Friday, September 18, 2009

Construction Update - Kitchen taking shape

Slechta Masonry has made great progress this week. The kitchen walls are taking shape as we have had great weather for building. The pictures below show the back of the kitchen completed and the side wall taking shape. Keep checking back for periodic updates.




The kitchen walls are taking shape as we have had great weather for building. The pictures below show the back of the kitchen completed and the side wall taking shape. Keep checking back for periodic updates.



These are the footings of the principal and board room. This picture was taken from the commons.

Here are the footing layouts of the bathrooms off of the commons. This should provide a great place to gather during volleyball and basketball games. This picture is from the middle of the future commons.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Give Them The Tools...

Newell-Fonda has just kicked off year 2 of our 1:1 laptop program, "Log Onto Learning". The focus of year 2 is to empower students to utilize the tools that we have given to them. We have heard time and time again, that if we did that, they will come up with ways that we never imagined to utilize this as a tool and be creative. More on being creative later.

Also, to start off year 2 we are allowing social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While this is contrary to nearly 99% of Acceptable Use Policies across not only the state of Iowa but also the United States, our goal is to teach the responsible use of these social networking tools that they already know how to use. These tools allow students to better collaborate not only between classmates but also between other schools, states, and countries.

Our new Spanish teacher is utilizing a site for webtools for language that allow her students to practice the correct pronunciation of Spanish. She is able to create her own assignments and students reply either with written or voice responses. She in turn is able to give the students feedback via email or recorded voice. As she has seen, "students are less intimidated to practice for fear of making errors in front of their peers". The key to this FREE website is having the tools in the hands of students. Requirements are that students have web access and also a microphone to be used to record their verbal answers back. This site can be used for any subject and as we discussed, could help with a student who is better at verbal answers rather than written. Exciting time in education if your school is providing these tools.

And now for the "being creative later story" We have also given our students each an email account through our district program. Again, we see the use of email as a collaborative effort to empower students to utilize the tools available to them, and to model appropriate use. Today, as I was sitting in a superintendents meeting, I was receiving Twitter updates from a Judy Jeffrey address on the other side of the state, corresponding with the office via email, and listening to our speaker at AEA 8. Into my inbox comes an email from one of our freshman girls. Today was the kickoff for magazine sales, the primary fund-raising for their junior prom. There are all sorts of prizes for the top salesperson and many times the student who makes first contact gets the sale, or students don't even hit all of the staff to renew their magazines. Well, not the case this year. This freshman student has learned that you can send an email to a listserv that hits all high school faculty members. I received the email and I responded and we ended up having a dialogue through email about her innovative approach. Give them the tools, they will find creative and relevant uses with them.

Yes, there will be challenges, but some businesses pay large sums of money to come up with marketing campaigns that may not be as effective as what this student came up with. Granted, I am supportive of students presenting face-to-face to get the sale, and she will still need to do that. But she understands a little bit about the "working smarter not harder" concept and demonstrated it today using the tools given to her. video