Tuesday, June 22, 2010

How to help our children be more successful?

Did you know that a University of Michigan study of children's time found that more meal time at home was the single strongest predictor of better achievement scores and fewer behavioral problems? Meal time was far more powerful than time spent in school, studying, church, playing sports, and art activities.

Doesn't this information make you think...we can help our children become more successful just by eating more meals together!!! Wow, what great news...

What about our children's busy lives with activities or working? What are some suggestions that you have for others about how you make sure you eat more meals together in your household? Please share with others...hit the comments button below and let us know what works for you.

Thanks and have a great day,

Supt Herzberg

Friday, June 11, 2010

A laptop for every high school student...

...for the 2010-2011 school year! Are you serious? Yes, we are seriously considering implementing the 1 to 1 laptop initiative for Sibley-Ocheyedan High School. What do you think the benefits would be to our students and staff?

If you have a comment, please hit the comments button below and share...

Thanks and have a great day,

Supt Herzberg

Monday, May 10, 2010

May Term

What an exciting time at S-O High School...May Term is going strong and our students are making a lot of great connections to their classroom learning. I am curious if you have a favorite May Term class or if you have a positive May Term learning experience that you would like to share (that you experienced or your child(ren) experienced).

Hit the comments button below and share what you like about May Term.

Thanks and have a great week,

Supt Herzberg

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2 Million Minutes...

Wow! I am very impressed that about 15 people, including students, parents, and community members, just spent an hour at the Max Theater in Sibley (by the way, thank you Pedleys for making this happen for FREE) watching this important documentary.

There is another showing on Monday, May 3 at 5:30 p.m. so if you couldn't make it today, please come on Monday and check it out...you will be amazed by the information.

I'd love to have anyone who watched 2 Million Minutes make comment here about what you thought. What are your impressions about the education that students receive in the U.S., China and India? Hit the comments button below and weigh in on this important topic.


Superintendent Herzberg

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Digital Natives...Making your technology environment student centered

Wow...another great article from District Administration magazine. Don Knezek, chief executive officer of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), says the "digital divide," the gap between people with and without effective access to digital technology and its impact on their earnings, now also is seen as a "learning divide." That means, he says, that "ids don't have the opportunity to learn, as well as earn," if they don't have digital skills. While students formerly had the classroom teacher as their "sole guide," they now can use those skills, as well as new digital tools, to connect and interact with experts around the world, and "that makes so much difference in helping kids learn and advance and stay engaged," Knezek says.

What do you think about this digital divide? Do you think it is a public school's responsibility to level the playing field for all students to make sure they get a world class education?

What do you think about the need for all of our students to learn at high levels? Should we be concerned about them all or just those who have access to technology?

What do you think about the need of all of our students to learn about technology and how to incorporate it into the jobs of the future?

I look forward to hearing from you...

Supt Herzberg

Friday, April 9, 2010

Who were all those people in our schools today?

Sibley-Ocheyedan schools were host to a group of seven visitors today from the area who were here helping to improve our work with students. Superintendents from Denison, Schleswig, MOC-FV, and Rock Valley as well as three representatives from Northwest AEA were here as part of the Superintendent Network.

As part of my own professional development, I have been part of this group which is working through Richard Elmore's Instructional Rounds for Education model that has been created in the image of the medical model of improvement. A group of educational leaders have been traveling to member school districts each month during the school year to observe classrooms, provide feedback about the observations and then make suggestions on how to improve something that the school district is interested in getting better at.

We asked our visitors to observe our classrooms for two things that we are trying to meld together to meet the needs of our students in the 21st Century:

1) Engagement of our students with technology.
2) Engagement of our students into higher order thinking skills (the upper three levels of Blooms' Taxonomy which are Analyzing, Evaluating and Creating).

It was a fantastic day...a lot of very positive comments about our schools and our staff members and great suggestions for making the next step towards continual improvement. We will make the full report available for staff in the next few weeks and then I will write an article for the newspaper so everyone can see what the visitors thought about the S-O schools.

A big thank you to all the teachers we were able to observe (all 16 of you) and as usual, for the great behavior or our students.

Have a great weekend,

Supt Herzberg

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

What is the purpose of school?

In trying to engage in a public conversation about different issues facing our school, I haven't had much luck in getting comments posted to this blog. I thought I would go 'back to basics' and ask a very simple question today:

What is the purpose of school?

The nature of this question comes from an article that I read in the April 2010 edition of The School Administrator. Daniel Domenech, the executive director of the American Association of School Administrators, wrote an editorial entitled; "What's the Purpose: Transformation or Tinkering? In this article he commented on the big picture of this question by saying: "Is it to do what is always best for the learner or to accommodate the interests of the adults, the businesses or whatever groups have a vested interest in the process?" Interesting question...and again, what do you think the purpose of school is?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

What is Quadrant D anyway?

Quadrant D is a term from the Iowa Core that we are trying to emphasize within our schools...getting our students into the highest form of rigor and relevance as well as critical thinking skills. Take a look at this example from Ms. Krogman's math class last week:

Problem: You have been hired to work for the Daredevil Adventure Company. This company offers rock climbing, sky diving, "extreme skiing," and cliff diving adventures to the public. To keep up with market demand, the company's board of directors decided to add bungee jumping to its offerings. The company has several sites planned for bungee jumping and each site is at a different height. Your first assignment involves working with a group of three other employees to simulate the testing of the drop height for a bungee cord that optimizes the thrill of splashing in a pool of water without actually hitting the floor. Using only one action figure (Barbie/Ken doll), your task is to determine for various heights above the floor the number of rubber bands that allows your action figure to come as close to the floor as possible (for maximum thrills) without causing any type of injury or fatality. Put simply, your goal is to get a splash without a crash!

