Friday, November 23, 2012

Twitter: Not just for rock stars and socialites.

Many people think of Twitter as a place where we update each other on the latest thing we have had for breakfast – or getting the latest on what Kim Kardashian is up to.  Twitter is much more than this, it is place where we can follow some very influential people and improve ourselves.  I am an avid user of Twitter and social media.  I blog regularly and tweet about educational issues, books, and our school.  I use Twitter specifically for developing myself as a professional, and connecting with other educators. 

Another reason why I use social media is to model the appropriate use of platforms like Facebook and Twitter to young people.  Many of us and our children are leaving digital footprints online that may never go away.  Teaching digital citizenship to our children is very important.  So why not teach our children how to leave a positive footprint behind that doesn't come back to bite them in the future.  In the future our resume will be our digital footprint. 

Things to think about;

Google yourself, what does your current digital footprint look like?

Reflect on what you post on Facebook, are you modeling appropriate use to your children? 

Do you monitor your child’s use of social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)? 

Are you friends on Facebook or do you follow your child on Twitter? 

Homework Discussion

Two weeks ago we had our first class.  Sixteen teachers and administrators have taken part in a class that I am facilitating on homework and grading.  The district is picking up the cost of books, and credit cost.  We met and had a great discussion on the beliefs of homework.  Each of them have since started a blog and are in the infancy of using Twitter.  I am hoping that this will create ripples, not only with the much needed homework and grading reform but also the use of social media.

I have posted their insightful blogs below: 

Guest Post: Homework Balance

From my elementary principal: 

I enjoyed the recent book study discussion and felt that the homework belief statements brought up interesting perspectives for each of us to consider and challenged our core homework beliefs.  It was also a bit surprising to me that even though we assume different roles within the field of education, we were able to put our personal beliefs on the line, listen to each others' perspectives and find a sense of commonality.  In my opinion, the overriding thread of commonality stems from the guiding principle that we as educators should do what is best for children / our students.  In relating this core belief to our homework discussion, I tend to believe that assigning homework can serve a beneficial purpose.  Perhaps, it can provide additional practice for students who need to spend time outside of school working to further develop a particular skill that has already been taught.  This educational practice can result in a positive outcome for our students and it applies to all academic areas within all grade levels.
However, I believe there are also circumstances when homework can do more harm than good.  For example, I think back to the days when I began teaching and it was common practice for me to expect that my students to do the same amount of homework, to complete the homework task at the same level of proficiency and everyone was expected to complete the assigned task by the same due date.  It didn’t take long for me to recognize the following pattern:  some students worked to over-achieve, others planned it out so that they would meet the expected criteria, a few did just enough to get by and other students forgot (intentionally or unintentionally) about the assignment altogether.  Looking back, I feel that my practices contributed to the repetition of this cycle and I continued to do so until I realized the homework piece was as much about me as it was my students.
In conclusion, the topic that came up numerous times in our discussion was the need to find a reasonable “homework balance”.  I believe that in order to find the right balance of homework, teachers should take into consideration a number of the following factors: the age of his/her students, the relevance of the subject matter, the amount of homework / length of time it will take to complete the homework, the difficulty of the homework, the unique learning stages of his / her students, etc.  The list of considerations goes on and on...  I recognize
the difficulty of finding this “balancing” act and believe that we must deliberately select homework assignments that are intended to provide students with meaningful practice opportunities.

Thursday, November 15, 2012


Will our waiver of NCLB in North Dakota be accepted?

What if our new state superintendent changes paths and pulls the waiver application?

If the waiver is abandoned does the standardized evaluation system of teachers and principals go away too?

When will ESEA be reauthorized?

What if we don't make AYP again?

What if? What if?

These are many questions that I have and as a leader of a school district.  Within the climate of accountability it is difficult to bring clarity to teachers and stakeholders.  Do legislators and policy makers actually understand the strain that they put on districts due to the lack of action with ESEA?  I am a proactive person, but I find it difficult to stay a step ahead as education policy changes specifically in our state.  There is so much uncertainty right now specifically with ESEA and the waiver.  We need to be more active and make our influence felt on people that make the decisions.  I don't believe we do this enough as educators.  

How do you make your influence felt?