Principals Unite! Resources for SWMAESP

For those of us who are proud to call ourselves Principals we are very familiar with assemblies. You know the kind.....LOUD! The kind where we give recognition, high fives, awards, and celebrate success.

Well there is a special kind of "assembly" going on right now and it is of the heavenly kind. There are 20 little angels receiving their wings this weekend. Unfortunately their parents aren't able to be at this very special assembly. (We elementary people are good at inviting everyone to everything) but.....The Lord sent the very best in their place. He sent the principal and best teachers because they know how to have an assembly!

Doesn't that paint a better picture than the 24/7 media coverage of complete inconsistencies? The reason I am able to look at this through the lens of faith might be that I just finished reading Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo. After this weekend's events I highly recommend the book. Like read it! I am serious. It paints a beautiful picture of Heaven.

Words are not coming for me so I am borrowing the words from my other Principal friends. Many of you can speak much more eloquently than I can. Just like teachers are always borrowing ideas, I hope you all don't mind that we share each others strength and wisdom.

Below is a link to a public Google document.(If your district blocs Google I am sorry.) I have copy and pasted various blog posts from today that might contain wording that could be used to send a memo to a school community. It has been good to have the weekend to try to respond to this. If I had to respond overnight I don't know that I could even compose a readable or sensible document.

Hopefully we can all string together some of the words found here and sensibly communicate with our school communities.

Peace and strength be with you this week as you take back your school! And may God be with the families whose children did not come home from school Dec. 14th.

CT Tragedy Resources for Principals   <--click click--="click--" here="here">

Credit given to:
Joe Mazza
Scot Graden
Peter DeWitt
Angela Maiers

Faculty Meeting/PD Exit Ticket Idea

Our staff has been using the strategy of "exit tickets" for a couple years now. It was a strategy we were mostly implementing in our special area classes, Art, Music, P.E., Library, and Computer. It was our way of making sure students were getting as much writing processing as possible.

I usually remember exit tickets after-the-fact and don't have them ready for the meetings but I do try. This week I was ready! I found this idea on Pinterest but it was not linked to a blog to share. When clicked on in Pinterest it was just a photo. So if you are reading this and recognize this please take credit in the comment area and I will make sure you are credited.

Back story: Our Leadership Team has been trained in the Adaptive Schools practices. During this meeting we covered the 7 Norms of Collaboration:
  1. Pausing
  2. Paraphrasing
  3. Posing Questions
  4. Putting ideas on the table
  5. Providing Data
  6. Paying attention to self and others
  7. Presuming Positive Intentions

Principal's Photo Workflow

Recently I have been listening to the Mac Power Users podcast on the 5by5 network. I came across this podcast after reading the iBook Paperless by David Sparks who blogs at MacSparky. It is a great book, by the way, and has screencasts and lots of photos and uses iBooks author to the best of its ability.

David and Katie have guests on to talk about their different workflows:
After listening to the photo workflow episode I thought it might be helpful if schools/principals shared their photo workflows. I wish I could say I have perfected this and have just the best way to organize and publish photos for my school...... but I would be lying. It's still a work in progress just like all my other brilliant ideas:)

  • iPhone5 - Yes that's right I am the proud owner of the 5 and I switched from AT&T to Verizon. I can't tell if I am happier about the phone or the service? Both have been great!
  • Epson Stylus NX625 printer - nothing special about this printer. I think I originally got it because I was supposed to be able to print to it wirelessly. It was such an ordeal I just forgot about that.
  • MacBook Air 11" - This is my "go to" computer. Hardly use my iPad. Shocking I know.
  • Photo stream - Everything I take with my phone will eventually show up on my Air. I still find it easier and quicker to post and compost on my Air than my phone or iPad.
A bird flew in my house last night! That was fun.

  1. Take all pictures with iPhone5. This is with me all the time. I can take pictures of everything with it. My goal is just to get pictures out to my school community as often and quickly as possible.
  2. Add drawings or text to pictures if needed with Skitch. If I can't get the picture uploaded right away I will work on it on my phone at night while I am putting my kids to bed.
  3. Use an App to upload the pictures to my school website, staff website, and/or school facebook page. 
So I am probably forgetting something but here it is. How do you manage your photos for school?

rebootED Podcast in Google Hangout

Last Sunday I had the privilege of recording and episode of rebootED with Andrew Schwab and Mike Vollmert. I have chatted with Andrew on his 1st podcast Small School Big Tech but it was my first recording with Mike. It was also my fist recording in a Google Hangout! That was pretty cool!

