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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, March 18, 2012

March 19, 2012

Single-District Virtual Ed. Seen Growing Fastest

"Single-district online learning programs were the fastest-growing sector of virtual learning in the United States in 2011. Whether it is to provide more options for students, keep more students from seeking virtual learning options outside the school district, or simply to move toward 21st-century teaching and learning, many districts are launching and sustaining their own virtual learning programs."

This is an interesting read about school districts establishing their own virtual coursework for students.  This is clearly a growing trend and is right in line with our direction and vision.

Why be an Administrative Tweeter

My selection this week comes from administrator Jeff Delp.  Delp briefly explains his journey on Twitter, and how its utilization has become an essential piece to his ongoing professional develop.  Delp states “Twitter can be customized to create individualized professional learning opportunities.”

Whether you’ve not yet created a Twitter account, have just started an account, or you’re a veteran, I encourage you to seek out some of the many “Connected Principals” that are out there to increase your PLN.  Oh, and don’t forget to follow @connected_leadr.  Enjoy!

The Challenge of Challenging Text

As Hilliard City Schools implements the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts, we recognize the attention given to literacy skills in science and social studies.  Teachers of these content areas need to be explicit at teaching students how to navigate the unique text of their disciple.  Often we hear content teachers express concern because their college training did not teach them how to "teach reading".  

This week's article, "The Challenge of Challenging Text" could be valuable for any teacher of high school, middle school, or upper elementary students. It explains components of text that cause difficulty for readers:  vocabulary, sentence structure, coherence, organization, and background knowledge.  The authors help teachers know what to do about text complexity.

In Schools, Self-Esteem Boosting is Losing Favor to Rigor, Fine-tuned Praise

Educational research over the last ten years has revealed that unearned praise to students actually interferes with the learning process.  With the emphasis on rigor today, words like “persistence”, “risk taking”, and “resilience” can lead to much higher achievement that the warm, fuzzy feelings that boost self esteem.

Praise should be related to objective standards.  Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck says that “it is important to be clear with children about what a proficient or a gold medal performance looks like so that they know what to strive for”.  The Habits of Mind discussed in this article make way for invention, creativity, and life-long learning.

In Schools, Self-Esteem Boosting is Losing Favor to Rigor, Fine-tuned Praise

Sunday, March 11, 2012

March 12, 2012

Twilight of the Lecture: The Trend toward “Active Learning” May Overthrow the Style of Teaching that has Ruled Universities for 600 Years. 

There is interesting conversation happening at the college level about instructional design as illustrated in this Harvard Magazine article about the ineffectiveness of the lecture and how we truly learn something.

“When Mazur (former Harvard professor) speaks to audiences on pedagogy, he asks his listeners to think about something they are really good at—perhaps some skill they are proud of, especially one that advanced their career. ‘Now, think of how you became good at it,’ he says next. Audience members, supplied with wireless clickers, can choose from several alternatives: trial and error, apprenticeship, lectures, family and friends, practicing. Data from thousands of subjects make ‘two things stand out,’ Mazur says. ‘The first is that there is a huge spike at practicing—around 60 percent of the people select ‘practicing.’ The other thing is that for many audiences, which often number in the hundreds, ‘there is absolutely zero percent for lectures. Nobody cites lectures.’”

The argument in this article – namely that active learning should overthrow the “transfer of information” model – aligns nicely with our work around the seven characteristics of highly effective instruction.  Students need time for meaningful collaboration, project-based engagement, variety in instructional strategies, and peer-to-peer feedback – all important components of active learning.
Stop Stealing Dreams (What is school for?)
Recently, business consultant and author Seth Godin posted a manifesto (Stop Stealing Dreams) on the need for change in our current educational system.  The manifesto is written as a series of blog posts (132 to be exact) that highlight the need for fostering creativity and personalization, while challenging the current traditional model.  As I’ve read through his manifesto, I can not help but think about our goal to create a meaningful experience for our students.  
I’ve included one of my favorites pieces from the manifesto: 

5. Column A and Column B
Supportive ——————————————- >

Which column do you pick? Whom do you want to work for or work next to? Whom do you want to hire? Which doctor do you want to treat you? Whom do you want to live with?...

The link below provides you with a variety of versions, allowing you to print or save on your computer/iPad.  Enjoy!!!

Stop Stealing Dreams
Study: Good Principals Make a Difference in High-Poverty Schools
A recent study from the University of Texas attempts to estimate the effect of school leaders and determine what they do to produce success in their schools. 

“The researchers found that high-quality principals- as determined by a value-added model that includes student achievement and school characteristics- had a large positive impact on their students’ achievement.”  In addition, there was teacher turnover in the lowest performing grades in the schools of most effective principals.  The implication is that an effective principal monitors the quality of the teaching staff and takes steps to improve positive teacher impact on student learning.     

When I read about studies that prove a good leader makes a difference, I am encouraged that the work of “ The 7s”- Characteristics of Highly Effective Leaders, Teachers, and Students- is the right work.  We are on the right track in Hilliard Schools!  

Teacher Quality Widely Diffused, Ratings Indicate

School and teacher effectiveness are in the spotlight both locally and nationally.  Just last month, the controversial ratings of about 18,000 New York City teachers were released.  The results "showed that most and least successful teachers in improving their students' test scores could be found all around- in the poorest corners of the Bronx and in middle class neighbors like Queens".  The teachers' ratings were calculated by measuring how much their test scores reached, fell short, or exceeded expectations.  Demographics and prior performance contributed to the calculation.  

As we know, research reveals that there is more variation within a school building than among schools when examining teacher effectiveness.  The media tends to focus on a school's rating, while, in actuality, the range within a school among the teachers can run from the 12th to 99th percentile in teacher effectiveness.  Hundreds of the highest rated teachers were working with students in classes that were deemed the most difficult.  Again, the data reinforces the power that an individual teacher has to make a difference with students. 

We are warned that to make a decision on value added scores alone is inadequate since this score is just one test at one point in time.  A school's/teacher's entire educational program must be considered in obtaining a holistic picture of teacher effectiveness.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Webinar: Connecting the Work

Webinar #8: Connecting the Work

It's that time of year -- the time that we need to step back for a moment, look at all the work we've been doing, and make sure it all makes sense. The purpose of this webinar is to show how all of the initiatives and focus areas of our work connect to improve instruction in the classroom.

Built around five thoughtful questions from John Hattie, this webinar should offer good food for thought as you plan for the final stretch of the school year!

Connecting the Work (2011-2012) from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.