Weekly Thoughts 12-9-14

David Buck, Ed.D.

Good Afternoon Leaders!

I have purchased the $59 Education Rate for this. Purpose? To keep it secure to only those I send it to. The free version...anyone can search for it. I can also run analytics on it, including how long folks read them. The latter isn't really the reason, but interesting.


  1. In 1941, what date was the attack on Pearl Harbor?
  2. Who said, "to teach well is also to entertain"?
  3. Is the Australian dollar currently worth more or less than the US dollar?
  4. You have heard of Pavlov, who is famous for his studies on dog behavior. What is his first name?
  5. Who played Doogie Howser in the TV series?
  6. Alberto Perez created dance sport Zumba. What country is he from?

Trivia Answers at the end of this newsletter

PAWS 2.0

Great work yesterday! I don't know if we can afford all of it, but that is for a later discussion. One thing we noticed is that the deliverables are not based on measurables. How do we know if we are successful on each of these? When we did this the first time, we had both the decomposition sheets and the SMART Goal sheets. The latter helped with that. I'm not looking to recreate those at this time (maybe we will), but for each of your plans, can you start thinking about change in metrics we would hope to see to show success?

With PAWS 1.0, we used KAGAN Cooperative Learning National Training. Their model was 5 straight days. I didn't do that, instead focusing on 2 days the first year, 2 the 2nd (then skipping the 5th day based on research). That turned out to work well. They learned a ton and were excited about implementing, but they were not too overloaded. With that thought, Michele, Shawn R. and Tina, what about seeing if it would behoove us to split up the 4 days of Teacher's College into 2 days this year and 2 days next year? Is that possible? Would that work?

Also, I'm hearing informally that West may want to keep Ned Miller for 1 more year. Correct? If so, we need a decomposition sheet on that.

I also see no Peggy Dersch next year correct?

ACT for all juniors

The MSIP TAC was told that the ACT for all juniors will not be on the APR, but will be published along with % of juniors taking the test. Best ACT will still be used for the APR.

The pre-code for the April test is due January 16th. We will wait till January to complete. Why? We want to see who will be designated as a junior next semester. Also, Infinite Campus is not ready for this upload.

ACT is to be given to all 11th graders minus those that take the MAP-A.

David Putnam

He is a retired film maker. He made films such as Chariots of Fire. He now advocates for education. He was asked about the challenges of education today, and he said the following (paraphrase): In the medical field, if your life is on the line, most people sign off on trying anything. Experimental, no problem. Just give me a chance! In education? 'Has anyone done this for a long time and shown success?' The push from the public is different. It is status quo based.

Hmmm... Interesting take.

Joseph Cirasuolo

He is the retired Executive Director of the Connecticut Superintendent Association. He said he sees the biggest change in education is the goal of public education itself. Prior to 20 or 30 years ago, the goal was to give every kid a chance to learn. Now, it is to ensure every kid learns. He said that our current system is not set up for the latter, and thus the conflict. He advocates for teaching kids where they are at instead of by age/grade levels. This is something that an elementary school in Pattonville is trying out this year. He also advocates that you teach in the style that that kid consistently learns best by and that you teach within their interest as much as possible.

IEP for all.

Fill Rate

Someone is conducting a fill rate of substitutes survey. Those that I have seen tend to be in the 90-93% range. I would assume we are not unique in our fill rate.

Many are putting comments that they are way down this year compared to last years.

Good news is that this is a sign the economy is picking up!


They met this morning and now are off to interagency.

They brought up a concern that I became aware of via the results of the Climate Survey. IEP teams have started writing into IEPs that kids should have counseling minutes. This has caused some issues, and our counselors are not certified in the areas of mental health or the types of counseling that is being considered. One of the counselors contacted DESE to ask for guidance (on what they are supposed to do, not to say why are they in the IEP), and was told that you are not qualified for this, so this shouldn't be written into an IEP. We have 1 MS kid that only has 2 hours not already receiving minutes, and now the counselor has to pull them out of one of those remaining 2 hours. This is what showed up in the climate survey, as the teacher of one of those courses was not happy to lose a kid for that much of time that has a hard time making that back up. Another counselor stated they are meeting just to meet, but do not have anything to work on most of the time.

I'm looking at this as I would track and field. Many kids would benefit from getting involved in a sport. But, we don't write it in their IEP because it is not an accommodation or intervention in direct correlation to their disability and access to education because of that disability. Of course, at this point, I'm looking at it from the balcony view. Perhaps I'm missing something. The two counselors that are no longer here seem to be the ones that pushed for these to be in IEPs (and 504s). I ask that you consider if this is appropriate as you move forward.

That being said, our counselors are great, and often do meet with kids on an ongoing basis for organization, venting concerns, processing issues, etc. They do this for all kids and as needed. They are not saying they don't want to do those things, but they feel pressured to make up something to meet about to comply with an IEP, and also feel they are unqualified for the IEP purposes.

Thank you!

Many of you help complete a very successful Teaching New Teachers (TNT)! This is a requirement for them to complete their initial certification. However, we don't simply comply, we make it worth their while. The feedback from the participants has been very positive, and we instilled some foundational pieces in our onboarding process.

District Administrator magazine has taken note of our TNT program. The interviewed me for quite some time, then sent follow up questions. Last week they asked for pictures, so I assume we will be highlighted in a future magazine article. Kudos to you for that!


Next week Thursday is a BOE day. This means BOE reports are due to Jill by tomorrow.

Climate Survey SMART Goals are due to be communicated out on or before December 15th annually. Please share those with Chris and I as well.

Nuts and Bolts has been moved from Thursday of next week to Wednesday of next week. The BOE meeting remains on Thursday. Chris is leading a panel on 5 Sight / 5 Share in St. Louis on Thursday. Prior to that, I am meeting with area districts regarding MSIP and directions folks are wanting to advocate we move with the new Commissioner of Education.

IL is this Thursday at the HS. Shawn B. has posted the agenda.

Curriculum Reviews. I have East's. I had received a couple of singletons and sent back to you so I could have them all at once. HS, I assume you have them in a Google Folder. Have you already shared that with me? Things going well?

Characteristices of successful school districts

I served on a state committee with Michael Fulton, Superintendent of Pattonville School District. He gave me a 3 page informational newsletter, with very small print, that is packed with information not only on their data, but their story. Very impressive. He has a chart that I found intriguing on districts that work vs. districts that struggle and thus the moral of the story.

Work: Districts have results-focused plan to improve student achievement. Struggle: No plan or plans that constantly change district's focus. Moral: Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Work: BOE hires Superintendent and hold him/her accountable for achievement results. Struggle: BOE focuses on personal agenda (i.e., nepotism, jobs for friends, policies, etc.) Moral: Focus on achievement, what is best for ALL students and avoid personal agendas.

Work: Stable leadership committed to goals/mission of the district (district and school levels). Struggle: Frequent turnover in leadership leading to constant change of focus. Moral: Longevity with leadership focused on goals helps stay the course and make improvements.

Work: Superintendent/administrative team engage students, parents, staff and community to develop and implement a plan in ways that lead to desired results. Struggle: Superintendent/administrative team pursue own agenda or is limited in his/her capacity to improve student achievement. Moral: Follow the plan; empower others to achieve the desired results; and keep the bar for accountability set at a high, attainable level.

Work: Teachers who are highly effective in every classroom. Struggle: Ineffective teachers in too many classrooms. Moral: Recruit, hire, develop and retain great teachers.

Work: Parents engaged in their child's education. Struggle: large percentage of parents not involved in their child's education. Moral: Parents working as partners with teachers/school make a difference.

Work: Students focused on meeting academic goals and growing as responsible citizens. Struggle: Students disengaged from the learning process. Moral: Hire great teachers and administrators who help all students achieve.

Work: Community that supports and works in partnership with its public schools. Struggle: Community disengaged from its schools. Moral: Regardless of community resources (e.g., wealth), it is critical that school districts and communities work together so student achievement improves or remains at a high level.

So...how do we stack up? I feel favorably.

