Week 11 at New Albany High School!

Lorin LoveScience teacher Lorin Love reincarnates as Anna Garcia from the dead to play a review game about diabetes with students in Principles of Biomedical Science! To see how others dressed up on Friday, as well as a recap of our week, please review the Week 11 Storify!

Staff News
Humanities and Art History teacher Rachel Braswell attended a free two-day conference about educating African American Males on Friday, October 23rd and Saturday, October 24th. The conference was not only insightful, but she was able to collaborate with many educators from higher education. The conference was co-hosted by The Ohio State University, Champions for Children, and the United Way. The keynote presenter was David Johns, the Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans.

Spanish teacher Sarah Riechley attended an AP Spanish Workshop on Wednesday, October 29th. She, too, was able to collaborate with many other educators and discuss pedagogy, content, and AP expectations!

Math teachers Karen Morlan and Linda Schmidt attended an AP Calculus workshop last week as well. They practiced grading AP exams and collaborated with other teachers from across the country!

Thanks to the Counseling Team for proctoring OGTs last week. It took a great deal of time away from their usual workload and I appreciate their efforts to ensure all our students are able to meet this graduation requirement!

Many of our teachers highlight historical and literary characters during lessons as a way to teach or reinforce the characteristics we want our students to exhibit. To further help reinforce positive character, Jostens created a list of tips for parents to help cultivate character strength at home. This can be a great family activity!

Students As Learners
I appreciate the types of learning activities our teachers develop that not only engage students, but help them to demonstrate learning in unique ways. Following are a couple of examples; one by Social Studies teacher Darryl Sycher and the other by Physical Science teachers Claire Monk and Jessica Dorman:

“As part of the Unit on the Renaissance in World History, my students were asked to choose an explorerSycher 1 and report on them in class. This Explorers Project asked students to provide a short biography of their particular explorer and how his discoveries impacted Europe and the natives that he discovered and encountered. Along with this written portion of the project, students were also asked to display their creative side and make a visual to represent the accomplishments of their explorer. This was used to enhance their oral presentation and make their 16th century explorer “come alive” in the 21st century.”

“Mrs. Monk created this lesson to add a fun twist to the energy unit in physical science. In this activity students get to make their own bouncy ball to collect and analyze data. Once the ball is made students obtained the mass and recorded a video of the ball dropping and the bounce back. Students then uploaded the video into an analysis program, which they manipulated to be able to determine the velocity of the ball dropping and in the bounce back. With this information students then calculated the potential energy and kinetic energy of the dropped ball and drew energy bar charts of the different phases of the motion. Using the law of conservation of energy as a guide, students were able to determine why the bouncy ball did not bounce back to the same height while still having a total amount of energy equal to 100%. While the main learning target of this activity was to investigate the concept of energy transformations students also applied their skills of experimental design to trouble shoot how to alter the recipe to make a better bouncy ball, or how to make one after a failed attempt. Students had to determine what methods led to the best bouncy ball for their purposes. By making the ball themselves they also learned about chemical reactions and how the items we started with changed as a result of the reaction. Solid and liquid reagents became a bouncy rubber-like solid. What better way to spend a Friday before Halloween than making your own bouncy ball to analyze how well it conserves energy while throwing in some chemistry for fun?”

7A'sI believe there are seven A’s of successful schools: academics, attendance, the arts, attitude (behavior), activities, acts of service, and athletics. Every student can have a sense of belonging if they embrace these seven A’s and it’s important for us to create the conditions for this to happen. Coaches Pat Samanich and Brian Finn received the following email from our Special Olympics Swim Coach that celebrates the act of service by our football team:

“I wanted to reach out to both of you to let you know how much we appreciated having your football players at the Special Olympics swim meet this past Saturday. They did an amazing job and were absolutely wonderful to our athletes!!! I had a lot of parents and spectators comment to me directly on how great it was to see them participating and supporting our swim team.

Please thank them from our team and me and let them know how much we appreciated their support!! They are a great group of kids!!! -Casie Ford”

Thanks to all our coaches for teaching our students life through athletics!

