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
here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X0Oumfi7Rhg

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!

Friday, September 25, 2009

24 Hours in the Life of a Digital Native

As a new school new approaches, how will we approach the students who come through the door. This video gives an insight into what the outside-of-school hours look like for today's student.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Good Luck, Anna!

This story begins over 20 years ago when I was band director at Pizitz Middle School. We had just begun a program for 5th graders at the elementary school a short distance down the road. It was here that I first met Anna. She was shorter than the rest of the students and walked with crutches. I soon learned that she suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, a rare genetic disease which caused her bones to be brittle and break easily. This young lady could easily justify a desire to lead a sheltered life, but this was far from Anna's nature.

Always a delight to be around, Anna was a talented clarinet player, an outstanding student, a favorite with her classmates, and even an athlete. Even though the risk of injury was great, that did not keep her from playing softball. Along the way, she suffered broken bones, but never a broken spirit.

At Vanderbilt, she was the coxswain on the rowing team. Today, she is a successful attorney. In the last several years, she has given up the crutches she had used her entire life and learned to walk independently. This post could end here and if would suffice as a story of someone who made good despite obstacles. But the story does not end here. We haven't even gotten to the good part yet.

Today, Anna Curry will depart for Africa where she climb of Mount Kilimanjaro. Accompanied by her father, the feat is expected to take nine days. The events leading up to this point, as well as a daily account of her progress on the climb, are chronicled at http://climbkilimanjarofor-oif.com The blog posts are a must-read.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is quite an accomplishment for anyone. For someone who only in recent years has been able to walk without crutches, it is nothing short of amazing. But then again, Anna is an amazing person. Good luck, Anna!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

If you want to add a little beauty to your day, this may be the thing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

New Alabama Graduation Rate Formula

Alabama will be changing the way it computes the its graduation rate, and I have been trying to determine the easiest way for schools to be able to track their progress. I think it's crucial that we can project our graduation rate at any time, and for any subgroup.

The solution that seems easiest to me is one list of all students with some well-chosen columns. The "game plan" is for school leaders to record for each student their feeling about whether that student will graduate on time or whether there are some concerns about the student. That information, along with keeping the list up to date in terms of students who have enrolled, dropped out, and moved is all that is needed. The graduation will compute itself for any grade level and any subgroup.

I will soon have the new calculator, along with a help document, on the "free resources" section of my website. It will be available to those who attended the CLAS New Principals Institute and will be presented at the CLAS Assistant Principals Conference (October 13).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Introduction to Entourage 2008

For those who use a Mac, Entourage is the equivalent of Outlook. Here is a short video providing an overview of Entourage 2008.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Looking Forward to Returning to Michigan

Thanks to Bob Howe and his staff for inviting me back to Michigan. We will be doing a full-day workshop for the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association on October 8. The morning will be devoted to the major concepts in the Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders book. In the afternoon, we will take a look at how spreadsheets make the life of a busy principal much easier.

Here is the promotion flyer that MEMPSA is sending to its membership.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy National Anthem Day!

National Anthem Day

September 14th is an important day in our nation's history. On this day, Francis Scott Key penned "The Star-Spangled Banner" after witnessing American forces defend Fort McHenry from British troops.

This day serves as an excellent opportunity to educate students about the national anthem and to demonstrate to the community the important role music teachers play in passing on our cultural heritage.

MENC has encouraged schools around the country to celebrate the national anthem at 9:00 (local time).

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Time Management and the Art of the Juggler

Looks like they stole a page from my playbook...

Page 75 from Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders:

"You can stay on top of multiple projects. At times, you may feel like a juggler. In a way your role in handling multiple projects and the role of a juggler are much the same. A juggler keeps a number of balls in the air by giving each one a little attention on a regular basis. The juggler knows just how many objects are in the air, where each one is, when attention is needed, and how much attention is needed. We need to know exactly the same thing about each of our projects."

Check out this commercial for the Palm Pre:

The "Shelby" Knot

One day when I was in my early 20s, I saw a diagram in a newspaper of a particularly good knot for neckties. The memorable thing at that point was that it was the one used by Mikhail Gorbachev. I tried it, liked it, and have been using that knot ever since. The interesting thing about it is that the tie starts out wrong-side out, with the seam of the tie showing.

Recently, I saw a YouTube video which turned out to be a demonstration of the very same thing I had been doing for 25 years. The video called it the "Shelby" knot. Here is a demonstration of how to tie this particular knot:

Friday, September 11, 2009

When Will I Get It All Done?

If you are like me, you look at your to-do list and ask, "When will I get it all done?" At what point will we get up one morning and see that there is nothing on the list? More importantly, if that list was blank, would that be a good thing? Would if represent freedom? On the other hand, would it represent a life for which there is no longer a purpose?

