Saturday, August 29, 2009

Project Lead the Way (PLTW)

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) enters it's second year at CAM High School and will beging the year with a flurry of activity.

We added a second class, Principles of Engineering. We have increased numbers in Intro to Engineering and Design and the Kern Family Foundation is coming out September 14th to evaluate and hopefully certify the district.

Mr. Miller is teaching Intro to Engineering and Design and Mr. Arp is teaching Principles. Both are excited and anxious to get things rolling and working towards getting students online and working with the software.

We've experienced a problem as we didn't get supplies and computers ordered and will start a couple weeks behind with the software. Both classes have activities to do in the mean time to get things going.

We're excited to offer the opportunity to young people who can engage seemingly difficult concepts in a hands-on, real-life manner.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bumps on the road of technology integration

I would be lying if I said our one-to-one has gotten off to a smooth start this year. We were pushing to get the computers to the kids on Thursday, then Friday and then had to settle on Monday.

Well, there's something in the air with Apple Computers and their wireless "airports" (play on words intended) and updating their firmware. So long story short is we're hoping for Wednesday, at the latest Friday to get the computers out to students.

The positive in all this is our teachers get to use the critical thinking skills to substitute any lessons that were relying on the Macbooks with either different lessons or find another source of technology to replace them. The good thing is the teachers have their computers and the airports are functioning for them at the moment.

For me it will be a "teachable moment" in faculty meetings, individual conferences and professional learning team gatherings.

For teachers and students they will have to go a little longer without the computers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Extending the day and CAM Reads

A direct relationship has been established between the school day being extended and the high school implementing a free reading period CAM Reads. A negative vibe from the kids indicating they blame the extra time in school CAM Reads.

Though I can see where that thinking has come from, it's inaccurate. As a Principal I'll admit that the change in the school time should have been brought up in the newsletter and at registration. Along with simply putting the schedule in, and explanation of where and why we are implementing CAM Reads and what we were also considering.

There has been considerable discussion about the school day since it was shortened from 3:30 to 3:00 when our whole-grade sharing situation first began. This past spring we decided to give it a look and with the blessing of both transportation departments we decided to put the instructional time back into the school day.

After that decision was made we looked at just adding the time back into the block, pull-out and homeroom options, several initiatives in reading and math among other things. We received very good information about "Reading Volume" and the amount students can and should read each year. We decided on establishing a free reading period between blocks 3&4 and 7&8 (and after lunch on Wednesday) and titled it "CAM Reads".

I will post more about CAM Reads in the future, but I will say it is the first step for this district to improve our student's ability to read and comprehend but giving them a no-pressure, low impact reading period where they will simply have to discuss their book with a partner or the class. If they simply participate and fill out their log sheets they will get an elective credit.

As I told one student, we could have simply divided the time up to the four classes each day or put them through some repetitious test-prep drill work.

CAM Reads is a great option.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A portal to media literacy

This Kansas State professor is on the cutting edge of digital learning:

Friday, August 14, 2009

Staring down the barrel of professional development days

As a principal and instructional leader, building manager, certified staff manager and curriculum director I always get to the point where I feel I'm staring down the barrel of professional development days.

I habitually start beating myself up starting about July 4th. Sitting watching fireworks with the kids, spawns a knot in my stomach. A voice starts talking, "you need to inspire them out of the shoot, you need to dazzle them." On vacation I tote my laptop and do little things, searching for videos and website, nuggets to lay out for them to pick up and take into the year. Never really leaving my work behind for my free 12th month the anxiety level rises as you try to balance family, friends, work while off contract.

Then there's August. The whirlwind of meetings, professional and building, the smattering of teachers that arrive and the issues that need solved now and not in a week or two like you would like them to be solved. What gets pushed aside to solve these problems and help teachers get ready? Preparation for professional development. Never mind that your partners in education (the local AEA reps) are off contract and you each have a folder of things you discussed in June that continue to gather dust.

But we get there, we prepare and we do our very best (I might add we do better and better each year as we further implement effective professional development models like IDM or DDL or and effective PLT program). And it comes. Day one with teachers.

Thinking of title to this post I realize as I feel I'm looking down the barrel in July and August, the teachers show up and it's being pointed at them with no regard to the short time they have to get ready. We have rolled out very good sessions over the past three years, but you can't hide the fact the teachers are looking down the barrel of another gun - THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL.

Teachers do come in some during the year, but many count on those three days to prepare.

So as administrators and educational partners we fire the gun on the first day with teachers yet they see another gun pointed, cocked and aimed at them.

Truthfully, it's not that dramatic and we do an effective job at balancing our professional development time with preparing for students. But the compressed time, and the problems that pop up that need teachers and administrators attention make it a pressure filled three days.

The key is to have "bullets" of learning that are not for the teachers to absorb in those few days. They should be starting points for initiatives that are ongoing and are addressing district needs.

Professional development is not a gun or a bullet, but we can make it feel like we're firing out knowledge and putting teachers in the cross fire of PD and getting ready for school.

Oh, and I'm writing this with a pile of things I need to have ready for Monday.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Better get updated

Saw my blog on Scott Mcleod's wiki...Thought I'd better at least update the blog.

Will do a better job as we've had great dialog today.