Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dear Parents,

As a part of our learning this year, we will be using Google Apps for Education.  These applications will enhance the student’s ability to access, collaborate and share what they have been learning in school.    

The following is a brief peek at the Google Apps:

Google Docs: An online word document, spreadsheet, and presentation application.  Students will be able to work on projects at school and at home.  Students will also be able to collaborate on projects from their own home.

Google Calendar: An online tool that can be used to create or share important dates or events.

Google Sites: A website design tool used for student projects and ePortfolios.

Gmail: An email address that can only be used to email students, teachers, and parents. The system filters each email and scans for a variety of offensive words. When an email has been identified as having offensive language a copy is automatically sent to the principal.

This week permission forms were sent home with each student. I need your permission to allow your child to use these tools.  Please read through the permission forms with your child.  Please sign the Google Apps form stating that you give your child permission to participate in these learning tools.  Students will also review this information at school, but because they will be using these tools at home, the home/school communication and collaboration is important.

I feel this is a great opportunity for our students.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

In service to children,

Mr. Gallwitz

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Tragedy

Image by Joe Mazza
Friday we learned of the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Conn. Over the weekend details of heroic actions by many teachers and staff members were shared by the media. I still do not understand why something this horrible can happen. We may never know why but I'm sure over the next few weeks the world will learn in detail how these senseless acts of murder occurred. Details of the Sandy Hook safety plans, lock down procedures and how each adult responded will be discussed, reviewed and evaluated.

From the information I have read it appears that Sandy Hook Elementary was well prepared and staff members knew exactly what to do in an emergency situation. They implemented a new safety plan this fall including procedures for visitors to enter the building safely.  Every school in the country will review their own safety plans and make every effort to prevent the unthinkable yet at Sandy Hook the unthinkable happened.

At Centerburg we have prepared and practiced our own safety plans in collaboration with the Knox County Sheriff's Department. We have procedures in place for a number of situations and I am confident that our staff will respond swiftly to protect the safety and welfare of our kids. In light of the recent events we will continually review our plans and procedures to be sure our buildings are safe. The physical construction and layout of the building does create some interesting scenarios for building security but I can assure you that we diligently monitor the access to the building.

Joe Mazza, principal at Knapp Elementary School provided very sound advice in a recent blog post. Please take a look at the list below. There are a number of resources and talking points to help kids cope with the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Even in the wake of tragedy, schools continue to be one of the safest places for children to be on a daily basis. Below are some conversational tips from Dr. Michele Borba from her Twitterfeed today. I trust Michele with my own child’s well-being, and consider her a personal friend and colleague.
  • Turn off the TV and media on the school shooting when kids are present. Images can negatively impact children regardless of your zip code.
  • Talk to the kids tonight or as soon as you see them. Open with “What have you heard?” Kids need the right facts. YOU not their peers provide the best source.
  • Kids need to know it’s OK to share their feelings. It’s normal to be upset. Be calm and give only age appropriate information.
  • Don’t give more information than the kid is ready to hear. More importantly, let your child know you’re there to listen.
  • Don’t expect to help alleviate your kid’s anxiety unless you keep your own in check. Kids are calmer if we are calmer.
  • Please don’t think because the child isn’t talking about the events that he/she didn’t hear about it.
  • Give the information in small doses. Listen. Watch their response. Kids need processing time. Kids don’t need to know all the details and numbers. End with “I’m here for any questions you may have at anytime.”
  • Here’s a great way to curb anxieties: Find proactive ways to alleviate fears about the tragedy. Tonight, offer condolences, draw, write letters to victims as a family.
  • Stick to family routines. This soothes the stress and helps kids know that despite tragedy, that the world goes on. The sun will come up tomorrow. Hug!
  • Draw kids’ attention to heroism in the tragedy. Use police, teachers, doctors, etc so kids see the goodness in the heartbreak.
  • Kids respond to tragic news differently. Let your child know their feelings are normal. Help he/she express them. Follow his/her lead.
  • Tonight is the first talk. Keep ongoing dialogue. Don’t explain more than they are ready to hear. Kids process and will want more later.
  • Talk to the kid about the tragedy in an age-appropriate way
  • Assess kid coping skills
  • Listen, give some information and listen some more
  • Kindle hope that the world goes on
  • Ask your teen: “What are your pals saying?” Don’t assume they are NOT affected. Ignite their social justice. “What could we do?”
  • Plan what you’ll say to your kid about the tragedy to boost their confidence and calmness. It’s OK to say “I don’t know” or “Good question. Let me find out.”
For more information visit micheleborba.com or follow Michele at @micheleborba

