Sam Harrelson

Mourning Our Specialness

We’re not alone…

BBC Nature – Birds hold ‘funerals’ for dead: “Giraffes and elephants, for example, have been recorded loitering around the body of a recently deceased close relative, raising the idea that animals have a mental concept of death, and may even mourn those that have passed.”

One day we’ll realize that humans aren’t the center of our planet, just as Copernicus et al helped us realize we’re not the center of the universe.

Here We Go

I’m excited that Andy, Kevin and I will all be starting the year with the same challenge in our 7th and 8th Grade Science classes…

Beginnings | andylammers: “This year I am rolling out the Marshmallow Challenge (MMC), a design activity that Autodesk‘s Tom Wujec uses in his innovation workshops. The MMC seems to have what I am looking for: active participation, collaboration, problem solving, risk-taking, trial and error (prototypes), safe failure, and fun.”

I’m wondering if our 7th graders will show up some of the 8th graders?? 🙂

RFID in Schools

Here we go…

Papers, Please! » Blog Archive » San Antonio public schools plan to make students wear radio tracking beacons: “Unless the school board changes its mind, public school students at Jay High School and Jones Middle School in San Antonio, Texas, will be required to wear ID badges containing RFID chips (radio tracking beacons broadcasting unique ID numbers) when they come back to school next week.”

Clearly, folks need to read more.


I’ll agree…


What I Did This Summer

What did you do this summer?

It’s the question we ask of all our returning students we haven’t seen since June.

It’s been a bit of a crazy summer for me.

Well, more than a bit, really.

Our Middle School technically let out June 14. That following Monday, I boarded a plane with our new (and awesome) Communications Director, Kelly Andrews bound for Connecticut and FinalSiteU.

Finalsite is the company that has been hosting our website for the last few years and we were attending to learn more about the platform and what we could do in the way of customizations, mobile implementations, social media connections etc.

We spent the next three days outside of Hartford learning more about FinalSite’s platform, specifically what it could do for us and what it couldn’t do for us. Being a programmer (amateur, of course, but I still have a few chops) and someone who doesn’t do well being told that the trade off of flexibility is worth a lock-in, I was chaffed.

It didn’t take us long at the conference to hatch a pipe-dream plan to (completely re-)build the Carolina Day website ourselves before school started back (which it did this week for faculty) over the course of 2 months. We literally started this project with a cocktail napkin drawing and more idealism than time.

Tom Trigg, our Head Master, gave us a skeptical but supportive greenlight to see what we could do (if only more teachers in our country believed in their students the way he believes in his faculty, we could change the world overnight).

However, here we are… we’ve done it.

We’ve completely rebuilt the Carolina Day website on top of an open source and extensively flexible (and more authentic) hosted site, thrown in some of my SEO know-how and we now have a site that reflects the true daring, inventiveness and awesomeness of our school.

On top of that, we’ve created “Centrals” for each division and our Athletics programs on top of Google Sites (we’re a Google Apps school that treasures the collaborative features of the platform and the “Share” metaphor extends into our sinews and across the traditional divisional boundaries).

We’re really proud of these Centrals. They’re magical.

You can see them at the awesome urls of:

These Centrals will transfrom how we communicate with parents and our community, how we do work in (and outside of) our classes with students and how we as a school continue to grow, adapt and ultimately become better because of the evolving nature of the web.

Not only that, but the Centrals bring together our school in ways not possible before. Even though we’ve seperated them out from a main site, we’ve created unique and dynamic communications and expectations of engagements across the board. So even though each division has it’s own Central, each division is participating in something awe-inspiring and ultimately jaw-dropping when you consider the scope of our learning community.

It’s been an amazing summer of growth, frustration, patience, elation, disappointment and tears (good and bad) for me. I expect nothing less from my 7th grade students, so I feel as if I’ve come out of this experience a better teacher and a better learner and a better communicator.

These are exciting times for Carolina Day.

These are exciting times for me.

Taking Risks

So very true at any school…

Time for us to grow young.

Summer Math

I’ll take that:

Screen Shot 2012 08 15 at 7 30 11 PM

User Profile | Khan Academy

Pretty awesome, indeed.