Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Time is My Friend

I first became acquainted with this song as a high school student. Our school was blessed with an outstanding choral department. When they sang "Time is My Friend" at graduation, there was not a dry eye to be found. I had not heard the song again until finding it on this YouTube video. It turns out to be the song Julie Andrews used to close her television program.

For a blog whose focus is on time, there is perhaps no better video to embed than this.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Review of 2009 as Depicted With Google Wave and Jib-Jab

Figuring out exactly how to use Google Wave is on my to-do list. This video replays the highlights of 2009 using Google Wave as the medium.

As I start to figure out this tool, I am sure I will be returning to this post to take a look at a sample end result.

And, of course, where would we be without Jib-Jab's comical look at the year:

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

Monday, December 28, 2009

National Staff Development Council Conference

While in St. Louis, we stayed at the Union Station Marriott. Building in the 1800's, this magnificent building served as the train station. The lobby was truly breath-taking. The hotel was even attached to a mall.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

National Staff Development Council Conference

While in St. Louis, we attended a service at Christ Church Episcopal Cathedral. These two videos really do not do justice to the magnificent architecture of this building.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

National Staff Development Council Conference

Davonia and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to St. Louis earlier this month for the National Staff Development Council Conference. These three short videos were taken in Historic St. Charles.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Meaning of Christmas

The Linus monologue is has been one of the unforgettable moments of the Christmas season since my earliest elementary school days.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

O Magnum Mysterium

On this Christmas Eve, here is a rendition of one of the season's more beautiful works performed by a truly spectacular group. Enjoy the Nordic Chamber Choir.

Latin text

O magnum mysterium,
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in praesepio!
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera
meruerunt portare
Dominum Christum.

English translation

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O Come, All Ye Faithful, sung by the King's College Choir.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Wexford Carol

"The Wexford Carol" played by James Galway, flute; Laurence Beaufils, harp

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Arrangements for Dr. Ted Galloway

Visitation will be at Christ Church UMC, 5191 Caldwell Mill Rd., Birmingham - Tuesday at 12:30pm, with the funeral to follow at 2:00pm. Interment will follow the funeral.

As per the wishes of the family all instrumentalists are invited to perform "Just A Closer Walk" at the beginning of the service. There will also be a trombone group performing "Amazing Grace" at the conclusion. Alan Brooks and I will attempt to send out music via email or post a link where you could download. We will have a short rehearsal/run-through in the choir room of Christ Church at 12 noon. Remember that Dr. Galloway never started rehearsal late!

If you are going to participate, please email Phil Min with your name and instrument so he can help Alan plan the logistics. Phil's e-mail is

Christmas at R. L. Young

There was a time in our history when schools felt it important to come together as a student body on a regular basis, and singing together was usually a part of the activity. We learned how to be a audience, how to be respectful and respective. We also took our turn at being part of the program, going through the process of preparation and practice, and then getting up and doing something in front of other people. We found out through the process we really could produce something of quality, and that we could get up before others, be interesting, and be respected.

Those days are still alive and well at many schools, and I had the pleasure of visiting one of them Friday. Click here or click here to learn more about the whole-school Christmas Sing-A-Long that has become a tradition for this school.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Fantasia on Greensleeves

Enjoy Fantasia on Greensleeves by Ralph Vaughn Williams

For the younger readers, here is an activity which will give you more information on the piece and the composer.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Motivational Quotes

Thanks to Phil Gerbyshak for this collection of motivational quotes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alternatives to YouTube

YouTube has great videos and lots of them. There are other alternatives that teachers may want to explore. This post from Free Technology for Teachers provides over 30 resources.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Upgrading to Windows 7

This past weekend, I upgraded from Vista to Windows 7. the purpose of this post is to give others thinking about going down the same past an idea of what the upgrade pocess is like.

To begin, here are my suggestions:
  1. Backup your data. We all should be doing this anyway.
  2. Find the "Product Key" on the sleeve which holds the upgrade CD. You be asked for it at the end of the process.
  3. Find your documentation related to your anti-virus program. If you have an account with Norton, McAfee, etc., be sure you know your login and password.
  4. Reserve half a day for the process. Go ahead and block out an afternoon when you can be without the use of your computer. Gather some other work you can be doing that which does not require a great deal of concentration. So, it you have a backlog of magazines, TV programs you had recorded, stuff to sort through and organize, etc., that would be a good opportunity to knock off several birds with one stone.
  5. Be sure you know how to remove a program by going to your Control Panels and choosing "Add/Remove Programs."
  6. If you are a little nervous about the process, invite a good friend over who is fairly tech savvy and feed him or her a good meal.