Upcoming Events
Monday, November 2nd- Department Chair Meeting at 3:00 pm Professional Library
Tuesday, November 3rd- Election Day; Students Working the Polls; #BowTieTuesday
Wednesday, November 4th- Department Meetings at 7:15 am; Class Ring Orders due
Thursday, November 5th- Department Meetings at 7:15 am; Nationwide Children’s Hospital Wellness Presentation during House
Saturday, November 7th- SAT

Article Worth Reading
Edtech’s Next Big Disruption Is The College Degree

Video Worth Watching
Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling| Emilie Wapnick| TEDxBend

Be Great,

Dwight

Today’s Professional Development

http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
http://groveland.spps.org/uploads/hanging_light_bulbs.jpg
Access to and opportunity for professional development for educators has grown exponentially due to the use of technology, the need for more relevant and timely learning, and a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional model of “sit and get.” There are more options besides attending professional conferences. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoy attending quality professional conferences to listen to dynamic speakers, attend a variety of breakout sessions, present, and connect with other educators to discuss hot topics in education and share best practices. There are also many other ways we can engage in meaningful and relevant learning experiences on our own time, at our own pace, and in the place of our choosing. We have to come to accept that learning is a 24/7/365 endeavor not bound to traditional office hours. Technology has flattened the traditional professional development model by providing so many opportunities for those who want to take responsibility for their own growth and development. Following are six effective professional development strategies that are on the rise for educators.

1. Webinars– Webinars are web-based presentations where participants register for and login at a specific time to interact with a presenter and and other presenters. Edweb.net provides a variety of webinars four to five days a week and there is a list of communities educators can join that are relevant to them. Most of all, they are free and typically occur after the school day. I’ve facilitated a webinar for Edweb.net and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The moderator managed the questions so we were able to have an interactive and engaging dialogue about the topic. I encourage perusing this site and consider joining a community that interests you.
2. Podcasts– Podcasts are web-based interactive conversations about a particular topic. Most podcasts are recorded live and archived for future use. One that I enjoy is PrincipalCast, hosted by Dr. Spike Cook, Theresa Stagner, and Jessica Johnson. These are weekly podcasts that include guest presenters that provide their thoughts and best practices about topics like implementing the Common Core State Standards, teacher evaluations, life after the principalship, pedagogical strategies, technology integration, and so much more. I also recommend you read this article for a list of 51 podcasts for educators.
3. Twitter Chats– A Twitter chat is a topic-based discussion on Twitter that is curated using a specific hashtag. Thousands of educators participate in weekly chats and school districts are starting to host their own chats in order to continue conversations outside of the school day. If you are going to participate in a Twitter chat, I encourage you to use Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to allow you to follow the thread of comments. Check out this calendar of the most popular Twitter chats, which was created by @cybraryman1.
4. Blogging– Blogging is a way to make one’s learning visible because it’s a reflective process about ones thoughts, ideas, successes, and struggles. There are many free blog sites, such as Edublogs, Blogger, and WordPress that many educators use for their own professional and personal growth. A few blogs I often read are:
a. A Principal’s Reflections by Eric Sheninger
b. Connected Principals: Sharing. Learning. Leading
c. DCulberhouse: Engaging in Conversation Around Education and Leadership by David Culberhouse
d. Leadership Freak by Dan Rockwell
e. Life of an Educator by Dr. Justin Tarte
f. RaFranz Davis: Social Learner. Tech Specialist. Digital Diva by RaFranz Davis
g. The Jose Vilson by Jose Vilson
h. The Principal of Change by George Couros
i. This Is Seth’s Blog by Seth Godin

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https://www.mnnonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/VictoriaEstrella.com_collaboration-10-01-14.jpg

5. YouTube– It is reported that YouTube is the third largest search engine in the world! Needless to say, if there is a topic you want to learn more about, search YouTube and I’m certain you will find a few videos that will increase your knowledge about a particular topic. Even better, you could create your own YouTube Channel to share your expertise with others.
6. Skype– Skype removes time and distance as barriers and provides a means to engage in a conversation with a group of people or individuals to discuss relevant topics. Additionally, it provides a simulated “face-to-face” interaction that is still important to have.
7. Google Hangout– Google is flattening the collaborative efforts by providing asynchronous means to dialog, discuss, and communicate about topics of interest. Many schools have created Google Hangouts for teachers to continue relevant discussions and share best practices that improve student learning.
8. VoxerVoxer is an app that is on the rise in the world of connected educators. It allows for the same type of connectivity as Twitter, but it allows users to create groups for participants to actually chat live. The messages can be saved and archived for future reference. I’ve recently created a Voxer account and have joined the Digital Leadership and NASSP15 groups to keep in contact with other like-minded leaders. Other examples of how Voxer is used include book studies, interviews, and topic based discussions.

These are just a few examples of relevant professional development and you may notice that they are tech-based. However, these do not replace the importance and power of face-to-face collaborative learning among peers. Consider adding one or two to your toolbox as you continue along on your journey as a life-long learner!

