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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."