Archives for category: Resources

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Connecting with the community is one of the greatest challenges of every school that I’ve worked in.  Too often, we settle for the excuse of “That’s just the way it is in (fill in any town in America)”.   I would argue that communities that are the most difficult to engage are the communities that most desperately need to be heard from in order to improve our schools.

In the coming school year, we will be using Celly to connect with parents.

Cell is a free service that allows users to create “Cells” or groups of users that can engaged in a text message dialogue.   Cells can be set up for classes, teams, clubs, PTO, or the entire school.

How it works;

Users create accounts, then sets up Cell.

Other users can set up an account using their cell phone, then join the cell that was created. Once they join, they will be able to participate in the text dialogue.

Celly can be used to deliver announcements to all group members such as;

“Report cards going home today, make sure you ask your child and celebrate their hard work!”.

It can also be used to poll participants to get feedback.  This will make for an easy way to get community feedback on school decisions.

For someone who doesn’t like the sound of his voice, Celly is a much preferred option.  When I record a message using our Alertnow system, I record and rerecord the message at least 4 times.  I would much rather send a text alert.

This will be a great resource for connecting with families and ensuring a two way dialogue.

When the iPad came out, many hailed them as the future of education. Since then, Apple has done a lot to position themselves as the solution to school technology.  With the announcement of iBook textbooks, they are focusing even more on the education sector.  While I’m not super excited for the prospect of textbooks on the iPad (see below), I think iPads offer limitless solutions to the classroom.

Our school recently purchased our third cart of 30 iPad 2s.  Since their purchase, the first two carts have been used almost daily.  I’ve seen students in the hallways, outside, on the floor, and just about every other place possible working on projects for class.

The iPads are not solving any of the major problems in education, but they are engaging students in a way that they enjoy.  I believe that it is our job to make school enjoyable, fun, and relevant to our students.  If we can do this, while teaching content, we will ensure the success of a larger percentage of our students.

When I go to conferences or workshops, it is common practice to see almost every educator on an iPad.  They are ubiquitous with professional growth.  We need to offer that same opportunity to our students.

Yes, iPad are “sexy” and sleek and in the words of our students “awesome”.  But they are also functional, practical, and useful in any type of classroom.

And by the way, yes some of them will break.  It is a natural consequence of usage.  This cannot stop us from putting expensive technologies in the hands of our students. We purchase simple silicon covers from Monoprice.com for $3.24 per unit.  They are cheap and prevent the iPads from sliding off the desk.

The reasons that I don’t like iBook textbooks.

iTextbooks will probably not save money over paper books. They cost $15 per year and must be repurchased each year.  If the student is assigned an iPad, then the textbook must be purchased for each student enrolled in that particular class.

Although iBooks allows teachers create textbooks, they will only work on iPads.  While this doesn’t sound terrible, we must think to the future and not bind ourselves to one brand of technology.

The issue of copyright must be brought into the discussion.  Very few educators are originators of content (This isn’t a bad thing).  We recycle and repackage ideas and materials to meet our students needs.  If we do this while authoring an iBook, who is responsible for the infringement of copyrights?

Working as a first year administrator, I’m always looking for opportunity for professional growth.  My daily drive is about 25 minutes each way.  Thus, I have time to listen to plenty of podcasts.

Eduleadership >> Radio – Justin Baeder Justin interviews school administrators to bring you the best ideas for leading your school.  I have really enjoyed listening to Justin and his guests.  Each episode, he talks with other tech driven school leaders and shares their best practices.  There hasn’t been a post since October, of 2011; hopefully he’ll get back to posting some new shows soon.

EdAdmin – Part of the EdReach network, the EdAdmin show highlights the ideas and insights from the innovative administrator’s point of view. Hosted by Chris Atkinson, who does a good job bringing together creative and well spoken administrators to talk about relevant topics.  My only complaint is that there have only been three episodes so far.

Practical Principals – This is most definitely my favorite educational podcast.  Unfortunately they stopped recording April, 2011.  With the tagline “What you didn’t learn in grad school”, Melinda Miller and Scott Elias, do a great job of sharing their insight into the profession.  They are both technology driven, and creative in the way they manage their schools.  Their chemistry is great and really fun to listen to.

NPR Topics: Education – This isn’t really a show, but rather a collection of NPR stories that week that apply to education.  I enjoy keeping up with education news, but when I listen to other podcasts on my drive, I can’t tune into NPR.  The shows are typically 10 to 20 minutes long depending on how many education pieces they aired that week.  This is a great way to keep on top of educational news and policies.