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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, January 27, 2013

January 28, 2013

25 Signs You Might be a 21st Century Teacher

Do you think of clouds as good things?  

Do you plan lessons assuming that every student has Wi-Fi broadband access 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?  

These are just two signs that you might be a 21st century teacher.  Take a look at this humorous, but true list that describes the 21st century teacher.  This certainly serves as a great reminder of how much the business has changed in the last few years!

5 Characteristics of a Change Agent

As I read this article from Geourge Couros, I couldn't help but be reminded of the 7 Characteristics of Highly Effective Leaders and our focus this year on "Innovation."  As we have said many times this year, Innovation doesn't end with the ILC, it is only one piece of the puzzle.  It is clear we have embraced this philosophy, as we continually see and hear about many new "innovative teaching practices" at all levels.  Couros states "(change agents) – People who act as catalysts for change…"   I'd say Hilliard City Schools administrators clearly embody this role of a change agent!

5 Characteristics of a Change Agent

3 Investments Good Leaders Make in Creating Other Leaders
It is mid winter--gray skies, short days, and lot of tasks on the 'To Do' list. People, including teachers and administrators, need encouragement to 'keep striving' for our goals of improved student achievement.  This week's article provides important reminders for busy and task-oriented principals like yourselves.  Blogger Joe Mazza reminds us of "Three Investments Good Leaders Make in Creating Other Leaders": 

1. Invest daily in a healthy school culture. Support new teachers and invite others to contribute to the positive atmosphere in the school building through trust and respect.  

2. Invest in personal relationships.  Take the time to ask staff about their family and personal circumstances.  Those brief conversations help folks feel important to us and valued in the organization. Superintendent Dale McVey provides outstanding modeling of this behavior by remembering details of previous conversations about the kids, the home, and movies you've watched. 

3. Invest in an "outside the box" lens.  Encourage your staff members to think differently and take risks. Find a way to say 'yes' to their new ideas. 

Leaders benefit greatly from our small investment of time and concern for those who work along side of us daily. Students and families reap the real benefits of content school personnel. 
3 Investments Good Leaders Make in Creating Other Leaders

Ten Secrets to Surviving as a Teacher

It’s that time of year.  We leave for work in the dark.  We head for home in the dark.  The holidays are over, and it’s easier to give in to crankiness.  It’s also the perfect time to remind ourselves why we do what we do.  “Ten Secrets to Surviving as a Teacher” shares some of the things that are easy to lose sight of in our daily professional lives.  Terry Heick also infuses videos to add some levity to the message.  There are no major surprises on the list…just good reminders.  Heick shares common sense advice like knowing when to stand strong and when to bend in the wind, standing out by finding or creating "your own brand," and never losing sight of your purpose.  Ultimately, teaching is "the artful and thoughtful marriage of learner and content."  January/February is the perfect time to share reminders with our colleagues, especially if they find themselves lost in the groans and growls that accompany Ohio winters.

'Girl Rising': Educating Girls

I hope this link isn't blocked like my last one, I apologize for my previous article on creativity, not having a simple way to view it. Nonetheless, this week I want to bring you something different.  This isn't an article focused on technology, innovation, or even the future.  Maybe the latter isn't so far off, but I thought I would reach out to you through your heart strings this week. I watched this trailer the other day and thought about it several different times over the weekend. The documentary is about 9 girls from 9 countries that are striving to find an education in their suppressive culture(s). I have one simple reason for sharing it.  We need to remember how much "good" we are doing and can continue to do for our students that come to us each day. Somewhere deep inside, even the toughest child, is a desire to earn an education.  Perhaps we haven't discovered what that desire is yet, but it's there looking for an interest or passion to grab on to and grow.  Here at HCSD, look at the many opportunities that you/we are providing for growth of passion?  If that doesn't excite you on this final monday in Jan. then watch this trailer and go out into the hallway and start high-fiving some students, you may be the spark of their interest or passion.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

January 14, 2013

Education & Video Games are No Longer Enemies

You’ve probably heard me reference the text by Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good for You.  In it, Johnson warns us not to be too quick in judging the time young people spend with television, video games, and online apps.  In fact, he suggests that modern day games and television are actually making children smarter because they encourage the development of problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills.  Aligned to Johnson’s thinking, some educators are starting to use these “distractions” to their advantage to capture the engagement of kids and create an educational value.

