February 27, 2005
Congratulations to the following Mabry Students who received awards at the Cobb-Paulding Regional Science & Engineering Fair that was held on Saturday, February 26th, at Wheeler High School.
Stephanie, Sarah, and Hilary all earned 1st place recognition and are eligible to go on to the State Science Competition. Stephanie and Sarah also earned the Kemira Award of Excellence which is a plaque and $100 Savings Bond awarded to only 12 individuals demonstrating exemplary work.
Krista and Grace both earned 2nd place honors and Michael earned a 3rd place award in the Fair.
I am proud of our high achieving students.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 6:02 PM
February 23, 2005
Mabry did itself proud tonight as we hosted the first Power to Learn Information Session sponsored by the superintendent. I want to express my appreciation for the heartfelt comments made by many of our Mabry teachers, parents, and students. I was especially impressed with our students' comments. They "get it!"
I found it interesting that one of our students was so outraged by what he found to be offensive and uniformed remarks made by one of the first adults to speak in the open forum, that he immediately found Mrs. DeBardeleben to ask her if he could speak at the microphone. She was a little worried that he was too angry to speak. But our student held back his anger and was able to effectively articulate why he believed his having a laptop would enhance his achievement in school. Way to go, Ben! I was proud of you.
Several of our students chose, on their own, to speak. And every single one of them did an excellent job. As one very impressed parent from another school told me, "Dr. Tyson, your students did you proud tonight." Yes, indeed, they did!
I could highlight so many of the wonderful remarks that were made, but I will just share with you the passionate comments of our 2006 Teacher of the Year, Mrs. Hartnett. She was the last person to speak, and she summed it up well. She basically told everyone that no teacher grades more writing papers than she does, and that she wants to grade even more. Laptops for students will allow her to do more work! She actually wants to do more work. She is committed to bringing her students to the highest skill level possible in their writing, and she sees student laptops as the way to do it!
Let there be no mistake. We are talking about one thing and one thing only: maximizing student academic achievement of the state performance standards. We are not talking about a keyboard and a monitor. We are talking about gifted, committed, hard-working teachers who believe in their hearts that every child having a laptop will help them attain our one goal: maximizing student academic achievement of the state performance standards. Trust these dedicated professionals. Their vision of academic excellence for each child is altruistic to its very core.
This is a transformational initiative that will shape the destiny of every child in Cobb County! As several people said, "Can we move this initiative ahead faster?!" Our superintendent's leadership with this initiative is nothing short of visionary.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 11:32 PM
February 10, 2005
Clicking on the picture below will download a PDF document we at Mabry have prepared for you. Please print and distribute it to help inform our community about The Power to Learn.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 3:10 PM
Mabry students produce such astounding technology-based projects that people mistakenly assume we have lots of state-of-the-art equipment. Nothing could be further from the truth! The vast majority of our limited technology resources are extremely out-of-date, some are even unquestionably obsolete.
Our teachers and students are working miracles managing extremely limited resources. Teachers and students clamor to gain access to laptops and the computer lab. To give you some sense of perspective: We have around 70 teachers at Mabry, and on any given day, because we have so few carts with laptops, only 4 teachers can use laptops at any given time with their classes. When we are doing online student assessment, the laptops are then unavailable for classroom use.
So many wonderful technology-based educational resources are on line now. We have pro-scopes (electronic microscopes) that connect to the computers. Our teachers need reliable computers to do the basic mechanics of teaching, assessment, and communication. Bottom line: We desperately need laptops for each student and teacher so we can use them pervasively to maximize achievement!
Posted by Tim Tyson at 10:25 AM
Now that Cobb County has selected a vendor for School Board approval for The Power to Learn, I want to provide you with more detailed information about this important opportunity for the children and teachers of Cobb County. I invite you to explore the county web site link to Power to Learn.
The superintendent will have a Power to Learn information meeting at Mabry on Wednesday, February 23, 2005, at 7:00 PM. I am eager for our parents, students, and teachers to attend this important meeting to find out essential details of the plan.
Below are some important facts about the Power to Learn laptop initiative.
- The pricing for the laptops, software and warranty, based on a four-year lease, comes to $271.26 per computer. Including support and training, the cost is approximately $350 per computer, a remarkable value made possible by the large scale of Cobb's purchase. The bid beats Maine and Michigan for comparable services. That’s a savings of over 70% off retail.
- The computers will be pre-loaded with software including the Microsoft Office suite.
- The computers will be pre-loaded with Apple's iLife '05 suite, allowing students and teachers to make the most of digital movies, photos and music in school projects and presentations.
- The computers will be equipped with AirPort Extreme 54Mbps 802.11g WiFi wireless networking.
- The computers will have a Unix-based Mac OS X operating system which provides advanced security features.
- The computers will feature a full four-year warranty.
- As reported in the Dec. 9, 2004 edition of the Wall Street Journal, "Best of all, the current Mac operating system has never been attacked by a successful virus, and almost no spyware can run on it."
- Help will always be available, through a 24/7/365 help desk dedicated to Cobb County.
- The proposal to equip Cobb’s teachers with iBooks is projected to come in more than $1 million under the SPLOST II budget ($10,012,100 actual vs. $11,250,000 budgeted).
