April 21, 2012

Okiishi Keynote: Mental Illness in the Classroom

Dr. Ray Morley and Dr. Christopher Okiishi

The 2012 IAAE Spring Conference's Friday keynoter, Dr. Chris Okiishi, led an interactive discussion about how to recognize and deal with mental illnesses in the classroom. His presentation gave alternative and residential educators specific indicators and warning signs of mental illness in school-aged children. Okiishi shared information about how to tell when a student is "feeling low" vs. when they are experiencing major depressive disorder. He explained symptoms of anxiety, ADHD, and other diagnoses that affect student behavior. A variety of treatment options and suggestions for working with parents and families were shared.

One valuable resource shared by Dr. Okiishi is the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org/, which includes a free section called "Facts for Families" offering downloadable handouts on mental illnesses. 

Conference attendees enjoyed Okiishi's conversational style and appreciated learning more about issues that affect our students and classrooms on a daily basis. 

What did you learn from Dr. Okiishi? What questions do you have for him? Would you be interested in having him speak again at a future IAAE conference? Leave your comments below.

Zollo and Cooper Get the IAAE Dancing

Brian Cooper and David Zollo play at All in the Family
For the second year in a row, Brian Cooper and David Zollo moved IAAE members--both physically and spiritually. Their bluesy, rocking and soulful tunes helped rejuvenate alternative educators from across the state at the annual IAAE State Conference Dance. This year's dance was held again at All in the Family, where IAAE members let loose, danced, and enjoyed spending time with other alternative educators.

Check out David's upcoming show dates on his website www.davezollo.com or watch him perform a song from his upcoming album, "For Hire."

Thanks to David and Brian for sharing their music with us!

Larry Bell Teaches IAAE Members the Power of an Alternative Educator

Larry Bell, 2012 IAAE State Conference Opening Keynoter

Larry Bell opened the IAAE 2012 State Conference with an energetic, interactive message reminding alternative educators of the power we hold to help students transcend barriers. Larry's message to us:  if we have high expectations for our students, they can transcend ALL barriers--including racism, socioeconomic status, and ability level. We have to power to transform the Impossible to I'm Possible!

During his keynote presentation, Larry reminded IAAE members of their ability to persevere, "That's why I'm enamored with you all--you DO NOT give up on a child!" He also outlined a clear procedure to help students be successful: first, get the classroom culture right; next, lay the foundation for success by making sure students know and understand the vocabulary used; then teach simple, systematic strategies for learning. 

Larry shows Red Oak Alternative Teacher Brett Eubank how to "Break it Down"

Larry's presentation got teachers moving and showed them how to get kids moving. Brain-based research shows that kids learn better if they move around, and if their learning is tied to music. Check out Larry's music videos on his website or purchase his DVD/CD from his online store if you want to get your students moving and learning his 12 Powerful Words. Larry's message: we have the power to empower our students by teaching them these words and strategies! 

Conference attendees enjoyed Larry's specific strategies, his vibrant personality, and his positive messages to alternative educators and students. 
"Instead of calling these kids 'at-risk' let's call them 'at promise,' because these kids have a lot of promise!"       --Larry Bell
What did you learn from Larry Bell's keynote? Did you enjoy his presentation? Are you trying out any of Larry's strategies in your own classroom? Tell other IAAE members about it in the comments below!

April 18, 2012

Moving to a 1:1 Alternative Classroom- Part 2

In the first article I wrote, I got into a lttle background of the Red Oak School District moving to a 1:1 computing environment for students 6-12.  In this article, I will be getting into some of the resources that I have been finding to use in moving the curriculum from book based to inquiry based using online resources.  One of the best things that I have found is Twitter.  You may be asking how someone could find so many ideas from posts that are less than 140 characters?  Well, you would be surprised!  By using a program called Tweetdeck I am able to follow teachers from around the world as they share ideas and link articles regarding about every aspect of education.  If you are not familiar with this program, I will list the steps at the end of this article along with popular hashtags that I follow.  One that is not included in that list, but should be is #IowaAltEd.  This is the tag that some of us have started using when posting something relevant to alternative education in Iowa.  If you check out the feed, you will see that some of us were posting about the IAAE state conference.  It doesn't take a lot of time to browse the topics that people are talking about and if something catches my interest, I can click the link to open the article.  This allows me to in essence browse many articles with very little time and effort.  What more could you ask for?  The right technologies can allow you to work smarter using less time than what you could do before.  Next time I will list some of the blogs, wikis, and websites that list some of the most popular web tools that are used by teachers everywhere.

