Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thinking of Doing a Teach Like A PIRATE Day?

I frequently get asked about the Teach Like A PIRATE Day we had at Utica Jr. High in May of 2013. Some people are just curious about what it was, while others want to do it at their schools and want more info.  I am more than happy to share and help in any way that I can, because as I have said multiple times before, it was probably the most rewarding experience of my educational career.

Rather than tweet helpful links to my blog and hope that it leads the reader to discover the other posts, I decided to put them all in one blog post.  A home base if you will to give you all that I have about our experience.  Many of these links are to previous blog posts of mine.  Some are posts made by Teach Like A PIRATE author Dave Burgess.

If you ever have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.  The staff and students at Utica were a special group of people, but they are not much different than any other school you would find anywhere in this world. My point being, if we could pull it off, your school can pull it off too. You just have to be slightly crazy enough to try.

Teach Like A PIRATE Day.   The post that started it all.

Under 2 Weeks Away

Under A Week Away And Need Some Help  Help is a tweet away.

Teach Like A PIRATE Day Experiences  A Description of the experiences students had to choose from.

Teach Like A PIRATE Day Eve

Teach Like A PIRATE DAy...Huge Success

Teach Like A PIRATE Day...More Reflections

Teach Like A PIRATE Day...The Aftermath

Teach Like A PIRATE Day Presentation OMLA15

Posts By Dave Burgess

Breaking New Ground: Teach Like A PIRATE Day

Teach Like A PIRATE Day Leads to Treasure!

Monday, February 17, 2014

What Do Trick Shots Have To Do With Education?

Our school produces a video newsletter each week to inform our parents and community about what is going on in our school.  They usually last no more than about three minutes and are a quick, engaging way to let them know "What's going on" at Big Walnut Intermediate School.  You can read more about it here.

At the end of each "episode" I end it with a trick shot.  There are three reasons why I do it.

Reason 1:  It gives the kids and parents another reason to watch.  Sure I hope they are watching to find out what is happening in their child's school, but if they watch it just to see the trick shot at the end, that works too.  As long as they are watching it.

Reason 2:  It gives the kids something to get excited about.  All 500 of our kids have an instant conversation starter with me when they see me in the hallway.  "Mr. McLane, nice shot" or "Mr. McLane, what are you going to do next?" or "Mr. McLane, I know you are using trick photography to make those videos."  Regardless, even the most shy student has a built in conversation starter with the principal (and all of the shots are legit!).

Most of the shots have been recorded in about a minute.  I have not spent more than 4 minutes on any one shot (it was the long snap from the opposite foul line).

What do trick shots have to do with education?  Nothing really.  However when the trick shots lead to community engagement, building relationships with students, and doing a little something to make school FUN, well those all have a great deal to do with education.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Day With a Chromebook

One day last week I decided to do a little experiment. What would my day be like if I only used a Chromebook? In full disclosure, I am an iPad/iPhone guy.

The Positives
The Chromebook was nice because it is pretty much like a small laptop computer.  I loved the ability to type much better than what I am used to on the iPad, even with a keypad connected to the iPad.  I could get to pretty much everything I needed to on the internet as well.

Our school is a Google Apps For Education school, so I was able to use Google Docs and Presentation to do any word processing that I needed to do.  Had I still been reliant on Microsoft Office, I would have been in a world of hurt, but since I have already made this leap, it was no issue at all. I even tested out Google Hangouts and the video and audio quality were perfectly fine.

The Negatives
When I encountered something I wanted to take a picture or video, I was out of luck.  I'm sure there is a way to do this, but it is not as easy or convenient as shooting with the iPad.  I feel one of the positives of the iPad is the creativity possibilities.  In my opinion, the Chromebook is not on the same level there.

Finally, and depending on where you need to use it, without WiFi, the Chromebook is pretty much a paperweight.  I did have an issue where I lost internet connection for a few minutes, and there was not much I could do with the device.  I could see a student using their iPad on the school bus, but could not see that happening with the Chromebook.

This may shock you, but I loved the Chromebook because its positives were in areas I would normally say are negatives with the iPad.  What I really discovered from my one day experiment is that technology is a tool, and a craftsman needs different tools.  Sometimes you need a hammer and sometimes you need a drill.  That does not make one any better or worse.  I could could see where making Chromebooks available to our students would be a huge benefit.  However I would also want some iPads (or other technology) at their disposal so that they can use the appropriate tool for the appropriate task.

UPDATE:  Part of the reason I posted and shared this was to get some feedback, specifically telling me I was wrong about the WiFi/paperweight comment.  Many people have told me ways that this is not true.  I look forward to exploring those possibilities.