Check it out below as we talk about a few of the differences between K-8 and 9-12.....

Staff Holiday Ideas

Yesterday our SWMAESP Sub D Principals group met for our quarterly meeting. We shared ideas for staff holiday gifts so I thought I would share in case you are still looking for ideas.

  • Scarves with district logo
  • Lottery tickets
  • Movie tickets to the dollar movie theater
  • T-shirts/sweatshirts with logos
  • Grade level progressive dinners
  • Principal cooks breakfast for teachers
  • Secret santas
  • Hoop-lalala Spirit wear week
  • Grade levels given $200 to adopt a family to buy for
  • District purchased hams and turkeys 
  • District purchased gift cards
  • Lanyards with names and logos
Funding varied by principal. Pop machine fund, social committee funds, PTO purchased, district purchased. One principal mentioned shopping the day after Christmas for sale items to give the next year at Christmas time.

Usually I post a picture of my holiday gift AFTER the break. Some of my teachers read my blog:) So it's hard to keep secrets from them when it comes to gifts.

MAESP Survey Results

In addition to using this blog as a personal/professional space for my ramblings about the Principal-ship, I put information here that I want to link back to or find again someday.

Here are the results to the survey regarding our MAESP State Conference.

Why Blogging is SO Helpful!

Earlier this week I posted about my struggles keeping up with newsletters, Facebook, school website, etc. You really need to read the comments under that post. Super ideas for newsletters or no newsletters, or paper only, or copies in the office and so on.

This month's newsletter was already in production so I didn't get to add all the new ideas. I did add a "Counselor's Corner" and "Gym-NEWS-ium." Thought I would share:

Click here for newsletter if using iOS device. (Embedded Box.net files won't show up on your iPhone.)

MAESP Conference Survey

Hello Southwest District!
Hopefully everyone had a nice Thanksgiving and is headed into the downhill slide to the new year! I did my first ever Turkey Trot, (okay I walked but I did it:) and I highly recommend it. Lots of fun! Both of my children beat me so I lost to a 4 year old and 7 year old. That is pretty humbling. You will be happy to know that Mrs. Crighton-Smith - Willard South Principal, Mrs. Angela Stevens - Willard North Principal, and Dr. Bishop - Willard Orchard Hills Principal were all there too!!! Many of you probably did a Turkey Trot and my hat is off to you.

And now onto a pressing issue for us....by us I mean SWMAESP.

We need your feedback. The MAESP Executive Committee meets Monday Dec. 3rd and we will continue our discussion about Spring Conference. We have been discussing ways to increase attendance and make this more appealing to our principal friends. If you could fill out the SHORT survey below we would appreciate it. Like I said it is SHORT. Do not walk away from this post until you have completed the survey! I will know. :) Of course I am kidding. Okay, not really.....FILL IT OUT! It's even a festive Christmas theme so you will feel guilty if you don't fill it out.

Newsletter Nuisance

What on earth do you include in a paper newsletter when you have a blog and school Facebook page? I struggle with this every month. It actually drives me crazy.

Last year, and the beginning of this year, I tried to get away from sending home a paper newsletter. But it seems like a nice service to provide families. We also use a Google calendar but I still do a paper calendar. It's crazy! I feel like I am over-communicating even though I know there is no such thing.

Ok, I guess I don't know if ALL parents would like a paper copy. I appreciate the paper copies I get from Thing 2's preschool. And the calendar and newsletter are posted on our fridge at home.

So I am starting my "drafting and revising" process that will last all week before I make the final copy and send it home. I even googled "elementary school newsletters" so I could see what other schools include in their newsletters. They are all the same. Maybe not the exact "same" but pretty close.

Does anyone have a newsletter "checklist?" All the processes you check off as you write the paper copy, blog, Facebook??? I can't keep track!

Thankful for my Principal Friends

As the weekend winds to a close I just wanted to say THANKS to all my principal friends, aspiring principal friends, and teachers who read this blog. Some of you I've met face-to-face while others it will always feel like we have known each other our whole careers.  Many of you have commented here, emailed me, skyped me, and/or tweeted me such great help and ideas I do not know how to thank you.

What started as a simple blog to share and archive my ideas has become such a wonderful network of friends and colleagues. I never knew how much I would learn and grow by keeping up with this little blog of mine:)
Happy Holidays!

