Saturday, December 24, 2011

2 Simple Goals

As the first two days of break have passed by already, I have been working to accomplish two simple goals.

1 - Disable my work email from my phone.
2 - Read something that is actually printed on paper.

So far, number 1 is going well. It's freeing to force yourself to stay away from work email and work issues. The 2nd goal has not happened, unless you count the City of New Haven monthly newsletter. Hopefully I will find some time in the next 10 days to read a book or magazine.

What are you trying to accomplish on your time away from school?

Friday, October 14, 2011

100 Years Ago #6

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

O. Kamprath placed in Bloomfield, NE who was then serving in Williamsburg, IA.

The month of June 1911 marked never-to-be-forgotten days for the class of eighteen who were to be graduated from Concordia Teacher's College Seward, Nebraska at the end of that term. I shall never forget the evening after devotion, when our sainted Director Weller read the list of assignments, among which was the remark: Kamprath, Bloomfield, Nebraska. Eine sehr schwierige Stelle [A very difficult place]. Being obliged to leave the institution without graduation exercises was a great disappointment.

On August 13, 1911 I was installed as the first teacher of First Trinity Lutheran Church in Bloomfield, Nebraska. Here this nineteen-year old greenhorn began his career in a school of forty-six pupils, ranging in age from six to nineteen years, having been called by a group of the members with the permission of the congregation. After having served one year, and the enemies of the school having been somewhat subdued, the congregation accepted me as their teacher.

Here I served in the work of feeding the lambs for a period of twelve years, during which time the enrollment varied between thirty-six and sixty. A mixed choir, a male quartet and an orchestra were organized under my supervision. In 1914 a new church was built, the old church remodeled for a school and a teacherage was built.

August 6, 1913 marks the beginning of our happy married life. Miss Martha Buehrer decided to share the poverty of a teacher's family, so she consented to have her Pastor, Rev. Rittamel of Marysville, Nebraska to make us one. Here in Bloomfield, Milton, Victor, and Norma were born. One son died at birth.

In 1923, a call was received, and I accepted to St. John Congregation near Homestead, Iowa, Rev. F. Wolter, Pastor. Here I faced an enrollment of fifty-six pupils in all grades, but during the second semester the pastor took charge of the lower grades, and the following fall a student was engaged to teach the lower grades. This a two-room school was organized and exists as such to the present day. This congregation to this day has services in the German language only, with religious instruction in school primarily in that language also. Here I spent the eleven most pleasing years of my teaching career. Loretta, Ethel, May, Elmer, and Donald were born here and thrived on plenty of milk from our own cow and plenty of good old Iowa fresh air and sunshine. In 1928 this congregation built us a beautiful nine-room house which we enjoyed for six years. A male choir and a mixed choir were in my care at this place, the former consisting mostly of older men who enjoyed singing the good old German songs, both religious and secular. This choir had the privilege to broadcast a program over Station WSUI, Iowa City several times a year, featuring German hymns and songs.

But the Lord willed it that I move once more. In August 1934 I accepted a call to St. Paul's Congregation at Williamsburg, Iowa, where I am teaching a one-room school again with a present enrollment of forty pupils. We hope to build up this school to a two-room soon. The pastor T.H. Joeckel, who was installed here this past January, is highly interested in schoolwork. This congregation has a male choir, a ladies' choir, a Walther League Society, A Ladies' Aid and Altruistic Society [another ladies group - possibly the English speaking organization].

Concerning my family, I might add that Milton was married on December 28 last year and is now living in Williamsburg practicing the tonsorial art on the heads and faces of its citizens. Victor is completing his sixth year at Concordia Teachers College, River Forest. Norma graduates this year from the Williamsburg High School: incidentally the three highest ranking students in this class are from our Christian Day schools. Loretta, Ethel May, and Elmer are attending my school, and Donald is still keeping company with his mother.

For twenty-five years we have been leading little children to Christ, and by the grace of God, may look back upon more or less success. Only eternity will fully show the success of our work. May the motto of our class, "Deo Duce" [With God for a leader], help us to carry on this work also in the future.

Oscar Kamprath

Image: The Teacherage, mrsrivergirl, Uploaded via flickr July 20, 2011, Creative Commons License

Friday, October 7, 2011

100 Years Ago #5

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

W.H. Hinrichs placed in Bonduel, WI who was then serving in Williamsburg, IA.

Do you remember how eagerly we awaited the return of Director Weller from St. Louis in early June of 1911? The calls had been assigned. Of course we pretended to be more or less unconcerned, but in reality we were rather eager to learn of the place of our future activities. Someone who professed to know, told me I was to go to Lockwood, Missouri, which honor was accorded to Veits, as it developed later. When, that evening after devotion, Director Weller came to my name, he said: "Hinrichs, Bonduel, Wisconsin. Hinrichs wird sich freuen. Er wird eine Band haben." [Hinrichs will be pleased. He will have a Band.]

Due to the machination of Mr. H. Bloch, we left Seward hurriedly and without planned closing exercises. Of course, we were all coming back the next year, but -- of course, we didn't.

After a few happy months spent on the farm at home, I left for Bonduel, arriving there on September 1. On September 3, I was installed as first teacher of Zion Congregation near Zachow. I was told by the school board that I could have Monday to get things lined up for the opening of school on Tuesday. I was up bright and early on Tuesday morning, and so were the youngsters of the congregation. About eight o'clock they began to come in groups from every direction. When all heads were counted, there were sixty present. What a responsibility the congregation and the Lord had placed on my frail shoulders! I felt rather insignificant and unworthy of the confidence which had been placed in me, but with the enthusiasm associated with youth, I set to work to do the best I could under the circumstances. The next year the enrollment was sixty-four.

In the summer of 1912, Miss Dora Schultz of Deep River, Iowa consented to be my helpmeet. She was a woman of fine Christian character who had four years of teaching experience, and was therefore a great help to me. She was a woman such as is described , Proverbs 31, 10-31.

[ 10[d] An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
11The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
12She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
13She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
14She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
15She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
16She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17She dresses herself[e] with strength
and makes her arms strong.
18She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
20She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[f]
22She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
24She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
29"Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all."
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31Give her of the fruit of her hands,
and let her works praise her in the gates.] ESV

After spending the first four years of my professional life in this beautiful country of Northern Wisconsin, I accepted the call of St. John's congregation of Garner, Iowa, where I taught for the next nineteen years.

During my years of teaching I had the usual experiences, joys, disappointments, etc. I need not elaborate on them since you are familiar with them, but a few high lights are expected. On the evening of September 20, 1919 some unknown friend (?) helped me to get a new modern school-house. At about eleven o'clock that night the coal shed just to the rear of the school-house was discovered to be ablaze. The flames were shooting up into the gable of the school-house. The building had been a church and therefore was quite high, and it was impossible to approach the fire with the equipment at hand. The mystery has never been solved, although a car was heard to start and leave, making a great noise, just before the fire was discovered[,] and a five gallon can with a little gasoline in it was found near the coal shed.

