Friday, September 30, 2011

What next . . .

Though it has nothing to do with our work, I found this video on Russo's This Week In Education fascinating.   It is about 3D printing and shows a crescent wrench being reproduced on a printer.  When finished it actually works.

I have no idea on cost or potential, but it is intriguing.  I'd like to embed the video on my post, but I still haven't been able to do that.  You can get to it on the Russo post (he is obviously more technically adept than I am) or on the link below.  Let me know what you think.  Any education uses?  Maybe we could use it to build a new school or at least a few more permanent classrooms.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Find comon ground and get moving . . .

Reflecting on the President’s and Mr. Duncan’s waiver proposal leads me back to a series of blogs from the previous week on four NCLB bills proposed by four republican senators. It leads to believe that there is some common ground to get moving with some sense of urgency on reauthorization.  I think the bills and the waiver opportunities have merit and are at least moving in the right direction, something that we have not yet seen from either house.

Key features of the proposed bills include the following.
• Removal of 100% at standard by 2014 and labeling of failing schools.
• Continuation of testing at grades 3-8 and once in high school in reading and math.
• Required reporting on subgroups.
• Adoption of college and career ready standards with similar flexibility to the proposed waiver standards.
• Required support for lowest achieving 5% of schools with additional intervention options.
• Scrapping the highly qualified teacher provisions.
• Consolidating 59 federal programs into two flexible funds.
• Expansion of charter options.

These are certainly a beginning and foundation for dialogue. Yes, others want more flexibility and the removal of mandated testing while still others see any change as rolling back progress on changes supporting all children. Unfortunately, as I shared in my previous post on the proposed waivers, the reauthorization process has now become an election issue with each party blaming the other. Below is a response from a House Democratic aide to the proposal from the four senate republicans.

. . . said the Senate GOP is "continuing to play politics with education policy, and not doing anything serious for kids." The move is "fully in line" with the GOP's desire not to give Obama a victory on education, the aide argued.

In this Democrats for Education Reform post they take a similar stance.

"In one fell swoop, Senators Alexander, Burr, Isakson, and Kirk have capitulated in the one issue area where Republicans could reasonably claim to stand with rank and file voters against the political and economic powers that be," said Charles Barone, DFER Director of Federal Policy. "By giving in to those in the education establishment for whom education reform recently has made life difficult, they have pulled the rug out from under parents and state and local advocates across the political spectrum who have used federal law to leverage unprecedented changes in their school systems."

What I find interesting is the similarity between the senator’s proposals and the proposed waiver conditions. These include no longer needing to meet the testing benchmarks and labels that go with it, adoption of a set of core standards, continued testing, and support for the bottom 5% of schools. Why can’t this agreement result in meaningful attempts to reach agreement on a reauthorization?

Senator Alexander, one of the authors of the senate bills is going further in an attempt to move legislation and accomplish reauthorization by the end of the year. In an attempt to move forward he will be resigning his Republican Senate Leadership position to work more closely in a bipartisan manner with democrats on education reform. We need more of this – the foundation is there for dialogue in these four bills, in the house action to date, and in the waiver proposal. It is time to move forward. Yes, there are very difficult issues that need to be resolved, but making it an election issue will only polarize positions, not move us forward.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Waving goodbye . . .

Last week the NCLB waiver possibility became a reality as President Obama shared the plan in a White House news conference.  We have been hearing about it for months in speeches by Secretary Duncan and now know that states can apply for the waiver, under certain conditions.  Like most things related to education, the response has been varied and depends upon the publication or blog you choose to read.  For example, if you go to the Education Department site you will read how positive the move is for states and schools.  In SecretaryDuncan’s letter to Chief State School Officers explaining the waiver process he shares some of his reasoning.

. . . Instead of fostering progress and accelerating academic improvement, many NCLB requirements have unintentionally become barriers to State and local implementation of forward-looking reforms designed to raise academic achievement. Consequently, many of you are petitioning us for relief from the requirements of current law. One of my highest priorities is to help ensure that Federal laws and policies can support these reforms and not hinder State and local innovation aimed at increasing the quality of instruction and improving student academic achievement.

It is hard to argue with this reasoning, but will the waivers free us up from the onerous requirements of NCLB without adding additional requirements?  Once again, it depends upon who you read.  For example, in this Washington Post blog by Monty Neill, executive director of FairTest one comes away thinking this may not be a good idea.