In another portion of the newsletter, they have a chart showing the % APR and the % Poverty (per Free/Reduced Lunch count). Interesting to see how different we are from so many of them with our approaching 60% F/RL count. I put those below with district - % APR - % F/RL

  • Rockwood - 98.2% - 15.2%
  • Kirkwood - 97.5% - 16.4%
  • Ladue - 97.5% - 11.8%
  • Pattonville - 96.8% - 47.2%
  • Francis Howell - 96.8% - 18.6%
  • Parkway - 96.4% - 20.3%
  • Webster Groves - 95.7% - 19.3%
  • St. Charles - 90.4% - 42.7%
  • Hazelwood - 82.9% - 57.2%
  • Ritenour - 80.7% - 77.1%
  • Ferg. Florrisant - 65.7% - 72%

Where are we? 96.1% on our APR and 56.1% in F/RL in FY 14. So we are right in line with Hazelwood. Closer to Ferguson-Florrisant than we are to Pattonville.

Our numbers are increasing over time. FY 11 - 50.3%; FY 12 - 51.9%; FY 13 - 54.4%; FY 14 - 56.1%.

The state of Missouri is at 50.0%.

All that being said, the improvements and performance made and sustained are impressive and I tip my hat to each of you for being part of the journey. We are not done yet of course...we have more to go and areas we can do better. However, we can certainly be proud that we are performing with districts who have a fraction of our poverty. That is not to mention our diversity. Last year, I ranked all the districts in the state of Missouri. About 1/5th of the state's districts are less white than us. That is it. We have more minority students than 4/5ths of the state's districts. And that is shifting. Below are the last 4 years are the % of our students who are 'white.' Please note this is self-reporting data and that some of our Hispanic families choose to not mark Hispanic, but rather white when enrolling, so this number is less accurate and larger than it should be.

  • FY 11 - 86.3%
  • FY 12 - 85.8%
  • FY 13 - 83.1%
  • FY 14 - 82.2%

Town Hall Meetings

We had a Town Hall on the possible Tax Levy ballot item that would fund pre-school, raises in salaries and aiding in our shift to 1:1 for grades 4-12.

While we only had 7 folks show up that were not employees or board members, many of them stated they came because they were anti-tax increase. After the presentation, they were very much for it. What that means is seeing the data and the need is significant in a positive change in thinking. Because of that, we hope that you can pass along to your parents via your Facebook page, etc., the need to attend.

The appetite for teacher salary increase was the surprise. And I believe it is due to Chris's presentation of our data via the new 5 Sight program. He had a graph of all individuals in the region who are teachers. Our folks were a different color. We were below the line of best fit, and as a teacher gained experience, the gap to that line of best fit widened. Our line was much flatter. The next graph showed the same thing but only teachers with a Master's degree or higher. It was much worse for us. Then, he showed Parkway (the district we have lost the most teachers to in the last 7 years). It was amazing to see almost all of their folks at the very top of the populated graph and significantly above the line of best fit. The next graph was Francis Howell (the district we lose the 2nd most teachers to in the last 7 years) and it was again the same story.

That visual spoke volumes to our patrons. It will to you when you see it also. The more folks we can get to lay eyes on this with explanation, the better.

Articles via K. Marshall

Remember, these are not required reading. Read only what you want. I included more than I usually do as I thought some of these may be of interest to some of you. I was intrigued by the math and the Urban Meyer articles myself. Feel free to copy and pass along. Remember these are summaries of the articles themselves. Often, at the end, a link is provided to the entire article, which you can pass along to staff as you see fit. Enjoy, DB

  1. “How and How Not to Prepare Students for the New Tests” by Timothy Shanahan in The Reading Teacher, November 2014 (Vol. 68, #3, p. 184-188)
  2. “The Reading Paradox: How Standards Mislead Teachers” by Kathleen Porter-Magee in The Education Gadfly, December 3, 2014 (Vol. 14, #49)
  3. “Teachable Moments in Math” by Linda Griffin and David Ward in Educational Leadership, December 2014/January 2015 (Vol. 72, #4, p. 34-40)
  4. “Engineering for Everyone” by Christine Cunningham and Melissa Higgins in Educational Leadership, December 2014/January 2015 (Vol. 72, #4, p. 42-47)
  5. “Taking the Buckeye to School” by Jonathan Clegg in The Wall Street Journal, December 6-7, 2014
  6. “Let Them Hit Snooze” by Saara Myrene Raappana in Principal Leadership, December 2014 (Vol. 15, #4, p. 14-15)

