Tuesday, March 10, 2009
English, Math, Science and Social Studies--Georgia
The Instructional Technology Enhanced Environment (ITEE) grant teachers at Georgia's Claxton High School, 11th grade, represent all four academic core content areas: English/language arts, science, social science, and mathematics. Teachers plan common units which incorporate technology. Significant gains were made in all areas with the greatest gains in math and science with a 15% and 16% increase, respectively.
The Vallejo EETT-C Project involved Franklin Middle, Solano Middle, Springstowne Middle, and Vallejo Middle Schools. The project focused on the lowest performing students in 6th and 7th grade. While typically these are students who do not engage fully in learning, the different types of technology in this program turned that around. The district saw gains on CST scores for the target students, the 50 lowest performing students in each middle school. Approximately 40% moved up one performance band in the first year, essentially accomplishing the two-year objectives the first year.
The Alfred C. MacKinnon Middle School in New Jersey received the Math Achievement to Realize Individual eXcellence (MATRIX) grant for technology integration in math instruction for special needs 7th grade students. Students planned and designed the construction of a new bridge connecting New York and New Jersey. Seventh grade special education students won first place for their bridge designs and models during the 2006 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics National Conference. Last year the percentage of students scoring in the GEPA proficient ranges increased to the highest percentage in the district's history (74.4%).
Great Prairie consortium developed a new initiative that focused on 8th grade math achievement. Great Prairie focused on professional development at the middle school level as the primary change agent for improving student achievement. Comparison of student growth in math achievement for proficient and non-proficient students in six participating school districts showed a statistically significant closing of the gap between proficient (n=327) and non proficient (n=131) students during the 8th grade.
Reading and Math--Oregon
The LIVE-C--Learning through Interactive Video Experiences at Three Rivers School District (1st-12th grades) was designed to bring the world to the geographically isolated, culturally limited and high poverty students through the use of mobile interactive video conferencing equipment. Teachers invite experts from around the world to enter their classrooms as co-teachers, as well as connecting their students to students around the globe. Fifth grade reading/lit Statewide Assessment scores at Fruitdale Elementary rose from 61.4% in 2006-07 of students meeting or exceeding the standard to 95% in 2007-2008. In math, 86.7% of students met or exceeded in 2007-08, up from 63.6% in 2006-07.
These examples add to a growing body of research focused on student achievement and the use of technology. School leaders have the opportunity to study the models and learn strategies for implementation by contacting schools where they have been successful.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The good news is that school leaders can effectively improve instruction simply by addressing the following five challenges for implementing professional development:
- Introduce activities in ways that inspire ownership
- Balance principal control with teacher autonomy
- Commit to ambitious goals
- Maintain industriousness in pursuit of those goals
- Effectively harvest and sustain the gains
In other words, succcessful practices in schools have less to do with the program or initiative being implemented, and more to do with the implementation process. So what can school leaders do?
- Select and introduce the focus of the PD
- Assign responsibilities and define accountability for participation, including feedback mechanisms.
- Refine and clarify both school and personal goals (of teachers) for instructional improvement.
- Implement and monitor activities to help teachers succeed at these goals.
- Celebrate and reward accomplishments.
Making the PD enjoyable, with feasible goals that are clearly defined, and encouraging peer support won't cost a thing, but can provide amazing returns.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Another key component of effective leadership is use of the "unexpected." It is vital as leaders to "grab attention" and then to keep it. How do we keep people's attention? As a writer, one might employ a technique known as the "news-teaser approach." For example, a headline such as "Which local restaurant has slime in the ice machine?" is certain to garner more attention than something like "Local man eats cereal for breakfast." While this may seem like a ridiculous comparison, it illustrates an important point: as leaders, we must exhibit an uncommon enthusiasm and confidence when working with others. We must have a genuine concern for people and their needs that is evident in our words and actions, as well as in our eagerness to listen.
A third characteristic of effective leadership is summarized by the word "concrete." We must be able to address issues in a way that is practical and relevant. All the theories in the world are meaningless if they do not lead to specific actions that can help resolve people's issues. It is important to find common ground at a shared level of understanding. As leaders, we must master the ability to place ourselves "in another's shoes" to know best how to help in any given situation. It has been said that teachers learn much more than students because they learn the material twice: once during the preparation, and once during the delivery to the students. As leaders, we are only effective when we offer advice that gets to the heart of the issues that people face.
A fourth characteristic of effective leadership is "credibility." We must help people believe. It is not enough to offer advice and then say "I hope this works for you." We must convince people that what we have to share with them has been proven to be effective in other similar situations and circumstances.