The Obama administration’s new No Child Left Behind “flexibility” plan offers our struggling public schools a leap from the frying pan to the fire.

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan provide no relief from No Child Left Behind’s massive over-use of testing — more testing than in any other advanced nation. In fact, they are demanding more, not less, testing. They provide no relief from NCLB’s mandated misuse of test scores for school accountability. And their plan will push states into adopting highly flawed and inaccurate uses of student test results to judge teachers and principals.
Or this from Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

“The truth is the secretary has the states over a barrel. Most governors want a waiver. Almost every state, they’ll be asking for a waiver,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who has introduced a Republican education package that would remove most of the national standards and leave them to the states. The waivers “run the risk of 100,000 schools being supervised by a national school board,” he said.

What must states do to receive the waiver that can be awarded as early as January?  They must adopt college and career-ready standards.  They don’t force states to adopt the Common Core, but they are promoted as college and career-ready.  Second, they must have in place rigorous interventions to turn around the bottom 5% of schools and an additional 10% of schools with low graduation rates or large achievement gaps.  Third, they must have in place a teacher and principal evaluation system that in some way uses student achievement data.

What do states get in return for agreeing to these waiver conditions?  They are free of the requirement to have ALL children at standard in math and reading by 2014, a goal that never had a chance of being reached.  Schools would no longer be labeled as failing if this provision of the law is waived.  As shared above by Neill however, the testing requirements remain in place. 

What next?  In the short term the political battle and finger pointing will continue.  The Republican response has been swift and negative as seen in this NY Times article.

“In my judgment, he is exercising an authority and power he doesn’t have,” said Representative John Kline, Republican of Minnesota and chairman of the House education committee. “We all know the law is broken and needs to be changed. But this is part and parcel with the whole picture with this administration: they cannot get their agenda through Congress, so they’re doing it with executive orders and rewriting rules. This is executive overreach.”

An obvious question then would be if we all know it is broken why have we not been able to fix it considering the law has been due for a rewrite since 2007?  There will be much political capital to gain as election season heats up and the major players use NCLB to seek votes.  For us, it means more waiting to see what eventually will land on us from above.  In the meantime we will continue to move forward on what we believe will support success for more young people in our system.

Turnaround . . .

Most of the turnarounds I read about are the ineffective strategies used to turnaround "failing" schools.  This turnaround, however, is about football.  We went from 0 and 3 last week to 3 and 0 this week.  The Bears, Huskies, and Seahawks all won.  Once again the Bears and Huskies put up big points, something it appears they will need to do all season as they struggle on defense.  The Seahawks on the other hand  have little offense, but yesterday came through on defense.  For one week at least the results feel good.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Not good for us . . .

The deepening budget problem has resulted in the Governor calling for an unprecedented special session in late November.  Normally, the legislators would wait until the regular session and begin with a supplemental budget process as they did last year when cuts were made at that time.  This is not good for us for many reasons.  I have shared many times how difficult it is to cut once a budget has been adopted and now this will happen two years in a row.  We have also been "trimming" our budget for the last three years so the "fat" has been pretty much lost.  I understand and have empathy for our elected officials because they are in a similar position. 

This does not, however, remove them form the need to provide us with an adequate and stable funding base.  Something must change so that we do not go through the painful process of developing a balanced budget and then find within the first month that there will be less state revenue than what the budget was built upon.  Even more troublesome is that they then decide we should go three months into the budget year before they can tell us how much less revenue we will have. 

One additional reason for concern is the timing.  They are waiting until November for the next revenue forecast.  That makes sense for them, but for us it is a problem because we must certify our levy collection that month.  If we knew the cut by then we might have the capacity to offset some of it through this process.  Waiting until the end of November, if they even get done by then, eliminates this important option for us and for many others school districts.

In this Seattle Times article we learn that cutting at the state level is also much more difficult.  According to the Governor, they have fewer options.

Gregoire contends that nearly two-thirds of the budget is essentially off-limits to cuts because of federal mandates and state constitutional restrictions. The biggest components are basic education, Medicaid, pensions and state debt.

That means the $2 billion in cuts must come from the remaining $8.7 billion of the budget that is unprotected by the constitution or federal law, the governor said. "That is, bottom line, a 23 percent cut," she said.

. . . "We're going to have to admit there are things we simply as a state can no longer do," she said.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, however, has a different opinion.

Zarelli disagreed that any part of the budget is off-limits. For example, he said, the state could choose to stop certain services even if it meant losing federal matching dollars.