“Gillispie’s love of gaming led him from the classroom to the district technology job, where he created a ‘WoW’ club for at-risk middle-school students in 2009. He teamed up with a New York teacher launching a similar club, and the two schools created a guild.  That experience evolved into the ‘WoW’ curriculum, which is designed to meet the standards set in the new Common Core curriculum. For instance, one ‘quest’ requires students to study riddle poetry and share their notes within the guild. They write their own riddle poems based on Azeroth, edit and critique each other, then take their riddles into the wider game world to challenge outsiders.”

Education & Video Games are No Longer Enemies

And What if We let Students Design the Learning Objectives and the Assessments?

As you know, we have recently placed a great deal of emphasis on Learning Targets.  As I read this article, I couldn't help but think that this teachers approach required students to take ownership in their learning, ultimately meaning they knew the purpose of the lesson.  The author summed up this process best in the following: "when letting the students design their learning consistently, the outcomes will include, though not be limited to:

• More risk-taking
• Creativity
• Heightened awareness of knowledge
• Heightened awareness of the learning process
• Ownership
• Increased Motivation
• Increased opportunities for collaboration
• More opportunities to refine communication skills"

And What if We let Students Design the Learning Objectives and the Assessments?

8 Things to Look For in Today's Classroom

As I read "8 Things to Look For in Today's Classroom", I was inspired by the classroom vision cast by author and blogger George Couros.  It would be my desire to observe learning environments similar to what George describes as the 'rule' in Hilliard City Schools, not the exception.  

The author shares the list below as "...some things that I believe will help the learner of today be successful in our world, both today and tomorrow." He suggests that teachers create a classroom space in which learners have: 1) voice,  2) choice, 3) time for reflection, 4) opportunities for innovation, 5) time to become critical thinkers, 6) chances to be problem solvers/finders, 7) self-assessment, 8) connected learning.  

What types of amazing educational experiences could our teachers create for students if administrators challenged them to shape class time in ways that allow students to follow learning passions with their peers? 

8 Things to Look For in Today's Classroom

12 Digital Tools to Implement Exit Slips

I’m sure that we can all agree on the importance of formative assessment as a regular part of classroom instruction.  Along with understanding the importance of gauging student learning throughout the learning process, we must also acknowledge that the term “exit slip” has become almost synonymous with “formative assessment.”  If we aren’t careful, it could go the path of the Venn diagram…sometimes overused and undervalued.  Felicia Young, in “12 Digital Tools to Implement Exit Slips,” reminds us that we can keep a useful tool fresh, new, and valued by our students. 

Using Fisher and Frey’s three categories of exit slips -- those that document learning, those that emphasize the process of learning, and those that evaluate instructional effectiveness – Young explores digital apps and web-based tools that not only make exit slips easy to implement and analyze, but also keep a tried and true instructional tool fresh and interesting.  I encourage you to share this article with your staff members.

12 Digital Tools to Implement Exit Slips

Why is Creativity Important in Education

Perhaps my favorite question we get about the ILC is "Why is Hilliard doing this?" It's a loaded question with just as a complicated answer, but I believe this article helps support it.  Creativity is what employers are saying they want to hire.  Before they check the GPA, the senior year thesis, or the well written reference letters, employers of the future want one thing, creativity. Shouldn't we in the education business be trumpeting the creativity movement?  If we truly believe in educating the "whole" child and making them college and CAREER ready, then creativity needs to be an embedded focus of all curriculum. For some reason creativity is a scary word at times, it doesn't need to be.  Charles Mingus says this about creativity "Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that's easy. What's hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity."  

Why is Creativity Important in Education

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 2, 2013

Webinar: The Power of Learning Targets

When developed and implemented correctly, the learning target can be the most important part of a lesson.  In fact, the target can be used to influence and determine every action and strategy the teacher and students use in the classroom from best practice to feedback to assessment.  The learning target is often confused with the standard or objective or enduring understanding . . . .and when this happens, the teacher and students miss out.  Take some time to watch this webinar so we can begin to form a common understanding of a learning target and how it should be used in every district classroom.

The Power of a Learning Target from Hilliard City Schools on Vimeo.