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Monday, December 31, 2012

Differentiated Instruction #irockrh

From the We Are Teachers Blog:

7 Facts About Differentiated Instruction

by Hannah Hudson | Sep 25, 2012
How to Reach Every KidFor the past several years, many teachers have focused on strategies for differentiating instruction in order to serve every student's needs. With the adoption of the Common Core and the new, more rigorous benchmarks, other schools are taking an interest in exploring how differentiated instruction can help meet the needs of diverse learners.

Whether you are new to differentiated instruction or have been practicing it for years, we wanted to find out how the advent of the Common Core State Standards as well as new research and increased access to technology are changing differentiated teaching. So we turned to the experts at Staff Development for Educators, who recently held their national conference on differentiated instruction in Las Vegas. Here's what they, and the conference attendees, say are the key takeaways.

1) Students are number one. Students are at the heart of solid differentiated instruction, says Kate Maggs, program manager at Staff Development for Educators. "They drive the instruction, from struggling to gifted." That means you have to determine what each student needs first, through accurate assessment and conversation, and then use that data to drive your teaching.

2) You must believe they can achieve. In order for differentiated instruction to work, you have to start with the attitude that every student can reach the benchmarks you set out for him or her, stressed conference presenter and author Rick Wormeli. "Honor your students' gifts," echoed attendee Marlene Armstrong on Twitter. "They all have them, you just don't know what they are yet."

3) We need to get kids on their feet. Differentiated instruction means thinking outside the box, beyond pencil-and-paper assessments. "Butt-based education is not teaching," tweeted attendee Stephanie Crawford. "Students need to move!"

4) Tools like Facebook and Twitter can help differentiated instruction. "Using social media engages, involves promotes and encourage students at school," says presenter and high school principal Eric Sheninger.

5) The flipped classroom model also serves differentiated instruction, because students who are struggling can watch and re-watch the necessary teaching videos. "I realized the flipped classroom isn't just about homework, but a different way to teach," says attendee J. Fitzpatrick.

6) Self-assessment is powerful. "When kids find their own mistakes, they often don't make them again," writes Wormeli. Try giving students rubrics and allowing them to evaluate their own work.

7) The Common Core can integrate with differentiated instruction. The much-discussed “rigor” of the new standards has some teachers concerned that the Common Core State Standards won’t serve their lowest-performing students. While the full impact of the standards has yet to be determined, experts believe the scalable nature of the benchmarks will serve the differentiated classroom and every student who is in it.

For more resources on differentiated instruction, check out Staff Development for Educators.

Question for you: Want to learn even more about differentiated instruction? Sign up to for a chance to win free attendance to SDE’s National Differentiated Instruction Conference in Las Vegas.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Rock Hill School Groups in Music Contest #rockhill #rockhillschools

The following information has been provided by James Turner, band director at South Pointe:
Four district employees have submitted videos for a chance to win one of four $15,000 grants for the Rack Room Shoes Gift of Music. The four entries are "Deck The Halls," submitted by James Turner; Ebinport sings "The Twelve Days of Christmas," submitted by Kelly Scott; "Jingle Bells," submitted by Heather Turner; and "South Pointe SPCC," submitted by Beverly Laney.
Please go to one of the following links and vote: or If you don't have facebook, I believe you can use the first one to vote. 
To get to these quickly, click on Vote and then go to Categories and click on SC, and it will bring up these along with a few others. The band one is titled "Deck The Halls." Currently, it is not working on mobile devices, so go to your computer and vote.
Please notify your friends. We only stand a chance if everyone spreads the word and votes every day until January 11
Elaine T. Baker
Director, Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Illusion of Color

Click here for a link to the video.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rock Hill School District News For December 20 #rockhill #rockhillschools

RoboRockers Win Top Prize
Congratulations to the RoboRockers, the robotics team at Saluda Trail Middle School, on placing first at the regional robotics competition at York Technical College on Dec. 7. The team was chosen from among 21 teams for the "Project Award." Twenty students attended the day-long competition with their coaches Sherri HorencyJulia MillarMarsha Graves and Mr. Charles.
ESEA Flexibility Stakeholders' Meeting
Northwestern High will host an ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act ) flexibility stakeholders'' meeting on Sat., Jan. 5, from 6-7:30 pm in the auditorium. Representatives from the State Dept. of Education will provide an update and seek feedback on S.C.'s request for flexibility from certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
Kids Caring for Kids
Independence Elementary School's "Cans for the Community" service/learning project was the most successful ever! The Patriot Council, under the leadership of fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Melton, collected 1,026 canned goods and non-perishable food items for the Salvation Army's food pantry. Students also made a $50 cash donation.
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Safe Havens Message #rhschoolboard

Click here for a link to the video.

