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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Day in the Life at R. L. Young

Sunday, April 27, 2008

RSS in Plain English

If you are like me, you probably have at least several blogs you like to read on a regular basis. One that number grows, the amount of time it takes to visit each one grows as well. Often, you find there is no new content since the last time you visited.

Wouldn't it be great if the e-mails came directly to your e-mail? That capability is here now, and it's called "RSS" or "Really Simple Syndication." I talked about the program that use to do this in this post. Here is video that explains the concept of RSS:



Thanks to Lee and Sachi LeFever for producing this video and making it available through the Common Craft Show.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Directions to Schools

I received an e-mail from a new teacher asking for directions to Salter and Young. While most of us know our way around, there will be times when all of us will need to be able to give others directions to our schools.

About a year ago, I put together a set of directions from the central office to each of our schools along with a small map. If you go to TalladegaCitySchools, click "Downloadable Documents," and you will see it. The direct link is here. The directions are in a Word document, so be sure Word is in "Print Layout" from the "View" menu.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Schedule for April 25


Here is the schedule for April 25:


Morning
7:30-7:55 Everyone except elementary principals, reading coaches, librarians, and kindergarten teachers—Sign-in at Talladega High School. The program will be a state-required, three-hour in-service on nutrition. (Not my idea, not Joni’s idea, so just remember the old adage about not shooting the messenger.) The speaker will begin promptly at 8:00, so everyone must be signed in ahead of time.

7:30-7:55 Elementary Principals, Reading Coaches, and Kindergarten Teachers—Sign-in at R.L. Young. The program consist of training on StoryTown. We have been able to secure three consultants for the day to deliver training targeted for your particular position. The training will begin promptly at 8:00. Principals and Reading Coaches will be in the auditorium. Kindergarten teachers will bei the library.

11:00-12:30 Lunch on your own

Afternoon
12:30-3:30 Grades 1-6 Teachers, Elementary Principals, Reading Coaches, Elementary Counselors, and Elementary Special Education Teachers
—Training on StoryTown. The training will be at R.L. Young. First grade will be in the auditorium. Grades 2 and 3 will be in the library. Grade 4-6 will be in the lunchroom. Principals, reading coaches, counselors, and special education may split up among the three groups.

12:30-3:30 Kindergarten Teachers —Nutrition training. The program from the morning will be videotaped, and you will be able to view it. The training will be in the library at Salter.

12:30-3:30 Elementary PE Teachers—There will be a special session for you. The training will be held in Coach Darby's room at Salter. Sheila Jett, a physical education teacher from Montevallo Middle School, will conduct the professional development. Ms. Jett has 11 years experience at the elementary level and 12 at the middle school level. She comes to us highly recommended.


12:30-3:00 Secondary Teachers—The afternoon session will be at your school. Your principal will provide details.

We will schedule a time for principals, reading coaches, and librarians to view the nutrition video at a later date.

PDWeb—I have registered everyone for the morning sessions. I have also registered everyone except Ellis and THS for the afternoon sessions. All that you will have to do is sign the sign-in sheet and take the online survey afterwards. If for some reason you do not find your name on the appropriate roster, you may simply sign at the bottom.

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"Thrilled" about Ruth Law!


These students in Mrs. Armstrong's second grade class are "thrilled" about their story this week. The story is "Ruth Law Thrills A Nation." The thrilling part is making paper airplanes and taking our classroom outside to see which one can win the race! In case you're wondering, Ruth Law was the first American (and woman, I might add) to fly non-stop for 590 miles, the longest flight recorded at that time in 1916. While she did not reach her goal of flying non-stop from Chicago to NYC, she did set a record.



After the race, we gathered on the front lawn for a group picture. I have to tell you: the girls actually did better in constructing and flying their airplanes. Give me 5, girls!!










These students in Mrs. Armstrong's second grade class made the honor roll for the 5th six weeks. All 18 students achieved this goal and they all earned a 90/A or higher in Conduct. Take a bow, students! Mrs. Armstrong is very proud of you all. Plus, 13/18 of these students met their AR goal. Hard work does pay off!

