Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saving STI Classroom Reports

During the "Managing Digital Data with Ease" workshop on January 2, once of the topics we discussed was the ability to save any STIOffice report as a Word document. That capability allows the school the flexibility to modify the report, add information to it, copy and paste data, and even e-mail that data.

The question was asked if that same capability is available in STI Classroom. I explored that issue this morning, and the answer seems to be "yes." I have a demo loaded on my computer, so the student data I have (and hence the reports I can run) are limited.

When you run a report on any STI product, the report is first simply printed to the screen. At that point, look at the row of icons at the top of the screen. Starting at the right-most icon (the door), count back to the 4th icon from the right. That icon will look something a world. When you click on it, you have the choices "Export to HTML" and "Export to RTF." You want the later, which stands for "Rich Text Format." Basically, it's going to be a Word document.

The next part is something I think is not very well done. You see a box labeled "Export Report." It's wanting to know where you want to save the report. Click the little button with the 3 dots. My suggestion would be use a flash drive. At the bottom of the box where it says "Drive," choose the correct letter for your flash drive.

If you have ever found yourself looking at STI data on your screen and copying it on paper by hand, this one feature may be a big time-saver for you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Removing the Blogger Navigation Bar

Two of my earlier posts have involved directions on how to remove the Blogger navigation bar. The objection is the "Next Blog" feature which takes your readers to a random blog. The risk always exists that the "Next Blog" will contain inappropriate material.

I have simplified the directions for removing the "Next Blog." To view those directions, click here.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

“Simplicity allows people to act.”

The November 2007 issue of Fast Company included an article by Dan & Chip Heath entitled, “Analysis of Paralysis.” The essence of the article is captured in the sentence which ended the article’s first paragraph: “Simplicity allows people to act.”

I find that when I look at to-do list, I gravitate to the tasks which are easy to do, and you probably do as well. We like that which is simple and easy. When complexity and ambiguity set in, we procrastinate on that activity and choose something which presents a little more clarity.

Perhaps the answer is to make everything simple and make everything clear. The paradox is that some work is required in order to make things easy. The work consists of thinking a project all the way through from beginning to end. The work consists of figuring out all of the steps as well as knowing when it may not be possible to know all of them. Furthermore, keeping all of the notes and documents related to that project neatly organized takes some thought.

The good news is once we have structured a system and are willing to spend a little time keeping it clear, the rest becomes easy, incredibly easy.

Imagine looking at your list and knowing in which order to tackle the items and exactly how to proceed on each one. How simple that would make your day. Simple enough, you would actually act.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let it Snow!

Just proof that it really does snow down here in Alabama. Even thought it only happens once every 10 years and lasts for about an hour and a half, none-the-less, it's snow! Our two Shelties got their first experience with this new phenomenon this past weekend.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

This is a Test...

I have written previously about e-mail hoaxes and how to tell what is real and what is not. One of those posts is here. You can also read about the hoax that almost hooked me. Last night, I received this e-mail:

Tax Notification Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
United States Department of the Treasury
After the last annual calculations of your fiscal activity we have determined that you are eligible to receive a tax refund of $184.80. Please submit the tax refund request and allow us 6-9 days in order to process it. A refund can be delayed for a variety of reasons. For example submitting invalid records or applying after the deadline. To access the form for your tax refund, click here.
Internal Revenue Service
Document Reference: (92054568)

Is it for real? Is it a hoax? How do you know for sure? You've got 15 seconds to find the answer. Go!

Well, how did you do?

A generation ago, we could place some trust in what we saw in print. Print information was limited to the newspapers and magazines we purchased, and all of the content went through some type of screening to insure accuracy. As long as we knew that the newspapers at the grocery store checkout were fake, we were OK. Even then, our English teachers taught lessons on propaganda and how to recognize it. That lesson was on page 237 of the textbook.

The story for kids today is different. Exercises in exposing the untrue aren't just in the textbook--they show up in your e-mail, and they show up on the Internet. And they don't wait for your teacher to first warn you about them. Web 2.0 allows anybody to publish anything, and it's up to our kids to be savvy enough to be able to separate fact from fiction. In part, they are looking to us to give them the tools to do it. Are we up to the challenge?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Google Docs

Quite a few people in our school system, as well as readers from all over, now have blogs. At some point, bloggers will have a document or a PowerPoint presentation that to share with students or the whole world (which on the Internet is really the same thing).

Problem: How can I post a document somewhere?

Answer: Google Docs

Google Docs is a free service which allows you to upload Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations. You can allow others to view them. You can allow selected other people to even change them. This video explains the concept:

Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Innovative Educator" Recommends Get Organized!

Thanks to Kerry Palmer for the post on his blog where he talks about Get Organized! Kerry is both a vice-principal and band director, each of which is a full-time job in itself, and does an outstanding job in both arenas. His post can be found on the Innovative Educator.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Look Ma, No Wallet

Somewhere around 8 years ago, I stopped carrying a wallet. Since that time, there has been not the slightest urge to go back.

I guess I had always thought a wallet in the back pocket was one of those things that simply went along with being a member of the male species. Never mind that sitting on the thing was uncomfortable or that the bulky wallet was unattractive. Furthermore, the wallet in the back pocket is a target for the pick-pocket.

