Moving beyond song and dance toward true student engagement!

Written by: Kelli Campbell Brockway, Director of T&L at Kent ISD

Teachers, have you ever felt like more of an entertainer than an instructor?  

If you struggle with how to get kids consistently excited and responsible for their own learning, I highly recommend the book Engaging Children:  Igniting a Drive for Deeper Learning K-8 by Ellin Oliver Keene.  The focus of this book is exploring how we can promote authentic, student-driven engagement. Continue reading Moving beyond song and dance toward true student engagement!

Can Improving Mental Health, Improve Achievement?

“Kids who suffer from mental health disorders…inevitably miss out on opportunities for learning and building relationships.” -David Anderson, expert on schools and mental health at the Child Mind Institute

There are more than 50 million public school students in the United States, and as many as 1 in 5 show signs of a mental health disorders—conditions that disrupts a person’s mood, thought or behavior, often for a long period of time. Most of these students, nearly 80% , won’t receive any form of treatment.  The research is clear: when these needs are unmet, students are much more likely to underachieve, be absent from school, be suspended or expelled, fail to graduate high school and face other negative consequences later in life. Continue reading Can Improving Mental Health, Improve Achievement?

Pattern Interrupted- Timed Tests, Part 2

written by: Andrew J. Smith, Kent ISD

“Technical changes are changes to tools or mechanisms professionals use to do their jobs effectively.  These changes within a school context refer to changes in structure, policies, or teaching tools. These changes are definitely necessary to effect improvement in student performance, but they produce very few positive results when people who do not believe in the intended outcome of the change use them.” (Muhammed, 2018, p. 22)

In our society, culture, and educational system we are constantly influenced by technical changes.   As educators we are used to technical changes that come at us from a variety of sources. We have to decide how it is we might react to those changes, as well as, what implications those changes might have on us and on our students. Continue reading Pattern Interrupted- Timed Tests, Part 2

Pattern Interrupted- Shifting Mindsets and Instructional Practices, Part 1

Written by: Andrew J. Smith, Kent ISD

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As a student in fifth grade, I was fortunate enough to have Mrs. Ann Ostrowski as my teacher.   “Mrs. O” was the teacher who changed my trajectory as a mathematician.

Before entering Mrs. O’s room, my disposition towards mathematics was one of frustration, isolation, and even anger at times.   However, Mrs. O had this unrelenting belief in me as a student and would not let that disposition stick for very long in her learning environment. She valued work ethic, making mistakes, and the utilization of strategies.   Continue reading Pattern Interrupted- Shifting Mindsets and Instructional Practices, Part 1

$500,000 Awarded for Competency-Based Education Programs

Written by: Steve Nemeckay and Jeff McNeal, MDE

Districts competed for grant funding for the purpose of providing enhanced choice to pupils and parents for the completion of the requirements for kindergarten through high school diploma, including the Michigan Merit Curriculum.  The grant provides for a three-year opportunity for districts to explore, develop, and implement the systems and processes necessary for a quality Competency-Based Education program.  

Grant Winners

Section 21j of the 2017-2018 State School Aid Act and provided $500,000 to fund grants for the design and implementation of Competency-Based Education (CB-E) programs. Seven districts were awarded funds from an applicant pool after careful consideration was made based on grant criteria and a scoring rubric.  The districts are Alpena Public Schools, Armada Area Schools, FlexTech High School, Fraser Public Schools, Kenowa Hills Public Schools, Schoolcraft Community Schools, and Tecumseh Public Schools. Grantees are currently implementing year one of the three-year cycle. Continue reading $500,000 Awarded for Competency-Based Education Programs

Real World Design Thinking Opportunity

Written by Eric Kelliher, Career Readiness Consultant at Kent ISD

Love a challenge? If you are a Kent ISD area educator, grade 5-8 Science, Technology, Engineering-focused (CAD/CAM, etc.), Art, Math or general STEM teacher, this unique PD is for you. Come participate in a summer program that’s guaranteed to be unlike any PD you’ve ever experienced.

What to expect…

First, you’ll spend two days learning the Design Thinking process, a business model – supported by Fortune 500 companies like Apple, IBM and Steelcase – designed to walk teams and organizations through product design and systems thinking.  This human-centered approach, to building and creating, lends very well to Education and encourages students to: be problem-solvers, embrace failure as a part of the learning process, engage through collaboration, creativity and relevance.  And you’ll learn by doing. Continue reading Real World Design Thinking Opportunity

Redefining Learning

Written by David Richards, Ph.D.

There is a learning renaissance happening in education.  Today, educators are witnessing a disruptive convergence of access to mobile devices, online content, demands for choice, and increased access to high-speed bandwidth. 

Our new reality includes the fact that teachers are everywhere, content is king, and students are increasingly expecting to learn in an anytime, anywhere model. To be clear, this isn’t about our schools being broken, this paradigm shift is more about redefining our learning which will result in a redesign of our schools.  Meaning – to design learner-centered classrooms, we need to begin our design thinking from the student lens.  This includes tackling tough issues like time, mastery, and student agency. Continue reading Redefining Learning

Safe Routes to School Mini Grant

Starting January 22nd, the Michigan Fitness Foundation will be accepting Mini Grant RFPs for the 2019-2020 school year. Any Michigan school with students represented in grades K-8 is eligible to apply for programming funds that support active transportation to and from school. Grants of $5,000 are available per school, and up to $25,000 per district. Please see our website for submission details. Proposals are due March 1st by 5:00pm. Continue reading Safe Routes to School Mini Grant

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Follow the Light

Written by Dr. Brandy Lovelady Mitchell

The account of Mercy Health’s incredible journey of strengthening and diversifying their workforce has graced multiple platforms over the last several years. It is a story of triumph rooted in visioning, reflection, intentionality and alignment.

Recently, I had an opportunity to hear several of Mercy Health’s employees reflect on their journey, and in addition to the previously mentioned descriptors of their success story, a phrase Jill McFarlane used activated my thinking. McFarlane provided refreshed language and stimulating rationale for a cognitive shift that I hope my beloved profession wrestles with as we enter another intense season of hiring. McFarlane talked about “cultural fit”. Continue reading The Fierce Urgency of Now: Follow the Light

Equitable Education through Personalized Learning

Three people watching at baseball game behind a fence. The first image is labeled equality and all three people have boxes to stand on that are the same height. But the three people are all different heights so only the taller two can see over the fence. In the second image labeled equity, the same three people have boxes to stand on based on their current height. So all three people can see over the fence.
Image courtesy of Interaction Institute for Social Change | Artist: Angus Maguire.

In conversations around equity, we often see the image above used as a metaphor to describe how it is different from equality. As educators, we know that every student is unique and their needs diverse. This image depicts that when we provide the same supports to each learner regardless of their unique needs, only some will be able to see over the fence to access learning. We can abstract that while a one-size-fits-all (equal) system of education helps some students access learning, it leaves some without, causing inequities to grow. However, when we provide supports consistent with their needs (equity) every student is able to access learning. Continue reading Equitable Education through Personalized Learning

News from Kent ISD's Professional Development Hub