During the Christmas holidays, 1923, two days after our classmate, Leuthaeser, was called to his reward, my wife, after a week's illness with pneumonia, was also taken from this vale of tears to the Heavenly Mansions, leaving me with seven small boys. Those were sad days that followed, but we experienced real Christian love on the part of the congregation as well as of individuals, and the Lord held His protecting hand over us. The boys have been a source of comfort during these years. Now they are growing up. Donald graduates from the seminary at St. Louis this year, Erich graduates from Concordia Teachers College at Seward next year, D.V. William works in a store, Enoch graduates from high school this year, Joel is a sophomore, while Gerald and Allen are in grades eight and seven respectively.

During my last few years at Garner a situation developed which was rather unsatisfactory, and in the summer of 1934, after serving the congregation for nineteen years to the best of my ability, it was found "necessary to close the school in order to save it". In November of 1934 I moved to Williamsburg, Iowa, and found refuge in that haven for discouraged teachers, the Aid Association for Lutherans. My territory is the south eastern part of Iowa.

After working in this field for one and one-half years, I find that it affords many opportunities for serving the Lord and His church. The work is not nearly so nerve-racking as teaching.

Thus a few "high spots" of my experiences during the last twenty-five years have been given. All in all, I must say that the Lord has been with us.

W. Hinrichs

Image: Powell School-18, Melinda Shelton, Uploaded via flickr January 7, 2011, Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Little "Steve Jobs" In Every Student

My MacBook, iPhone, and iPad are all a huge part of my life. As a Mac user, Steve Jobs has made an impact on my life. With the passing of Jobs yesterday, many people are discussing and thinking about the impact he made. The discussion often comes around to the word “innovative.”

Jobs’ creativity and leadership was innovative and you do not have to do much research to find how he impacted the world. Not just the world of technology, or the world of educational technology, but the entire world. Tom Whitby posed a good question on twitter today:

In addition to Whitby's thoughts, an article I read today, “Can Creativity Be Taught?”, encourages us to stretch ourselves and our students toward developing an ability to be creative and to be innovative.

Today is a great day to reflect on encouraging the creativity in our students. You may not have the next “Steve Jobs” in your classroom or your school, but I would like to think that there is some “Steve Jobs” in every student.

San Francisco 2010 - 22, Luca Zappa, Uploaded via flickr May 2, 2010, Creative Commons License

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Everyday Is School Picture Day

Each year, there is an awkward tilt of the head, a forced smile, and a bright flash. Today is school picture day, and almost 400 people at our school will have their photograph taken. Each flash of the camera is a permanent snapshot in time, a frozen moment that will last for countless years in yearbooks, school hallways, and on grandma’s living room wall. The camera has the power to capture one moment in time and make it last, whether it is some uncombed hair, a toothless grin, or some breakfast that landed on your shirt.

Educators have an opportunity for MULTIPLE snapshots each and every day. Whether you work with teachers or students, they capture gestures, comments, or smiles for years to come. Consider your interaction today with the individuals in your building. Maybe someone will need an uplifting word today instead of hearing what he or she did wrong. Perhaps a smile that a student receives upon entering your classroom is the first smile they see that day. It is possible that a student that experiences success will remember the thumbs up you sent their way for the rest of their life.

Everyday is school picture day. Take advantage of opportunities for positive snapshots.

Dad's school picture, Kim Scarborough, uploaded via flickr August 29, 2005, Creative Commons License

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

100 Years Ago #4

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

P. Gabbert placed in Kalispell, MT who was then living in Brighton, CO.

Dear Classmates,

Nineteen hundred eleven, what a memorable date in our lives twenty-five years ago. How confidently we looked in the future! To some, I hope, it brought their realization of their dream; to others, the opposite. Some are with their Savior whom they served faithfully, but a short time.
I pause and pay my respect to the memory of John Noerenberg. I had the privilege to seem him a few years before he passed into "The Great Beyond." I am living now in the congregation where years ago , our sainted classmate Rudolph Leuthaeser labored. I can see the fruits of his labors. His pastor once told me that he was all teacher, and one of the best they had. Such a remark brought tears of gratitude to my eyes. His scholars, now members; all speak of him as a good Christian teacher and leader. Hoping that, after we leave this vale of tears, the same can be said of us. "Blessed are the dead, which die in the Lord, for their works follow them." I visit his grave quite often. Asleep in Jesus, a blessed sleep. "Eia waren wir da." [Aha! There were we.] Others, like myself have left the ranks and joined the "Have Beens".
The greatest event in my service was the World War from 1917 to 1919. It was the undoing of my service, although I hung on until the Lord saw fit to take me from actual service and put me on the retired list, via a serious illness.
At the aforesaid time I was stationed at Stilleville, Illinois (perhaps Steeleville?). Up to that time all was well "On the Southern Front". At the time when war was declared we had dropped the German. But we were surrounded by Italians, who were miners in the neighboring villages. To make a long story in short, they marched in front of the teacherage on May second, 1917 and ordered me to close the school. They even tried to sing "America," but I was the only one who could sing. The congregation saw fit to send me out "West" to gain strength. This they did. Coming back in autumn I began to teach. I taught with a revolver in my hip pocket. No protection. One night they laid for me, but the ex-teachers heard about their shady dealing and without telling me, took me away where they couldn't get me. This delayed their ogre dealing. The fateful date came October 10, 1917. I had sent my family away and was staying at the home of a school-board member.
While preparing my Bible History on "The Beauties", they surrounded the house and gave me twenty-four hours to get out or to be tarred and feathered and hanged. As no protection was forthcoming from the government I was forced, 'midst tears and lamentation['] of officers of church to leave. At this time I had contracted "The Flu". I should have been in the hospital, but I could not. While very ill on the train I contracted a weakness of the lungs and asthma. I consulted a doctor. He did not know which sickness I had contracted. He gave me some medicine which resulted in making me nearly blind. Finally after a consultation, they decided to send me partly West[.] I accepted a call to Kansas. As the years went on I became worse, and finally after a most trying service, the doctor, at my last charge, advised me to go to Colorado.
As I could not serve under trying conditions I reluctantly accepted the Lord's bidding. I am feeling fairly well now, but must stay here. Stay out-of-doors and keep away from excitement & worry.

This, dear classmates, is in short the high light in my career. I deeply regret that I could not serve twenty-five years or serve the Lord forever in this world.

The Lord has blessed me with ten healthy children. Two are preparing for the ministry, one will begin preaching next year. I have a dear loving spouse who has faithfully stood by me and helped me fight the battles of life. May God reward her bountifully for it some day.

