Friday, November 30, 2012

Source to Create Social Media Buttons

If you have a website or author a blog, chances are good you also have other social media outlets. You want a set of small, clickable buttons which will take readers to those others outlets. At least, I did.

You could spend the time designing the buttons, uploading them, and writing the html code that will not only make those buttons appear, but will take readers to the correct site when clicked. Another option is to find where someone else has done the work for you.

I ran across a site called which did exactly what I needed. You can get to the exact spot on the site needed with this link. For each button you wish to add to your site, enter the username in the appropriate blank. Click to get the code.” Copy the html code that is generated and add it to your site.

In just a few minutes, you have an attractive set of social media buttons.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Just When I Thought I Had Seen All The Scams...

By now, we all know there is no Nigerian princess in need of help. Our best friend has not been mugged in a foreign country, and we do not need to send money. We have figured out if we forward an email to 10 people we are not going to get a free iPad or an all-expense-paid trip to Disney World. We are too savvy to be taken in by those scams.

Just as soon as we get one scam figured out, however, a couple of more take their place.

You have a broken link...

If you found a broken link on a friend's blog, you would let them know, wouldn't you? But what if a total stranger communicated that same information? Here is an email I recently received:

Hi Dr. Buck, 
I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren't aware of it. The link on which links to is no longer working. 

I went to that post, and she was right. The link was dead. The first red flag, however, was that it was not a big deal. The domain was still good. Only that one page was no longer available.

Next comes the kicker:

I've included a link to a useful page on Pop Culture that you could replace the broken link with if you're interested in updating your website. 

Thanks for providing a great resource! Link: (I am omitting the link)

Hannah Edwards 

Thanks, Hannah, for not only reading my blog and clicking through to other sites, but also for personally emailing me and doing my research for me to provide other resources. What a good neighbor!

When in doubt, Google it

A total stranger suggesting a link sounded over the top, so I did what I always advise others to do...Google the message and watch the fireworks. I copied the first couple of sentences and pasted them into Google. The results showed the exact same wording in other places. Here is one of them. Here is another. That second link provides good insight on what Hannah and her friends are actually doing. It's not malicious, just an attempt to increase their own page rank in Google.

Finding broken links in your own site can be done with Google Webmaster Tools. Once on the site, click on the "Crawl Errors" and then click to download the errors. You can even find broken links on other sites, but let's not even go there. I will leave that one to Hannah.

Bottom line: If you get the email I did, it's not a good neighbor. Fix the link and go on. No need to even send Hannah a thank you note.

The guest blogger
I have guest blogged for other people and offered the same opportunity in return. I was flattered when I received an email from a woman identifying herself as "Marina Salsbury." She complimented my blog and asked if she could submit a guest post. Her post was actually quite good and very much in keeping with the theme of my blog. You can read that post here.She did make a reference to "online school courses," which seemed a bit out of place, especially when it linked to one particular online learning site. However, I did not think any more about it. Perhaps I should have.

I recently received this email:

You currently have a link on your site pointing to our website. We have recently received warning from Google that they are suspicious of link trading schemes surrounding this, and we want to make sure that you are taking the necessary precautionary measures so that your site is not adversely affected. 

We are requesting that you remove the link back to our site. The link to on your page can be found at the URL below 

This is the second time that I have sent this message. Please let us know once the link has been removed. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and sincerest apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. 

Best regards, 
Eric Bergstrom

Sorry, Eric, but this was the first time I had ever heard from you. I happily removed the link, but this little voice inside my head said, "Google it."

"Google it" I did
I pasted the first couple of sentence from Eric's email into a Google search. I got results such as this, letting me know that Eric, and others like him, have been very busy.

By the way, I emailed both Eric Bergstrom and Marina Salsbury to let them know what my Google results found and give them an opportunity to respond. Of course, I have heard nothing from either one.

Bottom line: If you get a request from a stranger to guest post for you, don't be flattered. There may be another motive. AS the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on thee. Fool me twice, shame on me." That's one I shall not fall for again.

The one that almost got me
During my days as a school principal, I encouraged teachers to Google a message to determine its validity before passing it on. I was pretty good at spotting hoaxes. This one, which arrived just prior to the holiday season, was one I almost passed on:

When you are making out your Christmas card list this year,
please include the following:

A Recovering American soldier
C/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue,NW
Washington,D.C. 20307-5001

The e-mail had come to me from an official representative of a respected institution, and my first reaction was not only to follow the suggestion, but to forward this message to everyone in my e-mail contacts. I do not forward mass mails, a personal decision I made years ago, and usually delete them unread. This one was different, or so I thought.
At that moment, a still, small voice somewhere inside said, "Check your facts." The voice was that of teachers from days gone by, teachers who had so carefully taught me and my classmates to think for ourselves. Instead of proceeding with the e-mail message, I used the same procedure that I have used and suggested to others for quite a few years:
  1. I highlighted a portion of the text in that e-mail message and copied it (Control-C). In this case, the first three lines of the message looked like something which would return on-point hits.
  2. I went to Google, clicked in the search window, used the "paste" command (Control-V), and hit "Enter."
Within seconds, the verdict was obvious. It was a hoax. The most compelling evidence was a link where Walter Reed addressed this topic, saying:

