Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Bus Analogy VS. The Construction Crew Analogy in Education

Thanks to for the photo Mirari Erdoiza.
Over the last couple of years I've heard many educational leaders use an analogy of a bus to suggest how schools should function. I've always found this analogy very weak, because a bus is a terrible analogy for a learning environment. The vast majority of people on a bus simply get on or off, they are not active participants in driving the bus, nor deciding where it travels. The only person who gets to do anything on a bus is the driver. The driver gets to make all the choices -- where and when to stop and how long the stop will be. The passengers are a passive group that have no real decision making power; they can either be on board or get off -- that's it. This is not a model of a democratic process, nor the model for a positive learning community. Learners need to feel ownership and they need to be active members of what is happening. I therefore purpose that educational leaders stop talking about buses and begin talking about construction crews.

Thanks to Cindy47452 for the photo.
A construction company is a much better analogy for how a learning community should function. Each crew of the company accomplishes specific tasks, but they must be aware of the plan and collaborate with the entire company in order to have a successfully finished building. One crew shows up to pour the concrete for the foundation; another crew makes the frame of the building; still another crew puts in the plumping and the electricity; the sheet rock crew comes to hang the dry wall; and the finishing crew comes to install all the fixtures and interior work. Together they accomplish an entire building according to an architect's plan and each group contributes in their own way to the larger vision. As the building is going up, some of the crews will suggest modifications to the original plan due to the circumstances on the ground at the job site and the plan will adapt to fit reality. This is a much better analogy for a learning community.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

PISA Results and the World Happiness Report

The PISA results are out for 2012 and Korea was near the top with regard to scores again. Koreans take great pride in performing strongly on standardized tests and enjoy ranking in the top of PISA. But after living in Korea for seven years, I think a more interesting question to ask about the PISA results is what is the true cost of these wonderful test results? Every year Korean students go to hundreds of extra hours of "hagwon" (cram school) in a variety of topics outside of the regular school day. According to Rhie (2002), in the book Korea Unmasked, the extra study programs were a $1 trillion industry in 2002. Imagine what the cost must be today!

The World Happiness Index for 2013 also recently came out and the East Asia countries that performed so outstanding on PISA, also happen to do rather poorly in terms of happiness. Korea ranked 41st in terms of happiness. Could it be that the very same actions that push the PISA results in East Asia ever upward are also the same actions that cause people to be unhappy? Possible. Could it be that pushing children to extra study is actually a little counter productive? Very likely.

The Danes perform in the middle of the pack in PISA, but are the happiest people in the world. Is it possible that test results and happiness aren't the same thing? Certainly. And what about my poor adopted brothers, the Turks? They ranked near the bottom in PISA and are 77th in the Happiness Index. Could it be time for the voters in Turkey to end AK Party's dominance? Absolutely.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Making the KIS Intranet from Scratch

Seven years ago I was having a conversation with Clay Burell (+Clay Burell) about creating a place to hold all of the forms and documents that our school had, so that teachers could easily find them. It was a great idea, but for some reason Clay couldn't get any traction with the Business Office or the school leadership; Clay was apparently ahead of his time with the idea. Now, seven years later, we have just created a Google Site to do the job. This time things were quite different. Our years of EdTech support and Fish Bowl PD sessions helped build a culture where people understood the value of such endeavors as creating a KIS Intranet to share information more effectively and efficiently. I'd love to share our creation with the public, but we decided it would be best for internal use only, so you need to have a KIS email account to log into the Site. But if you have questions about the process, please feel free to make a comment on this post and I will reply in a jiffy.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Leadership of the Offensive Line -- Another American Football Analogy

Huskies vs. Bisons Blackout
Thanks to Huskie Outsider for the photo.
We never think of the offensive line in American Football as the leadership of the team; instead, we usually think of the coach or the quarterback as the "leader." It is true that the traditional leader of the team is the coach and the leader on the field is the quarterback, but I feel that the leadership style of the offensive line is the model that educational leaders can take a great lesson from in our roles. First, the offensive line is a thankless task.  It isn't about glory or popularity; it's about diligence and hard work. During a game, no one notices if the offensive line is doing its job well, it is only noticed when the job goes wrong -- a penalty, missed block resulting in a sack, blocked punt, etc. Those are the moments that the line is noticed -- during a mistake. Think of all those times we make mistakes as educational leaders; it seems like those are the only moments people really seem to notice us. We should take those moments in stride, like the offensive line does. The offensive line encourages each other; they pick themselves up and move on to the next play a little more wise.

When the offensive line is doing its job well, no one really sees it, because they are supporting the entire team. The line blocks, the line communicates, the line supports -- nothing more, but that is quite a load of work. If we think of our jobs as members of the offensive line, we are more willing to step back and allow others to shine. We become the unsung heroes of the community. Our quarterback, running backs, and receivers gain first downs and score touchdowns and they know that our efforts helped them achieve these goals for the entire team. We should provide the support necessary and communicate with our entire community/team. We should be the offensive line for our students, teachers, and parents.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Facebook Group (or Any Website) on Blogger

Someone (+Jim Mitchell) was very happy with my post about how to put a Twitter Feed on Blogger, and challenged me with his own question -- can you do this with a Facebook Group or Page? The simple answer seems to be yes, but there are some things you need to consider.

Adding a website to a blog post can be done this way.
First I'll go over how you actually make any website appear on Blogger. I borrowed this piece of code from my friends at Getting Tricky with Wikis<iframe frameborder="1" height="600" scrolling="auto"src="" width="100%"></iframe> If you paste this bit of HTML code in the HTML section of the post with the website address, it will make the website appear on your blog in the post. You simply need to copy & paste the code and then replace the URL I have used here with your own. This is a great work around if you want to post something that doesn't have an embed code for you to use, but is on a website. Pretty cool, right?

But with a social media site like Facebook, you need to consider your privacy settings. I believe the group would have to be open to the public. I tried the groups that I am a member of and none of them would appear on my blog, but they are all closed groups. You would need to ask yourself some questions about what type of privacy you want to have and then experiment to see if you can make the website appear in a blog post.

You can also add the code on a Page and make a version of the website on your blog.
You can add another website to your blog as a Page with this method. Step 1.

