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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Candle Trick

Click here for a link to the video.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Making of T-Mobile's Home For The Holidays Video - Merry Christmas

Click here for a video link.  And now for the finished product: Click here for a link to the video.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Will Enzo Be a Top 5 Pick?

Enzo Martinez has been on the radar of MLS clubs for quite some time already. It all began in 2009, when the midfielder was named ESPN RISE Player of the DECADE. You read that right, the DECADE. In high school (Rock Hill's Northwestern High School), Martinez scored a jaw-dropping 182 goals, was player of the year in South Carolina all four years of high school, and went 24-0-0 in his senior season, capping off both a state and national title run.
Martinez is everything you look for in a midfielder, and after making a fairly smooth transition for goal-scorer to set-up man, it's plain to see what has scouts and managers swooning over his services. It's the quick, decisive play in the midfield that makes Martinez so dangerous. What sticks out is not only is he incredibly quick, but it's a controlled speed, which is vital to his style of play given his lack of over-the-top physical presence (Enzo is listed as 5'7", 145lbs.)
Coming off of a stellar season capped off with the College Cup title, the UNC Tar Heel junior looks primed and ready to come out of school early and sign with MLS. Given the fact that his stock could possibly never be higher than it currently is, and with talks of Martinez being offered a Generation Adidas contract, that easily vaults him into Top-5 pick territory. Martinez could easily step into the Revs' lineup and contribute, as his past history has shown not only can he adapt well in new roles and levels of competition, but he can contribute in big ways as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Education Paralysis

A few points from:

Education reform paralysis — and how to fix it

This was written by Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University and author of a monthly column on education for the Marin Independent Journal.
By Mark Phillips
Don’t you get bored repeatedly reading about variations on the same topics? Standardized testing, useful or harmful? Charter schools, the answer or the new problem? Teachers maligned, teachers defended, teachers resistant to change. No Child Left Behind, revise or eliminate?.......
I recently revisited the classic book Crisis in the Classroom , by Charles Silberman, circa 1970and thought: “That could have been written this year!” ..........
Most teachers and administrators, dealing with the daily challenges of teaching, don’t have the luxury of thinking beyond the present paradigm. They’re too busy dealing with meeting student needs, designing engaging lessons, and responding to external pressures, from assessment to the latest mandated “innovation.”..........
.....Why should there still be an English department? The constellation of processes and skills includes reading, writing, the art of presentation, communicating through the computer, expressing oneself through varied media, and visual literacy. English itself is just a small part of this. And what if a new Department of Communication used the classroom only as a command center for a learning process that involved local media, worldwide web communication, and the creation of integrated imagery and words shared with the community?
The concept of schools without walls is not a new one, and yet in this age of instantaneous electronic communication, as we freely Skype and network in multiple ways with people all over the world, how can we possibly think of education as taking place in a building in blocks of 49 or 53 minutes?
Why is outdoor/wilderness education reserved for a few schools, most often those with so-called at-risk kids? If we look closely enough we can see that most of our adolescents are at risk in various ways and a deeper connection for them to our natural world is probably there in that third dimension of education.
Read the full article by going to  The Washington Post Answer Sheet
Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out ourHigher Education page. Bookmark it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Rock Hill Schools Working on Social Media Policy

The Rock Hill School District has a committee of Assistant Principals working on a policy to guide social media use. They are looking at policies already in place at other districts and should have a proposal for the school board in the near future. If past performance is an indicator of policy recommendations, we'll see something that prevents everyone from fully utilizing the media because of the actions of a few. I call it the shotgun approach. Instead of dealing with the offenders, let's just punish everyone instead.

