Sunday, July 31, 2011

Giveaway @ Primary Connections

Giveaway at Primary Connections for a $20 TPT gift certificate. You have about 10 minutes to get on over there!!!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Web Conference Review 7/20/11

I enjoyed the experience of getting to chat with the professor as well as some of my fellow classmates. From this experience, I gained information about our educational timeline as well as clarification on several assignments.  It was great to get to see her in person and it was also wonderful that I did not have to leave the house. I really enjoy online classes. I actually finished my bachelor’s degree in elementary education using online classes so I am used to the format.
I am looking forward to the semester a lot more now that I know where we are headed and I am looking forward to all of the upcoming courses. I am glad to hear that we will also be able to test for our administration competencies as well. Hopefully these courses can continue my education and career in the fields that I am the most interested in.

Friday, July 29, 2011


My mother-in-law got me a Kindle for my birthday this year and I am playing with it now. Does anyone else have a Kindle?

I am working on loaning books. Do you have some you could loan me?!?

I have The Book Whisperer, Daily 5 and the Cafe Book that I can loan out if anyone needs it. :)

Reform Symposium

Not sure if all of you in blogger land know about the Reform Symposium going on RIGHT NOW!! It is wonderfully techy info for educators K-12. I have listened to some great presentations so far this morning and want you to be included in the action. Click on over and join the PD! (PD credit is awarded for this conference as well!)

Also wanted to add some of the info from one of the presentation from this morning "Gaming in Education".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lack of Updates

Please forgive the lack of updates. I have been in the hospital with my husband for the last two days. He has a gigantic kidney stone and has already had one surgery trying to remove it. He should get to come home tomorrow and they will try a different surgery on Tuesday. If you can, thoughts and prayers are appreciated. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Classroom Updates

Couple of new photos of my classroom in progress.

Fabric to cover to bad walls

My Book Check out System

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

My New Button

Still a work in progress!!

Giveaway at Third Grade Bookworm

Abby at Third Grade Bookworm is having a giveaway for 2 winners.
1) $25 Amazon Gift Card
2) A TPT Unit

Either way is awesome to me! Stop by and check her out!

Friday, July 22, 2011

E-Rate and the Jasper ISD Technology Plan

Blog Post #2 JISD Technology Plan

My district has roughly $1.8 million dollars in technology expenditures allotted in their 2010-2013 Technology Plan. Our total student enrollment is 2794 and we are 76.48% economically disadvantaged students. Our campuses are 100% wireless and all classrooms have a direct connection to the internet. Our computer to student ratio is 1:3.
The Jasper ISD Technology Plan strives to keep Jasper schools on the cutting edge of technology while facing the financial constraints familiar to all persons in the field of education. Assessing the plan and thinking toward the future is always a work in progress.
The following needs are identified:
1)              Faster network connections due to the larger amounts of graphics used in computer assisted instruction programs.
2)              Newer and faster computers for students and teacher.
3)              Increased number of network drops per classroom.
4)              Increase in multimedia training for teachers.
5)              Increase training for administrative staff.
6)              Need standard for technology skill level for staff and teachers.
7)              Increase technology usage in classroom instruction.
8)              Campus personnel trained for minor computer trouble shooting.
9)              Long range plan for funding technology.
10)          Increase training for support personnel.

