Thursday, January 28, 2010

1:1 Discussion

This month I want to focus on a topic that every school in the state of Iowa (if not the nation) is struggling with. How on Earth do we prepare our students for the 21st century, when our schools are designed the same as they were in the 18th century. There is an old adage that the only thing in education that has changed is the color of the blackboard (now whiteboards). So what do our educational institutions do to properly prepare our students for the 21st century?

Dr. McLeod from Iowa State University put it best; we are a decade into the 21st century, it is time to stop talking about preparing students for the 21st century and actually do it. The magnitude of information and research about how students learn differently, that they are digital natives, and that the skills current school systems employ are inadequate to their needs are immense. One would have a difficult time (rhetorical for impossible), to argue that what we teach kids in our schools are useful for the skill sets they need in the 21st century. We are preparing them for the industrial age; which unfortunately is far behind us.

Students need to be in environments which they can interact, create, problem solve, collaborate, and succeed. They need an environment which utilizes each of their uniqueness’s to show how diversity can move our society forward. Students need more than a lecture or a worksheet. They need the tools they are already using, to learn differently. One of the biggest problems however, is the generational gap between what our students need, and how our teachers know how to teach. So how do we bridge that gap? The answer lies in single digits. One-to-one.

Imagine if our students had access to any information they wanted in the world? Imagine if rather than asking students to complete a worksheet on the economy of Brazil, they video-conference with a class IN Brazil and asked them? Imagine walking into a school where we asked students to create a podcast, PowerPoint, movie, or asked them to create a real life product that is relevant to their life? How would our schools be different? Rather than students being asked “right or wrong” questions; we want to ask students to use their uniqueness’ to develop their own thinking.

The way to do this is to put a computer in the hands of every student. The emphasis is on the word EVERY. I’m not talking about more computer labs; I’m talking about a laptop that travels with students home. I know to many people this may be a radical idea, but in reality, it is not. Think about your personal lives; how often do you use your phone, computer, ipod, or digital device? Why should students have to power down to come to school? Why shouldn’t schools empower students to use the tools they use every day, to do something we all want: have a first class education.

On February 4th, the Graettinger-Terril CSD will have one of the most important meetings it has had when it comes to the future of its students. They will decide whether or not to move forward with a 1:1 laptop initiative for its student’s grades 5-12. For our kids, community, and faculty, it will be a defining moment for the future of our district. It is about what is doing what is best for our kids. As I said before; we are a decade into the 21st century, it is time to stop talking and start doing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

G-T Middle School Geography Bee Winner!

7th grade student, Lauren Flaharty, is the first round winner of Graettinger-Terril Middle School's National Geographic Bee. The 2010 competition is sponsored by the National Geographic Society and Google. Schools from across the United States and around the world compete in this annual event. This is the 22nd year of the competition. Lauren now advances to the next level of competition, which consists of a written examination to determine state competitors. All school winners are eligible to win the national championship and first prize, a $25,000 college scholarship, at the national competition held on May 25 -26, 2010 in Washington, D.C. Good luck, Lauren!

Dear Mother Nature...

Really?!? Are you that bored? Seriously?!? ENOUGH ALREADY!!!

With that said, some of you may wonder how I come to the conclusion that we have a 2 hour late, no school, or to let students our early. I have to tell you that it is the most stressful part of my duties! The #1 factor I take into consideration is student safety. I don't know if you have ever driven a bus (or remember what it was like driving as a teenager)...but it can be somewhat difficult even without snow, ice, or fog. So between getting up early to check roads, constantly playing meteorologist, and trying to see into the crystal ball, you can see why it may be challenging. Fortunately, I'm in constant communication with Superintendents from surrounding communities, and most often, we collaborate on the decision (that's why you see the "domino" effect).

I know someday there will be a time when you say, "why did we have a 2 hour late", but I hope you understand I want to make sure everyone can get to school (and back home) safely.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

PD Reflections for 1/18/10...

After reflecting on today's PD, please answer the following questions:

What was the lesson objective?
What will you teach using the technology?
What are the students doing with the technology?
How will this help my students learn content at a deeper level?
What did YOU learn today?
What additional resources do you need from me to assist in technology integration into your classroom?

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year...New Attitude!!

What is it about New Year Resolutions? Why do so many people make them, yet so few people are successful at actually following through with them? That will be a topic up for discussion during Advisory this coming week. It is my goal to help kids (and adults) understand that the way to make your New Year's Resolutions a success is by developing a plan and setting appropriate goals. Here are my New Year Resolutions (and what I'm going to do to make it happen)!
  1. READ MORE...I'm discovering as a Principal that I read a lot...however, it isn't the kind of reading that I necessarily enjoy. I plan on getting back to reading 20 minutes a day of something I enjoy i.e. TIME magazine, satire literature, and educational blogs.
  2. LOSE WEIGHT...isn't this what everyone puts down??? This year is different. I'm going to workout on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. I'm going to eat less carbs and more high protein foods. Wish me luck!
  3. START MY DAY EARLIER...I was reading an article that said you actually have more energy if you get up and get moving a little earlier in the morning, even if it is only 15-20 minutes. I've purchased a new alarm clock...and it is really loud...

What is your New Year's Resolution? How are you going to accomplish it? I'll be giving some treats to kids who respond to these questions on my blog (your child can always use you to respond to my questions as well...they will still get the treat).

Best of Luck :)