Plum Trees at Lewis...

Friday was one of those warm and sunny spring days that brings a smile to just about everyone. From my office I heard voices through my open window and looked out to see Mr. Hansen's students out on the front lawn reading, and enjoying the warmth and sunshine. The front lawn of our school, Lewis Elementary, enjoys the shade and beauty of seven plum trees. Last week Mr. Hansen and I were talking and he asked about the history of those trees. Ms. Heinlein, a retired Lewis teacher who occasionally subs in our building, was in the building working and she gave us a bit of background on the trees. They were planted in 1987 as part of a project by a teacher, Mr. Light, and his students. Planted at the base of each of those trees are daffodils, that were planted by Ms. Heinlein and her students.

It is nice to reflect a bit and think of  those that came before us and the work they did to make the school we have today. 




Playing around with Meerkat

Using Meerkat to live stream our recent drama production...

Using Meerkat to live stream our recent drama production...

Meerkat is a smartphone app that allows anyone to publish live video from their phone to the web via their Twitter account. When a session is initiated in Meerkat, a tweet is sent from your Twitter account to your twitter followers announcing the live stream session, along with a link to the live stream. A stream of tweets associated with your live stream is then superimposed on your broadcast screen, allow the broadcaster to interact with her audience via twitter posts.

On Thursday night we used Meerkat to live stream our Lewis Elementary School Drama Club production. The purpose was two fold. First we wanted to experiment a bit with this technology, and secondly, Mr. Colvin, who helps with our Drama Club, was unable to attend the performance because he was visiting his ailing father. He was able to sit at his mom’s kitchen table and watch his students perform. We also had another 10 Twitter users following along. 

We plan to use Meerkat to live stream future school events. Also am thinking it could be used for just in time professional development. For example, one of our teachers, Pamela Kennedy, has a lot of requests from teachers and schools, asking her to come and talk about classroom design. I'm thinking this might be a nice, low friction, method of having her share her room with others, and answer questions about her classroom set up. Maybe we will plan for one of these after we return from spring break.

Historical Character Day

Yesterday at Lewis, we held one of our monthly Spirit Days. Spirit Days are designated days where we encourage students to demonstrate their creativity and individualism by dressing based on a theme. Yesterday’s theme was “Historical Character Day.” Students were encouraged to dress as a famous character from history. We had many students take part and many cleaver and interesting characters visited our school. Follow the link below some images from Historical Character Day...

Teacher Workday

Friday at Lewis Elementary was a teacher workday. This day is set aside for teachers to work on planning and doing other such administrative work needed to prepare for the sending home of student report cards.

Ms. Layman and Mr. Hansen also took some time to head over to Peerless Pattern Works to make ping pong paddles for our PE program.  

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

iBeacons....

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.