Saturday, April 30, 2011

Digital Books, Way Better Than Print

Day 3 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge:
In this blog, I want to share something I stumbled upon. I thought it was cool, so I’m passing it along. 
Thursday I downloaded a new book to my iPad. No big deal. I have read a few books by Seth Godin and enjoyed them immensely. I decided to download Linchpin. After downloading the book in a matter of 30 seconds to my Kindle app, I thought to myself, “when will I ever buy a paper copy of a book again?” 
Of the last six books I’ve read, five have been digital. The one book I read that was a paper version did not come in the digital form. This will be the first book I read from my iPad. The previous five have been from my iPhone.
After reading the first chapter of Linchpin on my iPad, I tapped over to my TEDtalk app. The newest talk was about digital books. Interesting. The talk was titled, “A Next-Generation Digital Book” by Mike Matas. He shared the new book from Al Gore, Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis. This book has the newest technology available for an iPad to manipulate the book and its contents. Watch the demo to see for yourself: click here.
This got me thinking, if technology continues on this path with e-readers, which it will, do we see the end of print work altogether? I often debate with coworkers who think I am crazy because I read books from my iPhone or iPad versus a good old fashion book. They cannot understand how I can curl up on the couch and read from an electronic device. I understand their point, but I often respond with, how can you not? Whether I am reading fiction or non fiction, the kindle app allows me to highlight information within the book and add comments or thoughts, which I can access at my convenience through my Amazon account. I no longer have to take notes with a pen and paper, or write all over the page. I can instantly access the search menu on my iPad within the Kindle app and look up any confusing vocabulary or further explore a topic of interest within the story via the internet. The Go To option allows me to instantly move to the Table of Contents, an exact location in the book, Book Extras, or the coolest feature, Popular Highlights. Popular Highlights allows me to see what other Kindle users have highlighted and noted that they think is noteworthy. I forgot to mention, digital books are half the price. 
Try a digital book, it is worth your time. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Van Meter Visit

Day 2 of the 30 day Blog Challenge

Today I had the chance to spend time at Van Meter Schools. I started the day with Julie Gilbert walking through the front doors of Van Meter Secondary School. A few kids greeted us with smiles and hellos. We walked into the office and met 6-12 principal, Deron Durflinger. He greeted us and welcomed us to Van Meter. We made our way up tp the secondary library and met our friend, Shannon Miller.

Shannon was working with two sixth grade girls on a video contest. The winners of the contest receive an iPad2. The two sixth grade girls explained that they would be unable to each get an iPad, so they thought if they won, they should donate the iPad to the library, that way everyone could use it. This was the first of many examples we saw throughout they day of students respect and caring for their school environment.

We kicked off the morning with with a skype session between 5K and and Elaine Roberts. She did a read aloud via skype. The kids were so engaged. As soon as they walked into the library for class, they asked, "Are we skyping today?"

I got a chance to meet John Carver face to face. I have spoken with John in the past via twitter and skype over the past year. He was busy at work, and I thanked him for the opportunity to visit his school. He has created a school district that is one of respect and accountability. I told him how impressed I was with the students, teachers, and their friendliness to new people.

After spending time with 8th graders and high school kids in the library, we headed to a second grade classroom to watch Shannon teach a lesson about Tikatoc. The second graders were so excited to be using their iMacs to create stories about what they are passionate about.

We headed upstairs to hangout with 7th graders, and talk with Lorie Prouty and Stacey Peterson. They had their language arts kids creating newsletters about topics of their choice. Some kids were creating a google doc to collaborate with each other to create a newsletter as a group. They were not told to do this, they just decided this would be their best avenue for working together. Awesome collaboration!

We ended the day with a skype session between 7th grade kids and Hannah Brencher. Hannah was talking to a large group of girls about her organization, She's the First. It is a non profit organization to help girls in under privileged countries. The stories and message Hannah shared were powerful and moving.

My trip to Van Meter was both inspiring and reassuring. It inspired me to continue to push the envelope with my fellow educators, and help them see both their potential as well as their students' potential. It reminded me that I still have a lot of work to do, as well as my fellow colleagues. The visit reassured me that I am on the right path in making learning relevant for my kids. Connecting individuals and groups is the key to learning for both children and adults. No matter the discourse or storms that occur, continue to push forward and make a difference. Thank you Van Meter for allowing me the opportunity to see excellence.

I leave you with a quote painted on the wall of Shannon Miller's library:

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, but learning to dance in the rain."
Thank you for dancing Van Meter, you truly are an example of what is right in public education.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Rejection No, Motivation Yes

Last week Wednesday, I had my first interview for a principalship. I got a call yesterday about the results of the interview. I'm not moving onto the second round. I was in the top eight, the top six moved onto the second round. My first reaction was anger. I was angry that I was not selected, I was angry that I would have to start the process all over in attaining my professional goal as a principal. After 15 minutes I got over it. I had to. The rejection of not being selected as a finalist for the job I have wanted for the past year hurt, but it has motivated me to continue on this journey and keep working towards my goals and dreams.

After letting the people in my life that I consider My Board of Directors know the news, I checked my RSS feed and got back to work.
I asked myself, "What can you do Chris? What do you need to do to get better, and be more prepared?"
I went to one of my favorite blogs for advice and inspiration, Connected Principals.

I read about how relationships need to come first in education, how handing over control to kids will build a learning path they can embrace and succeed beyond our beliefs. Both articles were inspiring and motivating to me to continue this journey as an educator. Did I feel rejected by the school district that didn't want me? Yes. Did they motivate me to be better and continue to grow as a person? Yes!

This is DAY 1 of a 30 Day blog challenge I am embarking upon. Thank you Julie Colque for challenging me to reflect and share with my PLN.