1. The Best Ways to Prepare Students for Common Core Reading Tests

In this article in The Reading Teacher, Timothy Shanahan (University of Illinois/ Chicago) says the “data-driven” approach to improving reading achievement – using item analyses to identify the skills students haven’t mastered and drilling test-aligned curriculum items – doesn’t work. Why? “Research long ago revealed an important fact about reading comprehension tests: they only measure a single factor…” says Shanahan: “reading comprehension. They don’t reveal students’ abilities to answer main idea questions, detail questions, inference questions, drawing conclusion questions, or anything else.” Having students practice answering questions on various reading subskills won’t produce better test scores. In fact, they may even depress reading achievement by wasting time that could be spent on productive activities.

Shanahan believes there are two reasons traditional standardized reading tests fail to produce useful data on subskills:

First, reading is a language activity, not the execution of various subskills. To make sense of a text, students must simultaneously use a hierarchy of language features. When a student answers a main-idea question incorrectly, it doesn’t mean the main-idea part of the student’s brain isn’t working. Here are some possible explanations:

  • The passage looked too hard and the student didn’t have the confidence to read it all the way through.

  • The student is a slow reader and didn’t read far enough to grasp the main idea.

  • The student’s decoding skills are weak and a lot of important words weren’t understood.

  • The main idea was embedded in a particularly complex sentence, and although the student understood the rest of the text, this sentence wasn’t understood.

  • The text had a lot of synonyms and pronouns and the student wasn’t able to form a coherent idea of what it was all about.

    So what does explain students’ performance on standardized tests? Text complexity, says Shanahan: “[I]f the text is easy enough, students can answer any type of question, and if the text is complicated enough, they will struggle with even the supposedly easiest types of questions. That means reading comprehension tests measure how well students read texts, not how well they execute particular reading skills…”

    Second, reading tests are designed to separate proficient from struggling readers. To achieve this and create reliable tests, psychometricians reject questions that don’t have the best properties. “Test designers are satisfied by being able to determine how well students read and by arraying students along a valid reading comprehension scale,” says Shanahan. “They know that the items collectively assess reading comprehension, but that separately – or in small sets of items aimed at particular kinds of information – the items can tell us nothing meaningful about how well students can read.”

    Won’t the innovative tests being created by PARCC and Smarter Balanced do a better job? Not at producing useful data on subskills, says Shanahan. “These new tests won’t be able to alter the nature of reading comprehension or the technical requirements for developing reliable test instruments.” The simple reason is that they can’t be long and fine-grained enough. So does that mean the PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests will be useless to educators and parents? Not at all, says Shanahan: “These tests will ask students to read extensive amounts of literary and informational text, to answer meaningful questions about these texts, and to provide explanations of their answers. These tests should do a pretty good job of showing how well students can read and comprehend challenging texts without teacher support.”

    So how should we prepare students to do well on the new tests – and be prepared for college and career success? Not by focusing instruction on question types, says Shanahan – instead, by striving to make students “sophisticated and powerful readers.” Here’s how:

    Have students read extensively within lessons – not free reading, but reading that is an integral part of instruction, with students frequently held accountable for understanding and gaining knowledge. Round-robin oral reading is highly inefficient, says Shanahan. “Teachers like it because it provides control and it lets them observe how well a student is reading, but a reading comprehension lesson, except with the youngest children, should emphasize silent reading – and lots of it.” And this should also be happening in social studies, science, and math classes.

    Have students read increasing amounts of text without guidance and support. Many reading lessons involve students reading a paragraph or a page followed by teacher questions and group discussion. “This model is not a bad one,” says Shanahan. “It allows teachers to focus students’ attention on key parts of the text and to sustain attention throughout. However, the stopping points need to be progressively spread out over time… Increasing student stamina and independence in this way should be a goal of every reading teacher.” It’s noteworthy that the shortest prototype that PARCC and SBAC have released so far is 550 words long.

    • Make sure the texts are rich in content and sufficiently challenging. “Lots of reading of easy text will not adequately prepare students for dealing with difficult text,” says Shanahan. They need to be reading grade-level texts with gradually decreasing teacher scaffolding around vocabulary, sentence grammar, text structure, and concepts needed to reach target levels.

