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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Why Comparing Education Between States Is A Joke

International Benchmark of State Proficiency Standard, 4th grade math 
StateInternational BenchmarkAIR Grade for Standards
New HampshireIntermediateB
South CarolinaIntermediateB
North CarolinaIntermediateC+
New MexicoIntermediateC+
Rhode IslandIntermediateC+
North DakotaIntermediateC
New JerseyIntermediateC
New YorkIntermediateC
South DakotaIntermediateC
West VirginiaLowC

Rock Hill Takes 2nd, Northwestern 3rd, In State 4A Band Competition

Once again, York County high school bands showed dominance in state competition with Rock Hill's Band of Distinction placing 2nd, Northwestern's Purple Regiment Band taking 3rd, and Clover's band taking 4th in the 4A SC Band Championship on Saturday night at Spring Valley High School. Rock Hill's band, a crowd favorite, won best music. The White Knoll High school band took the top award.

Below is the Rock Hill Band from an earlier performance:

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Beyond Superman - From Edutopia

Edutopia has a good post from founder George Lucas. Click here for the post. An elementary school in Columbia South Carolina is highlighted in a video below:

Questions To Make You Better

Questions That Will Always Make You Better

  • Are you willing to actually strive for that higher standard, or not?
  • What is your mission?
  • What are your strategic goals?
  • What is your USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
  • What are you contributing?
  • Are you playing to win, or playing not to lose?
  • What are you getting out of this?
  • Are you getting better?
  • Are you willing to do the hard things?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Useful YouTube Channels For Teachers

Click here for a list of useful YouTube sites for Teachers.

Free SAT Prep?

From the Why Homeschool Blog:

Free Kaplan ACT and SAT prep class

Just in case you have children approaching college age and want a little help.

Free Online Kaplan SAT or ACT Prep Class (reg. $99)
Kaplan is offering a free PSAT, SAT and ACT prep class. This is a $99 class.

Kaplan Test Prep and Admissions is pleased to offer free online test preparation for the SAT, PSAT and ACT for Students. All students, freshmen through seniors, now have 24-7 on demand access to comprehensive preparation.

These lessons will guide students through instruction, practice and mastery on every skill tested on the exams. Kaplan’s proven methods are delivered through instructional video lessons, guided practice problems, and independent practice quizzes. Kaplan’s adaptive learning technology, Smart Track, analyzes the student performance and adjusts to provide each student with a customized learning plan. Smart Track also moves from course to course, and test to test with students, so that demonstrated mastery in the PSAT is carried over to the SAT.

Here’s how to sign up:

1.) Visit

Under “Free Resources” select “SAT Online”,“PSAT Online” or “ACT Online”.

2.) Click “Enroll Now”, then click “Proceed to Next Step

3.) Fill out “Billing Information” (don’t worry, it’s still free). You must complete all fields, including student and parent contact information.

4.) In the “Promotion Code” box, enter the discount code for the course you would like to begin :

• SAT Online KAS2S711

• PSAT Online KAS2P711

• ACT Online KAS2A711

5.) Click “Apply” next to the promo code box. Total should automatically reset to $0.

(Note: The first time I entered the discount code it didn't work and I got an error message. The second time I clicked "Apply" it worked.)

6.) Click “Submit Order”, and you’re done!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What Makes A Good Teacher?

We saw a great video at the board meeting on Monday night. Student leaders from South Pointe, Rock Hill, and Northwestern High Schools talked about teachers and administrators who made a difference in their lives. I'd show it to you, but sharing video's is not one of the school district's strong points. So, I'm posting this video from the Stories From School blog site.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rock Hill School Board Candidates

Picture by Melissa Cherry, Rock Hill Herald. Candidates, left to right: Jim Vining, Ann Morrison, Wanda Carr, Jay Johnson, Ginny Moe, Jeff Nicholson, David Thompson, Mikki Rentschler, Jane Sharp

It's getting down to the wire with the Rock Hill School Board Election. If you get a chance, thank the candidates for offering for public service. It is healthy to have so many folks interested, and, if you've never done it, takes some courage.

Who would make a good school board member. It is not necessarily someone who thinks like you. They need to be someone who understands the board/superintendent relationship, works well with others, is willing to share ideas, and collaborate to make ideas better.

Every vote counts. Please look at all candidates, county and state, and decide which ones you believe will represent your education issues - and then support them with your vote on November 2nd.

Rock Hill Schools At-Large Candidates On Tuesday's Straight Talk

Straight Talk: 10/26/10 Rock Hill School Board Candidates

Tuesday, October 26th
Jim Vining, Wanda Carr and Ann Morrison (in that order) Candidates-Rock Hill Schools At Large

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Khan Instant!

