One of the decisions that I have to make is calling a rainy day recess. Basically if it is raining significantly during our lunch time recess, we do not send the students out for recess, but rather call a rainy day recess. A rainy day recess consists of various indoor activities for students during lunch. This involves the movement of students to various locations such as our library, our gym, our technology lab, the music room, and classrooms. Basically rainy day recesses are harder to organize and involve the moving of students from the cafeteria to their particular rainy day recess location. It is a lot of work.
For the past few years I have been using an iOS app called Dark Sky to help me with my decision making process regarding whether to call a rainy day recess or not. Dark Sky is an app that provides a macro forecast for a particular location and provides a visual representation of the probability of rain or snow for the upcoming hour. It calls upon local weather stations to predict precipitation for your particular location. From my experience it works very well. I use it daily in the winter months to help make the rainy day recess call.
A companion web site that provides similar information is called Forecast.io. I highly recommend both.
Annual Beavers vs. Ducks cookie survey:
Each year before the Oregon State vs. Oregon football game, our school district Nutrition Services department provides a cookie treat as part of lunch before the big game. Students are offered a choice between an orange OSU cookie, or a yellow University of Oregon cookie. This year, our informal survey concluded that Duck fans edged our Beaver fans by just a few crumbs.
We had a great day for our annual Run for the Arts. This is our major arts fundraising event, helping us to raise money to bring artists to our school. Our students did an outstanding job today with the run. I would also like to acknowledge the work of our PE teacher, Ms. Layman and our parent volunteers who worked to make the event possible.
On Saturday, September 14, 2013 we started the first phase of our project to remove approximately 1800 square feet of pavement on our playground in order to create space for a rain garden. The rain garden will create green space for plants and habitat of insects and bird, while also providing a space for rain water that runs off of our playground. Currently this rain water is running off into a sewer drain, and when we get heavy rains, a small lake forms.
This past week a crew came to excavate the area where the pavement was removed. Next new soil will be brought in and then on October 12, 2013 we will plant our rain garden.
On Saturday, September 14, 2013 over 75 volunteers converged on the Lewis Elementary School playground to remove 1800 square feet of pavement to make way for a rain garden. With the help of a local organization, Depave, our team worked to remove a portion of our paved playground to set the stage for the creation of a rain garden. The rain garden will help to solve a rain water runoff problem that results in the formation of a small lake near rooms 10 and 12. It will also create a habitat for birds and insects and will provide a space for science activities for our primary classrooms.
We thank our community and the volunteers from Depave (depave.org) for their help making this project possible.
Our own Mr. Colvin set up his camera and created a time lapse photo of the work that took place on Saturday.
From Depave's http://depave.org mission statement: Depave promotes the removal of unnecessary pavement from urban areas to create community green spaces and mitigate stormwater runoff. Through community partnerships and volunteer engagement, Depave strives to overcome the social and environmental impacts of pavement with the use of action-oriented educational events, community stewardship, and advocacy to reconnect people with nature and inspire others. Depave is a nonprofit organization based in Portland, Oregon.
On June 28, 2013 I had the opportunity to speak to a group of teachers taking part in the Theory to Practice in School Gardens class offered at the Portland State University Learning Garden Laboratory. The topic of my talk was the Lewis garden program and our sustainability efforts and acknowledgments.
I used the iPad app Haiku Deck to put together a quick presentation about our program. I like the way you can quickly put together a talk using your own images from online services such as Instagram & Flickr, from you camera roll, and from storage tools such as DropBox and Google Drive. The ability to search Creative Commons images is also pretty nice.
I have found myself using Haiku Deck more and more to help frame talks I make during staff and parents meetings. A nice lightweight tool to help frame your conversations.
A favorite part of our annual Art Night is having students act as docents for the various displays and exhibits. At our recent event, we recorded several of our students as they shared their descriptions and explanations of the art on display.
I had the opportunity to meet Bill Carozza (@wcarozza) at the IntegratED PDX conference that was held in Portland in February. Bill is the principal of Harold Martin School in Hopkinton, NH, and has a great social media presence on the web. I attended his session, Social Media for School Leaders and one of the things I came away with was to try his idea of a weekly podcast highlighting events and activities taking place at my school. He uses the podcasting service AudioBoo to record his weekly posts and then publishes them to his school site. AudioBoo has an iOS app that makes this process very easy. You can also record the audio separately and then upload the file to the AudioBoo service.
So with a nod to Bill, I have started to do this for my school. In addition to the short weekly updates, I also hope to do some long form podcasting. Bill does a great job of highlighting his staff and the work they are doing and I hope to do something similar with the folks at Lewis Elementary. Below is my most recent audio post.
Today I was visiting Mr. Marchyok's classroom and saw something that made more greatly appreciate what technology in our classrooms can do when we think about it differently. As I entered the room I noticed that his students were working on their Chromebooks. As I walked around the room, I noticed that the students were working on biographies. I noticed that Xavier was writing about Rock and Roll guitarist Jimi Hendrix. As I walked around the room I noticed that Mr. Marchyok was also working on his computer, and when I got close I could see that he had Xavier's Jimi Hendrix document open and was basically conducting a writing conference with him via the chat feature built into Google Docs. With Google Docs users can share documents and view and work on them in real time.
Using Google Docs and the Hapara Teacher Dashboard program Mr. Marchyok, and our other 4th and 5th grade teachers, are able to conduct writing conferences on the fly with students. In this example Mr. Marchyok was using the Teacher Dashboard to quickly view what students were working on and to open those documents and provide feedback and encouragement. Something different than collecting notebooks, shlepping them home, writing responses with a red pen, and then redistributing them to students the next day.
Logan is a first grade student in Ms. Logue's classroom. He likes to write. He wrote this song about growing up and performs it for us in the recording below.