and tell about it and now my Flip video camera doesn't work AGAIN!!! Already sent it back once.

An assessment wall is something that I heard about 3-5 years ago. Some of the schools that are going through the Missouri Reading Initiative have the walls. It is a very visual way to see where all the students in our school fall in reading ability. You can incorporate other subject areas into the wall but our focus is reading.

The picture above is our wall in it's infancy back in November. I have better pictures of it now that will be in my "real post" about this wall:):):) I hope to have close up pictures or a video that you can see and understand what it is all about.

Here are the basics: (Kindergarten is "yellow" and they are not on the wall in the above picture.)
  • I have 375 students and I am using 5 pocket charts. 4 on one wall and one on the end wall.
  • Each grade level is a different color index card.
  • There are dot stickers on each card to note charateristics of each student. (Red dot = girls, blue dot = boys, yellow dot = IEP, bright blue dot = new student and so on. I hope to be more clear in the next post.)
  • Students names and reading levels are on the BACK of each card.
  • I have 4 of each grade level so each card also has to have a designation mark for each teacher. (Sounds complicated but I think you will understand.)
  • At the very top I have sentence strips that show the range of where each grade level should be.
  • The black with red letters is the guided reading level.
  • The yellow row at the very top of the pocket chart is the DRA level.
Now I am going to go look around my building and see if I can find one of the teachers' flip video cameras that I bought them and try to record with one of their cameras. I may even have the "real post" up by the end of the day.

iPhone "App-Aholic"

I always wonder what application other people are using on their iPhones. Recently an article I read talked about how applications are being downloaded for the "wow" factor to show off to your friends. Having just done this by showing someone iFart (Yes I downloaded this moronic program for fun.) What are others downloading? I am not as interested in the "fun" programs as I am in the productivity type programs.

Here's what's on my iPhone: (That I use most often/regularly)

News - I read these in the wee hours of the morning or late night while I am laying down with my kids
  • CNN
  • USA Today
  • New York Times
Social Networking- This is for Twitter. I can't keep up very well but every now and then I can scroll back through to the past post I read and see what has been going on.
  • Twinkle
  • Tweetie - Love the "favorites" option so I can star tweets with links I can use later.
  • Twitterific

Productivity- I don't consider myself very productive lately but these are what I try to go by.
  • Things
  • Grocery IQ - This also has a "favorites" option so I do not have reenter everything every week
  • Fast Notes - I have been using this to document walk-through observations informally. It is for me to keep on track of being visible in the classroom. I can look back and see what classrooms I need to visit.
  • Evernote - This is awesome for taking pictures and writing a note on them.
  • Easy Writer - This is to write email in landscape mode.
Miscellaneous - I'll try to explain each of these.
  • The Weather Channel - This is awesome to help me plan mine and my kids wardrobes for the week.
  • Google - Use this for Google reader
  • Kodak Gallery - My family uploads to Kodak so I have to use this as my photo album instead of a paper wallet photo album.
  • Facebook - Need I explain. See previous post
  • Backgrounds - I change my background all the time just for fun.
  • Bankar...Lite - I am trying to keep track of every single dime I spend to see where my money is going (Starbucks, nails, donuts etc.:))
  • AceBudget - I can enter a budget for Starbucks and then see when I get to my limit:):):)
  • Lose It - Keeps track of your calories. Haven't used it much yet.
  • DarkSlide - Flickr App - Haven't used much but I think it is fixed.
  • LinkedIn - A MO Supt. started a group on LinkedIn but it hasn't really taken off yet.
  • WordPress - Just in case I want to post to my staff blog.
  • Flashlight - Since I never know where I am going to end up for the night (I have two daughters that don't sleep through the night) I sleep with my iPhone under my pillow as an alarm that I can take from room to room. I use this so I don't have to turn the lights on.
  • VoiceNotes - So far I have only recorded my daughters because their voices and laughter are so fun right now
  • Drinks Free - Need I say more:):):)
Games - I guess mostly for my daughter or long drives in the car.
  • LightSaber - One of my teachers has this and we are going to "battle" some day when her kids earn a reward for something.
  • Bejeweled - Game to play in car and at Board meetings
  • MotoChaser - I am terrible at this
  • Flick Bowling - My 3 year old can now play this a little bit
  • PaperFootball - Don't play much anymore
  • iFish - For my husband but he now has the iTouch.
  • Animals - For Alyson
  • Scribble - My 3 year old LOVES this one.
  • Dice - You shake your iPhone and the dice rattle. Very fun.
  • iFart - Just because it's funny, sort of.
Well there you have it! Maybe this will help you choose some programs. I haven't been keeping track of the prices of these which is why I need the Bankar programs. What are you using?

Facebook Junkie

Over the holiday break I added ONE MORE THING TO KEEP TRACK OF! AHHHHHH!!! Facebook. Now I am an addict!

Beginning - I actually joined Facebook last year at this time by peer pressure from Scott Elias my podcasting friend from Colorado. At the time I didn't really "get into it" because of the time factor and I already try to keep up with blogging and twitter. Well...my mom called me a couple of weeks ago and said that my younger brother's "status" on Facebook had changed to "in a relationship." Of course this is very interesting to me because what better way to make fun of your younger brother than online for everyone to see.(Just kidding) I guess that also intrigued my older brother into signing up too. So keeping with the competitive nature of our family, I HAD to sign on, of course:):):)

Having no idea what I was doing I posted some ridiculus "status updates" a few times. Of course I then downloaded the app for my iphone and all is history now. The really cool things is the amount of people that I have lost track of over the years that are now on Facebook. I can see their family pictures and what they are up to and everything. We are in the middle of planning our 20 year class reunion and it is a great way to make connections with old classmates.

Middle...I guess I will just continue to "be friends" with everyone. At first my goal was to have more "friends" than my brothers. But once I figured out what it was all about I don't really care how many friends I have I just enjoy catching up with old friends.

End...There is no end in sight once you are hooked on Facebook. I can see how people come and go to their accounts because it can be so addicting. There are a lot of people that I wish were on Facebook and I will now start mission of converting them:):):)

Happy New Year!!!

If I were any good at keeping at New Year's resolutions mine would be to blog post regularly. Unfortunately this year I have been so busy I haven't made any new year's resolutions. Yipeeee!!! Oh, I have some swirling around in my head...the old faithfuls...lose weight, save money, be a better wife and mother, be more thankful outloud, etc. I will work on all of these as will all of you.

(I haven't finished my project pictured to the left. If I wait til the cups are filled I won't have time to write this post. So this is a "post-on-the-fly"!)

Today I am working quietly in my office. B.C. = Before children I was so good at little "feel good" things for my teachers like treats on their desks and notes of thanks or good job. A.C. = After Children I am terrible with all that. I want to do it but I can't even get the diaper bag packed some nights. Well at least I am off to a good start...sort of.

With the all that is going on the world I feel it is going to be a challenge to keep my teachers motivated and keep their eye on the "prize," the children. I know it is even hard for me at times. Today I bought some "cute" border paper and wrote a Happy New Year's letter to leave on their desks for their return. I bought the plastic champagne glasses at the party store and will fill them with chocolate and place them with the letter on their desks. It is just a small motivational letter about remembering that we are making a difference.

After reading Dave Sherman's post about his blogging story, I have reflected on mine. The sole purpose I feel that I started blogging was to share tangible/doable ideas with other principals in hopes that they would share-back. It has worked! Lots of ideas come from my "network" and I am very appreciative of all of it. I just hope that I "give back" enough to them.