Step 2 to adding a website to your blog as a Page.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reflector and Airplay -- Making It Work!

The Reflector app for the Macbook is a great tool for projecting your iPad on to a screen, but to be honest, the program is glitchy. I see two problems that always see to come up for teachers in the classroom, but there are two simply solutions that will fix the vast majority of the glitches you experience with Reflector.

The first problem I see commonly is that students aren't able to get their iPads to work on Reflector -- their iPads simply don't attach to the program or Airplay seems to mysteriously disappear as an option on their iPads. First solution: they need to restart their iPads! If you plan to have students project their work with Airplay and Reflector -- have them all restart their iPads at the beginning of the lesson. This will eliminate 95% of the issues. I promise!

The second problem I commonly see is teachers having their iPads drop off of Reflector in the middle of a lesson. This is due to having Auto-Lock turned on. Second solution: I have include a screen shot of how to adjust the settings. I recommend that when you are planning to use your iPad for a lesson that involves projecting through Reflector -- change your Auto-Lock to never.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Korea IS Phoenix Student Film Festival March 15, 2014

I'm proud to announce that the KIS Phoenix Student Film Festival will be on March 15, 2014 on the campus of KIS, but you don't have to be there to participate in the action. The festival is open to students from anywhere in the world. Students simply need to create their excellent films, upload them to Youtube or Vimeo, and then visit our website to submit the required Google Form with the link to the film. All entries with proper (virtual) paperwork will be viewed and judged by the students of our high school Film Makers' Club. Winners will be announced at the festival and their films will be viewed by the audience. Awards for winners in each age category and genre will also be provided thanks to the High School PTO. For those who can join the physical film festival, there will be a 6-hour Movie Challenge during the day before the film festival. Students will be placed in groups and then storyboard, shoot, and edit a film all in 6 short hours. It will be a full day of fun and excitement about movie making -- come and join us!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sharing Rubrics in Schoology -- It can be done!

During a PD session on October 3rd, Ben Summerton (@bsummerton), Jay Londgren, and Cassie Summerton did a fantastic Schoology help session. And during that session we discovered a work-around for sharing rubrics from courses that is pretty clever. If you want to share a rubric with a colleague the first step is to add them to your course and make them an admin. Once they are admin of the course, they can go into grade book set up and copy the rubric to their courses. It is a little clunky and tiresome, but a great way to share a rubric. If you are worried about them being an admin of your course, once the rubric(s) are shared, simply remove your colleague from your course.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Request Read Receipt in Gmail

Sometimes you simply want to know if someone has read the email you sent or not. Gmail has this feature and it is called Request Read Receipt. It was formerly in the labs section, but now has become part of the standard Gmail. You can find it in your compose window in the more options drop down menu.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Sharing Settings on a Google Form

Today one of our English teachers, Jim Burwell, stopped by the EdTech office with a great question. His problem was that everyone had permission to edit his Google Form. After some hunting around on Jim's part, he discovered the the share settings for Forms work a little differently now. Now that the spreadsheet and form are completely separate from each other, the Form settings assume that you would want people to fill it out, so you can embed or email it to people without making it public, because the public refers to who can edit the form. Let me write that again, because it is very important -- public means people can edit the form. If you don't want people to edit your form, make it private or share it to only the people you want to collaborate with. This is a large change from the way forms perviously worked, so please be careful. Now go forth and collect data!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Getting an iTunes U Course into the Catalog

If you use iTunes U, then you have probably ran across the "publishing the course dilemma." To publish a course is a two step process that starts with the author of the course. The author must make a request to add his/her course to the iTunes U Catalog, then the Site Manager can add the course to the institutions iTunes U Catalog in the iTunes Store. It is one of those cumbersome little tasks that only needs to be done once in a while and is easily forgotten until the next time it comes up. The screen shot should help, at least until the next time the UI is changed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grade 6 Science and iPads

Students filming the reactions of static electricity with an iPad.
Our Grade 6 (G6) Science team wanted to improve the quality and excitement around their current unit on Static Electricity. We came up with a great way to use the iPads to capture the static electricity in action and add video to the standard lab reports students create. It was simple and effective and produced some great reflection on learning. We have a cart of iPads in the secondary, so we used six to give each table team an iPad to film with. I walked the class through a quick download, install, and tutorial on Instashare (took ten minutes) and then turned them loose with the iPads to film the learning about static electricity in action. As students completed the different tasks, they were sharing their videos via Instashare between the iPads and their computers. After gathering all of their video clips, they used a science lab template that we created in Keynote to include the written lab work and the videos. Awesome!
Can static electricity move an aluminum can?

Can static electricity hold a balloon to the wall?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Deleting a Blogger Blog

I know you have been wondering about it; I know you have been staying up awake at night worrying about it; I know you have been pulling out your hair trying to find it, so here is the solution to your problem -- how to delete a Blogger blog in two easy steps. Somebody at Blogger thought that it would be great to hide the delete button in an obscure place that is difficult to find. It is under Settings in the Other tab and at the top of the screen. The screen shots to the left will help you find it and go through the process. After you hit the delete button there is one more chance to change your mind, which is always nice; plus, on the same screen you are given the option to download the blog.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Digital Showcase Asia Video

The video is from the Digital Showcase Asia held back in May in KL. This is a little bit of an overview of the conference and what happened there. I made the video at about 3:15 (if you feel like jumping ahead to the good part. :-)).

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back in the Classroom Again

Last year I started feeling a little disconnected from regular classroom teachers because I was ending my second year as a full-time EdTech specialist at Korea International School, which meant that I had been completely out of the classroom for two years. The classroom is my laboratory, where I experiment and test different hypotheses. Without that environment, I felt that I was loosing touch with what really works in a classroom setting. How can I recommend something that I haven't done in a real class? I approached my IT Coordinator, Ben Summerton (@bensummerton) and explained my frustration and concern. He was very supportive and pointed out the many contributions that I make to the EdTech team and, as a former classroom teacher, he understood exactly why I was feeling the way I was feeling. He asked me how I felt about being in a classroom situation as well as continuing in EdTech. We came up with the proposal that I could teach one 75-minute block class on the rotating high school schedule and budget in 45 minutes for prep time as well. This translated into me being in the classroom two to three times a week with one or two shorter prep periods.