The Rock Hill School Board will be getting a report from Safe Havens at a January Meeting.

Something to Think About

Click here for a link to the video.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Some Interesting Moon Stuff

Click here for a link to the video.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Rock Hill School District News For 12/12/12 #rockhillschools #rockhill

Congratulations to . . .
vKaty Sheppard, a kindergarten teacher at Sunset Park Elementary School, who has been chosen by the Palmetto Chapter of the International Reading Association. as its Distinguished Teacher of Reading for the Rock Hill, York, Lancaster, Chester, and Clover school districts. Katy will be honored at the SCIRA banquet in February.
vWally Blankenship, a science teacher at Rock Hill High, on his selection as the winner of the 2012 Rock Hill Tree Commission Award for his tree planting work at Rock Hill High. In the 20 years that the award has been given, Wally is the first educator to be recognized.
Holiday Coat Drive
South Pointe and Northwestern High Schools are competing to collect clean used and new coats, blankets, gloves and “new” hats. Bins are located at both schools, but items can also be dropped off at Shomars in the Galleria Mall. (Just remember to include the name of the school which should receive the credit.) The competition began on Dec. 10 and will end on Dec. 14.
Breakfast with Santa

Santa and his elves from Sunset Park would be delighted to have breakfast with you this Saturday at Fatz on Herlong. 
Computer Basics
Rock Hill Adult and Community Education will offer a Computer Basics Class Curriculum at the Flex Center from 5-8 pm January 3, 7, 8, 9, and 10. The class includes Microsoft Office 2010 components, copying/pasting, email essentials, Skype, Internet safety, music topics, web tools, and applying for jobs online. For details, contact Brett Taylor at
Attention: Sullivan Parents
Sullivan is the recipient of a 21st Century Learning Grant which will allow the school to offer an after-school program for students in grades 6-8 beginning in January.  An informational meeting for parents will be held at 6 pm Thursday, Dec. 13, in the school’s media center.
Kids Caring for Kids
vMembers of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the National Honor Society and the Beta Club at Rock Hill High collected over 125 boxes of needed items for Operation Christmas Child, and 25 students volunteered at Samaritan’s Purse Christmas Child Processing Center on Dec. 7. The Bearcats also collected over 200 canned food items through the school’s media center “Food for Fines” project for a local food bank.
vClub S.O.S. (Students Organized for Service), comprised of fourth- and fifth-graders at Finley Road Elementary School recently sponsored a Clemson/Carolina competition for students to bring non-perishable food to donate to the Salvation Army and Pilgrim’s Inn. While the competition ended in a tie, over 1,000 food items were collected. Co-chairs of this effort were teachers Tammy Potter and Michelle McGuinness.
Calendar Committee
A calendar committee to determine potential calendars for school year 2013-14 will meet for the first time on Dec. 13. The committee, chaired by Elaine Baker, is comprised of three administrators, 3 high school students, six teachers and four parents.
In the Dec. 7 “update,” it was mentioned that Clay Flowers is the art teacher at Dutchman Creek when, in fact, Carmen McKee Deas is the art teacher.
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dutchman Creek Middle School - A School To Watch #rockhillschools

The faculty, staff, students, and families of Dutchman Creek Middle School are proud to announce that the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform and the South Carolina Middle School Association has named Dutchman Creek Middle School as a National School To Watch!

