Friday, April 24, 2015

Oh yes, they can write! #teamkid #savmp #naesp15 #tcrwp

Believe it or not, I've heard people over the years say that Kindergarten students can't write.

- They're not developmentally ready
- We should probably only have them copy our writing off the board
- Have them just do a mad lib writing activity where they fill in the blanks
- What could they possibly write about

Let me show you!

Yesterday morning I spent some time in our two morning Kindergarten classes with the amazing @NikDonnellyJSE and @MsFischerJSE during Writers Workshop and I'm still smiling! The kids are working on their 'How To' pieces right now and it's so rejuvenating to see these young writers and their creativity.

- They're collaborative with each other and talk about their ideas!
- They're creative and funny with their topics! 
(How to survive a fire drill - How to brush your teeth - How to fend off a bear - How to do a jumping jack)
- They don't always sit at their table groups, they know how to spread out in the room and get comfortable.
- They seek out their teachers to conference and ask for help.
- They LOVE sharing their writing with me when I come in, and I LOVE hearing about their work!
- They're excitement to write and tell their story is second to none!
- They write about what happens at school, their life, sports, gymnastics and with their siblings.
- Parents are constantly telling me that their Kindergarten child writes at home, this is powerful.
- We do 'buddy blogging' with our 5th grade classes where the two kids talk about their story and the 5th graders type it out into their blog, how cool is that!

Please do not take away their voice, Kindergarten students can write, they have ideas, are creative and want to share!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Art for Kids Hub + Power of Social Media #teamkid

Art is so important in schools and kids LOVE drawing! Couple that with the power of Social Media and you have a wonderful formula for #eduawesome.

Our entire staff at John Swett is on Twitter and there are SO many success stories that have happened simply because of Twitter. The latest is @MissHullJSE reaching out to @ArtforKidsHub on How to Draw a Roadrunner!

Check out the awesome video below and thanks to Rob for all your great resources! -


What I Love! #teamkid #savmp #naesp15

Let me start off this post with a small disclaimer.

I love technology, especially in schools where it is thoughtfully integrated with the curriculum. There is way more to schools and learning than just technology, but if you get the tech piece right, it makes your school SO much more relevant and exciting! It will change the mindset of your entire community, and this is where the Principal MUST be the Lead Learner.

We're also 1:1 in our entire 1st-5th grade and we have 540 students at John Swett Elementary. We've done this in two years, through a variety of different funding sources. If you make technology integration and all it's facets a priority, you have the ingredients for amazing change and empowerment of your school.

What do I love about technology in the hands of kids.......

- KDI (Kids Dig It)
- It makes learning so much more flexible, in so many different ways!
- We can individualize learning and have multiple activities going on at once in the classroom! Differentiation is a huge key to student success, technology allows teachers to facilitate the learning and not just simply 'teach' the entire day.
- I have almost zero discipline at my school, an engaged classroom where kids are challenged and they are collaborating with others is key!
- When you're a Workshop school and you fold in Google Drive for student writing, it changes the entire editing process for teachers and kids. Dynamic revisions throughout will push students to write more!
- Our staff feels comfortable, innovative and always ready for more! Which in turn empowers the kids, it's a totally different language, what do you speak?!
- Social Media has a piece to this conversation. We're a Twitter school and have opened up all classroom doors with sharing and collaboration. Teacher PD happens all the time now when you have the right pieces to the puzzle.
- With the rollout of our Social Media Interns, the sharing continues from a student perspective even if I'm in meetings, amazing!
- Educate and inform your parent groups! Parents must be a part of the conversation so they know how to best support their child. When parents are on board and can support, you'll go even farther as a school.
- Technology integration is not a 'nice to have' - it's a 'must have' and we must make it happen for our kids!

What do you love about technology integration at your school?

Learning is flexible and shouldn't just happen in a desk, anywhere and anytime

 When you're 1:1 in all grade levels it's much easier to do more with technology integration and differentiation

 Flexible and comfortable, in a bean bag of course

 Don't just write for your teacher, publish to the world on your KidBlog

 Book reviews should be collaborative and shared with the entire grade level, Google Docs will get you there

 Students take Project Based Learning to another level, using Google Draw to enhance their collaborative assignments. See the image that three students are working together on the same document

 Four 5th graders working outside on laptops

 More 5th graders

 Our second set of Social Media Interns learning the ropes and having a blast sharing with the community

 You won't see one of our teachers without their MacBook Air, don't leave your classroom without it

Friday, April 17, 2015

Don't Judge, I Know You Are! #teamkid #savmp #naesp15 #tcrwp

My April read aloud at John Swett Elementary is Glamourpuss by Sarah Weeks. All I have to say, is that I'm SO glad I've found this book and am reading to our kids. 