We then pitched it to the high school principal, Don Drake, who was ecstatic to have me in the classroom again in his building. The English department needed some redistribution of class loads and my Creative Writing course would help with that problem. Although it has meant some extra work for me, it has been totally worth it thus far. I'm very happy to be back with students on a regular schedule in an actual teaching role. I am also advising two clubs and still continuing my EdTech duties -- offering PD in the Fish Bowl, supporting teachers with iTunes U course development, supporting the G4 team with an iPad implementation, co-planning and co-teaching lessons, and helping teachers with Schoology. The plate is full, but I'm loving it. It feels great to be respected enough by my administrators to be given an opportunity to explore, change, and grow. Plus, it is great being with students in an elective Creative Writing course that allows us the freedom to explore and learn together.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer 2013 Bucket List Update

Before the summer holiday began, several folks in my PLN wrote Summer Bucket Lists of things to accomplish during summer. My original list is at this post and was admittedly quite ambitious, but I didn't to too badly. This is, of course, the follow-up to report on the progress (or lack of progress) on my Summer 2013 Bucket List. 
  1. Furnish the house in Bozkoy. This goal was basically completed. I mean we still have some furniture we would like to purchase, but we have a functional house where we can live and enjoy. The first big purchase will be a bed for the guest room, because my father is already stating that he will not come to visit until his guest room is completed and apparently having a bed is on his mental list of items that are necessary.
  2. Begin the landscaping around the house. This goal was also accomplished with some very long and painful days for me. When we arrived in Turkey, the yard looked like a construction site. I moved 3-4 cubic meters of rock to one central area of the yard and planted several plants, a jasmine bush, and three fruit tress (apricot, pear, and peach). These trees were chosen because they will be producing fruit during the months of June and July when we are most likely to be there. I love oranges, but they don't produce fruit until November and we will never be there then. :-)
  3. Finish reading Schooling by Design. Missed out on this one completely. In fact, I picked the book up once and read about ten pages during the whole summer. :-P
  4. Reflect on Out of Our Minds. I finished the book and have been thinking about the implications for how schools deal with teaching and learning. I will be posting more about this in the coming months, but it has impacted the way I will be teaching Creative Writing this semester.
  5. Study my Turkish more diligently. I have to say that this goal was worked on a bunch. I had several discussions with multiple local Turks, when Aysem was either busy or not around, and I held my own pretty well. The one I felt the most positive about was when I provided a tour of our house to a couple who are building a stone house in another village. Aysem was away and I handled the tour completely on my own. 
  6. Music and Movie production. As Schooling by Design, this was a bridge too far. I only made one short stop-motion video about a disappearing rock pile. I created one song in GarageBand on my iPad, but that was all. Not a good summer of music/movie creativity. Too many hours spent on the yard work.
  7. International Ethical Educational Leadership website. I continued my planning for the website and managed to plan out some major next steps that will help to make the site a success when it finally is launched. 
In other matters, please note that International Educators Chat is happening Wednesday evenings (6:00PM) Beijing time in Twitter with the hash tag #intedchat. This chat focuses on the issues and concerns facing international teachers and schools and is hosted by the amazing Brett Petrillo (@brettpetrillo). 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Understanding the Turkish Protests part 2

Many of the protestors are young 30 and 20 somethings tired of the three major political parties -- AKP, CHP, and MPH. AKP, as many know by now, holds the current majority in the parliament and is an Islamic, conservative party. CHP is an older party that can be thought of as the guardians of the ideals of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the Turkish Republic. MHP is generally thought to be an ultra-nationalist party. The latter two parties are not very popular among younger professional Turks, in fact, all three of the parties aren't really speaking to this group of voters. They were content when AKP originally got into the parliament because in those days, AKP was focusing on liberalizing the political life to include conservatives and economic development. But after the most recent election, PM Tayyip Erdogan began a campaign of restricting various freedoms; in addition, he took the winning of 50% of the voting public to mean that he could rule as he sees fit without compromise or question.

The Gezi Park and Taksim Square protestors were violently ejected from those areas by police. Out of that actions and the threats of more police force from the PM, the protest took an interesting twist in the form of the "Standing Man" (or duran adam). One protestor decide to simply stand and stare at a Turkish flag with the image of Ataturk on it in Taksim Square and the #duranadam movement was born.
Now you can search on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for #duranadam and find photos of people simply standing in protest of the actions and words of the PM Tayyip Erdogan. Hopefully standing will not be declared illegal in the coming days, but there is a draft law in the works to limit social media, the current main source of reliable news.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Understanding the Turkish Protests

I've been spending the last several days wondering exactly how I could help the cause of freedom in Turkey. I've been posting and re-posting items on Facebook and Twitter and in doing so driving my friends and followers crazy. And then today while wandering through the Wednesday bazaar in Karsiyaka, it came to me -- many foreigners probably aren't understanding much of what they see due to the humor that Turkish protestors are working into the protest. This post will try to clear the muddy waters of humor that exist within the protest.

First, what is with the penguins?
During the opening days of the protests, most Turkish news channels would not report on what was happening. This is for a couple of reasons, but the main one is that the journalists are afraid and they should be. Turkey has become the number one country for jailed journalist in the world. Yes, number one! After winning the last election with a large voting block (50%), the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) started rounding up journalists that spoke out against them and put them in jail or prison. The one channel that did report what was happening with the protests was just today (June 12th) given a penalty for doing what the news is supposed to do -- report the truth. So the penguins? Yes, a special feature about penguins was being played while the first wave of police violence took place in Gezi Park. The penguins are now a feature of the protests and a comment about the protests. It generally stands for ignoring something that is clearly happening.

