0-120mph in a blink of an eye. Welcome back to school

Holy Hectic Batman! It must be the end of August because I am up to my ears in work right now. I just got a "new" lab this year which was desperately needed. By shuffling some computers around were able to put 4 computers in each of our 5th grade classes (a first here at CMS). We moved some of the old high school and middle school computers into my elementary school computer lab to update the computers that were moved out. Needless to say the lab looks great (better than the pictures show anyway) and my room that now connect to the elementary library is ready to go. Those of you who manage computers in your classroom and or a computer lab know how much work it is cleaning old programs off computers and loading new software onto them can be. Minus a few small issues that still need to be taken care of by our wonderful IT staff, we are pretty much off and running and the 07-08 school year looks very promising. Here are the things that I am really excited about exploring and doing this year

  • Last year, the elementary school here led the way in switching to a standards based curriculum and school. This meant a complete overhaul in both the way teachers taught their classes and the way we reported student achievement. Last year we used the old Pearson Centerpoint which has now turned into Powerschool. We found that it was not set up to handle standards based reporting so the school has switched to using Webgrader. So far i am impressed with what it can do and its flexibility in handling the new demands of standards based reporting. In the future I think Powerschool with make the changes necessary to handle this but for now we are forced to use a third-party product. As is always the case when new programs are introduced here, I spend much of my time training staff and then afterwards answering their emails and questions when it comes to problems they might be having. I am always able to tell immediately know how well a program works and how user friendly it is by the amount of questions I have from the ES staff. This year after the Webgrader training I have not had a single question regarding any of the topics we covered. Although I would like to believe it is my superlative teaching, I know that it is the quality of the Webgrader program that is speaking for itself.
  • I have already been in touch with Chris Craft and Kim Kofino about joining Chris's project "Life 'Round Here". It is a digital storytelling contest that looks to dispel the prejudices we as global citizens have about different countries around the world using Microsoft's Photostory to edit and create digital story books. The project looks to contrast perceptions vs. realities in our respective countries. The deadline is coming fast for my 5th graders who are interested on October 31st.
  • Terry Smith a 4th grade teacher in Hannibal Mo. has graciously invited me to join his Monster Collaboration Project. I am rounding up teachers now who might want to participate in this one. Kids, from around the world (are you seeing a trend here?) will collaborate to build a monster for Halloween. Terry has been doing this for a while now and I think it will be a fun project for the kids and as always, will expose them to new kids and cultures around the globe that they will need to work with. Terry and I collaborated on the 1001 Flat World tales project started last year by Clay Burell in Korea.
  • Speaking of Clay Burell, I am looking forward to again participating with the 100 Flat World Tales Project again this year. Last year, the three Schools that participated were able to post our stories with art work and make revisions to each other stories using our class wiki. View the 1001 wiki HERE. You can link to the two other schools wikis HERE and HERE.
  • As I mentioned before we now have all of our 5th grade classes with 4 computers in each of them. Along with the Academic Tech. Director here at the CMS, we will begin working shortly with the teachers in these classes to incorporate these computers into their daily instruction and pedagogy. This should also aid the 5th grade classes in participating in collaborative projects with other schools since the students now have the opportunity to work both in their classrooms and in my lab.
  • I have just started a Masters Certificate program through San Diego State University. The 15 credit, 5 class, Certificate in Distance Education is something that I have searched and looked for, for a while. I liked their course offerings the best and they seem well tailored to where I want to move next in my career-designing online ed. programs/courses for universities/business/or state or private online schools. I have two classes this fall, Intro. to Distance Education , and Project Management in Distance Education . I will be blogging about my experiences in these classes and the program in general in the future. It has been exciting all ready to be in touch with and work with leaders in Distance Ed. like Fred Saba and Donn Ritchie from SDSU
  • Finally, I am working on an Elementary School Wiki for CMS so that teachers can go in and use it like their own personal webpage to alert parents and students to what is going on in class, assignments, etc.

Anyway, guess that's it for now, lot's going on but that's how it is for us teacher types. I described it like going from 0 to 120mph after a long summer vacation. Funny, I get little sympathy from my non-teacher friends...

Fell free to send me what is new with you and the 07-08 school year when you get a chance, maybe we can get something going.



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