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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, April 29, 2012

April 30, 2012

Re-Designing Spaces for Learning
We're creating opportunities for project-based learning.  We're "flipping" classrooms.  We're encouraging meaningful collaboration.  We're demanding purposeful instructional design with an emphasis on authentic experience.  But, how many classrooms in your building look the same today as they did five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago?
This interesting read reminds us that the configuration of the learning space is a crucial piece to shifting teaching and learning in the 21st century.
"My focus is the key importance of spatial awareness in redesigning spaces for learning. I hope the second decade of this century will be marked by an awareness that redesigning spaces will be as important to change processes, as describing the new skills deemed necessary for learning and career creation in the last decade. I will focus on our journey of change as a case study for education redesign."
 Click here to read the whole piece:
The Three New Pillars of 21st Century Learning
Recently, I attended a conference on Digital Learning in which one of the top executives at Pearson shared the following quote from Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE : “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.”  As we all know, the world of education is changing at an alarming rate.  With the variety of school choice our students have these days, it’s our responsibility to be ahead of this rate of change.
In “The Three New Pillars of 21st Century Learning,” the author, Rob Mancabelli, calls for a need for new pillars for learning.  A change from the original pillars of the textbook; the lecturer; and the classroom.  Instead, he suggests the following, along with their implications: Pillar #1: “I’m only one of my students’ teachers, but I’m the most important because I teach them to connect to all the others.” Implication area: Instruction; Pillar #2: “My students should learn from me how to learn without me.” Implication area: Curriculum; and Pillar #3: “My students’ knowledge lies not only in their minds but in their networks.” Implication area: Assessment.
Calling All Innovators
"Calling All Innovators" might be my favorite article submission of the year!  The author, Tony Wagner, boldly states that our nation's "long-term economic health depends on innovation".  He challenges that "...educators must be far more intentional in designing cultures of innovation that foster the skills that matter most."  
He believes that few innovation-driven schools exist and highlights the five essential changes in our current schooling culture that need to occur:  
1. Collaboration versus individual achievement
2. Multidisciplinary learning versus specialization
3. Trial and error versus risk avoidance
4. Creating versus consuming
5. Intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation
The ideas in this article affirm the path that Hilliard Schools is choosing:  Innovative Learning Center, capstone projects, mentorships, college credit opportunities, project based learning.  We are creating learning opportunities in our school system that will ensure our students are ready for college and career.  

Face the Facts: We Are All Headed For an iDisorder

Dr. Larry Rosen was our keynote speaker at last year’s Administrative Retreat.  He talked about the iGeneration and what we, as educators, need to know so that we can best meet the learning needs of today’s students.  In his new book, iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, Larry claims the we are “hopelessly addicted to our devices, particularly our smartphones.”  Those afflicted with the disorder show signs of OCD, narcissism, and possibly ADHD!  Here are few questions you can ask yourself to check if you are addicted to your devices: Do you become anxious if you can’t check email or texts for several hours?  Do you switch tasks constantly and succumb to clicking whenever a message comes through?  You may have an iDisorder if you answered “yes” to one or both of these questions.

In this article, Dr. Rosen provides several strategies to help you to overcome the hold that technology may have on you.  Try these out and see how Larry’s helpful hints can free you from the grip!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