This award is the equivalent of "The Heisman" for innovative middle schools in the nation!  The Schools To Watch initiative recognizes schools based on the following guiding principles of high-performing middle schools:
1. Academic Excellence - challenging students to use their minds
2. Developmental Responsiveness - being sensitive to the unique developmental challenges of early adolescence
3. Social Equity - demonstrating democracy and fairness while providing every student with high quality teachers, resources, and support systems
4. Organizational Structures - having established norms, structures, and arrangements to support and sustain a trajectory towards excellence

The school will receive state recognition at the South Carolina Middle School Conference in Myrtle Beach (March 1st -3rd) and will receive national recognition at the National Schools To Watch Conference in Washington D.C. (June 27th-29th). It is the second school in Rock Hill Schools, following Castle Heights Middle School in 20120,  to receive this prestigious honor.
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Monday, December 10, 2012

Making a Good Speech

Click here for a link to the video.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Are Teachers Empowered? #rhschoolboard #rockhillschools #rockhill

From scholastic:

Are Your Teachers Empowered?

Here are five great schools where they are.

By Caralee Adams
What distinguishes schools where the faculty and staff are excited to show up to work every day from the ones where the watercooler talk inevitably turns to transfer opportunities and possible career changes?
In schools with a healthy work environment, teachers have a voice in decisions and freedom in the classroom, says Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. They want to be treated as professionals and they relish time to collaborate.
Teachers require flexibility in juggling the many needs of their students, says Ingersoll. And flexibility is not something you’ll find in a top-down workplace. “Management 101 says you can’t hold employees accountable for things they don’t have control over,” says Ingersoll. “If a principal makes a unilateral decision, and is not informed, he may not get buy-in from the people who have to make it work.”
Administrators who understand this just may find it’s the secret to a stable staff. And as they know, holding on to teachers isn’t easy. According to federal statistics, at the average public school 15 percent of the faculty moves to another school or leaves the profession every year. At private schools, the figure is closer to 20 percent.
Below, we profile five schools where teachers’ opinions are valued and collaboration is encouraged. They’re great places to work, and as a result, teachers stay put. And most important, say the teachers, kids are learning. That should come as no surprise—after all, a happy teacher is a more effective teacher.
Teacher TurnaroundBrockton High School, Brockton, Mass.
Students: 4,300 Grades: 9–12 Faculty: 334
It used to be that when Sue Szachowicz told people she worked at Brockton High School, they would say, “Oh, my dear, I’ll pray for you.” But last year, when a man at a local fish market recognized her school jacket, he said, “What an awesome school!”  
Szachowicz, a Brockton High alum, longtime teacher, and, since 2004, the school’s principal, was at the center of the teacher-led turnaround in which the faculty empowered themselves and transformed a school in the process.
In 1999, Brockton High was featured on the front page of The Boston Globe for having some of the state’s lowest test scores. That was a wake-up call for the teachers, who led a now-famous turnaround of the large school, which is located in a diverse, working-class neighborhood just south of Boston. Its success has been the subject of stories on PBS and 60 Minutes, and in The New York Times.
The school formed a restructuring committee and the teachers came together and asked: “Is this the best we can be?” recalls Szachowicz. The committee decided to focus on literacy. Writing was incorporated into every subject, and teachers worked together to develop common writing prompts. Even in choral music, students read articles related to their pieces.
The literacy initiative “was run and implemented by the faculty,” Szachowicz says. “It was not a principal on high saying, ‘We have adopted this. Go forth.’”
In the first year of the restructuring, Brockton cut its failure rate in half. Every year since, the school has shown improvement. The committee, which meets monthly on Saturday mornings, has grown from 12 members to 30, and there is a waiting list to be on it.
Jodie Nelson, an instructional resource specialist at the school, says teachers at other schools often work in isolation, but at Brockton, “we get an opportunity to love what we do in concert and be part of a team.”
 “You feel like a winner when you walk in every day,” says Nelson. “You know you’re defying the odds and are part of a team that’s successful.”
Faculty meetings are filled with professional development—often produced in-house—and there are in-depth discussions about instruction. And new teachers don’t just “sink or swim”; they are paired with mentors, says Sharon Wolder, associate principal.
Last year, says Szachowicz, less than 2 percent of the faculty left for positions at other schools. Tim Cuprinski, who graduated from Brockton High in 2006 and returned as a teacher this fall, captures the spirit behind those numbers: “I’m here for life,” he says.  “This is where I want to be.”
21st-Century Teamwork
C. W. Davis Middle School, Flowery Branch, Ga.
Students: 1,200 Grades: 6–8 Faculty: 85
Ever since Eddie Millwood became principal of C. W. Davis Middle School, in 2006, he’s turned to the faculty to make a good school even better.
He expanded forums for teacher input and increased the leadership team from 6 to 16. And though the school had a steady record of student achievement, a few years ago Millwood wondered if Davis was doing enough. “We started to talk about 21st-century classrooms and what students are supposed to be able to do in the real world to be successful,” says Millwood. “We asked: Are we teaching in a way that students are learning skills they are expected to know in the real world? The answer was no.”
So Millwood invited a dozen teachers to be part of a brainstorming group he called the “21st-Century Team.” They were freed from some of their duties to give them time to research and introduce new teaching methods and technology. Each teacher developed a model classroom with more individualized lessons, small-group work, and relevant materials to excite the students. For example, in one seventh-grade math class, students built cell phone apps, and in an English class they worked on methods to market the new products.
There was a representative on the team in each subject area, so every teacher had a model classroom to consult with on these new best practices. “The biggest fear of teachers was that there wasn’t anywhere to go for support,” says Millwood. “Now every subject area has a representative, and we developed 12 leaders and trainers.”
Millwood has been part of the school practically since it opened in 1999. He was hired as a language arts and social studies teacher in 2000 and worked as assistant principal. He put in a short stint as principal at another school before returning to Davis as principal.
“I’ve had the advantage of being here as a teacher and knowing the staff,” says Millwood. “I realized quickly that micromanaging doesn’t work for me. Teachers make the magic happen in the classroom. I support the teachers and provide them the freedom to teach.” In return, teachers stick with Millwood and the school, which had a faculty retention rate of 95 percent over the past three years.
Joel Cantrell, an eighth-grade social studies teacher, says Millwood has a knack for building a culture that empowers teachers. “You don’t just get asked for your opinion to pat you on the head. Everybody is involved here,” he says. “When we tried to change the focus, it wasn’t rammed down our throats. A core of people was picked to model it, and they took the ball and ran with it.”
“We have a strong sense of trust in our school,” says Celita Allen, an instructional administrator at Davis. Many on the staff have chosen education as a second career, which influences the dynamic in the school. “They know they have other opportunities, but they want to be here,” she says. “That’s their mission.”