Be Great,

Dwight

My 2014 in Review: From FREE to FINISH

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https://s3.amazonaws.com/cache.salvationarmy.org/2c91fea2-8a57-4dde-873b-e8341d0177e8_freedom222.jpg
My One Word for 2014 was FREE. I allowed myself to be free to explore new professional opportunities. After much contemplation, I freed my mind to think about leaving a school and district I love to see if what I know about building leadership applies elsewhere. Coming to that decision was not only difficult, but it was the right decision. A man I have a great deal of respect for once said to me, “It is better to leave one year too early than one day too late.” In my mind and heart, I felt is was time to leave…

The hardest part was simply allowing myself the freedom to consider leaving because of the friendships established, what we accomplished together, my level of comfort, and fear of what I could potentially give up forever. Yet, I am okay and I’m being stretched as a leader in more ways than I could have imagined in the district I’m in now. By simply allowing myself to be FREE, I embrace the newness, the transition, and the lessons learned and yet to be learned. Additionally,

I allowed myself to be free to say, “Yes,” to many projects or possibilities.

I allowed myself to be free to not live up to what I perceived others expected of me.

I allowed myself to be free to put my immediate family first in many situations because it was the right thing to do and without the burden of trying to please others.

I allowed myself to be free to say, “No,” without guilt or shame.

I allowed myself to be proud of my personal and professional accomplishments I earned such as being named the 2014 Bammy Secondary Principal of the Year and being inducted in the Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Honor. Yes, I am proud and these awards are prominently displayed in my office.

I allowed myself to be free to accept invitations to do more keynote presentations and other speaking engagements because others want to hear from me.

I’m allowing myself to be free to embrace the platform I’ve been given to positively change lives and impact futures.

Thank God for 2014 and I look forward to embracing my new word for 2015: FINISH!

http://michaelhyatt.com/crossing-daily-finish-lines.html
http://michaelhyatt.com/crossing-daily-finish-lines.html

Be Great,

Dwight

Thank You, Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools

Thank YouIt’s been two weeks since I officially began my new position and I’m still getting used to being a part of a different district, starting over, and finding my way. In mid-February, 2014, I announced to the staff, faculty, students and parents of Gahanna Lincoln High School that I accepted the Principal position at New Albany High School, in New Albany, OH. Their responses via email, phone calls, text messages, tweets, Facebook and Instagram posts, cards and letters over the next four months were overwhelming. The outpour of support and encouragement still bring tears to my eyes. I was able to remain relatively calm during that time; however, I became more anxious as graduation approached. What was I going to say? Would it even matter? Would I even be able to speak or would I be overcome with emotion? These and many other questions raced through my mind for what seemed like forever.

Following is my brief graduation speech and Parting Words of Wisdom to the GLHS Class of 2014. However, to me, it’s more than just a speech: It’s my way of putting into words my love for the people of Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools and the Gahanna community for helping me become the person I am today.

Five days before my college graduation in June, 1994, I received a phone call that completely changed my life. On the other end of the phone, I heard the familiar voice of the beloved Gahanna Middle School South principal, Denny Souder. He requested I come in for a second interview. However, it wasn’t a second interview, but a job offer to teach 8th grade American History. It was my chance to start my professional journey and to positively change lives and impact futures through the awesome career as an educator.

I could not have predicted that 20 years later, I would be blessed with the opportunity to stand before you in my final days as the Principal of Gahanna Lincoln High School; one the most authentic, progressive, and caring high schools in Central Ohio. I could not have predicted how the thousands of students who allowed me to play a smart part in their life journey would enrich my life. I could not have predicted the many friendships, life-changing experiences, and growth opportunities I would have as a part of the Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools community.

I am forever grateful to the Board of Education, past and current superintendents, staff, and Gahanna parents for embracing my vision to create a school where every student has a sense of belonging, where students can find their purpose, and have as many opportunities to find their niche in a safe, loving, yet challenging environment; and a place that challenges students to be better each and every day. I am a better man, husband, father, and leader by being a part of the Gahanna Community.

Seniors, on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010, you walked into GLHS as scared, apprehensive, nervous, and fascinated freshmen on Freshmen Welcome Day. You were greeted by over 100 cheering Link Crew leaders prepped to accept you as a part of the Gahanna Lincoln Family. The next morning, on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, at the sound of the first period bell, you heard what would become a familiar start of the school day and it’s only fitting that you end your GLHS journey the way it began:

Good morning Gahanna Lincoln High School Class of 2014. This is Mr. Carter with a few parting words of wisdom.

• Don’t wish away what is NOW by focusing so much on what’s NEXT.

