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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

10 Most Educated Countries

From The 24/7 Wall St. Blog:

10. Finland
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.8% (3rd lowest)
> GDP per capita: $36,585 (14th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.15% (10th lowest)

9. Australia
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.3% (11th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $40,719 (6th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 14.63% (3rd highest)

8. United Kingdom
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 4.0% (9th highest)
> GDP per capita: $35,504 (16th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.47% (13th lowest)

7. Norway
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 37%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
> GDP per capita: $56,617 (2nd highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 7.52% (14th highest)

6. South Korea
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 39%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 5.3% (5th highest)
> GDP per capita: $29,101 (13th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 3.70% (14th lowest)

5. New Zealand
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 40%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.5% (14th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $29,871 (14th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 11.88% (8th largest)

4. United States
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 41%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 1.4% (the lowest)
> GDP per capita: $46,588 (4th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 8.68% (12th highest)

3. Japan
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 44%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 3.2% (10th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $33,751 (17th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 0.46% (6th lowest)

2. Israel
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 45%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): N/A
> GDP per capita: $28,596 (12th lowest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 19.02% (the highest)

1. Canada
> Pct. population with postsecondary education: 50%
> Avg. annual growth rate (1999 – 2009): 2.3% (5th lowest)
> GDP per capita: $39,070 (10th highest)
> Pop. change (2000 – 2009): 9.89% (10th highest)
Read more: The 10 Most Educated Countries in the World - 24/7 Wall St.

Friday, January 27, 2012

News of The Rock Hill Schools for January 27

Compiled by Elaine Baker, Director of Information Services Rock Hill Schools:

Enrollment for First Year of School
Feb. 21 through March 2 are the dates for parents to register their four-, five-, and six-year-olds for the 2012-13 school year. Students who are currently attending a public school in Rock Hill will be automatically enrolled in the next grade.  Registration information will be posted on the district’s and elementary schools' websites by Feb. 10. 
Bingo Fundraiser
The South Pointe Band of Thunder will host a supper/bingo fundraiser on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Two Schools Receive $5,000 Grants
Congratulations to Old Pointe Elementary School and Pat Woloszczuk, an instructional assistant at Belleview Elementary, on being the recipients of $5,000 grants from Lowe's. Old Pointe will use its grant to update the landscaping at the entrance of the school with native plants and groundcover, install a drip-style irrigation system (to conserve water) and install a metal sculpture of the S.C. Palmetto tree at the front of the school, made by welding students at the ATC. With the grant Pat received, Belleview will improve its outdoor learning lab by adding a covered area to the picnic tables and wildlife observation areas.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Richmond Drive Elementary Video Makes Finals

Richmond Drive Elementary is proud to announce that one of the videos the 5th grade submitted to the "Discover Languages" Video Contest has made it to the finals!  This is a popular contest and we now need all the votes we can get.  Click here to go to the video and vote. Hurry because voting ends Monday, January 30 at midnight.

Visitors will need to register as voters (click on not registered link on the right panel) and vote for your favorite video in four catergories.  be sure to vote for "Richmond Drive: Can Learning Another Language Really...?"  This is the fourth year in the finals and Richmond Drive would love to win this year!

Northwestern High School Grad is Arkansas Teacher of The Year

Kimberly Wilson, 1988 graduate of Northwestern High School, product of Rock Hill Schools

In an, it's a small world moment, Patti Tate, Northwestern/Rock Hill/South Carolina teacher of the Year, is in Dallas, Tx. at the National Teacher of the Year conference. She emailed James Blake  to let him know that she was sitting with Arkansas State Teacher of the Year Kimberly Wilson, a 1988 graduate of Northwestern High School, product of Rock Hill Schools. 