Caring Around the ClockSoaring Eagles Elementary School,
Colorado Springs, Colo.
Students: 550 Grades: PreK–5 Faculty: 65
At some schools, teachers turn their keys in over the summer. Not at Soaring Eagles Elementary. Drive by the school on a sunny day in July—or at 6 a.m. or 6 p.m. on a Saturday during the school year, for that matter—and you’ll often see cars in the parking lot.
“It’s a place everyone wants to be,” says Opal Bentley, who started at the school as an aide and now, after being inspired to get her degree, is a kindergarten teacher. “Whether it’s a school day, after hours, or the weekend, it’s just what we do for the good of the kids.”
If teachers feel like school is a second home, that’s no accident. Principal Kelli O’Neil believes that’s crucial. She wants the work environment “to be inviting, beautiful, and clean.” And perhaps most important, she takes good care of her staff. “It’s people first. People matter the most,” says O’Neil.
Caring for her teachers means telling them to go home when they are sick, or when they have to care for their own child or an elderly parent. It means providing extra support if they seem to be on the verge of burnout. O’Neil knows the job will get done. “I’m not a time watcher,” she says. “I have to create a learning atmosphere, but if they need a hug, I deliver a hug.”
When Gina Oelig, a first-grade teacher, had to take a day off to care for her sick child, the administration’s response was: “It’s no big deal. Relax. You need to be home,” she recalls. “They understand that your family comes first.”
O’Neil focuses on hiring high achievers, and once they’re hired, they stay put. In her years as principal, she has had only one teacher ask for a transfer; typically, just a few leave each year, either to retire or because of a military move. “They want to stay,” says O’Neil, who opened the school in 2002.
The results? Soaring Eagles Elemen-tary School has more distinguished teachers than any other school in its district, a designation based on classroom performance, student test scores, commitment to lifelong learning, and leadership. In 2010, the school was one of two schools in the state that received a federal Blue Ribbon award for academic achievement. And in 2012, it was one of 50 schools in the country to be designated a National Distinguished Title 1 School.
Fifth-grade teacher Brenda Sebastian says there’s no shortage of camaraderie. “I love the team I’m on,” she says. “We hold one another to a high standard and support [the effort] to get there.”
Sebastian adds, “In the end, it always comes down to the principal. The principal is the person who sets the tone in the building.”