Walter Reed Army Medical Center officials want to remind those individuals who want to show their appreciation through mail to include packages, letters, and holiday cards addressed to 'Any Wounded Soldier' or 'A Recovering American Soldier' that Walter Reed cannot accept these packages in support of the decision by then Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Transportation Policy in 2001. This decision was made to ensure the safety and well being of patients and staff at medical centers throughout the Department of Defense.

In addition, the U.S. Postal Service is no longer accepting "Any Service Member" or "A Recovering American Soldier" letters or packages. Mail to "Any Service Member" that is deposited into a collection box will not be delivered.

The Walter Reed site goes to say:

Instead of sending an “Any Wounded Soldier” letter or package to Walter Reed, please consider making a donation to one of the more than 300 nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping our troops and their families listed on the "America Supports You" website,
Other organizations that offer means of showing your support for our troops or assist wounded service members and their families include:

At a time of year when we are giving thanks for our many blessings and approaching a season of giving, perhaps the message from Walter Reed is the one worthy of spreading.

What would have happened had I not checked it out and simply forwarded the e-mail and sent a few cards. My cards would have never reached the eyes of any solider. Instead, my good intentions would have added an additional load to the personnel charged with disposing of the glut of mail which they currently receive. Rather than being part of something good, I would have only added to an already existing problem.

Bottom line: It only takes a couple of seconds to separate fact from fiction. Google it.

Scams are nothing new. People have been trying to deceive each other since the dawn of mankind. What is new is the forms the deception takes. Just as soon as we are wise to one, another will take its place. Generations of wise people have advised, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." Perhaps the mantra for our time needs to be, "If it sounds too good to be true, Google it."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Is Content from Pages You "Like" Showing Up in Your News Feed?

When we create a Facebook  "fan page," we naturally assume that when someone "Likes" the page, the content posted to that page will show up in their news feed. Right?

As it turns out, that's actually not true. I am not sure about the actual algorithm, but it seems that it requires people not only clicking "Like," but also interacting with the content, commenting on it, sharing it, etc. All of these factors seem to play into whether or not the content from that particular page shows up automatically in the news feed.

If you currently like my page (, but are not seeing its content in your news feed, here is what to do:
  1. Go to the page.
  2. Hover over the "Liked" button. Hopefully, you will see a drop-down menu.
  3. One of the options is "Show in News Feed." Select that one.
I am not sure if taking that action will bring all of the content to your news feed. It seems this is one of those "moving targets" social media brings our way.

By the way, if you have not already "Liked" the page, why not do so now? The content you will find there consists of quotes I have collected over the years, notices about new blog posts, and links to other content I think readers would like.

By the way, when the page reaches 200 "Likes," I will give away a copy of  Get Organized!: Time Management for School Leaders or Organization Made Easy: Tools for Today's Teachers. Right now, we are at 180 "Likes." Only 20 more to go! If you have already "Liked" the page, you are already eligible. If you haven't, come on over and get your name in the hat.

Time ManagementTime Management

Friday, November 23, 2012

Something Else to Be Thankful For...American Public Education

I just saw this clip, published on YouTube less than two weeks ago. Dr. Willard Daggett is delivering the keynote address at a PLATO Learning EdTech Conference. Education has become a political target. After listening to this clip, you may agree that in this season where can have counted those things for which we are thankful, American public education should be counted among them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Prayer from Linus

I have been watching "Peanuts" since second grade. Here is a scene from one of the classics...Linus giving his Thanksgiving Prayer. These Charles Schultz holiday specials are timeless and continue to to be enjoyed one generation after another.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Edublog Nomination for Best School Administrator Blog

Just a couple of years ago, the Edublog Awards began including a category for the "Best School Administrator Blog." I think it's a great addition. Speaking from personal experience as a principal, few things were as worth the time as blogging. It provides the opportunity not only to influence the direction of your own school, but to share with readers whom you may never meet. My nominee is a shining example of how a principal in a small town can use a blog to make a huge difference both to those in the community and potentially to a world-wide readership.

Five years ago, Pattie Thomas became a brand new principal in the middle of the year at Raymond L. Young Elementary School. I wrote this post to describe the impressions of what I saw in those first days.

Over the last five years, the school has improved in a every way imaginable. Test scores and attendance rose, and early on, the staff and the community realized that "a good place to learn and grow" is not just a motto, but reflects the child-centered approach at the heart of every decision made.