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Students of the month

Congratulations to the middle and high school students of the month.

Great job Samantha, Melissa, Jordan, Kristy, Aaron, Allison and Shannon!

Students learn how to save a life

I had the opportunity this past week to visit Mr. Stevens classroom. I was excited to hear and I had to go see for myself his students learning adult and infant CPR. The students did an outstanding job learning and demonstrating the proper technique. They discussed how important it is to know CPR and how it related to the babysitting opportunities many high school students have. Below are a few pictures from the class.

 Thank you Mr. Stevens for preparing our students.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You Should Read... Nov. 27th, 2012

Smithsonian Institute's Photo Stream
I had the opportunity the past few days to read and uncover a panoply of thought provoking articles and blog posts by folks in my personal learning network. Listed below are a couple I would like to share and I believe you should read...

 Dr. Marschhausen compares the current U.S. Postal system to the state of education today. He encourages schools to evolve with the times and innovate to better serve the needs of our students.
"...a national news program that was reporting that the US Postal Service is currently losing $25 million per day and ready to default on the first of two $500 million loans from the federal government." 
 "Use your imagination to turn the clock back 25 years.  Imagine if the U.S. Postal Service had the foresight and innovative approach to move to every-other-day mail delivery in the mid-1980’s – and at the same time this revenue savings was applied to innovative projects and development of additional services.  Instead of UPS or Federal Express cutting more and more into the market, the U.S. Postal Service may have produced creative alternatives.  In addition to this stagnation, the emergence of on-line banking and bill paying has reduced the volume of some business mail.  Simply stated, the post office does what it does very well . . . we just may not need it done the same way any longer."
Schools cannot fall into the same trap as the postal system. Fiscal responsibility as well as providing the best learning opportunities for students requires change. Clayton Christianson predicts in his book Disrupting Class that 50% of all high school courses will be online by 2019. This creates a problem for traditional brick and mortar schools. I agree with Dr. Marschhausen when he states,
"Blended and digital learning are the equivalent of Federal Express and online bill paying.  Public schools must act now or face growing competition, a declining market share, and continued questions about relevance.  There is a tremendous opportunity."
This is an amazing time to be in education. Yes, there are a lot of changes, reform movements and challenges but I see these challenges as an opportunity to make something really great for kids.

 Edudemic is becoming one of my favorite blogs. I visit it often and they always have great information for educators. I recently read this post about teachers and social media. Many times social media gets a bad rap because we only hear the bad things but there are so many good ways to use social media with students. We need to harness the power of social media to support student learning.
Here are a few of the suggestions shared by edudemic:
  1. Hold virtual office hours.
  2. Have your students live tweet lectures.
  3. Have your students create a blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kiwanis Good Citizenship Award

Congratulations to senior Zach Ball  for being named the Centerburg High School recipient for the Kiwanis Good Citizenship Award. He was one of six students recognized from the area schools at a luncheon yesterday at The Alcove Restaurant in Mt. Vernon.

Zach has recently set a goal of becoming a law enforcement officer and is very determined to do so. Over the past year he has lost 85 pounds and is very committed to his future. He also helps out at many athletic events as the announcer. Zach has learned to announce the games class and portrays a positive image for Centerburg Schools.