A Thriving Partnership

Avalon School, St. Paul, Minn.
Students: 185 Grades: 7–12 Faculty: 17
At Avalon School, it doesn’t always come down to the principal. Actually, it never does. They don’t have one.
The school is a teacher cooperative. It’s run like a law firm—the employees are partners. They have equal votes in decision-making matters, divide administrative tasks among themselves, and evaluate one another’s performance.
Everyone pitches in with his or her own special talents to form something like a “superorganism” to get things  done, says Gretchen Sage-Martinson, who has taught at the school since it opened in 2001. “The challenge is not fighting the system, but inventing the system,” she adds.  
“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and who to turn to if there is a problem,” says Sage-Martinson. “We know who is a good scheduler, who is good at carrying things out. We have a high level of trust with each other.”
Teachers make a commitment to work as part of a team and cover the duties—and peer evaluations take that into account. “The workload is different, not longer,” says Carrie Bakken, another of the original faculty members.
Teachers also have total control over their curriculum. “When things aren’t going well, we can quickly change,” says Bakken. “There aren’t lots of layers. We are very empowered.”
That autonomy is complemented by collaboration and mutual support. Classrooms are laid out with shared student work space, and teachers’ desks are in pairs, so they always have a colleague at their side. “If I’m teaching and a student has a meltdown, there is someone there to cover,” says Anna Wesley, who has been teaching at Avalon for eight years. In contrast, at her last job, she was always alone except during lunch.
Avalon uses project-based learning, which allows students to go deeper into learning and to individualize instruction. And with the co-op model, teachers have added flexibility. “It is certainly more rewarding for me and the students when I feel I’m giving them what they need. I don’t get bored with the curriculum,” says Wesley. “Ethically, I feel it’s what I need to do.”
Even though the faculty make 5 to 10 percent less than their peers at traditional schools in Minnesota, turnover is extremely low. In the past two years, the school has not lost any of its faculty members. “We are willing to take autonomy over pay,” says Bakken.

California Collegiality
Eleanor Roosevelt High School,
Eastvale, Calif.
Students: 3,470 Grades: 9–12 Faculty: 128
Mark LeNoir, principal of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Southern California, is a self-described “data guy.” He’s set up a system of frequent assessments and almost-instant feedback. Teachers get an electronic report of student performance; students receive a printed version and are taught how to interpret the results.
Crunching the numbers has paid off: Test scores have improved substantially at Roosevelt in the past two years. But teachers are quick to point out that LeNoir has also taken the human factor into account. He’s promoted collegiality and teamwork, and added a fair amount of socializing into the equation.
Last year, LeNoir suggested forming a staff social club. “The goal of the Sunshine Group is to make my big high school feel like a small elementary school—where there are always cookies in the staff lounge and there is feeling of family.”
There have been holiday parties, a chili cook-off, and a French toast breakfast for the entire staff, along with birthday cards and plants for teachers on special occasions. Postcards with a sunshine logo are provided for staff members to send to each other to express thanks. “It lightens the campus mood,” says Laura Perez, a school secretary.
Sue Schaeffer, who has been a teacher at the school since it opened in 2006, says there is genuine collegiality among the faculty. She credits regular grade-level meetings to share best practices. Teachers score essays together to identify areas where improvements can be made. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished,” she says. “We’ve been very strategic and very thoughtful.” That pride is reflected in the school’s faculty retention rate of 97 percent over the past two years.
Students get in on the sunshine, too. Each week at staff meetings, they are invited to recognize teachers who have done something special. As kids talk about teachers not giving up on them, sometimes there are tears, says LeNoir, who has been at the school for three years. The honored teachers receive a wristband that reads: i change lives.
Annie Hanson says she has her “dream job” working at Roosevelt, teaching classes that focus on diversity and student-to-student mentoring. Upperclassmen in the school’s Link Crew host safe and welcoming events for freshmen on the weekends, such as tailgates, pool parties, and ice cream socials, complete with a 25-foot banana split. “Once students start failing classes, they stop coming,” says Hanson. “If they have a club or activity, they might have a different reason to stay.”
“LeNoir is a quiet leader, but he conveys his expectations to the campus,” adds Hanson. “He sees strengths in people and is able to identify what seat everyone should be in on the bus.”
—Late Fall 2012—

