iNACOL 2015: Tuesday Lunchtime Keynote on Educational Leadership

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Tom Stritikus, Gates Foundation

  • 95% of hs students say they want a college degree
  • 14% of black students graduate college or career ready
  • three ideas will transform education: high standards for all students, effective teaching, personalized learning
  • care about the technological infrastructure to bring PL to life in a classroom and to scale in a system
  • scale is essential: not enough to create programs that only impact a few students; Gates wants all students to experience high quality learning studies
  • a data-driven organization

Dallas Dance, Superintendent Baltimore County Public Schools [not Baltimore City]

  • “Creating a culture of deliberate excellence for every student, every school, every community.” – Blueprint 2.0
  • Globally Competitive Graduates: To equip every student with the critical 21st century skills needed to be globally competitive, BCPS must ensure that every school has an equitable, effective digital learning environment, and eveyr student has equitable access..
  • Focusing on every student: close the achievement gap, etc.
  • Bluepoint 2.0 focuses on equity
  • “Until there is a clear perception that the leadership sets high expectations for all students, I do not think our teachers will create an environment where all students can thrive.” – Jon Galla, Class of 2014, Hereford High School
  • the shift from equality to equity
  • equality = every kid gets the same thing
  • equity = every kid getting what they need at that moment
  • 8 conversions: curriculum, instruction, assessment, organizational development, infrastructure, policy, budget, communications
  • curriculum conversion required ‘hearts and souls’
  • “Great leaders see the need for a major change and will do whatever is necessary to make the status quo seem more dangerous than launching into the unknown” – John P. Kotter, Why Transformation Efforts Fail

Buddy ____, Superintendent of Eminence, KY Schools

  • 5 years ago, 10% of enrollment was leaving, 2 mobile devices in the whole district for students and staff
  • a map mindset does not work, i.e. he wanted to create a map for other districts to follow but realized that didn’t work
  • instead, he follows the compass mindset, focused on the goal / objective, with missteps still bringing him back to the original goal
  • a ‘Yes…And’ philosophy
  • an intersection of best practice and next practice

iNACOL 2015: Sound Practices and Must-Haves for Online and Blended Schools to Customize Legally Sound Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

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Kevin McKenna, Esq; Dr. Joanne Barnett, CEO, the PA Virtual School

How do IEPs account for the differences in environments between face-to-face learning and blended / online learning? We don’t. IDEA is silent on blended / online and we are still responsible for implementing it.

How is a school defining LRE in terms of face-to-face vs. blended? And does the IEP reflect that?

How does a school service a rural student who needs an OT, with the closest being over 100 miles away?

History / Background

  • 1991 MN passed laws creating the first legislated charter school (Stat 120.064 (1991))
  • 8 results-oriented, student-ctrd public schools formed; City Academy, the first, in St. Paul, opened in 92
  • at least 24 states + DC have blended schools

Hypothetical 1

  • Charter School didn’t allow student with autism and mild visual impairment to take online course sequence b/c student required accoms and aide to access curricular materials that school couldn’t provide in their online program [what does last part mean: that…program?]
  • start with IEP
  • what resources are available?
  • can’t discriminate against students
  • can’t deny FAPE
  • if they can’t do online, print materials must be provided
  • assistive technology must be provided
  • can’t exclude student from GC (LRE)
  • child find: schools need to find students with needs before OCR does
  • OCR will consult state agency; if state agency had advised and school does nothing….
  • can we really afford to provide (extreme) services? can you afford not to (in expectation of legal fees / rulings)?

[This started off promisingly but became too general as it went on: 504, ADA, IDEA, etc.]

iNACOL 2015: Growing Pains & Gains: Cultivating a Positive School Culture with Increased Accountability, Implementation of Policy, and Data Driven Instructionchallenge

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Wisconsin Virtual Academy

Background / The Early Years

  • authorized by the McFarland School District in 2009
  • seems like most teachers hired had no online experience
  • early students had learning coach and teachers; teachers had head of school
  • 2009-10 had 3 senior graduates; 2 came to live ceremony
  • WI state law changed the cap for how many students could be enrolled in virtual schools, which increased the enrollment significantly
  • A school of 80 with 3 graduates has now become 1000
  • HS employs 36 teachers, a 620% staffing increase
  • Content of teams of 1 have become as many as 6-teacher teams
  • Now students have multiple supports and the learning coach has supports as well
  • students have guidance counselors; more English teachers offering different courses; teachers have an academic administrator b/w teachers and head of school; teachers have a dept lead, a PLC (lead), a mentor teacher (if new), and instructional coaches
  • 2009-14 grad rate increased 23.3%; 93% of AP-exam-taking students earned college credit