Of course, that is pretty much what policy's do. I'd like to see a little proactive language in the new policy. Instead of all "Thou Shalt Not", how about a little "Thou Shall". Below is how one school is using social media to keep parents informed and allow them to communicate back: (from the Connected Principals blog site):

Using Tech To Meet Parents Where They Are

Some of the many ways to connect with families
At Kent we provide many opportunities for parents and families to stay informed and involved in their child’s education. Nothing is better than face to face communication but many times this is not possible.  Therefore, I believe it is important to provide a variety of ways that parents and families can both receive information and engage in dialogue with the school using technology.
As I have described in the post “Parent Communication: TO vs WITH”, schools need to use technology to not only provide information TO parents but to also engage in conversations WITH parents around student learning. Social media, in which parents can leave comments and questions, can be a great tool for this.
Below is a list of the many ways that we use technology at Kent School to try to engage and involve parents by meeting them where they are. Following the list is a link to the screencast of the many ways that parents can use our blog as a starting point to access the many ways to stay (or become more) informed and/or engaged.
  • Parent Info For Kent Elementary Facebook Page - many parents are already on Facebook so we need to ‘meet’ them there. For my belief on why “Your School Needs a Facebook Page” click here.
  • Good Things At Kent Blog – this is our school blog in which we share all the events and day-to-day occurrences at Kent School. For the past 3 years we have done a “10 Good Things To Talk About” each Friday (thank you to Yrsa Jensen, SD36 for the idea) and this year we have moved this to a blog format so parents can access this through their mobile devices and also provide feedback through comments.
  • Email – the majority of our parents receive email of any information but many still like to receive the paper version too. Parents can opt out of receiving paper format here. Teachers also use email to keep parents informed of student learning.
  • Twitter – our school is on Twitter (@kentelemschool) and the same info that is on Facebook is on Twitter but it is just another way to receive the info or engage in dialogue with the school. Some of our teachers are also now on Twitter. NOTE: When something is posted on the blog, it automatically goes to our Facebook Page which is automatically linked to our Twitter account (so there is not much more work in having the same information available through a variety of means).
  • Text Messages (SMS) – our school provides the option for families to stay informed of important events via text messaging (Remind101). This is not a way to engage in dialogue but only a way for parents to receive info.
  • School Website – a teacher and his students run the school website. It is used for coding and problem-solving with the kids and as a way for teachers to showcase student projects and provide info on what is happening in their classes. NOTE: The Fraser-Cascade School District is moving to a more user-friendly, standardized format for school websites/teacher blogs so stay tuned.
  • Library and Principal Blog – our teacher-librarian hosts her own blog here that describes all the learning that happens through our school library. She also uses it as a way to promote community and family literacy. I also encourage parents to subscribe and comment on my blogs around my philosophies of education.
  • Contact the principal – my cell phone is available for parents to use to contact me via calls or text messaging. (Thanks to Chris Kennedy and Darcy Mullin for the encouragement). I am also available through email, my direct line, and Skype (for those parents who prefer “face to face” but are unable to come to the school.
  • Student Blogs – our intermediate teachers use KidBlogs to encourage connected learning with their students. Parents will be able to read and comment on their child’s blogs.
  • Animoto - each month, a video compilation of students is created, shown to the students, and sent to parents. Click here for an example. Students also create videos of field trips, etc using this program.
  • Flickr - photos of students and events are uploaded to Flickr and available to parents.
  • YouTube – messages and videos of students at Kent showcased here – often using a private link.
  • Google Docs – used for collaboration with students, staff, and parents
  • Google Calendar – school calendar is updated and posted. My calendar is available online and posted outside my office.
Click here to watch the screencast I posted on our school blog on how parents can access the aforementioned tools to stay involved and/or engaged with Kent School (sorry for the monotone but my wife kept signalling me to keep my voice low as we had 2 sleeping babies:-))
Nothing is better than face-to-face communication so families are always encouraged to meet with their child’s teachers. If this is not possible, or preferred, technology can be a great option for families to connect with their child’s school. We are continuing to learn in this area so if you have any other recommendations or comments, please share them below.
Originally posted at The Wejr Board blog.  Click here to see more conversation around this post.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Show People You Know What You Are Talking About!

I'm always told how bad schools are today whenever I get around a group of retired folks. You know the folks - people who have rosy glasses whenever they think back to their "good ole days". The fact of the matter is the data usually doesn't support what they say. But now, they can go online, take a sample test that most high school students must pass to graduate, and email the results to their friends as proof school is much easier today. Click  Reading Quiz | Math Quiz for Questions that came from the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) for 10th grade - if you dare!