Our first goal is to continue to address the four strands of TEA Technology Applications: Foundation, Information Acquisition, Work in Solving Problems and Communication. There is a $392,400 budget to support the use of technology in teaching and to use technology to support the TEKS in the curriculum.
Our second goal is to focus on educator preparation and development. There is a $75,000 budget to support training and education for staff to integrate and use technology in the classroom. While this seems to be a large number, I believe that in the last three years with this district I have been to one technology workshop and the TCEA convention (booths only). I feel that our district needs to not only push more technology training but have to be able to put the technology in the teacher’s hands. We cannot be expected to provide the technology to push the district into the future.
Our third goal is to provide efficient administrative and technical support to JISD. There is a budget of $468,000 to utilizes TrackIt for service requests, maintain existing equipment and software, to provide additional funding for technology and to provide on-site software, instruction and technical support. I feel this is a large number considering we have very few technicians and no really training on site staff. I feel that with my knowledge I am depended upon to much to fix computer and operator errors.
Our final goal is to plan for infrastructure technology needs. The budget is $882,000 and includes increased educational opportunities, expanding the number of network connections on each campus, increased services to parent and the community and to maintain bandwidth and services to students and faculty. I feel that these are also large numbers. There is $27,000 set aside to increase the number of links on the JISD web page, to offer web page usage allowing family access to student information and to provide computer instruction to parent and the community. I don’t feel that we as a district need to be training parents on computer usage. I feel that our funds could be much better utilized within the district putting technology in the hands of the students.
Staff development in our district is placed at $25,000 per year for the next three years. Our telecommunications and internet access is placed at $155,000 for the next three years with E-rate funding 90% of the cost. E-rate is also funding 90% of the cost in equipment for the 2010 year with a cost of $350,000, but this is funded by the district for 2011-2012 at $100,000 each year. Materials and supplies are at $7000 per year and miscellaneous expenses are at $10,700 per year. Maintenance is at $225,000 each year.
The evaluation and revision of the JISD Technology Plan is a continuous process. The Technology Committee will be responsible for evaluating the Technology Plan. In order to evaluate the JISD Plan, the committee will follow these steps:
1)      Determine the purpose of the evaluation
2)      Prepare specific questions to address
3)      Decide what data will help answer these questions
4)      Collect the data
5)      Analyze the information
6)      Use the information for program improvement
The accountability methods and measures to evaluate effectiveness show technology integrated into curriculum and teachers using more technology with more students passing TAKS and more TEKS being met.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Great Article about Texas State Versus Texas Schools

How Texas Betrayed Its Schools

Jul. 20 2011 - 4:59 pm | 3,091 views | 1 recommendation | 8 comments

(I’ll return to national macroeconomic issues in my next post–and there is certainly still a lot to say there!)
As promised, this is my follow-up post based on our trip to the Save Texas Schools conference in Austin this past weekend. It was a sobering experience. The long and the short of it is this: Texas has abandoned its children. The Governor and the Legislators in Austin have set the stage for a protracted crisis not only in education but in the State economy. With respect to the former, we can look forward to larger class sizes, the elimination of many important programs, and the placing of even more responsibility of the backs of overworked (and fewer) teachers. Texas already ranked an embarrassing 44th in education and these developments do not bode well for future of the Lone Star State. As far as the economy is concerned, every public education layoff means less income not only for those individuals, but for local businesses where they would have shopped. Indeed, the Legislative Budget Board forecast that almost 45% of job losses would actually be in the private sector (Center for Public Policy Priorities: CPPP Urges Rejection of HB1). Furthermore, the lack of a decent education will greatly reduce the future earning power of Texans. The only firms willing to relocate here will be those hoping to find a source of cheap, low-skilled laborers. Texas will become the alternative to outsourcing to an impoverished, third-world country. The stars at night no longer look so big and bright.

