Killer App for beyond 2008

December 27, 2007

Cell phones in the hands of students, plain and simple. Cutting edge kids today do not talk on their phones, they type on their phones. (A glaring revelation: the plan with 1000 text messages per month is not enough.) They also take photos, make movies, record audio, and listen to music on their cell phones.

From Ypulse:

I think 2008 is the year this will really begin to take off with teens — mostly as another way to check “email” or messages, comments, etc. via cellphone since MySpace and Facebook have replaced email as the way teens message each other.

As the iPhone drops in price more teens will buy iPhones. Since phones are teens’ lifelines, they want everything on one device – web, music, video, photos. The iPhone is the first consumer oriented smart phone to do it. And well, teens already love their iPods…

From the Economist:

Mobile phone companies lust after the 700 megahertz frequencies because of their long range and broadband capabilities. They see lots of lucrative things like mobile television and other broadband services to offer customers.

Internet searches will doubtless be as popular among mobile-internet surfers as among their sedentary cousins. Owning at least 60% of the mobile search market is the prize Google has been after all along.

At the beginning of the school year, we heard school leaders getting right vocal about preparing “Future-Ready” students, and by now all faculties have watched “Did You Know 2.0.”

In general, how are schools positioning (both near- and long-term) for the next killer app: student cell phones in schools?


Administrators in Step

December 20, 2007

haulin netSchool administrators need to be in step as are these four. And being in step as a leader means having the vision not just to stay current with the times but also to be just over the horizon.

As we step into 2008, I pause to reflect on some themes from my first four months back at a school—after nearly a decade away.

  • People and relationships: Unlike any other calling, school leaders work with countless individuals and their triumphs/challenges on a daily—make that hourly—basis.
  • The unexpected: Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you turn the next corner.
  • The thrill of victory: sports scores, grade reports, and classroom observations
  • The agony of defeat: sports scores, grade reports, and classroom observations
  • Just put a cot in the office: from morning traffic duty to tracking down student rides home after the ball games
  • Energy: 1250 teenage students
  • Fatigue: constant motion on a 90-acre campus
  • Weight loss program: constant motion on a 90-acre campus
  • Symphony: big-picture or systems thinking; all puzzle pieces must fit perfectly
  • Management: not the most difficult part of the job, but an easy trap in which to get caught
  • Instructional Leadership: the high-value, high-touch, high-concept, and transformational pure gold. In a time and place that demands departure from the status quo of high schools in America, the real exercise of extreme school leadership is not to give short shrift to this last bullet.

Down-home Christmas Time

December 18, 2007

Listening to the radio, concerts, and personal music collections this time of year, I am reminded that Christmas time has inspired much great music . . . perhaps second only to the topic of love, which is by no means coincidental.

As a way of saying Merry Christmas—and for your listening pleasure—here is Carol of the Bells performed by the West Carteret High School Singers.

And some Bonus Tracks from the Patriot Down-home Singers (rehearsing in D-Hall below) —-

Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer

Silent Night





Such are among the gifts of the American public high school experience. And what an awesome opportunity and medium this is for diverse learning communities to share the creative fruits of their cultural traditions this time of year!

Merry Christmas from Judge Manning

December 14, 2007

From the N&O:

Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. said Thursday he will make the state surrender as much as $768 million that will be used to buy new computers for every school district in North Carolina.

He rejected most arguments aimed at limiting the payout and the number of districts that would receive money from a pot of civil fines collected by state agencies for almost a decade ending in 2005.

Under state law, the pool of civil fines must be used to pay for new technology.

The total payout, along with the amount each of the state’s 117 school districts will get, is still to be determined. Money will be paid based on the number of students in each school district.

State officials did not say Thursday where they will find the money, but Manning said he expects it to be paid over several years.

Add this good news to the jumpstart we have received through this year’s local technology partnership with County Government (and its five-year commitment)—and maintaining modern technology assets over time will not be the most critical of our technology-inspired discussions.

As I said of this deal in The Heavy Lifting and reiterate now in light of Judge Manning’s decision—

We will have to address how these 21st century tools are going to impact 21st century teaching and learning for 100% of our teachers and students.

That is a much different and higher-concept, higher-value conversation than the “stuff” conversation. This is the time and the opportunity for divergent thought leadership.


December 10, 2007

haulin netSome schools and school systems are out front in redefining the high school educational experience. The thoughts and conversations that inspire such redesign must be deep, creative, risky, rewarding, energizing, inclusive and ongoing.

Caprock High School in Amarillo, TX, appears to be one such 21C thought leader.

Caprock’s story is profiled by Willard Daggett’s International Center for Leadership in Education. Accordingly, the story slants toward the Rigor/Relevance Framework as a unifying dynamic. In fact, the Caprock faculty is given encouragement, support, professional development, and expectations to “Teach to Quadrant D.”


Tightening the focus to the transitional ninth grade year, the Caprock “freshmen academy” is characterized by the following:

  • Housed in clusters in separate buildings
  • Freshmen-only lunch
  • Designated assistant principal and counselor
  • Direct focus of curriculum assistant and guidance clerk
  • Entire 9th grade is composed of 5 teams.
  • Each team has unique math, science, social studies, and history teachers.
  • Each team has about 90 heterogeneously-grouped students.
  • Class size is limited to 20 students (required the addition of two faculty).
  • Teachers on each team share common planning periods.
  • Common planning promotes Professional Learning Communities.
  • Accelerated homeroom advisory program
  • Each freshmen has contract for success. Each freshmen has junior or senior mentor.
  • Extended-day and -year opportunities exist for remediation and acceleration.