To those who are active as yet, I hope that they can round out another twenty-five years of service. May God grant it. Also, to our dear instructors who are still active may I wish the same. May God reward them bountifully for their blessed work. I pause also to respect the memory of our President, Director Weller and Professor Strieter and Professor Schuelke. To the rest, God bless and protect you and give you a peaceful evening of life. To one and all "Deo Duce" [With God for a leader], our motto (the class motto). Keep up the good fight and keep faith and yours be the crown of life at the close of the day's battle.

P. Gabbert

Image: School Desks, DQmountaingirl, uploaded via Flickr October 5, 2008, Creative Commons License

Thursday, September 1, 2011

100 Years Ago #3

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

J. Ehlers placed in Cleveland, OH who was then serving in Kendallville, IN.

Now, as to the high spots in my life since 1911, well, sometimes it is difficult to determine when we are running in high, in intermediate, in low, or even in reverse. But, as I take it, you wish to have noted here chronologically some of the more important and interesting data in our lives and careers since that memorable and hurried departure from our Seward Normal in 1911.

You will recall that my call was to St. Paul's Congregation, Cleveland, Ohio. Rev. Paul Schwan, son of Dr. Schwan was my first pastor. He is still living and we are, of course, to this day fast friends. My first colleagues in Cleveland were: E. Glave, Miss Schaefer, Miss Zeuter, Miss Mirtz, E. Faulstich, Mrs. Mielke, and F. Eggers. My own brother Karl also assisted one year in Cleveland. Other pastors at my congregation in Cleveland were: Rev. Karl Henrichs, assistant to Rev. Schwan and now with Valparaiso University; Rev. E.J. Friedrich, who is at present professor at our seminary in St. Louis, and Rev. C.W. Spiegel, the present pastor of St. Paul's church. Since 1932 I am with St. John's Congregation, Kendallville, Indiana, and my pastor is Rev. M.F. Kretzmann, secretary of Synod. It should be gratefully acknowledged here that all of my pastors have been ever ready to overlook my many weaknesses; and all of them are sincere friends of our day-schools. Here in Kendallville, we have a two-room school and Mrs. Esther Hartmann of Louisville, Nebraska, has been my capable co-worker for the past four years. Other efficient assistants in the local school, who did part-time work were: Miss Erna Kretzmann. Also Mr. Martin Schlaremann and Mr. Henry Lieske, student graduates of St. Louis. Kendallville is an interesting place to work and I am happy in my new set-up. Next year we shall have, d.v., [Latin for Deo volente, God willing] three full-time teachers.

In 1913 Miss Bertha Hausrath of Cleveland with her winning smile won me over and I married her for our mutual happiness. Yes, there was also a great sorrow: Doris, our eldest daughter, died at the early age of seven. The other children are: Marie (Micky) now a freshman in the Kendallville high school: John (Jackie) hopes to enter high school next September, and there is also Lois, the baby, at present in the sixth grade.

And now my concluding remarks. While I have had my cup of sorrow and sickness in the family, I personally should be grateful to the good Lord for all his dispensations. I have not lost a single minute in school these twenty-five years because of personal illness. We have never lacked food nor clothing. It should be mentioned that even in these recent years of depression my congregations never failed once in paying my full salary each month. Other calls, yes, I have has a number: three to Pennsylvania, one to Iowa, and one to Missouri. Now don't you think, this is about all this page will comfortably accept?

J. Ehlers

Image: School Desks, DQmountaingirl, uploaded via Flickr October 5, 2008, Creative Commons License

100 Years Ago #2

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

F.W. Eggers placed in St. Louis, MO who was then serving in Norfolk, NE.

One score and five years ago the honorable faculty of our dear Alma mater graduated a class of eighteen young, enthusiastic, and hopeful men to be sent out in due time to all corners of the United States, to serve in the Lord's vineyard, feeding His lambs.

How well I recall the evening when our beloved and sainted Director Weller read the names of the different class members and stated the place to which each had been called.

As I hailed from the "wild and woolly West" I expected to get a call somewhere out in that region. But imagine my consternation when he said: "Eggers: St. Louis, Missouri". Oh, boy! Still farther away from "Home Sweet Home."

Since then a quarter of a century has gone by, and by the grace of God we are still counted among the living ones of our class.

On August 13, 1911, I was installed as teacher for the lower grades, (1 and 2) at Trinity Lutheran Church, Rev. Adolf Hanser, pastor. On that same day Rev. Oberschultz was ordained as assistant pastor of that congregation.

I went to work almost immediately. A long list of names of prospective pupils for our school was handed me. These I was to call on before the opening of school. Oh boy, did I sweat, as I was not used to a semi-southern climate, having been born not far from the Canadian border. Neither was I used to a large city like that of St. Louis. I had a difficult time of finding my bearings at first. The majority of people were foreigners.

WIth the help of God I opened that fall with an enrollment of fifty-six pupils. Before the ending of that school-year I had sixty-eight. The next year I had an enrollment of seventy-four in the two lower grades. In this enrollment I had seven nationalities represented. It is needless to say, that they kept me on the jump. But I enjoyed the work of teaching these youngsters the "One Thing Needful".

In the summer of 1914 I accepted a call to Pierce, Nebraska. The main reason for accepting this call was on account of the climate of St. Louis, which did not agree with me nor my wife. The congregation after three meetings reluctantly let us go with their blessings.

In Pierce I had a mixed school with all eight grades. This meant much unaccustomed work for me as I had never had the upper grades before. But the Good Shepherd also blessed my meager efforts at this place. The first year there I taught school in a wing of the church, which was separated from the auditorium by sliding doors.

Shortly before the close of school the next spring, the trustees of the congregation came to me with the surprising statement that they thought the time opportune to recommend to the congregation to build a new school house. At their next meeting they almost unanimously decided to do so. During that summer they build a modern two-room brick school house with full basement and furnace.

That same summer they also renovated the church and installed a two-manual, eight stop Hinner's pipe organ.

The third year there our enrollment had increased so much that they employed a lady teacher to take the four lower grades.

God indeed had been good to us and blessed my meager efforts wonderfully during our six years stay here at Pierce. Yet, in the summer of 1920 I felt obliged to accept a call extended to me by my present congregation, a member of the Wisconsin Synod, of which Rev. J. Witt is the pastor and also president of the Nebraska District.

Here I was called to take charge of the intermediate grades. At the time of my calling they had three teachers here. But during the so-called "Depression" they disposed of the lady teacher for the lower grades, although we had over a hundred pupils. But I still teach the intermediate grades as my colleague, who has been here twenty years, has the two upper and two lower grades, following the arrangement they have at the Seward Training School.