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Physics Lies?

Click here for a link to the video.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rock Hill School Board Retreat Results #iRockrh #rhschoolboard #rockhill

One of the objectives for the Rock Hill School Board retreat last week was to set objectives the board wanted to put priority on. The graph above shows the objectives that received at least 50% support from the board.

The full explanation for the top priority, Academic Performance Improvement, was "Address and improve academic and other performance indicators including; test scores;graduation rates and; achievement gaps. For the second priority it was, "Preparing staff (and Parents) for upcoming changes to education". The third priority was, "Proactive efforts to promote and engage community involvement".

An interesting point was that technology barely made the list. Interesting, because the district has been moving toward a massive technology program. However, if you look at Project Red project guidelines, maybe not so interesting. Some of their criteria for a project:

  • You must define student outcomes
  • You must define teacher behaviors
  • You must define building administer expectations
  • You must have revenue positive outcomes
  • You must define what success looks like and how you will know when you get it.
You could argue that the financial part would be included under community involvement, but the others are all included in the boards top three objectives.

Rock Hill School District News #rockhillschools #rockhill #rhschoolboard

Local Teams in Football Rivalry Competition
USA TODAY High School Sports has announced that the rivalry between Northwestern and Rock Hill High is now a regional finalist for a national award of $10,000.  Please cast your vote in the "Vote Now" box at on or by December 12.
Brakefield Up for National Recognition
Congratulations to Missy Brakefield, the district's Director of Federal Programs, who has been nominated by the S. C. Assn. of Title 1 Administrators (SCATA) for a National Assn. of Federal Education Program Administrators award. Dr. Brakefield will be recognized at the NAFEPA conference in April for "her significant role in the support and promotion of activities and goals of S. C. and the SCATA organization."
Spirit Night to Benefit the ATC
The Future Educators Association from the Applied Technology Center will host a Chick-fil-A "Spirit Night" on Tuesday, Dec. 11, from 5:00-8:00 at the Cherry Road Location. When you make a purchase, please give back your receipt in support of these amazing high school students who want to become teachers! Members of FEA will be at Chick-fil-A "spinning the wheel" for customers to receive Chick-fil-A coupons.
Kids Caring for Kids
Congratulations to students at Sullivan Middle School who donated over 3,600 cans during the school's recent food drive. This equals approximately 3,300 pounds or 1.687 tons of food for the Salvation Army. The Junior Civitans and their adviser, Counselor Sandra Holeman, led the successful campaign.
Mount Gallant Artwork on Display
Heather Gregory, art teacher at Mount Gallant Elementary, is especially proud of the many holiday displays created by her students. "Donkey Bells," created by first-graders, is featured on the school's Christmas tree, and third-graders' "Vernon Grant Gnomes" are on display at the Center for the Arts. "Rainforest Birds," created by second-graders, are on display in the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden's holiday lights show, along with a display by  Clay Flowers sixth -graders at Dutchman Creek.
Dec. 10 School Board Meeting
The Rock Hill School Board will combine its business meeting with a work session on Monday, December 10, where the focus will be on a presentation of the district's iRock plan. As all meetings, this meeting will be open to the public. Click here for agenda and meeting information.
 Compiled by: Elaine T. Baker, Director of Information Services, Rock Hill Schools

Thursday, December 6, 2012

iRock Plan Draft Has Been Released #iRockrh #rhschoolboard #rockhillschools #rockhill

The Rock Hill School Board will hear the administrations draft of a proposed iRock implementation plan at the December 10, 2012 Business/word session. Click here to see the Board Information for the December iRock presentation which has been posted on the district web site under Board Meeting Information Packet.

