Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog?

A post appeared on Leadertalk from a new administrator asking for advice about blogs. That post is here. I responded with my own comments and invited readers to come here for links to examples.

I invite you to view these:
  • This is our central office blog for communicating with employees. On both of these last two blogs, selected people from each school have the capability to contribute to the blogs.
The post on LeaderTalk was composed by a new administrator, so I think it would be helpful to see the work of someone else who is brand new to the principalship:
  • This blog is for the parents at Raymond L. Young Eementary School (Talladega, AL) For someone who stepped into the principalship in January 2008, this blog has been a true treasure in terms of transmit information and warmth to the community.
  • Although the title is "Just for R. L. Young Teachers," I don't think they would mind interested visitors. Pattie Thomas, principal at Raymond L. Young, put a great deal of thought into how she would communicate with her faculty, and this is the results that is being rolled out for the start of this school year.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Leadership Day 2008 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Last year, Dr. Scott McLeod, author of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog issued a call for bloggers to post their thoughts on effective school technology leadership. He termed July 4, American Independence Day, as also being "Leadership Day." Scott repeated his call this year and has just posted his results here. He has included what I had posted on my blog.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Top Ten Web-Based Tools - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more

My friend Barbara Blackburn is working on another book. This one is for principals. Barbara asked me for a list of my “Top Ten Web-Based Tools.” As it turns out, I composed a post on this blog for most them, so here is my list. I have added clickable links to the ones which will take you to posts where I have discussed them.

  1. Blogs—These are my windows to the world. I maintain a personal blog to communicate about my passion time management and organization, another to communicate with employees within the school system, and a third to communicate with the community and rest of the world. I use Blogger ( For those in education, Edublogs ( is an outstanding free source.
  2. RSS (Really Simple Syndication)—Time does not permit me to check each of the blogs I like to follow. A free program called “intraVnews” ( sends the posts straight to my Outlook Inbox.
  3. iGoogle ( —I think of it as the "dashboard" I see every time I boot my computer at the office, at home, or on my laptop. I like being able to access my most common bookmarks and other tools from any computer in the world.
  4. ( —Being able to save "Favorites" or "Bookmarks" has always been a great feature of a web browser. Being able to see my "Bookmarks" from any computer and share Bookmarkers with those who share my interests takes the concept to a whole new level.
  5. GoogleDocs (—This tool gives me a "parking place" on the web for documents I want others to view and for documents I want others to be able to edit.
  6. Jott (—With one touch of a speed-dial key a can speak a 30-second message which will be transformed into an e-mail message for the recipient.
  7. TeacherTube (—Now, the presentations we create for our own purposes can be seen be everyone.
  8. PhotoBucket ( —Instead of posting a large number of individual photos to our blogs, we can now produce a slideshow in a very small space.
  9. Animoto (—This ridiculously easy tool takes a collection of pictures and turns them into a flashy presentation.
  10. Podcasting—This tool basically lets you create your own radio program which can be uploaded to a blog or website. Getting really good with this tool is an upcoming project for me. “Audacity” ( is a free program which provides a great beginning for anyone interested in podcasting.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Some Thoughts on Web 2.0

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

E-Mail Jokes

I recently began to receive jokes, including a highly-suggestive one, from someone with whom I do not have the remotest of a relationship. My biggest concern is that since these e-mails also have a dozen other people in the "To" line, everyone else would be seeing I am on the list and jump to the conclusion that half my day is spent reading and forwarding jokes, hoaxes, and the other time-wasters.

Of course, not only will those dozen people see my name as a recipient, but everyone they forward the message to would see my name. You can imagine how many generations of forwarding happens with these things. Half the school system would likely see me prominently listed amongst others well known for their ability to fritter away the day. Not the best image for an administrator to portray!

What should I do, I wondered? If I ask the person to stop sending this stuff, will feelings be hurt? Should I say something to the person's boss and risk the person getting in trouble (as well as me being labeled a fuddy-duddy)?