Bookmarking in Plain English

We are all familiar with how to save websites in “Favorites” (or “Bookmarks,” depending on your browser). Social bookmarking is a concept that is easier, let’s you cross-reference effortlessly, allows you to access your bookmarks from any computer in the world, and allows you to share those bookmarks with others whose interests are the same as yours. Thanks to Lee and Sachi LeFever for producing this video and making it available through the Common Craft Show .

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Tips from District Administration Magazine


District Administration magazine’s “Research Center” assembled 15 tips taken from over 50 articles. In previous posts, we examined ten. In this installment, we examine the final five. Full articles are available on their website.

Establish a strong learning culture within schools. A substantial body of literature indicates that schools that succeed despite adverse conditions share three characteristics: a strongly focused instructional program, an emphasis on student achievement, and a culture of collaboration among teaching staff . ("Turning Around Low-Performing Schools," May 2004)

Teach grammar in context. One of the most widely ignored research findings is that the teaching of formal grammar, divorced from the process of writing, has little or no effect on the writing ability of students. ("Writing: The Neglected R Returns," January 2005)

Teach skills and strategies. When a comprehensive review of 30 years of learning disabilities intervention research was conducted in 1999, researchers found two categories of interventions that seemed to produce large gains in student achievement: direct instruction of specifi c skills and instruction in learning strategies. ("Understanding Learning Disabilities," August 2005)

Match instruction to students' learning rates. Experimental studies suggest that ability grouping alone has no significant effect on learning. For gifted students, however, ability grouping can make a positive difference if accompanied by appropriate curricular changes. Generally, the strongest effects on student achievement result from accelerated and enriched instruction that makes considerable adjustment for students' learning rates. ("Ability Grouping and Acceleration in Gifted Education," August 2007)

Link parent involvement to student learning. When Anne Henderson and Karen Mapp reviewed the research on parent involvement in 2002, they found that involvement linked directly to student learning was more strongly associated with achievement than more general types of involvement. ("Schools, Families, and Student Achievement," January 2007)

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Calendar Change for 2008-2009

The Board of Education voted to amend the 2008-2009 calendar to make December 19 and May 28 full days rather than early dismissal. This decision was the result of a directive from State Superintendent Joe Morton.

You can view the calendar for next school year by clicking the link on the right.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Move Forward Anyway

One of my favorite motivational sites is www.dailymotivator.com. Often the message posted for the day is especially meaningful. I wanted to share it will all of those who work in Talladega City Schools.
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Thursday, April 17, 2008
Move Forward Anyway
You may not get it right on the first attempt. Do it anyway, and you'll soon figure it out.
People are likely to come up with all sorts of reasons why it will never work. Work on it anyway, and commit yourself to handling each challenge as it comes.
Something unexpected will probably happen, in your life, in your industry, or in the world at large, that will cause many of your assumptions to be incorrect. Move forward anyway, because you are perfectly capable of adjusting to changing conditions.

It's possible that you won't get the results you expected. Learn from the results you do get, and with your newfound knowledge you'll discover ways to achieve even better results than you first expected.

There is no good reason to deny yourself the opportunity to accomplish whatever you choose to accomplish. Life is about making a difference, and you will never run out of ways to do that.

Whatever has happened, whatever they say, whatever the state of the weather or the economy may be, move forward anyway. Life is what you choose to make it.
Ralph Marston
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I am proud to work in a district filled with dedicated educators, administrators, staff, students and parents.
Together WE ARE MOVING FORWARD!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Professional Development-April 25

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Preliminary information for our April 25th Professional Development Day is as follows:

Morning
7:30-7:55 Everyone except elementary principals, reading coaches, and kindergarten teachers—Sign-in at Talladega High School. The program will be a state-required, three-hour in-service on nutrition. (Not my idea, not Joni’s idea, so just remember the old adage about not shooting the messenger.) The speaker will begin promptly at 8:00, so everyone must be signed in ahead of time.

7:30-7:55 Elementary Principals, Reading Coaches, and Kindergarten Teachers—Sign-in at R.L. Young. The program consist of training on StoryTown. We have been able to secure two consultants for the day (and we are actually working on the possibility of a third) to deliver training targeted for your particular position. The training will begin promptly at 8:00. More details as to what rooms at Young will be used later.