Was this fiscal crisis the inevitable outcome of the Great Recession? The answer is absolutely, unequivocally, no. In fact, it is hard to avoid the unsettling conclusion that it was deliberate, that certain State Legislators and the Governor did this on purpose. To put this into context, consider this passage from the Texas Constitution:
A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools (Article VII).
The State is thus constitutionally required to support of a public school system. In terms of the specific meaning of “efficient,” the courts have offered some guidelines:
It must be recognized that the Constitution requires an ‘efficient,’ not an ‘economical,’ ‘inexpensive,’ or ‘cheap’ system (Texas Supreme Court, Edgewood ISD vs. Kirby, 1989).
This is obviously still open to interpretation, but it seems reasonable to imagine that it would at least represent the same level of service as last year. Surely the State whose economy would make it the 15th-largest country in the world could accomplish such a goal? And, indeed, it has done so every year–until this one. Today, however, it seems that Texas can no longer afford to offer the 44th-best education in the nation (soon to be 50th, incidentally). We are faced with an $18 billion revenue shortfall, of which roughly $5 billion would have gone to education (Center for Public Policy Priorities: Statement on the State Budget for 2012-13). But, to reiterate, this was not an accident. Conscious choices were made and clear warnings were ignored.
It started in 2006, when new tax laws were enacted that supporters (including Republican Governor Rick Perry) claimed would generate sufficient revenue to continue to fund education and other programs at required levels. Almost immediately, however, State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn (also a Republican) wrote to Governor Perry to explain that this was simply not true (Strayhorn Letter). Projections by her office showed that the State would find itself roughly $23 billion short within five years. She was remarkably accurate (in fact, she underestimated). There was, indeed, no way the planned tax reductions could possibly be offset by the legislated increases. But her warnings were completely ignored.
And so, when Legislators convened for the most recent session, it came as absolutely no surprise to anyone that revenues were well short of what was needed. In fact, they had been short in previous years, too, but earlier surpluses and federal stimulus funds had provided temporary relief. No more. This time, it would hurt. Or would it?

There was actually another option. The State had the foresight in 1988 to create a pool of money for such emergencies: the Economic Stabilization Fund (aka, the Rainy Day Fund). Following on the heels of the 1980s oil-price collapse that devastated the Texas economy, the goal was to systematically accumulate savings during good times which could then be spent in bad. This had, indeed, provided relief in the past, with the Legislature sometimes willing to spend the entire balance (Center for Public Policy Priorities: Using the Rainy Day Fund). And the best news in terms of addressing our current crisis is that the fund has never been larger than it is right now. It is difficult to imagine a more appropriate time to tap into it. Yet, despite vigorous debate (largely along party lines) and a march on the Capitol by those hoping to save Texas schools, the State refused to use more than an insignificant fraction. Apparently, it is not raining–but, boy, it soon will be. In fact, if we make no attempt to address the structural deficit, the revenue shortfall “will more than double again in two years regardless of how the economy performs” (Take Back Texas Alliance: Texas Budget Crisis). Our problem isn’t going to go away on its own.

And so, here we stand today. The government of the Great State of Texas has willfully elected to disregard its constitutional duty to fund education at even the modest levels represented by previous years. They ignored clear and prescient warnings regarding future revenue streams and chose not to tap into monies set aside for precisely such purposes. It will almost certainly get worse, and they know it. They are failing our schools, our children, and our State.

I hesitate to speculate on why those in control of the State government would so blatantly ignore the warning signs and lead us into this education disaster. Others don’t, however. They believe that it is because the Governor and key Legislators are purposely setting out to destroy public education, hoping to replace our constitutionally-mandated system with one based on private schools. If that is true, it raises at least two concerns:

1) If that is your goal, then have the integrity to say it out loud. Don’t hide behind claims of fiscal crises and incompetent educators. The former is a smoke screen, one that may have been purposely manufactured for just this purpose. The revenue issues could most certainly be addressed if Legislators were willing to discuss tax reform (Take Back Texas Alliance: Texas Budget Crisis; Center for Public Policy Priorities: List of $30 Billion in Revenue Options). The latter, meanwhile, simply isn’t true. The scholarly research on the American public education system argues that it measures up very well against those of other countries. Those saying otherwise are either cherry picking statistics or simply do not understand how to interpret them (for more on this, see my previous post: Why US Education Deserves Our Praise).