I've mentioned The Khan Academy before. Now there is a search site just for all the Khan video's that are available. the site is:

There are over 1800 education videos. Unfortunately, they are hosted by YouTube, which is blocked by the Rock Hill School District.

But there is good news! Every school Principal can give teachers access to the site.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Rock Hill School Board October Business Meeting Notes

Monday's Rock Hill School Board Meeting was short and uplifting with only two action items. The consent agenda and Policy FB (2nd reading) were approved with a 7-0 vote.

Recognition was made for:

  • District staff who demonstrate parts of the Rock Hill Climb
  • Castle Heights for the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life
  • Palmetto Teachers of Excellence
  • Charles Johnson for his Eagle Scout Project in support of "Back the Pack"
  • Jason Silverman on his last board meeting after 8 years on the board.
The board heard presentations on NetSCOPE, WatchDOG Dads, and from the Superintendent's Student Advisory Council.

Walter Brown reported that Debt service retirement for the Rock Hill Schools is essentially that same now as it was in 1994 and operating taxes for schools have been eliminated from residential property taxes.

Rock Hill Bands Do Well In Upper State

The Northwestern High School Purple Regiment marching band won the upper state championship at the South Carolina State 4A Marching Band Championships on Saturday. The Northwestern band won the Upper State Championship for the second time in the past three years and will compete for the State 4A Championship this Saturday at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. The Rock Hill Band of Distinction placed 2nd. 

Rock Hill School District Volleyball Playoffs Begin

Rock Hill and Northwestern High Schools will be hosting the first round of the volleyball playoffs on Tuesday Night. Rock Hill will host Mauldin at 6:00 pm and Northwestern will host TL Hanna at 6:30 pm. Click Here to get a copy of the 4A playoff bracket.

South Pointe travels to Wade Hampton for a match at 6:00 pm. Click here for a copy of the 3A playoff bracket.

Bearcats and Trojans To Get Together For Fundraiser Right Before Big Game!

Rock Hill High School and Northwestern High School will sponsor a golf tournament on Monday, November 1, 2010 at the Rock Hill Country Club to raise money for both schools and to begin the football game week with some friendly rivalry between supporters of both schools.   Entries can be mailed or dropped off at the Rock Hill High athletic office.  You can direct questions to 981-1344 (Ms. Center) or 981-1301 (Ms. Mobley).  
You can get all the information you need by clicking here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

How Does South Carolina Rate With Funding?

The Quick and The Ed blog site has a post on how states compare. You can view the article by clicking here.

Here are the grade / scores that states receive.
StateFundingDistribution GradeEffort GradeFunding Level RankCoverage Rank
District of Columbia351
New HampshireFA1810
New JerseyAA221
New MexicoCC3418
New YorkDA542
North CarolinaDF4431
North DakotaDF4014
Rhode IslandCB1137
South CarolinaCA2834
South DakotaBF4113
West VirginiaCA268

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What Do The Worlds Best Classrooms Look Like?

From Slate Magazine:

Brilliance in a Box

What do the best classrooms in the world look like?

Illustration by Rob Donnelly. Click image to expand.Imagine if we designed the 21st-century American classroom to be a place where our kids could learn to think, calculate, and invent as well as the students in the top-performing countries around the world.
What would those spaces look like? Would students plug into mini-MRI machines to record the real-time development of their brains' executive functions? Would teachers be Nobel Prize winners, broadcasting through screens installed in the foreheads of robots that don't have tenure?

Classrooms in countries with the highest-performing students contain very little tech wizardry, generally speaking. They look, in fact, a lot like American ones—circa 1989 or 1959. Children sit at rows of desks, staring up at a teacher who stands in front of a well-worn chalkboard.
To find out, we don't have to travel through time. We could just travel through space. At the moment, there are thousands of schools around the world that work better than our own. They don't have many things in common. But they do seem to share a surprising aesthetic.
"In most of the highest-performing systems, technology is remarkably absent from classrooms," says Andreas Schleicher, a veteran education analyst for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development who spends much of his time visiting schools around the world to find out what they are doing right (or wrong). "I have no explanation why that is the case, but it does seem that those systems place their efforts primarily on pedagogical practice rather than digital gadgets."

