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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Do You Believe...?

I certainly do...after watching this.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Five Key People

At a recent meeting of elementary school principals, one key piece of research was brought out:

A child needs to have 5 key people in his or her life.

That statement has caused me to think about two points over the last several days. I invite you to share in those same thoughts:

As you were growing up, who were the five key people in your life?

If every young person was asked the same question, how many would point to you or I as being one of those five in their lives?

Friday, August 29, 2008

Get Help Online from Real Tutors

Gov. Riley has announced a free online service to provide tutoring to all Alabamians. For details and a link to the site, click here.

Some Thoughts on Web 2.0

How research using technology has evolved...and the implications for research and communication today and tomorrow.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Will You Do Today?

If the video on last Friday's post gave you a chuckle, today's is designed to get you thinking. Created by a high school technology coordinator, it asks the question, "What will you do today?" Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Apples for the Teachers...and students, too!

Thanks to Mr. Campbell acquiring federal funds,
our school system has given new meaning to the
old phrase "An Apple For the Teacher."  The
students get apples, too, in the MacBook version.
If you have seen the "big rolling white things" and
you wondered what it was and what it housed, you
can stop wondering.  Inside the Mobile Apple Cart
is 20 student MacBook laptops, 1 teacher MacBook
laptop, 2 digital cameras, 2 video cameras, an
electronic keyboard, a HP All in One printer and 1
wireless airport.  Wow!  That's just about all I know
to say....Wow!  Each school has 2 to share but the
teachers in training need you to be patient as they
put their training to use.  The 3 day training has
been rigid and we have been given a wealth of
information to carry back to our schools.  However,
hands-on learning is the best learning and we want
to be proficient when relaying the information to
our colleagues.  Please feel free to stop in and 
see what we have and how the students are
responding to a "paperless" classroom.  Thank you,
Mr. Campbell, Dr. Horton, school board members 
and Mr. Locklin.  We are truly blessed to be a part
of Talladega City Schools.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Professional Learning Communities

One of the hallmarks of a "Professional Learning Community" is the establishment of a set of "system norms," basically agreements about how the group will operate.

Listed here is what the David Allen Company calls its "Rules of Engagement...In Other Words, This is How We Play." Something from the list may speak to various ones of us as we put together our own system norms.
  • We build vital, on-going, expanding relationships.
  • We exceed expectations for service.
  • We consistently challenge ourselves to participate in the bigger game.
  • We operate in a highly productive and efficient way.
  • We leverage our strengths.
  • We are respectfully nice.
  • Silence means we’re OK with what’s going on.
  • We communicate richly, with open systems, updates, questions, clarifications, and ideas.
  • We practice what we preach.
  • We bring joyful engagement to our work and our lives (aka we have fun!)
  • We support the personal and professional development of each of us.
  • We support creative conscious risk-taking.
  • It’s safe for all of us to explore, express, and move on.
  • We share what we learn.
  • We support the health and well being of each of us.
  • We recognize and act as if we are all alone in this together.
  • We honor and use our intuitive truth, using the highest good of all concerned as our primary reference point.
  • We call upon our spiritual source in our work.
  • In our day-to-day interactions our intention is a sincere connection with those whom we serve.
  • We donate what resources we can to people doing good work.
  • We generate healthy profitability and reinvest to fund growth.
  • We keep our principles alive and well, and we honor them in our practices.
  • We support our positive vitality by inviting, hearing, and integrating feedback about how we're doing, individually and organizationally.
  • We encourage each of us to manifest our greatness and serve its source.
  • We focus our energy where it produces the most value.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Electronic Test Grader (Grades 3-6)...Although Anyone Could Use It

If time were no obstacle, when we gave a test, we would perform “item analysis” to see what concepts were strong and weak within the class. With the emphasis on disaggregating data (by race and lunch status), we would also look at our subgroups. Time, however, is an obstacle. We grade individual student papers, record the overall grade in the gradebook, and move on. There is simply not time for anything else. But...what if all of this was done automatically for you?

Your principal will be sending you a tool that will do this type of data analysis for you. It is intended for use on the Saxon Benchmark Tests. You can, however, use it on any multiple-choice test.

To use the this Electronic Test Grader:
  1. Click on the “Enter Names” tab. Notice that the names of your students along with race, gender, and lunch status have been filled in for you. (The suggestion for having that step done for you came from a teacher, and it was a good suggestion. Yes, it meant I spent some time, but the time I spent pales in comparison to the time saved for teachers collectively.)
  2. Scroll down to the row labeled “Correct Answers.” Here is where you enter your key. Under the columns marked 1, 2, 3, etc. you enter the correct answer for each of those questions.
  3. To grade the student papers, simply enter beside each student’s name what the student answered. The Tab key will move you across the page from square to square.
  4. To save the data, go to File>Save As and choose a name for the data. That way, you will still have a blank sheet to use next time.
  5. That’s it!

