Making Learning Irresitable for Over 25 Years. Making Learning Irresitable for Over 25 Years.
Internet Explorer 7 Released

I have mentioned a couple of times on our website that MabryOnline is standards compliant. It should display properly in a browser that is also standards compliant. I have also mentioned that Internet Explorer 6, the browser used on most computers running the Windows operating system, is not standards compliant. Therefore, despite some of my meager efforts to write bug fixes for IE6, our website probably does not display as it was intended to be seen in IE6.

I am glad that Internet Explorer 7 has now been released. It does a significantly better job complying with the standards established by the web's governing body, the World Wide Web Consortium. If you use IE7, I would interested in knowing what issues you may still be experiencing with our site.

If you would like further information about browser features and compliance, I recommend this as an article of interest from the Economist Magazine.

posted on: November 3, 2006

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2006 Parent Open House Meeting

Last week we held our annual Open House meetings. The weather just before the 6th grade meeting on Monday (during rush hour of all times), was terrible! I know many parents were not able to attend as we had power outages and traffic problems caused by non-functioning traffic lights. Our 7th and 8th grade meeting on Tuesday was packed.

I always enjoy our Parent Open House meetings as they provide me with an opportunity to meet many of you. We began our general session with a self-running Keynote presentation, Did You Know, about our resources at Mabry and the global challenge our students will face when they enter the job market. I presented about our focus and mission here at Mabry. And this year I took a bold step and did that presentation using one of our new interactive whiteboards. Parents used ACTIVote, a wireless, handheld assessment device, to provide us with some survey information for our future planning. I wanted you to see a live demonstration of how this technology can be used in your child's class to empower learning.

Even if you were not able to attend, don't worry, we prepared a total of three podcasts of the general meeting on Monday. The first podcast is a video podcast of the self-running Keynote presentation, Did You Know. The second podcast is an audio only podcast of my presentation to the parents. And the third podcast is a video podcast of the survey results from that presentation.

You may click on the images below to view, or, in the case of the audio-only podcast, listen to these podcasts. You will also find all three of these at Podcast Central for download. You can also find them at the iTunes Store, in the podcast section. Simply do a search at the iTunes Store for "Mabry". Once you find our collection of Mabry podcasts, you can subscribe to them by clicking the "Subscribe" button. After you subscribe, as we post new podcasts they will automatically download to your computer and sync to you iPod! And it's all free!

If the slide goes by too quickly for you to read it, simply press the "Pause" button.


Click the play button above to watch Did You Know?


Click the play button above to listen to my Open House presentation to 6th grade parents.


Click the play button above to see the parent survey results from both Open House meetings.

posted on: September 5, 2006

Two Really Big Announcements

I hope you have seen the news posted on MabryOnline.  Our internationally recognized web presence is adding interactivity.  You can read about these substantive changes  (the what) in the News section of the website.  I wanted to take a minute to discuss the why.

Our students are growing up in a world that is radically different from the world in which you and I grew up.  With pervasive computing and connectivity our jobs, our degrees, our potential for meaningful economic empowerment can be transfered to China or India via fiber optics in less than a heartbeat.  Globalization isn't coming, it's here now.  As I shared at the beginning of the year, a  few months ago I read a Stanford study stating that 15,000,000 high paying US jobs will be outsourced abroad over the next 10 years.  When you do the math, that's when our middle schoolers will be graduating from college and entering what will most assuredly be a global job market.

I want us to begin to address these issues now.  I want to turn these enormous fundamental changes into the seeds of opportunity for your children.  I want them today to begin learning that their peers around the world want what they have, and they want it badly.  I want our students to realize that the children of the world are hungry for the opportunity that presently is theirs.  (Within a year, MIT will be shipping $100 windup laptops that don't require a stable electrical source to children in the most remote regions of our world!)  I want our students to feel this energy that is nipping at their heels.  I want them to use this energy to maximize their academic performance today!  (Somehow it always comes back to our school goal!)

Additionally, I want our students to gain increased understanding of the world.  I want them to begin now to learn what global collaboration is.  I want them to learn to maximize online collaboration and research (exploration skills) to become ambitious, creative, problem solvers.  Critical thinking and problem solving can no longer be something of which we speak in the abstract.  We must actualize it today!

These are among my reasons for wanting to take the educational opportunities afforded your children to a higher level.  I hope you will encourage your child's participation in at least one opportunity in Mabry's new Global Learning Collaborative.  Work with them to select a school project in which they have personal interest to make it exemplary work worthy of publication to the world.  Don't do the work for them, but encourage them to work harder, to edit and revise and re-edit, to do their very best work.  By doing this, you as their parent are showing them your deep personal commitment to their academic success as well as your deep love for them as your child.

These new projects are just beginning.  They will grow in number and scope over time.  Frankly, I am unaware of any school anywhere that has such an undertaking.  If you know of any, I would greatly appreciate your letting me know about them.  I would be eager to talk with like-minded educators who believe that increasingly, the best educational experiences we provide children are those that forge collaborative relationships to create solutions to real-world problems, issues, and concerns.  As a nation, focusing our energy and resources on minimum standards just isn't going to cut it!

posted on: January 8, 2006

A Few Things...

I rarely take the opportunity to share with our school community just how well-respected Mabry Middle School is around the nation. But I think that our community needs to know that our school is at the forefront of public schools. Our teachers and students all work very hard to model best practices that define what an excellent public school can be. I want everyone in our school community to take great pride in what our students and teachers are doing.

This week we are delighted to be hosting all of the middle school principals in Cobb County. They are eager to see all of the outstanding things we are doing at Mabry Middle School.

Next week I will be taking two of our students and a parent to be taped in an interview conducted by Cathy Cox, State Superintendent of Schools for Georgia. The State Department of Education wants to feature in a television program the amazing things our students are doing with technology here at Mabry. This will be a wonderful opportunity for our students!

Also, next week, we will be hosting guests from Oklahoma and from a variety of school districts around the state of Georgia. They will be visiting us to see firsthand what we are doing with technology. They want to replicate many of the experiences our students have in their own schools.

Mabry has been featured in several nationally-recognized education magazines in the last few months: Scholastic, Instructor, School Library Journal, and Education Week as well as in podcasts by respected educational technologist such as David Warlick. Mabry is also being frequently discussed by nationally acclaimed presenters from around the country in educational technology conferences and education conferences focused on best practices.

Our recent celebration dinner, hosted here at Mabry, is now posted to our website in Podcast Central. If you were unable to attend, take the time to download it now. You can watch the presentation or just listen to it, which ever you prefer.

I hope you join me in taking great pride in the work your students and their teachers do at Mabry.

posted on: December 7, 2005

Make Your Dinner Reservations Today!

It's time for a huge celebration! Mabry has enormous things to celebrate:

Of course, Mabry is in its 27th year of excellence. However, we really didn't have a 25th Anniversary celebration because of the construction project. So now it's time to throw a huge party!

On November 15th we will host a reception and catered dinner in the new Mabry Cafeteria. Purchase your tickets from our bookkeeper, Ms.Osterfeld. Tickets for the evening are $10.00. Tickets will not be sold after November 10th. Guests from our corporate donors, the State Department of Education, and the local, state, and federal governments will be attending. This will be a wonderful celebration. This will be a "Sunday best" dress up event. Make your plans now to join us.

posted on: November 2, 2005

Podcast Central

I hope you are frequently visiting Podcast Central on our website. (Of course you can subscribe to the RSS feed for Podcast Central and all of the new information will come directly to you.) We are developing a growing number of podcasts. Recent posts include video podcasts which you can watch on your computer and even download to the new video iPods! Recent posts include the following:

Others are posted as well. The (VP) indicates a video podcast. The (EP) indicates an enhanced podcast.

Our podcasts are a huge hit all over the world. I receive emails about them regularly. The farthest email has been from an all girls school in Tasmania. Already today we have had 620 hits to Podcast Central. We have had a over 30,000 hits to Podcast Central in the last 3 months.

posted on: November 2, 2005

Highly Recommended!

I've had an incredible and extremely busy summer. As probably everyone in our school community now realizes, I began the summer by re-writing our school's web presence. I was then unexpectedly called upon in California to present to educators and technologists from all around the world about the technology running under our web site's hood. They were eager to learn what I used and how I pulled it all together into one site. Perhaps as a result of that presentation, MabryOnline.org has now had 400,380 hits! Since the site began we have had an average of 6,096 hits a day, with an average of nearly 13,000 hits per day in the last 7 days. These hits are coming in from all over the world! Wow! But this isn't why I wanted to write to you!

As I mentioned, I was in California this summer. I attended a conference focused on technology in education. This was without doubt the most profound professional event I've ever attended. I averaged about 3 to 4 hours of sleep per night as I had too many brilliant, creative people with whom to talk, pick their brains, and begin the development of international collaborations that I anticipate will benefit our students at Mabry. But even this isn't why I wanted to write to you!

During this conference, I heard about a book. This book is essential reading for every parent of every child at Mabry Middle School. It should even be required guided reading for most of our students, at least in 8th grade. (I personally do audiobooks on my iPod and therefore ran for record lengths of time at the gym, which I need to be doing!, because I couldn't stop listening.)

I am requiring every subject area coordinator at Mabry read this book. We will then pass the books around the whole staff. In a very easy and assessable writing style, this book presents some rather sobering and substantive ideas with which everyone should grapple and give careful thought, whether you see the patterns in world events he proposes in his book or not. But my guess is, the book will ring true to what you are reading and seeing in the news, what may well be happening in your workplace or that of your friends and colleagues. "Well, what is this book?" you demand!


"The World Is Flat" by: Thomas L. Friedman

I encourage you to read it before we have our Open House parent nights so you will have a deeper insight into my remarks about what we are doing at Mabry Middle School to begin preparing your children to be global life-long learners and collaborators who will be competitive in the global job market. After all, I know we all love our children, but who among us wants them to be raising their families under our roofs? :o)

I was recently asked why I am so excited to begin another school year in a world with an increasing number of complex and demanding challenges. My response is simple: each challenge is an opportunity for contribution and economic empowerment that did not exist before! As I am so fond of saying, "The future's so bright, ya gotta wear shades!"

Click here to listen to a podcast interview with the author!

posted on: July 31, 2005

The New Mabry Web Presence

Well, as you can now see, I've been really busy the last several weeks rebuilding our entire web presence. We are now officially launching MabryOnline.org as part of our ongoing commitment to facilitate communication between our school and your home.

This has been an enormous undertaking that is still very much in development. In fact, unlike your typical website, MabryOnline.org is dynamic. The front page is a collection of blogs that different staff members will be managing throughout the school year. Additionally, each teacher at Mabry will host their blog for students and parents on our site as well.

Therefore, the website is always growing and changing. New information is being added. Once school starts, new information will be posted to the site every week.

As part of the site's development, I want to thank Mrs. Hartnett, Mrs. Collins, and all of their students who contributed to the content of Sixceed! This was a huge venture for their classes. They did a great job.

Well, become deeply familiar with our website. We anticipate that over the next several months, this site will become comprehensive--everything Mabry, online! (dot org)

posted on: June 18, 2005

Film Festival News

I hope you take the time to view the Best Picture category movies and student interviews posted on the Mabry web site. All of the movies this year were incredible. So many of them are absolutely broadcast quality. At times I felt like I was watching the Discovery channel as many of the movies are nothing short of true documentaries. All of our movies this year are directly related to what students are studying at Mabry--are right out of the Georgia Performance Standards. Stay tuned to Cobb Education TV. Our movies will be aired soon.

I have been disappointed recently with how we as adults tremendously underestimate what our children can accomplish! And, regrettably, I have to be honest with you and include myself in this group as well. When I watched the 6th grade movies that were submitted for the film festival, I must admit to sarcastically commenting to our ILT that the 6th grade teachers had done a really, really good job this year--an unbelievable job. I thought that the teachers had done the work and not the students and was therefore aggravated.

Our ILT was quick to tell me that she had personally witnessed the students working on these movies--the teachers only guided them and directed them through the learning and creating process, exactly as good teachers should do. When I talked with the various teams of students about the details and intricacies of their movie-making process, I quickly realized that indeed they had made the movies themselves from start to finish. I too was guilty of what I have observed in our county: adults underestimating the potential for the highest levels of excellence that children possess when provided with unparalleled adult guidance and the required resources.

If we are going to say we expect children to do their best and excel at the highest levels of performance and then deny them the resources to actually accomplish that which they are completely capable of accomplishing, then we are at best ignorant and foolish, or, even worse, we are hypocrites or mean spirited. For children to attain at higher levels, adults must contribute at higher levels. Support our students! They are unquestionably highly capable and deserving.

posted on: May 8, 2005

Model Schools Grant Site Visit

I wanted to share with everyone some very exciting news. At the beginning of the year we applied for a very prestigious national grant award. In fact, over 3,300 schools across the nation applied for the same award.

Mabry is now a finalist! We are among 60 schools across the nation whose innovative and successful work with students has met the criteria to make it to the final round of competition. Only 20 schools from around the country will be awarded the grant and then serve as a national model for best practices in a variety of categories. We are competing in the technology innovation category.

This is huge! To have made it this far in this highly competitive grant process is an incredible honor!!

The "head guy" selected Mabry for a personal site visit which was held recently. I have to tell you that I love showing off our students and teachers. Our guests spoke very highly of what we are accomplishing with technology.

During their visit, they spoke with several teams of students. The students were awesome! One child just blurted out how movie-making is exactly like going through the writing process. She then did a point-by-point comparison. I thought she had fallen out of the lap of God! Our students are making the connections!

Our guests also had a chance to speak with several teachers. Their vision and the projects on which they are working with students were equally as incredible. The leader of the site team visit said that he wishes to return when he can spend more time with us as he realized that we were barely able to scratch the surface in the time he was with us. He has several amazing ideas on how we can take what we are doing here to the next level of excellence at a national and international level.

Should we win this award, Mabry will receive about a quarter of a million dollars in cash and technology and will be used as a national model for technology implementation best practices. Visitors would come from all over the nation to see what we are doing here. The decision as to who wins will be made this summer and announced next fall.

Everyone buckle your seat belts. We have a really good shot at this!! Our students and teachers are doing incredible things to maximize student learning! This visit honors their exemplary work.

posted on: May 8, 2005

From the Superintendent:

For Immediate Release May 5, 2005

School District Statement Regarding Recent MDJ Articles

Recent articles and editorials in the Marietta Daily Journal have misrepresented the facts by suggesting that the Cobb County School District and Superintendent Joseph Redden could have secured a better deal for Cobb's laptop computer initiative simply because another school district in another state may have received a lower price. The newspaper reported that Henrico County, Va., schools signed a lower-cost contract with Dell Computer to continue that school district's four-year-old laptop initiative.

On May 4, 2005, reporter Jon Gillooly wrote:

Henrico is paying $270 per computer less with its new contract with Dell than Cobb is with Apple. With the same deal, Redden could have saved approximately $4,266,000 for the $25 million first phase of the contact by negotiating the same contract with Dell that Henrico did, and approximately $17 million for the full contract with the Dell deal.

And on May 5, 2005, an unsigned editorial stated:

A logical step would have been for the board to direct [Redden] to dial Dell and see if it would extend the same lower price-per-laptop contract to Cobb that it had just offered Henrico.

The newspaper is wrong to suggest that Cobb County could have secured the same deal that Dell agreed to with Henrico. As the newspaper is fully aware, Dell is one of four vendors that did bid on Cobb's plan to provide laptops to teachers, upgrade middle school labs, and establish four high school pilot sites where the district will test the concept of issuing laptops to students. Dell's proposal for the four-year lease came in $3.6 million higher than Apple's.

Cobb negotiated with Apple, Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard over a period of five months to secure the best deal for its laptop program. Vendors were asked to submit proposals for a comprehensive package that would provide laptops, software, ongoing technical support and training, backup batteries, and an evaluation of the program, among other specifications. Apple offered Cobb a lease price of $350 per computer per year, or a total of $1,400 for the four-year lease. Dell's proposal was $404 per computer per year, and more than $1,600 for the four-year lease. In Henrico, the situation was reversed, with Dell providing the lower bid for that district's specific requirements.

