The Tides are Turning

As the new year begins I can feel the tides are turning in education. What will our profession look like and feel like a year from now?

Merit pay?
Charter schools?
Peer input in evaluation?
The end of tenure as we know it?
Or will we still be right here?

Let us all remember IT'S ABOUT KIDS! As we all navigate these uncharted waters, my hope is that our kids, my own kids and your kids, succeed!

May the force be with you in 2011!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Nov. 28 Meeting Follow up - Walk-Through Information

Image credit
Hello SW Principals!

We had a very productive meeting on Nov. 28th at Ebbet's Field! Everyone brought their current Walk-through forms and shared how/why they use their forms. Below is a link to a PDF of all copies. I am sure you can find something that will fit your school.

Next Meeting: Thursday January 20th 1:00-3:00 Ebbet's Field- We felt this was a really good location for everyone. It was a big private room that was a good environment for conversation.

I will email a sign-up form AFTER Christmas Break.

Topics: Grade Cards & Lesson plans - Please bring a copy of your grade cards for each grade level in your building. Or you can email me copies and I will upload so you don't have to make so many copies. We will also discuss lesson plan expectations. What do you expect for teachers when it comes to lesson plans?

If you have other topics you would like us to add to our meeting topics please let me know.

Walk-Through Observation Documents - This will open as a Google document. If you cannot access it please let me know.

Hopefully you will have a relaxing holiday break and not spend too much of your break working at school in the peace and quiet of a school when no one is around:):):)

Promoting your school through Smilebox

There are lots of photo publishing tools for the web but I recently became a fan of Smilebox. Teachers can even get a free subscription if they ask. Here is an example that I am going to post to my school website for parents and to my school facebook page.
Click to play this Smilebox photo album
Create your own photo album - Powered by Smilebox
Make your own photo album

iPod Lessons Learned

Last week I worked with Kindergartners using iPod Touches. It was pretty exciting for them and for me:) It's nice to interact with students one on one and I admit I need to do that more often.

Okay, lessons learned from 1st introduction to iPods:
  • iPod Touches are pretty small for Kindergartners.
  • The app with the larger letters was the better choice.
  • An iPad would probably be a better size for that age.
  • They really struggled moving the letters around because they are so small.
  • They just need practice for a while first so they can benefit from the word work aspect and not the actual manipulation of the letters.
  • We need to add headphones to the school supply list if we are going be able to use these frequently.
  • It's going to take time but imagine what the school environment would be like if the iPod was just a "natural resource" for kids to use as needed?
I'll keep you posted:)

1st Attempt at Garageband and Picture Podcasting

Well..... let's see how this works.

Kindergarten Word Work on the iPod Touch

K Word Work
Decided that the best way to determine the value of the iPod in the classroom is to try it out myself. So I packed up the 4 of the 26 iPod Touches that are not checked out to TEACHERS:) and tried them out with Kindergartners. Yes! I said Kindergartners. Crazy thing is that they can figure it out much quicker than I could.
Here is how this worked:
  • Word work seemed like the easiest time to work with them and that I could find apps for.
  • Actually there are more apps for practicing your ABCs than word work.
  • With the help of my tech specialist I settled on 2 apps to try. ABC Magnets and Magnetic ABC. These two apps allow students to create their own words.
  • Starting with a small group is the ONLY way to go. I cannot imagine introducing these to the whole class. During word work of The Daily 5 I worked with 3-4 students for about 10 min. Then pulled 3-4 more students.
Let's see if I can remember the sequence of events.....
  • Talked about being careful.
  • Students laid their hand flat on the table and I modeled how you would touch the screen by touching the back of their hand. Swiped softly on the back of their hand then a little harder to show you don't have to swipe so hard. Then made the students "swipe" the back of my hand so I could see how they were going to touch the iPods.
  • Showed them how to turn them on and off. Push the "home" button then swipe the lock. We practiced that twice. (BTW - I am the only one touching an iPod so far. I was modeling and they could touch mine.)
  • Showed the app and how it worked.
  • Gave them the iPod and we started together but once they were in the app I helped them individually.
Tune in for "lessons learned" in my next post.

    Adding Pics When Posting from iPad

    Downloaded a flickr creative commons pic to my iPad using Flickr Search and Stamp.
    Then uploaded to Blogpress and let's see what happens!

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    SWMAESP Sub D Meeting Nov. 30th

    Hello SW MAESP Members!!!
    Rather than creating another website/blog to share our information I decided to just add information to the blog that I already keep. This is a personal/professional blog that is not necessarily attached to my school in any way. It is a public blog and anyone can read it. If you are not familiar with blogging feel free to read other posts on this site and welcome to the world of blogging!

    At our last meeting at the Library Center we decided to revive monthly meetings. Many principals mentioned that  it would be nice to get together to share/support each other. If you cannot attend this one we will schedule another meeting after the 1st of the year. We will try to alternate dates a little bit so that everyone can attend at least once.

    You're Invited!!!

    What: SW Sub D Meeting
    When: Tuesday Nov. 30th 1:00-3:00
    Where: Ebbet's Field on S Glenstone (Used to be Rivals next to old Circuit City)

    Topic: Evaluations/Walk-throughs/Observation forms etc. - Please bring copies of forms you use for observations. If you would like to forward your forms to me I can link them to this blog and send another post with the forms included.

    Examples of some forms I and others have used over the years: (I could add others here as well.)
    Google Spreadsheet checklist
    Google "feedback" form used on iPad
    A Willard form

    Please RSVP on the form below.

    Test Post

    Can't seem to get Blogpress to work on my iPad. This is a test.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    I Finally "Get" the iPad

    The past few days and nights I have been exploring the iPad a little more in depth. (Haven't been able to sleep due to cold and allergy medicine:)) Surely I could find a use for this other than as a consumption device. Seems I might have:)
    Basically I just started carrying the thing around hoping it would come in handy.

