Category Archives: Education

Retain Talented Educators in Your District

We know what great teaching looks like- dedication, continuous improvement, care for their students’ needs, etc.  But, do we know what great teachers look like?

Does your school and district consciously recognize great teachers, as a means of honoring them, for the great work they do? Does the public know who those great teachers are?

More than a certificate and a handshake, a well-designed teacher recognition program can complement other essential work in your school and district. Schools should think bigger than offering recognition at staff meetings. Include the community at large, so they can share in their local schools’ pride, by recognizing educators at athletic or other events. Continue reading Retain Talented Educators in Your District

Top Educational Gift Ideas

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. Continue reading Top Educational Gift Ideas

Local Peer to Peer Group Goes Out to the Ballgame…

Dear mom,
I have so much fun at the Whitecaps.
I sang the 7 inning stretch song.
I watched the game.
I saw a new part called The bubble drawl.
It’s where the bubbles charge after each other.
I can’t wait to talk about the Whitecaps.
I love you.
Your son,

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On May 18th, 2016, almost 400 local students boarded buses and went to Fifth Third Ballpark to watch the Whitecaps game.  To most this seems like a normal school field trip, but for these students, it was the chance of a lifetime.

For the past decade, Kent ISD has been working with local districts and charters to  develop and implement Peer to Peer Programs (P2P). P2P is a program that pairs a student with special needs with a general education student, who will model typical social and academic behaviors and provide greater opportunities to access the general education setting and curriculum. In many of the districts, there are so many general education students that want to be involved,  that the special education student is paired with more than one peer. The peers interact throughout the day in recess setting, lunchroom setting, and classroom settings where applicable.

This is the second year that Kent ISD has organized an outing  to see the Whitecaps for the P2P students. This year 389 students attended the game. There was a total of 8 districts represented (including two charter schools).

One of the schools that attended was Grandville Public Schools. They began their P2P Program in 2010/2011 school year. Since then P2P has grown exponentially and they currently have approximately 400 students from 3rd – 12th grade participating. Each building level program meets weekly during lunch to eat together and enjoy a social activity.  They also host two district-wide events each school year: P2P Bowling and P2P Family Night.

“Our staff has witnessed the benefits of P2P every year.  We see mentoring relationships form at first. Eventually, they grow into authentic and lasting friendships.  P2P establishes a mutually-beneficial partnership, in which the students with social challenges learn social norms and expectations while the peer mentors build their awareness of diversity, differences, and disabilities.  Furthermore, P2P shapes the character of our peer mentors by teaching them about acceptance, inclusion, tolerance, understanding, patience, and compassion.  P2P not only creates a better community in Grandville Schools, it also creates better people.  Our P2P theme in Grandville is “Together We Are Better” and we have observed this statement to be true time and time again within our P2P Program. ” Jill Kreuze, Grandville Public Schools.

Another school in attendance this year was Caledonia Community Schools. This year Caledonia brought 94 students to the Whitecaps game.  They have been offering an elective course to high school students for the past three years called LINKS. This spring several LINKS students went with students from the Cognitive Impaired (CI) program to the Winterfest dance. “It was incredible to see how students continue to build relationships amongst each other and care about each other.” Scott Bont, Caledonia Community Schools.

All of the districts that are involved in the P2P program are doing incredible work to change the lives of students.  If you would be interested in learning more about this program, please contact Rebecca McIntyre of Kent ISD. This event was made possible by the Statewide Autism Resources & Training (START) program from Grand Valley State University and Kent Collaborative Autism Network (CAN).


Parents, Community Members Gather to “Take the Test”

Kent ISD staff recently hosted a group of people interested in learning more about the M-Step and SAT tests. Maranda from WOTV joined them and filmed an entire show about this important topic, called “Taking the Test: Sampling New Standardized Tests”. CLICK HERE to watch.

Every year, thousands of students across Michigan take standardized tests as a way to gauge their learning and to get into college. This April, instead of the MEAP and ACT, students will take the M-STEP and the SAT. And after years of familiar paper and pencil tests, students are now learning to take them online.

The M-STEP tests are new to our students (introduced last year), and in most schools will be administered completely online. In addition, Continue reading Parents, Community Members Gather to “Take the Test”

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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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

2015-2016 PD Plan is Online!

As another year begins to wind down, administrators are preparing for 2015-2016. Many administrators are working hard on their school improvement plans.

Before you finish your school improvement plans, make sure you take a look at the professional development opportunities that Kent ISD is planning for 2015-2016.

2015-2016 school year is shaping up to be a powerhouse for professional learning. Continue reading 2015-2016 PD Plan is Online!

How to Avoid the Dreaded Summer Slide

It isn’t much of a leap to start dreaming of carefree summer months after a few days of sunshine and sixty degree weather here in Michigan. Summer is often categorized as free time – a time to kick back, relax, and revel in the freedom of schedule “free” days.

However, the sad reality is that hidden behind this lovely cloak of sunshine and warm weather comes some real risks that can result from summer learning loss.

Research completed over hundreds of years has demonstrated that students are likely to shut down their minds during this time and can suffer significant educational consequences.  Continue reading How to Avoid the Dreaded Summer Slide

When We Start with Kids: Personalizing Learning with EDIFY

I will never forget the day my AP Biology teacher wheeled a TV into our classroom and with sheer excitement told us we’d be learning about DNA in a new way. He stepped aside to reveal a brand new piece of technology: the laser disc player!

laser discLaugh. I did too. However, as Mr. Demmink carefully pulled the gigantic gold disc out of the sleeve and went into his introduction of the topic and how our learning could be changed that day with this new high definition tool, the laughing subsided. It was absolutely impossible not to jump on the excitement bandwagon. It was 1998 and we were being exposed to cutting edge technology to help improve our learning. The entire class was fired up. Bring on the laser disc!

As we know, technology is always changing…and the laser disc is very much a thing of the past. Thus, the educator’s role as “filters of the fountain” becomes even more important as we navigate through the waters of what will impact our students most effectively. So where do we begin? Continue reading When We Start with Kids: Personalizing Learning with EDIFY

Professional Learning: 4 Ideas for Busy Teachers

“For most educators working in schools, professional learning is the singular most accessible means they have to develop the new knowledge, skills, and practices necessary to better meet students’ learning needs.” Learning Forward

We all know professional learning is important.  But with limitations of time and money, the journey to build our knowledge becomes even more of a challenge. Continue reading Professional Learning: 4 Ideas for Busy Teachers