Having an Online Discussion #rhschoolboard #rockhillschools #rockhill

I'm not much of a Twitter user. I repost a few items and try to post my blog there but would consider myself a novice. My use of Twitter changed considerably whey I got an iPad about a year ago. Signing in to Twitter with the Flipboard app made all the difference in the world. Twitter went from a few words per post to pictures, videos, and full posts. It became something similar to reading a magazine. You can also share items by category and have online discussions with people from all over the world. I now realize it as a valuable tool - one that many educators have started using regularly.

If you don't have a Twitter account, you should get one. If you have an iPad and are not using Flipboard, you should at least give it a try. Follow information about iRock and education technology by following the #iRockrh hashtag. Follow Rock Hill School Board articles and information for school boards by following the #rhschoolboard hashtag. Follow #rockhillschools and #rockhill. Check with your favorite school or organization to see if they are using a hashtag. Do an internet search to find out what the best hashtags are for any area of interest you may have.

Let me know what you think - you can also follow me @viningjb  if you'd like.

Rock Hill School District News #rockhillschools #rockhill

Holiday Performances
  •  Dec. 6 – Third-graders at Northside Elementary School of the Arts will present "Pirates: The Musical" at 7:00 p.m. in the Sullivan Auditorium.
  •  Dec. 6 – South Pointe High School's Music Department will present a "Concert for HOPE" at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. The chorus under the direction of Beverly Laney; the orchestra under the direction of Heather Turner, and the band under the direction of James Turner will be featured. Admission will be two canned goods that will be donated to Project HOPE.
  •  Dec. 6 – Saluda Trail Middle School will hold its band concert at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium. The concert, which will be free, will be directed by Myra Amler.
  •  Dec. 6 & 7 – The Rock Hill High School Chorus, under the direction of Jonathan Hall, will present its winter concert at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. General admission will be $5.
  •  Dec. 7 – Rawlinson Road Middle will present its Dance Winter Concert at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium. 
  •  Dec. 8 & 9 – A selection of sixth- and seventh-grade choral students from Castle Heights Middle School will participate with Carolina Voices Mainstage Choir in all performances of the 58th Annual Singing Christmas Tree in Ovens Auditorium. Performances on December 8 will be at 11:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; the performance on Dec. 9 will be at 3:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 9 – The Elementary Honors Choir, comprised of auditioned fourth- and fifth-grade students districtwide, will present its Winter Concert at 3:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of Oakland Baptist Church. Becky Sanderson (York Road) is the director, and Gwen Colter (Independence) is associate director and accompanist. There will be no admission charge.
  •  Dec. 11 – The bands at Rawlinson Road Middle School will present their Winter Concert at 6:00 p.m. and again at 7:00 in the auditorium.
  •  Dec. 11 – The chorus at Saluda Trail Middle School will perform in concert at 7:00 p.m.
  • Dec. 11 – Dutchman Creek choral performances, led by Jeri McGuffin, will be held at 2:30 and again at 7:00 in the auditorium. There will be no admission, but donations will be accepted at the door.
  •  Dec. 11 – Sullivan’s chorus, led by Lisa Pecarina, will perform in concert at 7:00 p.m.
  •  Dec. 13 – Saluda Trail will present "Last Stop Til Christmas...and Other Stories" at 7:00 p.m. The play will be directed by Lauren Yon.
  •  Dec. 18 – The Strings Program at Rawlinson Road Middle School will present its Winter Concert at 7:00 p.m. in the auditorium.
  •  Dec. 18 – Second-graders at Northside Elementary School of the Arts will present "A Holiday Concert" at 8:30 a.m.
  •  Dec. 18 – The Sullivan Middle School Beginning Band, directed by Paul Guzewicz, will perform in concert at 7:00 p.m. 

Open the Door to Reading this Holiday Season

If you need to give a gift to someone "who has everything," or if you want to pay tribute to someone special, why not sponsor a child for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and give the gift of reading to a child! Click here for a printable form.