    -I discovered the ability to upload Pages files through iTunes so I could make and upload templates.
    -A less tech experienced principal uses his all the time. (But I don't what apps etc. he uses.
    -Stumbled across a blog of a classroom of 1st or 2nd grade students using a class set of ipads. Seriously, if 6-7 yr. olds can figure it out I should be able to.
    -Chris Lehman posted an awesome post about using Google Forms to provide teachers with quality feedback and ongoing professional conversations.

    There's way more to this story than this but I'm not a fan of really long posts. 
    So, here I sit posting to my blog from my iPad. I guess I'm finally figuring it out. I'll keep you "posted."   

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Curtain Call on the June Challenge - Whew!!!

    Well that's a wrap! Back in May Larry Fliegelman and I challenged each other to write a blog post every day the month of June. It started with a tweet from Kim and her blog Write Now! The original challenge was to read the book Spilling Ink (I think I read one chapter) and post about a chapter a day. I don't think either of us made 30/30 but it was a great experience and I have made many new connections through this.

    Many times I am asked why I blog so here it is.....
    • I like to
    • Making connections with other principals and teachers
    • Sharing and receiving GREAT ideas outside the boundaries of my district
    • Helping people
    • If teachers they teach in a box, imagine principals not having other principals across the hall to run to for ideas, advice, venting etc.
    My blogging challenges......
    • Coming up with ideas
    • Proof reading
    • Finding images that are CC - some of mine probably aren't and I need to pay more attention to that
    • Blog bling - what should I include in the sidebars
    • Being REALLY open - Most of my readers probably do not know my "real" opinions or educational philosophy because it is continuously evolving. My blog is also read by many teachers and community members in my district. Standardized testing makes me want to puke so you can only imagine how I feel about evaluating teachers based on the performance of one test only administered to 3rd and 4th graders. I don't have high blood pressure but just typing these thoughts probably raised it a little. I am going to find that "voice" eventually or at least speak out to the right people. If principals and teachers aren't speaking it out how will anything ever change.
    • Until then I will continue to tweet, read & subscribe to blogs, listen to podcasts, and support my teachers:)
    The End - Well not THE end but the END of the June Challenge:)
    Image credit

    Ozarks Writing Project Guess Day

    Yesterday I had the privilege to be invited to the Ozarks Writing Project guest day. A teacher from another elementary in my district invited her principal and her principal invited me. Let me see if I can briefly describe OWP.....
    • 4 week summer institute for teachers focusing on the craft of teaching and learning about writing
    • Intense but valuable writing activities
    • Teachers teaching teachers
    • There is WAY more to it than that and hopefully some of the participants will comment and explain more eloquently than I have here:)
    You might think that I am confident in my writing because I keep up this blog but you are wrong. I have read some blogs that get the same points across as I do but in a musical/story-like way. My goal is to just ideas out there in a short and sweet post.

    Can you believe they were also promoting Twitter? They had the live twitter feed for #owp & #nwp scrolling so we could see what was going on with other writing institutes. Pretty cool stuff!

    Unfortunately I was not able to stay all day but we did a really neat project with a teacher who teaches at-risk students. She talked about having a difficult time teaching about writing a reflection letter until she heard the Brad Paisly song "Letter to Me" on the radio. She then played the music video for her students and had them write letters to their future self. It was really neat.

    I have a feeling this kind of stuff is what took place all the time for the 4-week institute. I really wanted to attend this summer but 4 weeks was more than I could manage. However, they are talking about hosting a principal version of this in the future.

    Blogpress for the iPhone

    So I'm try g moble blogging AGAIN:) Chris Lehman just posted using this app and he has mentioned it before so now is the time! It makes me think I will blog more but don't get too excited. I could also email posts and don't so that either. I guess we will see. Probably best that I didn't spend the money to go to ISTE since I am buying all the Apps they are recommending. Geesh!

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

    Staffing Changes, Moving on in Life - June Challenge

    Since I am running out of ideas for posts, Larry suggested I write about a staff change that was a real challenge for me. All staffing changes are a challenge.

    Something that affected me more than I thought it would is when a staff member leaves. Teachers/staff leave for a variety of reasons and it is beyond my control. Some choose to stay at home with new babies (I always hope they will want to come back.) Some transfer to another building/age group. Some make career changes. Retirement. Regardless of the reasons, when I became a principal I didn't think anyone would ever leave my building. The first year was such a whirlwind that I hardly remember what happened. After that each departure affected me in a different way.

    When we hire teachers we hope they are here to stay. We ask the question, "Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?" and we hope it's with us. Unfortunately there are no guarantees. Even the teachers in the interview think they are here to stay, but life happens. I mean seriously, am I going to say, "I would rather you not retire until I retire." or "Your baby will be fine. You need to teach a few more years with me." Those comments would not win me any points I am sure!

    Unfortunately we spend more time at work than we do with our own family and our co-workers become our 2nd family. We invest a lot of time in each other and it is hard when there is a "break-up" for lack of a better term:) Most of the teachers and staff who have left my building have stayed in touch and/or I see them very often. It is like a family reunion when a former teacher or staff member comes back for a visit.

    Image credit

    Pogo Stylus - How did I miss this? - June Challenge

    Seriously? How did this get passed me? (I am sure I can find some way to blame @scottelias for holding out on me with this:) My fake nails kept me from buying the 1st gen iPhone so if I had known about this.... Steve Jobs could have had another $699 3 yrs ago. Can you remember how expensive the 1st iPhone was? Holy crap?

    (I first read about Pogo Stylus in a post by Scott McLeod. This is a really good post and I highly recommend reading if you want to get the most out of your iPad.)

    Now all jokes aside, this is a pretty good idea even if only for my daughter. She LOVES the iPad but I think she needs to work on "writing" at her age. Now she can work on writing on the iPad! The touch screen is great. Don't get me wrong, but that's not developmentally appropriate for my 4 year old. At least not in 2010. Maybe it will be some day but I still think kids need to "hand write" well.

