Tuesday, April 29, 2014

City of Huntsville Goes Google, and our District is Here To Help!

Back in the summer of 2012, the City of Huntsville helped our district expand our wireless internet network.  They lent us person power and expertise to get our wireless connectivity ready for our Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) initiative.

A whole new world for HuntsvilleTx.gov !
And, as we've mentioned in previous posts, last school year, Huntsville ISD "went Google!" Now, it's the City's turn to "Go Google," and our turn to help them out!

Parks & Leisure Administrator Penny Joiner gets down to business.
Teachers, staff and students learned a way to work that can literally transform the way we operate through sharing, collaboration and an integration of cloud-based applications that were unheard of a few years ago. Now, the City of Huntsville is entering the wonderful world of Google and our town's recreation sports managers, technicians and crew leaders (among others) will be putting the Apps to work for them (and, you!)

When we heard that the City of Huntsville was going to "go Google," we were happy to help them with some staff training here at the High School.

Huntsville employees are students for the day!
(And we didn't get any questions about recess, either!)
Last month, a dozen or City employees came back to school (....ah, the memories!) to get some training.

Chris Vasquez and Network Administrator Bill Wavra.

It all began when HISD's Director of Technology Tracie Siemental introduced Chris Vasquez, the IT Director for the City of Huntsville, to Amy Mayer, Director for Staff Development & District Initiatives (and well known & regarded Google Certified Teacher and Trainer).  A date was set, and it was back to school!
Evidence Technician Carla Vasquez takes a break, while Parks Superintendent John Agey (in background) figures it out.

Do you see what they see?
Engineering Design Technician Lisa Hall (dark hair, center) and Planner Rose Kader look at the projector screen
while Permit Technician Jesse Ferguson follows along on the laptop.
Tech Services Coordinator Drew Nevlud and Wastewater Crew Leader Dusty Farquhar
are ready to get their Google on!
City employees learned about Chrome, Mail, Drive, Calendar and other Google Apps.

Help Desk Analyst Kate Smith is getting into it.
Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Huntsville ISD Blocked Twitter Today . . .

You may have noticed that for the first time in years today, Twitter is not available on our public networks. While this decision runs completely counter to our policies of openness and innovation, we felt it was important to make a statement today about the hateful words posted by some of our, and other, local students.

Twitter will be back, but we want to ask you, is what you post . . .
True? And if it’s true (or you believe it to be) is it also
Helpful? If you think it helps someone, does it also
Inspire confidence in you, your word and your values? If it is inspiring, is it also
Necessary, that is, does it add to the world of information? And if you think it’s necessary, is it also

If what you are posting is not ALL of these things, don’t post:

Think about what your Pastor, Mom, Grandma, or other relative would think of the things that have been posted.

We know we can’t stop you from posting online, but we care for you enough to say that you should protect yourself and your peers from the negative consequences and burdens of words that are damaging.

*Do not tell yourself that you aren’t a part of the problem 
because you think your 
Tweets or posts are vague, hidden or anonymous.*

Also, students, we hope you will show that you appreciate the privileges you have of a largely open network and respectful personal electronics policies we have put in place to support your 21st Century learning.

Please show us that you can THINK before you post and that you appreciate the privileges you have while we consider the impact of our words. Make your community, the people who care about you, your pastors, grandmothers, fathers, school leaders, and teachers proud of you by “thinking” before you post/text/Tweet, or speak.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hey Listeners!! Let's Stir it Up and Hear What's Buzzin' in Huntsville ISD with Brooke Addams and Shannon Duncan!!

In Spring 2011, Huntsville ISD mom Brooke Addams had an idea.  Why not combine the work she adores with the School that she loves? You see, Mrs. Addams is a KSAM/KHVL radio personality, station operations manager and a Proud Hornet mom.

Brooke and Shannon on the mic, stirrin' things up!

So she teamed together with Huntsville ISD's Director of Communications, Shannon Duncan, to create The Hornet's Nest, a weekly radio show about all things buzzing throughout the District. This week's show covered events such as the upcoming 2014 Grenadier Guard & Dance Spring Show.

