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As the 9th largest school district in the state of Ohio, the Hilliard City School District serves more than 15,500 students in grades K-12, through three high schools, three middle schools, two sixth-grade schools and 14 elementary schools.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

December 12, 2011

Online Classroom Infographic
My pick this week is an interesting infographic illustrating the evolution of online education technologies.  Some of the statistics are pretty amazing and important as we think of what the traditional classroom will become in the future.

The Invisible Leader
My selection this week is a blog post by Tom Schimmer, an educator from Canada.  I chose this post since it stresses what I believe is one of the most important jobs we have as educational leaders, developing a “team” that works together in which no one member is more important than any other.  
Schimmer says it best in the following: “Being an invisible leader is what we all know great leadership is about, but it can be challenging – even privately – to park our egos and allow others to flourish.”

Better Teachers, Common Curriculum Are Hallmarks of Finnish Schools

In the recent iGeneration seminar, Hilliard administrators discussed The Finland Phenomenon documentary.  The video explored the educational system that develops some of the world's highest achieving students in science, math and reading as measured by PISA.  Our local conversation centered around two pieces:  the components of Finnish schooling that most significantly impacted student learning and take-aways for Hilliard Schools.  
This week's article highlights Finland's extensive professional development investment.  Strong teacher content knowledge is built through feedback from students and masterful colleagues.  A reoccurring question to ponder with our colleagues:  How can Hilliard administrators promote teacher professional development in our buildings so that instructional skills are strengthened?

The Trouble with Homework

At the iGeneration Seminar last week, we viewed the movie "The Finland Phenomenon".  In the film, leading Harvard educator Tony Wagner interviewed Finnish high school students and asked them to estimate the number of hours of homework that they were assigned per week.  They said that worked no longer that three hours per week on homework; most weeks, it was less than that.  Many of our high schoolers are assigned at least three hours per night!  Is the extra homework leading to increased student achievement?  Students in Finland spend considerably less time on homework than ours, yet their rankings on international assessments far exceed ours.  A vast number of studies on homework indicate that our practices fail for two reasons---there is too much homework being assigned and the homework focuses on low level busy work.   How can we get higher results from the amount of time being spent on after-school assignments?

A promising new line of research by neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and educational psychologists reveals ways that students absorb, retain, apply knowledge. "Mind, Brain, and Education", this new field, offers three new insights into how homework can be turned into a catalyst for learning.  Read this article to find out what these recommended practices are and how they can be used to support our work with students and staff.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 5, 2011

The Khan Academy Opens Its Virtual Doors - Carefully 
How connected are your teachers?  Are they paying attention to new trends in teaching?  Here’s a test.  Ask them if they’ve ever heard of a “flipped” classroom.  The Khan Academy is continuing to grow, and soon teachers will even be able to upload their own videos.  Check out this article about the expansion of the Khan Academy.  This type of instruction is going to continue to become more commonplace in our classrooms.
“In the very foreseeable future, teachers will be able to upload their own videos to the Khan Academy, but also be able to create their own “knowledge maps” or repositories of content for their classes, using videos – within or outside of the Khan Academy – and all of Khan’s analytics, and reporting tools, in order to customize their own curricula.”

Points Don’t Work.  Respecting Students Does.
Wednesday, during our Late Start, our secondary teachers will be discussing grading practices.  As I was reading this article, I felt it would provide us with a good lead in to this discussion.  At the heart of the article is a Framework for Rigor/Relevance.  However, what I found to be most interesting was the author’s point that these two R’s can not occur without the trust that is formed between teachers and students through a third R, Relationships. 
Formative Assessment or ‘Formative Instruction’?
As we prepare for our second Late Start professional development of the year, I am reminded of the importance of convincing teaching staff that our district initiatives are connected.    As we carve out precious staff meeting time for work such as data teams, RTI, new Standards implementation, and grading practices, we need to assist teachers in realizing that all of this work is about improving the quality and focus of instruction.  
The blog I chose this week reminds us that assessment is a "reciprocal feedback loop of students and teachers figuring out together whether deep learning has taken place." Isn't that what our daily work should always be? 
As the Brain Changes, So Can IQ - Study Finds Teens' Intellect May Be More Malleable Than Previously Thought 
This article reinforces what we believe about highly effective teachers, leaders and schools.......what we do really does matter.
A recent study by researchers at University College London found that environmental factors during the teenage years can impact intellectual capacity.  I.Q., which may be more malleable than previously thought, can be influenced by environmental factors such as tutoring, personalization, feedback, and at the opposite end, neglect.  "A change in 20 points is a hugh difference", said the team's senior researcher Cathy Price.  " It can mean the difference between being rated average and being labeled gifted- or conversely being categorized- as substandard."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

November 21, 2011

The Top 25 Temptations of Leadership

This is a pretty good list – certainly some important reminders and great things to think about as we all work to be the best leaders we can be this year!

