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

GahannaThon: Bigger Than Ourselves. Bigger Than Before!

The students at Gahanna Lincoln High School are givers. They give of their time, their talent, and their treasure. Many of our clubs and extracurricular activities focus on making the lives of others a little easier, which makes our staff and community extremely proud.

Last year, members of Student Council wanted to start a new activity, called GahannaThon, to take the place of our Winter Formal Dance. After they presented their idea to the Administrative Team, we embraced it and watched something magical happen! The students tagged it, “Dancing With a Purpose” and raised a little more than $8,000! To say we were proud of them, is an understatement.

I’ve asked the GLHS Student Council President, Hannah Kesig, to explain what GahannaThon is and why we do it. Hannah is an amazing young lady. She has emerged into an energetic leader of her peers. She was on Student Council’s GahannaThon Committee last year and now has become so passionate about this event!

GahannaThon

GahannaThon is a 6 hour dance marathon that raises money for pediatric cancer. All proceeds go to Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Oncology and Hematology unit. The money will help pay for new medical equipment for treatment and fun activities hosted by the hospital that allow a kid to feel like a “normal” kid again. As a school, our goal is to raise $15,000 for this wonderful cause.

We do GahannaThon for the kids. GahannaThon celebrates life and our little heroes battling cancer. They are fighting for their lives, and we are here to help. GahannaThon is on February 22, 2014 from 6:00pm-12:00am. It is going to be quite the celebration with many student performances and activities hosted by clubs around the school. Donations can be given online at http://www.helpmakemiracles.org/event/gahannathon2014/ or by cash/check in the GLHS concession stand about two weeks before the event. GahannaThon is a great way to give back to the community!

Gahanna Lincoln students will unite as one for all the kids who have fought cancer, will fight cancer, or are currently battling cancer. When sharing the good news of GahannaThon, we will be using the hashtags #glhsftk and #GahannaThon2014 on social media. One day we will dance for joy, until then we dance for life!

We dance for the kids. Why do you dance?

Be Great,

Dwight

Guest Post by English Teacher, Matt McGregor: The Best Meetings Ever

At Gahanna Lincoln High School, we’ve been moving towards becoming a Professional Learning Community and not just doing “PLCs”. It’s been a challenging process in that time is the obvious obstacle. However, a group of teachers has modeled exactly what we want to make happen systemically. I’ve asked English teacher and National Guard Veteran, Matt McGregor, to share his insight on why PLCs are effective for our English 9 teachers.

I believe people working together can solve problems, problems that would be insurmountable to individuals working alone. I have witnessed this phenomenon firsthand in wildly different careers in my life, from the battlefields of Iraq to public education. This idea, in education, is often expressed as Professional Learning Communities (PLC). I define PLCs simply as teachers working collaboratively in order to improve student learning. As with most ideas, one can find studies that support the idea of PLCs and studies that claim the opposite, but in my experience, PLCs are an extremely effective strategy for increasing student achievement.

I have been in the Ohio Army National Guard since 1998. The Army runs meetings very well. We had a meeting agenda and template for every meeting I attended. Entire Army manuals have been written to help in planning and running meetings. When I joined a PLC at our school in 2010, the group consisted of some of the most caring, talented teachers I’ve ever met. However, they did not have experience in how to run a successful meeting. These meetings were ineffective and didn’t accomplish much. I was in the midst of getting my Masters in Educational Leadership and was reading Creating Dynamic Schools Through Mentoring, Coaching, and Collaboration, by Judy Carr. Carr had an example agenda that was similar to some of the Army templates I’d used. I adapted it and created an agenda on a PowerPoint for our next PLC.

PLC1I showed up early for that next meeting, set up, and asked to run the meeting, and they humored me. We began by creating a goal for the PLC and then discussed ground rules for all of the meetings. After the ground rules were in place, we assigned roles and responsibilities, decided on when the first common assessment would take place and what it should focus on, and planned for the next meeting. At first this structure was uncomfortable for the group, but we agreed. This was all accomplished on time, and we were walking out the door at 50 minutes. One of my colleagues, who has taught at GLHS for eight years, informed me after the meeting that it was the most productive meeting she’d ever attended.
PLC2

Teachers were enthusiastic for the next meeting. This organization wasn’t anything I had invented; I simply implemented proven practices I’d learned.

We learned as a group that first year, not just about our teaching styles but about ourselves asPLC3 well. We had disagreements but always came to a consensus. As a group, we created four common assessments based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from scratch. We collected and analyzed data from those assessments and then compared our data side-by-side with PowerPoint and a projector. Through the data, we discovered the strategies and curriculum that were most effective and replicated them, and as a result, our teaching changed. We were able to eliminate redundancy and focus on what students were and were not learning. We specifically and purposely addressed these issues. We also learned to trust each other.