Tree of H.U.G.S.

This is our way of collecting for our holiday drive........

Hats, Underwear, Gloves, & Scarves

Thanksgiving in the Workroom

Now here's an idea you can use tomorrow!

Usually I write a Thanksgiving note/letter to my teachers. Some years I give them a little treat of some kind.
Our school district always provides each staff member a free ham/turkey dinner the day before break. Just a little bit of decoration can spice this up. This year my treat will be a hot chocolate bar with all the trimmings. In the morning they can treat themselves to a hot chocolate treat then for lunch they will enjoy a free lunch compliments of the district.

Treat for SWMAESP Meeting

"Borrowed" this idea from Springfield MAESP:)

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SWMAESP Nov. 13th Fall Meeting

Hello Southwest Missouri Elementary Principals!!!

It's that time of year for us to get together for our Fall Meeting. We are excited to be meeting at the Bass Pro WOLF School! I am still in the planning stages of getting a tour of school. There are meeting rooms that will accommodate our large group.

Link to info about the WOLF School

Who: All SW Missouri Principals
When: Tuesday Nov. 13th
Time: 1:00PM - 3:00PM

Our tentative agenda for the afternoon is:

1:00-1:15 - Welcomes and Introductions
1:15-1: 45 - Sub Group meetings
1:45-2:45 - Teacher Evaluation Presentation
2:45 - Possible tour of WOLF school 

LifeTouch will be providing afternoon snacks from the group!

In order to make sure I have the right accommodations for our group you will need to RSVP. Please use the form below to RSVP yes or no. Feel free to add comments in the last question box. We love to hear from our principals and what they need from our organization. 

My Mini-Observation Process this Month

 Mini-observation Memo I sent my teachers. This is after reading the book "Leverage Leadership."
I created a tentative calendar of observations for October so I have to stick to it:)

 October = Round 2 Mini-Observations

Holy cow it's October already!!!  

Mini-observation update: If you are a special class/area teacher and you have not been observed yet, do not fret! The form that I use does not necessarily work in your setting. I am working on that. All other certified teachers should have one mini-observation in the observation system. (Let me know if you cannot find yours or have not seen it yet.)  

Feedback: EVERYTHING we read these days is about the value feedback. You are probably giving your students more feedback too. Mini-observation #1 feedback was in the observation program when you logged on to electronically sign it. This gave me a chance to work out all the kinks in the software program. Some of you commented back and some didn't. There are still some bugs to be worked out. Mini observation #2 your feedback is going to be face-to-face in a feedback conversation. (Keep in mind I have to do SEVEN of these this year so it's going to look a little different each time.:) 

This feedback should be valuable and important to you. So before you read any further in this memo you HAVE TO fill out this short form: (I am not kidding! Do not go any further until you fill this out. I will know. I will make you do lunch doodie. Don't scroll! I see you!)

I will try to come in during the time you would like. I will try to stay until I have observed what you would like feedback regarding. Fair? yep! Here is how this will look: (I hope)
  • Step One: I will observe you. (7-10 min.)
  • Step Two: I will NOT "save and submit" your form in "TalentEd" software. I will just "save" so we can write on it during our feedback conversation. (I am not sure if it will send you an email notification. But I think you can log in and see what I wrote.)
  • Step Three: We have a 10-15 min. feedback conversation the following day. (Before, During, After school - whatever works)
  • Step Four: I will "submit" the mini-observation. That should save it and send you an email to electronically sign it.
Good grief! Why are you telling us all this???? I do not want you to FREAK OUT about this!!! It's all about learning and I am a learner too. I have to do this SEVEN times so I get to change my mind SEVEN times this year:):)

Teachers pay Teachers - You should try it!!

Long gone are the days that Teachers pay Teachers had a bad rap. I remember the argument but not who started it, "Teachers should just share and not charge for their stuff." So who does that!!!  And what entrepreneurial model does that follow?

My teachers LOVE IT!!! And even a couple have accounts and will be offering their great ideas.

Why not keep the money in the hands of the teachers instead of the publishing companies? These activities are awesome and completely reasonably priced. I have purchased a few myself and I am a principal! Crazy I know:)

If you haven't looked at Teachers pay Teachers in a while you are missing out!!!

But don't take my word for it.......
Link to video

Evidence-based Questioning

These are our anchor charts from an activity we did this morning working on ELA CCCS:)



Blogsy App

Still looking for that magic blogging app. Trying Blogsy tonight because it is compatible with the app TextExpander.