One day I stopped, cold-turkey. This post is devoted to giving you the nuts and bolts of the items I do carry and how I am able to get by without the wallet:

  1. Right front pocket—Keys and a flash drive. On the key ring, I have keys to ours cars, a key to the outside door of the house, a grand master that opens any building in the school system, my office at work, and the choir room at church. As for the other keys in my life, they do not earn a ride in my pocket everywhere I go. In lap drawer of my desk at work is a key ring housing keys to all of the filing cabinets. In my desk at home are keys to various locks at home. I only carry on my person those keys which are vital.
  2. Left-front pocket—Magnetic money clip and a small amount of change. That’s it.
  3. Shirt breast pocket—Waterman ballpoint pen and a credit card wallet.
  4. Suit coat pocket—BlackBerry

The credit card wallet is really the key to allowing me to eliminate the wallet. In that credit card wallet, I carry:

  1. 2 major credit cards
  2. Driver’s license
  3. Medical insurance card
  4. Automobile insurance card
  5. Business cards
  6. A small memo pad (so that I can quickly jot down whatever comes to mind at odd moments)
  7. An outside pocket on the credit card wallets provides a place for me to put credit card receipts I collect during the day.

The BlackBerry houses the following information:

  1. Calendar—So there is no need to carry a pocket calendar
  2. Task List—So there is no need to carry random scraps of paper
  3. Address Book-So there is no need to carry a paper version
  4. Notes—So there is no need to carry reference material somewhere else.
  5. Pictures—Having the pictures digitally prevents having to carry paper ones.

Personally, I do not miss not sitting on an overstuffed, uncomfortable wallet.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Reviews from Barbara Blackburn

Thanks to Barbara Blackburn for a very nice review on and on her blog! I had the pleasure of reviewing two of Barbara’s books: Cassroom Motivation from A-Z and Classroom Instruction from A-Z. Barbara is an exceptionally good speaker and was our guest in Talladega for our beginning-of-school inservice. More on Barbara here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eye on Education Newsletter

Eye of Education has just released an e-mail newsletter featuring Get Organized! You can view it here. Eye on Education is offering a 10% discount and free shipping through the remainer of January with the coupon code thatthey list.

Also check out the information directly on their home page. They include links to two good articles published by the Anniston Star and Daily Home.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Introducing Photobucket

I learned about Photobucket just the other day. What you are seeing here is the result of spending about 5 minutes at the site. The pictures are simply digital photos of Bonnie and Skipper (our two Shelties) that I already had on hand.

How do I intend to use Photobucket? When I have a number of pictures I want to post on a blog, that series of pictures posted to Blogger can encompass quite a bit of real estate. By posting the photos to Photobucket and putting them together in a slide show, I can show quite a few pictures in a limited amount of space. Here is a an example that I used on our school system blog.

A Photobucket account is free.

Little Things are Big Things

One of the most rewarding experiences of my career has been mentoring those who are going down the same road I have traveled. That opportunity presents itself once again as a close colleague was recently appointed to a principalship literally overnight. During the past week, I have spent some time each day at the school in an honest effort to give this principal the kind of support that every new principal deserves yet few receive.

Seeing my colleague in action serves as a reminder of the challenge the principalship brings and the tools needed to meet that challenge. Input comes from all directions, often at the most unlikely of times. Even lunch is fair game. The requests for the principal’s time and attention are by in large little things. The challenge comes in handling the sheer volume of them. Now, more than ever, I am convinced that the “signature tool” is the secret to making things happen while maintaining sanity.

The “signature tool” can take many forms. It can be paper-based, such as a notepad, a loose-leaf planner, or a legal pad. It can be digital, such as a Palm or BlackBerry. Whatever form it takes, the signature is always available, must be quick, and must be easy to use. It is that trusted partner who never forgets anything and holds everything in one place. Over time, the appearance of that tool gives confidence to the observer that what is being talked about at the moment will not fall through the cracks. That little tool becomes unmistakably linked to accomplishment.

Over the last several days, a goodly share of the talk between me and my friend has included that particular idea. How and where will she record all of the requests, all of the ideas that strike while walking down the hall, and all of the positive activity that is happening in a school which already does so many things so well? How will she trap all of those “little things” while staying focused on the task at hand? We discussed the pros and cons of entry directly in the BlackBerry, initial entry on a notepad, and even the use of Jott.

During my most recent visit, a teacher walked into the principal’s office and in words which obviously came from the heart, began by saying, “I just want to tell you how much all of the little things you are doing means,” and went on to tell of how word of little things getting done was spreading into the community.

Doing little things, and doing them well, is a big thing. Virtually every task we perform is insignificant when viewed alone. Knit together, those small accomplishments move mountains.

My friend and I set up a voice mailbox, imported scores of repeating tasks into Outlook, devised needed forms, and ironed out all sorts of organizational details which will later save time for the entire faculty. Our work, however, was interrupted numerous times…by children. A child came to read to the principal, another came to show off her artwork, and another simply needed a little morale boost. This principal stopped and spent time with every one of them. A couple of minutes here. A couple of minutes there.

Little things, yet big things. Big things in the eyes of a child. Big things in shaping the direction of a school. Big things in defining a leadership style for a new principal.
I came away that day with the distinct impression that “a good place to learn and grow” just got a little better.

In the end, it is the attention to detail that makes all the difference. It's the center fielder's extra two steps to the left, the salesman's memory for names, the lover's phone call, the soldier's clean weapon. It's the thing that separates the winners from the losers, the men from the boys, and very often, the living from the dead. Professional success depends upon it, regardless of the field.
--David Noonan

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Thanks for Attending!

Thanks to each of our teachers who attended one of my workshops today. Presenting to people I have known for years is a real pleasure. If you took from today even one idea that you can use on a regular basis, the time today was well spent.