"A lot of times we simply do things because there is a 50 percent federal share. We still have state money in there. If that's not a high priority lets look at it from the perspective of what could you do with that money," he said.

I think this might be a long session or the leadership will cut a deal and get it approved and out so that they will be ready for the regular session where they can begin the process all over again.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Losing respect . . .

I seem to lately be focusing on the issue of respect for teachers and battles between the various groups attempting to fix us, meaning public schools.  This post is from Larry Ferlazzo a teacher sharing his Q and A ongoing column on Education Week Online about teacher respect.  Weekly, Larry is asked a question that he responds to online.  The question for this week is:

What social/political causes have contributed to the downgrading of respect for the teaching profession?
In his short response he agrees that there has been a decline in respect for teachers though  he does site the recent Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll I blogged about where 71% of those surveyed say that they have trust and confidence in the men and women teaching their children.  He goes on to share, how in the same poll 68% of people heard more bad stories about teachers in the news media than good ones.  He doesn’t say so, but this can’t help but be a contributing factor to the overall feeling that current teachers have about their profession.

He also uses something called Google Books Ngram Viewer to search, compare, and graph word usage in hundreds of years of books.  He admits it is not scientific research but the resulting graph is interesting, how the words blaming teachers passed the words respecting teachers about 1990.

In the column Ferlazzo invites guests to respond to the question.  One of the invited guests was Dennis Van Roekel, NEA President who shared the following in his reply agreeing with the questioner that respect for teachers is indeed declining.  
Improving public education is a shared responsibility. Too many of us have fallen prey to a fallacy that schools can overcome all problems. Our students need social programs and safety nets that make it possible for them to arrive at the schoolhouse door ready to learn. Our foreign competitors have found ways to limit inequality--why can't we?

I find this argument in much of my current reading about the “reformer” battle and am influenced by it.  I think that the reformers tend to shunt the poverty and social issue to the side in their eagerness to focus on the teacher as the pivotal point of successful reform. 
Though we do not have significant poverty in our system our Free and Reduced Lunch numbers are increasing and this does have an influence on the capacity of our schools to meet the needs of every child.  This was once again evident to me today in my conversation with one of our principals where we discussed the problems associated with students coming to our schools not ready to be students.  They aren’t prepared for participating in a classroom setting, they struggle to sustain a focus over time, they do not have the life experiences that prepare them for the school success, they don’t have  support at home, and the system struggles to provide the non-academic interventions that are needed prior to or at least concurrently with the academic support.

Van Roekel also addresses this point.
We hear all the time that American students score lower than some of our foreign competitors, but critics don't seem to want to know how and why that happens. One reason: Our child poverty rate is over 20 percent. Finland's is less than five percent. In American schools with low child poverty, our students can take on the best in the world.

Ferlazzo’s blog is one that I have shared before.  He is definitely on the other end of the continuum from those labeled as “reformers” and one you might want to follow as he regularly updates his readers on this issue. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The good vs. the bad . . .

I’ve been holding a blog post sent to me by Amy Adams for about a week as I was focused on other things and also because of what it pushed me to think about. Amy is TEA’s chief negotiator and has been for many years. Over this time and even before that we have had numerous conversations about our work and her advocacy for teachers. Though we don’t always agree on an issue, we share our thinking, seek to find common ground, and I believe leave with mutual respect for the roles that we play and for our concern with the future of public education.

The post that she shared with me is by David Sirota and comes from SALON. It is titled, The bait and switch of school “reform” and is a lengthy blog post. In it, Sirota takes on the positions espoused by the “reformers”, in this case beginning with Steven Brill’s new book, Class Warfare. I haven’t read the book, but I have read reviews in blog posts. Brill would be viewed as one in the “reformer” camp pushing for charters, rigorous teacher evaluation models that use student achievement data, common core, common assessments . . .

Sirota sees Brill and others as contributing to a simplistic view of the education issue today with greedy teachers on one side and “reformers” including very wealthy corporations and foundations working for the kids on the other side.

The dominant narrative, in other words, explains the fight for the future of education as a battle between the evil forces of myopic selfishness (teachers) and the altruistic benevolence of noblesse oblige (Wall Street). Such subjective framing has resulted in reporters, pundits and politicians typically casting the "reformers'" arguments as free of self-interest, and therefore more objective and credible than teachers' counterarguments.

