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