This is what was mentioned in a news release about Kimberly: 

MONTICELLO, Ark. (AP) — A high school art teacher at Monticello has been chosen as the Arkansas Teacher of the Year. Kimberly Kaye Wilson received the award during a surprise ceremony at the school Monday. Gov. Mike Beebe and Arkansas Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell presented the award.
Wilson received a $15,000 check from the Walton Family Foundation — which is a sponsor of the award. She is also the state's nominee for National Teacher of the Year and will spend the 2012-2013 school year working at the Department of Education as a special advisor.
Wilson has 16 years of teaching experience and has also taught in the Hamburg school district and at the University of Vermont.

Competing in a Global Society - A Meeting in Columbia

I had promised some comments on a meeting I attended in Columbia, SC in November. Comments have been delayed because I couldn't decide how to handle statements made by South Carolina's Superintendent of Education, Mick Zais. I have now decided to follow the old rule, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything". I will say it took  guts for the Superintendent to appear before a lot of business and educators to make his comments.

In addition to the Superintendent, there were several local and national speakers. Dr. Yong Zhao, University of Oregon and Jamie Vollmer, author of Schools Cannot Do It Alone  would probably be considered the "Headliners", but the day was full of many great speakers. Boeing, Michelin North America, Milliken & Company, and AT&T had representatives explain how those companies are helping public education and how it is in the best interest of every company in South Carolina to join them. Former SC Governor and Secretary of Education Dick Riley and SC State Senator Hugh Leatherman were on a panel discussion.  A favorite speaker was Ms. Lucy Beckham, Wando High School Principal and also the National Principal of the Year. One of her topics was how Wando helped land the Boeing Plant.

The meeting also served as a kick-off for the school superintendents' Vision for Public Schools. The web site showcasing the vision was developed by Rock Hill's Jason Broadwater. A neat aspect of the web site is that you can add your comments on what you think the vision should be. Click here to visit the web site. If you believe in the vision for public schools, click here to endorse it.

The meeting was moderated by Rock Hill School Superintendent, Dr. Lynn Moody, who was also largely responsible for pulling all the participants together.

My take-away notes:

  • No country in the world educates as diverse a group of students as the United States.
  • Even the countries that perform better on standardized tests benchmark our education system.
  • We don't have a people problem. Our education system model is basically the same as it was in the 1800's, a system that was not designed to graduate 100% of the students. If we want to graduate more, and we certainly do, we must change the model. In 1967, 77% of the available jobs did not require a high school education. Today that number is 13%. In a few years it will be 6%. Teachers must be part of the solution in changing the model.
  • We all acknowledge that children learn at a different pace, but the one fixture of education is that we hold the time for education constant - so the quality becomes variable. If we want everyone to succeed, we need to make the time variable and hold the quality constant.
  • Schools need to build a conversation. Stop the fear-fault-blame. It will take everyone at all levels. Parents need to be able to trust their schools and schools need to build an understanding and permission to support change.
  • Shift  discussion to the positive. Share success stories and the amazing works of the district. Take the discussion to the community, not just in the schools. Utilize; school signs; restaurant place mats; posters in stores; business networks; and online videos. Have a new message every week.
  • Sustain the effort. This is for the long haul and needs to be part of the job of education.
  • Start - Do It Now!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Denise Khaalid, South Pointe High School's Assistant Principal Named National Finalist

January 24, 2012

Denise Khaalid, Assistant Principal for Curriculum Instruction at Rock Hill's South Pointe High School has been named one of three finalists for the 2012 NASSP/Virco National Assistant Principal of the Year award. 

The results of the first round of judging are as follows:

Sean Burke
McMinnville High School
McMinnville, Oregon

Maureen Cohen
Grafton High School
Grafton, Massachusetts

Denise Khaalid
South Pointe High School
Rock Hill, South Carolina

Interviews will take place during the NASSP Conference in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. NASSP, SCASA, and the Rock Hill School District Three are extremely proud to have Denise represent the class of 2012 State Assistant Principals of the Year as well as being a finalist for the 2012 National award.

Rock Hill Schools Proposed Policy Revision is Now On Line

Check out proposed revisions to the board policies approved for first reading by clicking here. Additions are in red.

