Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pardon The Disruption - Back to Teaching

So you went to a tech conference at Newell-Fonda or Sigourney as part of the #iowa1to1 and picked up some tips on how to integrate technology and teach differently. You got back to your school shared your new enthusiasm with your students and they were inspired. You carried that into day 2, 3 and perhaps into the next week. But now we are 10 days post-conference and some are resorting back to the old way of teaching. In essence, you are sending the message to your students "Pardon The Disruption" - Back to my old teaching styles.

Being a master learner is about continually researching ways to improve teaching, trying new methods, reflecting on your craft, sharing with a peer, and trying again. Clayton Christiansen discusses why schools struggle to teach differently, or fight through the disruption. Teaching in a 1 to 1 provides the opportunities to teach differently. While tech integration provides challenges, tech can help in both changing technology and changing pedagogy.

What can you do to help push through the challenges? Have you touched base with new relationships from the conference? Have you shared a success or failure from something you tried? Have you followed the #iowa1to1 hashtag on twitter? Have you joined a group on the Iowa 1 to 1 Ning? Have you asked for help from a new group on the Iowa 1 to 1 Ning?

Don't procrastinate any longer--connect and expand with your Personal Learning Network(PLN). Procrastination inhibits change leading to improved student engagement. Push yourself into action. There will always be reasons not to but there are plenty of reasons to change---most notable, the students in your classroom. Don't let the disruption stop you from changing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

My "Tin Cup" List

At the recent Technology and Learning conference held at Newell-Fonda and Sigourney, I have heard about a lot of the learning that took place. My opening comment for the day was "this is your learning, you are responsible". During the conference, I tweeted a comment I heard which was "I just want to take 1 thing home and implement it".

So, with so much information and ideas being exchanged, where are you at? I am referring to it as the "Tin Cup List" since a bucket can be overwhelming and inhibit any implementation of the ideas or tools you learned. Now you are back in the classroom; have you taken action?

What have you implemented the new ideas? Have you modeled blogging, posting to a blog, or reaching out to your Personal Learning Network (PLN)? What have you changed in your teaching? Have you shared this with your students? Have you emptied your tin cup or bucket?

There are many other questions to be answered, now is the time to take action....Join the conversation.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Down The Home Stretch!

Construction activity is at an all-time high. Many trades are busy putting the finishing touches on rooms as fast as possible. We are on schedule to hold registration on August 10, from 10:00 - 7:00 in the new commons. We will have so much more room for large crowds during the registration process and will be in a controlled environment. Below are some updated photos as we continue to make progress.

This is the high school office. The window that is open is a roll top access so not everyone will need to come into the office. This is where Dana Seivert, high school secretary will be located.

The 4 classrooms all have ample storage. You can also see the carpet tiles are now installed in all the rooms.

This is a white board with a protective cover still on it. Each classroom has a white board in the front of the room.

The entrances on the east side of the addition are complete except for handrails on the ramps. The south entrance will be completed the end of this week and into next week.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Construction Update

The Newell-Fonda school addition is gaining momentum again now that some of the different trades are in place. The flooring subcontractor, Jannings, out of Carroll, Iowa has completed the kitchen quarry tile, the bathroom tile, and will start pouring the terrazzo in the commons today. The ceiling grid people are also working to install the grid in the kitchen and classrooms.

The painting is all completed except for the commons ceiling. That will need to wait until the floor is complete which would be in about 1 1/2 weeks. Kolacia, the general contractor, is also starting to form up the curbs(see below).

Installers shown laying the quarry tile in the kitchen. This is now complete.

Painting in the commons partially completed. Walls are now all complete.

Form work on the exterior has begun the week of June 1st.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Don't Take It For Granted: Teaching in a 1:1

To all staff working in a 1:1, and specifically the Newell-Fonda high school staff, currently wrapping up their second year of 1:1, and to our 5-8 staff who will be added to the 1:1 next Fall. When you operate in a 1:1 it is easy to take for granted what we have our hands on, which is the ability to do things differently for kids. To engage and challenge them in learning. Having the students take control of that learning, and leveraging technology to differentiate learning to fit the needs of each student.

Below is video from Russ Goerend, a 6th grade teacher from Waukee Middle School. You may need to watch the video more than once, because his son is pretty cute. He also has been a person I follow on Twitter, and from my interactions with him, both in person and through Twitter, he gets it. I don't want to put words into Russ' mouth, but in my mind, Russ understands that the 1:1 environment is not about the machine, but rather about changing teaching and learning. I got permission from Russ to share his video here, but I encourage you to check out his blog and comment on his ideas.

Make the most out of working in a 1:1 environment. Will it take work? absolutely, but if done correctly, it could be some of the most meaningful work for both teacher and student. Thanks to Russ for sharing his ideas, the guy deserves to teach in 1:1! So while Russ continues to wonder what it would be like to teach in a 1:1 school, those in a school need to take advantage of it every day. As you progress on the journey, make it about teaching and learning, not about the computer!

Friday, April 2, 2010


Building Update

We have been given a guarantee that the building will be ready by August 5th. We have put off registration a week or so just in case any other delays add to that schedule, but it appears things are back on schedule. I have posted some pictures for those of you who don't get to the school.