• Don’t be a victim of your circumstances, but be victorious in spite of your circumstances.

• Become the type of person who others are excited to see you come, and sad to see you go.

• Work to live, don’t live to work.

• There is no greater sound than the joy-filled laughter of a toddler.

• 80% of your joy or sorrow as an adult will come from the person you marry, so choose wisely.

• Give others the benefit of the doubt, just as much as you want to be afforded the same thing.

• Learn how to articulate how you feel. Use more words besides, “good,” “fine,” or “frustrated.”

• Use things, not people.

• It’s okay to love what you do as long as you love more the people whom you do it for.

• There are really only two things in life that you truly can control: your attitude and your actions.

• No matter how old you are, you will always be your parents’ baby.

• The more time you spend helping others, the less time you have to judge them.

• Your appearance, your words, and your behavior do matter. They always have and always will.

• No one can make you feel bad or guilty without your permission.

• “You have to teach others how to treat you.” -Samantha Carter

• Mind your manners. They are not old-fashioned or out of style. Simple phrases like, “please,” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” “sir,” “ma’am,” and “excuse me” go a long way.

• “Mind your business, so others won’t have to.” -David McGhee

• Your parents and guardians are much smarter than you think they are. You will soon find this out now that you are “grown.”

• If you have to ask if an article of clothing is too short, too high, too low, too tight, or too anything, then you probably shouldn’t wear it.

• Every aspect of your life doesn’t have to be shared on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Flicker, SnapChat, Kik or any other form of social media. Please Pause Before You Post.

• In all that you do, BE GREAT!

With something to think about, this is Mr. Carter. Make it a great life… or not. The choice is yours!

Be Great,

Dwight

Reflections From A Student Teacher: Edcamp Columbus

At Gahanna Lincoln High School, we have a number of student-teachers every quarter. I take this as a compliment to the quality teachers we have and the desire for colleges to have their student-teachers learn from great practitioners. I’ve been every impressed by one young man from The Ohio State University named, Johnathan Duff (@mrduffedu), because of the way he engages students in the classroom and for his eagerness to learn. He attended Edcamp Columbus, so I’ve asked him to share his experience with us:

edcamp columbus.png2

On Saturday March 1, 2014, the second annual EdCamp Columbus was held at Gahanna Lincoln High School’s Clark Hall. As a student teacher working in Clark Hall, I could not pass up the opportunity to engage other educators and to further my professional development in the very building I have been working in since August.

EdCamp Columbus comes out of the EdCamp movement that was started in Philadelphia in 2010. EdCamps are opportunities for educators to come together, share ideas and discuss what matters to them, and become drivers of their own professional development. EdCamp labels itself as an “unconference.” Rather that having a pre-determined schedule with session identified well in advance, the sessions held at each conference are determined by the attendees the day of the event. Have a topic you want to present or to discuss with fellow educators? Find an open slot on the day’s schedule (a.k.a. The Big Board) and write it in. Other attendees will see your proposal and those who are interested can attend. It is as simple as that.

A focus of my student teaching and my work as a Masters of Education student at the Ohio State University has been on making connections between my students’ service, their learning, and their understanding of civic engagement. I teach 5 sections of Government and work with all Seniors who have to complete a service component called the Service Activity Project. From a young age, service has always been very important to me. My focus on service learning has allowed me to align a personal passion, the reality of my classroom, and the research I am doing for Ohio State. Coming in to EdCamp Columbus, it was my hope that there would be a session related to service learning or civic engagement. As the time before the first session dwindled, openings remained on the Big Board and there were no sessions on service or civics. Seeing this as an opportunity, I decided to embrace the spirit of the “unconference” and proposed a session entitled “Connecting learning and service towards critical civic engagement.”

I was very happy to find out that I was not alone in my interest on these topics. The session was attended by a range of individuals – elementary teachers, high school teachers, government teachers, science teachers, and even a district’s technology specialist. Gahanna Jefferson Public Schools were well represented with GLHS science teacher, Jason Hardin, and Jefferson Elementary teacher, Ashley Sands, both attending and actively participating.

What is great about EdCamp is that sessions can be more of a discussion than a presentation. To borrow educational terminology, EdCamp is “attendee-centered” rather than “presenter-centered.” I kicked off the session by introducing myself and why I proposed the session – I am a pre-service teacher who is passionate about service and works with students who are doing service. I am interested in ways to connect students’ classroom learning with their service with the aim of getting them to think more critically about their role and engagement in society. Towards this end, I designed a service project in which students spent a Saturday conducting home repairs for an area senior. While successful, I am interested in other ways to improve my practice of connecting learning to service and civic engagement. Other session attendees shared their background and interest in the topics before we turned to the issues at hand.