Rock Hill School Board OK's TIF Extension

These are my notes from the Rock Hill School Board business meeting on Monday, January 23, 2012:
The following action was taken:

  • Approved the consent agenda with a 7-0 vote. Items included were; minutes from three meetings; administration personnel recommendations; approval of Elevation church and Transformation church to use school facilities for another month and; three overnight field study requests.
  • Approved with a 7-0 vote the use of school facilities by Impact church for the rest of 2012, subject to a monthly vote of the board.
  • Approved with a 7-0 vote the use of school facilities by New Life church, subject to a monthly vote of the board.
  • Approved with a 6-1 vote the calendar for the 2012-13 year. Vining voted against because a potential bad weather make-up day would use the Memorial Day Holiday. The calendar will not be printed until the end of the year, but you can see what was approved by clicking here.
  • Approved with a 7-0 vote, first reading of policies GBEB and JICDA. These revisions should be posted online this week for review.
  • Approved with a 5-2 vote the extension of the city's downtown Tax Increment Finance district until 2039. Brown and Sharp voted against. Those supporting said; the school district would get more money now, when budgets are very tight; over the life of the TIF, the district would get benefits equaling the tax loss and; if the project is successful, there could be an economic improvement in the city and school district which would have other benefits. Those against questioned; the need for resource officers; the use of tax dollars and; the length of the TIF. Click here to read report in The Rock Hill Herald.
  • Approved with a 7-0 vote a submission of changes to the state of South Carolina's No Child Left Behind Waiver. Click here to see what was approved.

The Board heard the following reports:

  • Efforts and measurements which go in to reducing drop-out rates. Click here to read the report in The Rock Hill Herald.
  • Students from Ebenezer Elementary School's 6th grade Leadership Academy made a presentation of some of their work this year.
  • A review of this years budget preparation calendar.
  • The team working on improving behaviors with kindergarten and First Graders gave a report on their first two weeks (approved during January work session)
  • A review of the school districts community outreach efforts
The Board recognized the following:
  • Newly certified National Board Teachers
  • January "Distinguished Climbers"
  • Piedmont Medical Center for donation of over $43,000 in medical equipment to the schools
  • Fellow board member Mildred Douglas for her recent award during MLK day ceremonies.
  • Energy Art Design Contest Winners
  • MLK essay winners and their teacher.
Below is an interview I did with Andrew Kiel, WRHI's Straight Talk, on the TIF, Budget, and NCLB issues:

Rock Hill School Board member Jim Vining.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

If Doctors Were Treated Like Teachers

From the Huff Post Education Blog from more than a year ago:

If doctors were treated like teachers:
by Joel Shatzky
  1. "Charter hospitals" could certify "smart people" as qualified to begin practicing medicine without any prior experience in the field if they had had "some business background."
  2. Since a "doctor" can "doctor" anything, a cardiologist would be on staff at a hospital in place of a urologist when there was a shortage of urologists. The cardiologist could "learn on the job." Of course, a general practitioner could be used in the place of any specialist since such a doctor would have "general knowledge" of anything involving medicine.
  3. Whenever a doctor gave a patient a prescription, the patient's parents could come to the doctor's office demanding he or she change the prescription since the parents "knew better."
  4. Because of a shortage of doctors, Mayor Bloomberg would institute a summer "crash course" in medicine for people who had no background in the field but "liked playing doctor" when they were little. Those who got through the six-week course would then be considered qualified to care for the most severely ill patients since no other doctors would want to do the job.
  5. Doctors would qualify for "permanent license" if they showed by their rates of patient survival that they were "improving their scores." In order to do so, doctors would only treat the healthiest patients and refuse to treat the sicker ones to keep their rates of successful treatment high.
  6. Many "Charter hospitals" would be established in which unlicensed doctors could practice the latest techniques on their patients, using the funds of public hospitals to subsidize them. Of course, only the healthiest patients, whose relatives cared enough about their condition to place them in a charter hospital would be admitted. Any patient exhibiting signs of serious illness would be immediately discharged and placed in a public hospital.
  7. The average longevity of a doctor's career would be considered "normal" if he or she practiced for no more than five years.
  8. If a hospital proved to have a poor "patient survival record," it would be closed down and three new hospitals would be created in the same building with nothing to do with each other but with three times as many bureaucrats running them.
  9. Any patient who entered a doctor's care when already terminally ill would be expected to make a full recovery -- or the doctor would be considered incompetent.
  10. A special program -- "Heal for America" -- would recruit students who graduated from the top colleges in the country but with no background in pre-medicine to "try to make a difference" by being placed in the most severely crowded and understaffed clinics and hospitals so they could know "what it feels like" to be a doctor, if only for a few years.
  11. The American Medical Association would be condemned by politicians and health "experts" for "protecting incompetent doctors" on the basis of mortality rates in high-risk neighborhoods and the organization would be disbanded as a "menace to public health."

