Saturday, December 27, 2008

My WORDLE! A Sign of the Times!

Several weeks ago my friend and colleague, Melanie Holtsman, tagged me by means of a meme to try creating a Wordle. Yeah, I didn't know what a meme was either - still not real sure I understand it - but it's kinda like a chain letter with questions. A Wordle is like a collection of important words from a blog or piece of text - what seems to be most prevalent in your writing - and it's cool! Here is how to create your own:

Wordle Meme:
1. Create a Wordle from your blog's RSS feed.
2. Blog it and describe your reaction. Any surprises?
3. Tag others to do the same.
4. Be sure to link back here and to where you were first tagged.
5. Create different Wordle clouds of your blog's RSS over a period of time. Do it once a month for the next year to capture the spiritof the times.

Here is the Wordle cloud for the RSS feed from Dreams Really Do Begin Here! on December 27, 2008.

My first reaction was - whoa - Google is awfully big. But, I did just write a whole blog post about how much Google has changed our professional lives this year. The rest seemed to fit perfectly with where my focus has been recently, on school, the year and traditions!

And as a meme mandates I am tagging the following to try it out!

1. Terri Stahlman
2. Yvonne Ferguson
3. Debby Cothern and Michelle Ellis
4. KK Cherney
5. Jen Snead


Friday, December 19, 2008

Auntie Claus Comes To Town!

Today is one of my favorite days - and not just because it is the last school day before Winter Break begins - but because it is another important day of tradition here at the Creek. Each year I turn over the school for an entire day to my dear friend Auntie Claus. I've never actually met her but hear from the kids each year that she bears a striking resemblance to me! Throughout the day each grade level of students (200 strong) gathers in the Media Center with anticipation of a special visit by her. She makes a grand entrance (what a drama queen) and shares a special holiday story with the group and shares her wish for them in the coming year. Our resource teacher "elves" then proceed to serve milk and cookies to the children and everyone sings and rejoices in just being with each other. It is a really special time - and it is just another event that makes this such a special place.
I'm almost jealous that Auntie Claus gets to have all this fun! :)

Please know that year around and especially during the holiday season I am truly grateful for the incredible people I work with and am so proud of the wonderful job they do each day for children. I wish each of them a magical and joyous time with friends and family this season and a peaceful and restful break. Don't forget who loves you, darlings! :)

And on the lighter side...... We Wish You a Merry Christmas!

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


Friday, December 12, 2008

Reflection: Not Just What You See In The Mirror

At the end of each and every school year I ask my faculty to reflect on all that has happened along our leaarning journey. This Principal's Survey was started here by our founding principal and is designed to help us celebrate the wonderful things that have occured, express professional development needs and to get that one thing that really bugged us off our chests. I take the responses from my teachers very seriously and use them to institute changes and plan for our growth and development in the coming year.

These surveys are not anonymous - everyone here is free to have an opinion and share it! As tradition has it, the comments are then organized into a feedback sheet that is published and presented on our first day back to school each year. We celebrate the things that need to be celebrated and talk about the things that need to be addressed. The only problem with this process is that typically most of the responses only pertain to things that happened during the last half of the school year, so the suggestion was made that we take the time to gather Principal's Survey feedback mid year as well. GREAT IDEA!!!

To make getting the feedback a little easier and a little greener we decided to make a Google Form in Google Docs and send the survey out for completion. Teachers don't have to keep up with the paper and can complete the survey from anywhere the internet can be accessed. It will also make the feedback easier for me to sort. In fact the process is sooooo easy that I'll be able to share the information at our State of the School address following Winter Break. Here are the questions from our mid year survey:

1 - I think the best thing that happened so far at Chets Creek Elementary School this year was:

2 - The best thing I have done up to this point in my class/position this year was:

3 - In 2009, my number one objective will be:

4 - An idea I would like to see developed in 2009 is:

5 - Professional Development training and/or experiences I would like to have in 2009 are:

6 - The best Professional Development topic so far this year was:

7 - If I could throw one dart (criticism) within the school for this year it would be:

8 - If I could give one laurel (praise) within the school for this year it would be:

9 - Principal, Standards Coach, Technology Coach, Behavior Interventionist, I need you to:

10 - Additional Comments:
Feedback and reflection are essential elements of what transforms a school into a REAL learning community. The responses from this survey will absolutely be used to map out the next leg of our journey together this year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Love Google!!!!

I can remember the first time I ever saw and used Google. I called out to KK Cherney, our Media Specialist, for help in researching a new book for our Book of the Month program. She responded with, "Why don't you Google it?". After I looked at her like she was crazy she laughed and sat down to show me how to use Google as a search engine. WOW - my life online has never been the same! I've searched thousands of random ideas and topics over the years and peeked in on my childhood home from a satellite view on Google maps. I thought the possibilities were endless - now I know they are!

Last year I signed up for a Google account, developed this blog and began to really unlock the opportunities Google had to share. Google Reader has proved to be the perfect way for me to keep track of the more than 50 blogs being generated and updated by my faculty. I have also added professional blogs to the reader - some of which I found because they were recommended by Google. I absolutely flipped out the day it recommended my own blog as a Top Recommendation. :)

My leadership team has also started using Google Docs as a way to collaborate without all the back and forth email and paper for our weekly agendas. I even taught my faculty how to use Docs today in our Book of the Month faculty meeting so that all classrooms could contribute and benefit from each other's ideas for "going green". My latest discovery is iGoogle! It allows you to set up your own, very personal Google homepage with gadgets added that provide great ease in accessing many sites and web tools. There are so many ways to customize this page - down to picking a theme. My family is obsessed with seeing what the racoon family at the top of mine is doing!

I can hardly wait to discover the next new application in Google, I know I haven't even scratched the surface with all the possibilities. There's Google Earth, Google Chrome and sooooo much more. I encourage you to sign up for a free account and try it out - you'll be amazed at all the possibilites!