Popular Hashtags that are used on Twitter

To use Twitter, first sign up. Twitter

After you have done that, you will need to download the Chrome Browser. Go to the Google home page and in the top right corner it will say download Chrome browser.

Now that you have done that, go to Tweetdeck.

Once there, you will need to sign in with your Twitter account and then you will be able to add feeds. Click on the tab at top that says
Add Column.

It will be in this space that you will be able to search hashtags(#) and add them.

These are some of the most useful tags that I have found


#blendedlearning -discussion on a mix of traditional and computers in classroom
#flippedclass -discussion on learning from electronic sources than applying in classroom
#engchat -English teachers
#sschat -Social Studies teachers
#scichat -Science teachers
#spedchat -Special Education

April 09, 2012

New Study Supports Late Graduates

Image via Flickr/soundman1024
A study released by the Center for Public Education suggests that students who are allowed to graduate after their class with a regular high school diploma fare better both in college and the workforce than dropouts or GED recipients.

The study (which can be found here) suggests that late graduates are more likely to complete a college degree, to hold on to a job, vote in public elections, and practice healthy living habits than GED recipients.

These results lead the Center for Public Education to suggest that "It is worth the district's time and resources to graduate students who fall behind, even if it takes longer than four years."

Read a summary of the study by visiting the Center for Public Education's Report, "Better Late than Never? At a glance".

April 05, 2012

Moving to a 1:1 Computing Classroom in an Alternative Setting

Image via Flickr/colemama
Starting next year, the Red Oak School District is going to give all students 6th-12th grade a laptop to use in school. Fortunately, all of the alternative students are also receiving laptops as well. This last 6 months or so have been a whirlwind of activity for me as I start the process of moving many of the classes that I offer from a textbook to an online format. The Health and Biology classes that I am working on will not use a textbook at all. All of the information that the students will need will be online. Much of the leaning will be inquiry based, so that the students can be more actively engaged in the learning process. This will also allow them to complete assignments in different formats based on their interests and strengths. In this process I have found many online tools to help in this conversion to a 1:1 program. Later I will compile a list of some of the things that I am using. Best of all, all of the things that I have found are free. This post is to be the first of many as I journey to the land of the digital.

Brett Eubank
Red Oak Alternative School


April 04, 2012

Mandala Artist Recognized

Northeast Iowa Community College, Calmar--Rockefeller Alternative High School Program student, Elizabeth Cohenour, was the artist featured on the cover of the most recent edition of The Mandala. The Mandala is Iowa's art and literary magazine for alternative high school students. Having her art work featured on the cover is not the only thing should be proud of--she was recognized by others for her talent, too! The Fayette County Union featured a story about Liz (see below) which was noticed by Iowa State Representative, Roger Thomas. Rep. Thomas sent a personal note to Liz (see below) congratulating her for her artwork and her recognition in the newspaper.

Congratulations to Liz and Rockefeller Alternative H.S. Program for their recognition! Thanks for sharing your amazing talent, and for spreading such a positive message about alternative education in Iowa!