Growing Pains

  • challenge of supporting a growing at-risk population
  • difficulty in distinguishing between true academic needs and disengagement and how to address them differently
  • some potential solutions:
    • different homeroom / advisory models
    • grade level advisors
    • increased guidance staff allows for more individualized course selection
    • data driven instruction, especially to assess engagement vs. academic support
    • focused on staff members as learning coaches for the disengaged: daily reminders via text or call, etc.
    • students come to a face-to-face orientation (but, those that showed to the face-to-face would have transitioned more easily than those that didn’t anyway)
    • now orientation is all online and students are mandated to attend
  • Increased cap meant that students can enroll at any time rather than during an enrollment period; how are such students transitioned in successfully?
  • teachers also had a crunch because they had to get students onboard face to face but also get their courses going
    • advisors came to help with orientation
    • FASST team (family services) to help with transition / difficulty
    • designating specific staff member(s) to deal with new students: welcoming, onboarding, etc.
    • if new student expectations go unmet, FASST referral is made

Onboarding New Teachers

  • early-on, teachers were teaching all levels of a subject (10-15 math courses / preps)
  • growth meant that preps were lower but student numbers were significantly higher
  • student difficulties became varied, from at-risk to disengaged, etc.
  • WI state testing occurs in Oct / Nov, right when teachers / courses are hitting their stride
  • to address difficulties, teachers developed specialties
  • departments and teams were formed
  • expert teachers took on biggest challenges

Data Driven Instruction

  • early on, school was very flexible; not a lot of deadlines (or at least flexible deadlines): as long as work was turned in by end of semester
  • problem with that is that, if work is not turned in, there is no data to drive instruction
  • so deadlines were implemented within a flexible structure, i.e. not hard deadlines every day but a window within which things are due

Hiring New Teachers

  • growth meant hiring teachers mid-year, which meant it was difficult to train / transition them properly
  • being at home can be isolating; each new teacher received at least one visit, either at home or at a mid-point; the visit was to ask / answer questions but also to assess where teachers were in terms of their abilities / potential

Using Data

  • teachers tended to be reactionary instead of proactive
  • data was used to focused on metrics of the student body rather than its achievement
  • changes to state assessments contributed to availability and usability of data
  • there was a lack of cohesive expectations for teaches which lead to each class feeling different for students

iNACOL 2015: Learning Doesn’t Stop When School is Closed: Kentucky’s Non-Traditional Instruction Program


Beth Peterson, KYDOE, et al.

  • Districts represented miss an average of 9, 15, and 7 snow days per year.
  • NTI = Non-Traditional Instruction Program
  • Benefits: academic continuity, reducing learning loss, fewer make-up days.
  • Process: districts apply, implement their chosen method of non-traditional instruction, submit documentation of instruction
  • Can get up to 10 days waived at end of year if they’re implementing NTI
  • Application consists of general outline of how they’re doing it: project-based, blended, etc. (though most are technological)
  • One school is kicking off project this Thurs (mid-Novemeber) to get people on board.
  • Documentation submitted in spring; based on documentation, commissioner approves how many make-up days are waived.
  • no days were not approved; schools can use the possibility to leverage participation by teachers and students
  • background: students missing too much school (as many as 15-20 days)
  • NTI is a KY statue (KRS 158.070, section 9)
  • alternative instructional plan includes but is not limited to virtual learning
  • plan must show how teaching and learning will not be negatively impacted
  • one full year of implementation; 14-15 first year when anyone was able to apply; 13 districts with an average size of 3200.
  • 91% of students participated; 98% of teachers participated.
  • Second year number of participating districts has increased to 44.
  • What does NTI look like?
  • Should work / assignments depend on time / length or engagement? Wanted to avoid worksheets, etc. Music teacher had orchestra perform individually, something he didn’t ever get to hear.
  • Teachers had to be available for a full day-ish to be available for questions.
  • Superintendent declares a snow day an NTI day; different supers approach this differently: one district did them as early / as quickly as possible; another said that they wouldn’t use them until at least day 5 or 6.
  • Year 1, plans were made in advance and posted for students to refer to and focused more on enrichment; teachers this year want content to be more timely.
  • Accountability: turnaround time = about a week for elementary; required teachers to give authentic feedback rather than just a check off.
  • Attendance isn’t taken; it’s a participation vs. attendance. So no attendance is taken but participating is charted from a grade standpoint. From the state’s standpoint, the participation rate is compared to the average attendance rate. ADA (average daily attendance) is granted for the NTI day from the previous year’s attendance.
  • Many of the snow days occur in stretches (3, 4, 5 days in a row) and not every day off is an NTI day. [This is very different from us; those 2, 3 day stretches are off because of a few inches; it is rare that we have more than one day off in a row, no matter how much snow, with two days in a row being a blizzard rarity.]
  • KY is a right-to-work state; only 10 or so have unions, none in the 13 and unknown whether they are in the 44.
  • Support staff involvement was district-by-district. Some examples are: aides would do PD; secretaries would remotely answer phones; in most cases prinicipals would determine a work plan with individuals. In one district, the only ones who didn’t get a work day were maintenance who couldn’t get to school [I guess they didn’t sleep there, like ours do].
  • One district gave support staff a series of options for make-up days, i.e. they had the snow days off but had to make the day up elsewhere, and the school, with great flexibility, had them in many cases offset work that had to be done over the summer.
  • State asked for (documentation): percentage of student and teacher participation; what were the duties; what were the learning outcomes of each day. State admits there’s no good way to track learning outcomes. Got a lot of sample lesson plans, student work. State ultimately expects schools to have documentation for everyone / a majority but state asked for samples rather than everything, with the possibility of an audit in place.
  • State walked through one school and most illuminating was when they asked students what it was like.
  • From state standpoint the accountability for NTI days is much greater than on non-NTI days, when only attendance is required.

