Starting Afresh / Being Bold

This week Nemaha Central High School and the Mighty Thunder started a new era. Nemaha Valley and B&B Baileyville have come together on this new adventure. Not only are we merging student bodies and staff but we are making major changes in our technology.

The faculty was the first to participate in these changes when over three-fourths of them were switched from the Windows platform to MacBooks in late May. Many of them spent the summer not only figuring out how to get around on this new platform but how to implement tech tools into their curriculum. This was very evident during our professional development time on Tuesday morning as staff members talked about these new tools and how they plan to implement them in their classrooms.

In addition to all of the above, several staff members want to implement Google Classroom and are waiting for it to be rolled out to our domain. There is also a lot of curiosity about how the new student ePlanner will work (which also hasn’t been rolled out).

nchs rollout_On Thursday, the students joined the staff on the technology transition train when each student was given a MacBook Air. During a 30 minute ‘roll out’ session on Thursday, we had the students verify they could login to their computers, to their Google account and to their PowerSchool account. We also reviewed the new Thunder Bridge page and resources available to the students thru that site. On Friday, we had another session where we added programs to the Dock, installed Google Chrome and configured Google Drive. We also reviewed the major points of the laptop handbook, emphasizing the need to take care of the computer and to use it appropriately. There were some ‘hiccups’ along the way including a major one this weekend. However, the students have been great to work with.

This has been a challenging, tiring week for everyone but it has also been a very exciting week. It is a joy to work with a staff that is so willing to explore and try new things. I look forward to working with and learning from the Nemaha Central students and staff as we venture forth into this new school year and learn together.

Together, We Can

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Reflections – My ISTE Experience

Keynotes – I only got to hear Ashley Judd and Kevin Carroll during #iste2014, but there was a common theme running thru their presentations: school staff play a critical role in the lives of at-risk students. IF the staff cares about the student and doesn’t let them disappear into the crowd, then those students can excel in life. I will need to take the time to listen to Jeff Charbonneau. I would also like to share these with fellow staff members.

Poster Sessions – Being a Newbee to ISTE2014, I had no idea what to expect from poster sessions. At first, these sessions were a little overwhelming. The space was crowded and most were not really ‘presenting’. However, I quickly caught on to the idea of taking pictures and capturing QR codes. By the time I had managed to make my way all the way around, I was sold on these sessions. I think this might be a way to deliver content to teachers and am thinking about a ‘poster session’ wall for some of our inservices.

Playgrounds – I had several ‘playgrounds’ on my list of favorites and actually only participated in one. Again, as a newbee, I had no idea what to expect. These were similar to the poster sessions but bigger. They were essentially ‘small groups’ learning about a new tool or resource. This format might be something that could be used in a ‘maker’ environment.

Networking Game — Even though initiating a conversation with someone I don’t know is not one of my personality traits, I enjoyed playing the networking game. I even finished in the top 500. However, I think it helped that the vast majority of those attending ISTE were not playing the game. I would like to apply the some aspects of the game (‘secret code’ and possibly some of the challenges) this fall as we blend multiple student bodies into one high school.

Branding – Since we are changing school names, the whole concept of creating a consistent presence on the Internet resonated with me. I walked away with lots of ideas on how to use social media to connect with students, staff, parents and community. Now, I just need to map out a plan, create the accounts and figure out a way to easily utilize these tools.

Digital Tattoo (Digital Footprint) — Even though we cover the concept of a digital footprint with students when we work on their sites, I don’t think we get across to them how permanent it is to post stuff on the Internet. The term ‘digital tattoo’ was proposed as an alternate term since it implies something more permanent. One presenter suggested having the students research the teacher to get a better grasp of the longevity of postings. It was also suggested that we have someone who works in HR talk with students about their social media activities and how it might impact their future. Perhaps, we can get E. Hermesch to do this via Skype.

Maker Movement – This is something that I would like to implement at Nemaha Central. I now have an idea for a simple interest survey for the students that I should be able to use. Based on the results from that survey, I would like to use students as teachers and possibly schedule sessions during Friday seminars. I would also like to integrate some of the national contests.

Coding – I’ve been aware of the push to teach more coding to students – particularly girls – for some time. Even though we don’t have a course dedicated to any type of coding, we do have some aspects of coding embedded in our curriculum. Perhaps we can expand on that by utilizing some of the coding contests in the ‘maker’ sessions.

ePortfolios – I attended a session on using Evernote for online portfolios. This session provided reinforcement for the value of our student’s ePortfolios. In this session and several others, it was pointed out that digital portfolios are replacing resumes. Thus, we need to continue utilizing this tool and encouraging the students to highlight their accomplishments on these sites. Even though our student ePortfolios are not on Evernote, I think it could be an excellent tool for a senior project portfolio. By using Evernote, the students could keep track of all sites visited, youtube videos, pictures, and email correspondence during the year. Then they would have all of that info available to put together their project notebook.

Tennis shoes — This advice to wear tennis shoes is one piece of pre-conference advice that really paid off. I didn’t wear a step counter but my husband did. He walked over 3 miles on the two half-days we were there and over 5 miles on the two full days — even though we typically rode the shuttle between our hotel and the conference center.