    It's an iPhone4 Anniversary! - June Challenge

    For those of you who stayed tuned to see if my iPhone4 actually arrived for my 10th anniversary.....it arrived early! Yesterday I semi-secretly tested out my new iPhone. Didn't want to post too much to twitter as I was seeing twitpics of all the lines at all the stores and I felt a little guilty. Didn't really want to drive by and wave my new phone box out the window. But curiosity got the best of me and I did journey around town to see if there was any hoopla locally.....nope. At least last night I could not find any lines:)

    After downloading iOS4 at the beginning of the week I was almost regretting ordering the new iPhone. iOS4 really does everything the new phone does. I have not tried all the new features yet and will enjoy doing that the next few days.

    1st Impressions:
    • The new retina vision or whatever it is called is pretty awesome
    • It's pretty sleek/flatter I guess
    • Felt really breakable until I got a new case this morning
    • I used Google voice and I am not sure it is set up correctly now, I couldn't remember my voicemail password.
    • Love the way the Apps look like they are floating, but that goes along with all iOS4
    • Battery doesn't seem to last longer I don't think, full charge yesterday at 4PM and it's at 27% right now. So that would be less than 24 hour life. Hmmm?
    Image credit - and I think you can buy this cake topper if you would like:)

    More Evernote Information - June Challenge

    This is just a reminder that I took on a challenge to post every day the month of June. Originally it was to post about the book Spilling Ink. However it morphed into posting whatever I could think of at the time. Even though I have failed miserably at the challenge and not been able to post every day, other challengers continue to inspire me. I will continue to do the best I can do:)

    I often neglect to mention that I use the paid subscription to Evernote. I quickly exceeded my limit of space one day when I was scanning documents to clean out paper files. I believe it is the $40/yr. subscription.

    Here is a post from one of my challengers, Principal Larry Fliegman, about how he uses Evernote. Be sure to read his June Challenge posts also.
    This link just came through on Twitter and is an amazing, but lengthy post regarding Evernote.

    So I guess I am linking to two other posts to take the pressure off a long post for myself:)

    Evernote vs. Dropbox vs. Google Apps - June Challenge

    How about that for a mouthful? I have actually used all three. I use Dropbox the least amount of time however most admin. & teachers in my district use Dropbox more regularly than I do. All are accessible on the iPhone.

    Evernote: My scanner is set up to scan all paper to Evernote automatically. Any time I get handouts, meeting agendas, teacher notes, etc. these are scanned into Evernote. My scanner is the small scanner and I will probably invest in the larger one in the fall. The hardest part is remembering to go back into the "note" and give it a title and tags so I can find it later. The search feature of Evernote is amazing so if I forget to title or tag I can search for any word in the document and eventually find it. (Tune in for more posts this week regarding Evernote. There are so many uses!)

    Google Apps/Regular Google: This is where I live. Now that we can upload ANY file to Google apps/documents this makes Dropbox irrelevant to me. I can upload my files and keep the original formatting I just have to remember that if I downloaded I have to re-uploaded it as the new file. Have not had to do that yet. Now that Google docs has been upgraded and they added Google Drawings I can do just about anything I need right in Google.

    Dropbox: When Dropbox first came out I used it for a couple of documents to work on at home. I think my entire "My Documents" folder is sync'd to Dropbox but I have not used any of my documents in there. Some other principals have share some Dropbox folders with me but that is the extent of my use.

    This is a very brief comparison but I have to get home because my sitter leaves in an hour:):):) Still trying to post in June though!

    Google Docs Collaboration - Day (? I lost track:)

    Next year my building will be using Google Docs to collaborate. Here are some of our current uses and hopefully future uses:


    • Leadership Team agenda and minutes - The agenda is typed up and shared through Google Apps. We type the minutes directly onto the agenda. There is an original template that I copy so that we don't have to redo the agenda every time.
    • 3rd Grade Planning - My 3rd grade team is planning their grade level meetings in Google Docs. They commented that they actually get more done in a short amount of time because they can just fill in the document and not even have to talk about things because it has already been addressed. (This is a pretty cool thing for them.)
    • Curriculum Pacing Guides - A district committee created Math pacing guides and we are actually using Sites to store the information. When we were not able to type into Sites because of tech glitches I notice that the different groups were typing in Google docs so that the information could be shared with the right people.
    • Behavior Matrix planning - We are creating a consistent behavior expectations matrix and this was created in Google Docs as a "table" and the teachers can add their thoughts. No has added any thoughts but I will continue to send links and ask for feedback.
    • (I think there is more but I don't want this post to get too long.)
    • All grade level meetings
    • All committee/cadre meetings
    • Lesson plans - This is a long shot because this is such a personal thing. Everyone has their way of doing lesson plans just like I have my way of documentations. It would make it easier for me to see their lesson plans but "easier for me" is not a good reason at all.:) It would have to benefit them and they would have to see the value. If they found value in sharing with their grade levels and then could share with me that would be great!
    • PTO website with agendas and minutes in docs but linked on the website. We already set my PTO president up with an Apps account we just need to try this one out.
    • Student reading logs in Forms
    • Reading/writing workshop student conference logs in Forms
    I'll keep you posted!

    Traveling Post iPad 3G - Day 13

    So I missed yesterday and trying to make up today. Since I had a day trip today I thought I should try out the 3G capabilities. Not such good luck today. From the SW center of MO to the SE corner of the state there is no 3G. Not only did the iPad not connect but neither did my iPhone. Oh, and when I got on to activate the 3G, the site was down for maintenance.

    The silver lining is the fact that in had downloaded some kid-friendly Apps. Cassidy (turns 2 next weekend) enjoys drawing. Alyson 4yr. old, played some alphabet games. So I guess my opinion that this is a great tool for kids still stands:)

    Needless to say I wont be able to blog on day trips to the in-laws.