To understand the point, let's substitute the term "restaurant menu" for "to-do list." When I go into a restaurant, I am presented with a lengthy menu. A large menu selection is a positive trait. Am I going to order everything on the menu? Of course not. Even if I visit that restaurant a dozen times and order something different each time, I will still not have tried every choice on the menu.

Ordering everything is not what a menu is for. It is not something to be "finished." It presents choices for me, enjoyable choices. The longer the menu, the more things I won't choose. The longer the menu, the greater the chance that what I do choose will be delicious! I won't eat everything, but I like the fact that the menu puts it all in front of me.

I walk into a library. There is no way I am going to read everything from the vast array of books that occupy that building. But that's not what a library is for. It presents me with wonderful choices. The organized way in which books are shelved and the comprehensive card catalog provide me a total picture of my choices.

We can view our to-do list as something that must be finished, or we can view it as something to be enjoyed. I propose that the attitude we take toward the length of our list may well shape the quality of what we put on it, and in turn, the quality of our lives.

If my aim is to finish the list, then my temptation is to add only those items which can be finished quickly. I will limit my goals. I will resist adding items to the list, looking at each additional item as an enemy standing between me and a list that is "done."

I can take another view of the list. I can view it as a place to trap all of the worthwhile opportunities that I can't take advantage of at this very moment. It is the menu that lists 50 different varieties of cheesecake. I will eat one today, but I sure would like to keep a list of the other 49 for the next time I am hungry for cheesecake. It is the library which houses all of the classics. I can only read one at a time, but I am glad the shelves house many more, because I will be back.

The older I get, the more I realize that I will never "get it all done" and neither will you. With all of the opportunities that are available to you and to me in this great age in which we live, to be able to "get it all done" means we must ignore the mere existence of a wide array of wonderful choices. What a sad existence that would be.

The length of my list is a testimony to the wide variety of interests I have, my thirst for knowledge, and the overall outlook that tomorrow will be better than today. As long as there is a healthy list of opportunities, there is a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to "seize the day," and an attitude that when the night comes, I can say that I did something to make today count.

When will I get it all done? I hope the answer is never!

Twitter in the College Classroom

Could Twitter be used in the college classroom? This video examines the possibilities.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Avoid Facebook and Twitter Disasters

Social networks are great for keeping in touch with others. At the same time, what you put out there for the world to see can come back to haunt you. This article, taken from the August issue of PC World, gives tips for avoiding the pitfalls.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Organizing Your Locker (Part II)

Here is a very good YouTube video which talks about locker organization:

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Organizing Your Locker

ImageChef.com - Custom comment codes for MySpace, Hi5, Friendster and more Whenever we talk about transition from elementary to middle school, the topic is never complete without a discussion of the locker. A well-organized locker makes the middle school experience more pleasurable. For a discussion on this topic, I invite you to read the thought of Kerry Palmer, middle school principal at Trinity Presbyterian School (Montgomery, AL)as he talks about "Organizing Your Child's Spaces."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Communication Doesn't Have to Be Hard

"Is our school going to be listening to Barack Obama address the children?" This question has been a hot one on my Twitter feed, in the aisles of the grocery stores, and in phone conversations and e-mails my wife has with friends who have school-aged children. I can only imagine how many phone calls school secretaries and district office secretaries have fielded answering this question for parents.

Two superintendents found a way to get the message to parents: Post the district's position to the school district blog. The two examples are:

Spring Branch (Texas) Independent School District

Bedford (Massachusetts) Public Schools

In a matter of minutes, these two superintendents did something that took the pressure off of schools and relieved the people on the front lines from having to field scores of phone calls. These are two superintendents who obviously "get it" when it comes to using technology to communicate easily.

These blogs are just two of the 10 district/superintendent blogs submitted to the Moving Forward Wiki. The wiki also lists over two dozen principal blogs as well as blogs related to every subject area. Do you have a blog you would like to add? Since it's a wiki, we can all contribute. This wiki is a part of the CASTLE project.

As a principal and as a central office administrator, I found no tool to be as easy and at the same time powerful as a blog and others I have worked with have found the same thing.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Contact Information

If you are visiting here as a result of attending the CLAS New Principals Institute, welcome! I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you and being able to meet so many of you during the breaks.

If you would like to be added to the mailing list or would like to talk with me about scheduling a workshop, simply complete the information below:

Click here to be added to the mailing list or to contact Dr. Buck to schedule a workshop.

I will be continuing to add free resources to the website. As I do, I will make mention of them on the blog.

Best of luck in the principalship!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Why Blog? Tom Peters Weighs In

The last post was a "Happy Birthday" wish to my blog as it turned 5 years old. Why blog? Tom Peters makes a compelling argument. Right around the 1:00 mark is especially good.