Saying Goodbye

Today, I go to pay honor to a fellow teacher I was privileged to consider my friend, Dennis Hermreck. Until this fall, I could count on Dennis to walk by the library every morning around 7:30 and as was true to Dennis’ character, he was usually the first to say ‘hi’. As others have noted, Dennis was a man of faith, strong faith, which wasn’t checked when he walked in the doors of Nemaha Valley/Central.

Dennis joined the staff of Nemaha Valley in the fall of 2001. As others have pointed out, Dennis’ love of American history was very evident in the classroom. Dennis was a very traditional teacher in a non-traditional way. For you see Dennis lectured – but his lectures incorporated lots of imagery: mostly videos at first but still and video more recently.

Dennis was a traditional teacher in that he incorporated a lot of lectures – even with 84 minute classes. However, Dennis was a non-traditional teacher in that he didn’t use a textbook. He produced or found and sometimes purchased all of the materials used in his classes. Dennis was on the front lines when it came to technology use IF it fit his needs.

It wasn’t Dennis’ teaching methods that made him a memorable teacher but the love of his subject and his love for others thru his strong faith. For you see, it is this love that has had the greatest impact on us all.

My prayer today is that Dennis will live on in each one of us.



New Year – Incorporating Creativity

It’s back to school time in our household. Thus, conversations tend to center around all of the tasks each of us needs to get done — prior to Monday. Somehow, in the midst of those tasks, my husband has taken time to begin reading the book Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis and Steven Kotler. Mike received this book when he attended an educator’s day hosted by Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City.

During breakfast conversation, Mike picks up the book and reads a quote from it about what education needs to look like in order to prepare students for their future:

In a rapidly changing technological culture and an ever-growing information-based economy, creative ideas are the ultimate resource. Yet our educational system does little to nourish this resource.

Moreover, our current system is built around fact-based learning, but the Internet makes almost every fact desirable instantly available. This means we’re training our children in skills they rarely need, while ignoring those they absolutely do. Teaching kids how to nourish their creativity and curiosity, while still providing a sound foundation in critical thinking, literacy and math, is the best way to prepare them for a future of increasingly rapid technological change. (Emphasis – mine)

Shortly after discussing this quote, I read the blog: Video: Dead Poets Society on Thinking Outside of the Box. The author, Larry Fetlazzo, shares a video clip from Dead Poet’s society about teaching about creativity and also about thinking outside the box. Take time to click thru to the blog and watch the clip.

In thinking about the challenges posed by both the quote from Abundance and the video clip from Dead Poet’s Society, I’m thankful that I work with educators who already ask students to be creativity in a variety of ways. But, I’m also thankful that those same educators will reflect on their current teaching practices and look for ways to add more creativity, critical thinking and problem solving to their curriculum.

That’s one of the main reasons I love my job!

Creating Videos from Google Slides

A quick / easy way to create ‘how-to’ videos is to create a Google Slide presentation of the pictures (screenshots) and then narrate the slides.

If the presentation is created in Google Slides, then the TechSmith SnagIt extension can be used to narrate the slides. This app turns the presentation into a video that can be sent to Google Drive or to YouTube.

Tutorial on how to do this:

Narration Over Google Slides


  • Requires use of Google Chrome
  • Only works with Google Slides presentations
  • Narration is all / none — no chance to edit
  • Headsets with microphones can be checked out of the library as needed for this type of activity
  • Eliminate text from slides or just use titles

Sample Presentation: Removing Groups of Contacts from Email

Keeping Up – Growing My PLN

OK, I admit it. I’m an information junkie! I like reading and learning about new things. I’m also all over the place in how I gather this information.

GOOGLE+ – I never really got into Google+ or Google Circles. If current rumors are true that Google+ will be discontinued, I doubt I will worry about learning how to utilize it as a learning community.

GOOGLE HANGOUTS – I’m not sure how the demise of Google+ will affect Hangouts but I’ve enjoyed the Dear Myrtle hangouts I’ve been able to participate in this summer. Fortunately, she also records her hangouts and I can watch them on YouTube in the evenings during the school year.

PINTEREST – Every once in a while I will search Pinterest for ideas – particularly for bulletin boards or library displays. Or, when I’m researching a topic that involves a lot of graphics, I will create a board. Then, my Pinterest account will just sit there waiting for my next need for imagery.

TWITTER – This is one of my favorite places to garner information. I don’t have time to read my Twitter feed on a regular basis. However, when I get immersed in a topic, I love to search Twitter and connect with others discussing the same topic. My first experience with this was the Swine Flu Epidemic. Because of my interest in the global impact of the flu, I connected with a lot of genetic researchers around the world via Twitter. When I’m up early on Saturdays, I enjoy reading the #SATCHAT feed. The questions and responses shared by other educators cause me to pause and think about how I could implement a new idea or make a change. In the winter, Twitter becomes my go-to source for how a winter storm is affecting us by reading the #KSStorms and #KSWX tweets. Hootsuite makes following these topics a cinch since I have the searches already saved and just have to open the app on my phone or tablet.

FEEDLY – Sometime last winter, I switched from trying to read my Twitter feed to following some of my favorite bloggers on Feedly. Now, I get my morning information fix by reading Feedly and Tweeting the articles that I think would interest my followers. The drawback to Feedly is that I’m not accessing the same wealth of information I would encounter on my Twitter feed. However, this is manageable in the time I have available.