Notice that as you enter the student responses a couple of things happen:
  1. Wrong answers immediately turn red.
  2. The overall grade for the test is automatically calculated.

Now, click on the “Results” tab. Here you will see:
  1. All of the information from the other tab. Student responses have been transformed into a series of zeroes and ones.
  2. You will see the overall score for each student.
  3. You will see the class average.
  4. You will see the percentage of students who answered each question correctly.

Notice the arrow points on the top row. You can click on any of them to disaggregate your data. For example to see how the boys performed, click on the arrow point beside “Gender” and choose “M.” The graph will change to show you how the males performed. You could look at the performance of white females by clicking the arrow beside "Gender" and choosing "F" and clicking on the arrow point beside "Ethnicity" and choosing "W." The graph would then display the results for that group of students.

More information on the Saxon Benchmark Tests will be forthcoming soon.

The immediate use for this tool is to give us a way to look at data at the classroom level, school level, and school district level on common assessments. The same tool could certainly be used for any subject and any grade level. If there seems to be interest at other grade levels, I can make the Electronic Test Grader available to others as well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Professional Development Credit

At this point, I have awarded credit from all of the sign-in sheets from August 4-6 that involved teachers from multiple schools. (Anything happening at just one school for that one faculty is the responsibility of that school.) Several of our new teachers were not showing up at all in PDWeb and still are not. Those names should pull automatically from STIOffice. I will have to see if there is something incorrect in individual school setups or if there is a problem elsewhere.

I have also identified about 10 people that for some reason are listed in PDWeb twice (as if they were two different people). I will be talking with STI in Mobile regarding merging those records and eliminating the duplicates. That is something they have to do rather than our being able to handle it locally.


Friday, August 22, 2008

A Parody on Teaching

A parody on teaching. Something light-hearted for a Friday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A "Fairy Tale" Look at Copyright Laws

One of the blogs I like is The Tech Savvy Educator written by Ben Rimes If you are teaching about copyright laws, you will enjoy this hilarious video, "A Fair(y) Use Tale" created by Eric Faden. Using clips from every Disney movie imaginable, the video covers the elements students needs to know.

Ben created this handout for use with his 4th graders as a followup.


Monday, August 18, 2008

Tailgate Party September 12

Customized Football Jersey - ImageChef.com Please join us for a fantastic Tailgate Party on the lawn of Dixon School Friday, September 12th. The event begins at 5:00PM and runs through 7:00. There will be live music and delicious food .

The THS band students will be selling meal tickets for $5.00 each. It is a great way to show support for our Talladega High School football team and raise money for the Talladega High School Band.

Please show your spirit for the Talladega Tigers as they take on the Sylacauga Aggies and support the THS Band by purchasing a great-looking "This is Tiger Territory"t-shirt! To download an order form, click here.

Buy a t-shirt, enjoy a yummy meal, and then stay for the game!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Technology Course of Study

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more The new Technology Education Course of Study is available on line. To access the document, click here. Across the state, implementation of this document is mandatory for the coming year. (Normally, implementation of a new Course of Study is optional the first year and mandatory the following year. In a memo from Dr. Morton dated July 21, he stated this Course of Study, along with Career and Technical Education, will be mandatory for the 2008-2009 school year.)

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Friday, August 15, 2008

We turn around and its Christmas
We turn around again...its May!
"Where did this school year go?"
We hear each other say.

We all are overwhelmed
With assessments and guidelines, too...
But I hope this little poem
Will somehow challenge you

To go beyond and above the call
Of teaching day by day
And when a trivial question is asked
You have something positive to say.

To be your best self, above all else,
A beacon in the night
You are the glimmer of hope to a child
Who sees no end in sight.

To ask for help when you need it
To give it to others should they ask...
To be an example and teach them all
To complete even the smallest task.

To look at every face in your classroom
As it is looking back at you
And vow to give them your very best
If it is the last thing on earth you do.

These children in classes of 08 and 09
Will pass on, grow up and be gone...
But their memory of us will last forever
Etched on their hearts like writing on a stone.

Happy Teaching!

Think Central Benchmark Test


The assessment piece is still not available on Think Central and quite a few questions remain as to how that whole process will work. Therefore, let's not do this first benchmark test. With all that is new, that will take thing off of us. By the time the second benchmark approaches, we should have a much better handle on how the entire process will work.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

State Superintendent's Visual Arts Show

The State Superintendent's Visual Arts Show is held annually. Each school may submit to the central office one piece of artwork per grade level in each of two categories. The two categories are "Two-dimensional work" (including painting, drawing, or mixed media) and "Photography or computer-generated work." Each school may hold its own art show at any time it wished. The deadline for submission of artwork to the central office will be December 12.

