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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Multimedia Tech Camp

Janet Taylor had great things to say about the Multimedia Tech Camp, both in terms of the full house who signed up and the quality work that was done.

Janet has been swamped with workshops and is trying to catch up on the paperwork. She faxed the sign-in sheets to me today, which I am forwarding to Mrs. Busby. Your stipend for attending the workshop will show up in your paycheck at the end of August.

Interested in National Board Certification?

NBPTS - 2007/2008 Session

National Board of Professional Teaching Standards

Do you dream of becoming a National Board Certified Teacher?

Do you want to know about the grant process through the Alabama State Department of Education?

Come hear the facts and get started today!

University of Montevallo, Wills Hall, Room 200

August 14, 5:00-7:00 PM

Presenter: Pattie Thomas

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Grant opportunity--General Dollar

The Dollar General Back-to-School Grants provide funding to assist schools in meeting some of the financial challenges they face in implementing new programs or purchasing new equipment, materials or software for their school library or literacy program.

Funds requested must be used to enhance or expand the school’s library, media center or literacy programs. Submissions will be judged based on creativity, statement of need and use of funds.

You may download the application here.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Mystery Woman Identity Revealed

Talladega City Schools is pleased to reveal the identity of the recently posted MYSTERY WOMAN, Dr. Barbara Blackburn. She is our keynote speaker for the beginning of school Institute to be held at Talladega High School on August 6th.

Barbara is the author of two books, Classroom Instruction from A to Z and Classroom Motivation from A to Z. As you can see from the comments below, Dr. Blackburn has touched many educators across the country with her presentations, books, and passion for teachers. She believes that teachers are the key to student success.


This book is uplifting and encouraging. This author has been in the trenches, has faced the same challenges as the reader, and has practical solutions based on first-hand experiences. Frank Buck, Principal, Talladega, AL

I just wanted to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed reading your book on classroom motivation. I have recommended it to my staff and plan to get it for my leadership team before the year ends. I truly appreciate the story of your journey and the ideas you shared that were personal and also those from folks who are serving in classrooms. I also appreciate that fact that you shared student reflections because we can never forget they are why we do what we do. I look forward to your future books and to hearing you speak again, hopefully soon. Be well and keep up the great work! Rita Mantooth, Greenville Public Schools, Greenville, SC

I was very impressed with the workshop on motivating teachers. I felt your presentation was relaxed, non-threatening to participants and full of ideas to use in classrooms. You interacted with participants, answered questions, gave time for interaction and kept the workshop moving along. I cannot wait to work out a date for you to come work with our teachers. You have a wealth of information to offer that is practical and useful. George E. York, Principal, Ohio

Barbara Blackburn's book is a compendium of current research, shared stories, excellent advice, thought-provoking questions, and a common-sense approach to motivating students. This deceptively simple book is a straightforward look at teaching that should be required reading for every education major. Buy it as a gift to inspire a new teacher or as an affirmation to a veteran. It is absolutely wonderful. Debbie Silver, Ed.D, author of Drumming to the Beat of Different Marchers

Classroom Motivation is a fabulous book. Even though it is aimed at the traditional classroom education setup, I've been making good use of it for my 'online classroom'. In particular, with the way I create my e-learning tutorials. I may not be able to see my 'students', but at least I know that the training material they are using is top-notch! Also, I am Home Schooling my 12 year old daughter, which is an exciting challenge for the both of us. Your book is proving extremely helpful for this situation too. Barry G. Galvin, Content Consultant

This was a GREAT book! I only wish I had it in my hands on the first day of school. Amanda Markley, First Year Social Studies Teacher, Kennedy Middle School, North Carolina

I love the book and am particularly drawn to how easy it is to use and apply in a variety of situations and circumstances. The examples, advanced organizers, references and positive viewpoints are right in line with the needs of busy educators from all levels. My sticky notes continue to emerge from points throughout the text. A great source that is never too far from my desk or briefcase. Thanks Barbara!! Mike McElrath, Jamestown Public Schools, New York


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Welcome back!

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The excitement of a new school year is in the air. Much work is happening in buildings to get them ready for a new year. With so much to do and so little time, every year we wonder how it will all get done by the time children arrive--and every year it all falls into place.

Our inservice will be held at Talladega High School on Monday, August 6th. Sign-in will begin at 8:00 Our program will begin promptly at 8:30 and conclude around 11:00. The central office will take care of registering each of you on PDWeb, and the sign-in sheet will be available for you when you arrive.

Activities for the afternoon of August 6th as well as plans for August 7th and 8th will be held at the individual schools. Special education teachers will meet together in the Graham lunchroom on August 8 from 9:00-11:00. Principals will communicate the schedules for their individual schools.

Welcome back! It's going to be a great year.


Streaming Video from NECC

The National Educational Computing Conference was held in in Atlanta earlier this summer. A number of sessions are available for all to see by going here.

