Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Are you preparing your students for their future?

Recently in my doctoral program, I came across this article posted by a colleague in one of my courses. As a K-12 educational leader, it made me ponder the questions: Are we doing all we can to prepare our students for the future? Are they learning the necessary skills from us that they need in order to perform and function in the world? Teaching and learning are changing, are we keeping up?

This article linked below describes one college who is now requiring all students to successfully complete at least one online course prior to graduation. Interesting.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Governor Rounds Keynote

Governor Rounds opened his keynote with words of praise and recognition for all of the work to provide students in South Dakota with the best possible learning experiences, including the TIE conference as an opportunity for educators to interact with one another and with cutting edge innovations for effective technology integration.

In this year's Technology Counts report from Education Week, South Dakota received a grade of A for their support and use of technology. The objectives of the 2010 initiative are being met, with an emphasis on 21st C skills.

Technology can help teachers to make learning more engaging. Through the Classroom Connections program, laptops help to bridge the digital divide by providing all students with access. Students, teachers, parents, and community members are also coming together more often to interact with one another, and learn both from one another as well as with one another.

Today's educators in South Dakota are making a difference in the lives of students by preparing them for the global economy.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Will Richardson's keynote address on blogging and the use of blogs in education was a very enlighting address. When you take that in perspective of how students are ueing their computers and how we as educators try to block them from so many sites it helps one to realize that we need to change our approach. Students are using these tools and as educators it will be our challenge to mange this medium in an educational way rather than try to keep them from it.

It may take us a while to reach a comfort level with this but like all the other changes in education we will adapt and after such use becomes common practice we will wonder what took us so long to get there.

Supporting a G&V Curriculum with Curriculum Mapping

Tim Mitchell, Superintendent from Chamberlain School District, shared insights about how the Chamberlain school district is using mapping to obtain a guaranteed and viable curriculum. As they engage in this process, they are utilizing professional learning communities as a vehicle to reach their goals.

Mitchell started the work in his school with the three C's of community building:

  • confront the brutal facts
  • communication (effective)
  • collaboration

One of the sources Mitchell has used to build his own knowledge around professional learning communities is On Common Ground by Richard DuFour.

Mitchell shared some of the basic tenents related to Marzano's work around the idea of a guaranteed and viable curriculum. A curriculum is guaranteed when you can be assured that every student, regardless of teacher or subject area is guaranteed to come in contact with the curriculum the schools has deemed important. A curriculum is viable when it is appropriately sequenced and when there is an appropriate amount of time scheduled to cover the content and skills. Mitchell believes curriculum mapping is an appropriate vehicle to obtaining a guaranteed and viable curriculum. It offers a 21st Century approach to managing curriculum. The technology supports the development of an authentic record of what gets taught.

Mitchell highlighted information about how the unpacked standards are integrated into the TechPaths curriculum mapping software. This feature allows teachers to design curriculum from the standards, rather than entering units and then finding the standards that match after the fact. TechPaths holds monthly conference calls so that school leaders can be updated about new developments with the software.

In the Chamberlain district, everybody maps. School administrators, including Mitchell, model the process by mapping professional development activities for the district. Chamberlain utilizes a curriculum mapping teacher-leadership team to help guide the initiative. This group takes responsiblity for organizing the mapping activities, solves problems and provides mentoring support for other teachers. Curriculum mapping requires a significant amount of work and a sustained committment in order to collect that data that allows educational communities to utilize the data to inform instructional decisions.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

TIE Conference - Horsted Presentation

Welcome to TIE 2007. The keynote on Sunday, April 22 was Paul Horsted with photos of the Black Hills from the late 1800's and his own matching photos from today's view. I really enjoyed the presentation and found the process of aligning the shots fascinating. You can view his photos at:

I'm looking forward to the rest of the conference. Go TIE!!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Make Mentoring Matter

The April issue of The Learning Principal focused on effective mentoring for school principals. While there is much research to demonstrate the value of mentoring programs for teachers, school leaders are often left in much the same "sink or swim" situation that is said to account for teacher attrition in the first three years. According to the authors, "Principal mentors can provide the rich set of job-embedded learning experiences that develop instructional leadership competencies." Too often mentoring for administrators has focused on tasks like observing a staff meeting which do little to help the aspiring leader understand "how to set the tone and culture for high performance and continuous school improvement." Mentors need to know how to be a good mentor, and the new principal needs a mentor who can help them get beyond the day to day management of a school to also focus on long term leadership.