Here is my experience with the upgrade process:
  1. The printed directions which came with my upgrade were very minimal--front of back and one half-page. They basically directed me as to which of the two CD-ROMS to insert first and told me to follow the directions on screen.
  2. The software first scanned my computer to be sure my system met the requirements necessary to run Windows 7.
  3. Next, there were certain items that the software told me would need to be removed. The software automatically handled the removal of those programs for me. Don't worry--Office was not one of the things it needed to remove. I was a little concerned, because my anti-virus program was among those that needed to be removed.
  4. There were times when I thought the computer had locked up. The percentage of progress wasn't changing, but just when I was about to give up hope, the numbers would change.
  5. The computer will need to re-start a few times. Each time, you start from the beginning of the CD-ROM again, yet each time, it moves through the steps in the CD-ROM faster.
  6. For some reason, there was one program that was not identified as needeing to be removed, yet later in the installation, I received an error message that it would have to be removed manually before installation could proceed. I had to go to Control Panels and manually remove this program. After that, the upgrade disks was satisfied.
  7. Towards the end of the process, I was asked for the "Product Key." This number was on the sleeve that contained the upgrade CD.
  8. The software reinstalled the compatible versions of the software that it had removed except for the anti-virus program.
  9. When the installation finished and I was finally back up and running, there was one little alert i the lower right corner that wold be very easy to miss. When I clicked on the alert, I was told that an anti-virus program was not installed. What was extremely helpful was that I was shown a screen with icons of all of the major anti-virus manufacturers. There were even free options included in the list. When I clicked on the McAfee icon (which is the program I had been using), I was taken to the proper screen to download the antivirus program.
  10. The options I was given at that point were to download a 90-day trial or purchase the program. Since a subscription had come with the computer I had purchased a couple of months earlier, I was not real crazy about buying it again. The same screen gave me the option to log into my account. Since I had my user name and password handy, I was able to log in. I saw information for my current subscription and was able to download and install the program with no problems. I assume that this was all for no charge. I guess I will know for sure when my next credit card statement comes! Most importantly, I had my anti-virus program back.

I hope reading the details of what I experienced will help some other who are looking at installing this upgrade.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Congratulations to Mark Ingram

Congratulations to Mark Ingram for becoming the the first University of Alabama football player to win the Heisman Trophy. You can see his acceptance speech by clicking here.

I grew up only a few miles from the campus of the University of Alabama during the Bear Bryant years. Alabama is certainly one of the storied programs in America. Every program has its peaks and valleys, and it's good to see the great things which are happening for the Crimson Tide.

Davonia and spent the better part of the week in St. Louis at the National Staff Development Council Conference. Without exception, every person with whom we interacted made some reference to the University of Alabama football team.

Congratulations to Ingram and best wishes to this great team as they prepare to play the University of Texas for the BSC National Championship.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Time Management 101

On NAESP's Principals' Office blog, Principal Jessica Johnson is asking for help with a time management problem. For those principals reading this post, you are invited to hop over to this site and add your thoughts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Merry Christmas Darling

I have always been a Karen Carpenter fan. As a band director, I closed my first Christmas concert with "Merry Christmas Darling." Little did any of us know that Karen Carpenter would pass away shortly thereafter. Throughout my career as a band director, closing the Christmas concert with this beautiful selection became a tradition.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Sleigh Ride

Enjoy this rendition of the Sleigh Ride performed by the Boston Pops.

Saturday, December 05, 2009


"What Child Is This" set to John Stainer's arrangement of the traditional tune "Greensleeves". Sung by The Choir of King's College, Cambridge, 1995.

Friday, December 04, 2009

A Short History of Google

This two-minute video provides a history of Google and its contributions to the way we wok and play.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

CLAS Secretaries Conference

If you are visiting for the first time as a result of attending the CLAS Secretaries Conference, welcome. I hope you will visit often. Please take times to look through past months and years. You will find a wealth of information, both technology-related and non-techie. Mixed in, you will find other posts that are simply important to me and the interests I have. Feel free to leave comments about things you have a question about, things you liked, or just comments in general.

