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:


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.

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!



With common core, our students are going to be expected to evaluate information in terms of

  • Authority
  • Bias
  • Coverage
  • Date

Although there are ‘worksheets’ for students to use to evaluate a source, this will be more effective if they can learn to ask themselves these questions as they encounter information:

  • Who wrote (produced) this? What is their expertise on the subject?
  • What is the author/producer’s point of view? Are they trying to persuade me?
  • Does this source tell the whole story or do I need to look for ‘missing pieces’?
  • Is the source out of date?
  • Was this written/produced by someone who was a witness to the event OR was it written/produced by someone passing on information from some other source?

I recently was asking myself some of these questions as I was watching a YouTube video regarding health care. Since this video was shared by a trustworthy friend on Facebook, I took the time to watch it. However, as I was watching, I kept asking myself whether the information in the video (and there is a lot) was accurate since I knew the author of the video was NOT an expert in the field!

Help your students become critical thinkers by helping them to ask these questions of information they encounter every day.

Transforming Education

Buried in a CJ Online article about Shawnee Heights’ proposed bond issue was a lot of information about how that district is trying to transform education to meet 21st century needs.

This process started with the use of personal learning communities. These groups working together to answer what USD 450 has identified as their 4 guiding questions:

  • What do we want kids to learn?
  • How do we know they learned it?
  • What do you do when they didn’t learn it?
  • What do you do if they already know it coming in?

These guiding questions and the answers to them are also driving the districts technology planning as they look to the future and

  • Implementation of Common Core Standards
  • Project-based student assessments
  • Need for information skills
  • Enabling students to be career ready

Whether you are a member of the Shawnee Height community, another school community in Kansas or even outside of the state, these guiding questions and the future needs are the same.

As Alan Beam, principal of Shawnee Heights High School says,

We’re preparing our kids for their future, not our past.

Creative Kansans — I’m Farming and I Grow It

If you haven’t seen the video, I’m Farming and I Grow It yet, then you need to. This video was produced by young adults (age 11 to about 21) to explain what it means to be a farmer. Some of the technology used included an iPod, Garage Band and iMovie.

For further informaton about the video, read CJ Online’s article: “Farm Parody of I’m Sexy and I Know It Goes Viral

Somersaulting the Classroom

based on webinar by Tim Childers (via

For those not interested in doing a total flip, somersaulting may be the answer. Somersaulting the classroom is creating some instructional videos and putting them online but not doing the entire curriculum. Somersaulting would be ideal for

  • gradual implementation of flipped classroom
  • situations where students will be missing class
  • providing review resources

The easiest way to begin somersaulting is to create screencasts of short lessons. Below are some of the various tools that can be used to create a video of a lesson.

  • Smartboard
    • has a video camera — may need to customize the toolbar to add this icon
    • Click on video camera — menu appears to control camera
  • Jing
    • Computer software that records video of computer screen
    • Free download
    • Free site for screencasting
    • Requires applet install every time it is used
    • Paid version has more features
  • Flip Cameras
  • iPad/iPhone camera
    • Incorporating audio with powerpoint presentation
    • upload file as a pdf to avoid format changes
    • If want bullets to show separately, create multiple slides
    • Webcam needed to add personal picture to side of presentation
  • Camtasia – computer software (not free)

Other useful tools / resources

  • Headphones with microphone where microphone can sit below the mouth
  • Extension cable for headset (allows more movement when at Smartboard)
  • Dropbox — transferring files between devices
  • Tripod for iPhone — GLIF (available at
  • iMovie / Movie Maker — video editing
  • Classroom website — such as Google Site
  • YouTube Channel — putting videos online

Finding Help: