Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The BEST Christmas Pageant Ever!

What was I thinking? I'm sure people were asking that question. A cast of 42 kids, the oldest being an 8th grader, only 13 rehearsals, testing going on at school...Why? because it's important! The kids love it and I love it too, despite the backbreaking work to organize. Theatre is so rewarding and I have loved watching our kids and our group grow. They did an amazing job, from the tiniest baby angel to our 6th grade mom...amazing. Because we expected them to be amazing. We never told them it couldn't be done or that they just weren't ready. We just expected it and did it. They were consistant in each show and very, very funny! On the final night the legs got pulled off of the baby Jesus (If you know the book you understand how easily this could happen.) Well, one got left on the floor and one our baby sheep found it. See his reaction in this clip. Everyone wants their moment in the sun :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sing for your Supper

My little theatre group had an event the other night called "Sing for your Supper." My idea was to have the kids serve food and then get called on to sing a song and pass around a tip jar. All of the tips went to support our theatre program. The kids, grades 4-8, did a great job taking order, waiting on tables, and then going around and singing directly to the tables. We raised nearly $1000 for the night and all the kids got a great experience. One of our singers was voted outstanding performer of the evening for his rendition of "Eat It." Another girl won our award for high tips getting around $170 for her night's efforts. It was lots of fun and our little performing company showed once again they are capable of so much!

Paige and Jasper winners of the evening.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Fall. A time of change

This fall has been quite a time of change in many aspects of my life. I changed school districts and I now work in a school with a very different population and Karen also changed districts. During the summer we took a trip to New York and got a tour backstage of a lot of major musicals thanks to some of my former students. We went with Paige, one of my star students, and her mom. Lots of fun!

Karen at Lion King

Paige backstage at Wicked with Mme. Morrible and the Wizard

Paige with the Lion King

We also got Melissa Youth OnSTAGE into full swing. Our first show of the season was Into the Woods, jr. Our young actors did a great job with the difficult material. We also found out how hard (and how rewarding) running a non-profit group can be. Our next production is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever based on the Barbara Robinson book. I highly recommend it for a great holiday read aloud!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Melissa Youth OnSTAGE Summer camp

Karen and I started a non-profit group so we could get Melissa Youth OnSTAGE going. With nothing more than an idea and the backing of parents we started. Wow! Our two camp sessions had 30 students each! So many we had to take on another instructor who also quit at our former elementary scool. We had two one-week sessions and had a full variety show at the end of each. All new material for each week! We also did a 4th of July show in the 103 degree Texas summer heat! The kids all performed admirably and the parents are great. I am so proud of this community for supporting something outside the box and I hope we can continue as we start our fall shows. This is a labor of love on our part and we are so proud to see young performers gain confidence and enjoy the company of those who have the same interests! Anything is possible with the hard work required...and believe me it is hard work! Here are a few pictures. If you want to see them perform, use my VIMEO page at the top links.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

I am leaving my school of three years this fall and moving to another district. I will miss the kids, parents and teachers of the district an awful lot. They are why I stayed this year when I had an opportunity to leave early on. I owed them many things and didn't want to walk away from that. This has truly been both the best and worst of years for me. I have been planning this for some time and hoping in these tough economic times I would be able to make the move. Things have worked out very well thus far. We started our performing arts group this spring to make sure we maintained our connection with the kids. That will continue and I am very happy about that. The next thing on the agenda is the performing arts camp this summer. We had 60 kids sign up for our two sessions which I think is quite an accomplishment. This fall we will open our first season with "Into the Woods, jr." Change is always difficult but sometimes necessary and I look forward to a new life while hanging on to the best part of the old. If you need to contact me, my old school e-mail will not work. You can contact me at:

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Melissa Youth OnSTAGE

Recently my wife and I started a youth performing arts group. We felt there was a need in the community for a low cost chance for students to perform. Last weekend was our first variety show and we were thrilled with the outcome. 15 kids and an audience of over 100! This summer we are having two sessions of performing arts camp before starting a season of plays and musicals in the fall. We have both had experience in performing and could not be happier with our talented young performers!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Texas Library Association Conference

I recently went to the annual Texas Library Association Conference in Austin to pick up an award that Paige and I won for a video. Imagine my surprise when we not only won that, but I was also presented with the Texas Librarian of the Year award! What a shock and what a great honor. It's been a fantastic year for me and for my students. I could not be happier!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

2011 Storytubes results are in!

Wow, I got the results of our Storytube videos entered into this year's competition. All of my kids used animation in the style we invented. This year we did very well! Paige won a Judge's Choice honor in the 11-13 year old category for her Justin Bieber video. I'm so glad we changed from her original idea of a Michael Jackson biography. We also won a Judges Choice in the 5-7 year olds for one of those Magic Tree House non fiction guides. My wife had two videos entered and both received honorable mentions! We also have a few that will go on to the voting round. I'll keep you informed on those. Here is the video that won in the 5-7's:

We are so proud that our kids from this little school in Melissa Texas continues to shine on the national stage! Remember, our entire PK-12 population is 1400!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

2011 Storytubes contest

Last year several of our kids entered the national Storytubes contest. Though we failed to impress the judges, we still won a couple of the online voting audience awards. We're back this year with more of our animated book reviews. My wife also had her kids participate this year with a live action/animation mix. Here is one of the videos I made with a fifth grader. I am very please with the way it turned out. She came up with the concept and wrote it herself. * WARNING* Justin Bieber content :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Latest Dallas Morning News Article: Class Size

Texas is deciding what to do about our massive budget deficit. Among the proposed cuts in education is removing the cap of 22 students per classroom. In my latest article for the Dallas Morning News I discuss why this is a bad idea. Dallas Morning News

Saturday, February 12, 2011

TCEA Wrap up

As usual, I enjoyed my trip to TCEA a great deal. It is always nice to mix and mingle with people who understand what it is you do. Karen and I spent one evening with the Glogster people at a dinner for the Glogster ambassadors. These are really nice people who are receptive to what we have to say about their product. I am always impressed when I get the chance to talk with them. You should try Glogster if you haven't already! Karen had two presentations and her classroom integration talk drew at least 150 people! I had about 60-75 at mine which I considered quite good considering part of my time was up against the first keynote. Presenting gives you a very unique perspective on your work and I love having that opportunity. Thanks to all those who came out to hear me.
On Wednesday afternoon I attended our Library Special Interest Group meeting and was both surprised and delighted to recieve the annual award for "Amazing Librarian." It has indeed been a great year and I am always honored when my work is recongnized among such great librarians here in Texas.

There have been several snow days in Texas over the last couple of weeks so there is much to do here. Time to wrap my head around testing. First, I want to show you a video I produced for the upcoming Texas Library Association contest. It needed to be based on the theme "Crossing Boundaries." I think it turned out rather well! Thanks to Paige for all her help! Wish us luck.

Breaking down Boundaries. TXLA contest entry from Doug Valentine on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

TCEA Conference

Next week I'll be attending the TCEA conference in Austin. What a wonderful conference this is! It is as large as many national conferences and includes teachers, librarian, administrators and students as well as so many technology experts. I am going to be presenting this year on Wednesday February 9th at 8:00 a.m. Not being a morning person, this may be difficult! Click here for a link containing information on what I'll be discussing. If you are in Texas I highly recommend you drop by and see me and enjoy this great conference.