Thursday, March 26, 2015

GHO + Remind + Common Sense Media = Totally Awesome

Yesterday was such a prime example of what's possible in education if administrators, teachers, students, parents and districts harness the power of what is available to them. Remind approached me a few months back about co-hosting a webinar with them and Common Sense Media to promote their new Digital Citizenship Starter Kit! Of course I always say yes and the planning began!

A lack of Digital Citizenship can/will be the defining moment for many young people if they aren't properly educated and shown acceptable use. Being an Elementary Principal, this topic is extremely important to me, especially as my entire school is 1:1 and our staff is continually embarking on new edu-endeavors that push the envelope and make school relevant/challenging for our kids!

Reflecting on our Google+ On-Air yesterday (you can watch below) teachers and students should be doing the same in schools. A team of people came together virtually and collaborated on a presentation that was viewed all over the country. Students should be doing this with other students!

Some of the free tools we used, all should be available to teachers in their classrooms!

- Google+ Hangouts to broadcast the session! (free)
- Shared Google Docs to outline an agenda! (free)
- Remind - an amazing tool that helps you communicate with families and build school to home connection! (free)
- Common Sense Media has a plethora of (free) resources for anyone to teach Digital Citizenship!
- Graphite is also awesome for app, games and website information that can be used in classrooms! (free)

You can watch the hangout webinar below, or from the Remind Google+ page here! Thank you again to Remind and Common Sense Media for their collaboration, Making It Happen for educators!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Remind Chat! #savmp #teamkid #naesp

(Note - This blog was originally posted on the Remind blog and I'm cross posting here!)

Using Chat in beta for the last two months has been amazing, and my mind has been running with so many different implementation ideas throughout my busy day as a principal. Smooth workflow is key to a principal’s success to help us focus on what’s most important — spending time with students and teachers!
Group of People with Education Concept
Remind has raised the bar with their simplistic communication strategy and their announcement of Chat. Using Chat in beta for the last two months has been amazing, and my mind has been running with so many different implementation ideas throughout my busy day as a principal. Smooth workflow is key to a principal’s success to help us focus on what’s most important — spending time with students and teachers!
1. Office Hours 
Schedule Office Hours for your community. School communication has changed – principals no longer (or they shouldn’t be) create six-page photocopied newsletters each week for the entire school. Keeping your parent community updated with Remind Announcements throughout the week is a great start. Having “open” Office Hours throughout the day is an extra layer of communication to ensure families are in-the-know. An informed parent community that’s connected to the school pays huge dividends! I’m starting with 6am-4pm office hours and will adjust as we roll out Chat at John Swett Elementary.
Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 5.51.26 PM

2. Safe and private communication
Chat is my new new safe and private phone number for our community. Parents no longer need my mobile number, they can contact me through Chat. You also don’t have to go through the headache of collecting every email address from parents. In addition, Chat has flagging features for appropriate language in every message, and a recorded message history transcript.
Our school website is robust, I tweet updates from our school account all day long, but questions still come up. Having parents be in touch with the principal during the day is golden! From chatting with my PTA President, checking in with teachers about different activities on campus and even connecting with my Office Manager, Chat was the missing piece to my communication tool belt.
3. Emails, all of those emails!
Encourage your community to utilize Chat instead of email. My mobile phone is always with me, which means I’m always available through Chat. For all of those quick check-in questions that can often times turn into a five paragraph email, your community will have to be more concise with Chat. Also, if you get the same question from more than a few parents, chances are you need to clarify with everyone. Chat is a great way to keep the pulse of your parent community throughout the day.
4. It’s all about mobile communication
As a mobile principal, I’m on my phone all day long, and most parents are as well. Reaching your parent community on their mobile phone is a must — it’s the age we live in, how we communicate, and how work gets done. The photo below is great proof that mobile to mobile communication is a must in order to reach parents and students where they are. Remind makes this happen, and Chat eases the communication workflow between school and home.
Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 6.14.42 PM
5. Many school-wide benefits
Check out the school-wide benefits of using Remind, implementation ideas and videos as well! I spoke about Chat at our monthly PTA meeting last week and parents are super excited to try it out. Stay tuned for my follow-up blog post as we implement it with the whole school community!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Power of An Edu-Smile? #savmp #teamkid

Recently I bought a Roadrunner mascot costume for our school which my Office Manager and I have been talking about for a couple of years now. It started with me looking through an Anderson's catalog that was in the 'pile' of mail that I usually don't even go through. It made us both laugh and I kept the original catalog for awhile but then never did anything with it.

The idea was rekindled from my time as an Assistant Principal when I wore the Clifford costume during our school book fair five years ago. Our librarian hooked me into it and I can still vividly remember the energy on campus after I ran around into classrooms and 'hung-out' in costume during the fair.

Last Friday morning still has me thinking, what is the power of an edu-smile? I wore our new Roadrunner costume during drop-off and my community is still talking about it, and smiling! What do you do as a leader that gets the people around you smiling?! What's the power in a smile at school? School culture and spirit are paramount for me, the things you do as a leader to build school culture have by far the most impact at your school site.

Please share you edu-smile ideas!

Pink wigs to support a teacher!

Parents Tweeting their sons Student of the Month success!

Wearing the Roadrunner costume during morning drop-off!

Kindergarten student writing about the Roadrunner costume!

Girl Scouts from school writing Code on the weekend!

Principal of the Day dressing up like me!


 Students working outside collaboratively on laptops!

 Kids dressing up on the 100th day of school!

Ugly sweater day on campus!

 Backstage selfie at the Talent Show!

 1st graders writing about Friendship!

