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


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.

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!


Review: Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry
Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable, fast-paced read. I was hooked from the start. I found myself ‘cheering’ Alex on as he tried to form a relationship with Brittany. I also found myself empathizing with Brittany. Brittany appears as a shallow teen engrossed in how she appears to others — in other words remaining perfect. However, Brittany has a life that she doesn’t readily share with others. Her desire to be perfect at school comes from a need to protect herself and her secret life at home. Will Brittany be willing to let Alex see that secret life?

View all my reviews

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