The newspaper implies that the circumstances in Henrico and Cobb were the same and that the vendors were bidding on identical projects. But clearly, the circumstances and needs in each school district are very different. Henrico's laptop program, for instance, has been place for four years and the district has a well-established technical infrastructure already in place. That already established infrastructure will facilitate the transition to the next phase of Henrico's program. In addition, all of Henrico's teachers and many of its students are already trained in the use of the laptops. This training will also facilitate Dell's rollout in Henrico.

In Cobb County, the introduction of laptops to teachers and students is a brand new concept. Technical infrastructure, training and support will have to be built from day one of the program.

To reach its conclusion that Cobb could have attained the same price from Dell, the newspaper assumes:

It is likely that the different circumstances in each system played a major role in what the vendors were prepared to bid on each project. Cobb County accepted the lowest bid for its laptop initiative following months of rigorous negotiation, as did Henrico. Both school districts did very thorough jobs of negotiating contracts that will provide the best use of taxpayer dollars for their respective programs. For the newspaper to imply that all factors were equal, and that Cobb could have secured the same deal with Dell as Henrico, is disingenuous at best. Dell had an opportunity to win the contract for Cobb's program, but its bid was $3.6 million too high.

Henrico's deal presents many encouraging signs that the newspaper has chosen to ignore. For one, it shows that there is flexibility for school districts to switch computer vendors, because laptop programs are about using technology to teach students, not about which computer is used. Henrico's deal is also a positive sign that, should Cobb choose to continue its laptop program in the future as Henrico has, it can expect lower pricing once its support infrastructure and training are developed.

But the most important news from Henrico is that the school board and community have overwhelmingly supported continuing their laptop initiative, and that the program is beginning to show real benefits for students in the classroom. Cobb County is looking forward to similar results from its Power To Learn program in the near future.

posted on: May 6, 2005

Fourth Mabry Film Festival

Every year I think that the digital movies our students produce for the Film Festival simply can not get any better.  Yet every year they do!

Our theme this year is Celebrate Achievement!  We placed an emphasis on positive messages that empower and inspire others.  I am pleased to tell you that this year's festival will be spectacular.  All of the extraordinary movies come directly out of what our students are studying in their classes.

We look forward to celebrating the outstanding achievement of our students on Tuesday, April 19, 2005, at 7:30 PM.  Remember admission is by ticket only, and this is considered a dress up affair, Mabry's version of the Oscars.

I am extremely proud of what our students accomplish with our limited technology resources.  You will be too.

posted on: April 13, 2005

Power to Learn: Important Information

Cobb County is proposing to transform teaching and learning at Mabry Middle School through Power To Learn! Pending approval by the Cobb County Board of Education, Phase I of the Power To Learn program will bring Apple iBook G4 portable computers to all of our teachers and establish demonstration/pilot sites at four high schools where students will receive laptops – 21st Century tools for a 21st Century education.

The school district has received input from parents, teachers and citizens through public forums and hundreds of emails and personal communications. We have listened, and have improved the proposal. This is a summary of some of the most common questions to provide you with the most recent information available on this exciting initiative.

How will Power To Learn impact my child’s education?
Power to Learn is a plan to transform education in Cobb County schools by providing teachers and students with the best learning tools available. The phased-in approach, with school board approval required for each phase, is a measured way to assess the viability of the program before moving to the next step. The long-term goal of one computer for every teacher, high school and middle school student – with wireless Internet access in all schools – will create a learning environment where information flows freely and can be accessed by all teachers and students anytime, anyplace. Students know how to navigate and communicate online – they thrive with interactive learning. Teachers will be able to enhance their instruction with the vast and up-to-date educational materials available online.

Do one-to-one programs really work?
Yes. A 2004 study by Silvernail & Lane on the state of Maine’s one-to-one laptop initiative noted:
• More than 70% of the students surveyed reported the laptops helped them to be better organized, to get their work done quicker and with better quality.
• Over 4 out of 5 teachers surveyed reported that students are more engaged in their learning and produce better quality work.
• Over 75% of the teachers reported having the laptops helped them better meet Maine’s statewide learning standards.