Second, what is chapulling? Who or what is a chapuller?
The PM Tayyip Erdogan called the protestors drunks and looters on the fourth day of the protests, up until then he didn't even acknowledge that protests were occurring. The word for to loot in Turkish is Capulmak (the c actually has a little hook on the bottom, something not available on my English keyboard, but the hook makes the C a ch sound). In Turkish you can add a suffix to a word to make it the person who does that job or action - capulcu: a looter. Many Turks realized that capul doesn't mean anything in English, so they converted the word to make it easier for foreigners -- chapul and chapuller were born. This has become a symbol of the protestors and they often jokingly refer to themselves as chapullers. If you ask someone what they were doing last night, they may answer, "I was chapulling." Meaning, I was looting. This particular comment from the PM really got under the skin of people because there was no looting going on in Gezi Park, nor in Taksim Square, nor in any other location where the protestors have been. Chapulling has come to mean "looting" but it really means "protesting." Therefore a chapuller is a "looter" or actually a "Protestor." Turks like to throw the words of their enemies back at them and the PM has fallen victim to this every time the word capulmak is used.

Third, what is #occupygezi?
The hash tag on Twitter and Instagram most often used to share information is #occupygezi. There are several others, but this one seems to have the largest following.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Social Media in Education at KIS

On May 28, 2013, I presented this Keynote at the Digital Educational Show Asia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This presentation supports my case study on how Korea International School uses social media to enhance student learning and motivation. If you would like more information about these material for your school, please feel free to contact me.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Leading by Example with regard to Evaluations

The old saying goes that the best teaching method is modeling behavior and I believe it is true. Which makes me wonder why so many international schools fail to have transparent evaluation processes for their leadership positions. I've been to three international schools as an employee and many more for conferences/workshops/presentations, and the rule has been a lack of evaluation for administrators. As a budding educational leader, I see this as a major hurdle in international education. How can we expect to judge the value of others, if we aren't held to the same standard? It is an ethical and professional dilemma in my mind. I know as educational leaders we are forced to make some tough decisions, and that those decisions leave us open to criticism that could be unfair or bias, but does that allow us to avoid transparent evaluation? I think not. 

In fact, it is more of a reason to have transparent evaluation and feedback avenues for faculty, staff, parents, and students. It is similar to the idea of a free press. When a truly free press exists, society's issues are aired openly and discussed in a public forum that allows for multiple view points. With a controlled media, the public feels disenfranchised from legitimate methods of discourse. This results in vandalism, violence, and revolt. A healthy democratic society, which I hope schools try to be, runs more smoothly with a free press. Think of transparent evaluation for administration as your school's free press; it allows the society to vent issues in a constructive manner rather than destructive.

West Virginia as developed a rubric and evaluation system for educational leaders that is an excellent starting point for schools that are looking to improve leadership and model reflective practice. I'm hoping that these type of systems become the norm in international schools in the future rather than the anomaly. In the past at KIS, Robin Schneider (@robin_ISH) used Google Forms to gather data on his job performance as the middle school principal, which was something I admired and appreciated about him. He was not required to do this by the school, but wanted to model reflective practice and the importance of evaluation for all teachers and administrators. It is too bad that his efforts ended after he left the school.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Teacher Evaluation

One of the biggest jobs of any leader is to help drive continual improvement within his/her institution. In US education they have decided that continual improvement should be done through teacher evaluation; even though the research on teacher evaluation has not demonstrated that is leads to improvement in instructional practices. According to Weisberg, Sexton, Mulhern, and Keeling (2009) teacher evaluation does not recognize good teaching, leaves poor teaching unaddressed, and does not inform decision-making in any meaningful way. In addition Duffett, Farkas, Rotherham, and Silva (2008) state that three of four teachers report that their evaluation process has virtually no impact on their classroom practice. Together you have a fairly serious argument for ditching teacher evaluation as a method for school improvement. When 75% of teachers state that evaluation doesn't impact their teaching, but this is the approved method the government wants to use to improve education, something is rotten in the state of educational research. Clearly we need to do something differently in order to improve student learning, and possibly that something different is to focus on learning, not teaching. The April 2013 issue of Educational Leadership is focused on the role of the principal and the articles have some excellent research based approaches and strategies for the improvement of student learning and institutional improvement.

Duffett, A., Farkas, S., Rotherham, A. J., & Silva, E. (2008). Waiting to be won over: Teacher speak on the profession, unions, and reform. Washington, DC: Educational Sector.
Weisberg, D., Sexton, S., Mulhern, J., & Keeling, D. (2009). The widget effect: Our national failure to recognize differences in teacher effectiveness. New York: New Teacher Project.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

2013 Summer Bucket List

House in BozKoy, Karaburun, Izmir, Turkey.
I've been noticing some folks in my PLN sharing out their 2013 Summer Bucket List and the idea intrigued me, so here goes my list. We will be heading to Turkey for the summer to finish furnishing our house. I will begin the list there:

  1. Furnish the house in Bozkoy. It seems like a lame task to many people probably, but it is very important for us to finish. The good news is that we should be finished with everything in a week or two and then we will be able to enjoy the house for the rest of the summer.
  2. Begin the landscaping around the house. For this summer, I don't expect to accomplish too much, but it would be great to get some top soil down and have at least 7-8 trees planted around the house. In addition we want to add some cacti along the back wall near the road to act as a natural fence.
  3. Finish reading Schooling by Design. The Leadership team at KIS has been reading the book this year and I'd like to be on the same page as them with regard to planning the future of KIS's EdTech team.
  4. Reflect on Out of Our Minds. Several of the faculty at KIS formed a think-tank to read Sir Robinson's book and discuss how creativity can be merged with the culture of learning at KIS. Due to several projects and conferences, I was unable to attend many of the meetings, but I want to take some time this summer and reflect on the book and what it means to us as educators. I'm envisioning some blog posts about this topic in the future.
  5. Study my Turkish more diligently. I have several relatives and friends in Turkey and now that I'm also a home owner, it is time to get serious about learning this language. It is nice to be able to get around and order things, but I want to be able to hold an actual conversation with someone. There is no better place than the village to do it, because nobody speaks English out there. My goal for the summer is to be able to communicate with a local villager that I don't already know for a full three to five minutes in Turkish. I have a great app for this by the way that works on both iOS and Android.
  6. Music and Movie production. Everybody needs some down time to engage in hobbies and creating music and movies are mine, so I'm giving myself an opportunity to do both as part of my summer bucket list. I will create at least five completely new songs inspired by Karaburun and I will create two three-five minute movies about the villages and/or village lifestyle. I've actually wanted to make a couple of short films about Bozkoy and Karaburun for years, but whenever we are back, we are always too busy doing something; this time I'm going to do it.
  7. International Ethical Educational Leadership website. This is something I want to plan during the summer and then launch in the fall. Sadly, I've seen some fairly dubious behavior in international educational leadership. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some amazing leaders, too, but I think overall international educational leaders could really step up their game with regard to ethics. The plan is to form a website community that would share case studies about situations with ethical dilemmas and then discuss our solutions to the dilemmas to encourage discourse and pre-reflection. Pre-reflection? Yes, to think through or role play a scenario that could happen to consider better solutions and alternatives before an actual problem occurs. This way, when a sticky situation does happen in real life, you can stop and reflect on things you role played before and have a better list of options to choose from than the ones that come to mind in the heat of the moment. I know, I'm a nerd.
If I can accomplish the seven items on this list, I will feel like it has been a very productive summer and I will return to KIS renewed.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

