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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Missoula Children's Theatre Tryouts Monday

Open auditions will be held on Monday, December 1 for the Missoula Children's Theatre production of "Robin Hood." Auditions will be held at the Ritz beginning at 5:00 P.M. Any student in grades K-9 may audition.

Numerous roles will be cast, all with local students. No advanced preparation is required. After a week of focused rehearsals, there will be two public performances of "Robin Hood" at the Ritz. These performances will be December 6, one in the afternoon and one in the evening.

The productions include professional lighting, sets, costumes, and music. Most importantly, it is a great opportunity for local students to perform in a theater production and have a wonderful educational experience.

Our partnership with the Historic Ritz Theatre is just one example of how Talladega City Schools is moving forward!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Check is Not in the Mail

District Administration Magazine has picked up on the story of the Alabama State Department of Education being unable to make payroll of the second straight month. The story can be found here.

In Talladega, we received our paychecks, received the full amount, received them a full week before the end of the month, and it all happened without having to borrow from a bank. Thank goodness for Mable!

Friday, November 21, 2008

11 Steps to Online Supervision

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Vicki Davis is a technology teacher in Camilla, Georgia and a national leader in technology education. In this post, she offers 11 very specific ways to help keep your child safe on the internet.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Long-Range Facility Plans

ABC 33/40 aired a news story regarding long-range plans for Talladega City Schools. The story has at its root a facilities study conducted by Lathan Associates Architects and the results which were shared with the Board of Education during its latest work session.

The Daily Home has shown interest in the topic and published its opinion, which can be read by clicking here.

If you did not see the ABC 33/40 newscast, it is presented here in its entirety. It should be noted that Hal Henderson being pictured was simply due to the fact that 33/40 was on that campus already to cover a story on the pre-kindergarten program.

As you listen to Dr. Horton's comments, you will see that what is being addressed is a long-term solution that involves consolidating all five elementary schools into a single, new facility. To view the news segment, click here.

The plan is in the discussion phase and all views are not only welcomed, but encouraged. As a school system, we cannot move forward by standing still. We need fresh, thoughtful ideas from those who have at heart what is best for children .

NOBODY loves you "better" than....

Your "Papa, Nonna, MiMi, Grandma, Grandpa,
Grandfather, Grandmother, MaMaw, PaPaw,
Granddaddy, Grandmomma". And, today at
R. L. Young, we had our "traditional" Grandparent's
Breakfast to honor our wonderful Grandparents of
our wonderful students.

No matter what name they choose for you
You love them "better than snuff".
You'd go to the end of the earth for them...
The "best" for them...is not good enough.

They make life come full circle
Your heart holds so much love
For that precious little grandchild
That's an angel from Heaven above.

And, now, that I'm a "MiMi"
My life will never be the same...
I re-live the joy of my grandchildren's birth
Each time they call my name.

I hope you enjoy the pictures of our precious
morning. More pictures will follow.
Have a blessed and wonderful day!

Mr. Joey Peters read a book to our class. Jaylin,
his grandson, picked out the book. Mr. Peters
has lunch with us on a regular basis and is
always so friendly to the students.

Wow...that's about all I can say! What support
from our wonderful grandparents! This is amazing
and is just one class!

Another view of our guest reader today.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You Want Heroes?

This article is now several years old, yet it's message is eternal. In the world of journalism, there is perhaps no truer friend of education than Frosty Troy. His message is that if we are truly looking for heroes in our society, the classroom is an awfully good place to start. His article can be read here.

As we begin this American Education Week, there is perhaps no more appropriate time to remind ourselves of how essential teacher are to the prosperity of this nation--past, present, and future.

Is there a teacher, past or present, who has made a significant impact on you or a family member? Have you taken the time to tell that teacher how much he or she has meant? What are you waiting for?

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Three Letters from Teddy

We have probably all heard the story of Three Letters from Teddy. This video rendition is particularly heart warming.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble...Yummmm!

"Run, turkey gobbler, as fast as you can...
Before the farmer catches you and...???
puts you on an oreo?