During the first year that I was here this congregation installed a nine thousand dollar Reuter, three manual, electro-pneumatic pipe organ in our church. A wonderful instrument indeed! Wish to God I could perform on it more efficiently to His praise and glory.

One wish that I have had for the sixteen years that I taught here, the good Lord did not see fit to grant me. That is a modern up-to-date school building. We have been sadly in need of one all these years, but the congregation does not think that they have the means to build one. But I am not giving up hopes that God will answer my prayer in one way or the other.

Now something about my family! God gave me a loving, faithful, and Christian wife and a wonderful mother to my children. You all know her and she knows all of you, too. She is the former Miss Selma Gans, daughter of the now sainted Pastor Gans of Middle Creek, Nebraska. The good Christian training and nurture she received in the parsonage she now applies in daily life as a teacher's wife and mother of his children. She has faithfully shared with me all the joys and tribulations during the twenty-four years of our married life.

God has wonderfully blessed our union with five healthy, sturdy, and God fearing children; three boys and two girls.

Edmund, now twenty-two years of age, was born in St. Louis. He is now employed at the Nash & Finch Wholesalers here in Norfolk.

Ruth, who will be twenty-one in August; born at Pierce, graduated from Seward Normal last spring and is now teaching the four lower grades at the Emmanuel School of St. Louis, Missouri.

Lois, who will be nineteen in June, born at Pierce, is now employed at the Bell Telephone Company here in Norfolk. She also finished the high school course at Concordia Teachers College at Seward. But because her two younger brothers were old enough to go to the Seward College, she was willing to sacrifice her chance. She now holds a very lucrative and desirable position.

Bernard, who will be seventeen in October, born in Pierce is a Junior in the high school department at Concordia Teachers College at Seward.

Now comes our "baby", Fredric Jr., who will be fifteen in June, was born here at Norfolk. He also is attending Concordia Teachers College at Seward and is a sophomore in the high school department.

My wife and I must truly confess that our dear Lord and Savior, God the Father our creator, and God the Holy Ghost our Sanctifier, has graciously and wonderfully us poor and unworthy sinners. Yes, we feel constrained to join in with the author who wrote: "Praise to the Lord who hath fearfully, wondrously, made thee; Health hath vouchsafed, and when heedlessly falling hath stayed thee; What need or grief Ever hath failed of relief? -Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

F.W. Eggers

Image: School Desks, DQmountaingirl, uploaded via Flickr October 5, 2008, Creative Commons License

100 Years Ago #1

This article is part of a series written by educators from the college graduating class of 1911 upon their 25th college reunion in 1936. We are constantly facing changes in education, however you may be surprised to find some parallels between schools in 1936 and schools in 2011. I hope you enjoy some history of education, specifically Lutheran education.

The following words were originally shared via the Lutheran Education Association Administrators' Listserve by Greg Hassedahl, principal of Bethany Lutheran School in Overland Park, KS.

These words are from the graduating class of 1911 from Concordia University, Seward, NE upon their celebration of 25 years from graduation. The verbiage and punctuation is as they wrote it for their commemorative booklet from 1936. I added necessary [rough translations] from German.

G.F. Alpers placed in Altamont, IL who was then serving in Red Wing, MN.

My first call led me to Altamont, Illinois where I was installed on the last Sunday in August, 1911. I served in this place for nine years, or until 1920. During these years the enrollment was not less than fifty-six and one year I had seventy-two enrolled. My first pastor was Hartmeister [Hard master]. When Director Weller told us about our calls, he made the remark: "Hoffentlich ist er nicht so hart wie sein Name." [Hopefully he is not as hard as his name] Well, he was not. We always got along very nicely. During the entire time I have been in office, I have had four pastors. Three of these were "hart" [Hard]: first Hartmeister, second Burkhardt, third Meyer, and fourth Hardt.

On August 14, 1913 I was married to my ever faithful wife Anna, nee Hoebermann. She has shared joys and sorrows with me for the past twenty-three years. The Lord has blessed us with six healthy children, four boys and two girls. The oldest, Esther is at present assisting her mother with house work. She intends to take up studies again in the near future. Elwin, the oldest boy, is attending high school in Red Wing. He will be a Junior next year. He went though ninth grade in our parochial school and passed the State examination, so he has attended only one year thus far. Edmund and Doris and Kenneth are not as yet of school age.

In 1920 I accepted a call to my present location. The enrollment has been from thirty-one to fifty-five in the sixteen years I have been here.

My health has been quite good the entire years that I have been in office. Several times I was forced to remain out of school for a short time, but never longer than two weeks at one time.

A number of my former pupils hold responsible positions. A number are parochial teachers, several ministers, one bank examiner, business men, etc. And yet the main thing that I hope for is not that they gain prominence in this world but that they are faithful Christians, and, thank God, there are those. This the dear Lord has given us by His grace. "Die Sach und Ehr Herr Jesu Christ, Nicht unser, sondern Dein ja ist." [Special and honour Lord Jesus Christ, not ours, but yours yes is} Ja: [Yes] "Von Gottes Gnaden bin ich was ich bin und Seine Gnade an mir ist nicht vergeblich gewesen." [From God's grace I am what I am and His grace at me has not been futile].

G. Alpers

Image: School Desks, DQmountaingirl, uploaded via Flickr October 5, 2008, Creative Commons License

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Caring Chameleon

In reference to leadership, someone told me this week, “People don’t care if you are smart: they just want you to care about them.” That statement is an example of how I am constantly reminded that good leadership is centered on service and building relationships. As a leader in a school, it is necessary to understand how you need to relate to each student, teacher, and parent.

Building relationships with people often requires that you adjust how you interact with individuals. This idea reminds me of how a chameleon may change colors to match their environment. We speak and act differently around children than we do around adults. Even among a group of adults, such as a staff of teachers, your interactions will vary from person to person. It is possible to interact in different ways with people, to build relationships, and to be genuine. As a leader the key to being genuine is to make sure you are caring for everyone, no matter how you are interacting with them.

“People don’t care if you are smart: they just want you to care about them.” The person who shared that with me is very smart! Well, maybe they are not smart; maybe they just really care for me.

Image: Happy chameleon, The Advocacy Project, Uploaded via Flickr, July 13, 2009, Creative Commons License

Monday, April 25, 2011

Positive Thinking is as Important as the Curriculum

I was able to enjoy a very good special on the late Chicago Cubs legend Ron Santo during a rain delay on Friday. Santo was a great 3rd baseman in Chicago for 15 years and then was a Cubs broadcaster on the radio for over 20 years. Santo is highly respected as a player for having great success while playing his whole career with diabetes. In this TV special, Santo talked about how he has dealt with the adversity in his life such as a double leg amputation as a result of his diabetes. He made the following comment, “positive thinking is as important as the medicine.”