In addition, a study by SRI International reported many of the same findings in Henrico, Va., another large-scale one-to-one initiative. In addition, Henrico’s test scores have climbed significantly in all subject areas since students and teachers received laptops four years ago. A different study in February 2005 showed very strong support among teachers, students and parents for continuing Henrico’s program.

What is the school board voting to approve?
Phase I – which will issue laptops to all Pre-K – 12 teachers, establish four high school demonstration/pilot sites where students will receive laptops, and upgrade middle school labs. A related project will create a wireless network throughout all Cobb County schools so that teachers will have Internet and network access throughout their buildings. If, after months of evaluation, the demonstration/pilot sites are successful, the school board may consider extending the program to all high school students in Phase II at a later date. If the demonstration/pilot sites are not successful, the student laptops will be redistributed to high school computer labs and Phase II will not be pursued.

What is the timeline?
March/April 2005: School board votes on Phase I
If approved…Spring/Summer 2005: Laptops issued to all teachers Fall 2005: Demonstration/pilot sites established; middle school labs upgraded; wireless network upgrades begin.
How will success be measured?
At the four demonstration/pilot sites the school district will monitor student engagement, performance, attendance and discipline, among other indicators of student success. The district also will closely evaluate teacher, student and parent training, technical support, and network capability.

What is the cost?
Phase I of the program ¬would cost an estimated $5.9 million per year for a four-year lease of the computers for teachers, demonstration/pilot sites and middle school labs. That cost is based on the lease price of $350 per computer, per year, which includes full training and technical support. In addition, the district has budgeted $5.7 million to complete the wireless upgrade of all school buildings. If approved, Phase I would be funded by technology improvement dollars in SPLOST II.

Why Apple?
Apple has extensive experience in the education market. The iBook G4 is designed to be rugged for student use, lightweight and features long battery life and wireless connectivity. Apple’s Mac OS X operating system is stable, secure and features interoperability with computers running Windows. Further, the iBooks come with Microsoft Office software preinstalled. Of four vendor finalists, Apple provided Cobb County with the best plan at the lowest price.

Will my child be able to access inappropriate web sites?
Accessing inappropriate material is a violation of school district policy and will result in disciplinary action. Several security measures will be implemented to limit such activity. The district’s network firewall prevents any computer from accessing inappropriate material when students are in school. But parents will need to be vigilant in monitoring their children’s Internet use outside of school – just as they do now. To help parents and teachers monitor student Internet access, the iBooks will feature a tracking tool that maintains a list of all web sites visited by the computer.

Theft
The iBooks will feature several high-tech anti-theft security features. Other one-to-one school districts implementing similar security steps have found theft a negligible concern – less than .5 percent.

How much will parents be asked to pay?
As part of the bidding process, the school district asked vendors to recommend a fee parents would pay to insure the laptops against total loss or damage not covered by the warranty. The lowest price for insurance offered by a third-party vendor is $50 per year, per computer. The school district feels this fee is too high and is continuing to pursue other options to lower the insurance cost to parents.

For more information, please visit our website at the county Power to Learn web site.
If you still have questions and concerns, please send them to PowerToLearn@cobbk12.org.

posted on: March 18, 2005

I Just Have to Brag

On Monday, March 7th, Mabry students, parents, and teachers were invited to the capitol to share with our elected state officials the innovative ways we use technology at Mabry Middle School. We were one of only 13 schools around the state invited to attend!

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(Click to enlarge)

The students presented their digital video Wild Life Documentary project. Mr. Swanson, one of Mabry's excellent 7th grade Life Science teachers, went to Botswana and Zimbabwe this past summer to shoot digital video footage of the wildlife, habitats, and ecosystems in those countries. That footage, along with footage donated by an international expedition company, about 60 gigabytes all total, has been loaded on our Mabry servers and made available to our 7th grade Life Science students.