In particular, I recommend you view the last one of the list--the Closing Keynote Session. The introduction to the speaker drags on a bit, but it's worth it.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

More on Web 2.0

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Technology in Learning
magazine published a great article last month entitled "5 Web 2.0 Time Savers" that goes hand-in-hand with the earlier posts on Web 2.0

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Friday, July 20, 2007

What's working, and with help, could work even better?

Are you using "interactive technology to make learning fun"? If you, a grant opportunity from Best Buy can be a vehicle to expand your program. This site explains the program and the opportunity for an individual teachers to receive a $2,000 gift card for the purchase of needed equipment. With the number of these grants being awarded (1,500 nationwide),

I spoke with a friend who was a 2007 grant award winner. Her project involved the purchase of digital cameras and accessories to use in an animation project with her junior high school art classes. The point is, this grant does not have to be "cutting edge." It's designed to reward those who are doing good work and have a vision for where they want their programs to go. The application deadline is September 30, so this one allows plenty of time to complete the application.

The application is submitted online, so a good strategy is to compose the grant in a Word document, polish it, and then copy & paste it into the application.

For any teacher who is interested in pursuing this grant, or any other, I am always glad to read and make suggestions on anything on any grant proposal you may be writing.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Horton's Highlights

Tonight's Board of Education meeting was very productive. We were pleased to have received an excellent audit report for the 2005-2006 school year. Way to go financial staff!

The highlight of our meeting was the approval of new employees. The entire slate was approved by a vote of 5-0. We wish a warm welcome to the following professionals who will join the Talladega City School System:
  • Gayle Ross--Special Education Teacher (Graham)
  • Jennifer Pinson--4th Grade Teacher (Graham)
  • Sabrina Williard--3rd Grade Teacher (Northside-Hal Henderson)
  • Blanca Berrerro--7th Grade Science Teacher (Zora Ellis)
  • Jacqueline Maduro--Math Teacher (THS)
  • Jessica Bentley--Math Teacher (THS)
  • Shirley Leonard--Science Teacher (THS)
  • Todd Bates--Driver's Ed./Business Ed. Teacher (THS)
  • Trisha Howell--Career Technical Director (THS Career Tech)
  • Steve Watson--Plato Lab Teacher (THS)
  • Rosita Nelson--Custodian (Graham)

We scheduled dates for the next three Board of Education meetings:
  • August 3 at 11:30
  • August 13 at 5:30
  • August 30 at 5:30
Locations for each meeting will be announced later. The public is always invited to attend our meetings and share in the progress of our school system.

My thanks to each of our Board members for the spirit of cooperation shown in tonight's meeting. We are moving forward!

Dr. Joanne Horton

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

RSS (Really Simple Syndication)

I talked earlier this week about Web 2.0. With so many people producing so much, one can easily become overwhelmed by good stuff. What if all of the good stuff could be organized in one place? What if every time there was an update to a blog you like that update was delivered to you instead of you having to go and check multiple blogs or news sites?

That is what "RSS" (Real Simple Syndication) is all about. This article gives you the basics of how to do it.

I use a program called "intraVnews." It's free and works with Outlook (not Outlook Express). Once I have identified a site that I am interested in keeping up with, I add it to the list. That list includes blogs from principals across town and principals from across the country, educationally-related discussion groups, and alerts from the National Weather Service anytime there is an advisory for this county. I don't have to do anything. It all goes straight to my e-mail. There's enough in life that's complicated. RSS really is simple.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders & Teachers

Instructional Leaders and Teachers
Instructional Leaders = Superintendents, LEA central office instructional staff, principals, assistant principals, aspiring principals, and teacher leaders

Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders and Teachers

To provide an overview to teachers and instructional leaders on the:
Alabama Standards for Instructional Leaders.
Alabama Quality Teaching Standards.
Alabama Standards for Professional Development.
Alabama Educator Code of Ethics.

September 11, 2007
Shelby County Instructional Center, Alabaster
Registration 8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Workshop 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Registration & Driving Directions
Go to www.montevallo.edu/ic; Find workshop title; Click on STI enrollment.

For Technical Assistance, Contact:
Montevallo Regional Inservice Center (RIC)
Sallye Longshore
Telephone: (205)503 -5870
Fax: (205) 503-5875

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Notes from Mega Conference

Here are some of the major ideas I gained from the Mega Conference held in Mobile this past week. The major thrust of the Mega Conference each year centers around Federal Programs and Special Education, although the sessions do extend into all areas of school life.

Response to Intervention
This term "Response to Intervention" is one which is probably unfamiliar to the majority of teachers, yet it's impact on general education is significant now and will continue to grow. "Federal law now prohibits labeling students as 'LD' unless the districts can prove that research-based instruction has been provided, for a lengthy period of time, in regular education classes, by highly-qualified teachers, using instructional programs 'with fidelity.' The process of gathering the required data is called 'Response to Intervention,' or 'RTI.'" This quote comes straight from Melinda Baird, a nationally-known attorney whose specialty is representing school systems in special education issues.