Are you a positive thinking principal? I have been fortunate that my entire career has been spent in a school that has an atmosphere of positive thinking as soon as you walk through the doors. Is positive thinking promoted with your teachers and students as soon as they walk into the building? I have not done any research about positive thinking and I have no data to back any theories up, but I am confident that positive thinking is going to help our schools, our teachers, and our students. In regards to education, I think Santo would say, “positive thinking is as important as the curriculum.”

APPLICATIONS FOR ADMINISTRATORS: Commit to promoting a climate of positive thinking. Encourage teachers to think positively by modeling positive thinking yourself. Positive thinking can include optimism that all students can learn, celebrating student and teacher success, having fun, and encouraging creativity.

Image: Ron Santo, TR Roberts, Uploaded via Flickr March 1, 2007, Creative Commons License

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Focus on Improvement

Discus, Magnus Akselvoll, uploaded via Flickr February 25, 2011, Creative Commons LIcense

At a 5th and 6th grade track meet last weekend, my school was responsible for coordinating the discus event. Saturday was a cold, cloudy, and windy day. It was one of those days where the temperature is 50 degrees, so you are expecting a reasonably cool spring day. However, when you step outside, the 30 MPH wind just cuts through your body and sends chills from your head to your feet. So I give all of the athletes who were competing and all of the parents who were cheering a lot of credit for participating in the meet.

5th and 6th grade boys and girls cannot throw the discus very far. There were even a few competitors who were stepping into the ring for the first time, having never thrown a discus before. One girl stepped in the ring, received some quick instruction on how to throw the discus, took her one practice throw, and then attempted her three “real” throws. The throws did not go far, maybe about 15-20 feet each. However, each throw was slightly better than the previous throw. When she stepped out of the ring I heard her father say, “Great job! You improved with each throw!”

I appreciate the focus of that parent. He did not compare his daughter to anyone else. Instead he encouraged her to compete against herself. I recently heard a speaker talk about how we need to encourage our students to compete against themselves and not against other students rather than assessing by comparing to other students. By doing this, we are placing more of a focus on improvement for the individual student. Improvement is a goal that any student can reach. The same goes for our teachers. Improving instruction and relationships is goal that I would encourage each of my staff members to reach. Teachers that are improving mean that those teachers are learning, which is a great example for our students.

APPLICATION FOR ADMINISTRATORS: Encourage your staff to be constantly improving. Help them to realize that they all have different talents, abilities, and teaching styles. Help promote that one of their goals should be to improve their own teaching and instruction before they begin comparing themselves to other teachers.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

HOTTS (Higher Order Thinking/Technology Skills)

We all probably remember studying Bloom’s Taxonomy in college and how it can be incorporated into our lesson plans. Benjamin Bloom created his taxonomy in the 1950s and we have been using his structure ever since to understand the learning process. In 2001, Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl revised the taxonomy and published Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

Andrew Churches, an educator in New Zealand, has done a great deal of writing about incorporating technology into Bloom's Revised Technology. The blog Open Education explains, “Thanks to some great work by Andrew Churches, educators have a basis by which to compare digital techniques to the more traditional standard that Bloom created.”

For a much more in depth look at integrating technology into Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, visit Churches’ wiki Educational Origami. It is filled with resources for educators interested in Bloom’s Reivsed Taxonomy and 21st Century Learning.

Educational Origami

I think if we understand Churches’ update on Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and how technology can be used to bring students to higher order thinking skills then we can provide many of our teachers with effective ways to incorporate technology into their instruction. Here are some of the ways we have been using free technology in our school to help students reach each level of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy.

REMEMBERING: Recalling information or knowledge.
UNDERSTANDING: Constructing Meaning

One of the best tools we have put in our students’ hands to help them reach the remembering and understanding level is Diigo. With the Diigo educator account you can create student accounts for you entire class, without the need for email addresses for the registration. Social bookmarking is a valuable tool to help students in recalling the vast amounts of information that is available to them. Bookmarking websites and resources to Diigo will allow students to retrieve information both quickly and effectively.

Social bookmarking tools such as Diigo can fall under the remembering level and the understanding level. Teaching students to comment and tag their resources helps them to construct meaning of the resource and will bring them to an understanding level. They are no longer just saving a website, but they are summarizing and classifying the resource for later use. It is important for our students to be able to understand, summarize, and classify the massive amounts of information they have access to.

APPLYING: Carrying out, running, or executing procedures.

The third step in the taxonomy is Applying which Andrew Churches would say is the level where students implement, use information, and execute tasks. A big aspect of this would be “Doing.” The great thing about the applying taxonomy level is the amount of options that we have available for our students. All six taxonomy levels have been significantly affected by Web 2.0 applications, but it is in this level that they really start to investigate how each tool can be used.

Examples of tools that students can use include Prezi, Glogster, Powerpoint, Skype, Google Apps, iPhoto, iMovie, Flickr, etc. There are a numerous amount of applications available to us, too numerous to list here. (Just browse through Richard’s blog,, and you will find more tools than you could ever use in your classroom).

ANALYSING – Make connections, compare, organize, and present information that is collected.

Online applications such as Google Forms and Wordle provide our students with opportunities to analyze information instantly and in a uniquely visual way. Our 8th grade algebra class has used Google Forms to collect data related to homework performance and group project performances. Using the “Show summary of responses” feature provides an instant visual of the information that has been collected. In January, our junior high social studies compared President Obama’s State of the Union address to past presidents’ addresses by using Wordles of each president’s speech.

The final two steps of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy are very important because they give students an audience. It is an important part of developing the higher order thinking skills and providing the students with a more authentic learning experience.

EVALUATION - Making judgments, validate, reflect
CREATING - The student, remembers, understands & applies knowledge, analysis and evaluates outcomes, results, successes and failures as well as processes to produce a final product

The most common way that I see our teachers reaching the evaluating level with our students is through blogging and Voicethread. Our teachers use Edublogs with their classes and each student has their own blog. They have the ability to publish posts as well as receive feedback on their writing in the form of comments. Publishing their writing to their student blog provides an authentic audience for the students. Blog commenting allows other students from around the world to make judgments, validate, and reflect on other students' writing.

Voicethread has also been used for students to evaluate, all the way from @alhelmy's preschool students up to our junior high students in @gilmorekendra's music class. The examples are below from the preschool and junior high classes.

Finally, one of the best examples of the creating level that I have seen is students producing videos. Here is a video from @rlimback's full-day Kindergarten class using a flip camera, iMovie, and uploaded to youtube:

Examining the verbs and activities in Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy can help our classrooms become student-centered, 21st century learning environments. My encouragement is to not look at which level will be most effective for students, but to look at the entire taxonomy and decide how this will be beneficial to you as the teacher. How can this taxonomy assist you with your instruction?