The truth, of course, is that for all the denialist agitprop to the contrary, corporate education "reformers" are motivated by self-interest, too.

Sirota identifies three of those areas of self-interest that I share below. He makes some interesting arguments that I will let you read by going to the post.

Self-Interest 1: Pure Profit

Self-Interest 2: Changing the Subject From Poverty to Inequality

Self-Interest 3: New Front in the War on Unions

I believe that the following excerpt from the post captures the essence of Sirota’s feelings on the issue of profit.

Corporate education "reformers'" self-interest, by contrast, means advocating for policies that help private corporations profit off of public schools, diverting public attention from an anti-poverty economic agenda, and busting unions that prevent total oligarchical control of America's political system. In short, it's about the profit, stupid.

Neither side's self-interest is perfectly aligned with the goal of bettering our education system. But one side is clearly far more aligned with that goal than the other.

I find myself agreeing with the premise that education writers and “reformers” have been successful at creating a simplistic view of our current reality in public education with teachers and unions on one side and “reformers” and rich individuals and foundations on the other. I would add, however, that included in the “reformer” camp would be governors and other state leaders pushing to weaken union influence and the Obama administration embracing many of the same reform strategies being pushed by these individuals and groups. They are not pushing reform for a personal or corporate profit.

I also don’t agree that the primary motivation of corporate “reformers”, education writers, and foundations is about profit. Certainly, those from the corporate world are concerned with profit and that there is money to be made as public education continues to be pushed towards necessary reforms. But, I also believe that there is a genuine concern in the level of knowledge and skills possessed by our high school graduates and the impact that this has on the future work force. Perhaps I just want to have a positive presupposition because of all the conflict, but I struggle to see profit as the primary motivation for the majority of those in the “reformer” camp.

Putting the blame on teachers and teacher unions frankly makes me mad. Teachers care and work hard to support young people and unions were introduced at a time when changes and advocacy were needed. Of course, my frame of reference is from our system and the manner in which we approach our work. If I were in Tacoma right now facing a strike over a transfer policy needing to change I would think differently. But, it is possible to form productive partnerships with teacher associations led by officers who balance advocacy with a focus on the needs of young people in our schools.

Once again, reading this post is upsetting when I think of the wasted energy devoted to this “fight” and to the influence people outside our profession have through control of millions of dollars given to anyone willing to agree with their positions. This would include schools and school systems and those in elected positions seeking support for reelection.

Though not labeled as such, I consider our school system and myself as reformers. We learn from the research and are focused on success for all students. We use nontraditional delivery models and see the need for including online and blended learning opportunities. We acknowledge the need for change and are open to influence by those that have experienced success. We are one of those systems trying hard and getting positive results. I believe that our culture and the relations that we have with both bargaining units contributes to our success. A foundation might want to study us as a possible “reform strategy”, it might go further than weakening the union, or all kids moving to charters. Oh well, I can at least dream.

Thanks, Amy for sharing this. Much of what I read in the blogs I follow gives me the other side, it is important to hear from teachers and teacher unions. I think much of our problem is because of all the voices out there on both sides. There is far too much “interpersonal mush” controlling our experiences and behavior.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A losing weekend . . .

I'm hoping that this weekend will not be the norm for the season, because it is my first 0fer with Tahoma, the Huskies, and the Seahawks all losing.  The Bears lost on Thursday night to Kentwood 24 to 17, the Huskies losing to Nebraska 51 to 38, and the Seahawks blanked by the Steelers 24 to 0.  I can only say yuck.

The Bears and Huskies are young.  They give up big plays, but they do not quit.  They score points, but unfortunately they also give up a lot of points.  I see hope for both and enjoy watching them as they grow and mature into solid football teams.

The Seahawks are also young, but unlike the Bears and Huskies they don't score points.  Today they were shut out with little offensive production.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it might be because the Steelers started out slowly.  It is going to be a long and difficult season and hard to watch.  Combined record thus far is 3 wins and 5 losses. not a good start.

Reacting to budget unknowns . . .

Well, it is now official; there is a projected $530 million shortfall in tax collections over the next three years that could result in a $3.2 billion budget gap.  Something must change for the state budget to balance.  With the republicans saying no to a tax increase and with passage of the initiative requiring a two-thirds vote on any tax increase the alternative is more cuts.  We have been down this road before, but as I have shared it will be different for us because we used the fund balance and with enrollment less than we projected we can't count on additional revenue from this source.  See this Seattle Times article for some legislator reaction.