Great Job Zach!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Google yourself...

Google yourself.... are you happy with the results? Social media or the negative use of social media may be the difference between getting a job, scholarship or accepted to college. Students today are facing challenges different than any other generation. Their desire to connect with friends online to share all life has to offer is fun and entertaining but could be detrimental to their future. As a kid growing up I made mistakes just like all of you. The difference today is that many students post updates or are tagged in photos recording their mistakes forever for anyone to see online. Potential employers and colleges are watching and they are judging students based on their online behavior.

I use social media daily and connect with many educators across the globe. It has helped me become a better administrator and educator. I mainly use Twitter and understand the benefit of being connected. Students use Twitter as well but they don't always compose the greatest updates or tweets. Parents, I highly recommend that you try the tool Kred.com. Kred will create a visual representation of the online activity of Twitter users. All you need to do is insert the individuals Twitter handle to compile the activity of the user. I use this tool to check on prospective teachers. You should use this tool to monitor what your child is doing and saying on Twitter.

I am a believer in social  media. It is a very powerful tool. It can organize large groups of people and raise millions of dollars for political candidates. It can also connect you to amazing people all over the globe with similar interests. You can use social media to learn and share through Personal Learning Networks (PLN). Make social media work for you - not against you. How you use social media should help you get a job, scholarship or into college instead of eliminating opportunities for you.

Items that you must remove or delete from your online presence include:
  1. profanity
  2. crude, risque or sexual innuendos
  3. racist remarks
  4. pictures of illegal or illicit behavior 
Your digital footprint is a direct reflection of who you are as an individual. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Grade cards go home today

Time sure flies when you are having fun. It is hard to believe that the first grading period is over. Students will receive their grade cards today in class. A copy will not be mailed home. Please ask to see your child's grade card and celebrate their success thus far. I'm sure you will have questions if your child struggled in a particular area or course. Parent teacher conferences are scheduled for November 13th and 15th from 4:00 - 7:00 pm. If you would like to schedule an appointment please contact Sue Reynolds by email at sue.reynolds@centerburgschools.org or by phone at 740-625-6055 ext. 2300.  Do not hesitate to contact the school if you have any questions or concerns.

Important dates coming up:
  • HS/MS Book Fair - Nov. 12th - 16th
  • Conferences - Nov. 13th and 15th
  • Early Release Day - Nov. 14th (Staff bully prevention training)
  •  Thanksgiving Break - Nov. 21st -26th

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

You Should Read... (Oct. 24th, 2012)

Image By Chris Jobling
I have been following the work of George Couros for a couple years now. He is currently Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division located in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada and is the author of the blog The Principal of Change. I have read many of his blog posts including his weekly post titled "You Should Read". He uses this kind of blog post to share what he is reading.  Examples include articles, blogs or web pages that moved and inspired him. It is also a glance into his learning and what ideas he is thinking about. With his permission I plan to share my own "You Should Read" blog posts for you to see what I'm thinking and what I'm researching.  With that said...

You should read:
  • Why Learning Should be Messy The folks at Mindshift discuss creativity in this post and how important it is in solving many of today's problems. Students need creative opportunities but you just can't create a "creativity hour" in school. We need to work and evolve our practice to provide more creative inquiry based learning opportunities for our students.   
  • How Twitter is Reinventing Collaboration Among Educators This is exactly why I use Twitter. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with educators from literally all over the world. Educators love to share ideas and help one another. They love working with students and want to push them to their highest potential. Twitter provides easy access to individuals and extends the workday well into the night. Some of the best conversations or chats take place in the evenings and learning is not constrained by the workday.  
  •  Newsweek to cease print publication; going 100% digital in 2013  The world is changing. Everything is moving to digital content. This is just one example how organizations and industries will need to evolve to keep up. Schools need to do more than just keep up we need to lead the way by  preparing students for the the next fifty years not the last fifty years.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bully-Proofing Our Youth

