Friday, November 19, 2010

Laptop Program leads to 44.4% drop in Discipline

The first trimester under our new schedule, house system and one to one apple macbook laptop program are now history. It has certainly been an adventure for our staff, students, and families but the results are very interesting. One of the most surprising features has been a large drop in discipline referrals. Detentions are down 44.4% over last year for the same number of weeks. With our later start time of 8:30 AM tardies are down 30% and school absences are down 30%.

We expected the decrease in tardies and the increase in attendance but we are left scratching our heads a bit with the decrease in discipline referrals. There were no major reclassifications of offenses in the handbook. Our theory we've been kicking around the hallways and lounge has been tied to the ability of effective technology integration to lead to a more engaged learning environment. When the default setting switches from students as passive learners (sitting and listening) to that of an active learner (creating, collaborating, sharing) school becomes a more enjoyable and authentic experience. Appropriate technology use leads to a richer more stimulating learning environment.

Our staff continues to work through the process of effective technology integration. Our professional development continues and our early success seems to be encouraging more creativity with our staff. We've learned a number of things along the way and will have some new strategies in place for the start of the winter trimester in terms of moderating some of the potential distractions the laptops can cause. We plan to keep supporting our teachers and providing them with all the professional development they need to excel in this enhanced setting.

All in all as we enter fall break we are happy to see the number of changes implemented this year producing solid results. We're proud of our students ability to thrive in this new environment. We'll continue to do our best to work on the problems that arise and provide our students with the best learning environment for the 21st century.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

To Fail or not to Fail

As we approach the end of the trimester w enter that lovely do or die time for a number of students. As with any school a certain number are in danger of failing a course here or a course there. This is the lovely age old issue in a school of how lenient should a single instructor be or not be. We all want students to succeed but of course they need to take the initiative. It is their learning.

As a kid I always enjoyed watching the Bells of St. Mary's with my dad during the Christmas season. The scene linked below was always one of his favorites and it tended to make a certain mark on me as well.


This little clip always makes me reflect on the bigger value or purpose of education. Sure the subject specific learning is important. But if most of us think back to our days in primary and secondary school we probably remember more about who the people were that taught us than the content specific information. The strength of our school rests not only in academic excellence and ACT aggregate scores, or state championships, but also in surrounding our young people with adults who we place our faith in - adults worth emulating. Men and women that act with fairness and integrity who have standards and work to push our students to give their best are at the core of any good school. This video cuts to the core of what it means to balance justice with mercy. Always a difficult task.

Enjoy the video in light of finals this week. I hope you enjoy this thought provoking clip.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Video Friday

Every now and then we run across some interesting videos that make an impact on how we view the educational system. Below are a few videos that push us to think in a different direction.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Easing into the 1:1 laptop program

Of all the changes this school year the one that challenges our staff the most would be that of 1:1 computing. We're happy to be the first high school in Illinois to partner with Apple in creating a one laptop for every student environment. We've spent time preparing with professional development over the last two years but in some ways you can never truly be ready for teaching in an environment you have not yet experienced. So to that point I wanted to share a video about a school district that has already been there. I'll be fair the video is a little bit long but If you have the time over the weekend it is more than worth a look.

Lisa Brady and Will Richardson