Category Archives: Best Practices

Supporting New Teachers

Learning Academy Provides Classroom Strategies, Camaraderie

by Linda Odette, School News Network 

Imagine what it would be like to keep up to thirty 5-year-olds under control without a lot of knowledge on how to manage such a group. Then imagine you’re also a new teacher.

Enter The Learning Academy, a Kent ISD professional development program started in 2013 that brings together new teachers for lectures, simulated classes and observing master teachers to help them be more successful in the classroom. Continue reading Supporting New Teachers

5 Misconceptions of Personalized Learning

In 2015, the Michigan State Board of Education identified as a priority, “Increasing the use of personalized teaching methods, including the integration of technology for K-14 students to improve learning and outcomes.” In 2016, The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) released their plan to become a top 10 state in 10 years, which incorporated personalized learning as 1 of its 7 strategies. While  the state has a strong focus on personalized learning, many local districts in Michigan are just beginning to develop their understanding around this educational concept. Continue reading 5 Misconceptions of Personalized Learning

Will ESSA Impact You? Yes!

“With this bill, we reaffirm that fundamentally American ideal—that every child, regardless of race, income, background, the zip code where they live, deserves the chance to make of their lives what they will.” — President Barack Obama

New Education Law

In 2002, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was put into effect to help educators identify when students were making progress and recognize when they needed additional supports without discriminating based on race, income, language, etc.  Over time, we found this act was not helping us all reach the goals of fully preparing all students for success in college and careers.

On December 10, 2015 President Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  This new law reauthorizes the 50 year old Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which is a national law that gives equal opportunity to all students. The new law will build upon NCLB and ESEA to fully prepare ALL students for success in college and careers.

But the real question is, how will these changes impact us as teachers, administrators and students? And exactly how will it impact the classrooms and schools? Continue reading Will ESSA Impact You? Yes!

How New Teachers Are Fitting In Required PD

Did you know that new teachers in Michigan are required to have 15 days of professional development in their first three years of teaching?

It’s true.  And, this 15 days of professional development is in addition to their district provided professional development (DPPD).

Many districts do not have the funding to provide a program that supports this requirement and often ask new teachers to find their own professional development, which can also be costly to the district. While new teachers can find professional development, these opportunities may not match their specific needs for improvement. Continue reading How New Teachers Are Fitting In Required PD

One Simple Lesson, a Scientific Study and Life-Changing Results

I want to share with you the most exciting study I’ve read in the past year; it’s by David Yeager and Adriana Miu. In less than 1,000 words, I’ll lay it out briefly and then explain why I think it basically proves that our most idealistic conceptions of teaching — that teaching is magical, that it makes a difference, that it creates change that ripples on for centuries — are actually quite reasonable.

The study

600 freshmen students from three different high schools were given a short reading and writing exercise in September of their 9th-grade year. They were randomly assigned Continue reading One Simple Lesson, a Scientific Study and Life-Changing Results

A Student’s Perspective on NovaNow

There is still time to register for NovaNOW! This unique conference will be held on Friday, February 5 and Saturday, February 6. Check out this this student’s perspective on NovaNow…

Kent ISD EdTech Blog

We are only two weeks away from NovaNow, a unique opportunity for educators, business professionals, and even students that focuses on innovations in education. As we ramp up for this event, we asked Ben Wieringa, a Kent Innovation High student, to share his experiences with NovaNow. We have included his response below.

Hello, My name is Ben Wieringa I have been a student at Kent Innovation High (KIH) for the past four years. I have also been involved with NovaNow since it started two years ago. For those that are not familiar, NovaNow is a conference that takes place in a school, where educators talk with presenters and everyone has a voice to share what they think is best for students in the classroom.

I spent the first year of NovaNow as a tour guide where I would show guests around the open, free-flowing workspace of KIH. From the feedback…

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Dreams Do Come True…Announcing an Early Warning System!

Have you ever dreamed about knowing where each student was with their learning at the click of a button? What about the ability to see resources that would help each student to improve according to their specific needs?

Imagine the ability to have data from multiple sources, such as DIBELS, NWEA Map, and more, compiled into one report and one proficiency score. Now add the ability to zoom into one student at a time; right down to the standard, and in many cases, sub-standard level to deliver targeted instruction.

In May 2015, Kent ISD received a state consolidation of services grant to develop an early literacy alert and intervention system to help teachers throughout the Reading Now Network identify and provide resources to students who are not reading at grade level.

Over the summer, Kent ISD worked closely with local teachers, Kickstand and Bare Bulb to create an ecosystem comprised of teacher created resources, a data warehouse, and a learning management system. The key features of the ecosystems include: Continue reading Dreams Do Come True…Announcing an Early Warning System!

Refocus Your School Year with this 5 Minute Activity

Now that we’re about a third of the way through the school year, take five minutes to shoot from the gut and get your head and heart straightened out with this simple exercise. You won’t get any copies made or a parent newsletter drafted or a curriculum mapped or whatever other urgent tasks assail you during the five minutes I propose, but I do think this can help you think more clearly about the things you choose to do with the remainder of your school year.

Continue reading Refocus Your School Year with this 5 Minute Activity

Unlocking Your Teaching Potential

“Teaching can be isolating work, and classroom learning labs help connect educators and ideas through the shared experience of observing students as they learn. For us, we have focused most labs on math, an area of learning that has changed dramatically over the past few years. Being able to inquire about approaches while instructing and observing students at work helps make adult learning more relevant and immediate. Classroom Learning Labs are just that: Places to develop a hypothesis about what works, and to gather people together who are willing and ready to inquire, observe, and discuss the findings–in order to begin the cycle of inquiry again” Carol Lautenbach of Godfrey Lee Public Schools wrote.

Kent county is changing the culture of professional learning through collaboration.  Little (1982) and Rosenholtz (1989) discovered key behaviors in schools with strong collegial orientations. In these schools, teachers value professional relationships, share ideas, and readily exchange new techniques. Furthermore, Rosenholtz and Smylie identified that teachers with a high sense of efficacy are Continue reading Unlocking Your Teaching Potential

How to Achieve Fully Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is currently one of the biggest buzzwords in education, but it is somewhat vague and certainly a massive topic. Before reading further, take a moment to define personalized learning (maybe even write it down).

Your answer likely had something to do with student choice, individual pacing, flexible structures, and technology. All of these are a part of the personalized learning spectrum. Yes, it is a spectrum. A school system could have Continue reading How to Achieve Fully Personalized Learning