Thursday, March 31, 2016

HSE Libraries: More Than Meets the Eye

From HSE Librarians: Transformers!

Think back to when you were a child.  The library you visited likely transformed in one way or another as you grew older.  Perhaps it transformed when they added a public computer workstation, a listening lab for albums, a class on computer programming, or simply a place to print. 

HSE libraries are no different.  We are also transforming in order to meet the needs of our staff, students, and the community.
Some examples of what is happening in libraries across our district:
  • Brooks School Elementary librarian Kristin Patrick received grant money to diversify her picture book collection to widen the scope of what her students can learn about people of other cultures, abilities, and other social issues.  She has a wiki for others to share in the experience and add to their own collection or use the materials in the classroom.
  • Fishers High School librarian Renee Isom is hosting 1st  Makerspace 3-D Printing Camps this summer with help from Sand Creek Intermediate libraian John Hochstetler.  They attended workshops to lead these sessions and will integrate 3-D printing into their media centers next year. 
  • Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate and Junior High librarian JoyAnn Boudreau spent the first quarter of the year tracking iPad issues for students and then taught mini lessons for students on how to troubleshoot their own devices. 
  • Thorpe Creek Elementary librarian Leslie Hopper created a Lego Wall where students can attach Legos to vertical spaces, create artwork, write, and more.
  • Cumberland Road Elementary librarian Kristin Hicks attended a workshop, which inspired her to add a computer science/coding unit for each grade level. 

Across the district, librarians are transforming spaces to create comfortable seating areas for students to collaborate in writing, presenting, and working with their 1:1 devices.  We have added technology to our media centers in the form of Spheros, OSMOS, and various recording devices, such as studio spaces and green screens.  If you see Legos, games, puzzles and electronics scattered throughout the library, you are seeing a transformation known as MakerSpaces. These Makerspaces are just another way HSE libraries are developing critical thinking skills in students and allowing our students to grow as STEAM learners and as producers of knowledge. 

The transformation does not stop there.  Each librarian promotes books to students, finds new resource materials for staff, and serves as one of the building’s HSE21 trainers.  Furthermore, many schools host popular authors, either in person or via Skype.

We don’t stop at the end of the school day! After school, HSE media centers host clubs, including Pinterest Club, Computer Programming, Stop Motion Animators, Student-Created Television Programs, and Gardening Clubs.  3-D printers and student tech squads are starting in many of our buildings. 

April is School Library Month!

The HSE libraries are planning the following events and hope you get involved:
  • Spring Break—Get Caught Reading: Post a picture of teachers and students reading.  Use the Twitter tag #caughtreadingHSE 
  • April 11-15th – Spine Label Poetry: Stack books to create a poem using the title words on the spine. 
  • April 18th-22nd –Circulation Promotion: “Checkout” the books our students are checking out through social media postings. 
  • April 25th-29th –Libraries Transform Because....:  These statements will be created by students and posted throughout all HSE schools. 

To learn more about your HSE Media Specialists and the events we are planning for April, visit our School Library Month Weebly.  Explore the links to see all about our HSE librarians: 

Be sure to watch a short video featuring HSE students in our libraries and get a sense of how our libraries are transforming students: 

Learn more about our librarians by linking to their website!

Are you ready to transform?  Visit any HSE School Media Center to "check out" these changes and experience ways to transform your teaching and learning.

Respond to Renee and other HSE Librarians:

Have a great spring break, HSE.  We hope you find time to relax and read.  Don't forget to tweet your pictures!  #caughtreadingHSE

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

Friday, March 25, 2016

Listen First

From Phil: Listening in Two Parts

This entry has two parts.  They seem like separate topics, but I hope you see the connection by the end.

Part I: Our Last School Board Meeting

Most school board meetings have only a handful of people in attendance.  When we know TV reporters and a huge crowd are going to show up, as a rule, it's usually not a good sign.  This past Wednesday's meeting was an exception to the rule.