Through it all, Mrs. Thomas has used a blog to share the triumphs, the needs, and feeling of community at Raymond L. Young. Upon receiving her appointment as principal, she realized tardies, checkouts, and absences due to frivolous reasons were far too frequent. It was on the blog that she introduced the "Top Dog Club." As the prestige of being a "Top Dog" caught steam and attendance improved, the blog was right there to celebrate that success.

Following a newspaper article where Mrs. Thomas was quoted on the subject of bullying, it was the blog that allowed a concerned parent to write a lengthy, yet thoughtful comment. It was on this blog that Mrs. Thomas was able to respond with an equally thoughtful response that communicated not just to one parent, but to anyone anywhere in the world who chose to tune in, the philosophy and warmth that permeates the school. You can read that exchange here.

Elementary schools are places where memories are made, and this blog captures every one of them, whether it be a celebration of the holiday season, the sights and sounds of the Fall Festival. or the words of a student serving as a guest blogger.

Maintaining an 80-year-old building is no easy task, and with funding being tight, the school relies on outside supporters. Whether the project is the restoration of an auditorium, the replacement of a "mud pit" with fresh sod, or providing laptop computers for students, this blog has used the power of technology to open the doors of this elementary school to friends both near and far.

Some administrators use their blogs to give their opinions on topics of global concern. This blog takes a different route. It does not try to influence a national audience. Instead, it's focus is telling the school's story to the community it serves. In doing so, it provides a shining example of what other principals can do in their own communities. Across America, educators are doing great things, yet are discouraged when nobody seems to care. Pattie Thomas demonstrates that schools are in charge of telling their own stories, and that a blog is the perfect tool to do so.

And while the blog makes no attempt to influence a national audience, the example it provides may do just that.   

Take a moment to meet Pattie Thomas through her Principal's Message. Most of all, enjoy the blog, and see why they call Raymond L. Young Elementary School "a good place to learn and grow."

I am proud to nominate in the category for
"Best School Administrator Blog":

Raymond L. Young: A Good Place to Learn and Grow

Friday, November 16, 2012

How to Carve a Turkey

For those of us who are into time management, one of the great time-savers is seeing an example of something done well and replicating it, rather than using the old trial-and-error method (with emphasis on the word "error"). Thanksgiving is approaching, and the job of carving the turkey may be falling on you. If so, here is a video that should make the job easier.

Hope your Thanksgiving turkey is delicious
and carving it turns out to be a breeze!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bridging Our Future

How is technology impacting education? What are the possibilities there now or in the very near future? These are questions we often ask. There is probably no more compelling argument than a video showing what could be, either right now or in the foreseeable future.

This video, entitled "Bridging our Future" is produced by Intel. It's worth watching...several times.

What do you see you could be doing right now?
What possibilities excite you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

On This Veteran's Days

In the United States, we call it "Veteran's Day." Countries throughout the world have different names and celebrate it in different ways. In England, they call it "Remembrance Day." The playing of Nimrod, one of the movements of Edward Elgar's Enigma Variations, is a tradition on this day.

Veterans Day is a opportunity not only to carve out some time from our lives who remember those who gave their own, but to celebrate all that we enjoy. Today is also my Davonia's birthday, my wife of 23 years. Nimrod happens to be one of her favorites.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Never Again Miss a Good College Football Game

Around this time of year, rivalries are being played, conference championship races are coming into focus, and the hype for the road to the national championship is in full swing. Every Saturday brings with it must-see games.

How do you stay on top of who is playing who on TV and when? Television schedules are not set far in advance. Even games as close as two weeks out are listed as "TBA."

I found a site that gives me the information I need in a very concise form:

As you see, the site lists games only for the future, so as the season progresses, I am not scrolling through past events. The game time (listed in Central Time) and television network for each game is listed. Games for the future, along with time and television commitments as known, are listed.

In my digital to-do list, I created a task that reads "Plan football games to watch." In the note section of that task, I pasted the URL for this site. The URL is a clickable link taking me straight to the schedule.

I set the task to repeat weekly, with a start date of Thursday and a due date of Friday. So, every Thursday, viewing the schedule of games for the weekend is a task which is available for me.

Sure, I would probably wind up seeing advertisements for the big games anyway. But that one task on my list serves as a trigger to go to the schedule, plan the games I want to watch, and put them on my calendar. One less thing to remember. Putting the little things like this on "autopilot" is one of the chief ways I am able to give my attention to many things, yet keep the stress level very low.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Why Don't You Know?

I enjoy Seth Godin's blog, somewhat because of the Twitter-like brevity of the posts, but more because of the power in the message. One recent post almost echoed the words of a former professor. In a post entitled The Curious Imperative, Godin opens with the following statement:

"Now that information is ubiquitous, the obligation changes. It's no longer okay to not know."