Here are my favorites from the list.  What are yours?
·        Believing talent, experience, or skills compensate for preparation.
·        Overlooking the destructive behaviors of high performers.
·        Allowing people to think you agree when you don’t.
5 Tips To Get All Students to Participate
If you had the opportunity to hear Dylan William speak this past August at the ILE Conference, or have watched the most recent webinars centered around feedback using Dylan William’s book Embedded Formative Assessment, I’m sure you’ve walked away with a few strategies to share with your staff.  In the article I’ve selected this week, the author, Chris Atkinson, provides us with five tips for increasing student engagement.  Additionally, he provides a short video clip of Dylan William sharing his thoughts on the topic.
The Principal as Formative Coach
As we reflect on our practice as administrators, I am reminded of the 7 Characteristics of Highly Effective Leaders.  The first few characteristics challenge the principal to lead teacher professional development based on current knowledge of curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  The intent of The Connected Leader blog is to provide tools that you might use to give instructional leadership.  
The article The Principal as Formative Coach reminds us that "Even in those schools fortunate enough to have a curriculum coach, the principal must still set the expectations for student learning.  To effectively sustain school improvement, the principal must be the epicenter of school change".  The authors use "student work as the foundation for mentoring (teachers) and professional development".  A building leader might use the suggestions in this article to strengthen the work in data teams, staff meetings, or the upcoming Late Start.
Starting the Conversation About Grading
The entire November 2011 issue of Educational Leadership is devoted to effective grading practices.  This topic will be the focus on the secondary Late Start Day in December and the elementary one in January.  The issue of grading gets right to the core of teacher belief systems, and there are strong feelings about adhering to certain practices.  "Even though opinions about why grades are important differ, more and more educators are beginning to question traditional grading practices that were developed to sort students into learners and non-learners, not to support learning for all," writes the author of this article.  Is your staff questioning traditional grading practices?
Before we explore these ideas during the professional development time slot, this is an excellent time to begin the conversation in your school.  The reading will provide ideas to challenge our thinking and lead us to determining what the purpose of grading is.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Webinar: Gives & Receives Feedback – Part II

Webinar #6:  Gives & Receives Feedback – Part II

Part two of this two part webinar on giving and receiving feedback offers practical strategies for implementing all types of feedback in the classroom and should serve as an important springboard for discussion about additional effective feedback strategies that can be implemented.

Gives and Receives Feedback - Pt 2 (2011-2012) from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Webinar: Gives & Receives Feedback – Part 1

Webinar #5: Gives & Receives Feedback - Part 1

Part one of this two part webinar on giving and receiving feedback establishes a common framework and understanding for the meaning of feedback and what it means for teachers and students in the classroom.

Gives and Receives Feedback - Pt 1 (2011-2012) from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

October 31, 2011

High School Students Learning by Skype
I’m writing this entry on the heels of a great session in the iGeneration Seminar in which Dr. Larry Rosen participated in our book discussions via Skype.  It was literally like he was right in the room with us! 

This experience was a reminder for me that we need to encourage our teachers to take advantage of the resources available to connect with experts, students, teachers, and classrooms all over the world.   My selection this week also reminds us of this and the power of Skype in schools.
“Skype created its first education-focused community, Skype in the classroom <http://education.skype.com/> , where teachers could create profiles, post classroom projects for other teachers to join, and find tips from educators on how to use Skype as a teaching tool. The site has grown into a community of more than 17,000 educators since it formally launched in March.”

Becoming a Connected Leader: A Journey
In the spirit of this blog, The Connected Leader, my selection this week comes from the blog of Chris Wejr, an elementary principal in Canada.  In this post, Wejr chronicles his journey in developing an online personal learning network (PLN) and becoming a "Connected Leader."  He's embraced all forms of social media (twitter, Facebook, blog, etc.) to find new ways to connect with his school community.  
So, jump on board and join those principals (@connected_leadr, @theheritagems, @memorial_ms, @weaverdctrip, @BradleyHS, @Hilliard_Darby) that have begun using twitter to reach out to their school communities.  Following these will be a start, but I promise you will soon find more in developing your own PLN.