Huntsville High School Seniors, GG's and Dance IV Students Savannah and Kayla.
They choreographed and directed one of the pieces in the Spring Show.
Performances are in the High School Auditorium on Friday 4/25 at 7:00 p.m. and Saturday 4/26 at 2:00 p.m.
Tickets are $6 in advance, and $8 at the door.  All proceeds support the program!
The weekly radio show is produced throughout the school year and is generously supported by Wiesner Chevrolet.  Each week, listeners can tune in at 3:10 p.m. on Wednesdays and get timely news and information.  Subjects vary, but always focus on district and or campus activities and pertinent community items.

Deep in Rehearsals for this weekends performance:
Clockwise from left: Karen (GG & Dance III), Denise (GG & Dance III) in Black T-shirt,
Erica (Dance III) in all black, Raven (Dance III) in grey sweatshirt & Sheridan (GG and Dance III) in front.

Brooke Addams:  Radio Personality, Radio Operations Manager and Proud HISD Mom!

Aren't near a radio at that time? Then you can check out the recorded version here on our District website.

As you already know, 101.7 KSAM is the source around here for "Today's Country and All Your Favorites," and that its partner station 104.9 KHVL plays "Real Music from the 60s, 70s and 80s," but this weekly news show exemplifies the station's slogan, "We Don't Just Talk About The Community, We Are a Part of It."

And remember to check out our newly remodeled scoreboard
at the new Hornet Field, courtesy of Wiesner and First Financial Bank.

And our sponsor, Wiesner of Huntsville has just committed to supporting the program throughout 2015.  So they are not only a Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac Dealer,
they really are the "Dealership that Cares."

Look who we ran into the station- the Voice of the Hornets, the man himself, Kooter in Your Radio...Kooter Roberson!

See you there!!

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's all in our Mindset!

It's all in here...and in you.
(click to enlarge, click again to begin slide show)
What if you could change one thing in your life, and by changing that one thing you could change everything?

According to Dr. Carol Dweck's research, that "one thing" is your mindset, as she shares in her book, Mindset:  The New Psychology of Success.

In the book, Dr. Dweck asserts that everyone has either a fixed or growth mindset (or a combination of the two).  These mindsets determine not only how we view ourselves, but how we view our friends, family, coworkers and most importantly for us as educators, our students.

It's an idea so startlingly simple and powerful, it's hard to believe that we don't already know it!

Mance Park Librarian Jean Qualtrough recognizes the Fixed Mindset...

...and Eighth Grade Science Teacher Melissa Hunziker
recognizes the Growth Mindset.
As Publishers Weekly aptly describes in the following review excerpt . . .

"A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as... well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness."

When our Superintendent Dr. Steve Johnson read this book, he knew that this would be the perfect candidate for our first ever district-wide Huntsville ISD Book Club.  
Mance Park Teachers (and coaches)  Stephanie Dunn (foreground) and Jamie Lorenz (background)
 share their thoughts on Mindset.
Dr. Johnson pulled a group of campus leaders together to read it last fall, and then garnered their experiences and asked our department to create a course to function as a structure for district-wide participation.  

Can you think of a time you faced an important opportunity or challenge with a fixed mindset?  What were your thoughts and worries- about your abilities?  about other people's judgements?  about the possibility of failure?  These discussion topics will make you think, and reflect.

This spring, each employee at each campus and department in Huntsville ISD is participating in reading groups.

Two sides of the same card:
We made these cards so we could all be reminded of the powerful message of (and the vast repercussions of)
each Mindset.  These are meant to remind and inspire us, wherever and whenever we saw these,
long after reading the book. 
Believing the information in this book was too important not to share with the community (and that the people of Huntsville would be curious to know what we were reading :-) HISD iTech Matthew Lahey approached Huntsville City Librarian Linda Dodson with a proposal for a donation of copies to be made available to our community.  

Ms. Dodson not only happily accepted these print copies, but purchased electronic copies of Mindset for eReaders and an audio book version, to boot!  

Mindset Display at Circulation Desk at the Huntsville Library- complete with cards.
For Ms. Dodson, this was a natural fit as the School District and the City of Huntsville Library enjoy the responsibility in partnering to help to educate and provide services to our community.

Did you know that the Huntsville Public Library provides free wireless access?
It does!