2) Let’s not kid ourselves about what privatization of education would really represent. It would mean abandoning the poor, disenfranchised, and otherwise challenged children of our State. That’s not just mean-spirited, it is un-American and undemocratic. Our system of government requires an educated citizen more than any other. I’m sure I don’t need to argue this, so I’ll simply close with some relevant quotes. Hopefully, Governor (and Presidential Candidate?) Perry and certain Texas Legislators will give these a read. I hope so, as it seems they are the ones most in need of an education.
Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstones of freedom, democracy and sustainable human development.
–Kofi Annan
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
–Thomas Jefferson
In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity–it is a pre-requisite.
–Barack Obama
Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.
–Franklin D. Roosevelt
Resources for Further Reading
Center for Public Policy Priorities
The Take Back Texas Alliance

Many thanks to Scott McCown of the Center for Public Policy Priorities for reviewing an earlier version of this post. Thanks, too, to my wife, Melanie, for her insights and editorial advice. All remaining errors are, of course, my own.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Some Progress

I am finally making some progress on my classroom unpacking. I sorted a lot of school supplies left over from last year. I organized my books (sorta) and put them on the shelves. I am having lots of problems finding enough room for all of my stuff. :(

O well, I am going to keep up the work!

My best news of the day...actually, I have two great news (newes? These both sound dumb.) First off, the custodian said he was going to turn on my air conditioning since I have been coming everyday for the last two weeks. That is going to be awesome because a box fan in an enclosed space that is sitting at around 100 degrees is not awesome. Secondly, I got Wal-Mart to donate me 50 reusable shopping bags to use as book bags this year for my Daily 5!!  So all in all, I had a pretty great day!

This picture is sideways and I forgot to turn it. This is giftwrap covering up the really ugly and paint job needing doors.

Before and after which is better? The seperation of the paper is really bad in the pic but you can't really tell in person.

Blog #3 National Education Technology Plan

“All learners will have engaging and empowering learning experiences both in and out of  school that prepare them to be active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in our globally networked society.” This goal from the National Educational Technology Plan (NETP) is one of my favorite new quotes. The NETP says that states must continue to revise, create, and implement standards and learning objectives using technology for all content areas that reflect 21st-century expertise and the power of technology to improve learning.

Our education system at all levels will leverage the power of technology to measure what matters and use assessment data for continuous improvement. Interactive technologies, especially games, provide immediate performance feedback so that players always know how they are doing. As a result, they are highly engaging to students and have the potential to motivate students to learn. They also enable educators to assess important competencies and aspects of thinking in contexts and through activities that students care about in everyday life. Because interactive technologies hold this promise, assessment and interactive technology experts should collaborate on research to determine ways to use them effectively for assessment.

Professional educators will be supported individually and in teams by technology that connects them to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that enable and inspire more effective teaching for all learners. Today’s technology enables educators to tap into resources and orchestrate expertise across a school district or university, a state, the nation, and even around the world. Educators can discuss solutions to problems and exchange information about best practices in minutes, not weeks or months. Today’s educators should have access to technology-based resources that inspire them to provide more engaging and effective learning opportunities for each and every student.

All students and educators will have access to a comprehensive infrastructure for learning when and where they need it. Only with 24/7 access to the Internet via devices and technology-based software and resources can we achieve the kind of engagement, student-centered learning, and assessments that can improve learning in the ways this plan proposes. The form of these devices, software, and resources may or may not be standardized and will evolve over time. In addition, these devices may be owned by the student or family, owned by the school, or some combination of the two.

I believe that these are all reachable goals but it is going to require great financial assistance as well as large amounts of professional development for educators. I believe that students are more than ready to see these changes implemented into their classrooms.

Blog Post #1 Technology Assessments

I believe that there is a great value in accessing educators’ technology leadership knowledge and skills. Technology whether we like it or not, is what is happening now and is what’s to come. Educators must be able and willing to accept the changes that are happening. Students are not willing to accept the status quo when they see what technology can do for them personally and educationally.
I also believe that we need to access the student’s knowledge and skills so that we as educators can accurately instruct them in the manner that they need. We cannot just blindly take on this task. We need to be able to compare our knowledge with their own so that we can address the needs of both the educator and the student.
In my experience, I have seen very few teachers grab onto technology and try to find ways to adapt it to use in their classroom. Last year, our teachers were all issued an iPod touch for Texas Primary Reading Inventory (TPRI) testing. The iPods were ours to use for the remainder of the year in any way we saw fit. Only one teacher chose to add educational apps to the iPod and use it in the classroom. Every single other teacher could not adapt their teaching style to use this technology as a teaching tool or every a reward mechanism.
There is no reason that we as educators cannot go out meet this new technological world head on and start changing our teaching styles to meet the needs of the new 21st century learners.