iNACOL 2015: Cultivating Student Ownership Through Growth Mindset to Develop World-Class Learners

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Eduardo Briceño, co-Founder and CEO of Mindset Works

  • Dweck’s fixed mindset vs. growth mindset: fixed identifies skills as static and unchanging / innate vs. growth that identifies skills as learnable and developable
  • Intelligence can be developed over time.
  • Thoughts occur when neurons fire together and connect; these change our brain and increase intelligence.
  • Albert Einstein an example of growth mindset: ‘It’s not that I’m so smart; it’s just that I stay with a problem longer.’
  • Growth mindset belief leads to different behavior which leads to (different) results.
  • Fixed mindset people want to look good / intelligent in front of people; they stick with what they know because they’re good at it.
  • Growth mindset people want to try new things that could fail.
  • Fixed mindset people look down on effort, that if effort is required then it shows weakness.
  • Growth mindset values effort.
  • Fixed: The fact that I’m struggling means that I’m incapable; they lose interest.
  • Growth: The fact that I’m struggling means that I’m going to persevere.
  • Experiment in Chile on sophomores taking a national test: growth mindset students were 3x more likely to score in the top 20%; fixed 4x more likely to be in bottom 20%.
  • Also found that lower socio-economic with growth mindset scored better than higher socio-economic with fixed mindset.
  • Growth mindset can be taught: Brainology.
  • Fostering growth mindset impacts achievement gap.
  • Teaching teachers the growth mindset allows them to focus on teaching methods rather than inherent qualities of students.
  • Telling students that they are good at something (or smart; ‘intelligence praise’) reinforces a fixed mindset (though intentions are good) because it identifies an innate ability; ‘effort praise’ (‘you must have tried really hard’) focuses on the process.
  • Students given the choice between an easy and difficult puzzle largely chose based on intelligence praise (easy) and effort praise (difficult).
  • Subsequent struggling impacts the confidence of the intelligence praise group but enables effort praise group to persevere.
  • Intelligence praise is designed to increase confidence but actually diminishes confidence.
  • Students were asked to tell their scores to students they didn’t know and would never see (at other schools). Intelligence praise group was 3x more likely to lie about their scores.
  • Focus on what you’re teaching. Used to be content. Is it still? Higher order skills? Learning motivation and efficacy?

iNACOL 2015: It’s Not the LMS, It’s How You Use It

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Lisa Johnson, Ohio Teacher (retired), Dominican University

  • open source LMSs (Moodle, Schoology) good because teachers can get in through the backend and customize / tinker
  • Level 1: Electronic File Cabinet; the primary use of LMSs for teachers, especially new or inexperienced ones. Be patient with them because this is the gateway to further use.
  • A definition of blended: A classroom that uses creative use of homework to build simple knowledge, so that students get the most suppor tin school while working on mastering the content. The support is offered with technology.
  • This focuses on working in stations, helping them master the difficult material.
  • Two phases: construct knowledge and differentiate & grow
  • Benefits: increase understanding, student ownership
  • Planning for this is backwards design.
  • Dissect the unit.
  • What is the end-game objective?
  • What skills are necessary to achieve the objective?
  • Flipping Bloom’s Taxonomy: typically in class knowledge and comprehension is focused on with higher order at home; in this model, knowledge and comprehension are worked on at home and higher order are worked on in class.
  • Classwork requires accountability: quick check = I get it, sort of, or clueless.
  • If you get it, you create something (e.g. a video for next year’s group); sort of gets a guide to work with at a table; clueless group works with teacher at smartboard.
  • Don’t expect students to understand the videos.
  • & for annotating / adding questions to YouTube videos.
  • create a [course]-resource center, for all levels as a reference source
  • Use the ‘Go to page based on answer’ option in GoogleForms for quizzes / check-ins.

This talk had some interesting tidbits (e.g. button in GoogleForms) but overall wasn’t too much that I didn’t already know or think.