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Summer Surprise!

One of my favorite parts of summer involves going to special events — especially those that help me connect with family and friends.  Two weeks ago, my niece invited me to watch her celebration performance at the end of her Grand Rapids Civic Theatre Camp for Kids.  While waiting for the show to begin, I ran into one of our 2009 Talent Show MC’s, Cielle!  She was also performing in the Civic production.

Cielle’s brother Aiden and her good friend Greta were also attending.  It was a wonderful surprise to see three Georgetown students in the middle of the summer while also watching my niece perform.  The performance was great fun to watch!

I hope you are having a great summer with family and friends…and you never know…I might run into you somewhere soon!

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CHORES Prepare Your Child for School

If you have a child who is preparing to enter preschool, pre-kindergarten or kindergarten in the fall, I would like to give you permission to shift away from skill and drill on letter names, color and shape identification.  I, along with the early childhood teaching team, encourage you to prepare your child for school by having a set list of simple chores (jobs, to do’s) that can be completed each day.

Much of what we do in school involves asking children to complete tasks after hearing and seeing two or three step directions.  Chores or daily jobs involve a series of steps that can be repeatedly daily, and this repetition builds more success and hopefully jobs that are completed better each day!

And, to make this blog post more credible, there is research support.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I love research that promotes the benefit of daily chores for my own children.

To find out more details about the benefits of learning two step directions, visit  Connect With Kids.

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Tweets from Outer Space

This past week, I began to follow my first astronaut on twitter, and I must say, it has been exciting!  NASA Astronaut Mark L. Polansky is sending twitter updates about the multiple aborted launches, the actual launch, burns, and the upcoming rendezvous with the International Space Station.

I can still remember the summer of 1969, standing in front of a black and white television watching Apollo 11 astronauts land on the moon.  As a seven year old girl, I could sense the excitement in the room and recall that many of the questions I asked were “un-answerable” by the adults present. “How fast did they go?  Is this like an airplane?  Are there any girl astronauts?  Is that like the sand on Lake Michigan?  Why can’t they breathe the air?  Do they sleep?  How do the go to the bathroom?”

Today, parents can watch the launch with their children and have instant access to answers by visiting NASA, Wikipedia, and other sites.  In addition, if you missed the launch, this can be viewed at anytime of the day or night on YouTube.  For up to the minute information about the flight, you can follow Commander Polansky’s tweets as he navigates the Endeavor to the International Space Station.  And, if this isn’t enough, you and your child can get a sense of who the astronauts are through Facebook and My Space — the ultimate social networking sites.

As I have said before, technology is an amazing tool for learning…and parents have easy, free and instant access to sources to answers about space, astronauts and much more!

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Enrollment Forms

I have received many emails and phone inquiries about enrollment forms for children in grades PK-12.  If you need enrollment forms for PK, K, elementary or secondary to one of the Hudsonville Public Schools, you can access these via our district site’s ENROLLMENT link.  If you have any questions about these forms, do not hesitate to contact Robin VandenBerg: or 669-1740 x 55110.

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Georgetown Contact Information

The school office will be open beginning August 24, 2009.  Office hours will be 8:00 am – 4 pm.


School Hours during the school year:  8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday

School Phone:  1-616-797-9797

School Fax:  1-616-797-9929

District wide, we have new and more memory friendly email addresses in place for all staff.


1.  EMAIL Pattern:
The district email follows this pattern for all staff:
first letter of first name + first seven letters of last name @

2.  CHANGES in Email Address:
Make sure that the office AND your child’s classroom teacher always have your most recent email addresses.  If your email addresses change,  notify the office and your classroom teacher as soon as possible.

3.  Blog Updates:
To receive regular updates of the school blog and your child’s classroom blog, register for email updates on each blog’s home page.

Staff Email (listed alphabetically by first letter in first name): Email Directory

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Smarty Games: Reading and Math

Richard Byrne, author of the blog FREE TECHNOLOGY FOR TEACHERS, shared a new website, SMARTY GAMES, designed to help elementary students develop basic math and reading skills.  After visiting the site, I decided that this would be helpful to many students during the summer months.