Principals are being asked if their schools will be participating. Level of interest by the faculty may well determine the principal's decision.



SchoolGrants.org is probably the best starting point for people interested in writing grants. In particular, there is a section of sample grants where you can see completed grant proposals.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

System Requirements for Think Central

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In reading through the specs for Think Central, there are several "plug-ins" that are needed in order properly run the website. To find out if you need something you don't have, click here. That's going to take you to Think Central. Click the link on the lower left side of the screen that says "Web Checker."

You will see a chart that tells what is needed to run Think Central and whether you have what you need for that computer. If you have several computers in your room, you would need to do this on all of them.

If you need a plug-in, not only will the chart tell you that, but you will be able to click a link and get the needed plug-ins for free.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

STI Attendance Letters

STI Office has a feature which allows the office to automatically print letters advising parents or unexcused absences, excessive absences, or tardies. This feature frees teachers from having to be the "scorekeepers." This presentation is intended to serve as a reference for office personnel. For teachers, this information is simply "FYI" information in addition to illustrating another capability for those who maintain blogs--the ability to embed a PowerPoint Presentation in a blog post.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Think Central PowerPoint Updated

I have updated the PowerPoint on Think Central that we viewed during Tuesday morning's professional development. The link is still the same. Since you now all have real user names and passwords, there is no need to go to the "zz" evaluation site. Therefore, I took out the references to that.

Tuesday's presentation allowed for not only using PowerPoint to teach the content, but it also served as a chance to pass on techniques that you can use when using PowerPoint. The ability to make the screen go blank during the presentation to help focus audience attention back on you, and the use of the "speaker notes" section to house your heavy-duty text and allow the slides to stay uncluttered are two examples.

In the not-too-distant past, if I wanted you to be able to view that PowerPoint presentation, I would have e-mailed it to you. That meant if you were new to the district and nobody alerted me to your e-mail address, you missed out. If I made a change to the presentation, I would have had to e-mail a new copy and ask you to destroy the old one. On your end, moving that attachment from your e-mail to logical spot in your digital filing system would have been a task you would have performed.

Best practice is now to post documents such as this in one location and simply send the link taking viewers to the document, just as I have done in this post. If a change needs to be made, it is made in one place, and when you visit the document again, you see the updated copy. The ability to do this exists not only at the central office, but at the school level as well. Our circumstances have changed! As we talked about Tuesday morning, when confronted with a set of circumstances, we as a people, develop procedures to handle those circumstances. So often, our circumstances change, but... (well, you remember the rest).


StoryTown Pacing Guides

The StoryTown pacing guide for grades 2-6 is posted here. The guide includes pacing of the lessons, when the give the assessments (weekly, theme, benchmark). The theme tests are highlighted in red. You will see several dates highlighted in yellow. Those represent weeks where it will be necessary to teach the five lessons and do the weekly assessment all within a five-day window. This is done to prevent carrying a lesson over an extended holiday.

You will probably want to add the link to the pacing guide to your Favorites or to your Del.icio.us page.

First-grade teachers, remember, that you are going to e-mail me at the end of the week to let me know the progress you are making with the introductory lessons. That will allow us to construct a pacing guide for you. I will be putting together a group of kindergarten teachers to do the same for your grade level.

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Progress on Think Central (Elementary)

John and I have loaded all teachers and students into Think Central. If you have not already viewed the PowerPoint from Tuesday morning's presentation, doing that will make everything else more understandable.

Before logging in, run the "Web Checker" and be sure to download any needed software.

You may now go into Think Central with your own password.
  • Choose your state, district, and school.
  • Click the check mark for "Remember My Organization."
  • Your user name will be your first initial last name.
  • Your password is 1234, but you will probably be prompted to change that the first time you log on.

After you log in, be sure to go to "Accounts" and look at your information. Change anything that is incorrect.

The next task will be to select the products you wish to be able to use. You will click on the little icon on the left-hand side of the screen that looks like a wrench.
  • Click on "My Products.
  • Choose "Reading" as the subject and click your grade(s)
  • Click "Refresh."
  • Put check marks by all of the products you would like to be able to view online.
  • Click "Save."

There is one area where classroom teachers can help me at this point. A week ago, had you logged in, you would have seen almost no products even available to check. Going in today, you will see tons of stuff. I personally checked two grades at one school and found that while the student materials seemed to all be there, some of the teacher materials were still not there. In addition, none of the assessments (weekly, theme, benchmark) are there.

It would be great if a person from each grade level at each school could volunteer to look at see what's missing (because it may well be different for each school and may vary from grade to grade) and then e-mail me a list of what you are missing. We are finding that the technology department at the company is pretty backed up and that the squeaking wheel...well you know the rest. We have been doing our share of squeaking this week (with the help of some people within the company who happen to like us) and getting results. I need to keep pressing until our stuff is 100% before their attention turns to some other school system.