That's right...an oreo! Thanks to Mrs. Marie
Spratlin, the students in Mrs. Armstrong's
second grade class took home an oreo turkey
today! Please enjoy the pictures of the students
putting their turkeys together, complete with red
wattles. We named him Tom. Thanks, Mrs.
Spratlin...we enjoyed your visit!

Patriot's Pen Local Post Winner Advances to District

Patriot's Pen is a VFW sponsored youth essay competition that gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on democracy with the prospect of winning U.S. savings bonds. Ellis Jr. High student, Nicholas Pennington, wrote an original essay on Why Veterans Should be Honored, which was chosen to advance to the VFW Distriction level. Congratulations to Nicholas and thank you for representing Ellis Jr. High School and the city of Talladega.

Ellis Jr. High School Students to Compete in National Geographic Bee

The first round of the 2009 National Geographic Bee will be held at Ellis Jr. High School, Talladega, Alabama on Tuesday, December 2, 2008.

For the 21st year, the National Geographic Society is holding the National Geographic Bee for students in the fourth through eighth grades in thousands of schools across the United States and in the five U.S. territories, as well as in Department of Defense Dependents Schools around the world.

The winner of the Ellis Jr. High School Bee will advance to the next level of competition, a written examination to determine state competitors. All school winners are eligible to win the national championship and its first prize, a $25,000 college scholarship, at the national competition May 19 and 20, 2009 in Washington, D.C.

You may contact Mr. Scott Bailey, Principal, at 256-315-5700 for more information.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

American Education Week and the Blueberry Story

Jamie Vollmer used to be one of public education's biggest critics. Propelled to fame when People magazine proclaimed his blueberry ice cream to be "the best in America," Vollmer was fond of telling everyone that "schools should be run like a business." The Blueberry Story is all about the day one of public education's biggest critics became one of its biggest supporters. I invite you to read that story by clicking here.

Vollmer's message today is that of the incredible responsibility placed upon our schools, and that educators cannot do it alone. During American Education Week, there is perhaps no more appropriate message than this need for each of us doing what we can to help American public education.

"There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny... It is in public education that the American dream begins to take shape."
—Tom Brokaw


Friday, November 14, 2008

Animoto Presentations from Around the School System

If you would like to see learning in progress from classrooms around the school system, take a look at these Animoto presentations (November 13 posts).


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Would Something Like This Make Your Life Easier?

What if it was all in one place? What if you didn't have to have to run all of those handouts? What if everything in your unit was a mouse click away? What if it could happen all for free?

Check out this example.

You can do it too. Learn about it here.

Every day, I learn something new. Today is no exception. Thanks to Karen Clark at C. L. Salter for putting this site together.


Setting Up a Computer

I recently came across a document that is just too good not to share. It had it's creation on the day I came to an important realization. I had been physically setting up every new computer that came in the door at Graham, getting it on the internet, setting up an e-mail account, networking it to a laser printer, adding desktop shortcuts to common programs, etc., etc.

New computers were coming in the door pretty quickly, and one day I realized I simply did not have the time to continue to set them up myself. I did have time, however, to spend a couple of hours putting together detailed instructions that others could follow. It was time well spent, and pretty soon, copies of this little "Rosetta Stone" were floating around the school in pretty plentiful supply.

Some things have changed since them. I would no longer recommend desktop shortcuts. To me, an iGoogle page with some well chosen links on the "Bookmark" section is the only way to go. Outlook beats Outlook Express dollars to doughnuts. But, much on that set of instructions is still as real today as it was then. When you are stuck and there's nobody readily available, realize this little document is just a mouse click away.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Important Information on Fair Use

As of today, we have some significant simplification and clarification in the area of "fair use" of copyrighted materials in educational settings. For an overview, you may read this post.

For more comprehensive information, you can download these two documents:

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video

Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education


Monday, November 10, 2008

Thanksgiving Resources

If you are looking for resources regarding Thanksgiving, this post gives some suggestions.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

44 Blogs in 5 Minutes

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more I just counted...44 blogs. That's right, 44 different blogs that are of enough interest to me that I want to read them regularly.

