Take Advantage of Summer Learning Opportunities

School is out and summer is finally here! We hope you have a wonderful summer. Before we sign off for the 2014-15 school year, we wanted to highlight some popular blog posts that might be beneficial to your continual learning over the summer.

1. How to Avoid the Summer Slide
Kent ISD shares how to avoid the summer slideResearch 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.  In fact, students generally score worse Continue reading Take Advantage of Summer Learning Opportunities

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

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Last week, Tim Hargis wrote about four areas of focus to help students become active thinkers and independent writers. He described purpose and craft in detail.  In part 2, he will go over the final two focus areas: genre and text structure and content.  To learn more about this subject, register for The Writing Diner 2: Creating Active Thinkers for Common Core Success (Elementary & Middle School) on August 6th at Kent ISD.

A Focus on Genre and Text Structures

Teaching the three different types of writing through genre and text structure units is another way to up the level of thinking for student writers. If students have to grapple with Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 2

Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

The ultimate goal of all writing instruction has to be to help students become active thinkers while they are independently writing. This is the foundation of my writing beliefs. We need to teach writing in a way that will allow students, when they are sitting alone with a blank paper or computer screen in front of them, to have writing knowledge and skills inside of them that they can apply, on their own, in any situation.

If this is our goal for our writing instruction and we achieve it, then students will not only be successful in our classrooms, but they will be successful in grades, on standardized tests, writing in the content areas, and beyond.

The Common Core State Standards demand this of our student writers. The authors of The Standards outline seven characteristics of students who are “college and career ready.” At the top of the list is that students “demonstrate independence.” As teachers, we need to Continue reading Helping Students Become Active Thinkers, Part 1

Make a Difference in Your PLC

Most of us started Professional Learning Communities (PLC), because PLCs promised to help us make our department/school/district the best it could be to accomplish huge gains in student achievement.

Did it live up to the hype? 

Most of us have to say “No,” but the potential is there.  So how do we energize our PLCs to really accomplish our School Improvement goals? How do we become genuinely collaborative in meeting the new challenges of our changing world?  How do we become a collaborative culture that is flexible enough to meet whatever comes? Continue reading Make a Difference in Your PLC

It’s All About the Students and Achievement

“A school system can improve from any starting point and can become significantly more effective within six years.” How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better (Mourshed, Chijioke, Barber, 2010)

The evolution of school improvement began as a compliance plan that sat in a dusty binder on a shelf and has moved towards a Kent ISD School Improvementcomprehensive process that guides schools towards success and increases in student achievement. While the focus of school improvement has been on the design and implementation of the plan, it is most important to consider the improvement of school systems that can support high quality implementation of the plan. Continue reading It’s All About the Students and Achievement

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 Read Professional Development Books: 7 Tactics You Might Not Be Using

Post Image- How to Read PD

Whether you’re a teacher, administrator, instructional coach, central office staff, or someone else, I’m guessing you’re familiar with the fact that there are lots more edu-books out there than any of us have time to read.

And their unmanageable quantity is not the only tricky thing about professional development books; they also vary in utility. Some are immediately useful, superbly organized, and blessedly efficient; others are anecdotal, or theoretical, or haphazard, or verbose.

In this post, I want to help you read professional development books better. I want to do this for a simple reason: reading professional development books, when done the smart way, is one of the most cost-effective methods to get us better at our work. Continue reading How to Read Professional Development Books: 7 Tactics You Might Not Be Using

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

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