Jim Bisenius will be presenting "Bully-Proofing Our Youth" on Oct 18. 7 pm in the high school auditorium. The parent anti-bullying training will cover exactly how to teach your child to respond to verbal bullying, physical bullying, social bullying, and group manipulation. Parents will walk away with concrete tools that they can immediately implement and help their child master in order to eliminate bullying from his or her life. Participants will learn specifically how “popular” bullies isolate, control and manipulate their peers. Then they will learn exactly what steps their son or daughter must take to stop them. In addition, parents will be able to use all of these techniques in their own life to deal with controlling or intimidating adults. The parent presentation is approximately 90 minutes long. Everyone is invited!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Inside our classrooms

This week I have spent a lot of time inside our classrooms. It is exciting to see all of the activities, lessons, and learning taking place. Our students are very busy throughout the day accomplishing a variety of tasks and learning new material. I was really excited to hear the choir. Currently there are over 70 students participating in the high school choir. I recorded a short clip to provide a glance of what to expect this winter.

I also spent time visiting Mr. Tocheff's Spanish 1 classroom. Learning a foreign language is not easy. But there are a variety of ways to ensure student learning is taking place. In the picture below students are using a white board and dry erase markers to write in Spanish the sentence or phrase stated verbally in English by Mr. Tocheff. Students are practicing and using the foreign language while receiving immediate feedback from the teacher. In the education world we call this a formative assessment.  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Carr Headed to State Tournament

Photo Courtesy of the Mount Vernon News  
Photo courtesy of the Mount Vernon News

The Centerburg Trojans finished the Central District golf tournament in 4th place with a team score of 380 on Monday. Only the top three teams will advance to the state tournament. Faithe Carr shot an 81 finishing in third place as an individual and will advance to the state tournament.  The State Tournament will be held next Friday and Saturday at the Ohio State Gray Course. Tee times have not yet been announced.

Good Luck Faithe!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Math Help!

Students: If you need assistance with your math courses help is available after school. Math Help is every Tuesday and Wednesday after school from 3:00 to 3:30 (or longer if necessary)
Ms. Boehmer runs the Tuesday sessions, Mr . Altizer runs the Wednesday sessions.
Students need to bring their math materials with them to Math Help.  Students are not obligated to stay the full time.

Any student in grades 6-12 are welcome to attend.

Monday, September 24, 2012

It's all about relationships!

Joining the administrative team within the Centerburg School system is a great opportunity for me. I am truly honored to be part of such a successful institution of learning. Please allow me to introduce myself as your new middle school and high school principal, Ryan Gallwitz. I come to Centerburg after spending 12 years employed by the East Knox Local School district serving in a variety of roles including coach, teacher, athletic director, dean of students, assistant principal and for the past five years high school principal.  During my time at East Knox I developed life long friendships, and trusting professional relationships with many students, staff and community members.

 My first priority at Centerburg is to get to know as many people as can. I will be working very hard to establish relationships with my students, staff, parents and the greater community of Centerburg. It truly takes a community to raise a child and developing trusting professional relationships are critical the success of any school.  I encourage you to stop in for a visit, drop me a note or just say hi. I want to get to know you. Face to face personal interaction is important and many times the most desirable. But, if you like social media you can always catch up with me on Twitter - @rgallwitz.
As your principal it is important for you to know what I believe.
 I believe:

·      that trust is the foundation for everything.
·      all children can learn. (adults too)
·      all children may learn differently.
·      learning is social.
·      it takes a community to raise a child. It’s not my job, it’s not your job – it’s OUR job.
·      technology can transform public education by the way students discover content, interact with their peers, and share information.
·      technology can never replace great teachers.
·      in the power of a PLN (personal learning network)
·      and finally I believe we are in the business of learning not teaching.  When you’re through learning, you’re through.

I look forward to a great school year.

Ryan Gallwitz
MS/HS Principal
Centerburg Local Schools