#beyondlaptops 2013 Take-Aways

     It has been a busy couple of weeks since the Beyond Laptops conference finished at YIS, but I have been thinking seriously about what went down and how it will impact KIS and me. But before I allow myself to wander aimlessly in writing, I'd like to thank all the attendees for sharing their thoughts and experiences for the collective good. "We all improve together," should be the motto of international schools. Of course, I'd like to say thanks to Kim Cofino (@mscofino). Without her passion for learning and amazing organizational skills, there simply couldn't be a Beyond Laptops conference. And finally, I'd like to thank the leadership of Yokohama International School. The vision to understand that hosting a conference (and picking up the tab on it) helps your community improve is a rare sight in these days. Thank you.
     After looking over last year's take-aways, I noticed that I still felt there was a need to break the bell schedule to allow more freedom for students to pursue their passions. On an upside, KIS has made some movement in the secondary school with regard to breaking the bell schedule. Next year we will be piloting a "free block" with seniors; although many of the juniors have said they would use the time to study and work on other courses, there are a few who mentioned pursuing other interests that the normal schedule doesn't currently allow. My plan is to approach a small group of seniors and offer the opportunity to explore something they are passionate about with support from a teacher (me). Hopefully with a few successes, the idea will spread and we can move toward more freedom for the students as a whole. The middle school is developing an experiential learning program to have some time without walls for the students. Progress! Along the same topic, the discussions with students also reminded me that we need to listen to them. They have valuable information about their learning, their goals, and their motivations that are beyond value to us as their teachers.
     After our discussions at this year's Beyond Laptops, I felt all four of the KIS members left with a reaffirmation of the importance of visionary leadership in education. If a school has a strong vision of what good learning is then changes in devices and strategic plans are less worrisome, because the vision will remain the same. As we discussed last year's conference, we shouldn't focus on the device or technology, but the learning. If we are focused on good learning, we will be heading in the right direction no matter what happens. Focus on learning and transferable skills and you will not go wrong, nor be held hostage by a certain device.
     Other big ideas that occurred to me were about cafeteria food and an accreditation portfolio for schools. Allow me to elaborate on the cafeteria topic first. Zest Catering makes the very best cafeteria food I have ever tasted. Period. End of story. Game over. But seriously, feeding students healthy, delicious food is a very important issue. We should be offering students healthy choices for lunch, it is a life style we are developing. My family has a history of adult onset diabetes because of poor dietary choices. If I had been raised and encouraged to eat healthier, possibly I wouldn't be staring a future date with diabetes in the face right now. I'm sure my brother, father, and mother could have put off their health problems until later in life. We, as educators, need to do a better job of teaching healthy lifestyle choices with regard to food to our students. OK, I'm off the soapbox.
     The last big take-away is about how most schools choose to handle accreditation visits and how they could do a much, much better job. We have students create portfolios to demonstrate their learning and growth over time, so why don't schools do it? That's right, build a portfolio for accreditation. Instead of looking at the calendar and suddenly realizing that the accreditation team is visiting in two weeks and then running around like a chicken with your head cut off, continually build upon what your school has done and is doing. It would be a much richer process and accreditation would actually do what it is intended to be -- a process of growth, change and improvement. #justsaying

Sunday, April 7, 2013

SoundCloud on your Blogger

Step 1: Go to your SoundCloud Profile, select Share and copy the
Widget Code.
If you are a musician, or simply a person who loves music, and you want to share this passion via your Blogger, but you don't know how to tackle the problem... Continue reading friend, because I will walk you through the process of making a SoundCloud feed on your blog. The more I use Blogger, the more impressed I become with its functionality. The Gadgets are truly amazing and allow for almost any HTML code to be embedded in the top, bottom, or side bar of your blog. The screen shots in this
blog post walk you through the process step-by-step.
Step 2: In Blogger, go to Layout and select the Add a Gadget button.

Step 3: Select the HTML/JavaScript Gadget.

Step 4: Give your Gadget a title and paste the code.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

QR Codes in Art Education

Art installations enhanced with QR codes.
When a person thinks of QR codes, they rarely picture art work or artists, but at Korea International School things are a little different. Our Art department has a spring art show each year where our students showcase their artistic endeavors. The art teachers adopted online portfolios for high school students two years ago, and this year they added the middle school students to that initiative.  So the art teachers started wondering, "what else can we do with technology?" QR codes in the art installations! Now a student creates an art installation for the spring art show with QR codes included that direct the audience to the student's online portfolio. Instead of posting a reflection or additional information about the art piece next to the art work, they can save space by simply placing a QR code next to the art work. Audience members can use the QR code to listen to a reflection about the piece, or look at other art pieces by the student.
Example of an audio art reflection linked to a QR code.
It is a simple idea that adds great value to the art show and allows a student to share more art work with the audience members. Genius!