The plan for Monday is to show Reading Coaches how to take all of the students who have been loading into the program and assign them to your classes. We will also go through how to add new students so that during the year, your names stay up to date.

The latest word is that assessments may not be up until the end of the month. So, plan to do the first weekly assessment pencil/paper (which I hate). As soon as assessments are available, I will put together another PowerPoint that will walk you through everything you need to know.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

StoryTown (Elementary Teachers)

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I spent this first split between two schools, and the day went extremely smooth at both. Teachers were teaching those routines which are so critical for a well-managed classroom.

Remember, Monday is when we will begin StoryTown. Kindergarten teachers had asked for additional time during their grade-level professional development. Kindergarten should be prepared to start on Wednesday.


Starting the Year Off Right (Part III)

It is often said that people who fail to plan plan to fail. In her final post on “Starting the Year Off Right,” Vicki Davis talks about planning.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Starting the Year Off Right (Part II)

This is the second in a series of three blog posts by Vicki Davis on the subject of “Starting the Year Off Right.” This one deals with establishing a flow of people, paper, and information.


Interested in National Board Certification?


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tips on Beginning the School Year

No school day is more important than the first. Vicki Davis is a highly-respected high school computer teacher. Her tips are right on the money, and while most of it we have heard somewhere before, it never hurts to be reminded. Here is the first in a three-part series aimed at getting the school year started on the right foot.


Tuesday's PowerPoint (K-6 Teachers)

For those who have downloaded and viewed Tuesday's PowerPoint on Think Central, you probably noticed some slides that we did not cover. They were the slides following "Next Steps."

In a world where more and more is available to us in a digital fashion, the need to be able to organize digital data efficiently grows exponentially. The slides that follow the "Next Steps" slide will seem a bit complex to most at this point. For some who are very comfortable with technology, you may well be ready to tackle something like this.

At this point, I simply want to give you a glimpse at what you could have--one chart that puts you a click away from any of your digital resources related to reading (and we could do the same thing with any subject). Furthermore, a chart like that could be built by multiple people and viewed by anyone.


Moving Forward

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Today, we witnessed a school system moving forward. Our grade-level professional development produced a sharing of ideas, many concrete next steps on projects, and questions that remain to be answered. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with elementary teachers this morning.

I will wait until the first of this coming week and award credit on PDWeb for all of today's activities. That will give principals time to get sign-in sheets to me and give PDWeb a chance to enroll teachers who are new to the system who did not show up on yesterday's roll.

Kindergarten teachers--I have just received word that kindergarten materials shipped from Publisher's Warehouse today.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Material from Dennis King's Presentations

All of the material Dr. Dennis King shared with us during Monday’s inservice is available for download:

Critical Questions for Teams

Definition of Collaboration

Developing SMART Goals

PLC Definition of Terms


Afternoon Session With Lead Teachers

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Credit Awarded on PDWeb

I have awarded credit from this morning’s inservice from the sign-in sheets. To see that you have been awarded credit, log in to PDWeb and click on “My History.” You should see your credit as having been awarded.

If your name did not print our on the sign-in sheet, there is no way I can award credit for you. If your name was not on the sign-in sheet, it means you are not in PDWeb. PDWeb pulls from STIOffice. Certain fields must be correct in STIOffice in order for your data to copy into PDWeb.

An e-mail went to all school secretaries outlining what had to be present in STIOffice. A place to start would be to consult the principal or secretary at your school to see if the instructions in that e-mail had been followed. The process of pulling employees from STIOffice over into PDWeb happens automatically over the weekend, so if changes are made this week, they will show up on Monday morning.

Once you are in PDWeb, you can be awarded credit. I will need to have a memo from your principal stating that you attended the training and that at the time of the training you were not in PDWeb.


AEA Lunch for New Employees

The Alabama Education Association will be providing lunch for all new employees of the Talladega City School System on Wednesday, August 6, at 11:00. The lunch will be be held in the cafeteria at Talladega High School. All new employees are encouraged to attend.

In addition to lunch, information on employment law, teacher tenure, and wage and hour issues will be presented. This is an opportunity for new employees to meet Mrs. Charmelle Lewis, the AEA District 15 Uniserv Director, as well as the local assocation officers and school contacts.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

PowerPoint for Think Central Training (Elementary Teachers)

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The PowerPoint for Tuesday morning's training on "Think Central" is ready and available for download from any computer within the school system by clicking here.

What you will want to do is scroll through the slides rather than view the show. At the bottom of the screen, you will see what are called the "speaker notes." Those notes will explain to you what you are seeing on the slide. There will be very little need to take notes during the presentation, because it is all here on this presentation for you.