The Five Stages of Data Analysis
Frequent data analysis is a behavior that we want every educator and Data Team in Hilliard Schools to weave into their craft.  Research indicates that student achievement will increase when teachers and administrator frequently examine the results of common formative assessments and respond with different instruction.  However, we know from experience that Data Team work takes practice!  
The author of this week's blog choice states that, " When teacher teams analyze classroom data and district data, they often experience one of the Five Stages of Data Analysis...similar to the Five Stages of Grief.  The five stages for teacher teams are similar because each person on the team may experience a different emotional reaction to the data that is presented."
An awareness of the five stages could help us as we nudge our teachers and colleagues to "accept" the current reality of the data.  

Study Reveals Brain Biology Behind Self-Control
Here's a new study into student achievement that will peaked my interest, and I am certain that you will also find this fascinating!
"A new neuroscience twist on a classic psychology study offers some clues to what makes one student able to buckle down for hours of homework before a test while his classmates party.  The findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that a student's ability to delay gratification can be as important to academic success as his or her intelligence- and educators may soon know how to teach it."
Read to find out how this research is being used by educators at the KIPP schools to improve both academic and social behavior.   Seven character indicators, including zest, grit, and social intelligence, have been added to the student report card twice a year to measure growth using school based strategies to improve self control.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 24, 2011

How Did The Robot End Up With My Job?

Why are we learning this?  What's the purpose of this activity?  How will I use this?  What do you want me to get from today's lesson?  These questions all get to the heart of "learning targets" -- questions that students all too often are not able to answer in our classrooms.

My selection this week comes from Thomas Friedman -- and as he always does so well -- Friedman makes us stop and think in this New York Times op-ed column . . . Students better understand how today's learning will help them tomorrow, and, even more important, we better make sure that it really will help them tomorrow.
"In the hyperconnected world, there is only “good” “better” and “best,” and managers and entrepreneurs everywhere now have greater access than ever to the better and best people, robots and software everywhere. Obviously, this makes it more vital than ever that we have schools elevating and inspiring more of our young people into that better and best category, because even good might not cut it anymore and average is definitely over."

How Did The Robot End Up WIth My Job?

20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education

As a district, we have identified "7 Characteristics of the College & Career Ready" Student.  Now more than every before, it is imperative that we prepare our students for the college and career demands they will face when they leave the Hilliard City Schools.  

My selection this week comes from Lisa Nielson's blog, The Innovative Educator, and it's centered around an NBC News special, Education Nation.   The special consists of a student panel and their thoughts on what they think needs to be done to ensure a world-class education for everyone.  The blog includes the video of the special and recaps the 20 things they want us to know.  As the post states, "Students wanted to say something that made a difference to you (adults) and they did. Now adults need to listen."

How Small Wins Unleash Creativity

What motivates students to learn at their greatest capacity?  It could be the same thing that motivates employees to be enthusiastic about their work.  Researchers for the Harvard Business School recently released the top motivator of employee performance:  making progress on meaningful work.

Researchers Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer indicate that employee motivation can be positively influenced.  They share 7 catalysts for enhancing "small wins" and promoting the feeling of forward progress.  

Five Reasons to go to College (Besides Career Advancement)

More young people today are asking, “Do I really need college?”  With soaring tuition rates and so many unemployed or underemployed college graduates, some students are rethinking their options.  These students argue that more money can be earned by pursuing real world skills than by writing research papers and taking final exams.  This article provides the top five reasons why college is more than preparing for a good career.  It is also about preparing for “life” as a responsible, productive citizen.  We need to continue to remind students of this as we motivate them to think deeper and set challenging goals for themselves. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

October 17, 2011

U.S. Students' Entrepreneurial Energy Waiting to Be Tapped

“Given the slow pace of the U.S. economic recovery and persistent unemployment and underemployment rates <http://www.gallup.com/poll/149525/Gallup-Finds-Underemployment-Stuck-Mid-Sept.aspx> , developing the entrepreneurial attitudes and experience of young people is critical to helping them grow up to be productive workers who ultimately help to create jobs. Continued measurement and understanding of these attitudes can also help to inform strategies for building a pipeline of business builders who will help their local communities thrive in the future.”
My pick this week is an interesting piece about a recent Gallup-Student poll conducted with U.S. 5th through 8th grade students about entrepreneurship and financial literacy.  The results align nicely with the direction we’ve been heading with broader career experiences, financial literacy requirements, project-based learning, and capstone experiences.