KIS Secondary Art Department: Sara Arno, Sondra Mullenax, Sallie Inman, and Angel Catholic

Monday, April 1, 2013

Thoughts on being in a "State of war" with N. Koera

We are coming off our spring break here at KIS; Aysem (@aysem_bray) and I stayed here in Seoul to simply rest, recharge, and work on a few projects. So, being here in Korea, you can imagine how surprised I was to receive a frantic Skype from my mother asking about the war between North and South Korea. The "war" went by rather unnoticed here in South Korea. For those of you unfamiliar with the antics of North Korea, let me simply say -- they're crazy. Period. End of story. And as one of my psychology professors once said, "Don't try to understand someone who is insane, because... Well... They're crazy." But, if you look at what is happening with N. Korea, you can see some logic at play; it is just a very, very strange logic.

The first thing to understand is that N. Korea and S. Korea have been at war since 1950; in 1953 they agreed to a truce, not peace. So when Kim Jung-Un, the new great leader, says that N. Korea is at a "state of war" with S. Korea, it really is old news. They have always been in a "state of war." The second thing to understand is that N. Korea really wants to get the US and S. Korea to the bargaining table and ridiculous threats have worked in the past. Third, Kim Jung-Un is trying to establish himself as the legitimate ruler of the country and like grandpa and dad -- he isn't afraid of the S. Korea and the US. Finally, and this is my opinion, the new S. Korean president is a woman. Mrs. Park will hopefully prove herself to be a tough lady who will not bend to the threats of the North, but is it surprising to think that a reclusive country shut-off to the modern world for the last 60 years would be sexist? Not really. There you have it -- North Korean threats of war explained in a nutshell. But, like my psychology professor said, "Don't try..." You get the picture.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Importance of Communication -- Football Analogy

On a football team, when the huddle is called and all eleven offensive players gather together, the quarterback announces the play to the entire offensive -- not selective members. The transparency of communicating with all members of the offense at once allows the entire unit to execute the play seamlessly. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if the quarterback only communicated the play to the fullback and/or tailback. How would the linemen know who to block? What  patterns would receivers run? Now imagine the scenario if the quarterback only told the play to the linemen, but not the other members of the offense. Where are the fullback and tailback going? As you can see, the quarterback needs to communicate with all members of the offense in order to execute the simplest play in the playbook. Without communication, nothing productive happens. Within organizations, leaders need to communicate with the entire organization. The leader communicates the vision, mission, and knowledge to the entire team, so that everyone can execute the play together.

But you ask me, "What about when the quarterback improvises?" Glad you asked! The quarterback improvises based off the original play communicated to the entire offense. As the leader on the field, the quarterback needs to react to changes and problems that develop during executing the original play. The quarterback may decide to throw the ball to the wide receiver running the post route, because he sees that the player is open and will be able to score a touchdown; where as, the original intended receiver is double covered. This is a modification to the original play, not a different play. Leaders need to be able to modify and adjust plans as problems occur, but based off the original plan that was communicated to the entire organization. When a plan needs modifying or adjusting, the leader communicates the changes as quickly as possible to the entire organization, so that everyone can execute the new plan seamlessly and without confusion.

Is your organization trying to run a play but the play has only be communicated to certain members of the offense? How can you get all team members executing the play seamlessly?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Using Google Spreadsheets for Meeting Agendas

Do you really want your team to collaborate? Do you want to be able to digitally track your meetings, decisions made, actions assigned, and who and when items will be followed up on? The EdTech Team at Korea International School wanted to have these options. During a meeting Steve (@stevekatz) was introduced to this amazing tool by Rolly (@rollymaiquez) from Chadwick International School. It has revolutionized our team and dramatically increased our productivity. I have created a Template that can be used by any group or team; in addition, the instructions on this post will have you ready to be more productive and more collaborative for your next meeting. After following the link, make sure to create a copy of the template from the File Menu. This will give you your own copy in your Google Drive. PLEASE DON'T EDIT THE ORIGINAL! 
The Template looks like this and you can customize all the features.

You can input your team members with this trick. You can also adjust the Priority/Status list this way. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Twitter Feed on Blogger

Once you follow the steps in this blog post, you will have a Twitter feed in your side navigation bar.

Do you want to add a Twitter feed on your Blogger? If the answer is yes, then this is the blog post for you. There are several steps in the process, but the reward is having a Twitter feed in your Blogger sidebar. I have added several screen shots to walk you through the process. Good luck!

Your journey begins at Twitter. You will need to log in to your Twitter account and then go to the following URL

Select the type of widget that you want to create. You can make a feed that follows one person, a list of people, or hash tag. Hit create widget and you will receive the embed code you need for your Blogger.

Your embed code will magically appear in the window. Copy it! Now you are ready for Blogger!

In Blogger, go to Layout. You will now click on the Add a Gadget button in the side navigation bar.

The list of Gadgets will pop up and you will scroll down to the HTML/Java Script. Pick this option.

Give your Gadget a title and paste the embed code into the window. Hit the save button and you have a Twitter feed on you Blogger site. Congratulations!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Engaging a Student's Passion

I'd like to talk about student engagement; I'd like to talk about allowing students to follow their passions and supporting them.  I'd like you to consider how Facebook and other social media sites can make your students develop and grow in ways they are interested in, not in ways they are told to be interested. This is a piece of evidence from Korea International School. Colin is on of our students; Colin happens to be a very gifted piano player. This is Colin's SoundCloud page. Look closely. Do you see the number of followers he has on his page? 12,958. 12,958! Almost 13,000 people listen to this kid's music. By the time you read this blog post, he will have more than 13,000 followers. Amazing! And how has this impacted Colin? His confidence in his musical abilities has grown; his confidence in himself as grown; he is a musician with an authentic audience. This has occurred because we do not blog Facebook or SoundCloud at KIS. In fact, we don't block any social media sites at KIS to encourage innovative collaboration among students and teachers. We don't recommend teachers friending students in social media sites, but we do encourage using features like groups and pages within social media sites. Many of our teachers supplement course instruction with Facebook groups; almost all of our clubs are ran by Facebook groups and most of these are student led. Below is a screen shot from my Film Makers club. More correctly, I should say the student's club, because three students who are passionate about film making approached me last fall about being an advisor for their club. Here are three students who are very passionate about a topic that used Facebook to promote and manage a club. Now there are 20 students in the club and they organize and arrange filming for club block and outside of club block via the Facebook page. They remind each other to bring costumes, props, equipment. This type of engagement could be done in Schoology or Edmodo, but the students prefer Facebook. They feel like they have ownership when they use the tool that they prefer, not the one we prefer. If you are blocking social media sites at your school, stop. You can tell yourself that you are protecting students and teachers; you can tell yourself that you are modeling best practice with technology; but in reality, you are simply slowing down the learning and collaboration for everyone.