Thanks to the principals reading this post who supported their school secretaries in the desire to attend. Money is tight, and I put a great deal of thought in preparing for this workshop. It was my hope that those who came would take with them tools and strategies that could be implemented immediately. Furthermore, it is my hope that the funds mustered for this conference will be seen not as an expense, but rather as an investment in helping good people become even a little better at their jobs and perform them with a little less stress.

Special thanks go to Earl Franks, Exective Director of CLAS and Linda Campanotta, Professional Development Coordinator for scheduling me for this conference.

Thanks for Mentioning This Blog

Thanks to Denise Williams for mentioning this blog in this post. Denise is a program specialist in Special Education for the Birmingham City Schools. Enjoy this blog she began in October located at this address.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Straight No Chaser 12 Days of Christmas

Newly reunited Straight No Chaser performs 'The 12 Days of Christmas' at their reunion show at Indiana University!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Christmas Can-Can

"The Christmas Can-Can" is from Straight No Chaser's brand-new album, "Christmas Cheers!"

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

During the Christmas season, you will find a mixture of stuff about being productive along with some of my favorite Christmas music. To start things off, folks my age remember when Andy Williams had his own variety show. Nobody sings this one like he does.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

On this Thanksgiving Day, enjoy this medley of traditional hymns of the season.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Indianapolis Pictures

The horse-drawn carriages were an every-night scene during our trip. Davonia and I took a ride with "Riley." Here are some of the horses and their carriages that we encountered.

Monday, November 23, 2009

God Bless the USA

This video was made at this past spring's high school graduation in my former school system. The vocalist is David Horton, husband of the superintendent at that time, Dr. Joanne Horton. David is a shining example of a businessman who has kept music as an important part of his life.

The speaker at this high school graduation was Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Dr. Rice speaks at exactly one high school commencement exercise each year. In an example of "out of the box" thinking, Dr. Horton invited Condoleezza Rice, and the rest is history. Below is the audio from that address. Thanks to David McDaniel for putting together a slide show of sights from that night to serve as a backdrop for Dr. Rice's speech.

Both of these videos have been displayed on the school system's blog. Since my retirement and Dr. Horton's retirement, the school system has unfortunately not maintained these two very active blogs it had been operating. Embedding these videos here ensures they will be available long into the future.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Indianapolis Pictures

In the bottom of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a Civil War Museum. Pictured here are scenes from the museum.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Ambiguity and Gratitude

As we approach another Thanksgiving, I invite you to listen to a story of the events that led up to that first celebration. The story is told by the Rev. Dr. John R. Claypool, IV. He makes the point that when confronted with life's ambiguities, we have two choices. One is to focus on the forces which oppose us. The other is to focus on the positive, to see the future as a friend, and embrace the concept of gratitude as a means for coping with those times when life works us over.

Dr. Claypool recounts the harshness of that first winter in the Plymouth, the several significant decisions that were made beginning shortly after the initial voyage and continuing through the first year of the colony's existence, and the impact on the rest of American history of the decisions to accept gratitude in the face of ambiguity .

You may listen to his message by clicking here. The complete text is found here.

Friday, November 20, 2009

More Pictures from Indianapolis

The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is a center-piece of downtown Indianapolis. Our hotel room offered a beautiful view of the monument. You will see a night-time shot from our window in the pictures below.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love Letters Through GoogleDocs

Way too cute! There are many ways to use GoogleDocs. I had not thought of this one.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

More Pictures from Indianapolis

Christ Church (Episcopal) Cathedral was located a block from our hotel. This pre-Civil War church is beautiful. Davonia attended a noon-time organ recital while I was attending convention sessions.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Do You Believe?

As we begin American Education Week, do you believe?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pictures from Indianapolis

Here are more pictures from our trip to Indianapolis. These scenes are from downtown.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"A Good Place to Learn and Grow"

There are many ways that we can celebrate "American Education Week." One of them is to pick a school that is headed in the right direction and lend a helping hand with its goals.

Raymond L. Young (Talladega, AL) is being spotlighted during November in the First National Bank "Cash for the Classroom" program. The school's goal is to outfit every classroom with a document camera.

What can you do with a document camera? Here are some ideas.

