Friday, November 30, 2007

Shi...ft Happens - A Vision of Today's Student

After this past Wednesday's Technology Tid Bits, I hope you can agree that technology is nothing to be afraid of. In fact, embracing it as a way to reach students and move instruction forward is critical to helping our students prepare for a future that is unfathomable to us and unpredictable for them. If you still aren't sure why we must embrace technology then check out this video below: A Vision of Today's Student. I can't wait to see your reactions as you leave a comment on today's post! :)

Believing is just the beginning...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Never Fear - Technology Is Here!

In order for our students to be prosperous and competitive in the 21st century the avenue by which students learn and produce work must drastically change. The era of "sit and get" instruction is out. Students must be engaged and active partners in their learning. They must also be proficient in the use of technology if they are going to be productive in the workforce. (Even the cashier at a fast food restaurant uses a computer!) The use of technology is in no way a replacement for good teaching or a good teacher but it does prove to be a useful tool for engaging students. I'd never tell you to use technology just for technology's sake but I will tell you that you shouldn't be afraid of it. The kids get it, they are digital natives, and they get it quick so you better put on your tennis shoes and start running if you are going to stay two steps ahead of them. You gotta become a digital learner, too!

Our next Early Release professional development day will be dedicated to empowering you with some technologically advanced information that may put you in the race. We'll be offering sessions on Social Bookmarking, Google Reader, Video Posts & Capturing Images from the Elmo, i Movie, Attaching Word Documents to Posts and Podcasting. More detailed information about what these things are and who will be presenting each session can be found below. Read about each topic and then indicate the session you are interested in on the survey to the left.

"21st Century Education is bold. It breaks the mold. It is flexible, creative, challenging, and complex. It is filled with fantastic new problems as well as exciting new possibilities." 21st Century Schools

Believing is just the beginning...

Social Bookmarking: Presenter: Suzanne Shall
What is it?
Social bookmarking is a way to mark and organize your favorite places on the web from any computer, share your favorite places with your friends and visit the favorites of other people.The best part about it is tagging. When you "tag" a site with words that are associated with that site, you have an organized storage space. You can create a tag cloud as a visual tool which shows the frequency of your tags. Also, if you look at someone else's tag cloud you will be able to instantly see if they have saved things you are interesting in.
Ø Jamie and Sarah are both working both on a whale report. They spend time reading on the web and tagging the best sites. They can give each other access to read the others favorite sites.

Google Reader: Presenter: Melanie Holtsman
What is it?
Google reader helps you stay up to date by constantly checking your favorite news sites and blogs for new content. Whether a site updates daily or monthly, you can be sure that you won't miss a thing. Google Reader shows you all of your favorite sites in one convenient place. It's like a personalized inbox for the entire web. It also helps you discover new content, because millions of sites publish feeds with their latest updates, and our integrated feed search makes it easy to find new content that interests you. Good for you if you know nothing about blogs or you have a blog and want to learn how to improve it.
Ø Susan wants to read all Chets Creek Teacher’s blogs. She sets up a Google reader account and puts all the blogs in her Google reader. Each time a CCE blog is updated, Google reader updates, Susan logs in every other night to Google reader and reads the new postings.

Video Posts & Capturing Images from the Elmo: Presenter: Debbie Harbour
What is it?
Video Posts allow you to grab video clips from your classroom and post them on your blog or website. They are a visual that helps readers get a bird’s eye view into your work. Students have the opportunity to share their classroom learning in a new and exciting way.

Capturing Elmo Images allows a teacher to take a picture of the work displayed on the Elmo, and then upload the work into their blog.
Ø A kindergarten teacher video tapes Pow-Wow and posts a clip on their blog. A parent who didn’t get to attend Pow-Wow can log on, read about the event, and watch actual footage from the school event.
Ø The teacher displays a Response to Literature on the Elmo. The students analyze the Response to Literature according to their classroom rubric. The teacher can capture that Response and post it on a website or blog for other teachers to use.

I Movie: Presenter: KK Cherney
What is it?
Apple’s i movie is an application that allows for the editing of digital images, video and sound. This digital editing program comes standard in all new Apple computers. Using this program, students will create a 30-40 second Voice-Over. A voice-over is a news story that has no assigned reporter. For a voice-over, usually a camera crew is sent to gather materials to be edited and voiced over by the show’s anchor. The anchor never has to leave their chair!
Ø Students can participate in all three stages of the video production. In pre-production they brainstorm ideas for a voice-over, write a “pitch” to present a story, research the topic, and create a Shot Sheet. In production, they make the actual film. In post production, they record the voice over into i-Movie, edit the shots during production, and fine-tune the voice over.