Monday, March 11, 2013

School Law Case Study -- The Twenty Dollar Bill

As a part of School Law course for my MSE in Educational Leadership from ASU, Professor Curtner had students work on several case studies. I personally found these quite interesting and meaningful as a tool for leadership development. The scenario was supplied to me by Professor Curtner, but the answer is my original content. I hope this will generate some discussion about exactly how to handle a situation like this one in a school setting.

Scenario: “The Twenty Dollar Bill”
Debbie Mason stood in the hallway facing Mrs. Johnson and Mr. Hall. In her 2 years as assistant principal of Ridgewood Elementary School, Debbie had found Mrs. Johnson to be a reasonable and effective teacher. However, right now Mrs. Johnson did not appear reasonable. In fact, she was obviously angry and had sought the aid of Mr. Hall, who was quickly working up to her level of indignation. Just to make sure everything was clear, Mrs. Johnson restated her position: “No one is leaving here until I find out who stole the money!” Debbie quickly learned that Rebecca Smith, a student in Mrs. Johnson’s third-grade class, had informed Mrs. Johnson that someone had taken $20 from her book bag. After some questioning, Mrs. Johnson discovered that the bag had remained in the classroom during recess and had been in the classroom unsupervised for 5 to 10 minutes. Mrs. Johnson had vainly searched desks, book bags, papers, and books. She was now determined to enlist Mr. Hall in a “bathroom search” of the students in the class. Something about the idea of a “bathroom search” made Debbie anxious, but Mrs. Johnson seemed absolutely determined to find the money. 

Although it is easy to sympathize with Mrs. Johnson’s anger over the matter of the missing $20, she has placed the school in a difficult situation by searching book bags without individualized suspicion; any type of strip search will certainly be questioned by parents and will likely end up in court. Students do have a right to privacy under the Fourth Amendment. The US Supreme Court ruled in New Jersey v. T.L.O. that teachers and administrators do not need to have a warrant in order to search a students’ belongings, but school officials must have a reasonable cause to conduct a search. The more intrusive the search, the higher the standard of reasonableness; therefore, a strip search requires a very high standard of reasonableness, because it is a complete invasion of personal privacy.

When it comes to matters of student and staff safety, the right to search a student’s belongings or body is much easier to defend. For example in Brousseau v. Town of Westerly, a pat-down of several middle school students leaving the cafeteria was ruled justified because school administrators had found a large knife was missing from the kitchen. The only time strip searches should be conducted is if there is a clear and immediate threat to health or safety of students or staff. The matter of the missing $20 is sad, but no student or faculty member’s life is in danger.

Under the given scenario, the bathroom searches are ill-advised. In Watkins v. Millennium School District, a strip search of three third grade students was considered unreasonable. Although at the time the money went missing, there were only three students in the room, the court felt that a strip search for $10 was a ridiculous over step on the part of the teacher. Even if Mrs. Johnson had been able to narrow down the suspects to one or two students, she would have found it difficult to be considered reasonable. Violating the privacy of several students in a hunt for $20 is beyond the legal rights of the school. Even the search of the student desks on this scale is questionable at best. A teacher or administrator must have more than a simple hunch or gut-feeling in order to search desks. Had Mrs. Johnson or a student witnessed the theft, then searches of desks and book bags could be considered reasonable.

Debbie Mason should get control of the situation before more damage is done. As the assistant principal, she should instruct Mrs. Johnson calm down and continue class immediately; Mr. Hall should return to his room as well. Mason should then explain that she will call students out one at a time and talk with them, but only the students who returned from recess early. She will get the names of the students who returned from recess early from Mrs. Johnson. Hopefully, with some gentle questioning and no screaming or threatening, some students will be able to supply information that will lead to finding the missing $20. 

If the money is not recovered, she should write a letter to the parents apologizing for the loss of the money, but pointing out the section of the student handbook that states that students should never leave money in lockers, desks, or book bags unattended. Money can always be left with the building secretary who will place it in the school safe. Without at least one student stating that they witnessed the theft or heard another student talking about the money, there isn’t much that can be done. The principal should be informed of the entire situation.

Assuming that a student did witness the theft or heard another student talking about the money, then the student seen with the money or heard talking about the money should be questioned (possibly for the second time). The student’s book bag and desk have been searched, so if the student has taken the money it is possibly on his/her body. At this point, the principal should be informed of the situation. The principal and assist principal should consult the student handbook and follow the procedure listed. The parents of the student should be contacted. Any type of intrusive search is difficult to defend in court, so it is very important to seek the cooperation of parents. The situation should be explained to the parents and they should be asked for permission to have the child empty his/her pockets and remove his/her shoes. If the parents refuse to grant permission, then the child should be sent back to class with no further action taken. If the parents grant permission, then the very limited search of the pockets and shoes should be conducted. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Attention Posterous Refugees -- Posting via Email with Blogger

If you are a Posterous refugee as I am, you are probably missing the old ability to post via email. Guess what? You can do it in Blogger as well, you simply have to turn the feature on. The attached photo should help explain this, but go to your Blogger Dashboard. On the left navigation bar, go to Settings, and then to Mobile and Email. You will need to add some secret words between your username and for it to work. Now go write an email and send it to that email address and you are blogging via email again.

ELCC Standards for Educational Leadership as a Professional Development Tool

As I finish my MSE in Educational Leadership from ASU, I am busily working on creating my portfolio as part of my internship. The seven ELCC standards are mostly focused on students demonstrating competency in the various areas of school leadership. But once your internship is over, then what? This got me thinking about professional development for educational leaders. Are any schools, associations, or individuals using the ELCC as a vehicle for professional development? Because on the international school scene, I'm not seeing it.