Throughout the session, discussion flourished. As a group, we discussed the service requirements that exist in our schools and examples of service learning that we have participated in. Vibrant discussion was held around civic education and how it needs to start at a young age and extend beyond just the social studies classroom. The concept of the “common good” is not something that is limited to the study of the social world and thus work towards it should not be limited to social studies.

An item that became a major focus of the session was student choice. Rather than the focus and design of the service being determined by the teacher, attendees agreed that students should be involved throughout the process. Asking students “What do you care about? What do you want to work on?” will empower them and make their service and the learning that accompanies it all the more meaningful. The role of the teacher then becomes to guide and scaffold them through the process. Teachers also play the important part of helping students reflect on their service. Teachers should guide students to reflect before, during, and after their service. This can be done through discussion, writing assignments, and the strategic use of technology. It is important that the reflection that is done is critical and challenges the students to reflect on their lives and the nature of society and its institutions.

As the session was attended by a diverse group of educators, the topic of cross curricular collaboration was heavily discussed. Just as civic engagement can incorporate multiple content areas, so too can service and it need not be compartmentalized – government, science, and english teachers (just to name a few) can all collaborate. Ideas such as having students research the need and causes of the need of service, working with students to write grant proposals, using various mediums to document and tell the story of service all provide opportunities for skills from various content areas to be incorporated into service to others.

EdCamp sessions were blocked out in 50 minute time slots. By the end of our 50 minutes, the discussion was in full swing and participants were not ready to wrap up. It was decided that to continue our conversation, we would move our discussion online by creating a shared Google Doc. Herein lies the great value of EdCamp – not only do we get to come together with like minded educators to share ideas, but the conversation does not have to stop there. Bring a group of passionate educators together and the learning community they develop will extend beyond the Saturday they spent together in Clark Hall.

I applaud Johnathan for not only taking the time to attend his first Edcamp, but for having the courage to lead a session. This is an excellent example of what the Edcamp experience is all about!

Be Great,

Dwight

They Have A Voice

Vintage-Microphone-Wallpaper-music-28520386-1280-1024Students at Gahanna Lincoln High School never cease to amaze me. Last week, we held our second annual performance of, Diaspora: Voices of An Ever-Changing America. It’s a culmination of student talent, from monologues to spoken word and hip hop dancing. The purpose is to highlight the contributions African Americans have made to the culture of America.

Four staff members worked closely with students to organize the entire show: English teacher, Donja Bridges (@donjab); Dean of Curriculum, Tia Holliman (@Ms_Holliman); School Psychologist, Johnel Amerson; and Family Consumer Science teacher, Keah Germany. They collaborated with students to create a shared vision for the program, develop an action plan, and select the performances. They wanted to not only educate the audience, but to entertain. It’s awesome to see what students can do when they have an authentic audience, supportive staff members, constant feedback, and time to practice.

I was thoroughly impressed by all the presentations and asked two students to share their original poems with me so I could include them in this post. They have a voice. They have something to say, and they want to make a difference. The first poem is by senior, Cymone Turner, and it’s entitled, I’m A Beautiful Colored Girl:
I am beautiful
I am amazing
I am good enough

You think I’m being cocky no I’m just giving back the gallons of confidence I deserve being colored. What am I saying? We’ll let me break It down for you.

I look out into the world today
I see different colors races shades
All mixed together in this beautiful concoction we like to call the 21st century
Why is this such a big deal?
Ha well because back in the day my skin wasn’t right. It wasn’t acceptable.
I was nasty
I was disgusting
I was dirty
I was a foul beast
Now do I look like beast to you?
I mean I might bite but it won’t hurt for that long
Ha it wasn’t right to be Not white
Dark as night
Not shining bright
But your little chocolate bite
It was whack to be black
But I’m telling you it’s lame to be ashamed
I can’t help my skin I was born in
I can’t help that I am black
I’m happy to be Black
Matter fact I’m happy to be Cymone.