Before You Assign that Homework...

As our first grading period comes to an end, and we continue to have conversations about valid grades, this article provides us with a number of questions to consider around the value of a given homework assignment.  

Before You Assign that Homework...

Teaching Secrets: After the Honeymoon

As the excitement of a fresh school year begins to fade, author Cossondra George offers 7 tips for educators to keep our enthusiasm high and momentum moving forward.  The article is written with the first-year teacher in mind but even experienced educators can benefit from the reminders.

Teaching Secrets: After the Honeymoon

Personal Best

A colleague from another district sent me this article about two weeks ago saying that it would be relevant to the priority we have been placing on coaching at all levels.  I found it interesting that it is widely accepted for high paid athletes to work with coaches, yet professionals in many other fields resist exposure and critique.  This article promotes coaching as essential to the success of modern society.  Coaching can help both teachers and administrators to sustain mastery and continue to get better beyond their perceived professional peak.  “Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance,” writes the author Atul Gawande.

Personal Best  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Webinar: Knows & Applies Best Practice

Webinar: Knows & Applies Best Practice

As we continue our webinar series, this webinar focuses on one of the seven characteristics of highly effective teachers – Knows and Applies Best Practice.  Specifically, this webinar begins to paint a picture of what this characteristic should look like in action and the Doug Fisher model of instruction.  As we continue our series throughout the year, we will highlight many of the 7 characteristics to assist you in working with your teachers and knowing specifically what to look for as you visit classrooms.
Knows & Applies Best Practice (2011-2012) from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

September 26, 2011

The Flipped Classroom Infographic

I have shared a couple pieces about the “flipped classroom” and how we need to start thinking differently about instructional structure in the traditional classroom.  Check out this interesting “infographic” about the history and development of the flipped classroom.  This isn’t the answer all of the time but could trigger some good discussion about instructional design and strategies.

The Flipped Classroom Infographic

Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (and Five Alternatives)

Over the last few years, we've had many discussions about homework and how it should be structured.  In this article, Spencer, identifies ten reasons we should get rid of homework.  Many of theses reasons, if not all, are things we have identified as flaws in our homework practices.  However, Spencer, provides five alternatives to homework that may prompt some discussion in your buildings amongst your teachers.

Ten Reasons to Get Rid of Homework (and Five Alternatives)

Fallen High Flyers Don't Fall Far

The educational landscape in Ohio changed in an important way last week.  Teacher level value-added reports were released to 30% of the districts in Ohio.  Next year at this time, many Hilliard teachers will receive reports that measure their estimated effectiveness.  This fact is important for educators because of the political and professional implications.  In the coming years, at least 50% of the evaluation for teachers and principals will be based on the growth measure.  It is likely that informed parents and community members will seek to know the effectiveness ratings of teachers in their neighboring schools.  

As we deepen our personal understanding of the value-added growth measure that our state uses, we will need to examine our ability to show progress with every type of learner.  

In "Fallen High Flyers Don't Fall Far", the author comments on the recent study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute called Do High Flyers Maintain their Altitude?  Performance Trends for Top Students.

What the iPad (and Other Technology) Can’t Replace in Education  

“A recent article in The New York Times explains how after investing $33 million in technology, a school district in Arizona has seen almost no improvement in test scores.  It is no surprise that we as a society have a kind of blind faith that technology is able to solve all of our problems.  Yet while the iPad can and should replace textbooks, it can’t replace common sense.”

What is it that raises student achievement?  We have to be careful that we don’t confuse the “platform” for high quality instruction.  This article shares evidence that we can’t rely on technology to fix our educational dilemmas. Solutions must begin with an examination of instructional strategies that can connect students to the content. 

What the iPad (and Other Technology) Can't Replace in Education

Sunday, September 18, 2011

September 19, 2011

Five Characteristics of an Effective 21st Century Educator

This piece from eSchool News is an interesting take on the important characteristics of the effective 21st century educator.  Though framed a little differently, these characteristics are well aligned to our 7s. 

The 21st century educator . . . 