A Blogger Tips Hat To Rock Hill Schools

From the SC Justice Watch Blog:

Way To Go, Rock Hill Schools! Graduation, Not Incarceration!

In greenlighting an “intensive intervention” program for students with extreme behavioral problems, the Rock Hill school board has taken a major step toward stemming its local “school-to-prison pipeline” – the crowded path that runs from the principal’s office to the criminal justice system, where millions of expelled/suspended/dropped-out Americans, who should have been kept on track as youths, while away their lives on the public dime. The program will provide academic tutoring, as well as counseling aimed at helping troubled kids better cope with society’s hurdles and their own emotions.
Judging from an article in The Herald of Rock Hill, there are probably numerous area teachers, parents and students who are sighing with relief about now.
[The program] launches at a time when district officials say schools are seeing more students exhibit behavior described as “uncontrollable outbursts of anger.”
A student ran from a school into nearby woods and police were called to help bring him back, district spokeswoman Elaine Baker said.
Another told a teacher he hated her and threatened to kill her. One child hit a teacher. Another bit a teacher.
“We’re seeing a concerning, dramatic increase in the number of young children with these needs,” Associate Superintendent Harriet Jaworowski said. “If they’re that young, it’s a reaction to something else. That’s what we want to address.”
The district has identified at least 12 students who would benefit from the program.
Unfortunately, most of the readers’ comments beneath the article attack the program and the school board for squandering taxpayer dollars, missing the point entirely. This program will cost $100,000 a year, the school board says. That’s a drop in the bucket when one considers the lives saved and the grief spared.
But if the “decency” argument is lost on you: This is a economic-development program, employing strategies proven to boost graduation rates, thereby bolstering our workforce and tax base. An economic-impact study shows that if we cut the annual number of high school dropouts/expulsions by half, the 650,000 “new graduates” would bring $7.6 billion in increased earnings, $5.6 billion in increased spending, $2 billion in increased investments, $19 billion in increased home sales, 54,000 new jobs and $9.6 billion in growth to the U.S. economy.
As for your tax worries, consider the booming prison population that you already subsidize. Essentially, you pay a little more up front to keep a kid on track, or you pay out the nose down the road.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Should SC Get A Waiver From NCLB

There was a meeting a few weeks ago at Northwestern High School on the state of South Carolina applying for a waiver from some provisions of the No Child Left Behind legislation. My biggest take-away from the meeting was, for a lot of the folks in the room, the "known" of the federal legislation was better than the "unknown" of what might come from the South Carolina Department of Education.
What does this say about trust in the SC Department of Education? OUCH!
It appears to me that some of the "bad" provisions of the NCLB legislation would remain in place and some not well thought out "new ideas" would be added.

The article below does a good job explaining some of the issues.