Republicans budget writers said tax increases were not acceptable and that they can block any such proposals because of a voter-approved initiative that requires a two-thirds legislative majority to pass them.

"How do you get more revenue out of people who still don't have work?" asked Republican Rep. Ed Orcutt of Kalama.

Democrats were considering a proposal that would ask voters to approve taxes in order to support education, which has faced much of the cuts. Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, said lawmakers need to work on getting a plan together to pass before January.

This comment from our state's chief economist may be the most disturbing part of this situation.

"I truly wish I could assure you that this nightmare is about to end, but I see no end in sight," said Arun Raha, the state's chief economist.

In this Tacoma News Tribune article Victor Moore, the governor’s budget director, has a slightly different take on the current situation.

Moore said not all is doom and gloom. He noted that the state is still on track to finish the current two-year budget cycle with $87 million in its checking account and $442 million in the “rainy day” savings account. Thirty other states have negative balance sheets, he said.

“We are still positive,” he said. “I’m looking at a slowly recovering economy, and we will balance the budget in November. To say we’re in a deficit doesn’t take into account the work we will do.”

Unfortunately, I'm not as confidant and I am concerned with not knowing what this will mean for schools.  We have an opportunity to establish the levy rate that could influence our revenue for the year, but not knowing if or what revenue may be cut may keep us from using this process to maximize revenue.  The Governor has ordered her budget director to immediately cut $200 million that should not impact us, but probably won't be enough to satisfy the need or the legislators who are scheduled to come together for the next session in January.  We don't want to wait until January and operate as if there are no concerns, but at the same time we do not want to overreact.  What would you recommend?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Importance of relationship . . .

Today, we had our first PTA Roundtable meeting of the year.  Representatives from each PTA meet with us monthly during the school year to share information, coordinate initiatives, and surface rumors in our school community.  One of the first things that I did as superintendent was to organize the initial meetings that led to the formation of this group.  I believed then and continue to believe in the importance of relationship with these key contributors to the success of our school system.  Since those initial meetings, members of the PTAs have stepped forward to assume coordination and facilitation responsibilities for these meetings.  I look forward to these opportunities for sharing and engaging with these important members of our school system.

At this morning's meeting I was asked to share the video Don't Stop Believing that was developed at the high school.  Though it hasn't yet gone viral there have been 1279 views.  I encourage you to take the four minutes to view it and share it with your friends.  I have seen it multiple times and each time it gives me goose bumps.  Though I laugh at parts I know how some of the featured adults needed to stretch their comfort zones to participate.  I also know that this personal stretch once again demonstrates their commitment to the young people in their school and to the belief that drives their behavior as they create options for each student to experience success on their journey.  I am so proud of Terry and his leadership team for showing us the importance of relationship and doing whatever it takes to develop and maintain One School.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kindness . . .

One of the newsletters that I follow is Simple Truths, a source of motivational and inspirational gifts.  The newsletters always contain something from Mac Anderson the founder that are inspirational and sometimes thought provoking for me.  In this one he shares a video focused on the formula for bringing joy into your life summed up in one word; kindness.  The video consists of short sayings on kindness embedded in beautiful pictures and is worth the three minutes.  They made me reflect on who I am, how I live my personal and professional life, and what I can do to be more kind.  Below are two examples from the video.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  Leo Buscaglia
“To the world you may be just one person . . . but to one person you might just be the world.”  Mark twain

If you want to sign up for the newsletter you can do it here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Two big questions . . .

After one week and the first official enrollment count there are two big questions that concern me and that have the potential to have a significant impact on our school system.

Given the projected shortfall in revenue, how will the Governor and legislators balance the budget?
How do we change the mental model held by many in our community that we don't need to increase our capacity to house students?

On the budget issue, this Seattle Times article is a concern because if what Senator Zarelli is proposing were to take place we would not know until after the first of the new year what to expect in budget cuts.  Instead of a special session he is suggesting that a bipartisan panel be formed to identify potential cuts for the full legislature to consider in January.  Unfortunately, not all legislators agree so if nothing can be worked out the Governor may have to implement across the board cuts of up to 10%.  That could mean up to $700,000 for us and I would not want to wait until the new year to know this. 

To make the budget issue worse, our first enrollment count was below projected enrollment and at this time is below the first count for last year.  This means that we will not have additional enrollment revenue to make up for some of the expected budget cuts.  If implemented this would be the second year in a row that we will have experienced a revenue reduction after passing a budget and starting the school year.