A fifth trait of effective leadership is the concept of "emotion." We must make people care! How can we make people care? We need to appeal to self-interest and identity. I doubt there are many people in the world who get out of bed each day and say "I wonder how badly I can perform today?" However, some people don't reach their potential simply because they don't have the proper encouragement. At the 1993 ESPY Awards, the late Jim Valvano, former men's basketball coach at North Carolina State University, delivered a stirring speech that brought the audience to tears. He suggested that all people need to do three things each day: think, laugh, and cry. In doing so, he said that people experience a "full day." As human beings we are emotional beings, and as leaders, we must be able to display emotion at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. We are not robots!
Finally, a sixth characteristic of effective leadership is the ability to tell stories. There are two main types of stories: stories that simulate (or tell people how to act), and stories that inspire (or give people energy to act). We must be able to use both types of stories as we work with people. Some people need more of the former, while others need more of the latter. As we continually develop our relationships with people, we will gain insights as to what types of stories they need to hear from us!
By employing these six principles, we will be able to provide effective leadership for people from all walks of life, no matter where our journey as leaders might take us.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
So here are a few ideas for helping new staff members feel more included. They don't replace quality ongoing mentorship, but they can at least help build a relationship and support system.
1. Include new teachers in end of the year meetings, student orientations, and classroom visits. Better yet, be your new teacher's sub for a day so they can visit other classrooms and connect with experienced teachers.
2. Invite new teachers to professional workshops--perhaps waiving the fee or creating a small informal book study group.
3. Introduce new teachers to subject and grade level colleagues--and consider hosting team building or getting to know you activities throughout the year
4. Include information about new staff in newsletters. Go beyond the fall introduction and feature the new teacher's interests or hobbies.
5. Continue to provide orientation and mentoring opportunities as much as possible. Even hosting a mid-year new teacher tea or getting an experienced teacher to "check in" on the new teacher can help them know they are not alone!
Monday, January 26, 2009
Example: I want to exercise more but I work too much.
Now replace the but with an and.
Example: I want to exercise more AND I work too much. Now follow that up with a specific idea for how to make the two work together.
Example: I want to exercise more and I work too much. So...I am going to find an exercise program that works with my busy schedule.
Friday, December 19, 2008
One of the most difficult applications of the communication skills of coaching is to be able to use them when a speaker is in an extended emotional state, AND you are involved with or the cause of the emotional reaction. How does one maintain one’s composure and diffuse the emotion of the speaker so that the conversation can be rational and productive? It is not easy. Some possible suggestions for handling such a situation:
· Focused, sincere and genuine listening is essential. The listening set-asides are imperative. No autobiographical listening. No solution listening. AND, let us add two more in this situation. No “defensive” listening, and no “counter-argument” listening.
· Paraphrase is essential beginning with emotional paraphrase or combination emotional and content. Label the persons feeling. Examples may include: “ You are really upset about this”. “This is bothering you a great deal.” “You’re angry about how this was handled.” “You’re disappointed in me.” “You’re insulted because what I said offended you”. (Hey wait a minute – how come these examples are coming so easy to me?)
· It may be necessary to do repeated emotional paraphrases (3 or more) to allow the person to vent their feelings and lower the intensity level.
· What for evidence of the speaker’s reduced stress – slower, deeper breathing pattern, a reduction in the flush of the skin, reduced muscle tension, lower of pitch of voice and slower pace of speech.
· When the speaker is calmer present a thought provoking question that can focus the conversation on resolving the situation. Examples may include: “ What are some possible things we could consider doing to resolve this?” “What might I do to help rectify the problem?” “What might have to happen for us to avoid a similar situation in the future?” “How might I be more proactive in supporting you?” “What might be some alternative strategies that we could use in advance to make certain the situation doesn’t happen again?”
And I say with the smile – this is easy to say, it may not be so easy to do when you are equally involved emotionally – both in a work situation and maybe especially in a family situation.
Remember the coaching pattern: pause, paraphrase, pause and question. Your friends and relatives will be astounded at your conversational skills!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
"The first thing needed for innovation is a fascination with wonder," Dawna says. "But we are taught instead to 'decide.' ...to decide is to kill off all possibilities but one. A good innovational thinker is always exploring the many other possibilities."
In addition, to paraphrase, the focus on standardized testing often leads to a focus on preparing all students to be good test-takers, encouraging mediocrity and limiting students' abilities to achieve excellence in where their talents lie. Unless the brain has determined creativity and innovation to be worthwhile mental patterns by the time an individual reaches puberty, it will prune those areas to put more energy into the "critical" areas established.
For the sake of our future, it is imperative that we continue to find ways to focus on higher order thinking skills, from the first day of Kindergarten to graduation day and beyond, if we want our students to be lifelong learners who succeed in the 21st century.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
The question I have for educational leaders is this: what kinds of systemic change need to occur in order to support this student? how will you make connectivist instruction possible for your students?
