ARTICLES

Author: Andy Jacks

In the instructional technology circles, the SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) has provided a way to rethink how technology is not only used, but how it can enhance instruction in the classroom. Ruben Puentedura began creating this model in the mid-eighties as a Harvard graduate student. The main idea behind this model is to help teachers take next steps to take advantage of new technologies to substitute the task with something more advanced or innovative. Picture credit Kelly Walsh-read his article, 8 Examples of Transforming Lessons Through the SAMR Cycle here In education, like many fields, sometimes technology is just used for technology’s sake, but it doesn’t always add value or aid in helping kids learn in better ways. Here is a great seven minute video by Common Sense Media hearing the SAMR model by Ruben himself.  I used this video as a prompt for a quick post on how the SAMR model aligns to how many of us, especially our #principalsinaction crew, view educational leadership and the necessary …

Using the Technology SAMR Model to Rethink Educational Leadership Read More »

Make sure to take any opportunity to save time and energy in your schools! Here is a quick how to video on pushing out one of your Outlook calendars onto your calendar on your website through School Messenger. Both Outlook and School Messenger are programs that we use in Prince William County Schools. Let me know if you have any questions or need help!

Did you know you can record your phone screen while you model how to do something new and innovative? I met Ryan Foran @RyanPForan at the #NSPRA2018 conference and we hit it off right away. He’s doing amazing things in his district and really putting himself out there with posts, blog, and podcast. Here is a nice example. Watch below through the video in his tweet about how to save tweets through bookmarks. This was a new one so I thought I would capture it for others as well.

There are a handful of key considerations when using video to maximize engagement in your school community. These concepts are important because they will help others share in your journey and success in a way that is meaningful and interesting to them. Read more below on these tips and reflect on how you are using video communication at your school or division. 

School is about to begin again and there is nothing is worse than an excited parent that goes to the school’s website to meet the administrator or teacher and all they see is a boring letter, or even worse, the person’s name with no other information. You had the parent right where you wanted them! They came to your site, they wanted more information, and they came to you! So how do you reward them? With nothing? With a boring description that is impersonal and shows a lack of effort? Not a great first impression especially if you are a leader. They start wondering how much work you put into the rest of your job. Maybe it isn’t fair, but it is reality. There are better ways through modern technology and videos to make an amazing first impression that shows you as a person instead of a position. This also helps to build a positive relationship from the very beginning even before you actually meet them in person!

Read AloudsReading to every classroom every month is by far one of my favorite things I do as principal. It is a fantastic opportunity to build personal relationships, set the tone for expectations, and prioritize literacy as a leader. Reading tons of books to students is one of the most important things we can do to provide equity and experiences. The poverty achievement gap begins with students who are not read to at home before they attend school in kindergarten. We must close this gap by reading as many books as possible to them which will increase vocabulary and provide experiences through literature that they may not have had otherwise. I read to individual classes mostly but other times I read to the grade level as a whole and try to get to every class and grade every month. I connected the books to specific issues I want the students to grow in or reflect on. I also try to add an activity with the book for follow up. …

Read Alouds & Book Talks Read More »

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Sometimes the most profound statements happen during random times. Today a guest speaker doing a keynote at the Virginia Association of Elementary School Principals 2018 Conference was asking about how our ‘business’ was doing in our schools. He asked the crowd about this and Michael Santos, an up and coming school leader, said something to the effect of it being in constant improvement. He said it was like updating software, it’s always in need of upgrades and improvements every year, even if it’s a great product. 

This year, our teachers At Ashland led by 5th grade teacher Jen Young, created mobile STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) carts that are housed centrally in our STEAM garage and checked out by teachers to use in their classrooms. Recently, they made some amazing updates based on what they have learned about the organization and preparation of these mobile labs. Read more to read their insights and communication on this excellent leader-tunity. For our staff, this is a reminder on our next steps for implementing the mobile STEAM labs in your classrooms. 

As principal, I have the honor of observing classroom lessons to learn about instruction and student motivation. This week I was able to directly see the positive impact that specific and direct modeling had on student performance in a 4th grade math lesson by Jesse Raines  (@Mr_Raines on Twitter). His lesson’s objective was for students to be able to identify and explain geometric transformations of rotation, reflection, and translation. Read more to see examples and why it matters to much to have such clear expectations for learning and how that worked in his lesson.

As Hannibal in the A-Team used to say, “I love it when a plan comes together!” This year our kindergarten team decided to create a new program to help communicate to parents what helps students be successful in school. As students at Ashland register, they typically receive supply lists and will receive a school shirt, but now they will also be sent a video with the top ten tips on how parents can help their child at home. I’m so proud of our team for putting this together and bringing a simple discussion to life and helping out littlest ones start with their best selves possible! Check it out!