A Mid-Summer's Night Dream...

Just before our Spring Break we held three performances of our production of “A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. Our director Tori Padellford closed our final performance by addressing the audience with something that really resonated with me. She talked about the whole  production has a gift. A gift from our staff and families to our students and a gift from our students to our community. It was the product of all of our efforts to provided our students with experiences that will stay with them and ground them as they grow up. It was a very memorable performance and something I am proud that we were able to provide for our students. 

Our students, cast, orchestra, and crew, did an a phenomenal job. Current and former staff members Mr. Colvin, Mr. Jamesbarry, and Ms Tori did an outstanding job leading our effort. A big thank you to them, and to all the volunteers that helped to make our production such a memorable event. 

Mr. Colvin has a great collection of photos from the performances and from rehearsals. Please follow the link below to share them with your students: 

Educate/Engage 2016

On Saturday, Lewis Elementary hosted Educate Engage 2016. The event was organized by Melissa Lim (@actionhero) of Portland Public Schools, and sponsored by Portland Public School and Concordia University, and was inspired by a similar event,  ENGAGE 2015 Parent Tech Conferenceput on last fall by several suburban Chicago school districts.  

Educate/Engage 2016  was described as

“an opportunity to hear from teachers about the roles and implications of technology both in and out of today's modern classroom.”

It was a great event and the parents that attended indicated they appreciated the opportunity to learn and discuss with educators, the opportunities and challenges that technology can present in a school setting.

It was also nice to see so many of our regional education leaders lend their time and expertise to the event. A big thank you to all that took part. 

Lonesome Teacher Trio

Last night at Lewis Elementary School we held our annual Lonesome Teacher Trio & Friends Family Dance. This event is a fund raiser for our 5th grade science camp program. 

The Lonesome Teacher Trio is made up of Lewis Music Teacher, Tony Jamesbarry, retired Lewis teacher, Paul Colvin, and former Lewis teacher Matt Marchyok. They are accompanied by Eric Johnson, Chris Kurtz, and Tim Hahn. All current or retired Portland teachers.

Each year they generously donate their time to this event. We thank them all for their continued support of our school.


Historical Character Day

Today we celebrated Historical Character Day at Lewis Elementary. Students had the option of dressing today as an historical character. We had many students take part. It was great to see the creativity that our students brought to the day.  It was also nice to see several students dressed as our  school's namesake, Meriwether Lewis. Thanks to all those that were able to take part. 

Dr. King Day of Service at Lewis

On Monday, January 18, 2016, Lewis Elementary celebrated the Dr. King holiday with a day of service. Students and families, along with staff, came out to work in our garden space to honor Dr. King's legacy of service to others. We had a great turnout and would like to thank all of our volunteers for their work today.

Dr. King Day of Service 2016

Ms. Brenan's Photography Project...

Ms. Brenan’s mixed age 1st and 2nd grade students have been using tablet computers, specifically the Nexus 7, in a 1:1 program this year. One aspect of our tablet use that we are focusing on is having students use them for creative endeavors that allow them to take advantage of tools such as the built in camera.

Working with our Media Specialist, Cyndi Redmond, and our Garden Coordinator, Kathleen Witter, Ms. Brenan created a photography unit that allowed students to learn a bit about the history of photography, and also develop some aesthetics around the capturing of still images.

Ms. Brenan, an avid photographer, started by sharing her collection of vintage cameras with her students. She discussed the film photography process and students had the opportunity to explore the mechanics of these cameras and gain an understanding for how they worked. Next, she and Ms. Redmond introduced the tablet camera application to the students and after some practice in class, turned them loose in our garden area to capture images. The students then were able to chose one of their images to be printed.

Ms. Brenan had prints made of each student's image. The smaller images were framed and students were able to take them home. The larger images were also framed and will be on display, and available for purchase, at First Cup Coffeehouse on Woodstock in Southeast Portland starting on January 4, 2016.

Twitter as an Archive...

Today at Lewis Elementary we had the Portland Opera visit to perform The Elixar of Love for our students. This is the second year that Portland Opera has visited our school. If you are in the Portland area, I highly recommend booking them for a school visit. They do an outstanding job.

Normally when we have groups such as Portland Opera visit our school I try to capture a few photos to share with our community. Today I had a medical appointment and was not able to attend the performance. In years past we might not of had any images to share, but this year, with many of our staff publishing to Twitter, that was not the case. 

As I sat in the waiting room for my appointment, I was able to pull up our Lewis Twitter feed list and was very happy to see several posts from our teachers of the event. 

This got me thinking about Twitter and how via lists, we are able to compile and share the work of all of our teachers in one place. In this way, we are creating an archive of the work taking place in our classrooms. I look forward to watching this evolve as we move through the this school year and beyond. 

More Twitter...

I have written before about the use of Twitter by my staff at Lewis Elementary. I have been very happy to see the use grow, not only as a way to share classroom activties and photos, but also as a tool for professional development.

