Friday, April 27, 2012

Outstanding students and outstanding teachers

I had the pleasure of attending the National Honor Society induction ceremony a couple days ago, and while there were many things that struck me as very special during that event, there was one thing I just have to share here. Every year the NHS students select a faculty member to give a speech at the ceremony. This year Mr. Jason Heeren, high school band director, was invited to give the speech, and he did an excellent job giving these outstanding students advice.

What struck me, though, is this. The students voted to select the teacher to give the speech, and in that voting process nineteen different teachers received votes. Nineteen! To know that so many of the SLCSD teachers are respected so much by their students just makes my heart sing. What wonderful students! What wonderful teachers!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Share the Dream" Presentation

Wonderful presentation by Elementary Principal Juli Kwikkel, Elementary Reading Specialist Michelle Huntress, and Kindergarten Teacher Deb Mortensen at the School Board Meeting last night concerning the Share the Dream grant that Storm Lake Elementary received last fall. The grant allowed the district to buy sixteen netbooks, two for each kindergarten classroom, for student use. The purpose of the grant is for "Using Technology to Reach the Corners of the World," and the kindergarten teachers have embraced the challenge by forging partnerships with various schools in other countries. By using Skype, blogging, email, and various presentations for sharing, these classrooms have embraced the concept of learning outside the four walls of our own district.

Mrs. Mortensen, specifically, has formed a partnership with a school in British Columbia. They have exchanged various presentations to learn about each other's culture.

What a great way to show the School Board one of the pieces of the puzzle when it comes to integrating technology for learning!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Family Fun Night!

The elementary school held their second Family Fun Night of the year last night. Take a look at all the fun and learning that went on!

Family Fun Night

Friday, April 13, 2012

How will we use the educational technology?

If you read my blog regularly, you know that one of my biggest pet peeves is acquiring technology without first asking the question: What is it we want to accomplish? It's always seemed crazy to me to listen to vendors and advertisers show off the newest and greatest technology, get excited about the bells and whistles, and then jump in head first to a massive purchase and rollout of the technology without knowing what in the world we are trying to do that couldn't be accomplished before we spent the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the new technology.

I just read two articles in the April 2012 District Administration magazine that address this issue in two different ways. The first article, "Using Tomorrow'sTechnology to Teach Yesterday's Curriculum" by Cathleen Norris and Elliot Soloway, concerns the crazy notion of purchasing $600 tablets only to use them for flashcard or drill and practice apps. The point being that tablets may hold all the promise in the world to contribute to 21st Century skills such as "teamwork and problem solving," but if we don't purposefully use them that way, we've wasted the $600.

The second article, "The Three Pillars of 21st Century Learning" by Rob Mancabelli, talks about moving away from what he deems the old pillars of education: "the textbook, the lecturer, and the classroom," to the new pillars, paraphrased here: I'm only one of my students' teachers; I must teach my students to learn independently; and student knowledge is partially a product of their networks.

Take a look at the original articles. Both of them bolster my belief that school technology is only as beneficial to learning as our ability to view teaching and learning in new ways. Until we are willing to shift our thinking, we might as well have saved our technology dollars.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

SLCSD April Newsletter

As hard as it is to believe we are already to April of this school year! Here is the current newsletter from Central Office:

We continue to enjoy learning together!