Using the podcast to tell the story (273: 365)

I have recently been working with my colleagues at the Millville Public Schools to tell the story of our district. Podcasts have become so easy to create and publish. For instance, I record the videos on Google + which automatically uploads the video to YouTube. Then, I edit the video on YouTube’s editing channel. I use a pre-recorded video that was made by our students as the introduction. Viola… a podcast.


We will soon have the podcast on Soundcloud and iTunes. I will explain that process in a future blog post.


In the meantime, please enjoy episode 1 and 2 on YouTube.

Episode #1 Opening Day


Episode # 2

Thanks for the comments (272:365)



I love getting comments on this blog. I especially love it when someone asks more questions that I can carry into another blog post. Recently, someone read my blog post from January 30, 2012. Seems like a long time ago. I had to go back and read the post.

If you would like to read that post click here.


In the comments just posted the other day, Ana wrote:

Hey Dr. Spikecook

I had no idea how a principal’s normal day is, your story is very entertaining and eye-opener on how your job is so demanding and so human.

I would like to hear from you also, what is what YOU need as a professional? what are your main concerns every day? Your aspirations as a principal? What motivates you or actually hurts you?

Thank you for sharing!


What is what YOU need as a professional? I need to be able to grow. I need to feel stimulated, challenged and supported. I need flexibility, and the ability to take risks.


What are your main concerns every day? My main concerns are that my students and teachers feel safe and supported. I want to ensure that we are providing the best possible learning environment for all of our learners.


Your aspirations as a principal? I want my school to be the best school in the world. I want it to be the most innovative, and cutting edge school. I want teachers, parents and kids to be happy and want to learn. Simple as that 🙂


What motivates you or actually hurts you? I get my motivation from others, by reading, and connecting with my PLN. What hurts me is when I feel like I have not followed through on something or that I let someone down.

Use animoto to tell your story (271:365)




Animoto is a very simple website (and app) that allows you to create video slideshows for your classroom or school. All you have to do is sign up (educators are given a special discount), and begin loading your photos or videos. Then,  you are given a song (or you can find on their site) and a design for your show.


I recently made an Animoto for our September rewind. Animoto made it so easy for me. All I had to do was find my photos (which is usually a process because they are all over the place). Once I uploaded the photos, I just sorted them which was extremely easy to do. In a few minutes I had my first Animoto completed!


I look forward to making more Animotos!

Here is our September Rewind (my first Animoto)

What is #onemeasure? (270:365)



There is a new hash tag in town… #onemeasure. What is it, and more importantly… why? Well, let’s just say that there are many people in education, and politics that feel the need to judge a school on one measure… standardized assessment results. I do not agree with this, and I know I am not alone… So I want to highlight (and look for other like-minded schools and educators) who agree that schools are more than #onemeasure.


Let’s tell the story of schools beyond the standardized assessment…..  #onemeasure to your blogs, tweets, and pictures! GO!

Positive Behavior in Schools (269:365)

photo (30)

Students who earn Bear Bucks can redeem them each month

The concept is easy…. reward the students who display the behavior you seek…. hold the students accountable who don’t, and teach them the proper way…. Spend time with all students, and develop a rapport. Sounds easy, right? It actually takes a lot of time and energy to do it right.


Our school spends money, time, and effort to establish a school climate that is conducive to learning. We have 3 very simple rules:

  1. Be Safe
  2. Be Responsible
  3. Be Respectful
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Students engaged in the Dizzy Bat Challenge!

We use a progressive discipline structure that emphasizes patience, education, support, and encouragement. We also inundate the students with positive messages (we really attempt to have a lopsided ratio of positive to negative comments to students). At the conclusion of each month we reflect on the data, and reward those students who earned the “Bear Bucks.”


This month, in addition to “selling” Bacon gear, toys, and technology time, we continued with our “Bear Challenge.” This month’s Bear Challenge was the classic Dizzy Bat (with a twist). The students (and some teachers) spun in a circle for 30 seconds to get real dizzy, then they had to go to the other side of the gym and build a puzzle. Needless to say, the kids loved it. I tried it and literally fell to the floor before regaining my balance to then finish the puzzle. It was so much fun! Just the way school should be!

Another formative assessment tool: Plickers (268:365)



Yesterday I blogged about how Kahoot can assist you with formative assessment. Today I want to continue that thread and tell you about another excellent app… plickers. The purpose of plickers is to provide teachers and students with real-time formative assessment data with out student’s needing devices. Sounds interesting? It is!


Picture you are in the classroom and you don’t have a device for all the kids. How would you collect the data on what the students retained? Sure, you could do an “exit ticket” and then you have to go through all of the pieces paper. With plickers, all you have to do is register the students online, get one device that can scan a code, and you will be on your way. In addition, it will track your data week after week so you can see how your students are progressing.


Check out this video to learn more:





Do you get Kahoot? (267:365)

kahoot 1I was in a 4th grade math class today when I got Kahooted! The students had been anticipating it all class. A few times during the lesson the teacher asked them if they wanted to play… YES was the reply each time. All they had to do was get their work completed so they could apply their learning with this awesome tool. I was excited to see what all the buzz was about….


What is Kahoot?

According to their website, Kahoot is a game-based classroom response system. Our kids were using their iPads, desktops and laptops to participate. With a little design work from the teacher (she created the questions and answers that were linked to the lesson), and some focus on the purpose of the tool, it really didn’t take much to energize an entire class (myself included).

kahoot 3

The students had been working on rounding during the lesson. The 6 questions that the teacher posed during the Kahoot simply allowed the kids to apply their learning in a fun, game-based approach. Even better, the teacher could take the information garnered from the activity (think formative assessment) and determine how well the students understood the material.

So why don’t you try it out and get Kahoot?

Why do teachers go above and beyond? (266:365)



I have mentioned (certainly not enough but as often as I can) how blessed I am to be working in a school (and district) where teachers consistently go above and beyond for their students. As a principal, I am in and out of at least 10 classrooms a day, not to mention the times I am at recess, arrival/dismissal, etc. Basically, I see teachers in action all the time!


One thing that I am so impressed with in terms of the teachers in my building is their willingness to go above and beyond. I am never at a loss of words to describe the climate and culture, or learning environment of my school because of the teachers.


Yet, no matter the situation, our teachers go above and beyond to ensure our school (and district) improves. Each day. One connection at a time. Our teachers go above and beyond. Know why? Because they are teachers! They actually have superpowers!

Reflections on #NJPAECET2 (264:365)

resizeThis weekend about 150 educators from New Jersey and Pennsylvania and as far away as Iowa, Illinois, and Florida descended into New Jersey for the #NJPAECET2 Conference. This event was organized by Barry Saide who developed a team of committed educators to organize the conference.


As the Breakfast Keynote on Saturday, I was hoping to celebrate the efforts of those assembled in the room. Let’s face it, as George Couros has said, “The room is smarter.” I used the metaphor of the blank screen for not only education but the conference. I didn’t want people to be hampered by what they already knew. I tried to model that by attending as many sessions as possible.


Throughout the sessions, it was clear that presenters at #NJPAECET2 were dedicated to providing high quality information to participants.  I learned about online formative assessments, Social Media responsibility, and Google Forms for educators to name a few. No matter what session I attended, I learned something new, and as a result will be a better leader.


Perhaps the most important aspect of the conference was meeting so many awesome, and dedicated educators. Everyone seemed charged up, and committed to improving. It showed everywhere. People were smiling, connecting, laughing, and having a great time. It was such a positive vibe!


The only thing that I am left wanting to know is…. when is the next #NJPAECET2?