January 11, 2016

A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.

--Horace Mann


From Dave

Last week I shared about the first of David Conley’s “Four Keys to College and Career Readiness” (CCR). As a reminder, Conley is a leading researcher and author in the domain of college and career readiness. You will recall key cognitive strategies as the first key to equipping students for CCR. Key content knowledge is the second key, which is discussed below. Historically, many secondary teachers have been very entrenched in their content and will be pleased to know the value of their content for students! However, Conley advocated for chunking content into an interconnected whole. Silos of learning are not best for equipping students to solve real world problems. I will continue to share a brief overview of the final two keys in the next few weeks. The four keys to college and career readiness include:

1. Key Cognitive Strategies

2. Key Content Knowledge

3. Key Learning Skills and Techniques

4. Key Transition Knowledge and Skills.

Key content knowledge. Key content knowledge refers to what students know and their comprehension of foundational concepts of core subjects. Conley (2014) found students need to understand the structure of knowledge within each core subject area. An important part of the structure he referred to includes the “big ideas” (p. 65) within each subject and how these ideas are connected to frame their overall study of the subject. When students are able to see the big picture of how particular disciplines or even multiple disciplines are interconnected, they experience what Conley (2005) called “intellectual coherence” (p. 79). Intellectual coherence enables students to gain insight more effectively and to retain what they are learning; “they are vastly better prepared for college than students who have no idea how the pieces they are learning fit into a whole” (Conley, 2014, p. 65). Foundational skills of writing and reading were included within this key. Conley (2010) acknowledged the significant value of reading as a mode of communication and learning key content knowledge. Likewise, he emphasized writing as the “medium by which student thinking is expressed and assessed most frequently” (2010, p. 36).


Blended, Ch. 3, Sustaining vs. Disruptive, Threats vs. Opportunities

Should I focus on sustaining or disruptive innovation? Sustaining innovations are those that improve the traditional classroom, while disruptive replaces the current system, bringing opportunities to those for whom the traditional model is not working at all. Online learning is disrupting education as we have known it. Will we turn a blind eye or will we actively work to help shape the transformation? For credit recovery students, the disruptive model has become the norm.

Horn and Staker recommend a two-step process for brainstorming SMART objectives:

  1. ID core problems and goals that lend themselves to sustaining innovations;

  2. ID nonconsumption problems (those for which there is no sustaining model) and goals where disruptive strategies may be the answer.

An example for #1 is Oakland CA addressing larger classes with rotation models to better meet individual student learning needs. An example of #2 is Miami-Dade’s addressing a shortfall of teachers with virtual learning labs where there simply was no teacher for a course.

While it seems counter-intuitive, it may help initially to view disruptive innovations as threats, as this triggers a more intense, energetic response. The key is to redefine this external threat as a limitless opportunity.


Thanks for all your hard work on your capital improvement requests. Carol Embree and the GSC team included J and me as part of the discussion, which we greatly appreciate. We both have a better understanding of the priorities at each site, as well as for the District as a whole.

To this point, approximately $48 million in needs have been identified. Going into the 2016-17 fiscal year, we will have approximately $8 million set aside for these projects, with just over $5 million already identified for non-negotiable needs, such as boilers and roofs. That brings us down to $3 million to meet your needs. It is easy to see the need to prioritize.

The district is developing a long-range facility master plan. Many of your identified needs may fall within the scope and sequence of that process, and may be determined to be of greater or lesser priority based upon the outcome. J’s and my goal and role is to help balance district must-dos while promoting site needs. This will be an ongoing process, and we will engage with you along the way.

Upcoming events

Senior leadership, KAC, Jan. 13, 9:30-11

Middle School, KAC, Jan. 13, 11:15 ish-1:30

High School, KHS, Jan. 14, 8:15(tech time)-12:00

MS AP Cadre, KAC, Jan. 15, 1:00-3:00