The second poem is by junior, Adam Davis, and it’s entitled, Real Life:

I’ve been thinking all day there’s a lot on my mind
And see I would rather say
It in the booth because in person I might hurt somebody’s feelings
And I’m not saying names I’m just speaking how I’m feeling
The truth hurts you can die if you lie
So I try not to reply
To those guys with wicked eyes
I can feel it when our hands shake
I’m not for you
If your man folds under pressure he’s not loyal
See he was just trying to make it to his house wearing a hood
But some how he is misunderstood
But July 13th the jury didn’t understand
That George Zimmerman was a grown man
And that Trayvon didn’t need any hands to help with his own plans
The sky’s the limit I am reaching for impossible
If Obama can be the president then anything is possible
And I’m just speaking for myself I know what I can do
But as long as you have God on your side there’s no stopping you
Young kid with a lot of heart
I was blinded by all of America but its ok because I hear them talk
I hear the whispers in the dark
And since they like to act they can play ground no park
When the sun shines that’s when the bees out
When it rains that when the killers and the thieves out
Blacks get treated like rats that’s why the Government throws cheese out
I was taught to rise above or he is out
And its a sad way of living
Some young brothers is dead some of them locked in prison
Some of them have jobs some of them don’t yet
Some of them still ride some of them switched sets
I’m just a diamond in the dirt
Forget all my people cause family comes first
I wish that was true
But that’s a lie too
Because I have a couple of cousins hating on what I do
How do you think that makes me feel?
Stuff real I have a lot of enemies I’m alone in this field
Death disrupts the streets so I’m thinking about my will
I am sitting at this table breaking bread into a meal
My mind is going crazy so I think that’s why I’m numb
And America being perfect is something its far from
I’m never happy cause I’m living in a stressed world
I’m from where people is dying and they stress girls
I wish I could bring Trayvon back
God if you listening run and tell that
And tell America that the justice system is all wrong
But life is like music its an end to all songs.

The audience was moved by Cymone and Adam’s words because they spoke with such confidence and authority. Their passion was evident and their message pierced our hearts. I am proud of the staff members for creating the conditions for not only Cymone and Adam to use their voices, but for all the participants in Diaspora. #glhsfamily

Be Great,

Dwight

Who’s Responsible for Making Learning Relevant?

learnWe have some great teachers at Gahanna Lincoln High School. They are not only passionate about teaching and learning, they are committed to making GLHS a place where all students have a sense of belonging. Many of them use our Graduate Profile to plan units that stretch our students.

One of our classes is Senior Project Composition and I’ve asked the two teachers who teach the course, Danielle Morrison (@morrisondani) and Donja Bridges (@donjab), to share their experience of teaching the class.

When we were first approached about teaching Senior Project Composition, a project-based senior English course, we were immediately excited for the opportunity to try something new. We had seen the impact the class made on students, but what we didn’t realize was how much it would impact us as teachers. As a result, it changed the way we taught not only this course, but other courses as well. The following are three things we’ve learned as a result of teaching Senior Project Composition that we feel every teacher can implement.

1. The best method of instruction is oftentimes just getting out of the way.
Trying to teach a project-based course through direct instruction is nearly impossible. With each student doing a different project, most of the course is individualized and student-directed. When we began teaching the course, we had to eliminate the mindset that the only way to teach was to provide direct instruction. We had to begin to see ourselves as “project-managers”, meeting with the students on a regular basis to conduct check-ins, helping the students figure out what they needed to learn next, and providing guidance and support as needed. We no longer needed to be experts in teaching content area; we needed to be experts in teaching students how to self-direct learning. By shifting the focus to teaching students how to learn, rather than teaching content, students were able to learn far more. Getting out of the way doesn’t mean not getting involved; it means shifting from teaching in front of the class to teaching beside the student.

2. It’s not the teacher’s job to make lessons relevant.
In a traditional classroom setting, teachers work hard to ensure that each lesson is relevant to the students. However, with thirty different students in a classroom, it is nearly impossible to make a single lesson relevant to every student. With the increased amount of student choice, it’s the students’ job to make learning relevant. Because the students’ choice makes learning relevant, the teacher’s job is to help them(students) to help themselves tie their learning into the course content.

3. The process offers more than the product.
Students learn more in the process of developing their project than they do with the final product itself. We have had students create amazing products, but we have also had students create products that can be considered “failures”. What we have learned is that students learn just as much, if not more, from the failures as they do the successes. In other words, the quality of their product does not always reflect the level of learning. A major component in our course is students being able to display a “learning stretch”. When we ask our students what their learning stretch is, many of them respond that they have learned better time management skills, how to collaborate with others, and other skills needed to be successful in their futures. Isn’t that what we want students to learn? The process is where the learning takes place; the product is what the students get to do as a result of their learning.

I appreciate Danielle and Donja for giving us a glimpse of the learning process in Senior Project Composition!