1.  Anticipates the future
2.  Is a lifelong learner
3.  Fosters peer relationships
4.  Can teach and assess all levels of learners

5.  Is able to discern effective vs. non-effective technology

If school isn't for collaborating, why does anyone come?
“Serious question. If students want to learn in isolation; if they want to sit at a desk and work on their own stuff, occasionally checking in with an "expert," they have no reason to come to school. They can do a lot better at home, or at their local coffee shop or even the public library, where both the coffee and the WiFi connection will be better” (Socol, 2011).

Although some of the suggestions Socol mentions in the article are somewhat unrealistic, he does provide some valuable insight in to how schools should be structured to maximize opportunities for student achievement.

Making the Most of Instructional Rounds
In "Making the Most of Instructional Rounds", researcher and author Bob Marzano explains how teachers can benefit from visiting the classrooms of colleagues.  He shares, "Instructional rounds are one of the most valuable tools that a school or district can use to enhance teachers' pedagogical skills and develop a culture of collaboration".  I would encourage the administrators of Hilliard to consider using the district's Instructional Round Template with educators in your building.

Lessons of Mastery Learning
This article "Lessons of Mastery Learning" describes the core elements of mastery learning and strategies for it's use in the classroom.  It goes on to show that mastery learning is the foundation for Response to Intervention (RTI), and that by following the RTI sequence for instruction, educators can make strides in closing the achievement gap. 
Last year we field tested RTI in three schools, and this year our CIP includes "full implementation of the framework.  Thomas Guskey's insights in the article help us to understand how striving for mastery learning also satisfies all of our intervention plans, including RTI.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sepember 12, 2011

One Year After High School Graduation, Class of 2010 Shares Lessons Learned About College Readiness

An interesting study was just released by the College Board.  “One Year Out” explored how the class of 2010 assess their high school experience and its role in preparing them for life after graduation.

“With a year of formative new experiences behind them, the majority of 2010 high school graduates looks back positively on their time in high school, expressing satisfaction both with the collective experience and on a variety of specific measures. Still, while these recent graduates have a generally favorable view of their time in high school, almost all of them admit there is at least one thing they would change or do differently.”

Results of this national survey aren’t much different from what we hear from our own graduates . . .

One Year After High School Graduation, Class of 2010 Shares Lessons Learned About College Readiness

The 12 Most Important Things Children Want From Their Teachers

My selection this week comes from the blog, The 12 Most.  As I read this entry, I was not only reminded of Hattie's research regarding Teacher-Student Relationships, but more importantly, I was reminded why we are all so passionate about our careers.  This is best summed up by the opening line of the blog post: "Whether you are a teacher, parent, relative, boss, or fellow community member, each of us has a chance to make a positive and impactful difference in a child's life" (Maiers, 2011).

Let Me Learn My Own Way

All learners have preferences for the manner in which they process new information.  These preferences produce cognitive styles crucial to the learning process (Kise, 2007; Lawrence, 2009).  A recent ASCD article entitled “Let Me Learn My Own Way” explores four distinct ways of learning.  Author Jane Kise challenges readers to use the learning styles to design intervention sessions.  As building data teams implement the RTI model across Hilliard City Schools, this article could serve as a powerful discussion tool for teacher teams.   

West Virginia learns Finland’s ‘most honorable profession’: Teacher

Three policy measures that are currently receiving attention in the United States don’t exist in Finland:, charter schools, removing tenure protections, and tying teacher pay and evaluation to test scores.  In fact, these movements are directly opposite to what is happening in Finland, yet, Finland ranks at the top of international test rankings for elementary through high schools. Why?  Finland honors the teaching profession and is committed to preparing and developing high quality teachers.  “In Finland, it is a tremendous honor to be a teacher, and teachers are afforded a status comparable to what doctors, lawyers, and other highly regarded professionals enjoy in the U.S.”, said West Virginia State Superintendent Dr. Steven Paine, who is using the Finland system as a model for educational reform in his state.  “In Finland, they attract the very best and brightest into the profession and it has nothing to do with money.  It has everything  to do with the respect that is given to the profession.”

Among the other interesting points made in the article: Finland’s teachers spend half their school time planning with colleagues, working with parents, and taking part in high-level professional development.  An integral part of Finland’s education system is Project Based Learning.  One “project” is used as a starting point and then multiple contents are integrated in to this unit.  Sounds interesting?  Read about Finland’s education system and then be sure to register for the iGeneration Seminar.  We will view the movie entitled “The Finland Phenomenon on December 1st as part of our series.