R.I.P Little Brother
Practicing adding pictures. This is a shadow box of my late brothers belongings. He was killed in a motorcycle accident one year ago Sept. 11th. Couldn't find the words for an eloquent post earlier in the week so this will have to do.

Blogging with Students Again in 2012

This week I worked with a 3rd grade class on blogging. This is the 2nd year I have done this activity and I really enjoy it!
My anchor chart:

My paper blog example:

Student examples:

Link to resources

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SWMAESP Excecutive Meeting Documents

Last year I agreed to be the Vice President of SWMAESP. (Southwest Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals) My good friend Mike Dawson was going to be the President but he got an Asst. Supt. job and completely abandoned me! Of course I am kidding. I am very happy for Mike and he has checked in with me already.
In the spirit of high quality communication I am storing my documents here so I can pull them up at a moments notice.

Meeting Agenda

Southwest Missouri Subdistricts

2012-2013 Officers Why Join???

Personality Trait Activity with Staff - FUN!

In order to get to know each other better we did a personality trait activity at our back-to-school staff meeting. Of course this is not a research based tried and tested activity but it was fun to see where everyone fell according to their self-assessments. We laughed a lot!

Acting - "Let's do it!" 
Likes to try things, likes to act, plunges in:)

Caring, likes know that everyone's feelings have been taken into consideration and their voices heard before taking action.
Likes to look at the big picture, the possibilities, before acting.

Paying attention to details. Likes to know the who, what, when, where before acting.

Each poster was divided into 4 sections. After everyone found their group they had to fill out the following 4 sections:
  1. 4 adjectives that describe your groups strengths
  2. 4 adjectives that describe your groups limitations
  3. What style/group do we find the most difficult to work with?
  4. What do other groups need to know about us to be able to work better with us?
Feel free to use this activity with your staff:) Lots of fun!

Begin Year & Faculty Meeting Anchor Charts

Here are some of our agendas and notes from the first days of school meetings:
We are going through Adaptive Schools Training and brought back some information from our summer training. The Working Agreements are from last year and we are going to tweak these.
When our Leadership Team met we were trying to determine what to put in our grade level binders/data binders. This was our brainstorming list. It's just a start.
As our family structures evolve so do our school structures. We are trying to determine a new/better direction for our PTO. We are in the middle of discussing what could be PTO related and what can be Volunteer Program assigned. Another work in progress and these are the brainstorming notes from our first session.

My new blogging strategy is just to take pictures because I am so short on time lately:) We will see how affective this is:)

The Gift of Time

At the beginning of the school year we like to leave a special gift and/or inspiration on the teachers desks. I think this is a combination of ideas I've seen all over the place but here's what it looks like....

Adapted from this poem

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The Practicial Principals Are Back!

The Practical Principals podcast is a podcast that gives school principals practical survival tips. If you are new to reading my blog, Scott and I started podcasting together in 2007. Our next show will be #30.
You can follow Scott on twitter here and his blog is here. Scott is a MS principal in Loveland, CO.

You can follow my twitter account here.

Practical Principals Blog

Subscribe in iTunes

"Flipped Faculty Meeting" 2012

 (Cross-posted on my staff Memo website)

This is my first attempt at a "Flipped Faculty Meeting"! What better meeting to "flip" than your first meeting when you have to cover so much "content" that teachers can read on their own? The videos are a little "tongue and cheak" and meant to be funny.
I cannot take all the credit for this. When I mentioned my idea to another principal in the district SHE DID ALL THE WORK!! I used the videos she found and changed the content of the meeting to fit my staff/building. Other than that, I used her format. THANKS ANGELA!!!

Many of you have probably heard the term "flipped classroom." The idea behind this is that students (in our case teachers) can get the content of the information on their own then come to class and apply the knowledge. So we are going to try it!!! Below you will find a link with all the nuts and bolts of our usual beginning of the year Faculty Meeting. Information that has changed is in red text.
In the past we have gone over this bullet by bullet. This year I am allowing you to read and consume this information on your own time. You have an iPad AND Laptop to do this. If you do not have either of these or a personal computer at home. You can check out a Netbook from Mrs. Miller in the Library next week. Matt Rosebrough is planning an exciting introductory activity when you return Monday August 13th to review this information and make sure everyone is clear about the key points.
Hopefully you will enjoy this format! This is meant to present this information in a lighter tone than the usual lecture format:) I hope that you find some humor in some of the video additions to the information.