Be Great,

Dwight

PLN Blogging Challenge: 11 Random Facts

Someone Gave Me Homework… Now It’s My Turn
A member of my PLN and friend, Patrick Larkin, challenged me to share 11 random facts about myself and to answer 11 questions as part of a chain-blogging task. I have great respect and admiration for Patrick, so I am glad to meet his challenge!

factMy 11 Random Facts
1. I am four minutes older than my twin brother, Dwayne Carter. Yep, that’s right.
2. I am a two-time NCAA Division III Track and Field All-American.
3. My older sister, Nicki, is the most creative person I know. She makes her own clothes, jewelry, and she paints.
4. I used to draw portraits.
5. I have no desire to drink coffee. None.
6. I took Ballroom and Latin dance lessons with my wife as one of her Christmas presents. 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8. 1-2-3, 4-5-6, 7-8.
7. I didn’t attend the Ohio State University, but I get choked up when I hear Carmen Ohio live at an OSU football game. O-H-I-O!
8. I love old school hip hop (Run DMC, LL Cool J, Das Effect, EPMD, Tribe Called Quest, you get the picture).
9. Fred Hammond is my all-time favorite Gospel song artist. Period.
10. I am an HGTV addict.
11. I got braces when I was 22 years old and a first year teacher of 8th graders. Awkward!

My Responses to Patrick’s Questions
1. “Have you ever been to Massachusetts?” I can’t say that I have, but it’s now on my Bucket List.
2. “What is your favorite sports team?” The Ohio State University Buckeyes (I’m from Ohio and it’s kinda expected, you know?)
3. “Besides you, name a blogger that you would recommend to others.” Just one is tough… Justin Tarte is the man.
4. “When you were little, what did you dream of becoming?” A high school principal of one of the largest schools in Central Ohio! No seriously, I dreamt of becoming a teacher.
5. “How far away do you live from where you grew up?” About 20 minutes.
6. “What is your favorite meal?” Breakfast. It’s a must.
7. “If you were offered a free trip anywhere in the world, where would you go?” To the Mediterranean.
8. “Do you prefer Macs or PC’s?” Good question. I have to say PC.
9. “Other than the birth of your children and/or the day you were married or met your soul mate, what was the best day of your life?” The day my wife and I drove a Go Cart through the city of Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It was awesome!
10. “What is the best movie you’ve seen in the last year?” Best Man Holiday
11. “What is the last live concert you’ve attend?” Fred Hammond and Radicals For Christ. It was many years ago, but it was an amazing worship experience.

Now, For Your Homework Assignment
1. Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
2. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3. Answer 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4. List 11 bloggers
5. Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate and let the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
6. Post back here (in the comment section) with a link to your finished assignment.

My 11 Bloggers
1. Derek McCoy
2. Jeff Zoul
3. Kevin Dengel
4. Jeremy Lahman
5. Todd Keenan
6. Fred Donelson
7. Chuck Banks
8. Pernille Ripp
9. Jimmy Casas
10. Jose Vilson
11. Reed Gillespie

My 11 Questions for You
1. What’s the best book you’ve read in the last year?
2. What person in history would you want to have dinner with?
3. What’s the one thing you care about the most?
4. Who is your all time favorite cartoon character?
5. What was your favorite extracurricular activity in high school?
6. Growing up, were you a nerd, jock, teacher’s pet, loner, or extravert?
7. What’s your dream vacation?
8. What’s one thing you would invent that would positively change lives?
9. If you weren’t an educator, what would do for a living?
10. If you were to give a TED Talk, what would be your topic?
11. What’s your sentence?

Be Great,

Dwight

Connecting With New Teachers

connecting-with-othersA couple of years ago, a second year teacher stopped by my office after school and asked if we could talk. The look on her face had me concerned so, of course, I welcomed her to have a seat. I thought she was going to share her concerns about student behavior or wanted help to solve a problem. Man, was I was wrong. What she said to me made a lasting impression…

As soon as she started to talk, tears started to flow from her eyes and she apologetically said, “I accepted a position in another district.” I shallowed hard because I was completely shocked. I felt blindsided, and immediately started to ask myself where we went wrong, where I went wrong as the principal. She said she needed a change, that she didn’t always feel supported or heard. Her comments were difficult to hear, but I appreciated her honesty. It was at the point that I vowed to myself to do everything within my control to prevent this from happening again under my watch as building principal.

One of our goals at Gahanna Lincoln High School is for every student, teacher, and parent to have a sense of belonging. It’s a lofty goal and we take it seriously. Losing that young, promising, and passionate teacher showed me that I, we, needed to do a better job of connecting with our new teachers. We hired 17 new teachers this school year; some with zero years of experience and a few with 4-6 years of experience. Nevertheless, I decided to meet with them once a month in an informal setting to simply give us an opportunity to connect, share, reflect, learn from each other.