I decided the best thing to do would be come clean with the world as to what happens when one of these little off-task diversions comes my way. So, if you forward me jokes, hoaxes, cartoons, animations, etc., etc. be forewarned that:

  1. I will not be offended. After all, I am a school administrator and have heard everything before, so I have a pretty tough skin.
  2. I may turn 8 shades of red. While I am hard to offend, I am pretty easy to embarrass.
  3. I will probably spend two seconds looking at it and simply hit the "delete" key. The delete key and I are best buddies.
  4. If it's really funny, I may hit reply and tell you so. Be advised, however, that my standard of "really funny" is pretty high, so don't hold your breath.
  5. If I wind up laughing so hard that I fall out of my chair, I might send it to one of two of my closest co-workers.

    Please know up front, however, that under no circumstances am I going to send it to "7 people" or "everyone I care about." If you "tag" me and I am "it," well I guess I am just going to have to stay "it" for a while.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Florence City School Workshop

I want to thank the Florence City School System for their wonderful hospitality yesterday. We had a great 3-hour session in the morning with administrative assistants and an equally great session in the afternoon with administrators.

My thanks to Dr. Kendy Behrends (Superintendent of Florence City Schools) and Dihanne Westfield (who extended the original invitation) for having me in Florence.

A Vision of Students Today

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Making an Ezine

Quite a few people have commented on the new look of my monthly e-mail. Basically the question comes in the form, "How did you do that?" Let me seize this "teachable moment" to outline what I did, but more importantly the wonder that preceded it.

Several weeks ago, I was in the Orlando area chairing an accreditation visit for a school system. While waiting for my flight in the Orlando airport, I began reading Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Black Book of Connections, a wonderful easy-read treatise loaded with practical tips on connecting with other people. One of the topics he talked about was the value of the e-zine.

The question I took from reading those few pages was, "How could I turn my monthly e-mail message into an e-zone?" Once again, the question was more important than the answer. A quick Google search for "design e-zine" resulted in this link.

In just a matter of second, the question yielded an answer. I don't know if the instructions I got from that hit were the best on the web. I probably could have spent the rest of the day exploring all of the information from that search alone. However, the hit that took me all of 5 seconds to find more than satisfied my needs and answered my question.

We are in an age where many average people walk around with the Internet in their pockets. Answers are only seconds away. Questions, good questions, are priceless. Wonder is priceless, and a commodity that is more valuable now that ever before. A little piece of serendipity--After using the word "wonder" a couple of times, I just put the phrase "wonder of it all" in a Google search. The first hit was well worth viewing.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Scenes from University of Montevallo Workshop 1

During this full-day workshop, we were able to cover a great deal of ground. The morning was spent examining "all things paper" while we devoted the afternoon to "all things digital." The ability to back up files is an essential skill if we are ever going to able to trust that what we have saved is not suddenly going to be lost. There is no substitute for peace of mind!

Scenes from University of Montevallo Workshop 2

iGoogle is my homepage on my office computer, home computer, and laptop. I can go to any computer which has Internet access and pull up my own homepage, complete with my favorite links, access to driving directions, my own GoogleDocs, and any other information I like to have at my fingertips. lets me have access to my Bookmarks from any computer in the world. It also allows me to share Bookmarks with anyone in the world.

Scenes from University of Montevallo Workshop 3

The "Digital Resource Sheet" is a tool I am still trying to perfect. What if a teacher could gather in one place all of the digital resources he/she wants to use for all subjects for an entire year?

What if the teacher could look across the spreadsheet and see all of the resources that would be used that week and look down the sheets to see all of the resources that would be used in that subject? What if each one of those resources was hyperlinked so that a click of the mouse who bring that resource to the screen (and if the computer is hooked to a projector, bring the image to the screen)?

The resources we are talking about consist of the following:
  • Any document saved to the computer
  • Any PowerPoint presentation saved to the computer
  • Any video saved to the computer
  • Any document available on the Internet
  • Any PowerPoint on the Internet
  • Any video on the Internet
  • Any website
We live in a time where resources are abundant. Finding resources is easy. Downloading them is easy. Remembering what you have and being able to put your hands on what you want when you want it...that's really hard...or at least it can be. "Overwhelmed" is a term that accurately describes the feeling of so many teachers today.