    • Have students explain their answers and provide text evidence supporting their claims. This is an important part of increasing intellectual depth and constantly moving students toward reading more-challenging material.

    • Engage students in writing about text. Writing does a much better job of improving reading comprehension than answering multiple-choice questions, says Shanahan: “Although writing text summaries and syntheses may not look like the tests students are being prepared for, this kind of activity should provide the most powerful and productive kind of preparation.”

“How and How Not to Prepare Students for the New Tests” by Timothy Shanahan in The Reading Teacher, November 2014 (Vol. 68, #3, p. 184-188), http://bit.ly/1wr4JOa; Shanahan can be reached at shanahan@uic.edu.

2. How Should Reading Standards Be Interpreted in the Classroom?

In this Education Gadfly article, Kathleen Porter-Magee says that teaching in a standards-based era has led many teachers to start with the end in sight, backwards-mapping the year and teaching one bite-sized standard after another. This works with some subjects, especially math, and it works with primary-grade reading, where students need to learn to decode and build a basic vocabulary. But it hasn’t worked very well with reading after third grade, says Porter-Magee: “Beyond the foundational reading skills, standards in this realm don’t articulate the content that students need to learn to become good readers. Instead, standards describe the habits and skills of ‘good readers.’ Good readers can, for instance, identify the main idea of a text. They can understand ‘shades of meaning’ and can even use evidence to support comprehension and analysis.” A decade of trying to teach reading standard by standard hasn’t brought about robust gains in U.S. reading achievement, especially in the upper grades.

So how do teachers get their students to high levels of reading proficiency on standards that don’t fit the normal standards-based approach? “After students learn how to read,” says Porter-Magee, “the ‘outcome-focused’ instruction that characterizes the standards era needs to adapt as the classroom shifts to English language arts. Then we must stop trying to teach reading the way we teach math. Rather, we need to view the skills and habits described by the standards as tools – tools that can and should be honed over time, in service of understanding and analyzing great texts, but that are not the ‘content’ of reading instruction.” The Common Core standards “provide a broad outline upon which a curriculum needs to be built, but it’s the curriculum, not the standards, that should drive daily practice in the classroom.” This has serious implications for the selection of books and the use of interim assessments.

“The Reading Paradox: How Standards Mislead Teachers” by Kathleen Porter-Magee in The Education Gadfly, December 3, 2014 (Vol. 14, #49),


3. Six Important Common Core Shifts in Math

(Originally titled “Teachable Moments in Math”)

In this Educational Leadership article, Linda Griffin and David Ward (Lewis and Clark University) say that successful implementation of Common Core math standards hinges on teachers understanding five significant shifts:

The equal sign (1.OA.D.7) – A common student misconception is that = is shorthand for “the answer is” – a prompt to solve the problem and write the correct answer. The meaning that students need to internalize in the early grades is subtly different: = expresses a relationship between quantities on either side, shorthand for “is the same as.” This lays the groundwork for future mathematical learning, especially in algebra (x + 5 = 11), opening the door to new strategies for solving complex problems. Griffin and Ward suggest that elementary teachers explicitly teach several synonyms for the equal sign (is the same as, has the same value as, balances, is worth the same), use a drawing of a balance scale or teeter-totter as a visual reminder, and vary the position of the solution blanks in number problems.

Cardinality (K.CC.B.4) – A kindergarten girl is asked to count five cubes and correctly touches each one, saying, “One, two, three, four, five.” The teacher can tell if the child understands cardinality by asking how many cubes there are. If the child says “Five,” she understands. If she starts counting again, she hasn’t yet grasped that the last number has a special meaning – the number of objects in the set. This gives meaning to the counting process and opens the door to addition and subtraction solutions. It’s important for primary-grade teachers to follow up counting tasks by asking how many – for example, “How many children ordered hot lunch today?” Teachers can also encourage students to use counting as a strategy to solve more-complex problems – for example, “How many would we have if we combined these two piles of cubes?” or “How many pencils would you have if I took two out of your basket?”