Both Mrs. Carroll's and Mr. Swanson's students are presently in the process of creating their movies. (Because of limited resources, only 2 teacher's students can do this, in groups, at a time. If every child had a laptop from The Power to Learn initiative, every single child in the 7th grade Life Science curriculum could make his or her own movie project.)

Each team of students selects a topic, for example: comparing and contrasting the Cheetah and the Leopard, researches various aspects of the species (for example: adaptations, interdependence with other organisms in their biome, etc.), and puts together a movie from the footage that applies to their research. I suspect that the only way learning these Georgia Performance Standards could be any more engaging for our students would be if our Life Science teachers took them to Africa to shoot the footage themselves! (Actually, they want to do that too...)

The team that went to the capitol has been meeting before and after school to create the first (beta test with this footage, if you will) movie project. A number of people at the capitol stopped by their display and watched all 3 of their movie projects. Ms. Lynda Martin, Cobb County Area 4 Superintendent, came to see our students' work. Cathy Cox, Secretary of State, spent about 30 minutes with the Mabry team, watching their work in its entirety and asking them numerous substantive questions about their project. The students did an excellent job of presenting their work to the many adults and other students who visited their display.

Congratulations to these students and teachers for their outstanding work which has gained state recognition: Shane, Katie, Diamond, and Anna (all 7th grade students representing the group), Matt, Will, Logan, and Marli (additional 7th grade students who participated in the project), Mrs. Carroll, and Mr. Swanson (teachers), and Mrs. Janet McCrary (Instruction Lead Teacher).

Once again, I couldn't be any more proud of our staff and students who work every day to reach our school goal: maximize student academic achievement of the Georgia Performance Standards!

posted on: March 10, 2005

Technology @ Mabry

Here are a couple of pictures from Mrs. Abrams' last live internet video conference with the Technology Reporter of USA TODAY, Kevin Maney, and Ken Paulson, the Editor in Chief of USA TODAY. I blogged about this several weeks ago (February 5th) when it happened, but I didn't have pictures to share at that time.

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Left: A picture of the live internet video of the editors at USA TODAY as seen on the large screen in the theater. If you look carefully, you can see a small window inset in the bottom right hand corner of the computer window--a live picture of the student asking the question--what the editors at USA TODAY saw on their iBook.

Right: Our students asked their questions in front of the Apple iSight camera connected to the Apple iBook computer. The iBook was connected to speakers and a display device so all of the students seated in the theater could hear and see the USA TODAY editors as they answered the students' questions.

This was a powerful educational experience for our students.

posted on: March 2, 2005

Tonight's Information Meeting

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 on: February 23, 2005

Please Feel Free to Print & Distribute

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.

P2L Pages
(Click above to download)

posted on: February 10, 2005

Technology at Mabry

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 on: February 10, 2005

The Power to Learn

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.

posted on: February 10, 2005

I Couldn't Be More Excited!

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 on: February 8, 2005

Not Just Research--Real World Research Experiences!

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 on: February 5, 2005

technology@mabry.cool

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 on: February 1, 2005

PTSA Meeting

This morning I met with the PTSA and shared several items. Below is a very brief summary of each of the items.

  1. The SPLOST construction will add 50,000 square feet to our school. We will now have 150,000 square feet at Mabry!
  2. I have a meeting this week to explore the purchase of furniture and equipment for the new classrooms.
  3. Students are now taking the Performance Series, a nationally normed computer adaptive test that is correlated with the CRCT and should allow us to predict success on that state test.
  4. The 8th Grade Writing Assessment is scheduled for Wednesday, January 19th.
  5. Early Release Day is scheduled for Wednesday, January 26th.
  6. Buddy Pictures are scheduled for Friday, January 28th.
  7. The 7th Grade Science students will take a fieldtrip to Jekyll Island the week of January 27th.
  8. The changes in the federal overtime regulations are impacting schools. (See my post on January 6th.)
  9. The Power to Learn (1 on 1 laptop initiative) appears to be scheduled to go before the board during the first part of February.
  10. I have joined with those teachers who are now blogging as a communication tool for parents by starting this blog.
  11. All who are interested can take a tour of the construction immediately after your meeting today.

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(Click to enlarge)

posted on: January 10, 2005

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