The good news for us is that the teacher who is using research-based reading and math materials, is implementing them "with fidelity" (That's not a term we dreamed up locally; that's the way the law reads.), and is progress monitoring students as prescribed in the program is going to be in good shape. As you read about RTI, you will see the terms "Tier 1," "Tier 2," and "Tier 3" As you review the reading programs up for adoption this year, you are going to see the same language. Easy translation:
  • Tier 1="Benchmark" or that vast majority of students (hopefully 80% or more) who are experiencing success. "Tier One" materials are those one would use with the entire class.
  • Tier 2="Strategic" or that group of students (probably around 15%) who need a "double dose." "Tier Two" materials or instruction would be used to help accelerate these students.
  • Tier 3="Intensive" or that very small percantage (5% or so) who are having severe difficulty and require intensive intervention. You will hear the terms "Tier Three" and "intervention program" used interchangeably.

To be honest, RTI is an area where there are more questions than answers. My suggestion is to keep "RTI" on your radar. When you see the term mentioned in a professional journal, read it. If you have an opportunity to attend a short workshop on it, go. In this last reauthorization of IDEA, Congress came very close to removing the discrepancy model (the way we currently determine eligibility for LD which measures the discrepancy between IQ and performance) and replacing it with RTI. Congress did not do that. They are allowing either method for now. With the next reauthorization of IDEA, we may well see RTI become the sole way to determine LD.

Reading Adoption
The reading adoption is a huge topic and one that is sure to be the source of interest and controversy statewide. Earlier this summer, 11 textbook companies submitted their core reading programs to a large panel of reviewers. We will be receiving their report this fall. Each core reading program is rated in a variety of areas, much like one would see in the magazine Consumer Reports. In fact the instrument used to rate the programs is entitled A Consumer’s Guide to Evaluating a Core Reading Program Grades K-3.

We will begin receiving samples from the publishers in November. Dr. Morton's recommendation is going to be that school systems narrow their focus to three or four core programs using the results of the report and then make their own selection from there. The rationale is that school systems will not have time to adequately evaluate all 11 programs submitted for review.

Web 2.0
This buzzword got it's start in 2003 and has been gaining steam ever since, but most people still haven't the foggiest notion of what it means. In a nutshell, Web 1.0 was about you and I being consumers. Information on the web was put there by people in far-away places who knew lots about programs such as Deamwaver or FrontPage and had access to servers where they could host their stuff.

Web 2.0 is about creation and participation. What you are reading right now is an example of Web 2.0. It's about the average person being able to share knowledge with the whole word. It's blogs and wikis. It's MySpace and YouTube. It's the ability for you and me to have space on the internet absolutely free where we can post our pictures, our thoughts, and our very best ideas. It's the idea that we are givers as well as takers in a global exchange of ideas. It's the absurd notion that an encyclopedia could be constructed by simply letting anybody who wanted to write whatever they liked, a notion so absurd it's actually working.

To this point, our challenge has been to find what others have written. Our generation learned about the Readers’ Guide to Periodical Literature. This generation knows about Google. The challenge of Web 2.0 is not just in finding what others have created, but in making it easy for others to find what we have created. That, however, is another post for another time.

Free Technology Resources
Every one of the links on this list is worth your time to explore.

APTPlus and United Streaming
Many of our teachers are finding the value of the United Streaming videos. You can download short clips to play in class. You can store what you have downloaded in a folder on your computer so that you can find it the next time you teach that particular lesson. If you have not used this resource before, this blog post tells you what you need to know.

One of the points brought out was that rather than go directly to United Streaming, we should be encouraging you to go to APT Plus. At that site, you can search for resources available from United Streaming, but you will also be able to search other sources at the same time.

The final topic is the distance learning opportunities provided through ACCESS. This program is part of a dream to access to education a function of your aspirations rather than a function of where you happen to live. Extensive information is available at their website.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Changing of the Guard

Talladega City Schools recently said goodbye to a very dedicated employee, Willedean Williams. Ms. Williams worked for the district for 32 years. She served for many years as Title One Federal Programs Clerk, but her most current position was Payroll/Insurance Clerk. Everyone would agree that this is an important job and she handled the multitude of tasks well!

Recently, the Central Office staff enjoyed a retirement lunch in her honor at the Golden Eagle Restaurant in Talladega. Willedean was presented a gift card to use for her many projects planned for her home. The district wishes her a happy retirement.

Talladega City Schools was fortunate to have Sharon Blankenship step into the vacancy on May 29th. She comes to the city school system from the Talladega County Commission Office where she served as Human Resource Manager for the past 11 ½ years. A graduate of Talladega High School, Sharon is married and has 2 children.

Mrs. Blankenship looks forward to working with everyone across the district. New employees will have an opportunity to complete the necessary paperwork at a new teacher orientation meeting to be announced in the future.