All posts by Amanda Walma (Kent ISD)

As the Professional Development Coordinator for Kent ISD, I help to provide professional learning opportunities, that are aligned to the school improvement framework, to all educators. We created The Bulletin to keeping educators informed about the hottest topics in education and upcoming professional learning opportunities. We offer Learning On Demand, so that you can access learning from your computer at anytime/anywhere and Learning To Go so that you can bring many of our most popular workshops directly to your school. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you or your district.

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

Math Educators Unite to Create Conceptual Change

In a world that is full of instantaneous responses via “commenting” on Facebook, “retweeting” on Twitter and “liking on Instagram, how might we as educators take time to slow down and measure the impact we are having on students?   How might we cross over district lines to collaborate and innovate? In what ways might we interrupt our thinking to meet the needs of all learners?

Michigan Math Educators (#MichME) is a professional learning network with over 250 educators from across eight different counties who continue to investigate, learn, and grapple with those questions. We focus this year’s learning on the impact that our identity, values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors, and skills, have on our students’ identities, values, beliefs, capabilities, behaviors and skills. Continue reading Math Educators Unite to Create Conceptual Change

Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

Let’s be real. One of the hardest things for people to do is build a new habit. It takes commitment, focus, drive, and a constant reminder or way to trigger that action. In the learning environment habits play an equally important role as mastering curriculum. For many students habits may come naturally and become part of a routine – something they don’t even think about or focus on…they just do it.

For students with learning disabilities, habits of mind do not come easily – making learning even more complicated due to this missing ingredient. On top of the deficits that come into play for students with learning disabilities, such as, retaining information, processing, skill performance, and executive functioning, building a new habit demands a plan of action and the support of teachers. In the end, when students with learning disabilities take an opportunity to build a habit, they will be more inclined to improve their academic performance, skills, and most importantly, confidence. Continue reading Small Wins for Growing Habits and Skills with Diverse Learners

New School Counselor Professional Learning Legislation

New legislation that goes into effect on February 6, 2020 will greatly impact the work of school counselors across the state. The lack of professional development opportunities specific to them will be a pressing concern.

The criteria of MCL 380.1233 (7-9) will require all stakeholders with a school counselor license (SCL) or a teaching certificate with the school counselor (NT) endorsement to attain 50 hours of professional development specific to college and career readiness.

Of those fifty hours of professional development, 25 hours need to be focused on college preparation and selection, and the other 25 hours need to be around career consultation (with 5 of those hours focused on exploration of military career options).

The College and Career Readiness department at Kent ISD is aware of our area counselors’ concerns around the lack of professional learning specific to their work. We are working hard to clearly identify and promote opportunities to assist school counselors in the renewal of their certificates. A combination of programs already offered by Kent ISD, in addition to newer planned opportunities, will help facilitate the professional learning counselors throughout Kent ISD are yearning for.

Current programs offered by Kent ISD Career Readiness staff, such as the “Teachers in Industry” program, already offer SCECH hours for participants and fit naturally within the requirements of the new law.

We are working on ways to offer SCECH hours for our “Talk & Tour” series, as well as the “Fall Update” and “Spring Enrollment Breakfasts” hosted at Kent Career Technical Center. These programs already work to fill the bucket of needs counselors have in meaningful ways to support their students.

The Career Readiness department is also in the process of developing additional learning opportunities. This could include education development plans (EDPs), Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) training, talent transcripts, and other college, career, and military options for counselors through both in-person and online formats. Kent ISD has heard the needs of our hard working counselors and is working to get ahead of the curve in leading their learning while satisfying the requirements of the new legislation.

If you would like to see upcoming courses that are offered for this credit, click here. Please continue to check back for additional offerings to be added in the new year!

This blog post was written by Gerry Verwey, Career Readiness Consultant at Kent ISD and edited by Amanda Walma, Professional Learning Coordinator for Kent ISD.

Town halls give residents chance to weigh in on next superintendent

Written by: Charles Honey, for School News Network on Nov. 20, 2018

Residents have two more opportunities to have input on the next superintendent of Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS). Town hall meetings started on Monday, Nov. 26 and will be held through Monday, Dec. 3. These meetings are for people to share their thoughts on the characteristics they’d like to see in the next GRPS Superintendent to succeed Teresa Weatherall Neal, who will retire at the end of June 2019.

The next two meetings are scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Thursday, Nov. 29 at Gerald R. Ford Academic Center, 851 Madison Ave SE
  • Monday, Dec. 3 at City High Middle (1720 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505)

People unable to attend or who would like to contribute additional thoughts are invited to provide their input online. Continue reading Town halls give residents chance to weigh in on next superintendent

Top Educational Gift Ideas (Updated for 2018)

It is the gift giving season! What gifts can you give a child to ignite learning? 

I have found with my children that the right toys inspire learning. So together, with other Kent ISD consultants and parents, I have populated a list of educational gifts that we have seen engage our children and students.

I have categorized the ideas, but many of these really could fit into more than one category. I encourage you to read through each list. Please share with other educators and parents! Continue reading Top Educational Gift Ideas (Updated for 2018)