    Why I "need" an iPhone4 - Day 11 of challenge

    Let's face it, I don't really NEED an iPhone4 but I sure should have one! Below is my Top Ten list why my husband needs to buy this for me for our 10th anniversary:

    10. 10 yrs = "Aluminum Anniversary = iPhone has to have some type of aluminum-ish metal in it somewhere.
    9.  The iPhone is scheduled to be available the exact date of my anniversary. June 24
    8.  I showed great restraint when the iPad was released
    7.  It's thinner
    6.  I can record and edit movies of my children to send to family
    5.  The folders option can help me organize all my Apps. (I have A LOT.)
    4.  Multitasking - I have wanted the iPhone to do this since the Palm came out with it.
    3.  Longer battery life
    2.  I can keep the unlimited plan
    1.  Scott Elias is getting one and I have one-up him.:)

    So tune in for my "Anniversary iPhone Post" and see how it turns out!

    Summer Office Organization - Day 10

    My office is a disaster by the end of the school year. For the last 3-4 weeks of school I usually just let it go and keep adding to piles. After the teachers and students are dismissed for the summer I know I will have time to clean/purge whatever is needed.
    (I wish I would have taken a picture before I started but these will have to do. )
    My daily documentation system is a paper system. I know that is shocking since some of you might think I am so tech savvy:)

    • My documentation is kept on a clipboard. This is an Outlook daily page from 7AM-7PM. 
    • I tried to print Google calendar pages but they don't print the right time range. 
    • Behind each daily page on the clipboard I keep a blank lined paper to take notes for the day.
    • Sometimes there are notes and sometimes not. 
    • I print 2 weeks documentation at a time. 

    So I just realized that I have 6 years of documentation binders! I usually do not have to go back through these binders but you never know. But I probably do not need to keep them in binders anymore and could free up some space:) 
    Sooooooo....I am spending the next couple of days scanning all this documentation to our school server or Evernote. I added my Evernote email to the office copy machine so I can just go ahead and scan directly. I was emailing my school email and then forwarding to Evernote and that was not working.
    This picture is only a small amount of my most recent documentation.(Highlighted in green.) It should only take me a little time to scan this today. Then I can give the teachers these binders to use for their Reading binders:)

    The reason I chose Evernote is because I can search by any word that might be in the document. Searching my files on my computer takes forever and I can never remember the exact title of the document. AND I have Evernote on my iPhone and can access it anytime, anywhere. Not that I ever do but I could:)

    Now I have to work on the "binders" stored in the teacher mailroom/junk room. Remember when binders were the thing "in thing?" The more the better and who could make the coolest spine and cover page?

    Spilling Ink ARRIVED - Day 9 Challenge

    Finally, the reason behind all this madness has arrived on my desk! The original challenge was to read and post about the book Spilling Ink: A Young Writer's Handbook, daily for the month of June. My dilemma was that it was going to take so long for the book to arrive, what was I to do in the meantime? So it's here and this may the only post regarding the actual book which = the reason for the June Challenge.

    The past two years our building has been working on teaching writing through the Missouri Reading Initiative. This was a three year initiative that has ended but how do we carry on all the things we learned? Anytime I see or read something on Twitter about literacy it catches my eye. I wonder, "What are other schools doing and could we do that?" Taking the "Spilling Ink Challenge" was a way for me to work on my own writing. (It might take longer than the month of June to improve my writing but at least I am trying.:)

    If independent writing is something you expect your students to do on a daily basis, how about you try it? Challenge yourself to write something every day. It's a lot harder than I imagined. I love to blog but for me it is finding the time to do it. Time is one of the excuses I use in public. My private reasons for not blogging as often is fear. What do people think of what I write? Does anyone read this stuff? If they do read it, does it help them at all? Many of the people who read this do not KNOW me as a person so what perception am I giving off in all this writing?

    Well regardless of the answers to the above questions I am in it until the end of June at least:)

    Adult Podcasts for PD for Adults - Day 8

    This is about adults listening to podcasts for adults, NOT podcasting for students or students creating podcasts. Although that is really great too, I think we don't realize all the resources out there for us.

    The first podcast that I ever listened to was WOW - Women of the Web. At the time I thought I was listening to a “podcast” but I actually started out listening to LIVE webcasts then realized I didn’t have to show up “live” every time they were on. I could just subscribe in iTunes and listen at my liesure.

    I strongly recommend that you explore the world of podcasting. I was hooked after just a couple of downloads. My car has become my “vehicle” for personal learning. My two daughters make it a little challenging to listen to live webcasts any more but I can download a variety of “shows” to my iPhone.

    Podcasts I created:
    The Podcasting Principal - I abandoned this podcast when Scott Elias and I started The Practical Principals but there are still some episodes you might enjoy.
    The Practical Principals - Practical advice on topics and issues you didn’t learn about in Grad school.

    Favorites to subscribe to:
    TWiT = This Week in Tech
    TWiG = This Week in Google
    Entreprenurial Thought Leaders = Standford University
    Small Schools Big Tech

    #Edcamp KC Fall 2010

    @wmchamberlain just tweeted me about #Edcamp KC! Finally an un-conference type of event for the Midwest! According the wiki these are popping up all over the country this year.

    @kylepace seems to be the instigator, I mean organizer of this event and he needs our help. Please join the wiki and the discussion about this exciting event. Below I am copy and pasting the sample "press release" so you can understand what this event is.

    "edcamp Philly: Education 'Unconference' Comes to Drexel University in May 2010

    edcamp Philly, a free conference for teachers, administrators and anyone involved in education comes to Drexel University on May 22, 2010

    (Philadelphia, PA) March 25th, 2010 -- edcamp Philly (http://www.edcampphilly.org), an education conference like no other, will be held at Drexel University on Satruday, May 22nd. The structure of the conference is very informal, with attendees signing up to run sessions first thing in the morning.

    The conference will be free from corporate vendors and booths, with the focus being solely on conversations about education. Attendees will come from all over the East Coast and will range from classroom teachers to administrators to coaches and school board members. There will be time for attendees to gather informally to share ideas as well as a variety of sessions for them to attend, run by their colleagues and fellow educators.