The second big question has even bigger consequences for the future of our school system.  Our schools are full and we need additional housing capacity.  We have increased capacity by placing 73 portables on our campuses without increasing infrastructure in any of the buildings.  These portables, using space for classrooms that were not designed for this use, and changing attendance areas has resulted in a mental model for many in our community that don't worry we can make it work.  Well, that may be possible for the short term, but we can no longer add portables and have few spaces left for regular classrooms.  Either we add capacity or we change who we are.  How do we increase capacity before significant changes must be made to our program?  Potential options will come from our citizen's committee studying the issue, but changing the mental model and passing a bond measure will be more difficult.

These questions hover over everything that we do, but are out of sight for most people in our community and for many in our school system.  They drain energy from the system and cause anxiety.  We must find ways to make them visible and understood so that answers can be found that result in stability and focus on what we must do to prepare all young people for success in post high school learning and work.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

On the lighter side . . .

If you are a doodler like me, you may find this post on Mind/Shift interesting.  The author shares a research study that suggests that learning is enhanced in science when students draw a scientific concept.  Doodling helps!

The research suggests that when students draw a scientific concept, such as a sound wave, they understand it better. But just as important as their understanding, perhaps, drawing helps them feel more engaged and excited about learning.

I don't know if it helps adult learning outside of science, but I believe that doodling assists me in staying engaged.  It went from doodling to games on my phone.  The games create a negative mental model for others in the room, so I made a commitment to the ELT to discontinue that practice.  Now, when I have paper I doodle.  I think I'll start paying closer attention to the doodles to see of they are in any way connected to the conversations.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Smooth start . . .

It was a good opening to the school year.  When asked, all principals said things went well except for a couple of issues.  I received no parent complaints about busses being late or not showing up, so Bruce as the new Transportation Supervisor was spared a phone call from me.  I’ll need to find another reason to question him about his new role.

One of the important considerations for the first week is enrollment because the majority of our general fund budget is based upon the number of students that enroll.  Yesterday, not counting the high school and kindergarten, we were about 70 below projection.  Today, counting the high school, that same number is about 20 above projection.  Typically, we would like that number to be between 75 and 100 above projection because it normally decreases over the course of a school year. 

Even with our housing issues, I would like to see that number well above projection this year because of the potential for additional budget cuts as early as this month.  We know the September revenue projections will be below those that the state used to finalize their budget and the Governor has already warned state agencies to prepare for further cuts.  A cushion in the budgeted enrollment would assist us in working through these expected additional cuts.  To balance our district budget for the year without major program changes required us to use some of our fund balance, something that we will not be able to continue over time.  We now wait to see what the cuts will be and determine at that time if any enrollment increases might offset some of those cuts.

I’m looking forward in the next week to my first opportunity to get into classrooms with principals and to the conversations that follow as we implement our Classroom 10 goal and the support structures necessary to achieve it.  Though budget and housing are two very important issues facing our school system, the work in classrooms is still the number one priority as we have another opportunity to support all students through quality learning, every day, in every classroom, for every child.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A big thanks . . .

I want to thank all of the custodial and maintenance staff for their effort and commitment over the summer to get our buildings ready for tomorrow's opening.  Like many things in our district, we are not overstaffed in this department.  These men and women deserve a thank you from all of us for preparing and maintaining these learning environments.

Here is a link to Living In A Custodial World, a blog authored by the high school head custodian Rick Bergum.  In this post he shares last minute work that the crew was able to complete for tomorrow.

Once again, THANK YOU to the Custodial and Maintenance staff!

On yesterday's post  the link to the free ebook didn't attach.  Sorry, here it is.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Free tools for teachers . . .

At Free Technology for Teachers, Richard Byrnes shares links to sites that support teachers use of technology. In this post he shares a link to a free ebook, The Super Book of Web Tools for Teachers. This can be a valuable source of ideas for those comfortable with web 2.0 tools and a support for those wanting to try new things,

I recommend that you add his blog to your RSS feed.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

My blog in a word cloud . . .

I tried a new site for creating word clouds called Tagul.   It was easy to sign up and and to use.  I need to spend some time playing with the options because the background of this one makes it difficult to see the words.  I like the prominence of teacher and learning since that is what we are all about.

This one took about 30 additional seconds and I think is a better visual.  If I spent more time filtering out more of the words like August that are simply dates it would be a better representation of the blog's content focus.