I’ve found there is one question to ask in order to see how much a PLC is truly accomplishing: “What do you do for the students who have already learned the material?” As teachers, we all know it is very easy to focus on the students who aren’t achieving acceptable results. It is another beast entirely to design curriculum for students who already know the material and want to be challenged, and are sitting beside students who don’t. We don’t pretend to have all the answers, and that last question is an issue we will be addressing ad infinitum. But we are and will continue to address it. We have an amazing group of very smart teachers who truly care about students. We can accomplish anything.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

I couldn’t agree more.

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

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.”

A Path to Career and College Readiness

Career and College ReadinessA common phrase in education and the news today is “career and college readiness.” Schools have developed graduate profiles, mission statements, and strategic plans to ensure students are career and college ready. However, this really isn’t anything new. We at GLHS, like most schools, have had a focus on career and college readiness for decades. We’ve become more intentional in our efforts and one way is by providing a three hour delayed start schedule for students to take the PLAN and PSAT.

On Wednesday, October 16th GLHS is offering the PLAN Test for our sophomores and the PSAT/NMSQT for our juniors from 7:35-10:25, and an all-day ACT Boot Camp for seniors. Freshmen students will have a specific program that day which will be outlined in another post.

The ACT PLAN is essentially a practice ACT to help sophomore students identify their academic progress and strengths midway through their high school career. In addition, it’s an exploration of career and training options. The results of this test will help sophomore students develop a plan for the next two years of high school to ensure they are career and college ready. So far, about 400 of our sophomore students are registered to take the PLAN. Our goal is 100%, so if you would like your student to participate, please contact the Guidance Office at (614)478-5508 to get more information. There is a $12 fee to take the test.

The Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) is for junior students. The purpose of the PSAT is to measure students’ critical reading skills, math problem-solving skills, and writing skills. Some reasons why it’s important for students to take the PSAT are to:
• “Receive feedback on your strengths and weaknesses on skills necessary for college study. You can then focus your preparation on those areas that could most benefit from additional study or practice.
• See how your performance on an admissions test might compare with that of others applying to college.
• Enter the competition for scholarships from NMSC (grade 11).
• Help prepare for the SAT. You can become familiar with the kinds of questions and the exact directions you will see on the SAT.” -(CollegeBoard, 2013)

Currently, nearly 340 juniors have signed up to take the PSAT. If you want your child to participate and he/she has not signed up, please contact the Guidance Office as soon as possible. The registration fee is $14.00.

For seniors who are scheduled to take the ACT on Saturday, October 26, we are offering a six hour ACT Boot Camp in the Commons Area on the 3rd floor of Clark Hall. The focus of the camp is test taking strategies and it has a proven track record of improving students’ scores in other Central Ohio districts. The camp costs $45 and it’s facilitated by Test Prep Seminar, an ACT/SAT Prep organization. The number of our students who take the ACT has steadily increased over the last five years so we want to provide another way for them to be successful on this test. Through the Boot Camp, each student receives a workbook with twenty-seven practice tests and detailed answer explanations AND a test-taking strategy guide. Seniors who are interested should register by October 14th. To do so, please return the registration form that was sent to you a few weeks ago along with a $45 check made out to Gahanna Lincoln High School. One of the benefits of this camp is that it’s offered during the school day.

For sophomore, junior, and senior students who are not taking the PLAN, PSAT, or participating in the ACT Boot Camp, first period will begin at 10:35. It’s a normal school day for freshmen who are to report to first period at the regular time.

Be Great,

Dwight

Talk About It

compassion
This is my 20th year as an educator and I’ve had the privilege to serve in the Gahanna Jefferson Public School district during this entire time. I’ve grown very close to many staff and faculty, students, parents, and community members over these years, which is easy to do when you spend so much time in the same place. I care deeply about our students. I always have and always will.

I have seen many changes in young people over time (which is something all adults say as we get older and wiser) and I am in awe by the opportunities they have these days and what they can accomplish. I am also in awe by how cruel they can be at times. I am a strong advocate for technology, mobile devices, and using digital tools to learn, share, and communicate. What am I not an advocate for is cruelty towards others.

As I was watching my daughter, Gabrielle, play with her toys on the floor yesterday evening, I read an article about a 12 year old girl who committed suicide because she was relentless tormented by her classmates who posted cruel and anonymous things about her on a number of social media sites. It has become so easy to post anonymously, which is nothing more than a cowardly way to communicate. There is no courage, accountability, or a sense of responsibility with anonymous posts or comments. I encourage you to read the article and use it as a guide to begin a conversation with your son or daughter.