Want to lend a helping hand? You can go here to make a donation through PayPal. To learn more about R. L. Young Elementary and the programs there, visit their school blog. The blog is updated often and showcases the creativity and solid learning environment that makes it "A Good Place to Learn and Grow."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scenes from Indianapolis

Davonia and I had a great time at the National Middle School Association Convention in Indianapolis. Over the next week or so, I will be posting pictures.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Understanding the Financial Crisis

All of us know that our economy has been in a world of hurt, but very few can explain why. Here is a 4-minute video which explains the basic concepts.

If you liked this explanation, you will probably enjoy others from Say It Visually.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Davonia!

Happy Birthday to Davonia, my wife of 20 years!

Veterans Day Tribute

On this Veterans Day, enjoy these pictures. They serve a reminder the protection of the freedom we enjoy is not easy.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Lauderdale County and Cell Phones

Today's Associated Press article talks about Lauderdale County (Alabama) and its approach to cell phones.

While at the National Middle School Association Conference, I listened to closing speaker Rick Wormeli talk in no uncertain terms of how backwards many school systems will look five years from now in terms of cell phone policies they tried to enforce. At this same conference, I had planned to attend a session on cell phone usage in classrooms. There was such a crowd, I couldn't get in the door.

Back in August, I devoted several posts to this subject. I think this is a topic that deserves more thought than many people are willing to put in and is a topic that is not going to go away.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Backup Your Outlook Data

For those of us who keep our calendar, a complete list of all of our tasks, our one and only address book, and a wealth of reference material in Outlook, our Outlook data is precious. Therefore, backing up that data is crucial. It is important to note is that all of the Outlook data is housed in one single file, probably named Outlook.pst on your computer. If you archive your Outlook data, there will also be a second file called something like Archive.pst. Backup those two files, and if the hard drives goes down, your data is still safe.

Microsoft offers a tool which will automatically backup your data. You can get the backup tool free by going to and searching for "Personal Folders Backup." I found the tool at this address.

To configure the tool, open Outlook and click on the File menu. Click on "Backup." When the box opens, click the "Options" button. Here you will be able to decide how often your data will be backed up. You can also choose the location for your data backup.

I do not choose the default location for my backup. Instead, I set the location to my "Current Projects" folder. That way, when I backup my Current Projects, which I do weekly, I am making a copy of my Outlook data.

When the scheduled day comes for the data backup, the tool kicks in when Outlook is closed. I don't need to remember to backup the data. The backup tool handles the remembering for me.

Serious Outlook users depend on the data housed in the program. Protecting that data is essential. With the Outlook backup, that data is safe.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cramberry--Site for Online Flash Cards

I am impressed with Cramberry, a free online source for flash cards. You create a free account. From there you can either create your own deck of flash cards or browse decks that others have created. When you find one you like, you simply "add to your set."

The thing I like about this site is that there is no multiple choice involved. You are presented with the question and have to come up with the answer out of your head. When you click the mouse, you see the correct answer and rate yourself as being correct or incorrect. Incorrect answers cause that question to be recycled so that you get another chance at it later.

This one is definitely worth a look.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Crystal Clear Task List

When I talk about composing a task list where the items will actually be accomplished, wording the tasks so that they are crystal clear means the difference between the desire to dig in and the tendency to procrastinate. The Eye on Education Blog highlights that concept. The post can be found here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Institution Versus Collaboration

This video of Clay Shirky is from 2005. It is about 20 minutes long. He shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning. The takeaways for me were:

  1. The explanation of how he put together part of his presentation by using the "tagging" feature of Flickr to allow him to select photos from many photographers. For those unfamiliar with how "tagging" works on Flickr, blogs, Delicious, etc., Shirky's talk shows us why they are important.
  2. The blogging revolution and how it is reshaping journalism.
  3. This quote from his talk, "If you want to know what technology is going to change the world, don't pay attention to 13-year-old boys. Pay attention to young mothers. Because they have got not an ounce of support for technology that doesn't materially make their lives better."

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The "Sixth Sense." Could It Be in Our Future?

This demonstration is from Pattie Maes' lab at MIT. It's a wearable device with a projector that paves the way for profound interaction with the environment. When we look at how far technology has come in the last 10 years, such as the sophistication of the Internet you are using to read this now, imagine where we could be 10 years from now. This demo makes for some fascinating conversation.