Photo of the original article that appeared in the Fayette County Union Newspaper (used with permission)

The note sent to Elizabeth from Rep. Roger Thomas

April 03, 2012

Board Meeting Minutes 3/30/12

IAAE Board Meeting Minutes
March 30, 2012
DMACC, Ankeny
  1. Call to Order
    1. In Attendance: Rachelle Brown, Ken Burrington, Lisa Demuth, Jen Duncan, Brett Eubank, Lisa Hackman, Doug Harrold, Bob Howlett, Pat Johansen, Theresa Keeley, Pam Kirsch, Steve Peters, Marlana Schnell, Joel Schutte, Dawn Young
    2. Regrets: Josh Dean, Brian Friesner, Brian Galusha, Greg McCullough, Ray Morley,  Robyn Naberhaus, Linda Rosulek, Gina Scheffler, Susan Walkup

  1. Minutes from 1/27/2012 approved

  1. Treasurer’s report
    1. Rachelle gave a verbal report
    2. Treasurer’s report approved as given

  1. Legislative Day
    1. The consensus was that the Lt. Governor had good conversations with some groups and scheduled time to meet with some schools.
    2. Bring any pictures to update the IAAE display board.

  1. 2012 State Conference
    1. Bills are being paid as they come in
    2. Registration is around 160 at this time
      1. Some contacts are being made to recruit some more people
    3. Membership.  Our policy about membership needs to be looked at
    4. Update on presenters/sessions
      1. There are a few updates on the schedule and we are waiting for a little information to describe a breakout session
      2. There is only one more time slot for a presenter
    5. Keynote – needs or issues
      1. Lisa D is coordinating setup with the hotel
    6. Vendors
      1. We have four vendors
    7. Wednesday night meeting and early registration
      1. Early-bird registration and set up
      2. Meeting 7:30 Wednesday evening for a quick board meeting and assign duties.  We will meet in the hospitality room Wednesday evening
    8. Elections
      1. Brent will coordinate elections, including board members that have on-going conflicts with meetings
    9. Awards
      1. Very few award nominations are coming in
      2. There are many grant requests
    10. Entertainment
      1. Entertainment is all lined up for Thursday evening
      2. Hospitality room
        1. People signed up to bring an assortment of food and drink
      3. Board members are reminded to bring a door prize
      4. Joel will get a Kindle Fire and a regular Kindle for the major door prizes

  1. 2013 State Conference
    1. Date: April 3-5, 2013
    2. Speaker for next year.  We should advertise early, possibly putting a flyer in this year’s materials about Mike Schmoker

  1. Future conferences
    1. Waterloo Community Schools will host the conference in 2014
    2. It is important to get the conference in the hands of districts each year

  1. Communication issues
    1. Our website is outdated!
    2. Blog and newsletter
    3. We need one way/place people go to get timely information
    4. Marlana has a work study applicant who may be interested in taking over the website.  A motion was approved to allow Marlana to offer up to 60 hours of work over the summer at the DMACC work study rate to start on the website.  The student can then work into next school year if he is interested.

  1. Other
    1. Alternative School and Program Directory
      1. Ken created a directory of all alternative schools and programs.

  1. Adjournment
    1. Motion was approved to adjourn

Next meeting: Friday May 11, 2012.  Those available will meet Wednesday April 18th at 7:30pm regarding last minute conference details.
Respectfully submitted
Dawn Young

Board Meeting Minutes 1/27/12

IAAE Board Meeting Minutes
January 27th, 2012
Learning Resource Center, West Des Moines
  1. Call to Order
    1. In Attendance: Rachelle Brown, Ken Burrington, Josh Dean, Lisa Demuth, Brent Eubank, Brian Friesner, Lisa Hackman, Bob Howlett, Pat Johansen, Theresa Keeley, Pam Kirsch, Steve Peters, Marlana Schnell, Joel Schutte, Dawn Young
    2. Regrets: Jen Duncan, Brian Galusha, Doug Harrold, Greg McCullough, Ray Morley,  Robyn Naberhaus, Linda Rosulek, Gina Scheffler, Susan Walkup

  1. Minutes from 12/2/2011 approved

  1. Treasurers’ report
    1. $18,435.18 balance.  Little activity on the account other than mileage

  1. Legislative Day
    1. February 27th
    2. Details have been arranged for tables and pizza
    3. Next year’s date has been set for Thursday February 21st, 2013
    4. Rachelle has been in contact with the Lt. Governor about stopping to talk to the students in attendance.  Rachelle will also send an invitation to the Department of Education and the Senate and House Education Committees.
    5. Discussion ensued about how we stay connected to the State Department of Education.