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Most Important?

Old Classroom, Shan Ran, uploaded via Flickr July 16, 2007, Creative Commons License

As I was speaking to a teacher today, we came to a point in the conversation where I asked, “What is your most important job as a teacher?” I believe that I knew the “direction” that I wanted the answer to go, but I do not think that I knew what the exact answer was that I wanted to hear. What is the most important job of a teacher? Is there a correct answer?

I’ve written a couple posts that I think would fit under this topic (Let Every Child Know They Are Loved, Plant a Seed, Plant a Seed Part 2), and I think they all describe the “direction” that I thought the answer should go. Is the most important role for a teacher to make sure children know they are loved? Is student learning most important? Is it most important to make sure your students are ready for the next grade?

I am curious to know what other educators think. Is it fair to ask a teacher to determine what their most important job is as a teacher? Is there one right answer to this question?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Have You Done Today?

I am big on lists. I keep close track of an overall to-do list on my computer as well as create a daily to-do list for myself. I have done this for a few years now, but this year, there were days where I would leave school and feel like I was not accomplishing enough. I started tracking a second list, a “finished tasks” list. Although this helped me track what I was accomplishing during the day, the feeling of not doing enough was still creeping into my mind. Recently, I took my “finished tasks” list and put it in a wordle. You can see the wordle below.

This visual of my completed tasks helped me to analyze what I was spending much of my day on. The results were not pretty, and helped to explain why I was feeling the way I was. When words like “meeting” and “email” are the first words you see, I realized I was prioritizing the wrong things during the day. What I hope to see the next time I make a wordle like this are words that show more interactions with students and teachers like “observation”, “classrooms”, “walk-throughs”, and “conversations.” I want to strive to be more intentional about making an impact.

APPLICATION FOR ADMINISTRATORS: Track your completed tasks each day for a month in a Word document or a Google Doc. After one month, copy the entire document and throw it into a wordle. Think about what words you want to appear larger in the wordle.

Monday, March 28, 2011


The title of this post is based on sign seen this weekend in a cable car on San Francisco’s Powell-Hyde line. The incorrect grammar forced me to read it a few times before I knew what the saying meant. Eventually I figured out that it was a reminder to the operator to allow sufficient time and distance to stop the car.

I had NO notice and NO previous experience that let me know how good the ASCD Annual Conference was going to be. The past two days have been the best learning experience that I ever had at a conference.

I learned so much in the sessions I attended, and you can read about my experiences in my ASCD blog post reflections. There were two main things though that I will walk away with from this year’s event. They were the opportunities to collaborate with other educators AND the many sessions that focused on building relationships.

COLLABORATION: There were some big name speakers, which is fitting for a conference of over 10,000 participants. However it was the interactions before, during, and after the presentations that I will remember. There were many presenters who facilitated conversations of the participants during their sessions. This allowed me to meet other educators from around the world face to face and to learn from their expertise. These conversations stretched my thinking and challenged my assumptions. I was encouraged to ask good questions and to answer some intriguing questions.

RELATIONSHIPS: I was also encouraged about how many sessions and speakers focused on building relationships with your students and your staff. A few of the sessions I attended were about differentiated instruction, student creativity, and staff supervision, and all three presenters were very clear about how important it is to build relationships in your school. The best quote that can summarize this point is from Peter Reynolds. The last thing he told the assembly to do in order to encourage creativity in the classroom is “Let every child know they are loved.

PRESENTING: I also had the opportunity to present a session entitled “Online Student Collaboration.” I am very grateful to ASCD for the opportunity to be a part of the conference as a presenter, and I hope to be able to present in the future (I already have some ideas for future presentations). I have been able to do about 8 presentations at conferences in the last year and a half, and I felt like I had made it to the big leagues by presenting at the ASCD Annual Conference. I was satisfied with how the presentation went and I feel like I was able to share some effective resources with the participants. However, I fell short in making more personal connections with the participants. As I prepare for future presentations, at ASCD or elsewhere, I will be placing a higher focus on preparing ways to connect personally with the participants at the presentation and beyond.

GENERAL: A few more items that I was very pleased with. The conference had an amazing amount and a wide variety of sessions. Every time slot I had multiple sessions that I wanted to attend. For sessions that I did not attend, I have downloaded the online handouts and will work hard to make time to view that information. ASCD also offered a very strong wifi connection at the convention center AND at the hotel. Thank you ASCD for keeping all of us connected at all times.

The challenge for all 10,000 of us who attended this weekend is to go back to our schools and share our experiences, the passion, and the energy that was all around us in San Francisco.

If you attended the conference, what did you learn? What will you share? What will you remember?

Just the Beginning: #LEA2011

I hope this is the beginning. I hope the #LEA2011 hashtag is just the beginning. I hope the backchannel conversation that took place on twitter last week at the 2011 LEA Convocation is the start of making a good convocation even better. I had a blast, I truly enjoyed myself, and I was not ready to leave on Saturday morning. However, there is room for improvement, which I hope will go into effect at the 2014 Convocation. I hope that the conversation that took place will encourage LEA to make some changes. The backchannel conversation was amazing and during the convocation it even grew. In less than 72 hours, multiple Lutheran educators were joining twitter and joining the backchannel. Even now, 2 days after the Convocation ended, new educators continue to join the conversation. This is a step in the right direction for Lutheran education.

NETWORKING: The best part of the convocation was the networking and fellowship that took place over twitter, in sessions, in the hallways, at the tweetup, and in the hotels. The unique part of an LEA Convocation is the chance to worship, pray, sing, and laugh with one another. I am confident that LEA will always give us opportunities to have fellowship at these convocations and I know Lutheran schools will continue to attend because of that focus.

Seeing old (or future) colleagues, meeting new friends, and sharing learning experiences with 2600 Lutheran educators has provided with me with many great memories. . At the Thursday night tweetup at Rock Bottom Brewery we had 40 people enjoying an evening together. Lutheran educators from Missouri, Colorado, Tennessee, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, and Indiana enjoyed great conversations and great company. Dave Black said it best when he tweeted this comment out shortly after the conference was over:

Using Twitter for education is an even richer experience after our tweetup at #lea2011less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

PRESENTING: I had the opportunity to present twice at the Convocation and I am very grateful to LEA for giving me that opportunity. In my first session, “Twitter for Teachers,” I was very excited to present the great professional development opportunities through twitter to a roomful of people that included so many former, current, and future colleagues. I was honored that they attended my session. I also had a great experience presenting “Online Student Collaboration” with three of my current colleagues, Amanda Helmkamp, Kara Cornejo, and Kendra Gilmore. I am very proud of all three of them and their ministry and service to Lutheran education. I was honored to present with all of you. In both sessions, I sensed a hunger from the participants to learn about how technology can help them as educators, both professionally and with their instruction. We must keep teaching our teachers how to use technology and to encourage them to try new ways to integrate it into their instruction.