From the Answer Sheet:

NCLB waivers: The devil is in the details

This was written by Jack Hassard, professor emeritus of science education at Georgia State University and a former high school teacher. He is the author of these books: The Whole Cosmos Catalog of Science Science Experiences Adventures in Geology The Art of Teaching Science (2009), and most recently, Science As Inquiry . Specialities include science teaching & learning, global thinking & education, geology, web publishing, blogging, writing, and antiquing. This essay was originally posted at his blog, The Art of Teaching Science, and on Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue blog at Education Week Teacher.
By Jack Hassard
The U.S. Department of Education wants to insure that every teacher in the United States is evaluated on the basis on student progress on high-stakes achievement tests. To achieve this, the DOE will issues waivers on some aspects of No Child Left Behind in exchange for a state-wide system to evaluate teachers using tests.
In this post I provide details and opinions on this development.
Waivers In the News
The NCLB waivers have become a newsworthy item. Here are links to a few articles published recently.
Waiver ties teacher evaluation to test scores, was the title of an article in Atlanta Journal-Constitution on January 10.
In Education Week, James Cavanagh wrote a piece entitled Some States Skeptical of NCLB Waivers.
Will NCLB Waivers Reverse Narrowing of the Curriculum? an article in Education Week
Huffington Post reported: No Child Left Behind Waivers may be too expensive, State officials say
ESEA Flexibility Requests
This all started when 11 states had asked for waivers, after the DOE announced they would offer a "flexibility package" from some provisions of No Child Left Behind, especially ones the states felt they couldn't reach by the target dates set by NCLB. States submitted what is called an ESEA Flexibility Request. This link will take you to a Word document which spells out exactly what should be in the request, and how it should be organized. It's really a template that all states must use to get the waiver.

Here are links to ESEA Flexibility Requests received so far:
ColoradoFloridaGeorgiaIndiana KentuckyMassachusetts,MinnesotaNew JerseyNew MexicoOklahoma and Tennessee each submitted a request for ESEA Flexibility on November 14, 2011. You can read the entire request for each of these states by following the links to the states.
Flexibility is asking and spelling out the waivers that each state requests, and then assuring that they will meet the principles identified by the DOE.
Principles Exchanged for Waivers 
I downloaded the 249 page Georgia Flexibility Report to find out what really is in these reports, and why some states are all for them, and why some states are very skeptical of the NCLB waivers. My comments in this section are based on an examination of the Georgia report. I live in Georgia, and am professor emeritus of science education at Georgia State University, and have had more than 30 years of experience in education in Georgia.
Georgia was a Race to the Top (RttT) winner, and has had a head start on the principles that are described below that they must implement and meet in order to get waivers on NCLB.
There are three principles that all states who request a waiver must adopt. They must detail how they will develop, and implement each of these principles in all schools by 2017. Examination of the principles exposes the sheer weight of bureaucratic rules, high-stakes tests, teacher evaluation measures, and the inordinate number of officials controlling public education far from the day-to-day lives of students and teachers.
Principle 1: Adopt College and Career Ready Standards 
College and career ready standards means that the state will adopt the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and reading/language arts. In Georgia's case the GaDOE is partnering with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the "transition" to the Common Core State Standards. The state agrees to develop and administer annual, statewide, aligned, high-quality assessments that measure student growth.
The Common Core State Standards, which were written by Achieve, Inc., have been adopted by most states. Achieve is busy at work writing the new Science Standards, and they no doubt will be adopted by all states. But, keep in mind that Achieve is also writing the tests based on these sets of national standards, and so down the road, we will see a set of national tests. And, it doesn't matter where students live, they all must live up to this single of standards in each curriculum area.