Even though hundreds were in attendance, and even though those in attendance had dramatically differing views on what course of action the board should take, the discussion was focused on instruction and what is best for the children of Hamilton Southeastern.

I found this to be encouraging, even if the content of the discourse—using technology to support instruction in the elementary classrooms—was difficult and even contentious.
Our district leadership had a hard decision to make.
I believe how they made the decision is as important as
the final result.

The school board had a tough decision to make, but I would like to focus less on the final decision they made and more on how they made the decision. Without going into details, I can tell you that all school board members, Dr. Bourff, Dr. Combs, and Dr. Loane received many, many calls, emails, and personal contacts from concerned stakeholders on both sides of the issue.

These folks also spent hours talking to teachers, parent organizations, and specialists in a variety of professions. At the last two board meetings, they provided time to listen to concerns of parents and community members.

From all of these meetings, conversations, and communications, Drs. Bourff and Combs created multiple drafts of recommendations and made multiple revisions, attempting to address as many of the concerns as possible, but still honoring the hard work of the 1:1 Design Team and pilot teachers.

The result was a compromise that many, but not all, can support.  The recommendation voted on by the board and passed 7-0 is not perfect, as they will readily admit, but it is their best effort at responding to the concerns they heard, balanced with what they think is best for our children.

Rather than making decisions first and telling what they planned to do, they listened first, made choices, listened again, and made more revisions.  Only then did they make a final decision on the course of action.

Part II: In the Classroom

The school board's thoughtful approach to this difficult topic might have some ramifications for those of you in the classroom.  Try this exercise:

Spend a minute looking at this addition problem and how a student responded.

After looking at the problem, what would you say to and ask of the student?  Be careful.  This may be a trick—or at least tricky—question.

This exercise was developed by Deborah Loewenberg Ball, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan, as way of assessing depth of understanding of pre-service teachers on “High Leverage Teaching Practices.”

Loewenberg Ball and her colleagues developed this list of strategies after a lengthy process of research, study, and field testing.  Included in their final compilation of high-leverage practices is “Eliciting and Interpreting Individual Student’s Thinking.” 

One the tools used to assess teacher proficiency in this areas was the problem listed above. 

How would you talk to this student?

To score proficient, the pre-service teacher must avoid two temptations: The first temptation is to tell the student what he did or didn’t do well.  The second temptation is perhaps more difficult; it is to tell the student what he was thinking—a practice all too common in classrooms everywhere according to Loewenberg Ball. 

The problem is that telling short-circuits listening, and can lead a teacher down the wrong track with the student.

The better approach is for the teacher to get the student to explain his thinking about the problem.  Only then, can the teacher know for sure what the next step should be.

So what was the student thinking?

With the problem above, when the researcher talked to the student about his answer, she found that the student had added the tens column first:

2 tens + 3 tens + 1 ten = 6 tens
Then, he added the ones column.
9 ones + 6 ones + 8 ones = 23 ones

So 623 represents 6 tens and 23 ones. 
In his head, the student added 60 (six tens) to 23 and ended up with the answer of 83
which he wrote in the blank. 

An interesting question: Did he do it wrong?

It’s tempting to get off track, isn’t it?  At first glance, you might jump to conclusions that this student made mistakes—or even that he cheated to get the correct answer.  But when given the opportunity to explain his thinking, you begin to appreciate the student’s depth of understanding.
It depends on what you hear....

This student used a very sophisticated method for solving the problem.  It indicates a deep understanding of the meaning of numbers.  Certainly, it is different than the way most of us learned to do addition, but the student’s thinking is solid and is far from wrong!

Look at the problem again and notice all the things the student did well with this response!  Notice also how difficult it would be to build on his strengths if a teacher spent the first part of the conversation correcting or telling the student what he was thinking. 

The High-Leverage Instructional Practice of “Eliciting and Interpreting Individual Student’s Thinking” may look different for you, depending on which grade level and which content you are teaching, but the concept doesn’t change.