- 'Pink????'
- 'Glitter????'
- 'Cats????'
- 'Diamonds????'

These are just the initial impressions that students have given me when I've come in to read with them this week, which is exactly what I was looking for!

Glamourpuss is an extremely spoiled cat that is waited on hand and foot. Along the way a small dog enters her life and grabs much of her attention. She immediately doesn't like Bluebelle based on his clothes and how he dresses. As time goes on, they come together, form a friendship and are best of friends!

Lessons for kids -
- Don't judge someone by how they dress, get to know them!
- Don't judge someone by the food they bring for lunch, get to know them!
- Don't judge someone before you get to know them, it's what is on the inside that counts!

We've had a really great discussion in our 5th grade classes especially about this book and 'judging'! Middle school next year is the perfect environment to 'judge' others as you have many different elementary schools coming together. There are many kids you've never met, have never hung out with and don't know what they're like on the inside!

Check out Glamourpuss for a great read aloud with your students!

Some of our teacher Tweets from my reading!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We'll Make You Better #savmp #teamkid #naesp15

Everyone can improve. Everyone can get better. Everyone can innovate. The key question is - How do we make this happen for everyone?!

Just like a classroom full of kids that are at all different levels, same holds true for teachers and Principals. How do you make someone better when they're already at such a high level of innovation and success?

You've integrated Genius Hour, Workshop, Google Apps, social media, gardening, blogging and more into your classroom and school - what's next?

The entire clip below is fun to watch but it's really just the first fifteen seconds. Surrounding yourself with other individuals who are on top, have a growth mindset, want to get better, have leaders who evaluate and push you, that will make you better for kids.

On a daily basis my PLN is the go-to for me when it comes to ideas/feedback on what other Principals are doing in their schools and how those ideas may transfer to ours! It goes both ways also, when we share what we're doing or want to do, we're learning from teaching/explaining to others, such a great feeling. Surround yourself with greatness and it will make you better!

Kids deserve the best! Kids deserve all educators to try and be the best!

Team Kid

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Power of Reading With Kids #tcrwp #teamkid #savmp #naesp15

Reading is important, really important, especially with kids. Last year I started reading to classes - more specifically, I would read the same book to each class on a monthly basis. After I've read my monthly book to each class I always donate it to our school library. 

After two years kids now constantly ask me on a daily basis when I'm going to come in and read. Kids are always recommending books to me, parents as well which is super fun. Admittedly, I have pretty high standards for my book choices and tend to try and find stories that align with our Student of the Month themes. This allows for amazing conversation after I read, and also great follow-up lessons for teachers to expand on. 

I also always send a Remind text message to our entire parent community at the end of each month. There isn't much that a Principal can specifically have in common with their ENTIRE school, another great reason to read to your classes. Here's my March message that went out to our community about Gaston!

I recently blogged about reading Gaston here.... and a parent texted me the photo below over Spring Break last week. Her son enjoyed me reading Gaston so much that they bought it for him (3rd grade) and he was reading to his family! If you look at the CCSS (linked here) there are SO many ways that reading with kids puts them into focus, read read read!

Nick reading Gaston!

I just ordered the four books below, already looking ahead to next year since I already have April, May and June chosen for this year!

Reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds on Dot Day!

My Principal of the Day and I reading to a Kindergarten class!

Reading with Kindergarten students!

Students writing book reviews in 4th grade, on Google Docs to share collaboratively with their teacher and classmates.

Flashlight Friday comes from the amazing @mwatkins0913 - turn off the lights, give kids a flashlight and they'll read with such intensity!

Ready to read in the dark!

Read on kids, teachers, parents and of course Principals! You know it works when kids write about it and their teacher Tweets it out!

Friday, April 10, 2015

March Edu-Madness Recap #teamkid #savmp #naesp15

A huge thank you to Brad Gustafson for organizing March Madness this year and bringing sixteen educators together for some amazing collaboration! Watch the highlights below and enjoy......