 Whole school panoramic photos, love being all together!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Significance of School Culture #savmp #teamkid

I'm sure there are hundreds of definitions or ways to describe culture. Culture is found in every organization/group there is, it defines who you are, what you believe in and where you want to go. 

Team Kid is at the core of our school culture at John Swett Elementary, the decisions we make are positive for kids and we always put students first. Finding your motto or hashtag is important, but first and foremost you must live what you say.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a Roadrunner mascot costume from Anderson's and yesterday was the first day I wore it during morning drop off. Oh my gosh is all I can say!

Kids, teachers and parents went crazy! The biggest impact it had on people, was a smile on their face! Did wearing a Roadrunner costume have anything to do with our instructional program at school? No way.....but it makes people excited about school and want to join and support our school culture of Team Kid. 

See some of the Tweets from yesterday below!

Vista Print is my favorite for banner creation, great prices and super quick!

Beep beep!
Everyone wanted a photo op!

 A Kindergarten student even decided to write about the Roadrunner sighting!

  Parents taking photos + Tweeting from their cars!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Power of Mobile to Mobile Communication - With Remind! #savmp #remindlove

This is year three of using Remind at John Swett Elementary and the evidence of Mobile to Mobile communication between the school and our parent community is so powerful!

Just yesterday I was sending out a Google Form sign-up sheet for our after school science workshop! The only way I send out the Google Form is through Remind because I know parents utilize their mobile phone throughout the day and our workshop is on a first to sign-up basis.

I sent the Remind message at 1:24pm yesterday afternoon. All Google Form submissions get dumped to a Google Spreadsheet with a timestamp, and in just over ten minutes we had nine parents sign-up. Proof is in the data, parents respond when you reach them on their mobile phones.

- I use to shorten the long Google Form url, parents can click the link directly from the Remind message and fill out the form on their phones!

- With the announcement of Chat, I'm REALLY excited for parents to ask any clarifying questions to a message directly through the app.

-  Mobile to mobile communication is key, reach parents where they are with Remind!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Student Voice #savmp #teamkid #YourEdustory #30SecondTake

Empowering student voice in schools!

Just last week I taught a 2nd grade class all day because we were short substitutes. Of course I deviated a bit from the lesson plans and played around with Adobe Voice! Our Student of the Month theme for March at John Swett is Friendship, check out this awesome narrative by Mrs. Lastrico's 2nd grade class - listen here! A great way to utilize student voice!

I was also lucky enough to have been invited by Brad Gustafson for the #30SecondTake March Madness #eduallstar version. Our clip from John Swett is below, highlighting student Social Media voice! The entire #30SecondTake Round One can be seen here!

Interns learning the Twitter ropes in my office!

REALLY empowering student voice, our interns speaking at our local Rotary chapter meeting!

Newest set of interns getting some hands-on learning experience, kids pick it up fast and they really enjoy!

In classes taking photos and crafting Tweets!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Student Voice - Most Powerful Voice Of All #savmp #teamkid

Our John Swett Social Media Interns and myself had the opportunity to speak with our local Rotary Club yesterday! Rotary reached out to me about our use of Social Media at John Swett and we jumped at the chance to spread the word.

It's more fun and powerful to hear from students, so bringing Sully and Callie along was an easy decision. They both had so many great nuggets to share with Rotary about their hands-on approach to Tweeting at school under my direction. 

We give them an iPad and they go around campus to take photos. We then sit together and craft Tweets, talking about hashtags, acceptable messages to share with our community, privacy and much more. We could give them a handout to read, a movie to watch or just 'tell' them......we feel a hands-on approach within Social Media is best!

Sully, Callie and myself hanging at Rotary!

So proud of our interns, they did amazing!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Childhood Cancer - Amazing Support From JSE Kids! #teamkid #savmp

Last Friday I was hanging out in classrooms and Micah (3rd grader) told me he was going to shave his head like support childhood cancer research! Turns out his brother (Ethan) who is in 1st grade is doing the same next Sunday, March 15th!

Having lost my father and mother-in-law to cancer, and of course being surrounded by kids all day, this cause is very important to me. I've donated to Micah and Ethan and please help support them if you can!

Please support Ethan by donating here!

Please support Micah by donating here!

See St. Baldrick's blog here!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Be True to Yourself #savmp #teamkid

I was super excited to read Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio as my March book to our John Swett classes! Starting yesterday and reading much of today and next week the student/teacher reviews so far have been phenomenal!

This is actually the first book I've read to classes where I've been able to talk in a French accent, which the kids LOVED! Our Student of the Month theme for March is Friendship and we had some great discussions in class about being true to yourself, which I feel is woven throughout the story. 

1st grader yesterday - "Mr. Welcome, if I try to be someone that I'm not, I won't find good friends to hang out with."


Read Gaston for yourself, it's a great story to spark conversation and also make you smile!

Purchase Gaston here....

Follow Kelly DiPucchio on Twitter here....

Some Gaston Tweets from yesterday!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

My Defining Moment #YourEdustory #savmp

You would think spending my entire childhood in my fathers 2nd grade classroom would have been my 'defining moment' as a future educator. The time with my dad was fabulous, so many golden moments with him, kids, parents, Principals and fellow teachers. 

I always remember how cool it was that my dad worked at a school. He never said he was going to work in the morning - "I'm off to school everyone!" 

Funny thing is, it took me going down a much different path at first until I had my defining educational moment. My multiple subject credential was done, student teaching was done,  and then I decided to attend Officer Candidates School for the United States Marine Corps at Quantico, VA.

Obstacle course in muddy and chilly Quantico.

OCS was great, loved all the physical fitness training. Loved the discipline, built amazing relationships with fellow candidates, and I really missed working with kids. My defining moment happened away from the classroom, and made me want to return and follow that path.

Thanks dad for all your support, miss you!