I have created a Twitter List that contains all of our staff member accounts in one place. Our most recent teacher to begin publishing on Twitter is Ms. Jill Brenan, @LewisRoomTen. Please consider following our list and our individual classrooms.

Thanksgiving Weekend...

Have been enjoying some down time with my family. My mom, brother, and brother in-law are out for their annual Thanksgiving visit. Daughter home from college, and other family close by. Has been a very nice few days. Got me thinking a bit of Thanksgiving weekends over the years. The two photos below show my son and youngest daughter but are six years apart.

A friend, via Instagram, noted how quickly time goes by. In a blink of an eye she said...

Yes, in the blink of an eye.

Happy Thanksgiving...



iBeacons and Classroom Visits...

I was recently asked by the editors of EdWeek to write an article on a topic of interest. I wrote about my use of iBeacon technology to help me keep track of my classroom visits. Below is a link to the article. Also below you will find the text to the article. 

Tech Solutions to Principals' Overloaded Schedules - Education Week

Tech Solutions to Principal's Overloaded Schedules
by Tim Lauer

Meriwether Lewis Elementary School, where I work, is a neighborhood K-5 school located in the Woodstock section of Portland, Ore. We serve 385 students in 16 classrooms, including a special-needs communication classroom. A majority of our students live within walking or biking distance of the school, and close to 40 percent qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Our approach to learning includes opportunities for expression in music, art, gardening, and a 1-to-1 technology approach in grades 2-5.

As the principal of Lewis Elementary, I try to visit each of my classrooms every morning to check in and say hello to students and staff members. I also attempt throughout the day to spend more-extended time visiting classrooms, talking with teachers and students and gaining a better understanding of the work taking place, as well as looking for ways that I can provide helpful feedback and support. From my first year as principal at Lewis, it became apparent to me that building leaders need to be seen and need to see what is happening in classrooms—and not just during formal observations.

One of the benefits of ubiquitous wireless access in a school, and lightweight laptop computers and smartphones, is that it gives administrators the ability to get out of their offices and spend more time in classrooms. Not being tied to a desktop computer to deal with school business allows an administrator the opportunity to keep up with that work while out and about in the school.

Spending time in classrooms enables a building administrator to be closer to students and staff members, and to develop a better perspective on the work being done. Keeping track of those visits, and making sure I'm visiting all classrooms on an equal basis, is a challenge I have been working on for a few years.

Over the years, I have developed various methods for logging informal classroom visits. These have included simple paper checklists and charts and, more recently, Web-based reporting tools that allow me to enter information in a smartphone or laptop and place it into a spreadsheet for later analysis.

I want to make sure I am spending an appropriate amount of time in all of my classrooms. While these tools have been helpful, I found myself recently looking for a way to track and chart my movements throughout the school in a more ambient manner. I've been searching for a method to record my movements almost automatically. While checklists and charts were useful for informal observations, I found that when I was not specifically recording data, I was not always charting my visits with fidelity.

In my search for a solution to this challenge, I have become interested in a technology called beacons, more specifically iBeacons, and how it can be used to help me keep track of my movements around my school, and provide me with ambient logging of my classroom visits.
The small (an inch and a half in diameter) battery-powered Bluetooth devices called iBeacons emit a low-power radio signal. (Originally introduced by Apple, the broadcast technology is now being produced by other vendors.) Smartphones, equipped with various apps, can connect with these beacons, and as a result, things can happen based on proximity to the beacons. For example, beacons and apps on your smartphone can be used together to initiate alerts or notices based on proximity to the beacons. There is much discussion now about how these beacons can be used in retail settings to alert customers to products and services based on proximity. I have been thinking about a school setting and how the technology can be used in interesting ways in our classrooms.

Recently, I placed an iBeacon in my office. Using an iOS app called Proximity Log, I started having Proximity Log track my time spent in my office based on proximity to the beacon. Whenever I enter my office, Proximity Log connects with the beacon, and notes the time I am near that beacon, and thus in my office. Proximity Log keeps track of the number of visits and the duration of each of those visits. The data are exportable and can be used in programs such as Excel or Google Sheets.

While this one beacon gave me a good understanding of the amount of time I was spending in my office, it did not tell me where I was when I wasn't in my office. So, after my experimentation with the iBeacon in my office, I decided to place others in classrooms. Subsequently, I have placed iBeacons in all of my classrooms and set up the Proximity Log app to interact with these specific classroom beacons. Now, as I move in and out of classrooms, Proximity Log notes when I enter the room, and how long I stay. I have been able to analyze this ambient logging to make sure I am visiting all classrooms on a regular basis.

One of my chief professional goals is to spend extended periods of time in classrooms, providing feedback and support. With the use of iBeacons to track my movements in the school building, I am able to do a better job keeping track of these visits and make sure I am not shortchanging any classroom.