Properties (in several Common Core grade 1 and 2 standards) – Griffin and Ward suggest putting less emphasis on terms and abstractions (commutative and associative) and more on using them to make good strategic decisions to solve problems – for example, rearranging the numbers in the problem 6 + 7 + 4 into 7 + 6 + 4 makes the problem much easier to solve (adding 6 + 4 to make ten and then adding the 7). “Students who develop a habit of mind for problem solving that includes reflection and planning ahead will be able to use this skill to great advantage throughout their mathematical careers,” they say. “Students without this capacity have a tendency to plunge headlong into every problem without first taking a step back to identify the goal and consider multiple solution paths.” One teaching strategy to build this skill is giving students several problems with the same number combination reversed (for example, 5+2 and 2+5) and drawing attention to students who see that they have the same value, providing a shortcut in future problems with bigger numbers.

Composing and decomposing (these occur in six Common Core K-2 standards across three domains) – “Students who develop flexible thinking about numbers early in their schooling are poised to develop complex mathematical thinking as they progress through the grades,” say Griffin and Ward. “Students who can decompose and recompose numbers see many options when presented with a challenging computational problem.” For example, 27 + 19 becomes much easier when a student sees the three tens or the two twenties or the 25 and 10. Teachers should frequently get students breaking numbers down to simpler pieces and ask questions like, “If you take my number apart one way, you can see 25 and 25 and 5. If you take it apart another way, you can see 40 and 15. What’s my number?”

Unknowns (1.OA.A1) – A standard results-unknown problem – Dina had 12 marbles. She gave her cousin 7 marbles. How many marbles does Dina have left? – lends itself to students using cubes, drawings, or fingers to solve. But putting the unknown in a different position makes the problem more complex and challenges students to generate and apply more-sophisticated problem-solving strategies:

  • Dina had 12 marbles. She gave her cousin some marbles. Now Dina has 5 marbles. How many marbles did Dina give her cousin?

  • Dina had some marbles. She gave her cousin 7 marbles. Now Dina has 5 marbles left. How many marbles did Dina have at the start?

    Griffin and Ward suggest that teachers regularly give students problems with unknowns in varying positions and work on developing robust solution strategies.

“Teachable Moments in Math” by Linda Griffin and David Ward in Educational Leadership, December 2014/January 2015 (Vol. 72, #4, p. 34-40), http://bit.ly/1zFhK3S; the authors can be reached at lgriffin@lclark.edu and davidward@lclark.edu.

4. Every Child an Engineer

(Originally titled “Engineering for Everyone”)

In this Educational Leadership article, Christine Cunningham and Melissa Higgins (the Engineering Is Elementary program at Boston’s Museum of Science) suggest six ways schools can get all students involved in the E in STEM. “Making engineering instruction more inclusive is important,” they say, “because women and minorities are disproportionately underrepresented in engineering fields in the United States.”

Set engineering in a real-world context by weaving it into a news item, problem statement, or fictional story. For example, Lerato Cooks Up a Plan is a story about a girl in Botswana who improves the workings of a solar oven to reduce the drudgery of gathering firewood. After reading the story, students engineer the insulation of their own solar ovens (made from a shoebox) and conduct a controlled experiment on how successful they are.

Show how engineers help other people, animals, and the environment – for example, constructing an electrical circuit that will sound an alarm when an animal’s water trough is empty.

Design open-ended activities with multiple solutions. The idea is to foster creativity, encourage risk-taking, and invite exploration and sharing of original ideas, say Cunningham and Higgins. An example: challenging students to design a flexible knee brace that allows an injured person the normal range of motion, using only jumbo craft sticks, rubber bands, string, felt, craft foam, fabric, and cardboard.

Value mistakes. “Engineering activities should embrace failure and cast it as a learning opportunity,” say Cunningham and Higgins. “We should communicate that students don’t fail, the design fails. In our experience, students welcome the opportunity to improve their designs.”

Foster collaboration. Competitive environments are discouraging for a significant number of students, while cooperative activities draw them in and show their areas of strength. One group activity in the Museum of Science program has students designing a parachute that will float down as slowly as possible. “Of course, students, like adults, need to learn how to work in teams,” say Cunningham and Higgins. “Teachers should actively encourage students to share their thoughts, consider other people’s perspectives, argue from data and evidence, and compromise to select the best ideas.”

Use readily available materials – for example, using water, salt, and flour to make play dough.