One of our goals is to create a safe, positive school climate where there is a sense of belonging. However, what can undermine this sense of security is talk about itcruelty towards others. This is not a society problem, a school problem, a parent problem, or a problem with “those kids.” It’s our problem because we are society; however, we can do our part to solve it in our community. After you read it, take one small action by talking with your son or daughter about their digital lives. Ask them to show you their social media sites (Instagram, Twitter, ask.fm, Vine, Facebook, Kick, YouTube channel, etc.). Talk to them about their experiences and ask for ways they can be a part of the solution.

October is Anti-Bullying Month and for the last three years, we’ve launched a Pause Before You Post Campaign to remind us all to think before we post anything on social media, email, or text message. It’s been successful and I would like to do more. October is also when we begin our Community University Workshops for parents. I am considering a Digital Citizenship workshop that will focus on ways we can encourage our students (and ourselves) to be good citizens in the virtual world. Our digital footprint can open doors or close doors based on how we represent ourselves through our posts. Google is the new business card. I will let you know the date and time of the Community University workshop.

Be Great,

Dwight

Creativity: Day 1 Reflections from the Jostens Renaissance National Conference

JRNCI’ve attended the Jostens Renaissance National Conference many times and each year I walk away feeling inspired and enthused about my purpose as an educator. While some of the faces in the leadership team are new this year, the foundational principles are still very much alive: relationships, collaboration, sharing ideas, learning, engagement, and fun.

As always, the keynote presenters, featured presenters, and breakout sessions leave the attendees excited to implement something new in their classrooms, schools, or school community. What’s unique about this conference is that about 30% of the attendees are students! Students who attend are either formal or informal leaders at their schools. They are just as engaged as all the educators and bring a certain level of energy that is contagious.

As I reflect on day 1, the word that comes to mind is CREATIVITY. Presenter, Kevin Honeycutt (@kevenhoneycutt), is an expert on meaningful learning and he shared several tidbits of information that piqued my interest. His presentation was creatively engaging and he stressed how we can harness the power of technology and relationships to make learning more meaningful for ourselves and for our students:

“Administrators have to create a culture that appreciates teachers who try new things.” We are all creative and simply need the freedom to put a creative idea into action, reflect on the results, and try again. It’s easy to criticize what’s new and it takes courage to embrace, empower, and enthusiastically share what risk takers are doing. Protect the risk-takers from the naysayers by publicly recognizing, rewarding, and reinforcing this behavior. The result: more risk-taking behavior by teachers!

“Emotion+Learning=Forever Learning.” I think about the most favorite teachers at GLHS and who comes to mind are the ones who make learning meaningful by making emotional connections with the content through song, performance, meaningful projects,by creating a supportive and collaboration classroom environment, and setting high expectations. The students respond by being loyal, working hard for the teacher, and removing any walls that would prevent learning from occurring. As a result, students stay after school for hours and on weekends working together to solve problems, complete quality projects, or to perfect a performance. It’s amazing to see!

“We have to teach kids how to love to learn.” We are all creative in our own way and the more we foster creativity in our classrooms and schools, the more we will inevitably help students to learn how to love learning like they used to in their primary years. This is the type of culture we ought to strive to create!

The keynote presenter, Erik Wahl (@erikwahl), moved the crowd! His story not only resonated with many in the audience, but it was one of triumph. He demonstrated how we can unleash our own creativity and the creativity of our students by learning how to “UNTHINK”. Following are a few nuggets I gleamed from his presentation:

“If we take ourselves too seriously, we block ourselves from performing under pressure.” The ability to perform under pressure not only sparks creative problem solving, but it opens up more opportunities for personal growth and opportunities to help others. I have a tendency to take myself way too seriously at times and it’s during these times that I am less creative, less effective, and become almost paralyzed with insecurity. I look to my Savior, my wife, my administrative team, and my PLN during these times to help me let go and just do. Eric reminded me of this today as shared passionate, creative stories that fed the audience.

“We are capable of so much more than what we have been preconditioned to do.” Mandates, accountability, and standardization squelch creativity. One would be hard-pressed to find an educator who doesn’t believe this statement. However, we have to break through these mandated, or often times, self-made barriers to be remarkable at our craft. This resonated with me becuase it’s one of the reasons I continue to participate in the Jostens Renaissance National Conference and connect with others via social media.

I am still processing all of the events of day 1 and have not settled on specific ways to fully tap into the creativity of our students and staff at Gahanna Lincoln High School. We do, however, have pockets where creative lesson design and learning experiences for students and staff abound, but I want more of it; for the sake of our students and our school community. So, what are you going to do to unleash the creativity in your classroom or school?