    This inaugural event is based on the barcamp model, also known as an unconference (http://barcamp.org). An unconference is:

    • an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment; and
    • a conversational event featuring discussions, demos and interactions between participants, rather than a group of people listening to a particular speaker.  

    The organizers of edcamp Philly met at BarCamp Philly (http://www.barcampphilly.org) in November 2009, ran a session together and fell in love with the model and its potential for teacher professional development. They immediately began pulling together ideas for their own, education-centered barcamp conference.  They dropped the 'bar' wording (which refers to computer programming language) and replaced it with 'ed,' referring to the event's K-12 education focus.

    As with all barcamps, edcamp Philly is completely free, with all refreshments and other amenities provided solely through sponsorship.  With the possibility of up to 300 attendees, the organizers are looking for local businesses who may be interested in being featured in the conference literature.  Those interested in being a sponsor can make donations and/or contact the organizers on the website (http://www.edcampphilly.org/?page_id=51).

    The organizers are excited to start what will hopefully be an annual gathering of forward-thinking, innovative and engaging education professionals in the greater Philadelphia area.

    For additional information about this event, contact Mary Beth Hertz or visit http://www.edcampphilly.org.

    About edcamp Philly:
    The first of its kind, edcamp Philly is a free, informal education conference to be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. 

    Mary Beth Hertz, co-organizer
    (267) 507-4033
    email: organizers@edcampphilly.org"

    School-wide Behavior Expectations(aka Positive Behavior Expectations)

    The PBS philosophy has been around for a few years. Let me begin by saying we are not going through the formal PBS training provided by our regional PD centers. A couple other schools within my district are going through this process with their staff as well. Sometimes schools/teachers do not realize how much they can accomplish on their own. We are not opposed to inviting trainers to help out but we think we can get the ball rolling on our own.

    At our last Leadership Team meeting before the teachers went home for the summer we talked about the need for school-wide behavior expectations in certain locations and/or scenarios in our school. We do not have a HUGE discipline problem but we could stand to have a little more order during transitional periods or unstructured times during the day. (Hallway, restroom, cafeteria, etc.)

    We are not reinventing the wheel so to speak. We are using resources and information off of other school websites to create our philosophies/forms etc. I have been doing a lot of the initial creation because I am still "on the clock." I did share our behavior matrix with the teachers through our Google Apps account so they can add to work I already started. We will meet again before school starts to tweak our collaborative online work and decide how to present to the teachers.

    Our Universals:
    R-Respect Each Other
    0-Observe Safety
    A-Attitude is everything
    R-Responsible Choices

    Below are links to some of the resources I have referred to:
    Mrs. Avery's Class
    Emerson Elementary, Joplin, MO

    Faculty Review of Administrator

    This is my 6th year as elementary principal at Willard East. In an effort to make sure that I am genuinely serving my teachers and students I decided I would have the teachers fill out a survey somewhat evaluating me as a school leader. This was not a researched based survey or some type of hidden meaning evaluative survey. It is a survey that is used by a neighboring school district every year. I did not create it.

    Another principal in the district surveyed his staff and I thought this would be very helpful for my personal and professional growth. There was NO hidden agenda to doing this survey. I wanted to know what my teachers think. Mentally I was prepared to be put under the microscope and hear some negative feedback too. However, I found that most of the feedback was very professional and genuine. Both the "needs improvement" areas and "strengths" were right on or at least I agreed with most of it.

    Here is how I posted the information for my staff to see the results..... 
    Below the quoted post is a copy of the survey if you would like to use it someday.(Sorry for the terrible template. The teachers clicked on a link that sent them to the form which is formated better as a website.) 

    "Principal Survey – Thank you to those of you filled out the google form “Faculty Review of Administrator.” This information is very helpful for my personal and professional growth. I shared this information with the Leadership Team and told them I would share with all of you as well. Below I will briefly summarize the results. If you would like me to elaborate on this more, please stop by and we can talk.
    • Only 20 staff members completed the survey
    • Next year I will probably have Bob create the survey and provide everyone with a login “token”. Stewart used this process at the HS and received 87/113 responses to his survey.
    • There was one “outlier” to the positive, meaning someone rated me highly on EVERYTHING. ‘
    • There was one “outlier” to the negative, meaning someone is not pleased with my leadership
    Needs Improvement:
    • Collaboration with grade levels
    • Be respectful of time and work load
    • Build positive relations with parents
    • More student involvement
    • Be a better listener
    • Technology expectations – Slow down
    • Job Stress – handle job stress better:)
    • Communication
    • High expectations
    • Follows policy
    • Backing/supporting teachers
    • Technology – knowledgeable
    • Humor/creates positive environment"

    Elementary Writing Use for iPad

    There are tons of math, games, science, chemistry, etc. upper grade apps for the iPad. Finding uses for the primary grades seems a bit more difficult. Please keep in mind that I have not taken the time to explore this as much as other iPad education users have. Below are a couple of uses.

    Children's books - There is huge possibility here! Unlike the Kindle, the iPad is colorful and gives the impression of actually turning pages. Children learning to read need to have their hands on authentic books. I have a 4 year old who LOVES books but when I put the iPad in her hands she wants to watch videos. Here is a screen shot of one children's book I found in the iBook store:

    Writer's Workshop - We use Lucy Calkins Units of Study and it entails drawing pictures. Doodle Buddy has options for drawing, using "stamps," and inserting backgrounds. Students can create a picture, email it so it can be posted online, then students can write/type about the picture they created.

    (Ignore the spider in the sky. Or you can actually write about the spider in the sky I guess:) There is so much more I am sure but I am really interested in the literacy instruction with the iPad and technology right now.