April 23, 2012

Caine's Arcade
If you haven't watched the video Caine's Arcade yet, take about 10 minutes to watch.  There is a pretty strong message here for all of us to take away as we continue to focus on the "experience" we create everyday for the students in our classrooms.
Caine's story speaks volumes for the innovation, creativity, and passion students bring to school.  The question for us -- How do we support, strengthen, and celebrate this innovation, creativity, and passion?
To watch the video, click here:
Educating the Next Steve Jobs
On the heels of the ILC announcement, I wanted to highlight an article that challenges us as educators to foster the development of the next Steve Jobs.  It is a call to action for us to develop the skills needed to become more innovative for our young people 
The author, Tony Wagner, sums this challenge up in the following: “Learning in most conventional education settings is a passive experience: The students listen. But at the most innovative schools, classes are "hands-on," and students are creators, not mere consumers.  They acquire skills and knowledge while solving a problem, creating a product or generating a new understanding.”
Ten Brain Based Learning Strategies
This post on the blog, Elementary Matters, caught my eye this week.  Based on much of the recent brain research that has been released, the author, Sally DeCost, highlights 10 proven learning strategies that apply to all learners.  
Share these with your teachers, and continue to encourage them to embed these strategies into their daily routine.  Enjoy!
Putting Students on the Pathway to Learning-The Case for Fully Guided Instruction
This article hopes to put an end to the debate of whether students learn best when they have to discover/construct knowledge or when they are provided with direct, explicit instruction.  As you will read, the direct, explicit approach to instruction is proven to be more effective, according to the research of authors Clark, Kirschner, and Sweller.  Direct instruction takes many forms, though, including lectures, modeling, demonstrations, practice, feedback, videos, computer based presentations, small group and independent projects.  Sounds a lot like the Fisher Gradual Release Model, doesn't it?  
"Controlled  experiments almost uniformly indicate that when dealing with novel information, students should be explicitly shown what to do, how to do it, and then have an opportunity to practice with corrective feedback.  Curiously, if given a choice, lower performing students prefer discovery learning and higher performing students prefer explicit instruction- in both cases, they're picking the approach that does them the least good."
Constructivism is a theory of how students learn.  It is not a prescription of how to teach students knowledge and skills.  For everyone except those who have demonstrated mastery, partial guidance during instruction is significantly less effective than full guidance.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Webinar: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms

Webinar #9: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms

In our final webinar of the school year, we look closer at the highly effective teacher characteristic – creates a student-centered classroom.

This webinar examines current research surrounding this characteristic and offers implementation strategies to make the classroom more student-centered.

Creating Student-Centered Classrooms (2011-2012) from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April 9, 2012

Salman Khan: Teacher to the World

My selection this week is not an article; rather it is a video segment that recently aired on 60 Minutes.  This segment tells the story of the Khan Academy, the impact it is having on education, and its plans to revolutionize the way our business works in the near future. 

I’ve shared information about the Khan Academy in the past, and some of our teachers are beginning to use his video lessons and/or create their own to “flip” the classroom.  If you haven’t watched this segment yet, it’s worth your time to learn more about the guy who “is determined to transform how we learn at every level.”  And some, like Bill Gates, believe Khan is “giving us all a glimpse at the future of education.”

Click here to watch the segment:
The Best Ideas for Our Schools
My selection this week comes from Eric Sheninger, Principal, New Milford High School.  Within the article, Sheninger discusses the need for change in the educational experience for today’s students.  He highlights five key components (Respect for each learner; Authentic problems; Real tools and materials; Expanded opportunities; and Collegiality) that need to be present our student’s experiences.  I felt this proved to be a great parallel to the experience we are creating for the students we serve in the Hilliard City Schools. 
As we know, change is not easy, but it is necessary to prepare our students for their future.  As Sheninger states, “As leaders, whether in the capacity as a teacher or administrator, it is our duty to be agents of change. We must collaboratively develop and implement our own ideas to improve the learning process in a way that emphasizes our student's cognitive growth, passions, and strengths, while challenging them to push their own boundaries.”
More States Retaining Struggling 3rd Graders
ODE recently released a summary of the state's Mid-Biennial Review (MBR).  In that document, we see that a "Reading Guarantee" at the elementary-level is being revived.  The clause of the MBR states that any child who is not proficient in reading by the end of third grade will be retained.  I recall a similar mandate at least ten years ago that remained in legislation until it was time to retain children. The guarantee was omitted at that time due to the high number of children that would have been forced to repeat the grade-level.  
Everyone agrees that strong reading abilities are necessary for future success in school and life.  The argument is on how best to correct weak reading skills for struggling students.  Retention is a polarizing position because of the negative research associated with it. Students who are retained often do not maintain academic improvements several years later, struggle with poor self esteem, and have a higher likelihood of being high school drop-outs.    
This week's article caught my eye because it tells about other states implementing a similar Reading Guarantee, as high as 8th grade.  I think it is important for us to pay attention to the legislative changes occurring across the U.S.; we can be certain that Ohio's decision-makers will be influenced by the educational changes in other states.  
Mass Customized Learning: The Key to Education Reform?
The future in educational reform lies in redesigning the process so that “mass customization” can be ensured.  Our current educational system worked well in the Industrial Age where only 25% of the work force needed to be skilled employees.  In a time when all students need to be college/career ready, our young people need to have instruction that is tailored to their needs and interests.
“Students learn by doing, anytime, anywhere.”  One way to accomplish this is through the use of technology, and  there are many free resources available to customize a 24-7 learning environment.