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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, February 26, 2012

February 27, 2012

Education Equality and Choice: Creating A Positive Future

Keeping up with best practice and the latest intervention techniques is enough of a challenge, but we can’t lose sight of the conversations and campaigns taking place outside the walls of our buildings. The push for school choice continues to pick up steam and is a topic we need to keep on our radar.

The Bernard Center for Women, Politics & Public Policy has created a campaign connected to Black History Month, calling school choice “the most important civil rights issue of our time.”

Here are a few lines from a recent op-ed released by the Bernard group:

“Perhaps most important, we must emphasize accountability, choice and competition in education. There is no bureaucratic one-size-fits-all technique to teach kids. We must offer parents more options, and then hold institutions accountable for their performance.

We know what works. Choice in all its forms — vouchers, tax credits, scholarships, charter schools and public school choice — improves educational performance. We must create new and better private alternatives. We also must force public schools to do better.”

To read the entire piece, click on the link below.

This group also produced an interesting video/PSA about the topic. The video can be found in the upper right side of the page

The message for us is clear. We must continue our efforts to create meaningful, authentic experiences for all students. We must create choice for our students within our buildings and district. We can’t risk losing sight of the importance of innovation and creativity in our structures, courses, and educational programs.

Education Equality and Choice: Creating a Positive Future

Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success

Much has been written about the late Steve Jobs since his passing…some good…some bad. As I came across this article, I couldn’t help but see the connections to our world as educators. Specifically, in our mission to not only provide our students with a great education, but also a great “experience.”

Passion, vision, making connections, creativity, messaging, and dreaming are the foundations to Jobs’ success. Likewise, these are the very same words we deliver to our students in preparing them for their futures.

Steve Jobs and the Seven Rules of Success

Rethinking Testing in the Age of the iPad

The article title “Rethinking Testing in the Age of the iPad” caught my eye for a few reasons: Hilliard administrators are beginning to use an electronic Instructional Round/Walkthrough template to record classroom observations and Ohio’s new state assessments will be administered with a mobile device in a few quick years (2014-2015). Educators need to incorporate technology tools into our daily practice to consolidate and expedite our workload.

This week’s article gives examples of how educators embrace the use of the iPad for assessment and data purposes. Teachers use the technology tool to record assessment observations of students which are quickly uploaded to a centralized database. Traditional methods consume great amounts of precious teacher time: hand-jotting notes about the students on paper then recording the scores electronically at a later time. Another innovative use of the iPad is, “screencasting, which records what students are doing on the display screens of their devices, which allows teachers to see students work through problems without having to stand over their shoulders the whole time.” The use of the iPad allows for quicker feedback about students for teachers.

Rethinking Testing in the Age of the iPad

What Makes a Great Teacher?

The teacher is the most powerful influence on how much a student learns. More than schools, curriculum, or any other variable, teachers count the most. Many parents worry about where to send their children to school, but ironically, the school matters much less than the teacher who works with their child each day. Teacher effectiveness has been at the core of reform efforts associated with Race to the Top grant funding. The "charge" has been to identify great teachers, find out how they got that way, and then develop more teachers into great ones.

This article discusses what high performing teachers do differently. Using data from Teach for America, the non-profit that recruits college graduates to teach in low-income schools, factors that separate the good from the great were identified. It is no surprise that among the patterns are: Great teachers set big goals for their students. A focus is always maintained, ensuring that everything contributes to student learning. They plan exhaustively and purosefully. They frequently check for understanding. Sound familiar? Just to reinforce that the strategies that these teachers employ are research based, they also use the "gradual release model" when introducing new content. "I do, you do, we do" will ensure success for students of all ability levels. Among other factors are a commitment to reflect on practice and participate in life-long learning.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

February 13, 2012

We Are Natural Born Multi-Taskers

The debate continues about today's students. Are they "multi-taskers" or just great "task switchers"? Most researchers say the brain isn't capable of multi-tasking, but new research is making a different claim.

". . . . These are the questions Julio Martinez-Trujillo, a cognitive neurophysiology specialist from McGill University, and his team set out to answer in a new study on multifocal attention. They found that, for the first time, there's evidence that we can pay attention to more than one thing at a time."

This is interesting research, and we can be sure the debate will continue . . . .

