Monday, October 27, 2008

AHHHHHH - Zombies are REAL!!!

No, seriously. They are.

Despite my last post which was made in fun, zombies do really exist in the animal world. Tonight I stumbled across this slideshow - and am now really creeped out. Parasites that control the host. There is even one that affects us! The slideshow was created by Discover Magazine so they should be genuine.

Check out the slideshow and become slightly less comfortable with the natural world. Pass this on to your favorite science teacher before Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Zombies in Plain English

The folks at Common Craft had some fun last Halloween. I figured I should bring it up again. Enjoy this little gem.

No One Cares How Long You Work

I have to thank Morag for finding this wonderful article. If you already read her blog then you can probably ignore this post.

by Morag Riddell
I found this gem on the Leader Talk blog.
I loved this quote:

My observation is that folks who ROUTINELY work more than a standard work

* Have poor time management skills; or
* They don't know how to delegate; or
* They cannot prioritize [HINT: Family comes first!]; or
* They are Wannabe Martyrs.

[OMG!, did he really just say that?]

Listen? I hear eggshells being stepped on.

Look, if you're a school administrator and you consider football games,
plays, concerts, academic and athletic events to be WORK, you're in the wrong
career. I think it is so true and not just about administrators but
teachers in general. On my staff we're always talking about time and the
lack there of but may be we shouldn't be. Everyone needs to decide what is
most important to them. Should teaching be a 24-7 job or is it possible to
make it a 40 hours/week?

Well I want to add - Nobody may care how long you work but there is always somebody who cares how long you don't work.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Could This Work?

So I had an idea the other day. Now usually when I get an idea it either is expensive or gets me into trouble (or both). I don't think that this is either.

We are having bandwidth issues at school. Not a secret to any of you who are in the same division as me. One of the culprits is YouTube. YouTube is a wonderful teaching tool - but it is also a great big bandwidth pig. Lots of our students run it in the backgroud so they can listen to music as they work (and many just use that as an excuse to get out of trouble). If it truly is just for music then the video is wasted bandwidth. We should be pushing internet radio stations instead. If I am not mistaken internet radio should use less bandwidth - it only has the audio part of the stream.

Ok - the problem isn't solved yet but wait until I get to phase two of my idea. I remember a conversation I had with a buddy of mine (who used to be a network tech for another division). Their office was in the same building as one of the schools. All of the office staff (about 7-8 people) listened to internet radio stations. During working hours those 7-8 machines running internet radio where enough to slow the entire school down.

Phase two - How do we provide music to the entire school without slowing everyone down? What about streaming music from our server at school? Only one machine would need to be downloading the internet radio and then distribute it out to the workstations. We should be able handle the traffic within our local network. One machine streaming music vs a bunch plugging the pipe? Sounds like a solution that gives the students what they want and helps us get more work done.

A side benefit of us streaming the music in is that we have some control over whether the music is appropriate or not. (There I go thinking like a teacher again!)

There would be a couple of technical details that would need to be worked out but isn't that what we have a Tech Department for?

So could it work or is there a big ole flaw in the plan?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock

Survey Question: How can we improve communication in the school?

My Response:

Give us more time. A lot of us use school time to have professional conversations with our co-workers (admin included). More planning days would definately lead to more of those conversations.

Note that those days must be unstructured planning time. Planning days where we just given more paperwork does not facilitate positive communication. It creates an us vs. them mentality where admin (both locally here and up at the division level) are definately not in the us part. That sort of thinking leads to lots of communication - negative communication.

More paper does not mean better communication. Too much information being passed down (paper and email) leads to cognitive overload and the message is never heard.

Ok, the cat is out of the bag. If my admin read this then they will know who filled out that particular annomous survey. (I suspect they would have anyways - I filled it out in crayon - and handed it directly to one of them).
Photo Credit: Maury McMown - used under a Creative Commons License

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Skittles and Bits

Today we had our first installment of the new season of In School Instructional Support PD. We all complain about not having enough time to do things - well here we got that time. I really enjoyed having time to talk to other people. Time to discuss questions, issues, and successes. After talking to other people here I always leave with a good idea or two. I always appreciate having time to network with other people.

Donna DesRoches had a few warm up activities planned for us. They were great for getting us into the groove of things. (And lots of fun - check out REAL).

The afternoon sessions were interesting as well. I had requested a topic for discussion - and then I got to lead the discussion. That is ok - if I can wing it in class (just kidding administrators).......

More to be added later.....when I have time......

Sunday, October 5, 2008

You Know that you are a Bureaucracy when.......

The other day I received an email from the folks up at the division office. The Living Sky School Division Glossary of Terms. What have we become now that we need a glossary of terms to operate? Oh yeah, one step closer to a bureaucracy. The document contains 57 items of administrative happiness (kind of like the ketchup but not nearly as tasty and just as messy). To quote the email that it came with it is "designed as a reference tool to decipher many of the acronyms and terms we frequently use in use in education." If we need to decipher the terms then we are using too much jargon. Why do we always feel the need to make ourselves feel more important by fancy terms that just confuse the layman? I would expect better from us - from educators. It is our job to take ideas and concepts and explain them in simpler and easier to understand ways.

There is a blog that I read titled Common Craft - Explanations in Plain English. They create a wonderful line of videos that do exactly what the title says. They explain things - simply and clearly. No extra fluff - just the bare concept. A lot of us can learn from them. Little to no jargon.

A friend and I once put on a session at one of our conferences (the title and content is not really relevant to this conversation). What applies is how we sold ourselves to our participants. At the door to one of the keynotes we hand out our calling cards - Buzzword Bingo handouts. Each square on the bingo chart had a different educational buzzword. Our goal was to get people to really think about the message that was being said. Don't just hear the buzzwords, listen for the meaning and the message. Anyways back to the point - one of the things we discussed was handing out the bingo sheets at a staff meeting (and letting our admin know about it). The purpose was to get them to use less jargon and fewer buzzwords.

The point? Well, lets look something I learned in my first year at the College of Engineering. The KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid. We are educators. Lets keep it simple.