Tools for Connecting (When You Can’t Connect)

Update for Feb 23-27

Photo Credit:

This past week was unique in that we came back to school from a 5-day break for students only to be interrupted by Mother Nature, causing two school days to be canceled.

That’s right — We were in school for one day last week.

While this may have brought joy to thousands of students, it left this principal frustrated for many reasons.  I felt like so much needed to get done: amazing things were happening with instruction in the building and I wanted the momentum to keep going, state assessments were going on next week, and about a dozen of other things were on my to-do list and I needed to connect with folks to help me get these things done.

But this last week and this weekend forced me to problem-solve and try to get some things accomplished before the coming week and I found myself turning to digital tools. I was reminded of the power of connecting in a virtual way in order to connect with others.    

Twitter — By now I hope you have seen the value of Twitter for connecting with others in powerful ways.  Friday brought us our last calamity before we have to assign “blizzard bags”.  One parent was curious about this and reached out to me on Twitter to clarify:




Twitter helped me get information out fast and helped me connect a parent to resources to help her children have an opportunity to learn during the snow day.

Screencast-O-Matic — This free tool let’s you record up to 15 minutes of a screencast that you can either save on a video file or share via YouTube or Vimeo.  A screencast records whatever you have displayed on your computer screen along with your voice.  Think of it as a way to record voice over for a presentation. The screencast I’ve made were attempts to share information in a visual way.  

Last Friday I was supposed to have meetings with folks who would be serving as test proctors for PARCC assessments to go over information they needed to know.   Well, the calamity day quickly scrapped that idea.  So I took the same information I was going to present and did a screencast instead.

Meeting done!  

SoundCloud — Ben Gilpin writes a blog called “The Colorful Principal” that inspired me to do a weekly staff update through a blog (You’ll see a lot of format similarities!).  Ben recently posted an update that had a SoundCloud recording as the intro to the blog post. Think of SoundCloud as a screencast, just without the screen.

I thought Ben’s SoundCloud recording made the post more engaging because Ben shared the context for the post in the recording.  This has got my gears turning about the potential of SoundCloud for sharing communications with stakeholders.  

Remind — Remind has been a great tool for me this year because it has allowed me to get short snippets of information, like “School is closed tomorrow”, out to staff and families very quickly.

Google Apps — Twitter may be one of the best tools for communicating, but Google Apps for Education are some of the best tools for collaborating.  I created a couple of documents to go with the screencast that helped me completely “flip” my testing overview meeting.  

First, I created a Google Form that let teachers signoff saying they watched the video. Then, I created a Google Doc that served as a Question and Answer Forum in case staff members had any questions about the information.  Google Apps for Education have been powerful tools for me as an admin!

All of these examples of connecting when I couldn’t connect directly with others merely scratch the surface of what is possible for kids and learning.  These tools can help kids create, collaborate and communicate in meaningful and authentic ways.  

I am encouraging teachers to tap into the potential of connection tools such as Google Apps, Twitter, and Screencast-O-Matic so that they can see how they might use these tools to help students work and learn.

Articles Worth Reading:

Crowd Accelerated Innovation | The Principal of Change

Unlikely Partnerships — I like the slogan: “Be together. Not the same.”

Upcoming Dates:

Feb 23
Teacher Steering Committee Meeting, 3:45pm

Feb 24

Wellness Committee Meeting, 7pm

Feb 25
ADE/DCR Staff Meeting, 3:45pm

Mar 3
BIT meeting, 8am

Mar 4
Flower Sale Kick-off
Special Education Team meeting, 12:30

Mar 5
Admin Meeting (Herb), 8am

Mar 6
Newsletter Home
BAC meeting, 8am

Mar 9
PTO Meeting, 7pm

Mar 12
Spring Concert, 6:30pm

Mar 14
EdCamp Columbus, Clark Hall – Gahanna-Lincoln High School

Mar 16
Flower Sale Last Day

Upcoming Assessments:

Tuesday Feb. 24th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 1
4th and 5th grade students
Wed. Feb. 25th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 2
4th and 5th grade students
Thursday Feb. 26th
PARCC – English Language Arts  PBA Unit 3
4th and 5th grade students
Tuesday March 3rd
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 1
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students
Wed. March 4th
PARCC – Math  PBA Unit 2
3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students

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