It would be easy to do. As a school, the Leadership Team could focus on one of the standards they want to improve for a school year. They could develop a Leadership Portfolio as a team and include their artifacts that demonstrate forward progress in this area. Another option would to to create a portfolio for yourself as an educational leader. The same basic principle as the group portfolio would apply -- choose an area you would like to develop and include various artifacts that demonstrate your growth within that standard for the year. Making this portfolio public and open for faculty and peer review is an important idea. A blog would be an excellent method for sharing your portfolio with colleagues.

Professional development is an important tool in education and all members of the faculty and staff, including administrators, need to work on continual growth. The infamous life-long learning we keep hearing and talking about -- time to walk the walk! Be a real leader. Don't accept excuses from yourself that for too many educational leaders fall into. You know the ones I'm talking about.

  • I'm too busy to create a portfolio.
    • Everyone is too busy! Make time, be a leader, be an example, be a role model. It is your job!
  • I'm not a "blog" guy/gal.
    • It doesn't necessarily have to be a blog, but a blog is an easy and powerful tool for doing it. If you want your faculty using technology, you need to use technology. Finally, don't think of it as a blog, it is a public portfolio.
  • Portfolios and professional development are for my teachers, not me.
    • If you don't take ownership of professional development, how will your faculty? Your faculty and staff will work as hard as you do. If they perceive you are slack, they will be more slack. If they perceive you are a professional engaged in improving yourself, they will as well.

Monday, March 4, 2013

An Idea for Educational Leadership Professional Development

In my MSE program through ASU, I have worked on several case studies in Educational Leadership. Some were about community relations, some were about school law, and others were about student or faculty issues. I've posted a few examples on my blog. I realized how valuable they are as a professional development tool. Do any schools have leaders who use case studies as a PD tool? I'm envisioning group discussion focused on a case study. Talking through the situation and coming up with different solutions. We have students role play so that when a real situation occurs, they have the tools to deal with it. Why don't educational leaders to the same thing? Case studies are like an opportunity to role play a problem and think of the correct response ahead of time. Everyone is busy and the job can be overwhelming at times, but surely everyone can find an hour in a month to do this type of constructive PD with colleagues. If you can't get people in your school to buy in to the process, you can look for people in your PLN to share ideas with. I think this is a great idea and I'm hoping to develop a community forum of some type to expand this idea. Please let me know if you are interested in it.

Monday, February 25, 2013

School Law Case Study -- Bullets in the Mustang

This case study was part of my School Law course at ASU with Professor Curtner. Dr. Curtner provided the scenario and the solution is my original work.
“Bullets in the Mustang”
As part of her duties as school security officer, Samantha Jackson was making her usual morning rounds through the student parking lot. She stopped abruptly beside a restored 1966 Ford Mustang. Did she really see a bullet on the passenger seat? She shaded her eyes and looked again. This time she could make out two or three bullets on the seat and what could possibly be the very tip of a gun handle between the seats. Using her police band radio, she called in the license plate for registration and warrants. She immediately recognized the name and realized that the car was driven by Ricardo “Frisky Ricky” Bingham, the favorite son of a local minister. Ricky, a well-known school Romeo, had recently developed significant problems with attendance and grades. Rumor was that Ricky was seen riding with members of the “Deuce Six Posse” and had become involved with a secret drug ring on campus. Samantha called for an assistant principal, and after a brief explanation, asked him to find Ricky and meet her in the
parking lot. The assistant principal arrived with Ricky who was dressed in baggy designer jeans, an Oakland Raider NFL jersey, and a gold necklace with a small cobra charm. Samantha recognized the cobra charm as a Posse trademark. Samantha and the assistant principal opened the car door. Her pulse quickened as she gingerly pulled a loaded .38 caliber revolver from between the bucket seats of the Mustang. Ricky, looking surprised, would only say, “Don’t look at me. That’s not mine. I don’t know how it got there.”
My Solution:
After reviewing my school’s policies with regards to weapons and due process, I recommend that Ricky Bingham be turned over to the police. The search was conducted by the school security officer with probable cause -- she could clearly see several bullets on the seat inside the car and the tip of what appeared to be a gun. The bullets were in plain sight and a violation of school rules; in addition, the car was located on school property. A gun on school property represents an urgent threat to the safety of students and faculty and merits an immediate response. New Jersey v. T.L.O. established that the warrant requirements are unsuited to the school environment and even though a school security officer conducted the search, there was ample probable cause and individualized suspicion. The appropriate action at this point in the scenario is to call the police and turn the matter over to them. The school should call the parents of Ricky and inform them that he is being arrested. 
My school does not have a zero tolerance policy for weapons, but the student handbook clearly states that any student in possession of a weapon on campus will be punished with a suspension and possible expulsion. We would handle the matter by having a meeting with Ricky’s parents where we informed them that Ricky was on indefinite suspension until his court case. If Ricky is found not guilty by the court, once the court case is finished he is free to return to school, but we recommend that the parents voluntarily withdraw him. If Ricky is found guilty by the court, we would move for expulsion.
In Korea, firearms are not legal; therefore, the idea of bringing a loaded weapon to any school campus is a very serious legal matter. Our Business Officer Manager, Mr. Choi (a local hire Korean), explained that in this type of situation Ricky would receive at least five years in prison but probably more. Apparently, in the Korean legal system, judges are given a fair amount of leeway when sentencing convicted criminals and they have a tendency to be very concerned with matters of public safety.
Recently the Korean Ministry of Education has asked the congress to enact new legislation about school discipline procedures. In the past, teachers and administrators were allowed to physically beat students who “misbehave.” There was no recourse for these students, school officials were the law within schools and their authority was beyond questioning. Within the last ten years, the Korean government as written new laws abolishing the beating of students and instituting due process procedures loosely based on those in the US. The spread of actually following the new laws has been slow; Korea is a country based on Confucianism and tradition is a highly valued. Korean public and private schools must now follow due process when punishing students. I sincerely believe that these new laws are changing the educational system for the better. International schools within Korean are outside of the jurisdiction of the Korean Ministry of Education, but we often comply with rules they enact for Korean public and private schools out of respect; we are visitors in their country and complying with their laws shows we are good visitors. For the most part, the international schools have lead the way with regards to things like due process and abolishing corporal punishment. At my school, we have always had due process procedures in place; our parents are generally happy with the school discipline program according to surveys we have conducted for accreditation.