Friday, January 29, 2016

“The future depends on what we do in the present” and some OER

Good afternoon, 

It was a beautiful, January day to end the week! Let’s all hope that tomorrow gives us some of the same! A couple of notes for this week. First, we are still one custodian short. If you know of anybody that is interested, please encourage them to apply.

I would like to have a short para meeting on Friday, February 5th at 7:45 am in the EMC next week. Could I get two volunteers to take duty for the Friday AM paras from 7:45 am – 8:00 am in the lunch room/ auditorium? Thank you in advance!

Next week is “I Hate Winter Week” and we are focusing on classroom behaviors as the majority of our referrals have been disrespect/ defiance referrals in the classroom. As for dressing up, feel free to participate!

Finally, teachers started a collaborative discussion about OER last week on Wednesday. We will revisit this next Wednesday. Here is a short video for anybody that may be interested in learning more about what we are looking at.

And, teachers, if you find any OER while you are perusing the web over the next few days, make sure to save those links to share this week.

Thank you for a great week!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Rejoice because thorn bushes have roses...

Good afternoon,

Today I headed out for recess with the students and found that the sun was shining so bright, we certainly could have used some shades! It was a beautiful, cold day on the playground. Many kids around the world would think those two attributes to describe recess time are mutually exclusive, but not in South Dakota!

Thank you for those who have tried out the online referral system. Please let me know if there are any concerns with how it works. So far, it has proven handy. A referral incident occurred in this building while I was in a meeting with Kindergarten teachers today. The teacher filled out the referral online and when I walked into the office and the parent was calling about the incident, I was able to pull up the referral notes quickly. It was very helpful. Thank you!

As from the announcements this morning, starting Monday, January 25th we will have an additional para in the lunchroom from 7:45 am to 8:00 am. There are two people on morning duty from 7:30- 8:00 am. One will stay in the Auditorium. Students need to be out of the lunchroom by the time the high school bell rights (8:15 am), but can go outside form 8:00- 8:10 with the rest of the students. We will reevaluate this in the spring when we start going outside again from 7:30- 8:00 am.

Finally, I want to share with you my “Momentum” quote for the day (from my Chrome Extension):
"We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

This quote is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, but it could certainly be attributed to many with variations in topic. For example, my husband tells a story of when Leah was first in preschool.  He was getting her into her car seat to drop her off at preschool one morning and she asked him, “Dad, why do you have to go to work and Mom gets to go to school like me?” It’s all about perspective… and you never know just how close those little ones are watching and what they are learning from you! In the case of our classrooms, that’s the learning outside of the planned lesson that makes school… school, instead of just work. It’s that “light bulb moment” in students that I sometimes find hard to explain to somebody that is not in education.


Have a great weekend! Thank you for all you do!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Most Likely to Succeed by @dintersmith @tonywagner

"Our country is the most innovative and determined on the face of this planet in a time that begs for these skills. Let's educate to our strengths instead of chasing Shanghai and South Korea on a standardized test." -- +Ted Dintersmith @TEDxFargo 

I couldn't sleep last night after reading the book Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith. When I checked my FitBit after waking from a hovering dream about the open-air schools of Taipei with of white and green, polyester sweat-suited students with matching haircuts from a trip I took my Senior year of high school, it was 2:23 am. I spent a couple weeks over the December holidays at the dawn of 2001 in Taipei touring the wonderful country and visiting rural and urban schools (like the one in my dream) to meet and connect with students. As a senior in high school, I was still unsure of the answer to the question, "What am I going to be when I grow up?" But, my time as a teacher, tech integrationist, and now an elementary principal has certainly been influenced by my overseas travels (Taiwan being the first of many).

After the insistence of my 7-year-old daughter wanting to read just "just one more chapter" last night, I delved deeper into Most Likely to Succeed as she finished her 6th chapter of the Lego Elves Search for the Magic Key, both independently. I couldn't help but wonder as I was reading about the formation of the current ELA curriculum in K12 where she would fit. Is she Basic? Proficient? Advanced? And, more importantly, does it matter to her future?

As the principal of her school, yes, it matters to me as we set up to analyze scores for the upcoming in-service day. As her Mom, it doesn't really matter as much. At her birthday party last weekend, nobody asked how her preparation for the SBAC in 3rd grade is going, nobody. The audacity! Rather, most asked how she liked her new school, the name of her teacher, and if she was still going to be an engineer when she grows up. To which she told them that she is planning on being a dog sitter first, then be a Jackrabbit and an engineer. What can I say, I have an entrepreneur on my hands!

So, today, as I have blocked off two hours to work on my in-service plan to review the SBAC scores next week, Ted Dintersmith and Tony Wagner are resonating in my brain instead. How can I make this relevant? In a time when as a school administrator I supposed to be more concerned about test scores than anything else, but I would rather just suggest to my teachers that we work on real life problem solving for my students and get the basics down? That we should let our school's curriculum not be driven just by a test? No, I can't do that. Logic says no; as does the continued need for me to have a paycheck to support my family. But, in reality, even though we haven't put our students in matching uniforms with school-regulated matching haircuts, have we taken away the ability to be innovative, creative problem solvers that Ted Dintersmith claimed in his TEDxFargo talk is the greatest attribute of our country's citizenry?