OBSERVATIONS: I attended the ASCD Annual Conference immediately after the LEA Convocation, and after attending both I am trying to determine what the similarities and differences are between the two conferences. In some ways it is like comparing apples and oranges. ASCD has resources well beyond what LEA has to offer for a conference, so it is not easy to make comparisons. I think Lutheran educators would benefit, and need, more professional development opportunities that revolve around 21st Century Learning, Problem-Based Learning, technology, collaboration, student engagement, etc. I would like to see LEA work toward offering more sessions aimed to meet that need. However, in fairness, I think LEA faces a challenge that a non-parochial conference does not necessarily face. Lutheran schools must place a large amount of focus, time, and resources on student retention, recruitment, development, and marketing. I commend LEA for providing some sessions that focus on instruction. I also commend LEA for providing some sessions that focus on enrollment, retention, and well, just surviving as a parochial school. I wonder though, if we can offer more of both types of sessions?

GENERAL: For the most part, I thought the general assemblies were well done. The Skit Guys were hilarious and Leonard Sweet was very encouraging and supportive of 21st Century Learning and Instruction. I previously asked if we could offer more for the participants. I think one consideration is to eliminate one of the general assemblies. By doing that, more sessions could be added. Another way to offer more flexibility would be to shorten the sessions, or have some sessions that are 75 minutes long and some sessions that are 50 minutes long. Perhaps even an unconference format during one point of the Convocation would be a fresh experience to introduce. In the future wifi is a must. There are two main reasons for allowing participants to stay connected. First, any presentation that involves technology is not as effective without an Internet connection. Second, as was proven last week, the backchannel can be a powerful thing. Wifi allows participants to be a part of the conversation in a much more efficient way. (By the way, it was great to have so many people participating in the backchannel who were NOT at the conference).

I am excited about the possibilities for the 2014 LEA Convocation. I hope to see the same networking and fellowship taking place in 3 years, as well as some changes that will make the Convocation an enriching experience for all Lutheran educators.

If you attended the conference, what did you learn? What will you share? What will you remember?

Let Every Child Know They Are Loved

The following video was shared by Peter Reynolds during the second general session at the 2011 ASCD Annual Conference.

This is a good reminder of how we can stifle the creativity of our students and our teachers. Reynolds gave a strong message of the benefits of a creative classroom and of knowing your students and encouraging their creativity.

Reynolds gave 6 essentials for promoting a creative classroom.
1 - Creative classrooms are full of color, music, art, and nooks, or areas, for learning.
2 - Students need to be given the invitation, the blank page, to be creative.
3 - Students must be given the tools to express their creativity.
4 - Time and Freedom: Dive more deeply into learning and creativity
5 - Leadership must be visionary, enlightened, and engaged.
6 - Love: Let every child know they exist and they matter.

How effective are you in promoting creativity in your classroom or in your school? Are you a creative person? Do you believe this video is a reflection of your creativity?

Instructional Tips to Tell Teachers

Notes from the ASCD session Instructional "Tips to Tell Teachers"
Laura Myrah
March 27, 2011

#1 – The Body and The Brain
Two favorite foods for the brain – water and oxygen.
Standing up is so much better, more oxygen to the brain
Your brain can actually become dehydrated
Water makes you feel less stressed
Sleep is very important. At a minimum 9 hours all the way up to 24 years old
Open windows, plants in classrooms, water bottles, educate parents and students regarding the need for adequate sleep

#2 – Movement
Exercise, Movement in lessons (standing, use of hands, change of location)
Stand instead of raising their hands, questions around the room (10 question quiz on note cards on the room), clapping rhythms, new location for important material

#3 – Emotionally Safe Environment
Stress – Even younger students are under stress
Ginott, 1975 poem
Principal sets tone for whole building
Teachers set tone in classroom
Modeling behaviors, alleviate stress – humor, known expectations, emotions and memory
Make every student feel unique and secure – meet and greet, give recognition, listen and show interest, expect respect from all, relationships transcend everything

#4 – Collaboration
Human brains are social, mirror neurons at work (our behaviors mirror others), contemplation of varying viewpoints
Collaborative learning/projects, pair and share, connections with other levels, connections with community

#5 – Time
Need for more time, optimal learning periods according to age, attention span, planning and instruction according to “Prime Times”
Number of minutes in Attention span for students is equal to their age (5 yr old = 5 minutes)
Students most engaged at beginning of the lesson
Vary mode of learning every 10-20 minutes, teach new, most important information first, pay attention to time cycles during lessons and the day

#6 – Make learning Meaningful
Point out the relevance, make it interesting and fun through your delivery, experiential learning
Use a KWL

#7 – Student Choice
Allow for learning within different learning styles and multiple intelligences, Allow for choices in products and/or assessments to demonstrate learning
Vary the mode of instruction, allow for choice within assessments, implement project/product based learning

#8 – Enriched Environment
Challenging problem solving, enrich the physical classroom, use of music (primer, carrier, arousal/mood)
Foster wonder in students through questioning skills, use of visuals, vary the mode of learning-experiential, from peers, etc., purposeful use of color
Environment factors that influence achievement – humidity of room, acoustics, light bright wall colors, ideal temperature, aesthetical beauty, meaningful posters,

#9 – Assessment and Feedback
Goals of learning are to know it well, remember it always, use it readily
Assessments should match goals
Vary the assessment formats
Skill demonstrations, portfolios, reflective analysis, artistic (fine and performing), projects, real-life and alternative applications, group activities, problem solving, lab experiments

Feedback should be frequent, specific, and from a variety of sources
Verbal corrections, written notes, peer editing, rubrics

#10 – Net Generation Leaders
Students are different learners, brains wired differently due to use of digital products, etc.
Adults fear what we don’t understand
Youth don’t see working, learning, collaborating, and having fun as separate experiences
They believe in, and want, these experiences occurring simultaneously in school and in future careers
Best teaching style to reach and motivate these students – move away from a broadcast mode
Rather than the provider of information, teachers should be the facilitator who sets up the environment for authentic learning, collaboration, and innovations by students
Freedom choice, innovation, collaboration, scrutiny, integrity, customization
Do we deliberately incorporate these into our classrooms?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Developing 21st Century Learners & Thinkers

Strategic Conversations for Instructional Leaders

Leading & Managing A Differentiated Classroom

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Big Picture

Basketball, mvongrue, uploaded January 24, 2009 via flickr, Creative Commons License

My 7th and 8th grade basketball team had a rough season this year. The team finished with a record of 10-17 and we battled injuries, tough losses, and very talented teams. In the midst of a losing streak in January, in a game where we were getting crushed, I called a timeout and told the boys that they need to stop getting frustrated about every single mistake. I could see the frustration on their faces after every foul, turnover, or missed basket. I told them it is no longer about making plays or winning games, they need to look at the big picture. They needed to decide what this season is all about for them. Was this a stepping-stone for reaching the goal of playing basketball in high school or beyond? Or is this possibly their last season of basketball so they need to learn some life lessons of hard work, discipline, and teamwork? At that point in the season, I decided we needed to stop focusing on individual plays and start seeing the big picture.

