Saturday, June 30, 2012

Winner of Free Book

Congratulations to Brandon Hood. He is the winner of a free book and chose Get Organized!: TIme Management for School Leaders.

Thanks to Brandon and to all who attended one of more of my sessions at the Forum for Innovative Leadership in Memphis. The winner was chosen from people who, following the conference, did one or more of the following things:

Friday, June 29, 2012

CLAS 2012 and Twitter

Twitter is great. Twitter is dumb.
Twitter helps me stay on top of what's happening in my field. Twitter is just about who is eating what.
I've been using Twitter for several years. I just don't get Twitter.

Where do you stand in the Twitter spectrum?

I spent most of this week at the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools (CLAS) annual conference. CLAS is the umbrella organization for all who work in school administration. My role at this event was to serve as the official "Social Media Correspondent" and help CLAS's effort to promote the use of Twitter during the conference.

I don't know who may have created a Twitter account as a result of the attention it received at the conference. I don't know how many blew the dust off of an account they created once upon a time but never used. What I do know is that many participated in the conversation.

Reading the Twitter feed is no substitute for attending the conference, to say the least. But when it comes to having to choose between two good sessions, getting the scoop on the one you missed can happen through Twitter.

For example, I attended an outstanding session on the Students First Act, a piece of legislation that has totally revamped tenure for teachers and support staff in Alabama. Those who missed the session but read my tweets are able to download a PowerPoint deck which outlines the legislation clearly. Readers can also download a thorough document which even includes sample letters for all points along the process towards tenure or non-renewal.  

If you are a CLAS member and couldn't attend the conference, go to Twitter and search the hashtag #CLAS2012. If you are not a Twitter user, there is no better time than now to create an account. Some of the people who you see Tweeting at CLAS may be people you know and would like to begin following.

To get started on Twitter, here is a video aimed at the beginning. You can get up and running in a few minutes.

Twitter: Miss Brodie's Adventures in Twitterland! (Part 1) from Scottish Book Trust on Vimeo.

Tune in next week as we look at Part 2 and Part 3 of Miss Brodie's Adventures in Twitterland.

Twitter can be a waste of time, or it can be a way to help you stay on top of a changing world. It's all in the way you use it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Letter to Your Future Self

Write down your goals. Keep them visible.

Those two sentences have been repeated countless times in literature on goal setting. My own variation on that theme came when I wrote my Christmas letter the preceding January. I re-read it every month, and was amazed as how what was written in January came to pass by December. I wrote about that experience in a post called Christmas Letters from the Future.

My suggestion on how to make that letter re-surface each month is:
  • If your to-do list is digital, make reading your letter a repeating task, and put the body of the letter in the note section of the task.
  • If your to-do list is paper, put the letter in your tickler file. When it re-surfaces, read it and re-file it for a month down the road. is a website I saw which accomplishes much the same purpose. You write your letter, provide the date on which you would like to see it again, and enter your e-mail address. On the appointed date, the letter arrives in your e-mail. From there, you can copy and paste the letter back into the website and select a new date.

Whatever your method, the main idea is to envision your preferred future, review that vision periodically, and "adjust the sails." Little-by-little, your performance begins to resemble your vision.

How do YOU keep your goals on tracks? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Confused by Who Sees What on Twitter?

Confused by who sees what on Twitter? You are not alone. If I retweet, who sees it? If I reply to a tweet, who will see that? Why is starting a tweet with "@JohnDoe" different from putting the same name in the middle of the tweet?

Let's clear up some of the confusion. For answers to these and many more questions, take a look at Mom, This is How Twitter Works. You will see examples of tweets, answers to who will see them, and the rationale on each example. If you are a Twitter novice, this add the post to your bookmarks so that you can refer to it again.

Are you an experienced Twitter user? Many who follow you are not. How about helping them out by clicking the Twitter share button below. Also feel free to share on Facebook.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Winner of Free Book

Congratulations to Elizabeth Cocking. She is the winner of a free book and chose Organization Made Easy!: Tools for Today's Teachers.

Thanks to Elizabeth and to all who attended my sessions at the Alabama Educational Technology Conference. The winner was chosen from people who, following the conference, did one or more of the following things:

Friday, June 22, 2012

What Color is That?

A nice “aha” moment for me came during a telephone conversation with Constant Contact as I was setting up my first newsletter. Their suggestion was to use the same color scheme in my newsletter than I was using on my website. The very helpful tech support person then started to tell me the exact code for each color on my website.