You are responsible for all this content! Participation is mandatory. You have until August 13th to complete this assignment. You will sign off that you have learned all of this information.


1. Please enjoy the first few minutes of this video and you think about dress code. Please read about our dress code in the teacher handbook.( Click here and read about Dress Code.)

2. Don't let this happen to you! (See information regarding work hours.

The Real Reason - Demotivational Poster 

 3. Classroom Management is very important. My how things have changed since 1947! After viewing the first few minutes of this video please refer to the "student discipline" section

4. Make sure you are alert on the playground at all times. We have been a little to relaxed by sitting on the benches and not watching the entire perimeter of the playground. You will need to practice/model appropriate playground behavior for the students. This could happen to anyone...........(Please find information regarding playground supervision here)

5. First Day of School!!! What are you going to do to make the day memorable for your students? When mom and dad ask, "How was your first day of school?" Their child will say..............? You do not need to introduce me on the first day. I will pop in and out to see if you need anything. I will introduce myself to the students when I meet with them in our grade level times the 2nd week of school. On the first 2 days I will direct the students to pay attention to you.

School Website Video Tour

Hopefully this will help parents understand our website a little bit better. Ours is pretty simple. I cannot remember where I got this idea but I didn't come up with this on my own. If this was your idea PLEASE post a link to your video in the comments so I can share it too.

Staff Treat

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Blogging Technology Lesson Plan

Below is part of an assignment. I have chosen to complete my assignment here and share a link to this post.
These are 30 min. lessons I used during intervention time last year to introduce blogging to students. These lessons were modeled to two 4th grade classes and one 3rd grade class.

Objective:To help students understand the mechanics of blogging and commenting on blogs, discuss appropriate uses for blogs, and practice safe blogging and dealing with trolls.

Day 1:
Blogs in plain English
Show examples of student blogs.
Mrs. Hillenburg's Class
Mrs. Barnes' Class
Mrs. Grant's Class

Day 2:
 Paper blogs to introduce creating your own blog.
Show students this lesson/post then allow them to create their own paper blog
Paper blog examples

Day 3:
Commenting - Post all paper blogs in the hallway. Students will comment using post-it notes.

Day 4:
Introduction to Kidblog
Logging in and creating your own kidblog

Day 5: 
Quality control - How much is too much or not enough to post? Quality of comments - examples of quality comments and just "high-five" comments:)

Last year it took about 5-6 days to cover all aspects of blogging for students. Every now and then issues would come up that would have to be addressed but could be addressed in just a few minutes prior to allowing students to work on their blogs.

Our uses for student blogging:
*This year this can be taught by the computer lab teacher and the teachers can jump right in to using Kidblog from the beginning. We keep the blogs private at first so the children can learn. Then once they are comfortable and post/comment correctly we open them up.

Mind Mapping with Mindmeister - Guest Post

I LOVE mind mapping software! My friend Richie at Mindmeister shared this information with me so I thought I should share with you! I think you will find this very helpful!

What is Mind Mapping?

The term ‘mind mapping’ is becoming more and more popular in the education world. So, you may be wondering what exactly is mind mapping?
Humans are always looking for ways to be more productive, how can I better manage my study? How can I better show my students what I mean? How can I organize my week to get the most out of it?
Well, a mind map is a great way to graphically represent your thought process and goals. A mind map creates a link between both sides of the brain, the creative (right side) and the logical (left side) allowing you to fully realize the abilities of your brain. The majority of people's brains are either dominated by the right side or the left side which means your decision making or line of thought is generally in the same direction.

All mind maps start with a central idea or concept and then with a series of sub topics and ideas you can create a map of all thoughts, ideas and anything else related to the main concept to have a complete visualization of what’s in your head!

How to mind map?

Mind maps in a few easy steps
All you need to create a mind map is a pen and paper, It is very easy and anyone can do it!
    1. Get a pen and a piece of paper
    2. Draw a circle in the middle of the paper and begin with a central idea or topic
    3. From the central topic or heading draw branches to other sub headings
    4. Then from the sub headings you can write down all thoughts or information you have on the subject
You now have a graphical representation of everything to do with your topic. With all this laid out in front of you, you can then to prioritize and structure your thoughts for achieving goals, completing tasks or organizing parts of your life.
Using Mind mapping Software
Mind maps can also be created using mind mapping software which offers a bit more than just using a pen and paper. The concept is the exact same as above; you create a main idea or concept (center node) and then branch off sub nodes and fill with information to create your mind map.
The added benefit of using software over paper is that you never run out of space and you can re-arrange the map by dragging and dropping topics whenever you want. Also, all your mind maps are stored, accessible and backed up in one location.
When you get more advanced at using mind mapping software you can benefit from additional features such as creating tasks and setting reminders, collaborating online with your colleagues and creating presentations.

