February 15, 2016

If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are society's heroes.

--Guy Kawaski
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Blended, Ch 5, Motivate the Studetns

The first step for implementing blended learning is to view your school through the students’ eyes. With this personalized approach to design, students are more engaged and eager to come to school. In 2014, the U.S. spent $673 billion on preK-12 public education, and teachers reported more hours per year devoted to teaching than in any other country, so why is one of the highest challenge areas lack of student motivation?

Research has uncovered two core priorities for students in terms of what they want at school: to feel successful, and to have fun with friends. (I am guessing the research for adult attitudes about work might show the same results.) How can we design our classrooms to help students foster positive relationships? Traditional lecture is not the first delivery vehicle that comes to mind.

Jobs-based design lends itself to today’s classroom. Harvard Business School identified three levels of job architecture:

  • Base: ID the job to be done (meet customer needs). Students IDed their priorities as feeling successful, making progress, and having fun with friends.;

  • MIddle: ID experiences needed to perfectly execute the job;

  • Top: Integrate the identified assets to provide the experience (human resources, technology, training, branding, etc.)

Our job is to design a blended model that students are eager to “hire.” One model is the California-based charter school network of Summit Schools. Summit’s developers identified experiences critical from students’ perspectives. Blended has delineated these into eight meta-experiences:

  1. Student agency, which involves students setting their own learning goals;

  2. Individual mastery;

  3. Availability of timely feedback and actionable data;

  4. Transparent learning goals, or a clear view of what they are trying to learn;

  5. Quiet reading time;

  6. Meaningful work experience;

  7. Mentoring;

  8. Positive group work.

One of the major challenges that calls for further research centers around specific strategies to reach those students who face a variety of adverse conditions outside of the school day. While we may not be able to solve these stressful situations that prevent effective learning, we can help by giving them more control and choice while they are with us.

Mr. D. supplies some comic relief for the February doldrums

Mr. D

From Dave

Ensuring our students take “the right courses” in high school merely makes students “college eligible” (Conley, 2014, p. 87). Does our system support readiness beyond content knowledge? Do your students and parents understand what it takes to make the transition to postsecondary learning? Whether they pursue a two or four year experience, our current market will demand that graduates have something beyond a high school diploma. The need for preparation begins well before the senior year! As you will recall, we have been looking at David Conley’s “Four Keys to College and Career Readiness” (CCR). Two very important elements of his final key, “transition knowledge and skills” are procedural and financial awareness. Check out the brief overview of these skills below.

The procedural aspect of students’ transition to postsecondary learning can be a challenge for all families, regardless of whether they are the first generation to attend college or not. School systems need to be proactive and purposeful in supporting both parents and students in the application process. Starting as early as middle school, the transition is much more productive when students and their families are well prepared for the multitude of timelines and tasks to be completed. Students who understand the role of GPA and admissions tests in applying for college are able to take ownership of their personal readiness. Additionally, students should be informed of the value scholarship and admission boards place on extracurricular activities, volunteerism, work experience, and various other unique experiences.

The financial aspect of postsecondary learning is certainly a hurdle for many students, but it often becomes an unnecessary barrier for other students. Part of the challenge for families is related to a lack of awareness of the overall costs associated with postsecondary education. Correspondingly, these families do not prepare adequately to pursue financial options for funding their student’s learning beyond high school. The process of educating families about the financial aspect of college is most effective when it begins in the middle school years. This timeline affords families the opportunity to both learn the process and actually pursue resources for these future expenses. It takes a systematic and sustained focus by all school stakeholders to educate and support students as they transition to postsecondary learning.

Facility Master Plan

The consulting group MGT of America have begun the daunting work of assessing our current facilities. The team met with several division leaders to assess our current operating procedures and needs. After reviewing these data, they will return to conduct site visits. Teresa Bledsoe and Carol Embree have worked hard to streamline the process, and to assure the visits do not interfere with site assessments, etc. More information will be coming your way in the next few weeks.

PTA Founders' Banquet

Thursday, Feb. 18th, 6:30pm

423 East Central Street

Springfield, MO