Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wikis can help you FIP your school

Our school is a member of the OAC (Ohio Appalachian Collaborative). Thanks to Battelle4Kids, our staff has many resources to support our journey of formative instructional practices in the classroom.

    When I became a building principal 8 years ago, one of the first things I did was to launch a building wiki in order to establish a higher level of communication and collaboration. In hindsight, it was ahead of its time because we definitely had growing pains with technology use back then. At that time, staff was still grimacing about having to use a thing called "email."

The original wiki had 2 pages, one for office communication and one for staff communication. Today, we have added pages for  OTES, FIP, ALICE, and Gifted Resources. With the addition of Google Apps for Education, sharing opportunities have made giant leaps. These pages have links and documents for resources as well as a place for ongoing comments. I recommend that building leaders choose a platform that they can be comfortable with and then model what you expect from staff. With all of the new generation tools available, I sometimes feel our wiki is a bit dated, but it still fits the majority of our staff’s comfort level. I have included a couple of screenshots for reference.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"My child's school received a C on their grade card, Fantastic!" said no parent ever.

 The Ohio Department of Education has recently released the newly redesigned report cards for schools. They are using letter grades now instead of the descriptors such as Effective and Excellent. I don't mind the new letter grade system, except for the fact that the new letter grades don't exactly mean what parents, teachers, and students have been used to for all of their lives.
  Previously, if you saw a "C" on a grade card, it probably meant "average", or "room for improvement" or "not bad, but you can do better." Now, if you see a grade of "C" from the ODE on a school report card, you will have to shift what you think you know about what a "C" really means.
Let me explain the changes in a somewhat tongue-in-check example.

Dear Student,
      Today you will be receiving your grade card and we are making some changes that we think you will like. First off, there is no "overall" grade this year so do not confuse the first grade you see on your report card as your overall grade.  We may report an overall grade in 2015.
      The first item you were graded on was how well you mastered all of your learning targets for the quarter. Congratulations! Since you mastered all of your learning targets in the time frame that we expect students to do, you received a "C".  I am sure your parents will be proud of you!  You could have received an "A" or a "B" if only you would have mastered some of the learning targets that we will be covering in the next quarter, or even next year, and shown that you learned more than you were expected to.
      The next item we are grading you on is your work habits. This is not part of your learning grade. Since you turned in every assignment on time and did what was expected, again, you will receive another "C". Congratulations! Your parents will surely be proud of you. I suppose you could have received an "A" or a "B" by turning some of them in early.
     Another item that you received a grade on is for your attendance. Once again, you received a grade of "C". You attended school every day! We are not sure how you could receive an "A" or a "B" yet, except maybe to attend school on some Saturdays. No teachers would be present though to verify that so we would have to take your word that you actually attended. We will let you know on the 2015 report card if we figure that one out.
Keep up the great work!

Your teacher,