As I look toward becoming a principal for the first time this fall, I am trying to determine what is a part of my big picture. One item that I keep arriving at is communication. My wife had a good quote recently regarding communication. She said, “The root of all conflict is a miscommunication.” I think she is on to something. Conflict can be avoided through efficient and effective communication. Conflict can also be solved through appropriate channels of communication. It is helpful to spend time thinking about how, when, and why you will communicate. Conflict cannot be completely avoided, but effective communication is crucial to helping build relationships between students, parents, and educators that in turn will help provide effective learning environments.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

METC 2011 - Literacy is Not Enough

Think outside the box of your classroom

The world of education is changing. How do we keep up with all of the change? We need to think long term and we need to think outside the box.

Thinking long term begins with answering the question, what do students need? The point was made that we have been trying to define 21st century skills since the 21st century started, a decade ago. Lee Crockett said that it is time that we stop talking and start doing. According to Crockett, this means teachers need to get away from the stand and deliver instructional method and implement a project/process based learning program.

In my experiences, the stand and deliver method that Crockett mentioned is the easy way to go. It takes less planning, less training, and involves less risk. As we continue to focus on how students learn and retain information, we must also focus on assisting teachers. We must help teachers by giving them sufficient planning time as well as opportunities to collaborate with and observe other teachers. Teachers must also be encouraged to try new methods and take risks. Risks and mistakes cannot be avoided if learning is going to take place, for both teachers and students.

Find more information at an innovative resource designed to cultivate 21st century fluencies, while fostering engagement and adventure in the learning experience. 21st Century Fluency Project

Saturday, February 19, 2011

METC 2011 – Trends, Tactics, and Tools for 21st Century Learning

The stories from Kevin Honeycutt in the Trends, Tactics, and Tools for 21st Century Learning session will make most people want to get in the classroom and become a facilitator of learning. If you ever have the chance to listen to Kevin speak, take advantage of that opportunity. The session was full of examples of digital and technology tools that are available for implementing in instruction. However, it was not the tools that engaged the participants in the room. The specific examples of how those tools were used were motivating, engaging, and exciting to listen to.

Oftentimes the discussions in conferences and over twitter focus on the tools that we have available to us in education. This session made you think of the possibilities of specific activities and projects that can take place in the classroom. A common theme I heard throughout the METC conference was the way other educators are taking risks in the classrooms. Many of us know about the tools that are available to us, but many of us then struggle with how exactly to implement them in the classroom. Kevin Honeycutt took risks and let his students explore and discover. In what ways can you explore and discover in your classroom today? In what ways can you encourage yours students to explore and discover in their learning today?

METC 2011 - Getting Teachers to Adopt Technology: What To and Not To Do

Rushton Hurley’s list of What To and Not To Do in Getting Teachers to Adopt Technology was a thought provoking list for all administrators or technology specialists. The list of do’s and don’ts for both training and funds is listed below.

The item that has resonated with me since sitting in his session is “Don’t have teachers require themselves to be technology experts.” This idea can help leaders develop a vision that encourages teachers to implement technology tools (or any instructional method) that they feel will enhance student learning. If we wait to try something until we feel we are experts, we will never try it.

My encouragement to leaders is to not expect your teachers to be an expert. Instead, expect your teachers to be professional. Develop a philosophy of how you expect a professional teacher to plan, prepare, perform, and grow. To me, the term expert implies that you are someone who is at the very top of their profession and it is a term that is not applied to very many people. We should encourage greatness among our teachers, and recognize an educator who has become an expert in an area. But don’t expect every teacher to be experts. Expect professionalism.

PART 1: Training
Don’t have teachers require themselves to be technology experts
Do remind teachers of their expertise
Don’t start with standards
Do show something fun
Don’t sit in the lab for training
Do allow regular and short sharing time

PART 2: Funds
Don’t limit technology labs
Do show what’s possible with one or two computers in the classroom
Don’t buy expensive software a teacher hasn’t used
Do learn what's freely available
Dont blanket the campus with expensive hardware

Monday, February 14, 2011

METC 2011 - Web 2.0 Tools Smackdown

The one thing that I am constantly amazed at with Web 2.0 tools is the opportunities these tools present for collaboration. We spent some time learning about tools for sharing, scheduling, data/information collection, archiving, and creating. Most of the tools that were introduced had some kind of collaboration aspect to them (Dropbox, When is Good, Google Forms, Evernote, Flisti, Weebly, etc.) Using Web 2.0 tools will allow students to collaborate within their own classroom and with other students/classrooms from all over the world.

We also spent time discussing the necessities of educators having an online presence. Again, the benefits and necessity of an online presence revolve around collaboration. Your online presence will give you the opportunity for people to get to know you. It will give you the opportunity to share your ideas or resources that you are using. As of right now, I see twitter as the best way to develop your professional online presence. The opportunities for collaboration, sharing, and learning continue to be a great benefit to me and other educators.

Collaborating even took place among the participants in this session. The depth that these tools offer presented opportunities for the participants to add to the presenters information. There were a handful of times where a presenter was participating a tool, and a participant would add some details about the tool and how they are using it in the classroom.

The session concluded with some amazing video/audio/animation tools. Here is a direct link to all of the video/audio/animation resources that they shared.

Gina Hartman, Andrea Blanco, and Gwyneth Jones did a nice job with the presentation. All of the resources demonstrated at the session can be found on their Learning Tools SMACKDOWN wiki.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Too much tweeting?

twitterI missed an opportunity a few weeks ago. It was a Friday morning and I happened to find some good resources that I decided to send out on twitter. I also engaged in some conversations over twitter about leadership and learning. A few people who follow me commented about the high number of tweets I was sending out that morning. I was given an opportunity to talk about how much I was learning from a few other educators from all over the country, and I didn’t do it. Instead, I questioned myself and wondered if I was actually tweeting too much. Can you tweet too much? I am sure it is possible, but tweeting too much should be defined by the quality of your tweets rather than the quantity. If you are sending out quality resources, if you are engaged in good conversations, you are not tweeting too much. If you are learning, you are not tweeting too much.

Keep on tweeting! Keep on learning!