Be Great,

Dwight

Characteristics Students Want in Teachers

I’ve been following the hashtag, #stuvoice, on Twitter for awhile and have been inspired by the tweets, links, and questions about providing a platform for students to share their thoughts about school. We have some very dynamic student leaders at Gahanna Lincoln High School and after reviewing some of the #stuvoice tweets, it dawned on me that It’s been several months since I’ve taken the time to talk with a group of students. So, I set up a meeting with members of my school’s Student Council a couple of weeks ago. We had a great conversation and I was enlightened by their insight!

I went into the conversation with two questions and ended up asking a third question based on their responses. Before I go on, I have to say how impressed I was with their candor, enthusiasm, and maturity! The three questions I asked them are as follows:

* What are the characteristics of a great teacher?
* What does learning look like at Gahanna Lincoln High School?
* What is missing in your school experience?

I will only focus on the first question in this post and will share the answers from the other two questions in a later post. Since it’s the hiring season and we are looking for the very best candidates, I wanted to know, from the student perspective, what characteristics make a great teacher. As an administrative team, we have a list of characteristics we look for, but it’s important to know what the students think.

Question: “What are the characteristics of a great teacher?”

Answers:
* Passionate and Enthusiastic about teaching
* Knowledgeable
* Cares about students
* Flexible
* Understanding
* Willing to work 1 on 1 with students
* Organized
* Shows one’s personality
* Personable/Approachable
* Willingness to connect with students beyond the classroom
* Optimistic
* Devoted
* Creative with school work and working with students
* Engaging
* Able to reflect and grow
* Involved with aspects of school outside of teaching
* Treats everyone equally
* Clear expectations
* Direct communication
* Respectable

As I previously stated, I appreciate their candor. They were really thoughtful with their answers, they added to each other’s responses, and were pretty much in agreement about these characteristics. The bottom line is they want teachers who take the time to get to know them, who will help them learn, and who care about them as people. I plan to share this list with my Administrative Team and Department Chairpersons so that we are better equipped to bring in the best candidates to be a part of Team GLHS!

Be Great,



Dwight

Blended Learning at GLHS

The concept of blended learning has become a hot topic in a relatively short time. As more states are looking at ways to make technology integration a part of the learning process, blended learning has gained momentum. This momentum has been created because of our need to adapt to a technologically connected and digital world in which we now live.

In June, 2013, Ohio Governor, John Kasich, chose Gahanna Lincoln High School’s Clark Hall to announce his blended learning initiative (Ohio SB 316). We were chosen because Governor Kasich recognized Clark Hall as a hub of blended learning and 21st Century learning. So that we are all operating with the same definition of blended learning, following is how blended learning is described in Ohio SB 316:

“…the delivery of instruction in a combination of time in a supervised physical location away from home and online delivery whereby the student has some element of control over time, place, path, or pace of learning.”

Even though Clark Hall is a model of blended learning today, our blended learning journey began about seven years ago when we had two teachers who designed their courses (an English 11 course and an Accounting course) in such a way that students did not have to attend class every day. They solidified a grant to get a set of laptop computers, designed a course on Moodle, and were free to explore. Students had to earn the right to use flex time (time outside of the normal class period) by meeting the agreed upon standards (grades, attendance, etc.) and they excelled.

Fast forward to the last two years, several GLHS teachers (Ryan Kitsmiller @rkitsmiller, Dwayne Marshall @marshall133, Katie Anderson @kpa12, Fred Donelson @mrdglhs to name a few) have created blended learning environments by using Google Apps or Moodle to house their course content. This fall, five teachers, including two previously mentioned, took a class to learn how to develop an online course. Through this class, they either enhanced their skill or learned to develop an engaging and rigorous course beyond just making worksheets digital. Three of the teachers have recently launched their blended courses. We will soon have several courses where students will have the option to take it completely as an online course.

The key components of blended learning include:
*Connectivity- access to web with a mobile device is essential because it makes learning an anytime, anywhere event.
*Relevant course content-student voice and choice in how they want to learn and present their learning.
*Engaging material, such as videos, blogging, inquiry-based questions.
*Collaboration- the opportunity for students to work together to solve problems and assist one another anytime, anywhere digitally.
*Feedback- teacher and peer feedback on blogs or other web 2.0 sites
*Time Management-students must plan according to maximize their time

Blended learning is not just the future of education, it’s our current reality as we have integrated technology, provided relevant professional development, and created an environment that is focused on learning.

Be Great,

Dwight