11:00-12:30 Lunch on your own

Afternoon
12:30-3:30 Grades 1-6, Elementary Counselors, and Elementary Special Education Teachers—Training on StoryTown. The training will be at R.L. Young.
12:30-3:30 Kindergarten Teachers —Nutrition training. The program from the morning will be videotaped, and you will be able to view it. Location to be announced.
12:30-3:30 Elementary Principals and Reading Coaches—Attend StoryTown training at R.L. Young
12:30-3:30 Elementary PE Teachers—There will be a special session for you. Location to be determined.
12:30-3:00 Secondary Teachers—The afternoon session will be at your school. Your principal will provide details.

We will schedule a time for principals and reading coaches to view the nutrition video at a later date.

PDWeb—I will register everyone for the morning sessions. I will also register everyone except Ellis and THS for the afternoon sessions. All that you will have to do is sign the sign-in sheet and take the online survey afterwards.

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Tips from District Administration Magazine


District Administration magazine’s “Research Center” has assembled 15 tips taken from over 50 articles. In a previous post, we examined five. In this installment, we examine another five. Full articles are available on their website.


Diagnose reading difficulties sooner rather than later. For children with dyslexia, delay or denial of intervention can have negative long-term consequences. The only way to confirm a suspected diagnosis of dyslexia is through formal testing of reading, language, and writing skills. ("Demystifying Dyslexia," December 2007)

Set students up for success in mathematics. When Robert Dixon and colleagues reviewed findings from 110 experimental research reports in 1998, they concluded that effective mathematics lessons do not require students to apply new knowledge independently until they have demonstrated an ability to apply the new knowledge successfully. ("K8 Math Strategies," March 2007)

Make decisions about early grade retention with care. Several studies show that students who are retained at any grade level are more likely to drop out of school, but simple retention without targeted intervention in grades K3 (especially kindergarten or first grade) is characterized by some as especially risky. Researchers suggest a combination of prevention, targeted intervention, and sustained supports. ("Retention or Promotion? Wrong Question," February 2005)

Make time for social studies in the elementary grades. The 2001 NAEP results in U.S. history found that fourth-graders whose teachers spent more than 180 minutes a week on social studies scored higher when compared to students whose teachers spent less time on the subject. ("Social Studies: Mastering Content and Skills," June 2007)

To get the best teachers, expedite the hiring process. When The New Teacher Project studied hiring in four hard-to-staff urban districts, researchers found that strategic recruitment yielded a multitude of applicants for teaching positions. However, many of the best candidates later withdrew their applications. The majority of those who withdrew cited delays in hiring decisions as their reason for accepting employment elsewhere. ("Recruitment and Retention of Highly Qualified Teachers," July 2007)

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hal's 6th Grade enjoying Baseball

Hal visits MAX & RUBY

Tips from District Administration Magazine


District Administration magazine’s “Research Center” has assembled 15 tips taken from over 50 articles. In this post, we examine the first five of them. Full articles are available on their website.

Encourage students to think before they speak. When teachers ask questions in class, students are more likely to give responses that are longer and more complex if teachers pause for three to five seconds after asking the question. Research conducted by Mary Budd Rowe shows that most teachers give students less than a second. ("Questions Can Be Powerful," September 2007) Anyone who has ever gone through PEPE with me and heard me talk about "wait time" is familiar with this idea.

Allow time for student writers to plan and revise. Students in grades 8 and 12 outperformed peers on the 1998 NAEP writing assessment when they were asked to do two things: first, plan their writing at least once a week or once or twice a month and, second, write more than one draft. ("The 'Write' Connections," November 2005)

Include the arts. When researchers analyzed a database of 25,000 students in 1999, they found a correlation between arts-integrated curricula and high levels of student success. ("Linking the Disciplines-and Achievement," October 2007)

Give children an early start in second-language learning. In the United States, most students who study a foreign language begin at age 14 or later. But linguistic studies show that children who begin learning a second language before adolescence exhibit more nativelike pronunciation than those who start later. ("Learning a Second Language: When & Why," November 2006)

Give children a break. The National Institute of Medicine recommends that school-age children get at least 30 minutes of physical activity or exercise every day. ("Fighting Obesity: What Schools Can Do," August 2006)

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Friday, April 04, 2008

Mayor York Visits Graham's 3rd Grade


Mayor Brian York visited with Mrs. Davis', Mrs. Armbrester's, and Mrs. Lawson's third grade classes. Mayor York explained his duties as mayor and the students were able to ask him questions. The third graders are learning about local government in social studies this year.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Post from "Leadertalk"

I read this post from "Leadertalk" just a few moments ago. Leadertalk is a blog written by school leaders for school leaders. When I read this particular post, two things jumped out at me.