Mind Mapping in the Classroom:

How do I introduce mind maps to my class and school?
Mind mapping can be used for all levels of education and it is a great tool for both teachers and students alike. School's that implement technology such as this encourages the sharing of ideas between teachers, classes and grade levels providing a more rounded education.
The best way for a teacher to introduce mind mapping to their class is to start with something simple and fun for their students, an example would be to create a mind map of their favorite cartoon or show. They can start with the center topic which will be the name of the show and then the different characters can be the sub topics, from here they can enter information about the characters and link them based on their relationships. Once kids get used to the idea of mind mapping you can show them how it can be applied in many other ways.

When using mind mapping software a teacher can create a map for the class where students can collaborate and add ideas to the map (multiple users can edit the same map and see changes in real-time). An introductory map could be a class plan like the example above. The mind map will engage the students and encourage interaction and group participation. After this, when students become more familiar, individual and group assignments can be set. A mind mapping tool creates a better link between home and school activities.
What can I use mind mapping for?
There are unlimited uses for mind mapping in the classroom. I have listed some of them below:
  • Group collaboration
  • Lesson planning
  • Essay structure
  • Assignment planning
  • School year plan
  • Link school and home activities
  • Course syllabus and material
Mind maps allow for the user to be creative and explore a range of ideas and thoughts which you might not even know were stored in your brain.
Latest technology
The introduction of technology to classrooms, most notably in the US and Europe, has made learning tools and applications very accessible to teachers and students. Both Apple and Google have launched big campaigns in the past year to introduce iPads and Chromebooks to schools.
This has created greater interaction between teachers and their students and also between classmates. Recent studies have shown an improvement in grades where students have access to and regularly use the thousands of learning applications and tools available on the web today. Mind mapping software is available across all the different platforms, on the web, Apple devices, Android devices and the Google Chromebook.
What are the benefits?
Mind mapping has the ability to make learning easier and more fun. You can take a complex topic or subject and break it down into more manageable sub topics which can be broken down further to better explain the main subject. The visual representation of a complex topic allows kids to take in and digest parts of information at a time instead of having a huge amount of information to be learned when written in front of them.
Mind mapping:
  • makes information easier to understand
  • engages students want to learn
  • encourages group learning and interaction
  • is a good aid for structuring and creating better assignments and essays
  • helps to organize the students thoughts
  • aids teachers in the classroom
  • gives teachers a tool for monitoring a students level of participation in group situations
Students have a greater willingness to learn when they are able to interact with their classmates and visualize their thought process.


Whether you use pen and paper or mind mapping software, introducing the concept of mind maps to students from an early age will be hugely beneficial to them. Creating mind maps means students can use both sides of their brains to better explore the full possibilities and power of the mind.
This is a guest post created by Richard Egan, Richard works at Mindmeister mind mapping solutions.

Calendar "events" as To-Do Items

Yes, I too have tried EVERY to-do app. My go-to apps right now are Reminders which comes on the iPhone and/or Notes that comes on the iPhone/iPad! But I STILL can't remember "events." When I say "events" I'm actually referring to "ideas" for specific dates/times in the near-ish future.

For example, Pinterest! Holy cow! I can't even keep up with all the ideas generated from Pinterest. Today I came across an activity to use with my teachers for Thanksgiving. Well for crying out loud! I can't even remember what I'm on my way to the grocery store to pick up let alone something as far away as Thanksgiving. Geesh!

Here is my process:
1. Add an "all day" event to my google calendar. All day events are "highlighted" that's why I like them.
2. In the event description I can include the link to the idea or write where I stored the idea so I can find it on the day I need it. (You can see below that the idea for my activity is in Goodreader.)
3. Usually I put the event a few days before I actually need it.

I have also tried google to-do but it just clogs up my calendar to the point I can't even read anything. I always have to turn off the to-do items.

Whatever works! What works for you? Come on I know there are other unique organizing ideas out there to help your principal friends......anyone? Anyone?

