Monday, May 31, 2010

In Remembrance: Memorial Day 2010

One of West Clermont's longest running traditions is Willowville Elementary's Memorial Day Parade. Below are Principal Kennedy's remarks to students, veterans, and guests at their 33rd parade.

Again, I would like to welcome the Willowville community to the 33rd Annual Memorial Day Parade as we celebrate and honor all men and women who have fought for and defended our great nation. This day of celebration is for you!

Since the first official observance 1868, when it was called Decoration Day, it has been a day of remembrance; a time to honor, respect, and thank those who fought to protect our freedom.

The American flag is a symbol of freedom that we celebrate and hold sacred. Let it also remind each of us of the sacrifices made by men and women throughout our nation. Too often we fail to remember those who gave their life or those whose life today bears scars as a lasting memory of that sacrifice and commitment. There are many who remember vividly as the lives affected were sons, daughters, parents, aunts, uncles, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.

As educators, we have a responsibility to educate these young minds about the sacrifice others have made so that they may live in this outstanding country. So to all of those who fought, we owe them the honor of our respect for delivering to us liberty upon nothing less than the commitment of their life and the willingness to lose it for our freedom. Friends ~ Freedom is not free ~ let us never forget!

For 33 years Willowville families have gathered and paused to reflect on just what has been given and sacrificed so that freedom could ring across this great land. To all the veterans sitting here today and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice ~ this celebration and day of remembrance is for you!

Michelle Kennedy

Monday, May 24, 2010

Undercover Readers: RTRW 2010

In the Teaching & Learning Community, we celebrate reading 365 days a year. It's so nice, though, to have an official week of festivities that gives reading the honor it deserves. After all, reading gives us knowledge, pleasure and escape anytime, anywhere. And compared to the cost of other entertainment, it costs next to nothing!

The twelve schools in our district observed Right to Read Week in a wide variety of ways, with varying themes. Activities included everything from reading parades to crazy contests to book fairs. Students and teachers read together each day, responding to the reading in book clubs, nings and at evening events.

Our schools have celebrated Right to Read Week for decades, but this year our district office decided to join in on the fun. We work together each day, know a lot about each others families and interests. But we don't necessarily know each other as readers. We captured images of our favorite books, tucked away our photographs underneath, and created an interactive hallway display entitled, "Undercover Readers". Here's the district office custodian, Edith. She loves Gone With The Wind, but we didn't know it until now!

Next year promises to be bigger and better. Our community of readers will have read millions more words, turned thousands more pages, and scanned as many screens of text.  We're all thankful for the right to read!


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Improvement Planning for 2010-11

Ohio requires that each of its 611 districts participate in the OIP, the Ohio Improvement Process. The OIP is a decision-making process established by the state—its products are the district's and schools' improvement plans.

Below are the district goal and five strategies for West Clermont's improvement plan and each school's improvement plan for 2010-11.

GOAL: By 2012, a minimum of 85% of West Clermont students will achieve proficient or above in Ohio Academic Content Standards, as measured by DIBELS, OAA/OGT and 22 composite on the ACT, with a 33% decrease in the achievement gap for all subgroups.

Strategy 1. All Instruction for core curricula aligns with Ohio Academic Content Standards grade level indicators.

Strategy 2. All assessments are aligned with Ohio Academic Content Standards grade level indicators.

Strategy 3. All teachers and administrators integrate 21st Century Skills (collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity) across the curriculum, supported by technology.

Strategy 4. All teachers implement “high-yield” instructional strategies across the curriculum, supported by technology:
· Summarizing and note taking
· Non-linguistic representation
· Setting objectives and providing feedback

Strategy 5. All schools implement and monitor the Response To Intervention process (RTI) to ensure positive behavior support within a safe learning environment and ensure adequate student progress in academic content areas.

Thanks to our District Leadership Team for excellent work on the district's improvement plan and the Ohio Decision Framework: Cheryl Turner, facilitator, Gary Brooks, Al Delgado, Toni Meyer, Tanny McGregor, Michelle Kennedy, Nancy Parks, Stephanie Walker, Kevin Thacker, Debbie Hobbs, Ross Hudson, Tim McGonagil, Chuck Boothby, Amy Storer, Sarah Vakharia, Mary Jane Wolf, Tracy Yarchi, and Matt Spangler. Thank you!
Jargon Buster:

ACT - The ACT® is a curriculum-based (not aptitude) test that assesses high school students' ability to complete college-level work in English, math, reading, and science. It is universally accepted for college admission. The highest score possible is 36. The national composite score for 2008 was 21.1.

Decision Framework - An electronic representation of our student achievement data. It’s a one-stop data source and a decision-making tool. Each building has its own Building Decision Framework available online. Teachers, have you seen your school's Decision Framework?

DIBELS - Dynamic Indicators of Basic Literacy Skills is a diagnostic measure of children’s basic reading skills (for example, fluency) that predict student success in reading comprehension. DIBELS is a screening assessment of skills. It is not a reading program.

OAA - The Ohio Achievement Assessment is the state’s accountability measure for grades 3 through 8. Ohio is in process of revising standards for all tested subject areas, which will in turn affect the OAA* within the next few years. Because of budget cuts, Ohio has suspended testing in writing (grades 4 and 7) and social studies (grades 5 and 8) for the next two years.