Principle 2: State-Developed Differentiated Recognition, Accountability and Support 

This is a big one. The state agrees to provide meaningful information about school performance, student achievement and graduation rates, closes gaps for all schools across the state, and targets schools that need help. Priority schools (the lowest performing), and Focus schools (schools that contribute to the achievement gap) will be targeted. Reward school — you guessed it, a school that has exceptional performance. There is even a plan to compensate high performing schools.
One of the sub-principles driving each state is setting performance standards for high school and elementary/middle schools. To do this, the states (at least as shown in the Georgia proposal) use a prescribed formula to get to the Performance Targets in 2017. Here is the formula or algorithm that Georgia uses to determine annual growth that school must meet in each subject area.
Annual Growth = (100% - 2011 Proficiency Rate)/6
As an example in high school biology in Georgia, the annual growth would be: 100% - 69.1 = 30.9/6 = 5.15. 69.1 was the 2011 proficiency rate. So, if you are teaching biology in Georgia, proficiency rates must increase by 5.15 so that by 2017, the rate will be 84. It seems to me that this kind of thinking urges teachers to teach to the test to make sure that their students can answer correctly the questions on the high-stakes bubble tests. There is no theory underlying the notion of annual growth, and how these scores relate to the research in the learning sciences.
Go to any state department of education website in the United States and you will find a treasure trove of data on student test scores by year, content area, grade level and school. At the Assessment page on the Georgia Department of Education website you will find endless Excel data tables by grade level, subject area, and school which you can download.

Principle 3: Supporting Effective Instruction and Leadership (Guidelines for Principal and Teacher Evaluation)
This principle is the one that is being picked up in newspapers, and on blogs around the country. Fundamentally, it means that teacher and administrator evaluation will be tied in some way to student progress on achievement tests. Using student progress on achievement test scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness is riddled with problems, and inconsistencies. The tests themselves are developed by testing corporations that have little or no vested interest in the local school and its curriculum, students, teachers, or parents. The decisions being made are far removed from communities that make up the school districts, and collectively are the building blocks of the state education system. Everything that is being done is from the top-down by bureaucrats who once were part of local schools, but have moved to central command centers in the state capitals of the U.S., and from their vantage points, look out, and make decisions for thousands of students and teachers.
Here is a multiple choice question for you to consider: DEM, LEM, and TEM are:
a. Nicknames for the latest X-Box game superheroes
b. Abbreviations for newly discovered planets outside the solar system
c. Names of three new political parties in the State of Georgia
d. Acronyms for Georgia's system wide approach to effectiveness and accountability
Well. How did you do? The answer is "d," and you can find these terms in charts and discussions in the State of Georgia's first proposal for theRace to the Top competitionand in the Georgia ESEA Flexibility Request. A DEM is the acronym for District Effectiveness Measure; LEM is the acronym for Leader Effectiveness Measure; and TEM — you guessed it, is the acronym for Teacher Effectiveness Measure. All of these measures will have a significant student growth component, and of course the state will develop a "establish a clear and transparent approach to measuring student growth." Now, if you believe this, I'll sell you a bridge! You can read more about this here.
Summing Up 
I have read Georgia's Race to the Top grant proposal and the Flexibility Request. What have we done? We've lost our way in the world of reform led by people who know very little about the lived world of students and teachers. To improve schooling, reform has to be led from the ground up by educators working at local levels.
I rigorously object to the Race to the Top, to the notion of college and career ready standards, and the use of high-stakes tests for making life changing decisions about students, teachers and administrators. I've written much on this, and I have summarized research and analysis in two eBooks that are available here:
Achieving a New Generation of Science Standards
The Enigma of High-Stakes Testing in Science
Follow The Answer Sheet every day by bookmarking

Rock Hill School Board Business Meeting Monday

The Rock Hill School Board will take up the issues of next years' school calendar and an agreement with the city of Rock Hill on a TIF (Tax Increment Financing) extension. The agenda is below:

Meeting of the Board of Trustees
Monday, January 23, 2012
6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room

A G E N D A 

 I. Call to Order
 Approval of Agenda

(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without  discussion. If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Special Business 
A. Recognition of Energy Art Design Contest Winners
B. Recognition of Mildred Douglas and MLK Essay Winners
C. Piedmont Medical Center Donation
D. Recognition of Distinguished Climbers
E. Recognition of New National Board Certifiers
F. Recognition of School Board by YCEA