We have three solutions available to us. The first is to spend countless hours on a daily basis gathering resources for the coming day and continue this insanity until we burn out. The second option is to throw up a wall and block out all of those outside resources. Let the textbook be the be-all-end-all. We preserve our sanity, yet we rob ourselves and our students of a rich education.

A third option exists, and that option is use technology to solve the problem of being overwhelmed by technology. I am a firm believer that we are never given a problem without also being given the tools the solve it, although we may have to use some ingenuity to find it. This Digital Resource Sheet is something I think has the potential to let us "have our cake and eat it too." We can have the simplicity that organization gives us and the richness that being alive in an ultra-connected world provides for us.

What if this tool was something which could be built and shared amongst multiple teachers? Those are the thoughts going through my mind at this moment.

When you come to the edge of all the light you know, and you are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.

—Barbara J. Winter

Scenes from University of Montevallo Workshop 4

If I had one more hour every day...

How neat it was to hear from the workshop participants had to say about how they would spend that hour!

Actually, I think if you look at the time saved through the tips and tools we discussed today, an hour a day is a bit on the conservative side.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Look Ahead

What percentage of American homes have broadband? What percentage of us have a cell phone? What are the current trends and future challenges in the communications industry?

At this year's NECC, Link Hoewing, Vice President for Internet and Technology Policy at Verizon Communications provided some insight. His thoughts are here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Leadership Day 2008 - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Last year, Dr. Scott McLeod, author of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog issued a call for bloggers to post their thoughts on effective school technology leadership. He termed July 4, American Independence Day, as also being "Leadership Day." Here is the feed back he received. In this post, Scott issued a similar call, and in this post, I am happy to respond.

The question posed is: What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he / she probably isn’t using now)?

My first thought is Outlook synced to a SmartPhone. While Outlook is so universal in terms of being present on our computers, most people use it for e-mail only and use their SmartPhone for calls and e-mail only, ignoring the potential to be the all-in-one storage and retrieval systems for all of our commitments.

With Outlook, I have the ability to drag and drop any e-mail and convert it to an appointment or task with the entire body of the e-mail message safely tucked away in the notes section of that appointment or task. My e-mail Inbox is empty at the end of the day. All of the details which accompany an appointment or task are together. When I get up from the computer, that wealth of information is with my on the BlackBerry.

What a stress-reliever it is to know that nothing is being forgotten. I can concentrate on the one thing which has my attention without having to worry about the several hundred other things I could be doing.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Drag and Drop Question in Entourage

I received this question regrading Entourage and the ability to "drag and drop" e-mails to calendar, tasks, etc. Does anyone have a solution to offer?

Dr. Buck,

You're systems have really helped me to give myself permission to forget. Thank you.

I spoke with you at ASCD regarding the difference between outlook and Entourage (the MAC OSX MS Office equivalent) and the fact that I couldn't click and drag emails from Entourage into tasks and calendars. I was at teh Apple store near my home last week and I checked with several "apple" staffers and they didn't know the solution either. If any of your other blog contributors have any suggestions (short of use a PC) I'd love to hear them.

Thanks again,


Having not used Entourage myself, I really can't answer that one. I did talk with Mark Williams, who works for Apple. He uses MacMail rather than Entourage for his e-mail, so he was also not familiar with all of the capabilities of the program. He did say that you can drag and drop appointments into iCal, which is a calendar program built into the Mac operating system.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Introducing Le Book

It seems people have always had problems with learning "new" technology!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008 and iGoogle

If you are coming here for the first time as a result of the workshop sponsored by the University of Montevallo, welcome!

Two of the the subjects upon which we touched were iGoogle and Several posts on this blog will help make these concepts clearer. As you read through the archives, you will find a post from September 20, 2007 which explains how to set up an iGoogle account. Several posts address The dates of those posts are April 23, May 25, 2008 and June 6, 2008.