The exterior brick work is complete as of April 2, 2010. The brick mason is finishing some odds and ends on the interior but for the most part are complete. The areas at both entrances (east entrance shown) are brick higher up and the rest of the building has a 4 foot brick and then a stucco looking surface will be applied the rest of the way up. The stucco contractor is due to arrive early to mid April.

Above, the window contractor begins the window installation. They did a great job and completed all of the window installation in 2 days. The had 1 broken piece of glass but will return and fix that.

Above, is a view from one of the classrooms to the south of the building through one of the newly installed windows. You can see the elementary playground in the background. Also, to the right, you can see the drywall divider between classrooms.

Most of the connections between the buildings are complete but are protected by a shelter to prevent access to curious teachers and students. Thanks again to all of our students, faculty, and community members who have been patient throughout this construction process.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Commons Floor is Poured!

The commons floor of the new addition was poured on Tuesday, February 16th. The photos below show the size of the commons area, which will serve as gathering area, student center, and lunch room.

Above, the grey machine in the background leveled the cement to finish depth automatically by receiving a signal from a laser level. Technology enabled them to pour the entire commons in one morning.
Motorized carts, background, replaces the standard wheel-barrow. Each cart holds a little more than 1/4 yard of concrete. Kolacia had 2 buggies and the could haul it as fast as the cement truck could haul it.

Workers bull-float a smoother finish after the machine does the initial leveling.
Another shot of the machine that leveled the concrete. The poles on the left and right communicated with a laser that dictates the depth of the concrete.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Construction Update

Work continues on the addition on the Newell-Fonda PK-12 building. The commons is on schedule to have concrete on February 12th. All interior walls are framed up in the classrooms and high school office. The entire area is being heated by temporary heat to maintain 55 degree temperature. Temporary lighting If you have questions, contact Jeff Dicks, Superintendent or call (712)272-3324.

Above, shot from the new restrooms off of the commons.

Kitchen area has a lot of venting complete.

The framed wall is in between the classroom area.

Kitchen vent where all the heat producing appliances will be located.

High school office area framing is nearly complete. Will include principal's office, storage, secretary/reception area, and conference room.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Construction Update

The roof is 98% complete on the addition. This is great news as the weather will not be a deterrent to construction progress. The 2% remaining is where all the heating/air conditioning rooftop units will be installed. They are temporarily covered until the HVAC subcontractor arrives. All of the HVAC units are on site, an installation just needs to be completed.

The building is also now set up with a more permanent and efficient heat source as the general contractor is heating the entire area, especially the commons that needs to be thawed out in order to pour the floor.

The block layers have a few odds and ends on the commons restrooms before they begin to brick the exterior. The exterior consists of a 4 foot brick and then insulation covered by a stucco-type finish from the brick up.

More pictures will be posted soon.

Apple Open House - Making A Difference

On January 13th, Newell-Fonda CSD hosted an open house for other schools interested in implementing a 1:1 laptop program in their school. What an exciting day to see the enthusiasm of these 23 schools and nearly 85 participants. Those attending ranged from superintendents, principals, board members, teachers, and parents.

Spirit Lake CSD brought over 15 people in search of support of a PPEL vote on February 2 to implement a 1:1 in grades 5-12 and carts in grades K-4. In addition, they will be purchasing an array of additional technology. Because my parents live in the Great Lakes region, my dad ran across an editorial of one of the attendees. It would be easy to take offense to the comment "The school had everything to be a struggling or dormant school in a small rural town, with low enrollment and old facilities." But what followed, confirmed how we feel of the advantage we give our students each and every day. In addition, it confirms that our 1:1 becomes less and less about the laptop and more about changing instruction and learning. Read the entire article here.

Great job of involving the stakeholders by first year superintendent Dave Smith. I look forward in working with Spirit Lake in the future as the work towards a 1:1 program. Check out the web presence in pursuit of communicating to the community the importance of this vote. Good luck to superintendent Smith.

Apple Distinguished Recognition

Newell, IA December 23, 2009 Newell-Fonda Community School is pleased to announce that it has been named an Apple Distinguished School for the implementation of its 1:1 laptop program. The Apple Distinguished School designation is reserved for schools that have implemented a 21st century vision of education using Apple technology. “Our 9-12 laptop program is changing the way we look at education,” states Superintendent Jeff Dicks.

Newell-Fonda is the first school district in Iowa to receive this distinction and 1 of only 53 in the nation. “By putting a device in the hands of each student, we have leveled the playing field. We see this as an opportunity to teach in real time, which means we are giving teachers and students access to the most relevant and up-to-date content on the internet.”

The selection of Newell-Fonda as an Apple Distinguished School highlights its successes in enhancing and extending teaching and learning with thoughtful and innovative implementations of technology. “We are able to collaborate with other schools not only in Iowa but also around the world, including Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay,” states Alynn Coppock, 9-12 principal. Coppock continues, “Because of the collaboration between our high school teachers and our elementary teachers, our first graders are also doing a project using Skype, a free product that enables them to video conference with 80 schools around the world.”

There will be a formal presentation by Apple on January 13, 2010 prior to an already scheduled technology open house. Apple will present the award at 9:00 a.m. followed by the open house. “We do an open house to allow other schools, board members, prospective students, and parents to see the power and advantages of a 1:1 learning environment,” Dicks states. Newell-Fonda is very excited to have the opportunity to teach their students to become responsible consumers of digital content. More information will be available concerning the open house.