South Middle School

Superintendent's Report for October 2015

21st Century Learning and Digital Leadership: A Call to Action at South Middle School!

We've really stepped up our game at SMS to become a more 21st century school of learning. The SAMR model is embedded in the administrative walk through tool actively being used and all staff have received PD on the importance of what they are asking students to do with technology. Wednesday Collaboration time has rotating collaboration scheduled for iPad and Blender Collaboration where teacher leaders and I spend time with those not currently blending or IPI. Two 8th grade Guides Studies enrichment classes have taken over a student announcement production piece and are working on student features and media productions now played daily in the lunchroom. We've provided PD on GoogleDocs for staff and they are slowly carrying this into their classrooms as students have school gmail accounts.

We've recently launched a soft rollout of student cell phone use not only in learning spaces, but in the halls and cafeteria and will compliment this with increased Digital Citizenship expectations. Additionally, we're in year one of our new STEM Robotics curriculum in Ryan Beavers room, launched our first Lego League Competition Club and Coding Club, and our Librarian's Integrated Tech class has employed some Coding content in their curriculum in addition to personalized learning on Blackboard. The Maker's Space is being revamped currently and thanks to our grant, we are ordering our first 3D Printer! Our next steps will be continuing the focus on quality, personalized learning, and building capacity in project based learning and self-directed learning across content areas.

Guided Studies Revamp

Major reframing of this time went through our Leadership team and rolled out to all staff in August. Data based grouping, flexible grouping, and differentiating instruction have been huge steps we've taken. Teachers have been asked to turn in evidence of growth for both remediation and enrichment groups at the end of each quarter. For enrichment, several teachers are facilitating "Genius Hour" self-directed learning activities. Personal observation is showing a new structure and culture to this time. A real positive!!
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"Breaking" the Factory Model

Push, pull, and hours of collaboration resulted in the new 6th grade schedule of core time, where core time is designed for both ELA/SS and Math/Science collaborative classes, also adding more time for math with additional teacher supports. Coteaching is implemented in math and ELA, bells are off for all core time, and teachers now have autonomy when students take their breaks. They are liking the new sense of ownership of their core time! Our next step is to see them use more PBL to integrate content areas more fluidly.

Seventh grade has been watching, and is interested in pieces of their model and initiated a meeting with me last week to discuss implementation at their level! 6th and 7th grade teachers are now parroting my phrase of "getting off the conveyor belt" or "factory model" and integrating core contents and shutting down the bell which isolates content area classes. This is exciting progress. I've offered professional development time for planning of interdisciplinary units as we move forward. Anita is being utilized to also support coteaching.

We will continue to celebrate successes as we work through opportunities for improvement each day at SMS!