Food for Thought

Two quotes I recently read have caused me to reflect on my role as a teacher. The first was a twitter post regarding what is taught –

Is the topic/concept essential for the student to know? Is it important? OR Is it just nice?

The second quote is from the Bible and was in today’s devotional and is actually a prayer -“God, make the work of our hands last.” Since we are teaching student who may live for another 60-70 years, maybe we should be praying that what we teach in our classrooms will help our students for the next 60 to 70 years.

I hope I will keep referencing these quotes as I work with students this year.

 

Simple Task Not So Simple

What started as simply creating a new business card to take to ISTE proved to be not so simple. I started the process in Microsoft Publisher on my home desktop. Finding a template I liked, I was able to modify it to fit our new colors (purple and electric blue) and add our new school logo. Perfect, now to just print — but, oh so not perfect. Microsoft Publisher’s template had different settings for the spacing of the cards — even though it said they were the same size as the purchased cards.

Attempt two was a total failure. I tried to use Microsoft Word on my Windows desktop. Since Word doesn’t play nice with moving images around, I quickly gave up on this attempt.

Attempt three was on my MAC laptop with Microsoft Word. Same issues with images so abandoned this attempt.

Attempt four was on my MAC laptop with Pages. I found a template I liked and was able to modify it to create a simple card. Printing proved more challenging. Of course, one of the ink cartridges was low. After replacing the cartridge and aligning the cartridges, I finally got a legible business card. However, I had to give up the school logo and other design elements that I liked in the Publisher template.

Unwilling to make-do with what I had, I switched to Adobe software. I finally settled in Adobe Illustrator which allowed me create an image of the correct size that included the design elements. After playing around in Illustrator a bit, I finally had something that looked nice on screen. I exported my design as a jpeg image. Switching back to Pages, I replaced my simple text box with the jpeg of my Illustrator design. Everything looked good until I printed — then it was fuzzy. So back to Illustrator I go and export the file as a tiff file. Same results in Pages, everything looks fine on screen but fuzzy when printed. Then it dawned on me that I had clicked past an option to increase the dpi (dots per inch) when creating the image files. Once I saved it at the higher resolution, everything worked. (Note: getting purple to look like purple on screen and in print is also a challenge. The color is a dark purple when printed.)

marcia businesscard

Now, for my husband’s cards. Since he was the one that pushed me to not give up on the design aspects, his cards are similar. However, he thought of an additional item that enhances his cards — the district motto.

Mike businesscard2Ready for @iste14

Establishing Goals

When Nemaha Valley Schools (USD 442) first started the school improvement process, the teachers spent a lot of time writing and re-writing educational goals. Two reasons for such scrutiny was a desire to make sure all areas of the curriculum were addressed while trying to create goals that moved into the future. These goals – or Exit Outcomes – are pictured below:

goals

This week, I received a copy of the proposed new standards  for the business finance pathway. These standards included the following proposed standards:

Common Career Technical Core (CCTC) Standards (Overarching – Governs
all Kansas clusters)–
1. Act as a responsible and contributing citizen and employee.
2. Apply appropriate academic and technical skills
3. Attend to personal health and financial well-being.
4. Communicate clearly, effectively and with reason
5. Consider the environmental, social and economic impacts of decisions.
6. Demonstrate creativity and innovation.
7. Employ valid and reliable research strategies
8. Utilize critical thinking to make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
9. Model integrity, ethical leadership and effective management.
10. Plan education and career path aligned to personal goals.
11. Use technology to enhance productivity.
12. Work productively in teams while using cultural/global competence.

These new CCTC (Common Career Technical Core) Standards seem to be very similar to the goals of Nemaha Valley Schools. With consolidation, Nemaha Central Schools (USD 115) will be looking at a new mission, vision and possibly goals. I would like to propose that we adopt these CCTC (Common Career Technical Core) Standards as our district goals.

Maker Movement Comes to NV

It has finally arrived. After reading about the ‘Maker Movement’ in other libraries for the past year, I’ve finally found the right ‘tool’.

legoUnlike many libraries using the large Lego blocks to inspire creative play, Nemaha Valley needed something smaller. I was going to use regular sized Legos until I saw Magformers. These magnetic shapes caught my attention because they would not only contribute to creative play but would support the math standards.

makermovement1This toy starts the day on a table top. Since they lie flat on a table, they do not prevent students from using the table for study and/or research. Even though they’ve only been out for 3 days, the students have discovered them. At the end of each day, I’ve found them on a different table and in a different arrangement.

makermovement2Now if only Santa would bring more Magformers to the NV Library!

It matters what you Tweet!

Earlier this week we celebrated Constitution Day. By the end of the week, a free-speech controversy erupted in Kansas. The controversy comes back to the issue of

“Even though I have the right to say it, should I say it?”

This controversy provides the means to discuss with students the far reaching affects of a tweet, facebook post, email or text message or even words said in a conversation. We all need to remember to T.H.I.N.K. before hitting that send/post button!

rules-of-social-media