What do you see here that is good? What do you see that concerns you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Get Organized--10 Take-Aways

The National Middle School Association has asked its presenters for a list of "10 Take-Aways" from their presentations. At first glance, to try and reduce several hours of well-chosen material to 10 points is tough. I must admit, however, the exercise was eye-opening. Summing it all up in 10 points forced me to look not only at tools but to look at principles which emerge again and again regardless of the tool. I have often said that if I go to a workshop and come away with one point that is life changing, I would consider my time well spent. To be able to offer people 10 of them makes me realize the importance of the material and its relevance to the world of today and what's coming tomorrow.

So, here are the 10 Take-Aways for my participants:

  1. An educator's world is complex and becoming more so with each passing year. Staying on top of all of our responsibilities requires a system.
  2. We do what is easy; therefore, our system must be easy.
  3. "Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now." Thank you, Alan Lakein!
  4. Make the decision, "When do I want to see this again?" and put it in your system so that you do. However, your system should allow you to answer the question, "What if I need to see it before then?"
  5. Tickler files keep your desk clean and ensure that papers resurface on the desired date.
  6. A digital signature tool allows that which arrives digitally to stay digital. It offers the advantages of portability, shareability, and searchability.
  7. Education is a cyclic business. Getting good at identifying repeating tasks makes life easier.
  8. Documentation is easier than you think.
  9. You can be a master at follow-up. The "bookmark" system shows how.
  10. Stress is feeling the whole world is caving in. Organization is keeping all of the balls in the air by giving each one the right amount of attention at the right time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

National Middle School Association

If you are attending the National Middle School Association Conference in Indianapolis, please join me for Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders. Details are here.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Best $10 You Will Ever Spend

My life is on my BlackBerry...or at least as much as I can reasonably store there. There are those times when I have to jot something quickly or draw a quick sketch. In addition, I do need some way to carry credit cards, business cards, and so forth.

In my shirt pocket, you will find a little memo pad that ran me around $10 at an office superstore. It's manufactured by Buxton. Simply putting "Buxton Memo Pad" into a Google search will return plenty of hits.

In the pocket on the left side, I keep about half-a-dozen business cards, a couple of major credit cards, and my driver's license. Credit cards receipts, business cards from other people, or other miscellaneous little pieces of paper also go right up front on that left side until I can get home and handle them. The right side features a memo pad. A pocket underneath the memo pad houses my insurance cards just in case.

The whole thing measures 4 3/4" high X 3" wide X 3/4" thick. The best thing is that I carry no wallet! Money goes in a magnetic money clip in my left front pocket. Pictures are digital and stored on the BlackBerry. The memo pad handles the rest.

One little tip. The memo pad includes a couple of pen loops and a pen. I found the pen loops to get in the way big time, so a pair of scissors took care of that problem.

While the BlackBerry is certainly my signature tool, that $10 memo pad provides the perfect companion.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What's Not Working?

Conveniences are all around us. From microwave ovens to electric pencil sharpeners, we have an abundance of tools that make our lives easier—provided they work. What a handy tool we have in that electric stapler—only it doesn’t work because it’s out of staples. How about that empty tape dispenser in your desk drawer?

This week, I challenge you to look at what’s not working in your world and do something about it. The electric stapler sits unused because it’s out of staples and you haven’t refilled it because you are out of (or can’t find) more. You have been meaning to order more but you keep forgetting. The next time you think about needing staples is—you guessed it—when you go to use that stapler and find it’s still empty.

As you come across these little annoyances, take a second to decide what needs to be done to fix it, and jot it in your signature tool. Don’t put getting staples on the list for today. Instead pick a day about a week out and start a list of little items to get. A week from now, you can handle that whole list at once.

Fixing the problem is the first step. The second step is deciding how to avoid the problem in the future. Think about this one—at your house, when do you decide you need to buy toothpaste? Is it when the tube runs out and you realize there are no more under the counter? Or, is it when you take the last one from under the counter. In the first case, you have a minor crisis—you need toothpaste NOW. In the second case, you just need to put toothpaste on the grocery list and get it within the next few weeks.

