Monday, June 27, 2011

Camp Invention Starts!


Today at Novi Middle School students in grades 1-6 started Camp Invention. This week-long camp encourages students to invent, create, and explore. These tools help students take things apart and put things back together.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Curriculum Work in Novi


Today Curriculum Area Leaders (CALs) and Curriculum Area Teams (CATs) gathered to begin mapping our Novi curriculum. An Oakland Schools curriculum specialist helped lead the teachers through the Atlas Rubicon system. These teachers are helping our district work to ensure that every student in every classroom will have an excellent Novi experience.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Great Day at Village Oaks


Today the 4th grade students at Village Oaks were honored for finishing up at Village Oaks and being ready for Novi Meadows. Mrs. Fenchel and Mrs. Burnham congratulated the students for being ready for 5th grade.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Lion Sleeps Tonight


The 7th grade Wildcat Choir sings a crowd favorite at tonight's Novi Middle School choir concert. Always fun to see students enjoying themselves.

Novi Middle School Choir Concert


Tonight the Novi Middle School Choirs presented a wonderful concert. The talent of our students is at once wonderful and amazing.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Deerfield Writers Share Their Work


Today Deerfield 1st graders took time to share their writer's notebooks with parents and other interested adults. These 1st graders are wonderful writers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Positive Deviance

Deviance is usually seen as a negative.  As in - that person is deviant!

In their book, The Power of Positive Deviance; How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World's Toughest Problems, the authors show a different side of deviance - the positive side.

The authors talk about the successful exceptions as opposed to the normal behavior or expectation. The concept, as the authors explain, is simple - look for the outliers who succeed against all odds.

The authors give multiple examples.  One example focused on communities in a region of Bolivia whose children suffered from high levels of stunting - short height for age.  However, within the community some children grew normally.  Why did those children - the positive deviants - develop normally while the majority were stunted?

A group who was working with these communities invited a Positive Deviance team into their communities to help find some answers.  The group that issued the invitation was certain that the Positive Deviance team would not find any differences in nutritional practices.  They had already studied the food and everyone ate the same thing.  The community was stymied and wanted to Positive Deviance group to help them find answers.  The community was certain that there was a solution that they could  They looked and they believed that there was nothing they could do.  There was no solution!

But someone came in with a fresh set of eyes and started to look for answers.  This community served a lot of stew-like meals.  Every family seemed to have the same ingredients, the same utensils, the same meals.  Yet some children were growing "normally" - the positive deviants - while other childrens' growth seemed stunted.

The community understood in their minds that there were some positive deviants but they could not conceptualize that these families and these children were experiencing anything different than the other families in the community.

So someone set out to really look at what was going on.  What this person discovered was that the "positive deviants" were getting more meat and potatoes and vegetables.  How?  Every family had the same stew-like meals.  How could some be getting more nutrition.

What this person discovered was that the families whose children grew "normally" scooped the stew in a way that every person - adult and child - received meat and vegetables.  These families put the ladle deep into the pot.

The families where the children did not grow were only giving the children the broth.  They did not ladle out meat and vegetables.  In these parents minds the meat and vegetables were needed by the adults - those who worked needed the "extra" nutrition.

I work in a school district.  Within that school district, as in any school district, there are things that confound or puzzle us.  We are like that community where some children were not growing but others were.  We try a variety of solutions, looking for ways to improve.  Yet some of the problems seem intractable, beyond our ability to solve them.

The problems that we face can be solved - argue the authors of this book on positive deviance - by looking at the positive outliers.  Who in our district has results that are above the norm?  Who has success in helping students that typically are not successful?.  Someone in our district - or someone in a school district somewhere -  has been successful in the same, or a very similar, situation.  The issue is that not that there is no solution to the problem.  the issue is that we have not found ways to communicate our solutions, promote the positive deviance, highlight the successful outliers.

I hope that we can begin to focus on the successful outliers and help all of us find more success.

Monday, June 6, 2011

8th Grade Orientation


Novi Middle School students watch the high school group Awkward Pause during a visit to the high school today. An opportunity to listen and learn about life at the high school.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Novi High School Graduation


The class of 2011 enters to Pomp and Circumstance. A class that earned over 10 million dollars in scholarships.

Supt. Dion Addresses the Graduates


Superintendent Dion encourages the class of 2011 to live up to the excellence that is Novi. He reminds them that this first step in their life was made possible by their family and friends.

Novi High School Graduation


The scene is set at EMU for the Novi High School class of 2011 graduation. All we need now are graduates.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Willy Wonka at Deerfield


Deerfield students are entertained this afternoon as their classmates perform Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A great performance!