Saturday, July 24, 2010

So..what do you do all day??

I'm counting down the days to 3 very important events:
1. moving into the transition campus
2. the teachers coming back
3. the kids coming back
And...what do you do all day when there is no one there & you are waiting for these important things to happen - I've been asked a thousand times so here goes -
clean out my email (took 3 days!), reorganize my email folders to get ready for another busy year, clean out yearly correspondence/organize it for storage/get the folders ready for the new stuff, plan inservice to begin the new year, answer the phone, find qualified applicants for open positions/contact them for screening/arrange interviews/have interviews/hire someone, read email, make the yearlong calendar, write a brand new emergency operation plan for the transition campus, go to construction meetings/answer emails about construction/think about it when I can't sleep/try to figure out where we are going to do all the things we do/send emails with my questions about construction, read blogs of teachers and other educators to get ideas as I'm planning for staff development, go to trainings for Skyward/roadmapping/love and logic/CIP entry, enter our campus improvement plan into the system, order things for the year, arrange the after school programs with the vendors, oh - did I say read email? Those are the highlights of my days. There's more but most of it is not worth mentioning!

Now - you can see why I can't wait for the teachers and kids to come back. I LOVE being in their classrooms, talking to teachers about their celebrations and their challenges, talking to kids all day long and just keeping busy with the learning world!! Can't wait!!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Reflections on 11 Tools Assignments

For your final 11 Tools post, answer these questions:

1. What are your favorite tools you now have in your personal technology toolbox? Briefly describe a particular activity that you will plan for your students using at least one of these new tools.
I'm not sure there is one favorite as they are so different. I liked Google docs as I think it will prevent us from using countless back and forth emails in planning and scheduling. I LOVE the Jing thing that makes it so easy to embed pictures/videos into communications. The Google reader is probably the thing I've already used the most. I can see that, later when I have time, I can use it to organize the blogs I read on different topics to keep current with literature and research.
I have already used Google docs with several teams to plan a meeting for this week and next week. I am thinking about how I can use it for meeting agendas for team leaders and the campus improvement team.

2. How have you transfomed your thinking about the learning that will take place in your classroom?
I'm overwhelmed with thinking about how this can transform what happens in the classroom - and I don't have to implement it in a classroom!! I hope that teachers will take it slowly, choose one or two new things to learn well and get control of those in a productive way before moving on. My fear is that we will just wily nily begin to use things without purpose and intent. We will be discussing this as a faculty.

3. Were there any unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
Yes - everything I said in #2 - how this could so easily take over with little purpose but lots of time used up by students and teachers.

This has been a very interesting and new way of learning for me. I miss the social aspects of a class as opposed to being at home working in isolation. I'm hoping for follow up with face to face so I can learn from others.

Tool # 11 Digital Citizenship

As the principal I think this is the one thing that I need to be sure we discuss deeply as we make the move into integrating more technology into our days. I'm impacted by discussion I read on Doug Belshaw's blog about productivity and technology 'ruling' our days. We need to be sure we are not using technology just to say we used it but plan thoughtfully and with intentionality as we integrate technology into our school day.

A friend recently expressed her worry about how plugged in we are and how it is taking away from our lives in so many ways - less conversation, less face to face, etc. I think an important part of digital citizenship will be helping student retain balance in their lives and ensuring that the educators retain balance as well.

Educating parents is also going to be important. I read somewhere that 87% of students have access to computers in their homes (that was a 2005 statistic). Students and their parents are using computers - phones - gaming systems daily. We need to be sure we are teaching them to use them productively and not idly.

I have a lot more thinking to do about this and know that our faculty will need to have discussions. We need to incorporate the move towards complete integration of technology into our vision - revising our vision. Lots of work to do....

Tool # 10 iPhone, iTouch...etc.

I can't even begin to play on this right now because EVERY time I start to investigate apps I look up and discover that hours have gone by. I have an iphone and use apps all the time. The ones I've discovered this summer that I think are going to be used immediately are Dragon Dictation. This app requires a microphone (and we have some). Students speak into the app and it 'writes' and reads back to them what they have said. We played with it at the principal balanced literacy meeting and loved how easy and accurate it was.

Any of the Brain Games are great. I also love the Word Puzzle games - word warp, words with friends, etc for the older kids. This would be great work station activities.

Implications for instruction are limitless. Yes - if you can think it - there is an app for that! My goal this year is going to be to figure out how to link my iTouch/iPhone with more than one computer and learn how to organize the apps through iTunes to make them easy to find.

Tool # 9 Jing and Skype

I'm playing with Jing...

Here is one of my most favorite of all time pictures of Brandon. He was 8 or 9 years old and a real cowboy! His horse, Honey, is out to pasture but still living. He visited here last fall and took pictures. He is with one of the wranglers from Fantasy Ranch where Honey was kept. Those were the good old days!

Click here to see the pic and ... click here for another pic.

I've also got a map of Fantasy Ranch - the best place for horseback riding in Crested Butte.