Our school district has two main blogs. Most of our schools have at least one active blog. Our junior high band has a blog. Today, I found that our junior high gifted program has its own blog. I like to follow the blogs of several principals in other parts of the state or other parts of the Unites States. In addition to education, I enjoy several of the blogs others are writing on personal productivity, organization, and time management.

Want to take a guess at how long it takes me to check all 44 of those blogs and read the new posts? I am afraid the title of this post has given me away.

That's right. Five minutes. How? Glad you asked. Bloglines. Bloglines allows you to "subscribe" to your favorite blogs. From there on, you simply go to one site, Bloglines. All of your "feeds" are listed down the left side. Any feed with new posts shows up in blod print. Click on the link and you are ready only the new posts.

Bloglines is free. For a tutorial on how to set up an account and get started, click here.

Bloglines is on example of an "RSS reader." RSS stands for "really simple syndication." To learn more about this concept, go here for a short video from the Common Craft Show.

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Ideas for Teacher Blogs

Blogs have become popular tools in our school system. Not only does just about every school maintain is fairly active blog, but quite a few of our teachers are finding blogs to be fun and easy way to communicate. If you are looking for ideas for the types of things to include on your blog, or if you would like to see samples of what others have done, this site may provide you the needed help.

I posted this same message to my own personal blog a couple of weeks ago, and received a comment from Dave Sherman, principal of South Park Elementary School in Deerfield, Illinois. They have quite a new blogs and wikis that he invites us to visit at this address.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What Habits Do Good Readers Exhibit?

Some food for thought:

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Something Old, but Nothing New

This post, along with the title that actually appeared three years ago, was taken from the very first blog created in our school system and was written 6 months after the blog had been created. The message, taking a good look at the resources right at hand, is just as timely today as it was three years ago.

You each come to this site weekly, but I wonder to what extent you have really explored what is here. If you haven't done so lately, take a moment to examine the links on the right-hand side of the screen. (The Calendar and Common Documents can be accessed from any computer in the school system, but not from home.) You have a very complete school calendar a mouse-click away without having to truck all the way to the office. (Remember, we are only using the paper calendar in the office to record faculty and staff planned absences.) Please take a moment to scroll from month to month and be sure your personal calendar is not missing something.

Take a look at the Common Documents. If you have not looked at the Faculty Handbook all year simply because nobody has Xeroxed the whole thing and put it in front of you, why not put that on your list of stuff to do. I guarantee you will find information there that you have not seen in previous years (and the list of stuff to add to it for next year is growing). If you are asked for a password when you go to open a document, hit "Cancel," and you should be able to get into it.

Need to look at a Student Handbook? It's there. What about that handout on how to set up a Windows XP machine? Ditto. Need a piece of letterhead? It's there.

Every passing month convinces me more and more that a key element of being productive and as stress-free as possible in the world we live in today is getting comfortable with finding, using, and storing data digitally. At Graham, we are far ahead in this area when compared to so many places, but we still have a long way to go.

Voting: It's My Right!

The students in Mrs. Vincent's 2nd grade class at R. L. Young have learned about the importance of exercising our constitutional right to vote. Complete with a privacy screen, ballot, and poll workers, the voting began. These pictures tell the story of how
these students are learning to vote.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Good to Great...It Takes Time

Jim Collins was amazing in his address at yesterday's general session for the National Middle School Association Convention. Author of the best seller Good to Great, Collins tailored his remarks to hit home with the gathering of middle-level educators. Several of the significant points are as follows:

The adage "schools should be run like a business" is poor advice for schools. While there are businesses which are "great," most businesses are, well...average. Why in the world would we want to take practices which are merely average and import them into our schools.

We need to look for those things which work and stick with them. Our tendency in education is to start new things, abandon them quickly, and start something else. As Collins put it, "The signature of mediocrity is in inconsistency." Furthermore, he implored leaders to empower others to have freedom to "polish a lead bullet into silver and have time to do it."

Of particular interest to me was when Jim Collins touched on time management and implored us to develop not only a "to do" list but a "stop doing" list. More on this subject later.

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