Read an article about what one school board member did and how he thinks the questions are not appropriate by clicking here. (from the Washington Post)

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Frustrated Teacher.

There is still a week left in the fall semester, but high school students finished up their semester exams (most were end of course exams) today (Friday). Unfortunately, a lot of high school teachers have had a similar experience either from a student or parent to the video below (From Right on the Left Coast: Views from a Conservative Teacher):

Click here for a link to the video.

A Lesson on Colors

Click here for a link to the video.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Rock Hill School News For Dec. 14, 2011

From Elaine Baker:

Caring About Others
Hats off to the following schools which have collected food or toys for families in need:
Northwestern High School Beta Club - $1,000 donation and toys for the Salvation Army
Rawlinson Road Performing Arts Department - 1,120 cans of food for the Salvation Army
Sullivan Junior Civitans - over 2,700 cans of food for the Salvation Army
Phoenix Academy/Crossroads/Phoenix Bound - provided over 200 Christmas cards for the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes Program
Family Resource Center Willing to Help
The Family Resource Center may be able to provide some assistance to families in need through the Toys for Happiness or Salvation Army Angel Tree campaigns.  However, referrals to the Resource Center must be made by school personnel. And, school staff members should check with the families requesting assistance as to whether they have applied elsewhere for assistance. Robin Williams, contact person at the Resource Center, can be reached at (803) 985-3548 or at
Strings Students to Perform
The Rawlinson Road Orchestras, directed by Kim Le, will present their Winter Concert at 6 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15, in the school auditorium. The performance is free, although donations would be appreciated.
Breakfast With Santa
The PTO at the Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies is inviting district employees to join them at Fatz CafĂ© this Saturday, Dec. 17, from 8-10 a.m. for a great pancake breakfast. Tickets, at $7 for adults and $4 for children, can be purchased at the school in advance or at the door. And, you can even have a photo taken with Santa! 
18 Make Honor Band
Congratulations to Jocquin Fuller (Dutchman Creek), Michael Skellett (Rawlinson Road), and Paul Guzewicz (Sullivan) whose band students have been selected to be members of the 2011-12 York County Middle School Honor Band. The students, who were selected by a panel of judges during a challenging audition on Dec. 6, will participate in the Honor Band clinic and concert in January.
Robotics Team to Compete at State Level
The Saluda Trail Robotics Team, under the guidance of Jeremy CarteeMarsha GravesSherri Horency, and Julia Millar, traveled to the FIRST LEGO League Tournament at York Technical College on Dec. 2 where they competed against 14 area teams in the "Food Factor Challenge: Keeping Food Safe." The Robo Rockers won the Project Award and placed in the top 4 in the overall competition. The will vie for state honors in February.  
Celebrating Young Artists
Congratulations to Heather Gregory, art teacher at Mount Gallant, whose art students have work featured throughout the area. A "Gnome Tree," designed by third-graders, was featured during ChristmasVille at the Center for the Arts; and a tree called "Birds of a Feather" is featured in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's "Holiday Lights" display. The tree features clay birds created by second-graders, and first-graders are proud of their work, "Donkey Bells,"  featured on the school's Christmas tree. Through a grant from the Arts Council, fourth-graders made original nutcracker figures, and this display will greet visitors as they enter the lobby of the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center in Charlotte.  The fourth-graders will get to see their work first-hand when they travel to see the N.C. Ballet perform "The Nutcracker" on Dec. 15.
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Choice Schools

Next year,  Rock Hill Schools will have 9  choice or magnet schools, 7 in elementary and 2 in middle school, not to mention a state charter school (York Prep) and a state online school. A lot of options for young parents to choose from. I'm often asked about the choices. When I start to tell them to visit the schools, including their zoned school, I get stopped and asked, "No, take your school board hat off. What do you really think?" Well, I can never really take my school board hat off. So, what I tell them is  I don't know what I would do. There weren't options when my kids were that age, but plenty of research shows  the number one factor for a child's success is the parent(s). The number two factor is so far behind it is insignificant, so worrying about sending your child to a choice school - well - you really should find something else to worry about - such as finding time to spend one or two hours a day with your child  reading to them or have them read to you or just interacting - challenging their minds. But since you are looking at schools, find one that your child likes, one that will get them excited about learning. I suspect you'll find a lot of schools, choice and non-choice, that will fill that bill.