The question on my mind became, “How did she do that?” With just a bit of research on the Internet, I was able to find an answer. My search led me to a free tool called “ColorPix.”

When you run ColorPix, a small square appears on your screen. The pixel that happens to be at your mouse tip is projected into the center of ColorPix. On the side, you see the code for that exact color.

You will see the code displayed in RGB (red, green, blue) format. The amount of each of those three colors is represented on a scale of 1-256. When you go to most any program which lets you choose such things as font colors, you will see an option which allows you to select "more colors." You will then have the option to insert the color code.

ColorPix has been an incredibly handy tool when I need to have two items match exactly in color. There is absolutely no guesswork. Use ColorPix to pick up the color from one image. Fill a shape or background or choose the color of a font and let the RGB code supplied by ColorPix give you a perfect match..

To download ColorPix, go to this site and look for the “Download” link after the first several paragraphs. I think you will enjoy the power of this little tool.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Using Google Docs to Collaborate in Real Time

When someone is introduced to Google Docs, the first and most basic concept is that when you create something with Google Docs, you can access it from any device which has Internet access. A second major concept is that you have the ability to share your creation with someone else. You may grant rights to view a document or rights to edit that document. This concept eliminates the need to e-mail documents back and forth and wonder which one is the most recent.

The video I have embedded here reminds us we can take this concept a step further. Multiple people can view the same document at the same time. Multiple people can make changes to that document at the same time. Imagine a group of people sitting around a table, or even sitting in the middle of the floor, all working on a project together. Google Docs offers that capability, even though the people may be in different parts of the world.

Many who watch this video know the capabilities shown here exist. Yet, in our day-to-day world, we often forget about an easier way to do things are resort to what has been familiar. We do what we have always done. So, the challenge is to start doing smarter things!

Having just watched this video, take a moment to think of a project you have going on right now where you could use what you saw here to make that project easier. Actually using the concept, even once, will make you much more likely to think of real-time collaboration with Google Docs the next time a similar task presents iteslf.

How do you collaborate on projects? Anyone already doing what you saw here? Anyone accomplishing this through concept through Dropbox? Other thoughts?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Best Books for the New Principal

Recently, an avid reader of this blog contacted me as follows:

"...I've been appointed a principal for a K-12 school effective this July. I need your help and support. What tips/books/recommendations/magazines/articles do you suggest that I read....that I urgently need to read ??"

This newly-appointed principal has the right idea. He realizes that the word "urgent" is going to be ever-present during that first year. He also realizes he does not have to re-invent the wheel. Many have gone down this same path, and they have left tracks. His question, which prompted this post, is particularly timely. In schools across the globe, new principals are being named and will begin important work.

Reading professional literature will never end. As a starting point, here are a few of the gems:


What Great Principals Do Differently (Dr. Todd Whitaker) This book is the second edition of a best-seller. It's a easy read that gets to the heart of what really makes a difference.

Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College (Doug Lemov) So much of the principalship involves developing outstanding teachers. This book is the best I have ever read for addressing teaching strategies. The accompanying DVD allows you to see the techniques in action.

The Daily Disciplines of Leadership: How to Improve Student Achievement, Staff Motivation, and Personal Organization (Dr. Doug Reeves) Anyone who thinks research has to be dull has never read or heard Doug Reeves. The book is nuts-and-bolts and centers on the three topics addressed in the title.

What They Don't Tell You in Schools of Education about School Administration (John A. Black & Fenwick W. English) Probably my all-time favorite, this book provides an irreverent, but on-the-money look at the many sides of school administration.

Don't Teach the Canaries Not to Sing (Robert D. Ramsey) I had the opportunity to review this work when it was in manuscript form, and loved it. When it comes to building school culture, this book is the one to read.

The Essential 55 (Ron Clark) Here is a review I wrote on the book for Principal magazine back in 2004. The book would make an excellent book study for the faculty.

Of course, I would suggest my own book,  Get Organized! Time Management for School Leaders. Every good thing we do for our students, our teachers, our community, our family, and ourselves is accomplished through the dimension of time. Organizing your time and surroundings makes everything else possible.

For online professional development, check out The Principal Center. The site serves as a global think tank for professional practice in K-12 school leadership. You will find forums for collaboration, online professional development, and a rich variety of resources.

The literature is filled with quality books for the principal. Dr. Sara Womack, who happens to be one of my former students, created an excellent post which provides a library for the school leader.

