The Gradebook Debacle

I usually try to be more positive about division wide projects even if I don’t agree with the way they are carried off.  Unfortunately there is no way to put a positive spin on the what the teachers in my schools have had to endure with the gradebook this first nine weeks.  It’s been so bad, that I have been scheduled to do additional inservicing in BOTH buildings.  In preparations for next week’s inservices, I have been creating a timeline of events, things that both the teachers and I have had to make adjustments for over the last 6 weeks.  I felt the need to document this transitional period  for them to validate what I know has been a really bad experience for most.

I’m using TimeRime for this timeline.  It’s a free web2.0 aplication that I have known about for a while, but have never gotten around to exploring…seemed to be the right tool this time.

We survived week 1

Back to school

My mother sends me cartoons via email from time to time.  I thought this was especially funny when I received it Friday. 

It looked like a good week in both buildings.  At Brighton most folks had their equipment up and running – I only had one SOS call.  The folks at Victory were all using their projectors – even in Kindergarten.  Both principals have scheduled some training – it’s great to be back in the saddle.  I do have some shout outs – a few teachers that  that really surprised me…

  • Dr. Hunter Lowe(Fifth Grade Language Arts – Victory) is making a concerted effort to include technology this year.  She had me in her class introducing Kidspiration for writing on Wednesday – that’s right the second day of school.  I am sure the kids in her classes will be using the COWS for writing before the end of the nine weeks!
  • Mrs. Davis(Third Grade Math – Victory) had the first part of Promethean Jumpstart training on Wednesday afternoon and had the kids writing on the board Thursday morning!  I was especially happy that she wanted to use the place value flipchart I gave her right away.  She was using the place value manipulatives on the board and random number generators (dice) – talkin’ all that math talk at the kids…She really didn’t need me – so I just left.
  • Mrs. Bailey(Second Grade – Brighton)  managed to get her Promethean software upgraded over the summer.  She was using the new ActivInspire straight out of the shoot.  She did not want to wait for me to start “migration training”…When I got to her on Thursday her only question was “How do I calibrate?” Here’s a link to the ActiveInspire Migration Manual for the rest of you Power Users who don’t want to wait for me to get your training scheduled.
  • Mrs Taxson(Kindergarten – Brighton) was not about to let her transition to Kindergarden slow her momentum…that’s right those little tiny tots were already writing on the Promethean board on Thursday.  Why was I surprised – she’s only the regional Technology Educator of the Year. 

I know many of you had things going on that I never saw…I could tell by the conversations that I had with you: Mr. Trewartha was already using Orchard.  Mrs. Trumbauer mentioned a flipchart she used.  Ms. Gibson had a data projector all set up and wanted help with the document camera. Mrs. Petry had already checked out the ActivExpressions…

You all are intrepid and you never cease to amaze me.

PPS is going RETRO

Several of you have made inquiries into the possibility of seeing the inauguration in your classrooms.  Many have also asked if streaming will be allowed for this one event.  Unfortunately, streaming news content will not be allowed for this historic event.  The reasons are two-fold:

  • Our internet connection (traveling through IRC) is fixed and will only allow so much data to pass through it each second. It would only take 100 individuals streaming an MPG4 stream to “clog” our “pipe”. Meaning, no connectivity at all. No phones, SASI, Financial system, Café Enterprise etc…
  • The 20th is the first day of online SOL testing. Granted, testing is usually completed by this time; however, this is an un-timed test and it is possible to have students testing when the inauguration begins. If we have any delays during the beginning of testing, we might need to extend the testing window which could cut into the inauguration activities.


 So since streaming is out of the question, what can you do?


  • If you are teaching at Brighton, I am sure that you are aware that the reception of the cable signal to the building has been a little sketchy. I understand from some teachers that at this time they can receive cable signal, but the connection wires from the TV to the cable jack need periodic adjustments. Teachers who are able to receive the cable signal may be able to use their TVs.
  • At Brighton, teachers who have MCPS systems as well as those who have been upgraded to Promethean Boards have a unit that will receive TV signals. This signal can easily be boosted for better clarity with a simple pair of “rabbit ear” antennae.
  • Classrooms at Brighton that do not have MCPS/Promethean equipment or cable access as well as all of the classrooms at Victory may be able to use one of the TV/VRC units provided by Media Services. Here again, this signal can easily be boosted for better clarity with a simple pair of “rabbit ear” antenna.


What’s the bottom line? Most of you will need to find “rabbit ear” antenna if you want to watch the inauguration.   Funny…30 days ‘till rabbit ears will be obsolete, but you may need them for Tuesday…I suggest you try radio shack or a thrift store…

Greetings from the Craft Hospital


I’m at the Craft Hospital.  It’s the place they send burnt-out TRTs from Portsmouth.  I’m not quite sure what they do for TRTs in other school divisions, but in Portsmouth, we’ve had this arrangement for a while.  We usually get sent in groups, but in special circumstances they send us individually.  So now you know why my auto responder doesn’t say why I am out or when I’ll be back.  It’s really not so bad here.  It’s quiet and it’s beautiful outdoors.  The food is really good.  I had some visitors yesterday – DD, Big K and Ms. T.  They sat and watched TV with me in the lounge. 

As I write this I realize that this is my first post in months.  It is a definite sign that shows how bad things were before I left.  But the fact that they let me have my laptop back so soon is a good sign.  I know this, because I’ve been here before…here are some pictures from when the 10+2 TRTs got sent here during the summer.  You’ll notice that Nancy got her laptop back before anyone else…

Wow – Talk about surprised…

Ok.  So I’m at the Discovery Educator’s Network National Institute and this is the first day… So I thought this might be like the WHRO Tech Trek experience – I’ve done it before, so I thought I could do it.  It’s kind of a formula: professional development followed by project time and then presentations.  I’ve done it before…well not this way…

 After lunch and the welcome we got an assignment:  Find the members of your group and create your own Boom De Yada video in the next 2 ½ hours. I was with the Mid-Atlantic group and we were rather successful.

Talk about a jump start to our week.  This is even faster then tech Trek the Next Generation…



What do TRTs do during the summer?

Ever wonder what a TRT does during the summer?  I mean, TRTs are responsible for staff development…there’s not a whole of teaching staff around during the summer, so what do TRTs do?  Well it depends on their contract.  Some school divisions hire TRTs on a 10 month contract – they are around when the teachers are.  Other school divisions have TRTs around during the summer to do teacher academies and other special projects.  If you are a TRT in Portsmouth, you could be in either situation.  I have the distinct pleasure of working all summer.   It’s great for me – I always know what my summer job is going to be … and there is no learning curve…


So this summer I am working on 13-14 projects in an attempt to get ready for the opening of school.  It’s a lot of work, and there are days that I am not sure I will get it all done, but my goal is to close 2 projects a week and beg for mercy when the others don’t get done.  Our summer project list was huge…Here’s a picture of it…Project list for TRTs this summer