TEACHERCAST – Sometime last year, I decided to check out Teachercast – a live technology ‘podcast’. I spend my Sunday evenings in front of the TV (connected to the Internet) ‘attending’ my second church service of the day and then watching TeacherCast. This broadcast incorporates a variety of technology integrators from across the nation and guest speakers discussing a particular product or tool each week. I’ve picked up a lot of great hints over the past year on how to improve my usage of Google and other tech tools.

FACEBOOK – As long as my home computer is on, Facebook is probably open. Thus, it appears that I’m on it all of the time. Even though I’m not on it during most week days, I do enjoy the variety of information available on Facebook. This summer I discovered a lot of closed Facebook groups that are great learning communities. Most of these are genealogy related but the ability to ask a question and get an answer is truly amazing. I’m even participating in a 13 week ‘class’ via a closed Facebook group. Thus Facebook is becoming my go-to place for learning!

I still like the ability to network and learn provided by conferences. However, having my own personal learning community means I don’t have to wait a year for the next conference – I just have to access one of my online tools and join a community.

What’s your PLN tool?

Political Pondering — Across the Board Cuts to Schools

If across the board cuts become reality (which is looking more likely), then it has been proposed that districts across the state


My question — Is this what we really want for our teens?

Proponents of this position think it will save a major share of potential cuts, thus protecting the classroom.

Will it save over 10 million in Wichita? I doubt it.

Is this what we really want? Do we want teens to have nothing to do after school? Do we want teens to not have school activities to attend on Friday nights?

If not athletics and activities, then the next item on the chopping block is music, art, PE and libraries. Again is this what we want for the children and teens of Kansas?

If not athletics, activities, PE arts and libraries, then the next alternative is shorter school years. Districts can get around the time requirements by lengthening the days. For high schools, a 20 minute longer day translates into 3 to 5 more minutes per class (depending on number of classes held each day). It’s very hard to make up for lost days of instruction in three to five minute chunks! Lengthening a school day for high schools means those teens involved in after school functions (assuming we still have them) get home even later in the evening – cutting into family and homework time.

If not athletics, activities, PE, arts, libraries or shorter school years, then another option is to cut the technology. Technology in schools is expensive. However, we cannot begin to prepare students to be college and career ready if they don’t have access to technology. Think about it — as an adult are you willing to give up your phone, tablet, laptop, computer, Internet connection? OR do those devices connect you to the information and resources for your job / life? If we as adults are not willing to give up this access — 8 am to 3 pm Monday thru Friday for 180 days — then why should we expect students to not have the same ability to access information and resources – and to learn the technical skills to work with information and data?

For Kansas, our options are to buck up and raise taxes or to face cuts. The sales tax package failed this morning. Thus, cuts may be coming.

Wanted! Missing Books

WANTED – The safe return of the  following books that have gone missing from the Nemaha Central High School Library. If found, please return to the NCHS library and/or office area.

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsProgramgoddess inheritanceif i should die city of glassillusion  marbury lensgraceling-cover-jpeg scatPeeps_Coverart   savage gracedrowned cities  marked    destined  chosenmake lemonade

  • Goddess Inheritance by Carter
  • Graceling by Cashore
  • City of Glass by Clare
  • Chosen by Dekker
  • Peeps by Westerfeld
  • Scat by Hiaasen
  • Program by Young
  • Savage Grace by Despain
  • Illusion by Kenyon
  • If I Should Die by Plum
  • Marked by Scott
  • Marbury Lens by Smith
  • Make Lemonade by Wolff
  • Destined by Cast
  • Drowned Cities by Bacigalupi
  • Fault in Our Stars by Green

These books would have a barcode on the front and are probably labeled for Nemaha Valley High School. They will have labels on the spine for Accelerated reader. Inside the book, will be a review and some handwritten notes.

spine labels barcode label inside book

Minecraft Resources Added to Digital Library

Several Minecraft titles were recently added to the NCHS Digital Library. These titles includeminecraft9

  • Minecraft mods: what you need to know about minecraft / Secrets of Minecraft revealed
  • Minecraft: The ultimate reloaded 70 top tips & tricks your friends wish they knew after you beat them!
  • Minecraft for dummies
  • Minecraft Tips and Tricks: Top 53 Minecraft Secret Game Tips and Tricks
  • Minecraft: Top 35 Minecraft Mods You Should Know
  • Minecraft: 70 Top Minecraft Mods that Your Friends Do Not Know (But Wish They Did!).minecraft7
  • Minecraft: 140 Top Tips and Tricks Exposed
  • Minecrafter: The unofficial Guide to Minecraft & Other Building games
  • The Ultimage Minecraft Creator: The Unofficial Building Guide to Minecraft & Other Games

Books in the NCHS Digital Library can be read on student MacBooks in the browser.

  1. Go to Digital Library (linked in middle column on Thunder Bridge)
  2. Login by putting your school ID (same as for your computer) in the blank for your library number  minecraft8
  3. Enter your school password (same as for computer) in the password blank
  4. Click on Sign In
  5. Locate a desired title
  6. Scroll over the title and click on Borrow
  7. Click on ‘read in browser’ to open book in browser

Books will automatically return after 7 days. To return a book early —

  1. Click on account icon in upper right to get to your bookshelf
  2. Below title of book is a ‘return title’ button — click on this

Books may be downloaded in a variety of formats for use on a wide range of devices. For information on how to download titles for a specific device (Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc.) see the files at the bottom of the eBooks page on the Thunder Bridge