The first is how true the author’s first sentence is.

The second is that of the four examples listed, three of them are things we have right now! The first two have been in place for almost two years. The fourth has become a reality within the last few days.

The beauty of Web2.0 is that it’s there for everybody regardless of district size or financial means. The variables are vision and imagination, both of which are free. I have made the statement many times that our school system is very relevant in a national picture. The challenges we face are the challenges most of America faces. The answers we come up with are answers that most of America would love to hear.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Baby Chicks Visit C.L. Salter Elementary









The library was buzzing with excitement all day as the students came in and out to check out books. They were also checking out the new baby chicks that were visiting the library that day. The Kindergarten classes enjoyed learning about eggs and chicks through several new books that they read in the library. They even had a chance to pet the chicks. Of course, each student had a chance to hold the chicks too! Spring was in the air!






Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Dr. Horton Shares HORTON HATCHES THE EGG

Everyone has a favorite Dr. Seuss book, even our superintendent, Dr. Joanne Horton.
So when Raymond L. Young planned the kick off for "Read Across America," we asked one of the district's busiest people....Dr. Joanne Horton, if she would share her Seuss favorite!

She met with kindergarten and first graders in the auditorium to share HORTON HATCHES THE EGG. As the superintendent read the book, students were able to follow along with a powerpoint featuring the pictures from the story.

Of course, this book does sport Dr. Horton's name, but the reason she selected it was because of the message of the story. As shared by a first grader during a follow up writing activity, Horton, the main character, never gives up in his mission to sit on the egg, even through the worst of times. He follows through with his mission. This is a fine book for children and adults to read and remember.

Thank you, Dr. Horton for taking the time to share this book and important lesson. May we all strive to be like Horton!

Summer Technology Training

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Janet Taylor will be offering two sessions this summer similar to what was offered last summer. Descriptions are below. To register, log in to PDWeb. Search the PD Catalog by entering UMTim for the PD Title Number and Multimedia Tech Camp for the PD Title. There are a limited numbr of slots, and Janet is opening this training to a wider geographic region than just our school system, so the earlier one registers the better.

Multimedia Tech Camp
Intermediate Computer Skills Required-Completely hands-on-Three consecutive days, 9-4 and the 4th day is 1/2 day-Projects aligned to Alabama's Courses of Study-Use digital cameras, movie clips, and computers to create multimedia presentations-Create lessons that incorporate the use of digital media including: digital storytelling, instructional videos, commercials, and much more-Learn to use Photo Story 3, PowerPoint and Movie Maker together to create a final product that will "wow" your audience... specifically your students-Learn picture and video editing along with tips & tricks to enhance aesthetics-Presentation skills will be discussed, demonstrated and examined. Participants will also make a presentation to the class on the last day.

Multimedia Tech Camp for Teachers II
Participants will:-create a "how to" video for classroom use-examine Web 2.0 sites-illustrate the use of video editing software-determine components of a rubric to assess student multimedia project.

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AETC (Alabama Educational Technology Conference)

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more The Alabama Education Technology Conference will be held June 17-19 at the BJCC in Birmingham. The school system will pay for the lead technology person at each school and the first 10 teachers who complete the registration form and get it to Kay Busby.

If you are interested in attending:
  1. Download the registration by clicking here.
  2. Complete the form.
  3. Send the form to Kay Busby and be one of the first 10.
AETC is an excellent conference and the workshops are very practical. You can view the preliminary program here. The keynote is Dr. Tim Tyson. For more information and a link to the closing keynote that Dr. Tyson gave at last year's National Educational Computing Conference, click here. He is very dynamic.

In selecting sessions to attend, anything that Patrick Crispin does is excellent. As far as local people, I will be presenting the following workshops:
  • Get Organized With Outlook (one hour session)
  • Get Orgainzed With Outlook (three-hour hands-on workshop)
  • Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less
  • Get Organized! Managing Digital Data With Ease
Pattie Thomas will be presenting "Powerful and Easy Presentations With Photostory"

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