This is fun - and potentially dangerous as I could FILL messages with pictures!!! I imagine this is a really cool tool to use when creating Flipcharts for instant pictures and videos.

I've been using Skype for a while now. When I went to Japan and when my son travels abroad we use this to communicate. We will also be using it this year for our CCP talks with John O'Flahavan as we move forward with the pilot rollout at a few schools in the district.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tool # 8 Videos - Guided Reading

I'm preparing a presentation for the elementary principals in August - Primary Literacy Program...with a focus on Guided Reading. As we all know, it is much better to see it than to talk about it so I've been looking for some good short clips. I'm just sick that I didn't know about this until after school was out as I could have walked into a classroom and filmed. I would have gotten much better quality than what I've been able to find out on the internet.

Here are a few of the ones I've bookmarked but I'm still looking. If I find a WOW one, I'll post it.

Guided Reading and Literacy

The second two are just slide shows to read...not what I've really looking for. If anyone knows of a great one or two or more short clips of good guided reading - or any other component of balanced literacy....send them to me PLEASE!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tool # 7 Photo Story: Crested Butte Summer

I hope this works. I have spent my last afternoon in the mountains working on our memories. We leave tomorrow to head back to the heat - the temp on our patio right now is 60 cool degrees. Windows are open. Breeze is blowing. I just heard a cow moo!!!

In the old days we used to spend at least a month here in the summer. I haven't been to Crested Butte for more than a week in over 10 years. The 2+ weeks we spent here this summer were heavenly. I discovered that I'm not too old to hike the old trails...Judd Falls is still beautiful. I've still not lost my fear of the high mountain dirt roads - especially in a Suburban. I had to get out a few times when Poppie decided to turn around...TURN AROUND...and the road is hardly as wide as the car!!!

We will take 3 days for our trip home. First stop - Sandia Resort and Casino in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I plan to hit the jackpot on the slots. Then we will head into Texas with another over night stop when we get tired of driving. Home to Houston on Sunday and NOT ready for the heat and humidity.

P.S. I can't for the life of me figure out why the baseball music won't play. I've done everything I know to do and can't get it to work. Hope to fix it soon.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Tool # 6 - Wikis

My favorite wiki was from a group of 2nd graders in California...

On her wiki students are keeping electronic portfolios, working on elaborating sentences (you could see the previous versions and what they had added), doing math problems, and lots of fun interactive things.

I'm wondering if wikis can be worked on by more than one person at a time...can several be on the wiki and adding/revising/editing at the same time?

As the principal I'm thinking I could use a wiki for several things:
Campus Improvement Plan data and feedback
Planning events with a committee
I'm still thinking about how this would be better than some of the other tools I've learned about.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Fourth of July in Crested Butte 2010

Crested Butte, Colorado is the best place to celebrate the 4th. The morning started with the Firemen's Pancake Breakfast upstairs at the firehouse, the parade down Elk Avenue, a street fair, an afternoon concert on the mountain and ... fireworks. The parade was the best I've seen. I remember the first few I saw here. They were so short they turned around at the end of the street and came back in the other direction...progress!! But, don't get too excited about watching my pics of the parade as, after all, it is Crested Butte and it is weird.

Brandon had to work so you will see some shots of the shop where he works and guides. Dragonfly Anglers. They were very busy today with all the folks in town. He did get to step out and visit just enough to snap a picture of him and Meg.

The weather was great during the day but as soon as the sun dropped behind the mountains, it got COLD...about 55 at fireworks time...blankets!!!

Create your own video slideshow at

Friday, July 2, 2010

Tool # 5 - tags and bookmarking

I'm not sure I will use either of the bookmarking sites much - it seemed like a lot of work. However, when thinking about keeping my bookmarks organized by topics with tags I'm thinking it might be good...just no time to set it all up.

As frequently happens, when I started following tags and finding other blogs with other tags, the time flew by and I spent a few hours on this. I did find 2 to post.

Cool Garden Things - I've spent the last 3 days redoing our tiny garden in Crested Butte. I went out to the 'wilderness' and found rocks to edge the garden. We found lots of rock slides up Spring Creek road with beautiful quartz filled granite. We took a 70 mile trip that took 4 1/2 hours as the roads were so bumpy and dusty, but the scenery was well worth it....back to gardening. I planted poppies, daises, catmint, indian blankets, shasta daisies and some stuff I don't know the name of. There are 5 ready to open blooms on the iris. I'm waiting for them to open before taking a picture. It looked so pretty - until we stuck the red-white-blue and silver Walmart windmill in it this afternoon!

And a summer resolution...eating better, not dieting, cleaning up my food, food that's good for me...lead me to this great resource for finding locally grown food. I'm hoping that when I get back in Houston I'll be able to keep up with this. It is expensive and a LOT of work to eat food that is not processed or full of icky chemicals and, even ickier - sugar, sugar, sugar. I watched Food, Inc and - oh, dear - my poor child...who knew????

How will I use all this for school? Hmmmm...I'll think about that in August.