Free featured games for mathematics cover basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  Reading games include games that focus on alphabet recognition and story content, plus more.

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Read Kiddo Read

It’s mid-summer and I am sure that a hand full of parents are looking for interesting links to reading.  I stumbled upon a link to a site that is operated by James Patterson. It is called: READ KIDDO READ

The website is filled with incredible recommendations for readers, ages 0-Adult — broken up by age groups.  In addition, titles to catch boy’s interests are also promoted.  If you have run out of titles to recommend to your young reader, this website is well worth the visit.

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Leadership Day 2009

Today is LEADERSHIP DAY 2009.  This is a day in which Scott McLeod, a professor at Iowa State University,    invites educators to share why and how we use technology in our careers.  Earlier this week, I blogged about being a principal who twitters. Those of you who read the post learned that I am certifiably a ‘tech geek’.  It is important to note that I am also NOT very ‘tech savvy’.   For example, I struggle to define critical technology terms (gigabyte, modem, html, css) and certainly do not know how to rebuild a hard drive.   I have been smart enough to call on technology experts when needed:  I know the extension numbers to the district Tech Office by heart — and when they can’t be reached, I have utilized the brains and heart of John Lawrence.

How specifically do I use technology on a daily basis as the learning leader of Georgetown Elementary?

  • As a learner, I cannot imagine not utilizing technology as a tool to create documents, problem solve and communicate with others via blogs, nings, wikis, twitter, and email.
  • As a building administrator, technology allows me to function more efficiently and accurately (hand held computer, laptop, web 2.0 tools to create, sort and examine data).  Sometimes, technology tools make me look more artistic and creative than I am!  If I use my tech tools well, I have additional time to build relationships with parents, students and teachers.
  • As a learning leader, technology allows me to do what is essential – promote independence in teachers and students.  I want the teachers to empower their students in technology with the same passion they use to model, guide and release reading, writing, and math—and all content areas. Technology is a learning tool that promotes independence, invites discussion, and grows a community of learners in exciting new ways.  Therefore, I am committed to helping teachers find the right tools to use at the right time with the right learners.

Why am I so passionate and focused on technology when there is so much that competes for my attention on a daily basis?

  • Access to amazingly simple and free technology tools have transformed the way I communicate, problem solve, share, create, learn and lead.  This did not require me to be tech savvy…it required me to be tech interested.
  • I  believe that technology tools will not by themselves create great learners, teachers or leaders.  I am convinced, however, that our best and brightest will be the better ‘tech’ equipped and capable at learning, teaching and leading NOW and in the future.

For those who would like to begin the journey of discovering more about technology tools and how they are used in education, I would encourage you to:

  • Read blogs by teachers, students, administrators.
  • Once you have read a blog post, leave a comment for the blogger.
  • Join twitter.  Find followers in the area of educational technology.  Follow them, ask questions, share.
  • Begin a blog of your own and invite others to read your posts & leave comments.  There are many free blog options available on the web.  I am partial to Edublogs due to their great support, both tutorials and problem solving.  Kudos in particular to Sue Waters, someone who has tutored me from Australia!
  • Learn about web 2.0 tools by following these 23 Simple Steps

Finally, if you are interested in following the many blog posts by educators, type this phrase into a  twitter search bar:  #leadershipday09.  You can also follow Scott McLeod’s Blog.

Thank you for sticking with this post and reading my passionate thoughts about technology in education.

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The Brain: A Meaning Creator

As an educator, I am fascinated with the brain and all the mysteries it holds to the way we process and learn information. Through my ‘twitter-sphere’, I discovered TED Talks and a brief and powerful talk about the way the brain creates meaning. As I watched and listened to this talk, I was reminded of the critical and necessary need for all learning to be visual–as well as interactive and repetitive. At Georgetown, we continue to refine ALL our instruction so that we are meeting the needs of varied learning needs with an emphasis on visual directions that also include modeled instruction. This talk helps to explain why this is a best practice strategy for instruction.

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