III. Citizen Participation 

IV. Consent Action Agenda 
A. Approval of Minutes (1. November 28, 2011 business meeting , 2. December 12, 2011 business meeting , 3. January 9, 2012 work session )
 B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations
 C. Approval of Use of Facilities Request(s) (Elevation, Transformation)  
 D. Approval of Overnight Field Study Request(s) (2)

V Communications 

VI. Report of the Superintendent 
A. Announcements
B. Showcase Student Work – Ebenezer Avenue Elementary
C. Budget Calendar
D. Dropout Data Report
E. Elementary Early Behavior Intervention
F School Community Outreach

VII. Review of Work Session

VIII. Action Agenda 
A. Approval of Use of Facilities Request (Impact Church)
B. Approval of New Use of Facilities Request (New Life)
C. Approval of 2012-2013 School Calendar
D. Approval of Policies GBEB, JICDA – 1st Reading
E. TIF Resolution

IX. Executive Session - None 

X. Other Business 

XI. Adjournment 

Friday, January 20, 2012

More On Differentiation Instruction

From the Education Week Teacher web site:

The Five-by-Five Approach to Differentiation Success

Premium article access courtesy of
Two 9th grade boys kept falling asleep while reading. "If you're sleepy," we told them, "you could ask for a hall pass to get a quick drink of water, stand in the back of the room and read, or sit on the desk behind you as long as you are reading." They perked up at the chance to sit on the desks and were soon engrossed in their books.
"What can I do to move this student forward? Is he processing the concepts? Is her thinking being stretched?" As teachers who differentiate, we try to keep these questions in mind at all times. If we didn't, then our "sleepy" students would have wasted valuable reading time. For us (and for many teachers), differentiation is a philosophy. We believe that all students can learn and be productive, and we recognize that our job is to build on what each student brings to the classroom.
The following "Five-by-Five" approach to differentiation contains ideas that we have found effective in our classrooms. It is not a road map: It doesn't offer step-by-step directions. Instead we think of it as a compass: It is a set of strategies that guide our work with students.
Our first five points are about "setting the stage" for effective differentiation, while the other five highlight actions teachers can employ daily.

5 Ways to Set the Stage

• Assessing: At the start of the year (and, in fact, throughout the entire year), we want to find out more about where our students’ skills are, a process that informs our differentiation approach. Education researcher Robert Marzano has called formative assessment "one of the more powerful weapons in a teacher's arsenal." The word "assessment" comes from the Latin "assidere," which means "to sit beside." This origin is reflected in the process of formative assessment, as teachers work alongside students, evaluating evidence and making adjustments to teaching and learning.
More From the Authors on Differentiated Instruction
In his Classroom Q&A blog, Larry Ferlazzo collects and offers advice on differentiating instruction.
Katie Hull-Sypnieski will be presenting her ideas in our upcoming PD webinar Making Differentiated Instruction Work for You.
• Building Relationships: Marzano says positive relationships with students are a "keystone of effective teaching." Plenty ofother research concurs, as do we. The knowledge and trust we develop with individual students can make or break our differentiation efforts. For example, if our students are writing persuasive essays, is it necessary for all students to write about the same topic? Instead, if we know a struggling student is a football fan, why not suggest that she write about why her favorite team is better than another one? Or let's say we are working with a reluctant reader who loves video games. When assigning reading, why not identify a challenging book on that topic that he will feel self-motivated to push through and enjoy?
• Keeping Students Moving Forward: This priority drives everything we do with students—even small moves like inviting sleepy readers to sit on top of desks. Studies of"The Progress Principle" have found that a key to intrinsic motivation is feeling that you are making progress in meaningful work. We can reinforce intrinsic motivation by emphasizing small wins (and using catalysts like the ideas we include in this article).
• Teaching Life-Skills Lessons: Along with many of our colleagues, we front-load our school year with what we call "Life-Skills Lessons." These simple, engaging activities can help students see how it is in their interest (in both the short-term and long-term) to try their best at all times. For example, a lesson might highlight how the learning process physically alters the brain. (This particular lesson was eye-opening to a student who had claimed, "We're born smart or dumb and stay that way.") Other lessons might focus on self-control (including examining the famous "Marshmallow Test") or goal-setting. The publisher of Larry's most recent book has made these lessons plans, including hand-outs,available online for free (click on "sample pages"). As important as the lessons themselves are the frequent opportunities throughout the year when teachers and students can refer back to the concepts and reflect on their applicability.
• Creating a Community of Learners: We do a lesson at the beginning of the year in which students decide if they want to be a "Community Of Learners" or a "Classroom of Students." Working in side-by-side columns on an overhead or whiteboard, a teacher and students work together to outline the differences between the two options. For example, in a "classroom," people might laugh when others make mistakes, but in a "community," people are supported when they take risks. We also discuss the fact that people learn at different speeds, and in different ways, and discuss the meaning of the title of Rick Wormeli's book, Fair Isn't Always Equal. Time after time, our students have always chosen to be a "Community of Learners," and we refer back to this decision as we use differentiation strategies throughout the year.