We Are Natural Born Multi-Taskers

Writing to Learn

As you know, we are in the midst of transitioning our Language Arts and Mathematics curriculum’s to align with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Although the CCSS Initiative does not establish new standards for Science and Social Studies (ODE’s Model Curriculum does), it does not mean those areas were left untouched by the CCSS Initiative. In fact, the CCSS Initiative establishes both Reading and Writing Standards for Science and Social Studies.

My selection this week provides a clear and concise 5-step method for students to follow during the writing process.

Writing to Learn

Preparing Students to Learn Without Us

As you will remember from the ILE 2011 Conference, many educators were challenged by the message of keynote speaker Will Richardson. He caused the listeners to think deeply about how the traditional schooling model needs to evolve. He showed us student work samples in which social media was the platform for personal and unique demonstration of learning.

I love this week's article from Richardson because it brings multiple 'hot topics of the day' together for me: the expanding competition being offered to Ohio public schools by charter /community schools, the need to develop college and career readiness in all students, and the importance of creating an environment in which technology is used by students and teachers as a tool for personalized learning.

He asks, "How can we shift curriculum and pedagogy to more effectively help students form and answer their own questions, develop patience with uncertainty and ambiguity, appreciate and learn from failure, and develop the ability to go deeply into subjects about which they have a passion to learn?"

Preparing Students to Learn Without Us

How Education Fails Technology (And What to Do About It)

Dr. Mark Weston, national education strategist for Dell, Inc., will be the keynote speaker at the Innovative Learning Environments Conference on July 31, 2012. Dr. Weston wrote this article to show how education has not used technology effectively to “get all children learning at levels beyond their respective aptitudes” and what can be done to make progress with our current circumstances. He begins the article with a reference to Benjamin Bloom’s research 30 years ago which identified certain classroom practices such as feedback, cues, explanations, and classroom participation that each have a positive effect on student achievement. He also cites the research of Marzano and Hattie, which reinforce Bloom’s studies. Despite the work in this field, we have not been able to impact all students. Weston blames “teacher work-load conundrum” for this failure and believes that the only way to maximize results is through the effective use of technology. Unfortunately, the “technology has exerted little overall effect in educational settings and the teaching and learning in them,” he feels. The author continues by suggesting what we as educators can do to impact the way that technologies are used.

How Education Fails Technology (And What to Do About It)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February 6, 2012

Project-based learning, inquiry, and educational “experiences” have all been at the forefront of our discussions around intentional instructional design.  The results of the 2012 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index survey are interesting and reinforce the importance of staying the course and continuing to push the expectation for what classroom instruction and experiences need to look like. Students want and need opportunities to invent, innovate, think, and create.
“Hands-on invention activities are critical, but few too many students have opportunities to learn and develop their inventive skills,” said Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program’s invention education officer. “This year’s survey revealed that less than half of respondents have done things like used a drill or hand-held power tool, or made something out of raw materials in the past year. We must engage students in these types of invention experiences as well as provide a strong STEM education to drive future innovators.”

8 Things Your Students Are Afraid to Tell You
As you can see from the title, my selection this week centers around eight topics/themes that our students may not feel comfortable in talking openly about in terms of their education with their teachers.  As I read these statements, I couldn’t help but relate them to the work we’ve done around the 7 Characteristics of Highly Effective Teachers.  
Many of these statements, I’m sure, will provide some fodder for great conversations in your buildings.

Clusters for Success
As you know from the recent Curriculum Connection, Hilliard Schools has assembled a Gifted Task Force to study different service delivery options.  One of the options is to cluster into one classroom four to nine students that are identified to be gifted.  The article sheds light on the benefits of this model and explains the process for clustering an entire cohort of students.  The clustering model lends itself to RTI as it diminishes wide learning ranges for the classroom teacher.  It allows the educator to intervene and enrich more easily.    
The article could be fodder for thinking about different yet more effective ways to group students.  

Group Think...The Brainstorming Myth
What conditions produce the greatest chance of achieving true collaboration?  Since the late 1940s when the idea of "brainstorming" emerged, many leaders believed that this strategy could generate the best ideas and solve the most pressing problems.  In brainstorming, all ideas are equally important, and criticism, as well as negative feedback are supposed to be absent.
This article takes the opposite view by devaluing the effects of brainstorming.  "Debate and criticism do not inhibit ideas, but rather stimulate them", author Jonah Lehrer writes.  "Physical proximity is the key variable to productivity."  Steve Jobs had that in mind when he designed the office space for Pixar .  He felt that great ideas emerge when people run into each other.