Sixteen years ago, I was working on my dissertation. Dr. Gene Golanda was one of two chairs on my dissertation committee, and he was a master of asking the question that would cause one to examine even a routine problem in a unique way. During one conversation related to my dissertation topic, he asked me a question for which I had no answer, and frankly one I had never contemplated.

All of my training to that point had said to me that when you don't know the answer, you simply say you don't know. Then. you get busy finding out. I confidently followed that plan, admitting I did not know the answer, feeling proud of myself for not trying to bluff my way through. The response was one I will never forget:

"Why don't you know?" he said.

He had a point. This teacher had also just ratcheted up the standards. Finding an answer was no longer good enough. Solving the problem once it presented itself was no longer good enough. At this level, the expectation became to find answers to questions yet to be asked and solve problems before they occur.

I learn something new every single day, and hopefully you do too. Much of what I learn comes through professional reading, followed by thinking, followed by Google searches to gather the bits of information needed to complete the puzzle.

For each of us, there is that niche in which we long to become expert. The information we need to get there has never been easier to find. Not knowing is not good enough. Not adding our own contributions to that body of knowledge is not good enough. A creative mind that goes beyond the obvious, the skills to search the body of literature available on the Internet, and the discipline to push the envelope every that's not only good enough, but could be enough to change the world.

Yes, I get still get those questions to which I have to say, "I don't know." And when I do, I hear that little voice from 16 years ago saying, "Why don't you know?"

Discovery exists in seeing what everyone else has seen and thinking what nobody else has thought. —Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

Monday, November 05, 2012

Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

We have all just finished the annual practice of "falling back" with our clocks. Why do we have Daylight Saving Time after all? CBS News composed this piece giving the history of the practice. The story also questions whether or not Daylight Saving Time really saves anything.

Friday, November 02, 2012

"The Process" and the Book Which Explains It

Tomorrow, the defending national champion and #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide lines up against the LSU. The two have much in common. They are both from the SEC. They played for the BCS National Championship game in January. They have both won national championships in recent years. Finally, they both won national championships under Nick Saban (with LSU winning another under Les Miles).

Two and a half years ago, I posted about Saban's book, How Good Do You Want to Be?  The book was interesting for two reasons. First, Alabama just won a national championship, and therefore the team and its coach were news.

Secondly, even though the cover pictured Saban dressed in Alabama crimson, the book was clearly written just after his LSU team won the 2003 BCS National Championship. How does what Coach Saban wrote eight years and two coaching stints ago relate to the present Alabama team? How does the book relate to a blog about organization and time management?

Chapter 2, entitled "The Competitive Spirit," opens with the subheading "Don't look at the scoreboard." Saban argues that the focus should be on the process not the product. If the process is solid, the product takes care of itself. That thinking is very much in line with what the coach has been saying each season since arriving at Alabama. In the book, Saban goes on to say, "It is natural to be affected by where you are in life, but looking at the score and results can only take you away from your competitive spirit. Not only should you not concern yourself with the score, you should also avoid setting the bar or establishing benchmarks for success" (p. 58).

Much talk centers around a possible repeat national title for Alabama, a third on four years. In the book, Saban says, "One of the hardest things to do in sports is to repeat as a champion. It is exceedingly rare in college or pro sports these days. Part of the reason is parity, but part of it is champions lose focus because of the distractions that success brings. The championship becomes the focus--not what it takes to be a champion" (pp. 68-69). Furthermore, he says, "We don't talk about repeating as national champions and we don't spend time thinking about the targets that are on our backs" (pp.71-72).

Writing a blog whose focus is time management and organization, I am particularly interested in the three-page subheading in the "Being a Great Leader" chapter entitled "Organization." Saban says, "And to be the most effective leader, you have to be organized." Saban offers these examples of what he does to stay organized (pp.129-130):
  • Every practice plan and set of game notes, going back as far as I can remember, I organize into huge binders that I can refer to when I need to.
  • I keep a pen and paper with me at all times during practice to quickly write down items we need to correct.
  • Our pregame routine is organized down to the minute, and areas of the field are assigned for position groups. For example, no matter where we are playing, the running backs are always warming up at the 20-yard line opposite our bench.
  • I prepare an agenda and a list of items to cover the day before all daily staff meetings so nothing is left out.
Saban goes on to say, "Organization is critical to efficiency. If I have a pet peeve (and I have a few), it's wasted time..." (p. 130)

This year, talk about the Saban "Process" has gained momentum. Money Magazine has written about it. Sports Illustrated has written about it. Forbes has written about it. The Huffington Post has written about it. The Wall Street Journal has written about it. It was all in the book way back then.

How Good Do You Want to Be? is a good read whether you are pulling for the team Saban coaches now or for the team he coached when he wrote the book. You have time to pick up or copy and read it before the game. It might not only give you a better insight into the game, but also how you can come closer to achieving your own goals.