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Digital Book Study - Classroom Instruction.....2nd edition

One of the other principals in my district came up with the idea of a digital book study! This is such a great idea I would love to hear how other principals have done this type of thing? Google doc? Wiki? (I posted a schedule of chapters for teachers to sign up to post. However I am using my iPad and and unreliable blog app so I am afraid to exit the app and copy/paste:) (This is cross-posted on my staff blog.)  Welcome to our digital summer book study 2012! Thank you Josh for volunteering Chapter 7. Do I have any volunteers to send me reflections for chapters 2 & 3 next week??? Try it! You'll like it! Here is how it works.... My reflections from Chapter 1: Setting objectives: *Research shows that telling your students what they are going to learn improves their achievement in that area. *When I think back to teaching 5th grade I remember we always wrote objective on the board. For me, this was good so I could refer to it often. I think I could have done a better job of wording the objectives more kid-friendly. This chapter talks about using kid-friendly language. *Objectives hold not be too broad or too specific. *Somtimes I know I would get busy and forget to tell the kids what we were going to learn. I'd have them get their math books out and just start teaching and then think, oh yea, "Today you are going to learn about......" most of the time I told them what were going to learn but I knew when I forgot to tell them:) I'd get that blank stair over my head. *Something else mentioned in the chapter was to post your objectives to your website for other parents, the students, and other teachers could see. I know that when Tillie would post something specific I could ask Alyson more specific questions about her learning. Providing Feedback: (I read this part through the lens of the principal and how to give teachers quality/better feedback.) *Talk about what's going well and give next steps ideas. *Feedback needs to be timely.(within 24 hours if possible??) *Students(teachers) provide their own feedback or provide feedback to their peers. Love this idea to use during collaboration time! *Students could provide each other feedback on their posts on kidblog. See! That was easy! Who's next? Chapter 2? - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

"No More Monkeys Jumping On My.....Head?" (Book Review)

Yep! You read that right....I said HEAD!

But I found a solution. Shifting the Monkey by Todd Whitaker.

How many monkeys do you take off the backs of others? I can tell you that I take plenty. My children's, my husband's, my friends, my teachers', co-workers, etc. It's no wonder I suffer from headaches!

Sometimes the monkey should have been mine from the beginning and I gave it away. I will gladly take those back and clean up my own messes. I am talking about when I think I am doing someone a favor by taking over there problems or assignments. This is not helpful for them or for me. Most of the time the "monkeys" that visit my office at work just need a rest and/or to vent. Teachers work so hard that I think that I am helping them by taking their monkeys. Small or large it doesn't matter. I will take them all if it helps a teacher feel less stressed.

But it's not about that. I am discovering that most of the time people just want to talk. Even my staff survey said I need to be a better listener. So instead of taking care of everyone's monkeys I need to listen.

My Podcast List

This certainly isn't an all inclusive list but....on of my teachers asked me about podcasts I subscribe to mad the easiest thing to do at the time was to take screenshots of my iPhone podcast screen.

Keep in mind I don't even think to update these until I am at the gym getting ready to get on the treadmill. So some are outdated. If the podcast episode I choose isn't applicable or I lose interest, I have to just switched to my workout playlist of songs. I am somewhat accident prone and not coordinated enough to make intellectual learning decisions while hyperventilating on level 1 of the stair master!

If I were not getting my nails done right now I would actually link all of these but surely you can lower your expectations for the summer, right? :)

(Tune in for an updated version of this post with the new Apple Podcasts app)

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Professional Development Choices Today June 23

There are so many PD choices today I never know how to choose. I want to learn about ALL the innovations in education so it is always hard to choose just one. Sometimes I will listen to a little bit of one podcast, watch a portion of a tutorial video, skim blogs, scroll through twitter, scan my google reader....there is just so much!!!


Bathroom PD = Mastery Connect tutorial videos - You can learn about Mastery Connect here. I was introduced to Mastery Connect as an assessment tool to enter our district assessments to be easily scored. Ok, I am not kidding students can enter their answers on a "bubble sheet" and it can be scored by holding up to the camera on your computer. OR, they can answer questions easily on an iPad, iPod, or computer. Still looking it over but has awesome possibilities.

Workout PD = TeacherCast Podcast - EdCamp Leadership episode.  After attending EdCampSTL I was interested in what it takes to put one of these together.

What/how are you learning this summer?