    My iPad Thoughts So Far - Post 3 of June Challenge

    This is actually not my own iPad but one purchased for the school. Our assignment has been to evaluate it for it's use in education. Sooooooo....I'm not doing so well with that:) Here are my random thoughts:

    • I did not sync it correctly and all my iPhone apps ended up on it the first time. I am still in the process of deleting ALL apps that are not compatible for the iPad. Some only show up in the iPhone size and when you 2x's them it distorts the image. Not a fan of that:)
    • The apps in green are the apps I or my daughters have used most often.
    • Currently I use it as a "reader." It is really easy to just pick up and read email, the internet, or books I have downloaded.
    • Since I can just leave this laying around I use it more often than my laptop now. That is one of the most surprising things to me. My laptop is always positioned on the kitchen counter but now the iPad holds that coveted position.
    • The apps in green on the 2nd image are apps that my daughters use the most of want to play with the most.
    • Apps are expensive! I quit downloading the free iPhone apps that are not compatible to the iPad. It is annoying that the apps are not the right size. 
    Tune in tomorrow for some ideas on using this in the classroom:)

    Summer Reading List - Post 2 of June Challenge

    Hopefully I will get some reading done this summer! I have quite a list and I have started to read each of these books.

    Book study with teachers - We have just come off a 3 year reading initiative and will now begin to "sharpen the saw." We are reading The Daily 5 and The CAFE Book. My 2nd grade teachers have read and implemented The Daily 5 and they are on to reading The CAFE Book. We will meet 4 times this summer. I also purchased the accompanying videos and the Intermediate grade versions of the videos.

    Books for myself:
    Spilling Ink - The main reason I am posting each day is a tweet I saw about reading Spilling Ink.
    The World is Flat - A Brief History of the 21st Century (So far this is my favorite and I have just read the beginning.)
    Greater Than Yourself - The Ultimate Lesson of True Leadership - Recommended by one of my "google heroes" @iteachag (By the way he has an awesome new podcast Small School Big Tech. You have to listen!)
    Accidental Billionaires - The Founding of Facebook: A tale of sex, money, genius, and betrayal.
    Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us
    unChristianWhat a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity... and Why It Matters - Going to church is so different today than when I was a kid. What are my children going to think of church/religion/spirituality as they grow up? My mom "made" us go. She sang in the choir and after the choir came in we went for donuts because we sat where she couldn't see us:) But I still had a connection with the church and what it meant. 

    Sucker for a Twitter Challenge

    Jeesh! Here I go again. Hopefully I can make it all the way through June on this challenge.
    Today I retweeted a challenge by @teachergirl89......Spilling Ink" challenge... blogging every day in June...Who's up for it? http://tinyurl.com/nc7gg3

    Then @fliegs replied he would do it if I did it. Oh man, how can back down now? Well let's just see how it goes. The book Spilling Ink is not at the local book stores and will take some time to get here. So we agreed to at least post every day in June and when we get the book go from there.

    I did actually go to Amazon and read the excerpts they have there and I am excited to read the book now. I think kids would love it. It is a down to earth book about being a writer. I struggle with writing myself. I feel like I can write a "mean" school newsletter and/or parent letter but blogging and twitter are not as natural to me. That sounds pretty pathetic I am sure.

    Tune it to see how this evolves. If you are like me and don't have much showing up in your reader these days.... it might make for some light/humorous reading.

    Getting Control of Email

    My end of the week email goal is always "Inbox Zero." Some of you may notice that every now and then I post to this to twitter. It is a great feeling but never really lasts more than a minute or two before something else enters my inbox.

    After Lisa Thuman posted her14,000 emails to Inbox Zero post I decided to keep better documentation of my experience "Getting Control of Email." Just as with Lisa it all started at #gtadmin and Henry Theile's short presentation on Gmail. The main "take away" from his presentation was the power of gmail's "Filter messages like these" option.

    It took me almost one month to feel like I had made some progress. Before "filtering" I was clicking on "Report Spam" and then deleting everything. But I never really saw any big difference in the amount of email that was coming in. Now I am almost disappointed sometimes when I check my mail and there is nothing new:)

    You should try it! Use Gmail and "filter messages like these!"
    My 1st mobile post

    Unintentional Hiatus from Social Networking

    At a time when I should have a lot to say I find myself with nothing. #edchat every week, Race to the Top controversy, school funding is in toilet. But I've got nothing.
    Maybe it is just out of my frustration for all of it. I still read my Twitter feed all the time but hesitate to post. I anxiously check my Google Reader hoping someone else has posted some words of wisdom that will inspire me again and they do, often. But still, I've got nothing. Actually, I have a lot to say but it just doesn't come out as eloquently as others.

    Twitter - For me this is a way to connect with other principals and share ideas. I think we are all so busy it's hard for all of us to find time to blog reflectively right now:) I also enjoy the socializing that goes along with my Twitter friends and their menus on the weekends.:) I am certain that if we all got together and prepared our favorite meals it would be quite a feast:)

    Blogging - This is it! You are looking at it. I actually have a weekly staff blog that I do not share publicly that I do keep up with. This is a "memo" type blog and not as reflective as it probably should be.

    Facebook - I am not a fan. I have a personal account and I have created an account for my school. My school account is actually a great addition to my school-wide communication. I think I have 102 fans and most parents of my students. It's just hard to keep up a school website, school Facebook page, send weekly parent emails, keep up with Supt.'s weekly newsletter we have to post to, etc. I keep thinking that due to all of Facebook's privacy issues another company is going to come along and right what Facebook does wrong.

    Flickr - Great for photo sharing! My family is still using Kodak Gallery and I am contemplating going back at least for family photos. My new Eye-fi card for my camera is awesome. I just turn my camera on and the photos upload automatically to my hard drive AND Flickr. Our district is "going Google" so I am also considering Picasa.

    Time - Two little girls, after I stared my social networking career, seem to fill my "free time." now. As I write this they are running through the house tormenting the dog with cereal:) I usually catch up on my Twitter feed at night when I lay down with them. I am so busy soaking up all the great information I forget to add to the conversation.

    Podcasting - The Practical Principals have taken a major backseat lately. I think Scott is in the same situation I am with 2 small children. We can never coordinate our schedules just perfectly to record. We finally met in person in February and haven't recorded since.