Attaching Word Documents to Posts: Presenter: dayle timmons
What is it?
Using teachers can upload word documents into their blog posts.
Ø dayle uploaded the entire vocabulary unit in Kindergarten into her blog. Visitors to Chets or to dayle’s blog wanting more information about vocabulary can download the kindergarten unit for their own use.
Ø A teacher sends home a newsletter each Monday, and updates her blog regularly. The teacher can upload their newsletter into the blog, so a parent could print a copy.

Podcasting: Presenter: Melissa Ross
What is it?
A podcast is a downloadable audio file that you can transfer to an mp3 player for listening to later. Think of a podcast like a radio show. Instead of having to be tuned in at a specific time, you can download it to listen to at your convenience.
Podcasting is a way to post and distribute electronic media files online. Podcasts are of interest because they provide an easy way to get engaging multimedia content out to a dispersed group of people, who can listen to it whenever and wherever they like on a variety of readily-available platforms.
So how is podcasting relevant to education? It is a powerful publishing platform that addresses different learning styles, is highly mobile, and can deliver content “just in time.”

Ø Kids create a podcast about the Civil War to show what they've learned and share it with other classrooms.
Ø A class takes a virtual field trip to NASA via a soundseeing tour podcast. The virtual field trip is broadcast in several formats, some designed for English language learners and others for GATE students.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

One Week - Two Dreams Realized!

The Chets Creek Kingdom sure has been one magical place this week. I received an excited phone call Sunday from Valerie Taylor, last year's PTA President, about the Florida PTA Convention our delegation had just been attending. As it turns out our PTA was awarded two of the three highest, and only, awards distributed by the Florida PTA this year! Not only can we claim the honor of PTA of the Year for Duval County for the third year in a row but now we can celebrate the fact that we have earned the title Florida PTA of the Year!!!!! We were also awarded the Membership Award for the state. And by the way that third award we didn't get this year - we won last year for our Outstanding Program the BUDs Club! I don't know about you but I am so proud of the parental involvement at Chets and find myself in awe daily of the incredible leadership shown by our PTA Board. We're taking over - next stop - the world!!!!

Tonight I was a part of another incredible opportunity for parents. The ESE team held their annual Parent Night with sessions aimed at educating parents about how to work with and understand their exceptional children. Last year we played with the idea of having a Parent Informational Night for our Hispanic parents. Spanish speaking students are our most rapidly growing ethnic group. Tonight it happened! Over 35 of these parents turned out to ask questions and provide insight on ways in which we could support them as a school community. It was a fabulous learning experience for me. Armed with three of our interpreters I was able to initiate that all important personal contact with a group of delightful and dedicated parents who want the absolute best education for their children, our children. I look forward to meeting with this group again and to brushing up on my Spanish!

Creer es justas el principio...

Friday, November 2, 2007

Dreams Offer Too Little Collateral

Walt Disney once said, "I could never convince the financiers that Disneyland was feasible, because dreams offer too little collateral." I don't know about you but I certainly feel like dreams and collateral might as well be antonyms. Collateral implies having some kind of guarantee, its almost like preparing with the thought of failure in mind. Dreams by their very nature are limitless and shouldn't be stiffled, derailed or cut off by the promise of some sure outcome. Think of how limiting the need for a guarantee can be - I'll bet those same financiers feel like big dum dums now. And thank goodness Walt the Dreamer put himself way out there, and took a chance with Disneyland, think of all the wonderful things that might not be around if he had given up or cut it short on his dreams.

All of this reminds me of our work with children this year. I have encouraged you and them to dream big, seek out the help and support you need and put forth the necessary effort to work at making it happen. There are no guarantees, no promises that everything will always work out just the way we planned or just the way we imagined. In fact the only guarantee I can make you is that with no risk there is no reward.

Last year's learning crew understood that performance drives success and boy did they perform! 94% of our students earned a Level 3 or above on the FCAT Reading and Math, 91% scored at a Level 3.5 or above on FCAT Writing, 70% scored at a Level 3 or above on FCAT Science, 82% made learning gains in Reading, 77% made learning gains in Math, 84% of our lowest performing students made gains in Math and most proudly a whopping 97% of our lowest performing students made a year's worth of growth in Reading. As a group they took great risks and produced our finest results to date. And as a result of this outstanding performance we are all reaping the rewards. In your paycheck today is your share of our A+ School Recognition Funds. Enjoy!

Dreaming is risky business folks, the bigger the dream, the bigger the risk, the bigger the result, the bigger the pay off!
Believing is just the beginning...