Saturday, June 11, 2011

Building a Master Schedule

We just finished building our master schedule.  It is quite a process, and one that if completed conscientiously, can make a big difference as to how many students can really get the classes they want and need.  Usually, this process is done with a month or so of school to go, so that schedule conflicts can be worked out.  This year, due to budget issues - which led to staffing issues, we were put on hold.  We have never built a schedule this late.

We use a process that was developed by Pearson.  They run workshops to train school administration and support groups how to build schedules so that a maximum number of students can schedule with no conflicts.  We have 1200 or so students, so conflicts will be an issue, especially when you offer IB and AP courses.  It is a fun "puzzle" to put together.  We use scheduling boards and scheduling chips to help with the process.  You can see them below.

For the past couple of years, we have been fortunate enough to use a computer program to help us with this process.  A teacher from a neighboring school district developed his Schedule Builder program, and it has cut more than a day's worth of time off the process.  I would like to say thanks to Jake Tawney.  If you would like to see his product, contact him.  It is really easy to use and saves a lot of tedious work.  Thanks, Jake.  This program is worth every penny.

I am glad that I am part of the process.  It is a challenge that really adds to the school year, but people don't realize what goes on.  If you get a chance to work with your administrative team on building a master schedule, you should try it.  Our team consisted of principals, guidance staff, special education staff, science department members (room issues abound in the science department), IB coordinator, and others.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Dublin Tech Camp 2011

Almost 100 teachers gave up two days of summer vacation to come to Tech Camp 2011.  My technology colleagues and I had the opportunity to work with teachers on various topics and activities.  The morning was filled with presentations, and the afternoon provided time for teachers to work together in small groups on different projects of their own interest.  I was privileged to be able to present on two great topics.

I worked with Beth Politz and Joanna Doyle to present on Synchronous Communications - Skype, iChat, and Elluminate.  All 3 are available for teachers to use from school.  We showed teachers how these programs worked and gave them ideas of how each could be used with their students.

The other sessions I presented were on Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers.  I got to present this twice, and both times the turnout was wonderful.  Teachers were eager to hear about Twitter, Google Apps, Blogger, Flickr, Shelfari, and other free online applications.  I have posted this presentation here  -  You can view the presentation here, as well as other resources that were used.

Thanks to all teachers that showed the interest to attend.  Keep working and "playing".  It doesn't come easy.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


Where have I been for months?  What a busy spring!  Plus, I've been playing with a new iPad.  We'll save that post for a later date.  WOW - it may be a game-changer.  But let's get back to today's topic - iChromy.  iChromy is available at the iTunes Store.

iChromy is a web browser application created by Diigo for the iPad.  It's free and easy to use and there are a couple of features that are outstanding.

First, the ability to forward a webpage to your others accounts is quite easy to setup and easy to execute.  iChromy will attach to your Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Google Reader, and more.  It will also allow your to sent the URL via e-mail to others.  I find this very helpful as I am gathering resources to share with other people.  To have all of my account just one click away is extremely helpful.

The other feature that I find helpful, is the feature of saving a website for later reading - offline.  There is a "glasses" button that allows you to save a website.  You can then access the information from that website at a later time, even if you are not connected to the web.  This is quite helpful if you are going to be in a car or on a plane, where internet access is limited.  You can load up some of those articles you want to read for a later time, then just delete them when you are done.

I would recommend that you try iChromy.  You will find it easy to use and quite a nice time saver.