I am excited about one of our new choice options, foreign language immersion. Being bi-lingual is a life long skill, one that would put your children at a competitive advantage in this new global world.  But, your child would have to be excited about the second language. The two video clips show how being bi-lingual can be helpful.

Click here for a link to the video. Click here for a link to the video.

How To Plan Smart With Technology Purchases

ASCD has a good report on wise use of technology dollars. Click here to read the full report. Read parts of their report below:

  • Rotating the technology. Let's give almost everyone a new computer for the price of a single computer lab. Here's how it works: The tech ed department buys new machines with the random-access memory (RAM) and fast processors needed to run its computer-aided design (CAD) software. The replaced tech ed machines go to the business department, where they will be used to do desktop publishing, presentations, and office practice. The library gets the hand-me-downs from the business department for research and multimedia use. Finally, the oldest machines go from the library to the English department's writing lab. Sell the really old machines to marine supply stores to use as boat anchors.
Do not keep computers going that are at end of life. Once a computer is more than five years old, we don't fix it. Put the old machines that will be recycled when they break into non-mission-critical places.
  • Is this a job for technology at all? Could a set of regular books do the same thing a subscription to e-books and a set of reading devices would do—at less cost? Will the cost of digitizing paper records be offset by fewer secretarial hours? There are only two reasons to implement a given technology in schools: to do a task less expensively or to do something important that you can do no other way. Technology for the sake of technology is both stupid and immoral.
  • What exactly will users do with the equipment? If you're using a computer only to write papers and access the Internet, you don't need the most powerful one on the market. Do you need a 10-megapixel camera when all the images produced will go on the web at a low resolution? Because schools are using the Internet for both file and application storage, do you really need a large hard drive or a CD/DVD drive? Do employees need a smartphone with a data plan or just a plain cell phone? Don't buy overjuiced equipment "just in case." Base purchases on actual tasks.
  • Where will the machine be used? Laptop computers have a high total cost of ownership. They often cost more initially, break more often, need replacement batteries, and have a shorter lifespan. Does a classroom teacher need a laptop or will a less expensive desktop do the job?
  • Will a reconditioned machine serve as well as a new one? We've been finding that reconditioned computers with a 5-year warranty cost us half the price of new computers. If you purchase reconditioned machines, it's important to use a reputable vendor, get a warranty, and make sure each order is for the same make and model of machine.
  • Open-source software uses code that the creator has placed in the public domain and that a large body of users then rewrites and extends. The Linux operating system is probably the most famous open-source product available.
  • Minimally featured versions of commercial products are made available by a producer who then hopes that features or capacity available only in the purchased version will sell the software. Animoto and Dropbox work this way.
  • Web-based software applications that derive revenue from advertising are growing in popularity. Yahoo mail uses this economic model.
  • Use Wikia's School Computing: Best Free or Open Source Software page as a reliable guide to free programs.
    Cloud computing relies on applications and file storage that reside on the Internet, with minimal resources stored on the local computer's hard drive. A major advantage, then, of cloud computing is that you can work on any project anywhere, regardless of the computer you're using.
    But cost savings are also important. Unlike software that resides on computer hard drives, web-based applications are often provided at no cost to the user. Tools such as Google Apps for Education often have a surprisingly full feature set and are compatible with commercial programs.
    You can lower your school district's computing costs by using inexpensive computers just to access the cloud. Netbooks are inexpensive, and file storage and basic applications are free. Just out are netbooks that run the Chrome operating system; these require virtually no maintenance, lowering support costs.

AYP Reports Go Out

This video has been used for a lot of issues, sports mostly. This time it is about AYP and test scores. Watch at your own risk.
Click here for a link to the video.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Coach Herron Talks About South Pointe's Championship

Click here for a link to the video.

Investing in Early Childhood/Parent Education

Click here for a link to the video.

Want To Work on a School Budget?