And on a side note, if you have not seen the original videos from Common Craft, visit http://commoncraft.com/ for an easy explanation of practically any Web 2.0 concept and more.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
"Education leaders can take a crucial step toward getting students to use
higher-order thinking skills by drawing a sharp line between firsthand and
In other words, instead of giving students lower level taxonomy skills to prepare them to think, or failing to believe our students are capable of thinking, maybe we should encourage them to actually think, by interacting with the world and through using the available technologies to connect them with primary sources so they can learn to analyze information, draw conclusions, and create new understandings.
Making this shift is not an easy battle--educational policy, influential business leaders, the media, and high stakes testing all tend to focus on those lower levels of thinking, making the assumption, one can only guess, that by mastering facts a person can then use those facts to synthesize, evaluate, and create. As leaders, it is a daily challenge to structure a learning environment where teachers are encouraged to involve students in authentic projects that incorporate higher order thinking skills, to face down the testmakers and focus on learning instead of covering what will be on the test. But what if...?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
So, what is coaching? Coaching is skill set. It is a capacity for effective communication. The fundament skills of coaching are: rapport, listening, giving wait time, paraphrase, probing for specificity, inquiry and the use of structures or maps.
This skills are learnable. Some of the strategies for internalizing the ability to attend to these skills at a level of automaticity include;
· Real time practice – applying the coaching skills
· Mental rehearsal
o Listening to the radio mentally formulate paraphrases to what you hear announcers speaking
o Listening to the radio or watching TV interviews, formulate questions of inquiry that you might use if you were a part of the conversation
o Listening to other people’s conversation mentally formulate paraphrases, questions or probing that you might use if you were in the conversation
o Select one skill that you want to acquire at a level of “unconscious competence” and devote intentional focus on that singular skill for an appropriate time period until you are confident that you do it automatically. (i.e. for the next two weeks I am going to pay serious attention to “rapport” etc.)
· With a friend or colleague ask them if you could practice your communication skills as you engage in a social conversation
· Using these communication skills in most conversations – it doesn’t have to be a “coaching” to make use of high level communication skills such as these. (John Dyer, 2008)
The Cognitive CoachingSM website is: www.cognitivecoaching.com.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The book confirmed what I had already noticed about my own exercise and how it enhances my mental functioning. Author Dr. John Ratey shares compelling research about improved test scores, overcoming depression, coping with ADHD, and many motivating stories and statistics. There are great reasons for encouraging exercise for kids, and I think it's just as important for us adults to benefit from and to model this transforming behavior. Here at TIE, we celebrate a colleague's birthday with an annual hike up Harney Peak. It's great for our brains, our bodies, our relationships, and our work! Are you doing anything to encourage excercise for the adults and/or kids in your schools? Please post them here--or at the Healthy South Dakota website. One idea can spark a movement...
Monday, November 10, 2008
Friday, November 7, 2008
and log onto the Talking Smart Boards & Much More blog.
As you work with teachers across the state, I suggest sharing this website with them. The site includes resources such as interactive websites, sharing notebook lessons, and an interesting section called "Sharing SMART Board successes.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. I am amazed at the vast number of websites that offer quality blogs, tips and lesson plans for using the Smart Board. Now, I just need to figure out how I can use it so I'll be look for Jackie!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
A report from Systems Thinking and Dynamic Modeling.
Peter Senge’s keynote address reinforced the idea that systems thinking is based on interrelatedness.
He supports the idea of systems citizenry and several teachers shared examples of how they are involving students in real world problem solving. Carol J. Petri, at teacher from Texas, shared a project in which high school sophomores tested water streams above and below their community and shared this information with city government officials. These students help shape restoration of the stream in their community.
Senge and others at the conference advocate student involvement in making meaning from the data around them and thinking forward to see how complex systems change over time. See more at http://sysdyn.clexchange.org/
Saturday, June 28, 2008
From the website:
How can teachers move beyond technology integration and authentically embed NETS (National Education Technology Standards) into curricula across the content areas to transform learning?
A FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATING SOLUTIONS
How does this service help students become global citizens in the global marketplace (e.g., in building innovation, literacy, critical thinking, creativity and responsibility)?
How does this service enable collaboration, teamwork and problem solving in the classroom?
How does this service address the needs of ALL students?
How does this service foster real-life learning experiences and independent exploration across the curricula?
How does this service create a safe and secure environment for teaching and learning?
How does this service provide professional development that encourages teachers to collaborate, share expertise and maximize student achievement?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
Peter Reynolds is a beloved children's book author (The Dot) and a great technology innovator and founder of Fablevision. In this article, he's celebrating ISTE's addition of Creativity and Innovation to their standards. Here's part of #6 to entice you to read the other five: "Leadership:...Without enlightened leadership, none of our lofty goals for revolutionizing education can take root. We need brave leaders who can invent the future with their staff and with the next generation. We need leaders who live the new ISTE standards personally, rather than pass them along on badly photocopied sheets for teachers to pass along to their students. This is not the "pass it along" era. This is the "connected universe" era. Unconventionally constructed social networks are reinventing the world..." His other five are equally provocative and practical! maggie