What about you? What are your suggestions for books, articles, blogs, for a new principal to read now?

Friday, June 15, 2012

AETC2012 and Free Dropbox Storage

Thanks to everyone who came to one of my sessions at AETC2012. If you are visiting this blog for the first time as a result of one of the sessions, I hope that you will find ideas here that are worth your time and will keep you coming back.

For those who were in the Free Digital Tools session, here is the Dropbox information I promised. Want to set up a Dropbox account? Here is an easy way for you to set up an account and get an extra 500MB of free storage for both you and me. Click here to sign up.

I have written a short e-book which explains how I use Dropbox. For information on downloading for free, go here. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

New Catalog of Services

If you are wondering exactly what I do, download the updated catalog. Since the last version, some sessions have been expanded and entirely new sessions added. You will also see an explanation of the coaching and special project I have to offer.

Click on the cover above to download the updated catalog. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Want to Borrow and Lend E-Books?

If you enjoy reading books on a Kindle or Nook, check out LendInk. It is a free service which matches people who want to borrow e-books with people who already own them. Once you sign up, you browse the library of available titles. The limit is three books borrowed at any one time. A book may be borrowed for up to 14 days.

I have not used this service myself. However, for those who are avid readers and do their reading on a Kindle or Nook, this service may become a significant part of your reading experience.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Poynt: Pair Your BlackBery and PlayBook

Poynt is one of the BlackBerry "Super Apps." I first wrote about it here. Later, I wrote about it and other Super Apps in this post.

When RIM introduced the PlayBook, Poynt was one of the apps available very early for the device. This video shows how you can add an additional feature by "pairing" Poynt on the tablet with Poynt on the handheld.

I see two great uses for the pairing capabilities. First is the ability to find a find a restaurant, movie, or other establishment on the PlayBook and have it enter the information for it on your Blackberry's calendar. The second is the ability to find a business on the Playbook through Poynt and have the Blackberry handheld place the call.

If you have either device, Poynt is a must-have app. Download it today for both devices. After that, download Poynt and perform the one-time pairing. Poynt is free for both devices.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Automate Routine Tasks with IFTTT (If This Then That)

We all have routine tasks which keep our lives going. Sometimes, those routines involve small things which take little time. Added together, small things can become big things in terms of their cumulative benefit. At the same time, when we add the time required for these individual routines, the total required can be significant.

What if we could put some of those tasks on "autopilot"? For example, examine these routine tasks:
  • I want to check the weather each day, and it would be nice if it simply arrived in my e-mail.
  • If someone retweets one of my tweets, I want to thank him/her.
  • If someone includes me in a #ff (Friday Follow on Twitter), I want to thank him/her.
  • If someone follows me on Twitter, I want to follow him/her back.
  • If someone follows me on Twitter, I want to send a greeting.
  • If one of my scheduled blog posts appears, update Facebook. 
  • If one of my scheduled blog posts appears, update Twitter.
A free site called "" does the things listed above for me. "Ifttt" stands for "If this, then that." After signing up for a free account, you can explore the "recipes" others have crafted (such as having the weather forecast e-mailed to you each day). If you are interested in the tasks which I had automated, clicking the above links will let you choose those same tasks for yourself.

Again, each of these tasks are small things, but small things add up to big things both in terms of their benefits and the time required to perform them. "If This Then That" takes care of the time and lets you enjoy the benefits.

If you already used ifttt, what tasks do you have it performing for you?

Monday, June 04, 2012

A Look at Google Apps for Education

This video provides a good "day in the life" look at how a teacher could use Google Apps.

The demonstration of how this teacher uses the Google Calendar for lesson planning and scheduling meetings is particularly effective. You will also see how student can submit documents to the teacher as well as take quizzes using Forms. You will see how you can create a simple class website.

A great deal of information is packed into this 10-minute video. To embed what is presented here into your day-to-day life, I would suggest concentrating on one concept presented and watching the demonstration of that concept several times. Add one new thing at a time.

Are you using Google Apps? What are your favorite uses?

Friday, June 01, 2012

My Favorite Apps for the Blackberry and PlayBook

I have written from time to time about apps I use regularly on my BlackBerry and PlayBook. I decided to combine those posts, along with new content, and make it available in one place. The result is this e-book free for you to download.

RIM is often criticized for the lack of apps compared with the iPhone and Android. That being said, there are some great apps available for the BlackBerry, and many are free.

Click the cover below to download My Favorite Apps for the Blackberry and PlayBook.