Ask yourself the same thing about supplies in your classroom. Do you order more when you are OUT or when your reserve is low? What about textbooks? If a new student enrolled tomorrow, would you have books for him? If not, why not go ahead and put in a request now, so that when you DO get another student—and you will—that you are prepared. You own 7 umbrellas, yet you never seem to have one in the car you when a downpour occurs. What could you do to fix that problem once and for all?

What else in your classroom doesn’t work? What about that regular pencil sharpener where the handle has been loose for 2 years? What would it take to fix that? You have two desks that are awfully wobbly. What would it take to fix them? Realize this is a thought process that seldom occurs to most people. Too many of us simply get so used to all of the things in our lives that don’t quite work that we soon stop thinking about them anymore.

Have you cleaned out your desk lately? If not, put it on your to-do list. Out go the pencils with no points, the dried-up ink pens, the empty packs of Sweet & Low, and a host of papers that never should have been there to start with. You will be amazed at what you find there that you had no idea you had.

Why do people resist thinking through what it takes to fix the little broken things? I think the answer lies in that thinking through what needs to be done creates a long to-do list for people who already have too much to do and try to keep up with all of it in their heads. For those of us who have a “signature tool,” life is easier. We take a second to jot down what need to happen. We organize our list in a way that groups similar items together. Then, we handle a number of similar items all one sitting.

Get all of those conveniences in your life working and watch some of the stress in your life go away.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Time to Aim Lower?

I enjoy reading the thought of Dan and Chip Heath, authors of Made to Stick. In the March issue of Fast Company, they advise us to "aim lower." That sounds like just the opposite of what we have always been told about achieving success.

How often do we set lofty goals and then nothing happens? The goal seems like an insurmountable obstacle. What if we took the time, however, it figure out exactly what the first step towards completing that goals might be. Not the first 27 steps. Just the first step. What if we devoted just a few minutes towards pushing that goal forward?

That's what this enjoyable article was all about. The authors make some pretty valid points, and it's well worth the few minutes it takes to read it. To view the article, click here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Did you Know 4.0.? Social Networking and the Computer in Your Pocket

This version of "Did You Know?" focuses on the changes in communication brought about by technology, and in particular changes brought about by the cell phones we carry in our pockets.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Demonstration of "Tagging"

In this 20-minute video, Chris Betcher demonstrates the use of tagging in Flickr and Delicious.

Chris Betcher has been teaching for over 20 years and is currently the ICT Integration Specialist at Presbyterian Ladies College in Sydney, Australia. Originally trained as an art teacher, Chris has drifted away from that role and into the teaching of computing and multimedia, professional development for teachers, network administration, and even corporate training for companies like Microsoft.

For more information about Delicious, here is one of my previous posts on that subject. That post also has links to several other posts regarding Delicious.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Gadgets on My iGoogle Page

For the MEMSPA members who attended Thursday's workshop and for the CLAS members who attended today's workshop, here is a post from some months ago regarding iGoogle. When you are getting started with any endeavor, it often helps to see another example. This post gives links to each of the gadgets I have on my iGoogle page.

Click here to see that post.

By the way, there are some great Halloween themes to choose from. On your iGoogle page, click "Change them" and enter "Halloween" in the search window.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Thanks to MEMSPA Participants

Thanks to everyone who attended the Get Organized! workshop sponsored by Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association. If you signed to receive the monthly e-mails, you should have already received your first one. If you did not sign up, you still can do so. Simply click here.

The spreadsheets that we demonstrated during the workshop are now on the Free Resources page of the my website. I will devote an upcoming post to the DIBELS spreadsheet and what it is designed to do.

As we talked about the using smartphones as a "signature tool," we discussed the possible mixed message that could be sent when the principal is seen using a smartphone while students are banned from using theirs. I don't know that I have all of the answers. I do think it is a topic worthy of a great deal of discussion. While probably none of us has the total answer, together we can fashion experience which keep learning in the center and put educational leaders on the cutting edge rather than bringing up the rear.

Vicki Davis is a technology educator in Camilla, Georgia and the author of the blog "Cool Cat Teacher." In August, she discussed how smartphones are used in her classroom. Her strategies and her thoughts are well worth the read. That post can be found here. Several posts on this blog follow-up on that subject. The dates of those posts run from August 20-26.