Kristin De Jesus in her South Korean classroom. Click image to expand.And yet, when politicians and bureaucrats imagine the classroom of the future, they often talk about a schoolhouse that looks like an Apple store, a utopia studded with computers, bathed in Wi-Fi, and wallpapered with interactive whiteboards (essentially giant touch screens used in place of chalkboards in more and more classrooms nationwide). "In the 21st century," Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a speech in Washington, D.C., this March, "schools can't be throwbacks to the state of education 50, 20, or even 10 years ago. … We must make the on-demand, personalized tech applications that are part of students' daily lives a more strategic part of their academic lives."
But the most innovative schools around the world do not tend to be the ones with the most innovative technology inside them. To American exchange students, the difference can be disorienting. Kristin De Jesus is currently attending a public school in South Korea through an international study program called Youth for Understanding. De Jesus came to Korea, which consistently ranks at the top of the world in international exams, from a high school outside of San Diego, where she would be a junior.
In her Korean school, near Seoul, her classmates have iPod touches and iPhones and play Nintendo, just like her classmates in America. But the classroom itself is austere. "In California, we use white boards, while in Korea they use chalkboards," she says. "There is a dirt field outside. We have a projector, that's about it." Back home, teachers would hand out Mac laptops for kids to work on in class. But in Korea, the only computers are older PCs, and they remain in the computer lab, which is used only once a week for computer class.
South Korean classroom. Click image to expand.So how to explain that these old-fashioned classrooms tend to crank out kids who possess far more of the math and science skills valued by modern-day employers? For one thing, while the American school day can be as short as six hours, Korean kids attend school about eight or nine hours a day—and then many of them continue studying alone or with tutors until late into the night. Korean parents also put enormous pressure on kids to study. "The American system is a lot easier," De Jesus says. "When I was in California, I barely ever studied and did pretty well in my classes."

School does not have to be grueling to be good. In Finland, the schools have almost nothing in common with the pressure-cooker classrooms of Korea. Finnish students start going to school a year later than American kids, and they do less homework on average. Standardized tests are rare. And yet, in 2006, Finnish teenagers ranked first in math and science among 30 OECD countries. (The United States ranked 25th in math and 21st in science.)
Around the world, countries have found a variety of ways to make schools work—even for poor kids or immigrant kids. They spend less money per pupil than we do but distribute it more efficiently and more equitably. More importantly perhaps, school systems in Singapore, Finland, and Korea recruit 100 percent of their teachers from the top one-third of their academic cohort, according to a 2010 McKinsey & Co. report, "Closing the Talent Gap."In the United States, about 23 percent of new teachers—and only 14 percent in high-poverty schools—come from the top one-third. "It is a remarkably large difference in approach, and in results," the report concludes.
Even within the United States, the best schools are not the most tricked-out ones. In Southeast D.C., Lisa Suben teaches fifth-grade math at KIPP DC: AIM Academy, one of 99 Knowledge Is Power Program charter schools around the country. When her students come into her classroom, they perform about two years behind, on average. By the time Suben has had nine months with them, they are mastering grade-level work.
Watching Suben teach on a recent October afternoon, I initially forgot to note whether her classroom contained any modern-day technology. Her class of 31 African-American students sat spellbound as she led them in call-and-response chants to practice their multiplication tables, pasted stickers on their foreheads for getting questions right, and timed how long it took them to get all their homework into a pile in the first row (18 seconds).
Finally, I remembered why I was there. I counted four computers in the back of the room, an ink-jet printer, and an overhead projector that looked to be at least 15 years old. Later, I asked Suben, who has been teaching for eight years, what the perfect classroom would look like. "If I were designing my ideal classroom, there'd be another body teaching. Or there'd be 36 hours in the day instead of 24."
Suben, like most great teachers, is in a hurry. She said computers can be useful, but mostly because they save her time—by assessing what her kids know more efficiently than she can. Three times a year, her students take computer-adaptive tests, which get harder as the student goes along. Suben gets the results instantly, which means she can see how a student is doing compared with the other kids in her class, the school, and around the country. "It might say, 'You know how to round to the hundreds, but you don't know how to round to the thousands?' That's, for me, an aha moment."
Ask middle-school teachers what they would like to change about classroom design, and they suggest a bathroom for the kids. When I ask Suben which gadget she would bring with her if she had to teach on a desert island, she chooses the overhead projector, without hesitation. "I wouldn't be able to give up the overhead, because then I'd have to turn my back to the class," she said. The oldest technology in the room is the one that helps her the most with a fundamental human skill—presenting material while staying connected to every student in the room, watching who is getting it and who is not, without having to turn to write on a chalkboard.
The KIPP charter schools have proved to be among the most effective schools in the country. But their classrooms would be very familiar to anyone who went to school before there was such a thing as charters. KIPP DC founder and former teacher Susan Schaeffler says she could theoretically put a fancy interactive white board in every classroom in Suben's school for about $300,000. But, she adds, only about half the teachers would use them. "I'd rather pay Lisa Suben more to stay forever."

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