    Balance - Once again I try to find balance. Through all of this I have discovered a new appreciation for my job and have some exciting new ideas for next year. (For my teachers who read this it should not include more work for you:)) We are reading to wrap up this year but I am also ready to start next year with a renewed sense of service to kids and teachers.

    Photo credit = My 1st attempt at an iPad drawing:)

    Willard East Intro to Google Apps for Education

    (Cross posted on my staff memo.)

    Some of you might wonder when I am going to share the incredible amount of information I gained at Google Teacher Academy for Administrators. Well here is a brief intro:)

    FREE Webinar Wed. March 24th 1:00 PM – You must register to attend but you are welcome to register immediately preceding the event I am sure. This particular webinar is supposed to be different. Past webinars have been about the “free” and how to get it. Well Willard already has it! The focus of this webinar is how HS teachers in one Chicago area school are using the Apps tools in innovative ways.

    Google Apps is something that will be very beneficial to our school and students. The Teaching Specialists have a workshop planned for this AFTER school is out for the year. You are welcome to request an access password from Matt R. if you would like to start looking around now. Here are my thoughts about this process:

    • This process could involve students. Not sure the students need to go through training with the teachers but the students would benefit from ownership of these tools. (Janetta added some really cool extra Apps!)
    • Cloud computing – Saving all your work online (in a virtual cloud) so you can have it anytime, anywhere there is Internet access. Students can log in from home and work on projects. Teachers can work on documents from home and school without trying to remember which flash drive they save work on and where that flash drive is:)Get Your Google On - _Google Docs_
    • Calendar - I have been using Google calendar for 4 years, I think. How has that worked for you? Has that been beneficial? There have been some glitches and your principal forgets to put things on the calendar but other than that, what would happen if I deleted our Google calendars? Yikes! Maybe we could have used Google calendar for the Math Diary mapping? Just a thought. Could you embed calendars on your class website of things going on specifically within your classroom and/or grade level?
    • Google Docs – This includes Presentations, Spreadsheets, Forms, and Docs. If you click on each of those you will see how we have already used those tools at Willard East. How can you or your students use these tools in innovative ways? These tools can make your work life more efficient but can also give students a chance to “log in” at home. SOME students would take advantage of that.
    • Sites - Sites has been challenging for me. Matt has worked with Lisa and Andrea on sites and they might have a little more understanding than I do. I have abandon sites 3-4 times now.:) You can click on my “sample site” but Matt has done most of the work. I “shared” it with him as a collaborator so he can help me out. Somewhere out there is a Google site created by students for Readers’ Workshop. It is “private” within another school’s district domain so I am not able to share a link. I believe it was created by 4th graders. My absolute favorite “site” is “Living on a Cloud.” It is set up like a book with the chapters as links in the sidebar. VERY COOL!

    Again, think of this as my brief introduction to Google Apps. There is so much more to tell you but this can at least get the creative juices flowing around our building. One or more of you may decide to dive right in due to the possibilities you see. Don’t wait for me! Lots of schools are eagerly awaiting elementary school ideas they can share with their teachers. Matt is an excellent resource when it comes to transferring the use of the tool to innovative teaching strategies so don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with him when he is our building.

    Welcome to the future! I hope you are enjoying your Spring Break. It looks like the weather is going to get better after all:)


    Get Your Google On - Presentation for MAESP

    Here is my 1st attempt at a presentation after Google Teacher Academy for Admin. in San Antonio. I "borrowed" quite a few of these slides from presentations during the academy. I am not sure that I gave appropriate credit within the presentation but told the participants during the workshop that I "borrowed" many of the slides and who I borrowed them from:
    Mark Wagner CUE
    Danny Silva - iTeachAg

    Unfortunately this presentation was only 1 week following the academy I didn't have time to add much detail about Google Apps for education but I explained how it would work as I went. I have spent the past 2 days exploring our district Google Apps account and coming up with some ideas that would work. It will not work to add one more thing for teachers to "own." Students need to have ownership of many of these tools.

    PD Overload #gtadmin & #ascd10

    Enjoying a moment of peace and quiet in the "press room" of ASCD conference. Not even sure where to begin reflections at this point. Let me at least share a few take-aways so far:

    #GTAdmin - Google Teacher Acadamy for Administrators
    • Focus on the student
    • Use the tools to solve current challenges, don't make the tools new challenges
    • Google Alerts - one thing I want to set up ASAP and could have probably done by now but haven't taken the time
    • Could start Google Apps for education with teachers and gmail right now, 3rd and 4th grade students once teachers explore it
    • Yong Zhao is a hilarious presenter and I have added his book to my list of books to read
    • Other countries are attempting to reform their education systems to look like ours.
    • Since there is not enough time in the day, I need to carve out a few minutes to explore virtual worlds. (2nd Life etc.)
    • Geoffrey Canada - You have to read between the lines of what he is saying. ALL teachers may not see his remarks as insightful.
    • Rich Allen is a dynamic presenter! Attended a 5 day workshop with him 12 years ago when he was with Eric Jensen and will definitely buy his new book Green Light Classroom before I leave.
    Disclaimer - May not be the most eloquent post but you have to start somewhere.

    Sharing Twitter with Non-Tweeters

    Have you wanted to share the responses you receive to a twitter question without having to hold your phone up to someones face to show them?

    Have you asked a question on twitter, got lots of replies, and then needed to make a paper copy for those who are not familiar with the power of twitter?

    Well.... that has happened to me more than once but here is how I shared tweets, with non-tweeters on two occasions.

    Question: Do you have an activity fee or charge students to participate in athletics?

    I used Skitch on my Mac book and copy and pasted into a "pages" document and then emailed it to my athletic director so he could see how other school around the country afford all the extra-curriculars. (I don't remember how I did this and my Mac is not here so I can really explain in detail. I am going assume if you know how to use Skitch go ahead. If not, read below.)

