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Wednesday
Apr302008

We're building a new school!

newschools.jpgI work in a great community.

Despite the high cost of food and fuel, a tax burden that's shifting more and more to local property taxes, and a general concern about the economy and personal well-being, the greater Mankato area citizens voted themselves a tax increase yesterday to build a new elementary school. The $33.5 million dollar construction referendum passed by 400 votes - 53% in favor. There are some other items in the referendum, including purchasing more land for yet another school, remodeling some science classrooms, and putting in an elevator but the big excitement is all about the new elementary building - the first we've built since the early 1970s.

We have a very smart school board and superintendent and savvy-supportive community. In my estimation, our district has a good track record of passing referendums because:
  • We are modest in in our requests.
  • We are well-known to be very well-run financially (and conservatively), winning awards in this area. We have the lowest administrative overhead and cost-per-pupil expenses in our region. 
  • We are open and transparent about our finances.
  • We are an "education-oriented" community, with four colleges within our school district boundaries.
  • We get the support of the local chamber, city government and business organizations. They "get" that good schools are a community development issue.
  • Our local paper has always been fair to our schools.
  • The anti-referendum letters to the editor made state government the villain in the problem of rising property taxes (as well it is), not the schools. There was never a letter saying we don't NEED a new school, only objections about how education is financed in the state.

Anyway, this is exciting. We already know this will be a "green" school, modeling as many energy efficient technologies as possible. I am hoping the new building will also have a "model" elementary media center that will serve students and staff for the next, uh, hundred years? (We are still using schools built in the 1920s with no plans to stop doing so.)

When's the first planning meeting? I can't wait! 

 

Tuesday
Apr292008

Excuses, excuses

excusemaker.jpgThe Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating
(Once again via Stephens Lighthouse. How does he find these things?)

Read the list and then here is the challenge:

  1. Make a list of your three most bothersome excuses.
  2. Turn each excuse into a powerful question, starting with the words "How can I?" or "How can we?" (For example, if your excuse is "That's R&D's job," you might ask "How can I make innovation my job?" or "How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?"
  3. Brainstorm each question -- alone and with your team.

My excuses..

  1. It's not broken. Why fix it?
  2. It involves a power shift and somebody will get mad.
  3. I don't have the energy. 

In a sense, I object to innovation for innovation's sake. It's a means to an end. Not an end in itself. Is that my 4th excuse?

What keeps you from innovating? What are your excuses? 

 

Tuesday
Apr292008

A list o' lists

Two great collections of educational Web 2.0 resources have recently become available:list.jpg

  • My friend Donna Baumbach's WebTools4U2 Use is a fabulous, comprehensive compilation of tools in a variety of categories. The collection is the result of a recent survey of over 600 library media specialists, so you know the tools are field tested.
  • Top 100 Tools Spring 2008 Summary PDF from Jane's E-Learning Pick of the Day (thanks to Stephen Abrams for the heads up) is a very interesting compilation of popular online tools that compares their ranking from 2007-2008. Jane slices and dices the tools into categories as well and offers a Top 25 list for those of us with a touch of ADD.

I've added these to other illustrious resources that list and describe electronic learning tools on my Dipping One's Toes in the Stream of Social Networking wiki including:

A list o' lists...  Thanks to all the hard work by the individuals who've created and maintained these guides.

So, if you had but an hour and wanted to introduce just the top three most productive online tools for teachers, which three would they be? My nominations would be:

  • Del.icio.us
  • Wikispaces
  • Slideshare

And yours? Just three. Just one hour. Just your normal classroom teacher.