- The district will negotiate with local Internet service providers to offer economical and cost-effective access from students’ homes.
- Students will not be required to use a laptop.
- Repairs and service will be made at a local repair depot.
- New batteries will be provided each year for each computer.
- Phase I includes issuing iBooks to all Cobb County teachers this spring. Additionly, four demonstration sites will be picked to test the program. The demonstration sites will be established Fall 2005 and will accommodate teacher training, and research & development. The final element of Phase I is upgrading outdated technology in middle schools with new iBooks.
- Phase II would provide all high school students with laptops beginning early in 2006. Students will receive laptops when their individual schools have met readiness requirements.
- Phase III of the program would issue laptops to all middle school students. Each phase will move forward pending school board approval.
- Students will get a 12" iBook and carrying case.
- Teachers will get a 14" iBook.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 10:11 AM
February 8, 2005
Rarely does something come along in our lives that is utterly transformational. It has. And fortunately, our school district is truly visionary, setting the pace for educational excellence for the entire nation. As your principal, I can not wait for Mabry students and teachers to get their hands on these powerful tools--to have The Power to Learn!
Having easy access to such powerful tools (63,000 laptops) will transform the education of Cobb County's children by providing equal access to information for all children, making the educational environment substantially more interactive, providing access to increasingly rapid assessment feedback, making dramatic increases in lesson creativity possible, providing unprecedented possibilities for collaboration and differentiated instruction, and expanding educational opportunities for all children.
Mabry's mission is to maximize student academic achievement. I can think of no tool that would be more empowering than laptops for every child and teacher in our school! The power workspace is a digital workspace, and we would be irresponsible not to prepare our students today for their digital futures. With the laptops, children's learning space expands beyond the classroom walls and reaches out to the best resources in the entire world. Children can reach farther faster. They can manipulate information with unprecedented speed and facility. They can become producers of knowledge-based products rather than just consumers of information.
I think a lot of people may just see computers as expensive gameboys. But our teachers at Mabry see the tremendous educational value of every teacher and every student in our school having access to his/her own laptop. I just couldn't be any more excited! The future's so bright, ya gotta wear shades!!
Posted by Tim Tyson at 11:45 AM
February 5, 2005
About 125 7th grade students at Mabry studied the US Constitution and the First Amendment to see how they impact their individual lives. The students also researched the nature of writing and editing a national newspaper. They also studied a government site on the internet to learn about amendments to the Constitution. And finally, the students all read technology articles in USA TODAY.
The students then synthesized all of the information gathered from these resources and generated interview questions. These questions were written with one goal: gather as much information from the answer as possible. Twenty-three students were selected from the group to pose their question to 2 very important gentlemen in an interview setting.
The interview was a live, realtime internet videoconference, using iChatAV with an iSight camera on an Apple* PowerBook, that was projected on a large screen in the theater, so other students were able to view the videoconference. Our 2 important national guests were the Technology Reporter of USA TODAY, Kevin Maney, and Ken Paulson, the Editor in Chief of USA TODAY. This videoconference with these leaders in society was truly a meaningful real-world research project for our 7th graders. I can not tell you how excited our students were to get to see and hear these gentlemen hosted live in our theater.
And one other important note: this project covers one of the new Georgia Performance Standards in Language Arts: research. Mabry teachers are already beginning to enrich our students' academic experiences with the new performance standards.
*Apple Computer is one of Mabry's Partners in Education.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 1:43 PM
February 4, 2005
I am posting this morning from Jekyll Island, where most of our seventh grade students are participating in a field trip to the Jekyll Island 4-H Center this week (January 31 - February 4). What a fantastic location for our students to study the natural history and ecology of a barrier island. I have rarely seen this much excitement, energy and enthusiasm for learning.
Primary instruction is literally taking place “in the field,” and topics include beach ecosystems, the maritime forest, and salt marsh ecology as well as other aspects of the natural history of the Georgia coast. I shot this picture just before driving over the bridge to the island. But if you really want to see some truly great photography of students having a blast learning, check out Mr. Swanson's BioBlog!
A very, very special thank you to our 7th grade science teachers for planning this trip and making it possible for our students! They put in a tremendous amount of extra work. I also want to thank our other 7th grade teachers for their support in chaperoning and "holding down the instructional fort" at home. And finally, thanks to all of the moms and dads who were brave enough to chaperone as well as all of those parents who made this trip possible for their children. This is yet another reason why our students don't just attend Mabry; they attend mabry.cool!
Posted by Tim Tyson at 4:15 AM
February 1, 2005
In anticipation of Mabry’s Fourth Annual Film Festival, which will be held on April 19, 2005 (Mark your calendars now!), we are proud to announce that every eighth grade student is currently involved in producing a two-minute broadcast quality movie directly related to their curriculum. The theme for this year's film festival is Celebrate Achievement!
The students are making these movies in their foreign language classes, as well as Georgia Studies. While this instructional activity is straining our technology resources to the very limit (Have I mentioned before that every child needs a laptop?!), I couldn't be any more pleased! I am proud of these teachers who have undertaken this monumental activity, as well as our extremely talented students.
Posted by Tim Tyson at 6:30 AM