Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Flipping Out

If you read my first blog post, you understand that I started the year with a mission to incorporate technology throughout the school year.  Purchasing a Flip Camcorder was my first step in utilizing some facet of technology.  It has been one of the best purchases that I have made as an educator to date.

It isn't surprising that many parents don't read every newsletter or communication that is sent home.  Parents are often too busy to stop, sit down, and read a two page newsletter.  What they will do is watch videos that are sent directly to email or posted on the school's web page.

What is a Flip Camera?

--A hand-held camera/camcorder that is simple to use.  You literally just have to turn it on, point it at whatever you would like to record, and push the red button.  That simple!
--A flip camera has a USB that can be directly plugged in to your computer.  This allows you to have the easiest download you could ever ask for.  Honestly, easiest download ever.

Here are the best uses I've found for the Flip:

1.) Email short videos to parents.

  • Parents love having the opportunity to be a mouse in the corner.  Sending a short video email is a great way to give parents a sneak peek into the learning going on in their child's class. They've really enjoyed these daily communications
  • As you make your way around the building, you will most likely see kids doing some great things in each classroom.  Quickly get your camera out and catch them 'in action'.  
  • Later, download the videos to your computer.  The Flip software has an 'email' button and you simply push it and type in the address you would like to send the video to.
2.)  Compile your videos into a movie.
  • What do you do with all the videos that you take?  Compile all of them using some movie editing software (iMovie, Flip Movie) and post them on your website.
  • This is another great way to draw parents and community members to your website as well as show them what is going on each month in the school.
  • Here is an example of a video in which you can quickly show what is going on in your building:

3.)  Teacher evaluation tool.
  • Taking them into the classroom during formal observations can be a great tool to use during your post observation meeting.  
There are so many ways you can use this handy little cam!  Post more ideas or uses if you have expertise in using a flip.  One thing is for sure, parents love to see their children in action.  This gives an opportunity to open your school to parents and the community.  It really is an awesome communication tool.

    Wednesday, March 23, 2011

    Cannonball....Jumping Into Social Media and Technology

    No more excuses.  I'm finally done expecting the tech experts in our building to take care of the 'tech stuff' while I sit on the sidelines.  I'm sure some of you can relate! For my first blog post...ever....I think it may be best to lay out who I am, where I have come from, and anything else that may shed some light on future posts.

    #1- I write like I speak.  However I say something in my head, that is how I type it.  It doesn't necessarily impress English teachers.  I most likely wouldn't get the highest vocabulary and word usage grade, and I wouldn't pass many rubrics in grammer usage either.  But, hopefully you can follow my 'deep' thoughts:)

    #2- I'm in my 3rd year as an elementary principal (Preschool-fifth) in Iowa.  I grew up a farmer's son and still have that in my blood.  How does that relate to this blog?  Well, I spent more time with pigs than computers.  Couple that with my age (29) and you can see where I fell through the technology cracks.  I remember fumbling through the internet at school for the first time in 8th or 9th grade.  I only had time for sports when high school hit so I never dove deep into technology.

    #3- Starting the 2010-2011 school year, I would have considered myself adequate with technology.  My respected elders would consider me very savvy with technology because I can run a computer with great ease, manipulate the main features with technology, and use help functions with great regularity (which makes me look a little better than I really am).  But, I continually witnessed all the amazing resources out there and wanted to give it a shot.  Excuses, perceived lack of ability, and time all played a part in the constant delay of 'getting started'.  Currently, my beautiful wife of 5 years is asleep, my 2 children are quiet in bed, so why not start now?

    A quick glimpse of my family that is sleeping soundly.  My boy is 2 years old and my daughter is 2 months old in this photo.

    #4- I made some 'Technology Goals' at the beginning of the school year:
    • Start up a twitter account and actually utilize it. Check.
    • Figure out how to use a Mimio. Check. Needs Improvement Though.
    • Dive into iPads.  Check.  Beginning phase still.
    • Start a blog. In the process.
    #5- Goals for my blog:
    • Learn how to create extra pages. Check. Not going to publish until I've got it all figured out though.
    • Embed pictures and videos in each page and post. Check, see picture above with lovely wife and kids.
    • Create a drop down menu in some of my headings tabs.  I've tried...Not even close on this one.
    • Come up with cool gadgets that meet my needs of this blog. Not there yet.
    #6- Last but not least, my priorities in life are as follows: My faith, my family, and then everything else.  I'm not saying that my love and passion for education and specifically my role as a principal isn't important.  But, I am pretty upfront with saying that it doesn't hold a candle to my love and passion for Christ and my family.  Therefore, this blog not only will be a reflection of my professional love but also my personal passions as well.  Hopefully, you enjoy the mix of personal and professional stories and resources in this blog.

    #7- Oh yeah, one more thing.  I am a proud member of a wonderful organization...Outreach Outdoors.  I love hunting, fishing, and pretty much anything outdoors.  Outreach outdoors connects the outdoors with spreading the word of Christ.  If you are interested, feel free to check us out at: www.outreachoutdoors.com 

    I'm looking forward to this time of reflection.  I have enjoyed learning from others and gaining resources through so many wonderful bloggers and professionals.  A global learning community is possible...I'm so excited that I've stepped off the diving board.