    Today's question: Teachers, are you filtered or unfiltered on the Internet? If not how do you work around?

    Step one: I had to use my "work around password" to access the twitter website:):)
    Step two: Used the "capture" feature in Jing to outline the tweets I wanted to copy. You can copy one at a time. If you lots of "mentions" in a row you can "capture" a group of tweets at time (Jing is free.)
    Step three: Used the "copy" feature to copy to the clipboard
    Step four: Pasted it to a publisher document (or you could use word.)
    Step five: Squished it all together and printed paper copies to hand out at my meeting.

    I let people watch my twitter feed and it is often confusing to them. This way I have narrowed it to specific tweets of interest. Then they can understand that power of twitter.
    If you have an easier, better, or another way please share in the comments.

    Educon Reflections for my Teachers

    (I copy and pasted what I posted in my staff blog for my teachers.)

    I have been tossing around an idea for a post to share with you about Educon in Philadelphia since I got back. Rather than continue to try to construct the perfect post I'm just going to purge all my thoughts here however they may come out! Continue at your own risk:) It would be easiest to just copy and paste another principal's thoughts, but I guess that would be cheating. So I will just include a link to a really good blog post about this conference.

    This is the first conference I have attended that was about "conversations" and not "sit-n-git." Each session was facilitated as a conversation with group participation. Some went better than others but I could walk away from each session with something. (That is always my goal.) Here are my random thoughts since I can't seem to organize them in any particular fashion:

    • There were students everywhere! The HS that hosted us used student workers for everything. They were greeters, photographers, recorders, twitter monitors, tech help, etc. You name it and the students were running it. They owned the moment.
    • A lot of the educators I follow on Twitter were there but I didn't recognize some from the avatar they have on Twitter. It seemed awkward at first going up to people and saying, "Hey you're @raventech! I'm @mmiller7571" That was weird. But I finally just started introducing myself the best I could.
    • These people were very forward thinkers about technology, education, and learning. My brain hurt because they made really good points and challenged my thinking. Especially @djakes a.k.a David Jakes. Our plane left during his presentation but I read a lot of his conversation online and I have been thinking about "Learning Spaces" ever since. What is a "learning space?" Is it the classroom? Is it a portion of the classroom? Is it the coffee shop? Is it the hallway with our A+ tutors.
    • Jeff Han the creator of the multi-touch screen that you see on CNN was there and I had a conversation with him and had my picture taken with him. He was there to have a discussion about how the multi-touch screen could be used in education. Turns out my answers and solutions were not revolutionary. He had heard them before:)
    • One of the best conversations I had was with a PD facilitator from Atlanta, GA. Angela and I met her at dinner and she gave me some ideas to share with teachers on how to use various tech tools to enhance learning and not distract from it.
    • I may have finally "got it" when it comes to the power of discussion and conversation. How often to I engage my teachers in reflective discussion? How can I model using discussion for learning? How do I create questions to facilitate learning through discussion and keep everyone on task? What questions do I ask and how do I know when to ask the question? These are just a few of the things that this conference stirred up in my way of thinking. I can assure you that when I was a teacher, I didn't allow my students to "discuss" as much as we discussed at Educon. Shame on me:)
    • This was not about how to use SMARTboards in the classroom or podcast or Flipvideo. (These things are great and I really like to do all these things:)) This was about education and student learning. It was about putting student learning FIRST. Then building out from what you want students to know and be able to do.

    Below I have embedded a slide show from my pictures. (Please forgive the sideways pictures. I really did try to rotate them:)

    Educon and Other stuff

    This is a copy of the post that I shared with my staff today in regards to Educon2.2

    Faculty Meeting - Thank you for your feedback from the faculty meeting! The "exit slips" gave me lots of info. I shared some of it with Matt so he could answer some of your questions. Some didn't have names so he will have to find you or you can seek him out:)

    Race to the Top - I posted some information in the workroom and below are some informative links:

    Educon2.2 - This will be the 3rd year for this conference. I have participated virtually the past 2 years.

    Principal, Chris Lehman explains Educon.

    • Main website (wikispace)
    • New website - I have not looked around this one yet.
    • Tshirts - I just think this is cool and I might have to buy a sweatshirt or something:)
    • Conference Schedule - We do not arrive until after 6PM so we will miss the Friday night session
    • Session Descriptions - I have not decided on which ones to attend. It will be hard to choose. Some I would like to attend because I have gotten to know these people online and value their way of thinking but others are more applicable. I also want to bring information back to all of you. AND I have to figure out the logistics of hosting a 500 participant technology conference.
    • Attendees - Information about the people who are attending. I have not been added to list and need to add myself I guess.
    • Meet ups - Someone just decided to organize a "get together" and posted the info and anyone can just show up I guess:)
    • Directions on how to attend
    • Links to live video feeds - I do not think these feeds will be "LIVE" until Saturday. I think that when you go to this link on Saturday you will be able to watch and participate in the conference. I think this is the 1st time using Elluminate and it is free and you click and log in and follow the directions.

    The past two years I kind of just went in and out sessions to see what was going on. The difference is that there is A LOT of conversation during each session. This is not like the usual conference where you sit and git. You have to participate. I sometimes disagree and will have to try to disagree politely in person. While watching in the comfort of my home I can verbalize my disagreement however I choose:)

    Of course I will enjoy my time but I will also be meeting with the event planners to find out about the logistics of something like this. I would be happy to offer something like this to teachers in our area.

    You might be thinking, "Why on earth are you sharing all this with me? Just go to your conference and don't bother me!" Well......Over the past 4 years I have learned more online than I have learned in my entire professional career. I do not think it is a substitute for the face to face learning I have experienced, but it just takes it to another level. The connection that I made with our book yesterday, So Few of Me, is that I wish there was more of me to be able to do all of this too! If you try to watch the conference and it doesn't work out for you, there is another one coming up that I can help you with in advance.

    Thanks for reading if you actually made it to the end of my explanation!