Master Calendar 2013-24
Two calendars are being developed for the 2013-14 school year: a traditional calendar where school begins following the third Monday in August and a calendar that begins in early August which allows the first semester to end before the winter holidays. A calendar committee is being formed for Rock Hill Schools to provide input on both calendars. Any calendar that has students starting school before the third Monday in August to allow for  the first semester to end before the winter holidays will require a waiver from the S.C. Dept. of Education. Approval is iffy, but the four school districts in York County will join together to request a waiver.
Congratulations to Old Pointe
Old Pointe Elementary School has been notified by the Walmart Foundation and Facility #4593 that it has been selected to receive a $500 grant through the Local Community Contribution Program. Old Pointe was cited for doing important work for the communities it serves.
  • Third-grade art students of Dy English at Lesslie have created a non-objective piece of art using geometric and organic lines and shapes.  After the third- graders created the piece, other students were invited to add the color.  Third-graders then finished the project by writing about their experiences. To view Installation Art 2012, go to  
Compiled by Elaine T. Baker, Director of Information Services Rock Hill Schools

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#iRockrh Presentation to #rhschoolboard on Monday

The Rock Hill School Board will be presented with the Administration's plans for going forward with iRock on Monday, December 10, 2012. You can see what was previously given to the board by clicking here. The presentation will be in a work session, immediately following the December Business Meeting in the Training Room at the district office. The meeting should begin around 6 pm.

While I don't know many details, I would not be surprised if the new iRock plan is a little different from the one located on the iRock website.

This is what I'm expecting to hear:

It's not about iPads. It is about implementing Common Core (The train wreck heading toward us) and utilizing online content and assessment which will make the process easier and save money.

It's not about iPads. It is about individualized instruction which will help  students that are now left behind. This is accomplished  through the use of online resources and assessments utilizing the teacher as coach and personal instructor. It is about allowing students who excel - to  not be held back by slower students. It is about moving the bar up for all students and setting aggressive achievement goals.

It's not about iPads. It is about communication and collaboration at the school level. It will be about empowering teachers and staff to created and share ideas and information. It is about setting high standards, works of excellence, and having our students collaborate and share around the world.

It's not about iPads. It is about defining excellence and rework until we achieve it. It is about bringing in outsiders, as well as community members, to help us on our journey.

It's not about money.  We have to find a way to make this work within our existing budget guidelines. And this is the painful part, we have to prioritize and devote resources to different areas. We have to do this if we hope to achieve something different.

So, if you think iRock is only about iPads - you should come to the presentation on Monday.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

School Board Items for 2013

From education week:

10 Things School Board Members Should Do in 2013

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1. Set a high bar
  • Adopt the EPIC definition of college/career ready knowledge, skills, and dispositions.
  • Insist on evidence of real college and career ready standards.
  • Showcase examples of student work at board meetings.
2. Start a conversation about next generation learning
3. Take a field trip to a next generation schools
4. Model tech-based learning and management
  • Use social media to gather input and communicate.
  • Run transparent digital meetings.
  • Post policy proposals and ask for comment.
  • Support district community communications.
5. Ask for a plan to provide universal access to digital learning
6. Ask for an online learning plan
  • As recommended by Digital Learning Now!, states and districts should expand access to full and part time online learning.
  • The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (where I'm a director) offers great policy advice on online learning.
  • There's no reason that every high school student in the U.S. shouldn't have access to every AP course, every foreign language, and every high level STEM course taught by an expert.
7. Ask for a blended learning plan
  • Every school should receive support in adopting or developing a blended learning model that extends the reach of great teachers and personalizes learning for every student (watch for a January SmartSeries paper on this topic).
8. Ask for a one room schoolhouse plan
9. Ask for a zero base the budget
  • Shift to digital materials by 2015.
  • Reallocate $250 per student for universal access by 2015.
  • Fund new school/program development.
  • Apply for waivers (innovation/charter status).
10. Ask your state for a new funding model
  • Districts/networks should receive equalized and weighted funding.
  • Funding should be portable for students.
  • Funding to districts/providers should have a small performance-based component to incentivize completion and achievement (watch for a February SmartSeries paper on this topic).

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