Saturday, April 4, 2015

My Old Principal Use to Work More #savmp #naesp15 #teamkid

Quick post -

Yesterday afternoon during lunch recess I was making my usual rounds on the yard!

- checking in with some kids
- collecting all the balls that bounce over the fence
- chatting with our noon supervisors
- Tweeting about the CA weather
- sending a few Voxer messages to my PLN
- played wall ball with some 5th graders
- picked up some little pieces of trash (that's a whole different blog post and potentially a crusade, more to come)

And then a 5th grader who is new to John Swett this year approached me. I had already seen him at drop off this morning and I'd also already visited each class for my Friday Tweet-a-palooza! He tells me......

"You're a great Principal Mr. Welcome."

"Thank you, appreciate your comment."

"You're not like any Principal I've had before."

"What's different about me" I ask?

"Well, my old Principal use to work a lot more and you don't ever seem to be working that much, which is cool."

(Okay, so this comment has me thinking)

"What do you mean?"

"You're always in my classroom, like everyday. I always see you before and after school which is fun. You're always at recess and lunch also. I never saw my old Principal, so I guess he was pretty busy working in his office."

"Thanks 'Johnny' but I am working right now, I'm hanging out with you and all the other kids!"

I guess not all administrators are visible, they should be though, and not work so much!


Friday, April 3, 2015

My Favorite Things #savmp #teamkid #naesp15

I'm here to admit that my favorite movie of all time is Sound of Music. It actually happens to be my wife's favorite as well, so in turn, our two children have already watched it quite a few times with us. One of the best benefits are all the amazing songs throughout, it's hard to not start singing them and have a huge smile on your face.

Just last weekend I was riding our Bakfiets around town with my kids and my two year old son started singing My Favorite Things. Of course my daughter chimed in and as I'm pedaling my thoughts drift to school and my favorite things about being a Principal.

So, this post is inspired by The Sound of Music - My Favorite Things about being Principal!

1. If you want to learn about your school, sit at the lunch tables with kids and just talk with them. This is such a great place to 'not' be the Principal and when I first started doing this three years ago the kids weren't sure how to take it. It only took a few sit downs at lunch for them to realize I was just hanging out to chat! Sit with kids and just listen, so powerful and fun.

2. Recess - Kickball, knockout, foursquare! You name it, I love recess and that's where you get to see the kids on such a different level. And also take care of 'little' discipline issues and help guide them to a better choice next time. Lately kids have been wanting to race me, they always talk tons of trash about being faster than me....they're not, I'm the fastest person at the school! :)

"Mr. Welcome can you please kick the ball, you always boot it to the moon!" #youbet

3. Social Media Interns have totally changed how I view Digital Citizenship, and how we as educators should be teaching the ropes to our kids. We're on our third cycle of interns and it's so great watching them learn and grow. I'm always on our Twitter feed throughout the day and I still get excited when a Tweet pops up on our @jseroadrunners account that I didn't send. Follow #kidtweet for all their #eduawesome sharing each day!

4. Morning Drop-Off - I LOVE morning drop-off and greeting all of our students with a smile, wave, high-five, bump, or sometimes a hug is needed. On really special days, wearing our Roadrunner costume is a new favorite thing! Every Principal needs a mascot costume, can't wait to wear it again!

5. Kids don't need to be sitting in a desk to learn and collaborate. Love that our students take their laptops outside, in the grass, on the floor and their learning discovery continues! 

6. Riding tricycles around campus, that is one of my favorite things! Kids go absolutely crazy when they see this for the first time, parents do as well! 

7. A new favorite thing is having teachers take selfies in my Candlestick seats and then Tweeting out. That's why I bought them, put a smile on someones face and get excited about being at school!

Even my Principal of the Day Hannah loved sitting in the seats, stop by John Swett and see for yourself!

8. Reading to classes is the BEST! For those that don't know, I choose a different book each month and read to every class on campus. Kids get so excited for each new book that I choose and read, definitely one of my favorite things!

9. My all time favorite thing about being Principal is the opportunity each and every day that I have to make a positive impression on kids. I love talking with kids, supporting them, laughing with them, guiding them, giving a high-five, helping to correct them and overall just being surrounded by so much amazing energy!

What are your Favorite Things about being a Principal/Teacher/Director/Superintendent?!