5 Day-to-Day Actions

• Applying The Zeigarnik Effect: Bluma Zeigarnik, a Russian psychologist, identified what came to be called the Zeigarnik Effect: Once we start doing something, we tend to want to finish it. What can this teach us about differentiation? When we know a task will be challenging for some students, we can present a variety of ways to get started: a menu of questions to answer, the option to create a drawing or visual representation of a concept, the option to begin the assignment working with a partner, etc. We can also encourage students to get started by just answering the first question or the easiest one.
• Differentiating Assignments: Students can complete the same types of mental tasks while producing different end products. Douglas Reeves describes this as “not uniformity of work, but similarity of proficiency." The idea is that students can gain proficiency even when completing different types of assignments or a different number of assignments (one big project vs. five smaller assignments). This happens in our classrooms during free reading time, when students practice using similar reading strategies while reading different books. We have some students reading 300-page books while others read a series of much shorter texts. As long as the level of text is challenging and students are using reading strategies to increase comprehension and drive analysis, then the length/genre/topic of the book doesn’t need to be uniform.
• Using Computers: Computers can allow students to work at their own pace and ability level, make mistakes in private, and stay engaged and motivated. Of course we're not suggesting that teachers plop their students in front of a computer and call it differentiation. However, there are many free sites that allow students to work independently at their skill level and let teachers check on their progress. Some sites, such as the Free Rice game and flash card tools even use "adaptive learning" to adjust future questions based on student progress. A word of caution: automated "teaching" on computers should only supplement high quality curriculum and instruction, not serve as a replacement for it.
• Praising Effort and Learning From Mistakes: One way to encourage all students to work at their highest level of productivity and intellectual capacity is to praise effort and not intelligence. Carol Dweck has published research on the benefits of praising students' effort versus their intelligence. She recommends teaching children the difference between a "growth mindset" (the belief that intelligence can be developed through effort and practice) and a "fixed mindset" (the belief that intelligence is innate). One way to develop students' "growth mindset" is to encourage them to risk making (andlearning from) mistakes. Some students are afraid of making mistakes and being ridiculed for it. We want to turn that attitude on its head, helping them learn that, as Dweck says, we should instead "celebrate mistakes."
• Flexible Grouping: Some confuse differentiation with the practice of grouping students by ability levels and teaching those small groups. While this is sometimes necessary and valuable, it is also important that students have the opportunity to participate in interest-based groups, mixed ability level groups, student-choice groups, and other variations. As Carol Ann Tomlinson explains, "In a sense, the teacher is continually auditioning kids in different settings—and the students get to see how they can contribute in a variety of contexts."
We've found that keeping this "Five-by-Five" strategy in mind has helped keep our students and us moving in the right direction—forward!

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