It’s key to keep these meetings informal. There is no agenda, the teachers don’t have to prepare anything, and they aren’t assigned anything to do. We just talk. We first met in our Library Media Center in September, but decided together to meet at Panera, which is on our campus, for the rest of the year.It’s been amazing to hear their stories, their reflective thoughts about their craft, their suggestions on how we can get better, and to see how they support each other.

Admittedly, not all of them come each month and I’m fine with that. It’s simply an invitation to attend, not a mandate. I have asked a few questions to guide our discussion, but most of the time we go where the conversation takes us. Some of the questions asked are as follows:

*What has been the most successful thing you’ve done so far?
*How are you taking care of yourself physically?
*What do you do for fun?
*Have we lived up to what we promised you?
*What’s one thing we can do differently?
*What are you planning to change second semester?

Once I ask a question, I simply sit and listen. It’s great to hear their responses and how they build on each other’s comments. Before we concluded our most recent meeting, I asked, “Are these meetings helpful?” Following are some of their responses:

*“I think they are fun. I look forward to them each month.”
*”It’s good to see and talk with people outside your department. It’s good to learn from others.”
*”You make us feel like we are important to you.”
*”It’s good to hear what the other new teachers are thinking.”

I appreciate their time, their honestly, and their commitment to the GLHS Family! I can only imagine how much better we will be as we progress through the second half of this school year. If you have any ideas of how you connect with new teachers or suggestions to make this process better, please feel free to comment.

Be Great,

Dwight

Photo credit: http://www.erelationshipcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/connecting-with-others.jpg

Remember Sydnee

“Remember Sydnee 10-20-13: Buckle Up. Dnt txt n drv. Give Life.”
This is a very simple, yet powerful message that the parents of Sydnee Madison Williams would like for you to remember. Sydnee was a junior at Gahanna Lincoln High School and Eastland Career Center.

Sydnee Williams

On Friday, October 18th, Sydnee, along with two of her friends, were in a tragic, single car accident and in an instant, the lives of many would change. Unfortunately, Sydnee was texting while driving and lost control of the car. However, Sydnee is so much more than the victim of a tragic car accident. She was a daughter, niece, friend, and confidant. She brought joys to others and had a bright future. As I listened to many stories others shared about Sydnee in the hours and days following the accident, I learned so much about her.

• I learned that she was a fighter. She overcame a challenging childhood with the help of her aunt and uncle, who later adopted her.
• I learned that she had a very special relationship with one of our elementary guidance counselors. Sydnee found refuge in talking with Mrs. J. Sydnee visited with her days before the accident. This proves the significance of positive relationships.
• I learned that she was a close friend to many. She would lend an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, and a warm embrace to others often.
• I learned that she was unashamed in her faith. She was a worshipper and did so freely and openly whenever she felt the urge.
• I learned that she was a “child-whisperer”, meaning little children would instantly calm down when she was present.
• I learned that, like most teens, she had her struggles.

As I talked with her parents in the hospital the night after the accident, I distinctly remember her mom saying, “She always wears her seatbelt. I just don’t understand why she wasn’t wearing it…” I believed her and still do…

The next 24 hours were unbearable. We waited for news, any news about Sydnee. Finally, I received a text message around noon on Sunday, October 20th from Sydnee’s Youth Pastor. She was gone. It was so tragic and all I could think about were her parents’ faces as her dad stood at the foot of her hospital bed and her mom sat closely at her side holding her hand and talking to her; tears streaming down their faces. I thought, “How are they going to going to make it through this? How can we help?”

Her mom and dad are hurting, no doubt. They long to see her smile, hear her laugh, or hear her sing again, but they have found the courage to use this as an opportunity to save others’ lives. They are courageous. They have embraced what has occurred and have found the strength in sharing a very simple, yet powerful message:
“Remember Sydnee 10-20-13. Buckle Up. Dnt txt n drv. Give Life.”

So, in honor of Sydnee, I encourage you to wear the beautiful sky blue bracelet with the above message on it and when you are tempted to text while driving, glance at the bracelet. Take a second to buckle your seat belt before you turn on the ignition of your car. Remain focused on the road and eliminate as many distractions as possible while driving. I am embarrassed to admit that I have texted while driving. However, I’m also proud to say that it hasn’t happened since Sydnee’s accident. I signed a pledge at her viewing and vowed to my wife that I will no longer text and drive. I “Remember Sydnee 10-20-13. Buckle Up. Dnt txt n drv. Give Life.”