Dr. King Day of Service at Lewis Elementary

On Monday at Lewis Elementary School, we celebrated the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a school holiday and our annual day of service. We invited families and students to come out to the school and help clean up our school garden. We had a great turn out and got quite a bit of work accomplished. We would like to thank the many volunteers for their work today and also thank Kathleen Witter for her work leading and organizing the day.

Dr. King day at Lewis Elementary...

Dr. King day at Lewis Elementary...

Classroom Visits: Ambient Logging with iBeacons



As principal of Lewis Elementary School, I try to visit each of my classrooms every morning to check in and say hello. In addition throughout the day, I spend more extended time visiting classrooms, talking with teachers and students, and gaining a better understanding of the work taking place, and looking for ways that I can provide helpful feedback and support.

I try to document these visits and I have used various methods to do this, including tracking them on spreadsheets and web forms. Recently, I have become interested in a technology called Beacons, more specifically, iBeacons and how they can be used to help me keep track of my movements around my school, and provide me with ambient logging of my classroom visits.

Screenshot of the Proximity Log app...

Screenshot of the Proximity Log app...

iBeacons are small, battery powered Bluetooth devices that emit a low power radio signal. Smartphones, equipped with various apps, can connect with these beacons, and as a result things can happen based on proximity to the beacon. For example beacons, and apps on your smartphone, can be used together to initiate alerts or notices based on proximity. There is much discussion currently 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. Several examples of this were recently written up over at Educate 1:1 (The Potential of iBeacons for Schools)

Recently, I placed an Estimote 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 begins to keep track of 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 is exportable and can be used in programs such as Excel or Google Sheets. 

Screenshot of the Proximity Log app...

Screenshot of the Proximity Log app...

I am working to place additional iBeacons in my classrooms and set up the Proximity Log app to interact with these specific classroom beacons. Once set up, Proximity Log will note when I enter a classroom, and how long I stay in the room, and keep track of those visits. I can then analyze this ambient logging and make sure that I am visiting all my classrooms on a regular basis. One of my professional goals is to spend extended periods of time in classrooms, providing feedback and support. With the use of iBeacons, and Proximity Log, I hope to do a better job keeping track of these classroom visits. 




A Tour of Room 17 at Lewis Elementary School...

Pamela Kennedy ( @pamelakennedy17 ) is a 3rd grade teacher at Lewis Elementary School. Through donations and repurposing, she has created an engaging and flexible learning space for herself and her students. The video below offers a quick tour of the various spaces and seating options for students. Since this video was first produced, she has added 3 nooks to her classroom, providing additional spaces for students to work. They are pictured below.

A tour of Pamela Kennedy's 3rd grade classroom at Lewis Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. http://lewiselementary.org http://mskennedy17.wordpress.com/

Nooks in Room 17


Print Making in Mr. Hansen's Classroom

Mr. Hansen’s students have been working on print making. From his classroom blog...

“The other day the Google home page paid homage to the artist Corita Kent which was incredibly timely because we are about to start a new art exploration based on print-making.  Students are going to decide what important messages they have to tell the world and then turn them into poster prints.”

You can learn more about this project and other happenings in Room 5 by visiting Mr. Hansen’s classroom blog. The results of their work are now hanging in our hallway. 

Mr. Carl Deiz

Last weekend, Lewis Elementary kindergarten teacher, Ms. Ashley Rollins, lost her grandfather, Carl Deiz. Below is a link to an article from The Oregonian outlining his remarkable life and service to our community. 

Carl Deiz article


Wish all my "Professional Development" could be more like #edcamppdx

On Saturday I was able to attend the latest edition of #edcamppdx. An edcamp "is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs."* I have attended several, and my school, Lewis Elementary, has hosted two. They are very much unlike most educational conferences, and most unlike most of my professional learning, which have set speakers and presentations. Edcamps are more organic, with topics and discussions growing up from the interests of the participants. 

I was able to attend two sessions. Ben Jones of PDXDIY lead a great discussion on Coding as as Language Art. During the session, participants shared challenges and triumphs as their schools work to provide students with coding opportunities. 

The second session, lead by Corin Richards,  concerned Bring Your Own Device policies. The discussion covered many of the challenges that schools and school districts face as they wrestle with providing equitable access to technology to all of their students. 

When I attend an edcamp event, I can't help but wonder why other professional development events I attend can't be more like an this? An opportunity to discuss and share and learn from one another. It would be refreshing if those that are responsible for providing professional learning for teachers and school leaders, took more of an interest in helping us find our learning path, rather than subject their participants to mind numbing Powerpoint slides and forced share outs. 

I was happy to see several attendees from my school district there, including my own Mr. Richner, one of my 5th grade teachers. A big thank you to the folks from Hillsboro School District for hosting the event and also a big thank you to the #edcamppdx sponsors and organizers for putting on a great day of learning and discussion.





Snow Day and some thoughts on Twitter...

Portland is experiencing a bit of a weather event today. We are expected to get a few inches of snow this morning, along with some freezing rain. My school district started off with an announcement of a 2 hour delay, but now the official word has come down that school is cancelled for today. 

Since I have a bit of time on my hands, I thought I would share a bit about the work of my staff and their use of Twitter. I have been very happy to see several of my staff embrace Twitter as a tool to document and share the work taking place in their classrooms. I have created a Twitter list so I can easily keep up with their work and posts. You can follow along at http://twitter.com/timlauer/lists/lewis.

Below I have listed our Lewis Elementary teachers on Twitter, along with a bit about what you will find on their Twitter feeds. 

Mr. Richner @lewisroom20
Mr. Richner teaches 5th grade at Lewis. He utilizes Twitter to document events throughout the school day. He designates a student to be the class photographer and then curates those photos into blog posts and Twitter posts. A nice way to get a student perspective on the school day. 

Ms. Murphy @murphyroom8
Ms. Murphy teaches first grade and this year has begun to use Twitter to document the learning of her students. Using her smartphone, she captures several images a day and shares them on her Twitter page. A great way for families to get a peek into her first grade classroom.

Ms. Kennedy @pamelakennedy17
Ms. Kennedy teaches 3rd grade and has been using Twitter for a few years. Her tweets highlight student work and classroom activities. She also shares about her proficient use of DonorsChoose to equip and outfit her classroom.

Mr. Hansen @lewisroom5
Mr. Hansen teaches our blended 2/3 classroom. He utilizes Twitter to document the work of his students and also to share news with parents. In addition he shares interesting teaching practices, especially related to writing.

Ms. Layman @gymjumprun
Ms. Layman is our physical education teacher and she has embraced Twitter both as a tool for sharing what is going on in gym class, and also as tool for continuous growth and professional learning. She has become an active participant in PE twitter chats, eager to share and learn from other physical education teachers.

Mr. Colvin @mrcolvinteacher
Mr. Colvin teaches 5th grade and is one of our veteran Twitter users. His feed provides a great view of what his students are learning and images that convey student work and engagement.