The Jane and Charles Monday Computer Room at the Library
has plenty of computers library patrons can use- that means you!
Thanks to the Huntsville Library for their support.  For complete information on the Library, click here. Also, a big thanks to our staff, faculty and administrators for joining Dr. Johnson and endeavoring to continue to change the lives of our children.  After all, it's just a matter of changing your mind!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Student Produced Documentary Takes Third in State!

Last night at the Paramount Theater in Austin, Huntsville High School Seniors (and Student Filmmakers) Sandra Rodriguez and Jomar Pueyo were awarded Third Place in focus: the University Scholastic League's Young Filmmakers Festival  for their film, "A Queen to Be".

Huntsville's own Sandra Rodriguez and Jomar Pueyo (photo by Andrew Stewart)

This was the glamorous and honorific culmination of a journey that began last fall with our student body nominating and crowning Life Skills student and friend to all, Estafania Martinez, as Huntsville High's 2013 Homecoming Queen.  Huntsville High School Principal Beth Burt and Superintendent Dr. Steve Johnson travelled to support our students, as well as their family and teachers Mandy and Drew Stewart.  Many students from the Stewarts' classes helped with the taping in the fall, and Sandra and Jomar accepted the award knowing they didn't "do it alone."

A quick selfie before the show starts! 
 We're especially proud knowing that there were 495 entries in our division.  Haven't seen "Queen to Be" yet?  Check it out here.

Teacher Drew Stewart by their side, award in their hand.   It's a good night!!
(photo by Mandy Stewart)

You can find the complete list with links to the films here.

Gratuitous Wildflower Post (Happy Spring!!)

Everywhere (we mean EVERYWHERE) around the District the annual explosion of wildflowers has begun.

This bunch is near Mance Park and Huntsville Elementary.

Although it happens every year, it is a beautiful and vivid reminder that we all live in a very special place.

All different, all beautiful.

As we enter a three day weekend for the Easter Holiday, we hope you take a moment to consider the wildflowers, and take a moment for gratitude.

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Oh Snap! The Gator Boys Come to Huntsville ISD Elementaries Live via Video Streaming

Hundreds of Huntsville ISD elementary students learned all about gators and crocs from The Gator Boys today through a video streaming system that was piped into classrooms across Texas.

Some of the important facts The Gator Boys taught included never approaching a live gator, swimming only in (gator free) swimming pools, and learning to respect (not fear) wild animals like alligators.

If you are the parent of a Huntsville ISD elementary student who participated in the Gator Boys event today, remember to ask your child how Native Americans used alligators as a reliable food source.

Slam! POW! Bang! Famous Comic Book Writer Gene Yang Invades Huntsville ISD

Huntsville Intermediate 6th grade social studies students got a real treat of superhero proportions when graphic novel author and artist, Gene Yang, came to speak to them.

Yang, who teaches at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been nominated for the National Book Award. His book American Born Chinese, is the first graphic novel to ever be nominated for this award.

He was in Huntsville this past week for an event hosted by SHSU for NBA finalists. While in town,Mr. Yang stopped by Huntsville Intermediate to speak to the students about his newest books, Boxers and Saints, a two volume set that tells the tale of the Boxer Rebellion which took place from 1898 to 1900 in China.

 The students enjoyed his books, and thought it was pretty "cool" to have a real author speak to them. Also, the 6th grade social studies teachers received classroom sets of Mr. Yang’s new books. Many of the students got his autograph and took pictures with him.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

"To Start a Fire, To Arouse & Inspire" Kindle E-readers Come to Stewart Elementary

What is everyone looking at????
(Pictured clockwise from left:  Da'Nirrya in aqua sweatshirt, Nicholas  in black & grey sweatshirt,
Brittany in Blue, Angela in pink and Jaden in grey t-shirt) 

Amazon came up with the name "Kindle" for their e-readers, and that term is also very fitting for what Stewart Elementary School Librarian Ms. Johnson is creating with the help of Mrs. Mathiews and Mrs. Miller's students.

Miss Robin Miller's class gets a guided tour.

Ms. Johnson uses her hovercam to project an image of the Kindle so everyone can see her demonstrating.

Ms. Johnson, a recipient of a Huntsville Education Foundation grant, is introducing e-readers to our elementary students, hoping they will "catch fire" and spread throughout our District.  The Kindles come preloaded with everything from National Geographic, to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ramona and The Magic Treehouse.