Education Resource Strategies has a neat tool for working on a school budget, called School Budget Hold'em.
You make selections and a pop-up shows the impact and possible negatives (or positives). I went through and selected some of the items we have done over the past few years, just to see what the impact might be. You can also see what some of the best budget selections have been. The tool can even be utilized as a group activity. Go to Education Resource Strategies by clicking here and follow the instructions and links.

Click here for a link to the video.

Why is YouTube Still Blocked in Schools?

Click here for a link to the video.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Rock Hill's New National Board Teachers Announced

JENNIFER BAUGHMAN  (Phoenix Academy)
Mathematics/Adolescence and Young Adulthood
LORRI CONREY  (Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies)
Generalist/Early Childhood
MELISSA CREECH-RENFROE (Dutchman Creek Middle)  
English Language Arts/Early Adolescence
GARLONIA DOUGLAS (no longer with Rock Hill Schools; formerly at Dutchman Creek Middle)     
Career and Technical Education/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood
MONIQUE GAITHER (Dutchman Creek Middle) 
English Language Arts/Early Adolescence
ALEICA  GUNTER (India Hook Elementary)           
Generalist/Middle Childhood
FRANK  PALERMO (Rosewood Elementary)        
School Counseling/Early Childhood through Young Adulthood
ROBIN REYNOLDS (Sullivan Middle)        
English Language Arts/Early Adolescence
LARRY SHAW (Northwestern High)         
Career and Technical Education/Early Adolescence through Young Adulthood
JACOB STANCIL (South Pointe High)
Physical Education/Early and Middle Childhood
MELISSA TUCKER (Rock Hill High)             
English Language Arts/Adolescence and Young Adulthood
RICHARD TURNER (Northwestern High)
English Language Arts/Adolescence and Young Adulthood
EMILY WARNER (Saluda Trail Middle)     
Social Studies - History/Early Adolescence
Social Studies - History/Adolescence and Young Adulthood
KAYRA  WINN (Mount Holly Elementary)
Literacy: Reading-Language Arts/Early and Middle Childhood

My Day as a Judge

Well, not exactly a judge.

On Friday I was able to review project presentations from 2009 SC Teacher of the Year, Bryan Coburn's Introduction to Engineering Design Class. The students were given two weeks to come up with a project to help reduce/reuse water because of a recent drought in South Carolina.

They had to work as a team, develop the project and make a presentation. Each team had a blog site - and for some of the 9th graders - this was their first attempt at a presentation. It was interesting, educational, and entertaining.

I learned that some high school students like to take a shower for over an hour, and some like to just leave the water running. Recovering/reducing water usage from showers was a favorite project topic (to be used to flush toilets), as was watering lawns and gardens from downspouts. One group came up with a device to water your pets from downspouts. Bear Grylls (Man Vs. Wild) was an inspiration for one group to reuse urine.

I hope my "judging" teammates and I asked questions that will  help the students to improve their skills. Below is a commercial one of the teams made: I Shower commercial 2 by dival_06
Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

 Click here for a link to the video.

If you'd like to see what other teams came up with, go to these links:
Period One
Period Two
Period Three

Rock Hill's Enzo Martinez Helps UNC to 4th Straight College Cup Championship Game

UCLA midfielder Ryan Hollingshead, left, battles North Carolina midfielder Enzo Martinez (16) for the ball in the first half of their NCAA College Cup soccer semifinal game at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., Friday, Dec. 9, 2011.
Read more:

Rock Hill's Northwestern High School Graduate, Enzo Martinez, already on the list of potential Players of the Year, helped lead his UNC Tar Heels into the championship game against in-state opponent UNC Charlotte.

UNC was behind UCLA near the end of the game, "You keep looking at the clock and checking it as it runs down," said Schuler (UNC All-American Billy Schuler). "But you know you’ve got to find (a goal). But then it gets to 10 minutes, eight minutes … Then Enzo had a rip.".....
and Schuler followed up and tied the game 2-2 with 5 minutes remaining in regulation. The Heels then won the game on penalty kicks after no more goals were scored in regulation or overtime.

The championship game will be played on Sunday and will be televised on ESPNU.

Martinez celebrating

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