I'm going to go back to data now, but with a fresh set of eyes and the optimism that I can find relevancy beyond the score.

Monday, July 28, 2014

You Matter! @AngelaMaiers

While on break between lunch and sessions, I decided to pull up some of my homework and this video came up again. You Matter by Angela Maiers was a moving TEDxTalk from a DesMoines event. I have heard Angela speak previously, but strictly about technology in education. It was great to see this and I hope to be able to use this in the near future in some way to facilitate an in-service session.

South Dakota Career and Technical Education Conference Opening Speaker

Good morning! Bright and early we headed out to the SDCTE Conference in Mitchell. A combination of High School and Post-Secondary Career and Technical Education teachers and administrators are joining here to review what is going on in South Dakota for Career and Technical Education teachers. I am glad that this conference is in the summer when teachers still have the time to tweak what is going on in the classroom, rather than at the end of the school year when change seems much more difficult to facilitate.

The opening speaker is Mark Taylor and he is facilitating multiple sessions today with the intent to talk about generational differences in the classroom and, subsequently, in the workplace. In his bio, he highlights that that there is "a serious mismatch between what they want expect from a school, and what we offer." He is a psychotherapist and a Baby Boomer with some great ideas.

A conversational presentation, Mark Taylor spoke lot about the value of each of the generations and his quick-witted humor was a breath of fresh air to start the morning. He spoke in Boston a few weeks ago and in Dublin, Ireland this summer as well, so he is not a stranger to speaking to large crowds like ours. Also, this may indicate that we are not the only people in this world that are concerned about the ability to teach the next generation.

As I am a GenXer myself, I sometimes think I may be able to relate a little bit more to some of the "under 26" population, but the lack of ability to self-motivate and the increased involvement of parents for the younger generation is something that I do not have first-hand knowledge. Mark Taylor referenced his article, "Helicopters, Snowplows and Bulldozers: Managing Students' Parents" and it is very telling of not only high school parents, but also post-secondary parents now. Parents do not only get in there to "helicopter" over what is going on, but also to "snowplow" (a reference really apt for South Dakota) and "bulldoze" obstacles out of the way! We all laughed about it, but it's hard not to think that perhaps we are guilty of it, too.

I really appreciated his comments about problem-based learning and how colleges are just not preparing students for the real world anymore. Technical colleges are really preparing students for the future and really preparing students for the workforce. These comments make me feel great about the move to Lake Area Technical Institute! I have readily admitted that I worry about being able to still be able to make a difference (yes, I still believe that I can do that in my life), but in reality, yes, I am going to be able to be a part of really helping prepare students for the real workforce and not just to continue to learn.

I linked some of his articles below as they are a great compliment to what he is saying. I can surely see myself referencing some of his articles in the future, so they are really here for me as a bookmark for future reference, but you surely could read them, too.

Teaching Gen NeXt
Teaching Generation NeXt: Leveraging Technology with Today’s Digital Learners
Meet the Parents: Managing for Student Success

I will surely be attending his future sessions today. Also, he brought up a new book that Howard Gardner and Katie Davis just completed titled "The App Generation" that I will be putting on my reading list. Howard Gardner is already famous for the multiple intelligence and learning style theories, but this is definitely showing that even one of the traditional pedagogical units of your teacher education block is now changing. Shifting paradigms... yes, the times they are 'a changing...

Sunday, July 27, 2014

"The Times, They Are A Changin"

To borrow from good ol' Bob Dylan, the times, they are a changing here for me. I have moved from the Deuel School District. The experience to work in such a progressive school has shaped the way that I think about education, teaching and administration. Creative budgeting and progressive teaching strategies have kept this school at the forefront of education in the State and I'm glad that I was part of it.


Now, I am moving on to a new adventure at one of the TOP 4 Two-Year Schools in the Nation! At Lake Area Technical Institute, I get to be an Educational Technology Specialist and work with instructors to integrate technology into their already very successful classrooms and labs. I em excited for the challenge and I am excited for the change of pace! Lake Area Tech has also been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the Top Colleges to Work For for multiple years in a row! It doesn't get much better than that!

As all of this is happening, we are living in what will soon be a very critical time for many occupations in our country. We are already experiencing workforce shortages across the State in many different areas. For example, I toured the amazing Electronics/ Robotics classrooms this week at LATI and the Department Head/ Instructor said that he had employers contact him with over 150 job openings and he only had 9 graduates from his program last year! The job openings range from local South Dakota jobs to opportunities across the Midwest. LATI's Aspen Institute Awards have really opened up opportunities for graduates, too!


This is the picture of his "jobs" board in the classroom. I should have taken a picture of all of the amazing projects he has going on in the classroom, too. He has everything from educational robots to industry-grade robotics in this classroom. Wow! He is also going to do a "Community U" program this year so that anybody can build their own 3D Printer. I definitely plan on working that into my schedule as that is some of the coolest technology I have ever seen! 

Back to the Changing Times... well, as I move out of K-12 education, I think I will miss a lot of things, but most of all I will miss the kids. Getting to know the kids and helping them decide on careers and post-secondary choices was the best opportunity I could have had to know first hand how the world we live in is changing. I would like to say I'd do it differently if I was a 2014 High School graduate, but I don't think I would. Education is where I am supposed to be, how that career shapes is yet to be seen. I can't wait to see where this opportunity at LATI will take me!