Coming Up....

Please excuse my posting for a bit....

See I am in grad school working on my Masters in Educational Technology Leadership and as a requirement I have to post some essays on my blog. If they don't intrest you, just pass them on, but if by chance you do see something you like, please comment on it.

I would love to have a dialogue on some of this.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do you Dropbox? ya?

"Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring all your photos, docs, and videos anywhere. This means that any file you save to your Dropbox will automatically save to all your computers, phones and even the Dropbox website. Dropbox also makes it super easy to share with others, whether you're a student or professional, parent or grandparent. Even if you accidentally spill a latte on your laptop, have no fear! You can relax knowing that Dropbox always has you covered, and none of your stuff will ever be lost."

Now I don't work for Dropbox but I did want to share that it is the most awesome thing EVER when you realize at 11:00 that the presentation you wanted to work on is saved on the school computer. Click my link to register!

Giveaway @ Ladybug's Teacher Files

My friend at Ladybug's Teacher Files is having a giveaway. She has 1000+ followers!!!
Here are the prizes:

1. First name drawn (Grand Prize): A Mix and Match Template from Ladybug Teaching Resources, INCLUDING any offered extras. What is a Mix and Match Template? It is a new type of template that offers a great deal of choice and customization. Read (actually, watch) all about it here: Mix and Match Templates

2. Next 3 names drawn: Your choice of a Premade Template, INCLUDING any offered extras. You can see all Premade Templates here (there are two new ones!): Premade Templates

Go Check her out Right Now to enter!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

My New Classroom

I went by and took 2 more car loads of stuff to my new classroom today. I think I am only about 1 car load away from being moved in!! But I wanted to share some before pics of my new room.

Right now, it is just a giant mess. The room is smaller and the kids are going to be bigger! I am going to make this work though. More updates on the classroom to come.

A+ Teaching Blogs

A+ Teaching Blogs

Giveaway @ Sister Teachers

My friends at Sister Teachers are having a giveaway. They are giving out 2 custom buttons! Woo!  Head on over and check them out.

Giveaway @ The Third Wheel

My friend over at The Third Wheel is having a giveaway for a $25 Godiva gift know you wanna...Click on over and tell her hello!

Donors Choose

I wanted to take a minute to share my donorschoose project.

I am asking for some FLIP camcorders. Have you seen those things? They are amazing. I have some great plans for book reports, fluency building and mp3 files to send back to my primary friends for their kids to listen to.

I am very excited about this! Help a girl out and pass along the word!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

I think I am in love....

I have (finally) starting reading The Daily Five by the sisters. I am so excited about getting to implement this in my room next year. We have a "centers" mindset on my campus and I am glad that I have the research to back up what sounds so right. All of the work for centers can be so time consuming and I love all of the ideas. I am ready to work on some Read to Self.

On another note, I went to Goodwill and Dollar Tree with the MIL today. Awesome finds! Goodwill had paperback books 5 for $0.99 and hardback books 3 for $0.99. I spent only $5 on a ton of books. Finally found the book crates at Dollar Tree as well as some really cool sight word cards.

We also went and saw Bad Teacher. OMG, hilarious! 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Classroom Shopping Linky Party

I just wanted to share some of the great buys I have had since moving classrooms.

1) The Dollar Spot @ Target is the most amazing thing. I love stickers for everything and they have tons to use!

2) These awesome beach chairs for my library are on sale now @ Target for $4.99. My target had them in red and green only.

I should be getting all moved into my new room this week. I have some painting to do and then the BIG task of organizing my library. More to come soon!

In the beginning.....

A great many changes have prompted me to begin the blog. First of all being my great switch from first grade to third grade. As much as I love the babies, I am very excited about moving on and up! Third grade, here I come!