“Engineering for Everyone” by Christine Cunningham and Melissa Higgins in Educational Leadership, December 2014/January 2015 (Vol. 72, #4, p. 42-47), http://bit.ly/1G7mrr3; the authors can be reached at ccunningham@mos.org and mhiggins@mos.org. Their curriculum is available at www.eie.org/engineering-everywhere.

5. The Classroom Secret Behind the Buckeyes’ Winning Ways

In this Wall Street Journal article, Jonathan Clegg describes how Ohio State coach Urban Meyer uses the flipped-classroom approach to develop championship football teams by getting every player to a high level of mastery of his complex playbook. Instead of running through new plays in chalkboard sessions, Meyer e-mails videos and interactive graphics of new plays to his team to study on their smartphones and computers on their own time and at their own pace. In team meetings, players are literally on the edge of their seats as Meyer blitzes them with impromptu quizzes, walkthroughs of plays, situational drills, and individual interactions. He might ask an offensive lineman to diagram a play against a defense, or have a defensive player draw up his responsibilities against a blitz. Meyer also texts players between meetings to be sure they have mastered their assignments.

“It really speaks to his skill as a teacher,” said former coach Keith Grabowski. “They are on the cutting edge with the methods they use… The whole idea is that if you can get players thinking about it and doing the mental work prior to being in the football facility, your time in the classroom will be that much more productive.”

Going into a crucial Big Ten game against Wisconsin last Saturday, Ohio State was the underdog because their quarterback, J.T. Barrett, had been sidelined with an injury the week before. Third-string quarterback Cardale Jones entered his first collegiate start under tremendous pressure. “It’s his show,” said Meyer before the game; “he’s got the keys to the car. He’s been studying film and getting ready to go. We’ve just got to teach him up.”

It worked – the Buckeyes won 59-0.

“Taking the Buckeye to School” by Jonathan Clegg in The Wall Street Journal, December 6-7, 2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-urban-meyer-took-the-buckeyes-to-school-1417806534

6. More on Teen Sleep Deprivation

In this article in Principal Leadership, Saara Myrene Raappana sums up the accumulating research on the deleterious effect of sleep deprivation on teenagers and reports that only 15 percent of U.S. teens get the recommended minimum of eight and a half hours on school nights. The impact:

  • Athletic performance – Studies of football players, swimmers, and tennis players have shown that getting an ideal amount of sleep improves athletic performance and stamina and reduces fatigue.

  • Attention span – The NYU Sleep Disorders Program has found that inadequate sleep can result in children displaying hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsiveness.

  • Bodily health – Proper sleep is linked to reduced inflammation, healthier weight, better cardiovascular health, and a longer life span.

  • Creativity – The emotional elements of new memories are bolstered during sleep, which may stimulate the creative process, according to a Harvard study.

  • Driver safety – Driving when sleep-deprived is even more dangerous than driving drunk, according to a 2009 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. One night of insufficient sleep is equivalent to one alcoholic drink.

  • Grades and test scores – Numerous studies have shown that students with impaired or irregular sleep perform more poorly on tests and have lower grades than those who get enough sleep.

  • Memory – Consolidation occurs during sleep, which strengthens memories and helps “practice” skills.

  • Mental health – Sleep reduces stress levels, decreases anxiety, and can play a part in alleviating symptoms of depression.

    There does seem to be a national trend toward later high-school start times: since 2012, high schools in California, Oklahoma, Georgia, and New York have pushed their start times later, joining Connecticut, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Minnesota.

“Let Them Hit Snooze” by Saara Myrene Raappana in Principal Leadership, December 2014 (Vol. 15, #4, p. 14-15), http://www.nassp.org/Knowledge-Center/Publications/Principal-Leadership

Trivia Answers

  1. In 1941, what date was the attack on Pearl Harbor? December 7th
  2. Who said, "to teach well is also to entertain"? Walt Disney
  3. Is the Australian dollar currently worth more or less than the US dollar? Less
  4. You have heard of Pavlov, who is famous for his studies on dog behavior. What is his first name? Ivan
  5. Who played Doogie Howser in the TV series? Neil Patrick Harris
  6. Alberto Perez created dance sport Zumba. What country is he from? Columbia

As Always, It's A Great Day To Be A Wildcat!