  1. 2012 State Conference
    1. Speaker’s update
      1. Larry Bell – Thursday
        1. At this time he has not requested any transportation to/from the airport.
        2. Needs three tables set up for materials he sells.
        3. Marlana and Lisa D. will coordinate to make sure all of his technology needs are available.
      2. Chris Okishii – Friday
        1. Working on getting a contract back from him
    2. Facility update
      1. Price increase by $5.00 due to increase in food prices
        1. $155 early registration, $180 for late registration, $50 for presenters, $50 for undergraduate students.
      2. Facility contract for 2013
        1. Prairie Meadows has changed their original RFP
    3. Graduate credit for conference involvement
      1. Lisa D. will follow up with Ray Morley to see if graduate credit can be offered to conference participants.
    4. Breakout sessions
      1. Lisa H. has 9 requests for breakout sessions turned in already.
      2. Strands
        1. Technology
        2. Curriculum
        3. Poverty
        4. Behavior/mental health
        5. Other ideas
        6. Round table discussions
      3. There are 40 slots available for breakout sessions
    5. The registration form will be cleaned up and sent out.
    6. Responsibilities the day of the conference.
      1. Meeting the night before to cover all responsibilities
      2. Early registration will begin at 5:30
    7. Elections
      1. Open positions:  Brent is compiling a list of open positions
    8. Vendors
      1. Pat is not hearing back from vendors.  Please contact Pat with a contact names if you have any.

  1. State Conference 2013
    1. April 11-12 2013 possible dates.  If we decide on Prairie Meadows the date would be April 4-5 2013
    2. Possible locations
      1. Airport Holiday Inn
      2. Prairie Meadows
      3. Work is being done to solidify estimates from both places
    3. Themes
    4. Speakers
      1. Mike Schmoker
    5. Motion approved to give Joel, Lisa H, Lisa D, Rachelle and Marlana to sign a contract with the Airport Holiday Inn or Prairie Meadows and Mike Schmoker

  1. Website
    1. Discussion about website tabled until next meeting.
  2. Meeting adjourned
    1. Motion carried to adjourn the meeting
    2. Next meeting Friday March 30th, 2012

Respectfully submitted,
Dawn Young

April 02, 2012

2013 State Conference Announced

The IAAE Board is not only preparing for the upcoming 2012 State Conference, we are also planning for the future!

Announcing the IAAE 2013 State Conference:

Date: April 4-5, 2013
Location: The new Prairie Meadows Hotel

Image courtesy of mikeschmoker.com

Keynoter: The IAAE is proud to present Dr. Mike Schmoker as our keynote speaker!

Dr. Mike Schmoker is a former school administrator, English teacher and football coach. He has written five books and dozens of articles for educational journals, newspapers and for TIME magazine. His most recent book is FOCUS:  Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning.  His previous bestseller is RESULTS NOW: How We Can Achieve Unprecedented Improvements in Teaching and Learning, which was selected as a finalist for “book of the year” by the Association of Education Publishers.

Mark your calendars for this excellent 2013 event!

It's not too late! IAAE 2012 State Conference Registration Still Open

Click here for a printable registration flyer.

Keynote speakers are Larry Bell on Thursday and Dr. Chris Okiishi on Friday.
Thursday includes a variety of break-out sessions, buffet luncheon and awards ceremony, networking in the Hospitality Room, and entertainment at All in the Family featuring David Zollo.

Friday includes breakfast, break-outs, the keynote address and door prizes!

Please join us at the Des Moines Airport Holiday Inn & Conference Center
Early Bird registration is Wednesday, April 11 from 5:30 - 7:30PM.
Regular conference registration begins Thursday, April 12 at 7:30AM.