OGT - The Ohio Graduation Test is the state’s accountability measure for high schools. Governor Strickland has called for the OGT to be replaced by the ACT (or another college readiness measure), though details and timelines have not been determined.

RTI - Response to Intervention is a multi-level prevention program that integrates assessment and instruction to maximize student achievement and reduce behavior problems.

To see more of our "Jargon Buster" glossary, click here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Teaching Role of Leadership

James McGregor Burns (1978) writes of the "vital teaching role of leadership." As state and federal requirements for public schools become more complex, leadership at every level is more and more necessary. Teachers bring practical, grounded experience and wisdom to the table as schools and districts face new challenges of accountability and education reform.

To this end, the Ohio Department of Education recently moved to four levels of teacher licensure:
Resident Educator
Professional Educator
Senior Professional Educator
Lead Professional Educator

One way to be eligible for advanced licensure is to receive the new Master Teacher designation. To achieve this designation teachers must demonstrate mastery in the seven Ohio teaching standards:
1. Teachers understand student learning and development, and respect the diversity of the students they teach.
2. Teachers know and understand the content area for which they have instructional responsibility.
3. Teachers understand and use varied assessments to inform instruction, evaluate, and ensure student learning.
4. Teachers plan and deliver effective instruction that advances the learning of each individual student.
5. Teachers create learning environments that promote high levels of learning and achievement for all students.
6. Teachers collaborate and communicate with students, parents, other educators, administrators, and the community to support student learning.
7. Teachers assume responsibility for professional growth, performance and involvement as an individual and as a member of a learning community.

At the May 10, 2010, meeting of the West Clermont Board of Education, Board members and district administration recognized 19 teachers who fulfilled requirements to become Master Teachers. Our spring 2010 cadre of Master Teachers includes Katrina Smith, Gary Bertsch and Ceil Kuzma (AHS); Kathy Baughman and Tracy Yarchi (GEHS); Rena Ford and Jennifer Mirlisena (AMS); Mary Jane Wolff and Joe Schuh (GEMS); Judy Bruns (WT); Mary Taylor and Beth Flanigan (WV); Bonnie Frey (SS); Holly Brown and Renee Renken (MER); Margo Johnson (HH); Beth Testa (CP); Ann Marie Thornton (BE); Julie Schneider (AE).

For the highest licensure level, Lead Professional Educator, criteria includes completing a university program of endorsement in Teacher Leadership and being designated as a Master Teacher or attaining National Board Certification. Also at the May 10 Board meeting, West Clermont recognized seven teachers who achieved the Teacher Leader endorsement. These professionals completed ten graduate level semester hours from the University of Cincinnati's new Teacher Leader program, one of only two in the state. Our first Teacher Leader corps includes Robin Blamer (CP); Angela Preece and Gina McNeil (HH); Joe Stahl (WT); Liz Hanke (WV); Tracy Yarchi and Andrea Taktak (GEHS).

With congratulations and gratitude,

For information on either of these programs for 2010-11, contact Ms. Angie Ferguson at the West Clermont Board office.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Home Grown Professional Development

   I used to think Professional Development was "for sale." That is, I used to think it was strictly something you pursued out of district in order to learn from an "expert" about how to improve student learning.

   However, I now realize the most effective Professional Development is "home grown." It is not a commercial product or service, but an opportunity for colleagues to learn from each other, discuss, analyze, etc. within a local learning network. In Results Now, Mike Schmoker states that "effective team-based learning communities - not workshops- are the very best kind of professional development (p. 109)." These professional learning communities begin to build a new culture of teaching, as teachers realize that knowledge of improvement can and should be generated from within.

   This year, the majority of Professional Development in West Clermont has been modeled after such learning communities. As a member of several Professional Learning Networks (PLNs), I have worked with colleagues to examine student data, design instruction aligned with data, learn about technology applications, create common assessments, etc.  We discovered, just like Schmoker said, that the experts are among us!

   Such PLNs can bring about systemic results as teachers collaborate and examine student data, discuss best practices, and share new learning in meaningful ways that impact student learning and instructional practices. As a result, professional development looks differently and feels differently. This is something that cannot be purchased or commercialized.

   Here are a few pictures from our WC "experts" participating in "home-grown" Professional Development.



Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Pink Link: A 21st Century Book Club

Q:     What do you get when you mix 8th and 9th grade students with laptop computers, a social media platform, and an engaging work of nonfiction?

Thanks to a grant from the High Aims Consortium, nearly 300 of West Clermont's 8th and 9th grade English students participated in our first-ever NING-based book study. Grant money was used to purchase a copies of A Whole New Mind by best-selling author Daniel Pink. Document cameras were also purchased to enable teachers to maximize the effectiveness of the book's portfolio exercises during the school day.

Here's how it worked for us. With the help of student Taylor Olmstead, Amelia High School IB English teacher Angie Ferguson created a NING as a place where our students could trade ideas about their reading. English teachers Michelle Dohrmann (Glen Este High School) and Rena Ford (Amelia Middle School) joined Angie, and the three teachers began the online book-study, across grade-levels and campuses. Kids kept pace with each other, reading and discussing each chapter with accompanying portfolio exercises. Laptops were used in class and at home. High-level discussions were the rule  of the day! And with nearly 100% student participation, teachers learned that using the NING platform to spark motivation and engagement is the way to go!

Visit us. Sign on to our NING and post a comment. The students would love to hear from you.