Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Deerfield Art

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Mrs. North works with 3rd grade students today at Deerfield. How do you draw a hat?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Do roads matter more than students?

Recently Governor Ric Snyder stated that Michigan roads are in terrible shape. His solution was to suggest that taxes and fees should be raised and that more money should be given to help remedy the situation.

Governor Snyder has also said that schools are not doing the job and that only 17% of Michigan high school graduates are ready for college. (As an aside that is a highly dubious statistic and is not at all consistent with what actually happens when the graduates from my district go to college. That discussion will be saved for another time.) His solution for this "problem" has been to cut education funding $470 per student.

Are roads that much more important than students to our governor?

I am sure that our governor would say that students are more important. I would suggest that he thinks that schools can cut their budgets and not experience any hardship.

Yet the state-mandated retirement rate will increase for my district next year over 2%. While that sounds like a small increase it will raise the cost of doing business in my district by over 1.3 million dollars.

I want my school district to be as efficient as possible. I also know that "throwing money" at a problem rarely fixes it.

I just wish the governor thought that students were as important as roads.

The Leader in Me

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Parents gathered Monday night to learn about the 7 habits of highly effective people and the Leader in Me program. Helping our students develop into the leaders of today and tomorrow.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bridge Stress Tests

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Mr. Rogers readies a student made bridge for its stress test. Students in his 2-D CAD class designed the bridges. The bridges then were tested to see how much they could hold.

A Favorite Story at Parkview

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Mrs. Treadwell reads the classic story A Snowy Day to her first grade class. Students tried to visualize the story as she read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Learning, assessment, and what matters in school

There was a National Data Summit today (January 18,2012) in Washington DC. The website announcing this one-day event boasts, "The Data Quality Campaign (DQC) will host a national summit of local, state, and national leaders to address the power of data to improve student achievement."

Some are not all impressed with the data summit.


Governor Jerry Brown of California is not all that impressed with the focus on data, as noted in his letter vetoing a bill that would have changed the California school accountability system. He makes a good point when he says,  "Adding more speedometers to a broken car won't turn it into a high performance machine."


Yet, data is important. Being able to demonstrate that students are learning is important. At some point we do need a speedometer to show us how fast we are going. Arguing that we don't need any assessment or any measurement doesn't seem very helpful.


I believe that the parents in my community expect our school district to be able to show that students are learning. 

I believe that reading, writing, math, science, history, and government are subjects that my parents expect their children to learn about in the schools in my district. We should be able to show that students are learning these subjects in some meaningful and appropriate way.

However, I also think that my parents expect that our students will learn how to think, create, communicate, and plan. Working together, developing skills in leadership, being able to reflect and solve problems, and a host of other skills are also important for us to help students learn. Can and should we measure these skills on a test? Those skills and attributes seem like they would be harder skills to assess in meaningful and appropriate ways with a paper and pencil test.

But art, music, choir, drama are important. How about learning to use technology? What about health? Can and should we try to find a way to assess everything we do in schools?

I believe my responsibility is to ensure that our district has a robust system to measure learning and communicate the results with students and parents. I also need to help students, parents, and our community understand what good assessment looks like and to know what can and what can't be measured. But I also need students and parents to see that some of the things we do in school help students develop, engage them in meaningful ways, and can't - and shouldn't - be assessed with a paper and pencil test.

Students come to school to learn. Parents send their children to us to learn. My responsibility is to make sure that our district - our teachers and administrators - know what can and should be measured and what appropriate measurement should look like. I also need to ensure that the things that can't be measured are not forgotten.

Novi Middle School Boys Choir

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Mrs. Becker's boys choir practices today at Novi Middle School. They sounded wonderful!

Novi Middle School Math

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Ms. Arnold uses a "Jeopardy" style game to engage her students in a math review. It's amazing the knowledge these 7th grade students have about math.

Novi Middle School Video Production

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Students in the middle school video production class prepare to film a segment for the morning's news. A beehive of writing, editing, and filming.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Novi Middle School Science Fair

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This afternoon students' science fair projects were displayed and judged at Novi Middle School. Amazing work by middle school students.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Orchard Hills Writers' Workshop

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Ms. Mardigan starts writer's workshop with her kindergarten students today. Brainstorming about penguins.

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Village Oaks Climbing Wall

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2nd grade Village Oaks students work out on the climbing wall this morning. My gym class was never like this!

Village Oaks and the Seven Habits

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Mr. Guilmette reads a story to his students that focuses on one of the seven habits of happy kids.