Friday, October 09, 2009

TED Talk on Twitter

In the year leading up to this talk, the web tool Twitter exploded in size (up 10x during 2008 alone). Co-founder Evan Williams reveals that many of the ideas driving that growth came from unexpected uses invented by the users themselves.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Setting Up a Twitter Account

You have heard about Twitter. Maybe you have thought about setting up an account. If so, here is a video which will walk you through the process.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Update on Anna's Climb

I wrote about Anna Curry and her quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in this post. Anna has now reached the summit and is on the downhill side of the journey. If you did not read the original post, I would encourage you to do so. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a feat for anyone. For someone who has been confronted with the physical challenges that Anna has, it's pretty amazing.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

NMSA Banner

If you are attending the NMSA national convention, I hope you will attend my half-day session.

Details are here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes or Less

Several years ago, I built a one-hour workshop entitled "Your Own Blog in 10 Minutes of Less." Since then, I have presented the workshop in both a demonstration and hands-on format and used both live a live Internet connection and PowerPoint screen shots.

That workshop has inspired the creation of quite a few blogs. Every single school in my former school system has created a blog. Two central office blogs kept parents and employees informed about what was happening in their school system.

To supplement that workshop, I have constructed a blog to serve as a demonstration for some of the tools and techniques that one might want to learn as they construct their own blogs. The blog consists of just under two dozen posts. Each is a real post taken from a real blog. Accompanying each is an explanation of why that post is significant or what it teaches.

The plan is not to continuously update this blog. It is now in its "final form." To take a look at this blog, go to:

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Your Reputation: The Internet Can Help or Hurt

This video is sort of a "best of times/worst of times" look at how the Web 2.0 world in which we live can significantly impact our lives.

The link to this video, along with the accompanying message was posted to the EDTECH listserv.

IKeepSafe has produced an excellent video on Privacy and Reputation. It is

This is the kind of material that can be used very effectively for student instruction. The material I am trying to complete will provide some more guidance on this issue - not that, in this case, all that much more is necessary.

So here is an instructional strategy to use with this video with middle and high school students. The day before you are going to share this video ask the students that if they have seen any situations where someone has posted material online that could damage their reputation or if they have heard any news stories to write this up briefly and provide it to you. The reason for
this is that it is helpful to use these examples - but NOT helpful for students to be talking about inappropriate things other students might have done. When you get these examples, you can "edit and modify" to disguise any information that might reveal student identity.

Show this video as a conversation starter. Next have the students discuss this in small groups with the objective of developing a statement that they can use for their own personal standards. Then report in large group. You could also have them develop their own poster with their own personal standard.

Nancy Willard, M.S., J.D.
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Seeking Grant Funding

During my years as a principal, I was fairly successful at getting funding for my school through grant sources. I am by no means a "heavy hitter" in this arena. Large school systems often employee people whose job it is to research and write grants. In smaller systems, we had to do the best we could, and that meant doing it ourselves. For those who are in the same boat that I was, this post may serve to be a time-saver in finding some grant sources.

Personal experience seemed to indicate that getting funded boiled down to just a few basic principles:
  1. Have some good ideas in mind. What is it that you want for your school or classroom? In particular, what is it that would improve teaching/learning yet money is the obstacle? In other words, you have the idea and it would make a difference for kids. Ideally, it would be something that cloud serve as a model for other schools and other classrooms. The only thing standing in your way is lack of money. If only someone could help with the money...
  2. Find grants sources that fund the sort of thing you want to do.
  3. Follow the rules. Reading through stacks of grants is time consuming. The quickest way to narrow the pool is to throw out the ones that fail on this technical aspect. If the guidelines call for a 12-point Garamond font and margins of 1.25 inches on all sides of the page, then that is what you use. Honor the limit on number of words and number of pages. By all means, address the questions directly.
  4. If you can, contact someone at the organization with questions. You will be surprised at the information you receive that you did not ask for and would not have known to ask. In addition, you are now more than just a name on a proposal.
  5. Be interesting. Bore a grant reader and you can forget being funded. If you can touch the emotions of the reader, your chances skyrocket. Your passion for the project must show in the writing. Your expertise must shine, and experts can generally move emotion when they talk about those things they know best.

The remainder of this post helps with point#2, finding the sources. Below are some links to grant sources that fund educational projects:

For those who have good ideas, good writing skills, and a great deal of patience, the money is there. Good luck!