Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leave your Heartprint

Updated with links. cross-posted at

Many of us are in Philadelphia for the International Society of Technology and Education 2011. If you are reading this and you are not here in Philly, then I hope you have found some of the keynotes or sessions online at . Here is the keynote.
The conference opening keynote began with some energetic dancers who ROCKED the house. Next ADOBE presented Student Voices, one of many student-produced videos.You can view some examples here. This particular movie ended with a child saying "The end, (pause) the beginning." (go to blackscreen)
For some of us it is the end of the school year, for others of us it is part of a vacation with school beginning again in a couple of weeks. Regardless of what our internal or seasonal clock says we are at ISTE and we are all Unlocking Potential.
All that I have seen and heard here, so far, is about passion. Why else would over 20,000 educators from around the world take time and often personal expense to get to this gathering in Philadelphia, PA USA?
The keynote today was a mashup of Dr. Stephen Covey, Muriel Summers, principal of  A. B. Coombs, an elementary school in North Carolina, the facilitator, and two well- spoken, fifth grade, students.
Leadership is communicating people's worth and potential, so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.
Dr. Stephen Covey, ISTE 2011 Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Covey video-conferenced into the venue. His message was so powerful and the examples so meaningful that it felt as though Dr. Covey was in the room speaking to us. Principal Muriel Summers then spoke of how she and her staff transformed her school, students, and community over the past ten years using Dr. Covey's principles. She believes these times of challenge are really times of great opportunity, if we approach it that way! Her challenge of ten years ago has also been her greatest opportunity. Ms. Summers believes we are most creative when our backs are against the wall. She says we have the power to reshape education as we know it -  right now! You can see how her school has been transformed at this site.
Transformation begins with a change of heart, not a change of program.
"Leave your heart print on your students."
Muriel Summers, keynote, ISTE 2011 Philadelphia, PA

The End
and for all of us the beginning.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Listen up and you shall hear....

As we in some of the northern states come into the home stretch, and call this 2010-2011 school year to a close, I was looking for a way to keep it interesting, challenging and purposeful right to the end, June 24, 2011. In Maine, as I am sure in other rural states, we drive long distances just to  be with family and friends. The time we spend on the road can be considered a consumer of free time or better yet, time that could be spent doing other things.

This past weekend, although it was a beautiful day for a drive, I had a just a few end of the school year projects I needed to complete! Not wanting to succumb to any more stress than I had to, I was brainstorming with myself about how I could change up my end of the school year summary to students and parents while I was driving.

I thought about using my dragon dictate app and “Tap and Dictate” but that would mean me speaking, the app transforming speech to text, and parents and students would be reading long messages from me. Then, I wondered if I could record my voice into a memo, and send the voice memo to my students and parents. They would hear the excitement in my voice, some kudos for a great year, hopefully a challenge for the summer, and a comment that I would look forward to seeing them in the fall.

It worked! By the end of my 4 hour round trip, I was nearly done with my unique end of the year summaries about my students. I was nearly done with another task from my to do list. I will bet this is the first time my parents and students will have a voice message in their email from a teacher. Oh, it was fairly easy, I pushed the record button and put the phone down and just talked like someone was in the car with me.  If you are looking for a stress free way to sum up your school year, try a voice memo.( Or a welcome message for next fall!) It will be easy on the listeners as well.

I just went back and listened to my end of the school year messages. I sent a couple test messages and received positive responses from parents. What a nice way to end my year!
coakes photo
Turn your audio into mp3's to make sure other computers can read the format.
PS. Here is the feedback I have received.

Message 1 from a parent:
I loved your voice message to Chris!  What a great way to encourage and motivate a student :-)
I had a thought of playing Mad Libs with both of my kids as soon as I heard you say this area still needs help, adverbs, adjectives etc...
Thank you so much for being there for Chris!  You are an amazing gift to us and I wish you a nice, relaxing, and healthy summer :-)
Message 2 from a parent:
Well that was certainly an interesting way to get a report.  Very nice.  I appreciate everything you have done for Ashley this  year and I am glad that you get to continue working with her next year as well.