Well, the training will begin tomorrow. Tomorrow, our tech department will be sending over someone to teach our secretary, me, and some teachers how to do our elementary report cards online using Infinite Campus - welcome to the 21st century. One of the things I had to do in the last day or 2 was find a couple of teachers who were interested in helping pilot the project. I certainly had one fourth grade teacher in mind because she's pretty good with technology and certainly willing to learn something new. When I asked her, she jumped at the opportunity. The same thing happened when I asked one of our first grade teachers. Now, I was surprised when I asked a kindergarten teacher if she'd like to be involved. Her response took me by surprise a little because she didn't want to do it. She had her reasons, but I really didn't think they made sense. Oh well, luckily, another kindergarten teacher wants in, so we're all set.

I'm very excited about the project and hopefully I'll have something good to say about it in the next couple of days after we get into the project.

Excuses, Excuses

Sunday, March 25, 2007 | , , | 3 comments »

Okay, I'm over my previously mentioned addiction. For those of you who may suffer from the same addiction, here's a clue to get out of it - have kids and live in an area with nice weather (atleast the weather's starting to get nice). Our school district is also just wrapping up a Fitness Challenge put on by our Wellness Committee. I got a great deal on a temporary membership at a fitness club for the month of February and have actually be working out a little bit, taking up some of my blogging time since I've been going late at night instead of sitting on my butt typing away. Also, find something you like to do other than blog, and do a lot of of it. For me, that's been the NCAA Tournament. However, since my favorite team went down today, my interest in the Final Four is much less and my blogging just might increase. Those are my excuses for being a relative slacker over the past couple of weeks. I've taken time to read some of the posts my blog pals have written, but have failed miserably in blogging myself. So there, a bunch of excuses for my lack of blogging/laziness!

I'd also like to throw a question out regarding teacher effort in your schools. We are in the process of selecting a new elementary math series for our district. There is a committee (surprise-surprise) composed of teachers from all schools and each school has had the opportunity to take a look at the new books and materials, teach a couple of lessons, and give their feedback. There are three different options available, Everyday Math, something similar, but updated, to the series we have, and some other company - Houghton Mifflin, McDougal, etc. Now, I'm not involved in this decision because I'm not in the classroom anymore and I could care less what the final choice turns out to be. However, my big question is this - what's wrong with our current textbook? We've had it for a while and it must have been great when we chose it years ago. Did the book change to now make it suck? I don't think so. I guess the district feels we need to spend money on this instead of keeping more teachers or a program. Remember that question I'm going to toss out?? It's coming...

I've heard some of the teachers talking at lunch about the math committee meetings and why some teachers like one series over the other. Everyday Math was the first one tossed out. From what I've heard, this is a pretty good math series. The school and district my first grade daughter is in uses this and she's doing some pretty amazing stuff in first grade and seems to be well ahead of many of the second graders at my school (maybe it's the genes -haha). Anyway, one of the complaints I heard about this program is that it's a lot of work for the teachers and it's very different from what they've been doing for years. This made some of our teachers a little mad because some don't want to learn something new or work harder simply because the series is "different." They were very vocal about not moving in the direction of this series. They want to do the same thing they've been doing for years. They want to start at chapter 1 in the book in September and work their way to the end in June. WTF?? Let's do what's going to be best for the kids, not the teachers. It's our job to work hard and keep learning and if it means getting used to a new series, then that's what needs to be done.

So, here's my big question, have any of you experienced similar attitudes towards new textbook adoptions where you teach? Are these the attitudes of someone in just about every school across the board? Or, is this happening in my own little world.

Shrunken Head

Friday, March 16, 2007 | 2 comments »

Okay, after I read my previous post, I couldn't get through the nearest doorway because my head was so big. Boy, did I sound like I could rule the world - or at least the project. Well, I do want to clarify that my attitude towards the project is one of confidence, not arrogance. While I pretty much shot my mouth of earlier, I better make sure this project turns out the way I'm planning. I did mention that same comment to our secretary and she agreed - we better pull this off!

Anyway, back to March Madness!

Back in December, our school district was looking for an elementary school to pilot online report cards. We have Infinite Campus as a student information system district wide and our secondary schools have been using the report card feature for a year or so since we started using Infinite Campus. The secretary and I were pushing very hard for our school to be the school to pilot the elementary report cards online. We knew we could pull it off because she's the best secretary in the district dealing with Infinite Campus and I have had great results helping my staff with new technologies. They are very willing to go ahead with new projects and we were willing to put forth the effort. Well, we weren't chosen. One of the reasons is because one of the tech leaders in the district is, well, I won't say anything. Another elementary school was chosen and we knew it wouldn't work as well as if we did it. The librarian who was involved is not very confident as far as technology goes - she's awesome with books, but not technology. She's also not a fast learner and for this new project, that skill is needed.

The project was not going very well and we knew it. There were complaints from the school piloting the report cards and all the secretary and I would say to each other was something like "We should have been doing this."

This past Monday, the secretary stops me after school as informs me that the Director of Instruction called from her office with other administrators in the room to ask if our "offer" was still on the table. That's right, they've finally come to their senses and are going to have the best team (I know, it's bragging) on board with the project. We quickly ran the idea passed our staff and they didn't have a problem with it at all. It was confirmed today and we are in! It's going to be a lot of work, time consuming, and probably stressful, but we are very excited. I'll keep you posted on the project. Now, we can't wait to pull it off and sit back with a smile on our faces saying "We told you we could do it!"

I'm a Slacker

Sunday, March 11, 2007 | 3 comments »

A couple of things have prevented me from writing a good time killing blog lately and they probably will for the very short future:

1. I'm lazy
2. College basketball - Go Heels!
3. My family - we took a trip to the Shedd Aquarium over the weekend
4. Grad school coursework (Why am I still going back to school??)
5. Nice weather
6. Time spent reading other blogs instead of doing coursework mentioned in #4.
7. I'm lazy

Do you ever wonder what makes parents think that moving their children in and out of a school mid year is a good idea? Now, I realize that many moves must happen and are simply no one's fault - parents lose their jobs, get evicted, get divorced, etc., but the impact on their child's education is unbelievable. The school I'm at has a pretty high rate of students moving in and moving out. I would bet that over 75% of our classrooms do not have the same class list now that they did at the beginning of the year. Who loses in these situations? The kids of course. What is taught in one district, may not be taught in another. Maybe something taught at the beginning of the year in one district will be taught again to the student who moved in another district later in the year, resulting in the same material being taught twice. The opposite of this is also probably true. Students are missing valuable instruction in some areas because of the timing of the lessons. Throw all of this high stakes testing into the mix and these children are at a disadvantage.

A recent article discusses the need for a national student tracking system. This isn't a bad idea. I certainly know that when we get new students at our school, our secretaries don't get records from the previous schools in a timely manner, if at all. How can we find out the needs of the children without that information? This national tracking system could help. Having this system online would be great. Sure, there are many obstacles in the way of making this actually happen - one being money. Who's going to pay for it?

Our elementary school, with a population of about 400 students, has had way too many students moving in and out during the school year. We have a family that left our school about a month ago and are starting back tomorrow. What's going on? By an estimate from our secretary, the number of students who have moved in or out is at least 75 - and it's only the beginning of March! That number will probably be 100 by year's end. That's amazing to me. You know as well as I do that these are the kinds of kids who need stability in their lives. We make connections with these kids and they make the connection with us. Just when we are starting to make progress, they move. Mrs. Whatsit certainly feels the same way. I have no idea how to solve this problem, but something needs to be done.

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