Tuesday, April 26, 2011

C4T Summary post # 4

Location, Location, Location
Sigurd Town Old School House
Connected Principals is a blog where school administrators share their varied experiences and best practices in education. This post  by Larry Fliegelman who for the past 14 years has been an elementary principle, middle school assistant principle, and middle school social studies teacher discusses the affect condition of school buildings have on students and staff. He explains that while teaching in Medford at Roberts Middle School, the environment was a destructive and unhappy one for all in attendance until they received a new school. "It was so bad that there were cracks in the walls large enough for me to see clearly through to the exterior brick." explains Fliegelman. Bulletin boards were destroyed due to heavy rains and students work was destroyed. He explains that students continuously destroyed the 8th grade bathroom. It seems plausible to attribute these behaviors to the lack of respect the students had for the building possibly reflecting their feelings towards the school system's neglect of their own safety and comfort while at school.Upon bringing in a new principle, Fliegelman explains that there was an optimism and happiness in the air. The result of the new school proved to be a positive one. Although there were some struggles, the new building brought pride and hopefulness  to students and teachers. 

More Than an 'A'; Mindset and Assessment
Road to Education
This post was published by George Couros who is currently a principle at Forest Green School and Connections for learning located in Stoney Plain, Alberta, Canada. This pot assesses the shift in standard 'A' 'B' grading to a new pedagogical approach. The concern is that schools are lowering their standards, but Couros argues that standards are becoming higher for both student and teachers. The idea of "growth" mindset is emphasized here rather than a fixed mindset. Couros explains that a 'C' student has at least two more grades to jump to "excellent" but when they get there, the idea of "lifelong learning" is thrown out, because the satisfaction of an 'A' is the final achievement in the learning process. He also addresses the issue of teacher workload and the system change stating, "instead of simply giving a grade, educators work on understanding each child's unique needs and strengths." Because of the new system, educators will do more work. They must work with their students individually to identify strategies that will allow continuous growth. He explains that students in his school completed an Identity Day Project in which every student completed and received no grade. There was no rubric applied to the project. It was only based on students' passions and interests. Couros makes a great point in his blog that suggests that the experience of a project, such as the one mentioned above, resides in students' memories long after studied testing material. I agree with this. Although the shift in the grading system would be hard to get use to, I think it would be a positive change. In grade school as well as in college, I am disappointed when I do not receive an 'A' and often beat myself up for not trying harder. 'A' 'B' students are considered smart and recognized on Honor Rolls, and are rewarded leaving the 'C' students feeling less important and unintelligent. As educators, we must encourage ALL students.

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