Mrs. Mathiews and Miller's class are familiar with Google Forms, so the sign up is a cinch.
(Ms. Johnson also created a feedback form in Google to get the kids honest opinion- not liking a Kindle is OK!)
As this is a new program, she is piloting with a few classes and making sure that she gets the student input before growing the program or buying a lot of devices.  Checkouts are for a week, and parents must first sign a permission slip.

Claudia waits her turn while Neelam checks it out for herself.

Why is Ms. Johnson smiling?  Well, if you know her she's usually smiling... plus here she's grateful
for the Amazon gift card donated by a parent to help buy books!
(Thank you, parents!)

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District

Monday, April 7, 2014

PBL takes students on a journey through India

Huntsville Intermediate School 6th graders recently became tour guides for Scott Johnson Elementary students by giving them a taste of India during their Social Studies class.
HIS teachers involved were wanting to incorporate engaged PBL learning projects into their curriculum.  Using what they learned in WOW Academy and from the Design Team, they planned a unit about India. 

 Each class was broken into 5 sections. These groups then researched one main idea of India. (Diwali, Monsoons, Bollywood, Himalaya's, Religions) These groups then split the presentation part of the section between all of the teacher's classes. 

The kids talked via google hangouts, google docs, and even met up during other parts of the day. The presentation included: visual displays, animotos, and an activity. This was the most challenging part because the students had to rely on others in other class periods to accomplish their part of the project. 

Once project was completed, Scott Johnson students were invited to come over and travel through India with HIS students as their tour guides.

When asked how students responded about the project, teacher Ms. Brooke Lowery said, "On presentation day, our kids were bursting with pride and excitement. They came in eager to get things going before the elementary kids showed up. Some made costumes or came dressed in apparel that was India related. When the elementary kids stepped in the door India erupted throughout the classroom."

"It was a fun way to be creative and get to teach the little kids. I didn't just learn about my part either. By looking and talking to the other groups I learned a lot more." said 6th grader Matthew DeMatos. 

Helping Fill the Pantry with Backpack Buddies

Do you know about Backpack Buddies???

Backpack Buddies is a program that provides food items to help fill the gap for District families in need. Every Friday throughout the school year, volunteer teams throughout the district converge at the Boys and Girls Club to distribute food donations from the Houston Food Bank.

Don, a SHSU Bearkat football player, brings the goods.
We caught up with the last week's crew from the Athletic Department at Sam Houston State University when they were delivering food to Samuel Walker Houston Elementary.

More groceries coming in courtesy Emily

Soccer teammates Emily and Carlyn get it done.

A Modern Day Cornucopia!

It's a remarkable program in that allows several different groups to join forces to help make a difference to Huntsville kids.

It's a big load, but Mason can handle it.

The program started here in the District about three years ago at Samuel Walker Houston Elementary school with Covenant Fellowship working with The Boys and Girls Club of Huntsville and the Houston Food Bank.  

Xavier shows us how it's done
Over the last few years the program has helped countless families and grown throughout the district.

Top Row: Brad Hagen- Head Bowling Coach, Kevin Rodriguez- Athletic Media Services,
Alex Padron- Football Equipment Manager Donald Jackson- Football Student / Athlete
Middle Row:  Deveney Wells- Gibson Volleyball Student / Athlete, Brittany Gilliard-Student Trainer,
Chris Thompson- Associate Athletic Director, Kimberly Spino- Athletic Marketing Dept.
Front Row: Emily Edenstrom- Soccer Student /Athlete, Carlyn Neubauer- Soccer Student / Athlete,
Megan Ross- Soccer Student / Athlete

In addition to Samuel Walker Houston Elementary's partnership with the SHSUAthletic Department, Huntsville's Junior Service League works to deliver food to Stewart Elementary, and Huntsville's Second Baptist Church delivers to Scott Johnson Elementary.  The program is coming next year to Huntsville Elementary.

SHSU Associate Athletic Director Chris Thompson & Samuel Walker Houston Elementary Counselor Judy Phillips.
Feed 'em Up Kats! Bye until next Friday!

Matthew Lahey  Huntsville ISD Huntsville Independent School District