The students were engaged and seemed to enjoy putting their basic skills to work by applying them to this new situation. This is what we are trying to do by moving to Quadrant D...put some real world applications into our subject areas so our students are challenged to think at high levels...

Some of the comments from students: "I enjoyed this activity because it taught the use of graphs and applying the data to the graph to predict the outcome of the experiment." "I liked that it was something new and got us out of the regular setting." "I liked this activity because it was different than just taking notes and we got to work in groups." "I liked the Barbie experiment because it was something fun to do and it didn't seem like you were really working but having fun instead." "It was a good sense of teamwork and cooperation." "I think this was great to see and show us how math is used and applied in the real world."

Sounds like Ms. Krogman's students were getting the point of the activity very well. Thanks for stepping out and trying something to challenge our students at a high level. Any other examples of Quadrant D activities lately? Add them to the comments button below.... Anyone want to comment on the benefit of this type of learning?

Thanks for taking the time.

Supt Herzberg

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Failure is not an option." - Gene Granz

My planner has daily quotes about leadership and one this past week really hit me as we are working hard at meeting the current and future needs of our students in the S-O Schools...

Gene Kranz said "These three astronauts [on Apollo 13] were beyond our physical reach. But not beyond the reach of human imagination, inventiveness, and a creed we all lived by: 'Failure is not an option.'

I think about this quote a lot in my work as the superintendent of our school system...failure is not an option for any students (and I don't mean the occasional paper, project or test...I'm thinking larger scale failure as we all need to learn to deal with smaller things as well as life is full of setbacks) as there is no future with failure. Failure of the school system to successfully prepare our students for the future is not an option either. We must make some changes in the way we engage students in thoughtful, critical thinking ways if they are going to have any chance to succeed in their lives after high school. The world has changed exponentially and we must do what we can in our schools to meet the changes head on. Your children are worth it!

If you have a comment about Gene's quote or my comments about failure not being an option for our students or our school system, please hit the comments button below and join in this on-line conversation.

Have a great week,

Supt Herzberg

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Positive News!

It seems like we have heard a number of good things about our schools recently but from a whispering perspective instead of a shouting one...seems like negative stuff is easier for us all to talk to others about.

My idea for today's blog is to see if you want to share any comments about something positive going on in our schools. You don't have to mention any names specifically but if you feel like something has been positive lately, hit the comments button below and share it with all of us.

The most recent example I can use is the state speech festival that was hosted here by our school district on Saturday, March 13. Mr. and Mrs. Schuller did a fantastic job of getting that event ready and pulling it off that day...literally thousands of people were in our school and everything went very well. Thank you to the Schullers, all the volunteers and our building custodians who, as usual, had things ready to go and had the building looking good!

Thanks for sharing,

Supt Herzberg

Saturday, March 13, 2010

US Competitiveness...

...was the subject of an article I read recently in the Denver Post. The op ed piece entitled "The Jetsons vs. the Flintstones", written by Thomas Friedman from the New York Times, continued to make the case of the need for a higher sense of urgency by educators everywhere (as well as the rest of society).

Friedman interviewed Paul Otellini, the chief executive of Intel, the microchip maker, as he was discussing American competitiveness. Intel is just completing their newest semiconductor factory in China and they were discussing why in China...

Friedman says; "These local incentives matter (tax breaks in other countries that make expansion there and not in the US inevitable), because smart, skilled labor is everywhere now. Intel can thrive today - not just survive - and never hire another American. Asked if his company was being held back by weak science and math education in America's K-12 schools, Otellini explained: "As a citizen, I hate it. As a global employer, I have the luxury of hiring the best engineers anywhere on earth. If I can't get them out of MIT, I'll get them out of Tsing Hua," Beijing's MIT."

Friedman continues; "It gets worse...study also measured what they call 'the rate of change in innovation capacity' over the last decade - in effect, how much countries were doing to make themselves more innovative for the future. The study relied on 16 different metrics of human capital - IT infrastructure, economic performance and so on. On this scale, the U.S. ranked dead last out of the same 40 nations...When you take a hard look at the things that make any country competitive...we are slipping."

You are probably asking yourself why does this matter to the students and staff of the Sibley-Ocheyedan CSD? You might even be saying; Supt Herzberg sounds like Chicken Little and needs to understand that the sky really isn't falling... Well, I believe that this does impact the work that we do with your children...as educators we must continue to look toward the horizon to see if what we are doing is enough to prepare our future leaders for their future, not our past. I know this is uncomfortable for many people as school is different than when you were a child...but what place in society isn't? Hasn't technology and innovation disrupted every other occupation or walk of life in our society?

We must move forward to make sure that your children are ready to meet the challenges of the world head on! I want what is best for your children and will do everything in my power to make this happen. Our staff is working hard at making some changes to the instruction that happens in their classrooms and we need your support to meet these new challenges.

Think about the article that I have mentioned above and let me know what you think of our efforts to really make a difference for our students!

Have a great day,

Supt Herzberg