With this strategy, the work for the student is to share their thinking.  The teacher’s work involves listening first.

Listen First

Listening before telling is hard work but has many applications well beyond the classroom.  This week, the actions of the school board and the research on High Leverage Teaching Practices reminded me how difficult and how important this work can be.

Keep up the good work, the hard work, of listening, HSE.  The results will be improved learning for our students.

Respond to Phil:

Have a great week.

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education
Some final thoughts....
  • The first duty of love is to listen.  –Paul Tilich
  • Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit and listen.    –Winston Churchill
  • When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know.  But if you listen, you may learn something new.  –Dalai Lama

Friday, March 18, 2016

HSE21 and Collage Tacos

From Stephanie: HSE21 in My Kitchen
  • How will we know our work with HSE21 is working?
  • What will be different for our youngest HSE21 learners in years to come?
  • We know HSE21 is about learning and not technology. Technology will come and go, but what will endure?

Let’s watch our children grow in their disposition, inquiries, initiative, confidence, stamina, grit, determination, and skills as we enjoy Collage Tacos at the dinner table!

A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen, or a sign of a good cook, or are you supposed to kiss the cook? I can’t recall, but last week I was struck by the evidence of our HSE21 best practices at work in my kitchen.

Our daughter has recently become very interested in cooking, and I have her amazing third grade teacher to blame—I mean thank! J

My daughter researches recipes and creates scrapbook style cookbooks worthy of a Martha Stewart review. The revisions to her recipes are recorded on a “sticky-back anchor chart” that hangs on our kitchen wall. 

Her mother is an educator who doesn’t always have time to make dinner but always travels with poster paper. Sound familiar?
I'll take this over anything Martha Stewart has to offer!

Last week, we sat down to “collage tacos.” This photo captures her display: a welcoming collage themed invitation next to a mixing bowl full of shredded chicken, salsa, lettuce, and sour cream.

I asked her to tell me more about her work. I literally hung on to every word because I was so struck by her language.
Bring balance to life
and to your taco!

I kept running into problems with your tacos, Mom. You take a bite and only get the lettuce and sour cream on top. You can’t get to other stuff all at the same time. So I thought I would make collage tacos in a bowl, and we’d put everything in the shell all at once. Our bites would be balanced.

We sat down to eat her collage tacos and talk about our day.  Then she interrupted:

I need to collect some feedback. What did you think? Were they too runny? I think they were a little soggy.

We were so fortunate to see true inquiry in action. Her growing confidence and determination is tremendous. We laughed and smiled—and then I kissed the cook!

What Will Endure?

Collage Tacos are part of the answer to the questions I posed at the beginning of this entry:
  • How will we know our work with HSE21 is working?
  • What will be different for our youngest HSE21 learners in years to come?
  • We know HSE21 is about learning and not technology. Technology will come and go, but what will endure?

We will start to know HSE21 is working when we see inquiry transferred to situations outside of the classroom, and when we see a desire for feedback and growth as a way of being.  It's true that technology will always change, but what we hope will last is the dispositions of a lifelong learner.

Share Your Stories

I would love to hear from you.  How are your little ones growing in their inquiries? Where are you seeing the lasting impact of HSE21?

Please send photos and share your stories with me!

Respond to Stephanie:

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spread the Word: Best Buddies

HSE Schools has lots and lots of incredible kids doing lots and lots of amazing things.  Our high school Best Buddies programs certainly fit this description.  Best Buddies has life-long impact on our students, and the relationships that are formed are nothing short of miraculous.

Please take time to read about the Best Buddies programs at Hamilton Southeastern High School and Fishers High School, and then take a few more minutes to watch two excellent videos.

Each one is only a minute long, but these will be two minutes well spent.  Our guess is they will put a smile on our face and remind you of how great our kids really are.


From Risa Petty: Sticks, Stones, and Words

Anna and Cole
The Best Buddies program at Hamilton Southeastern High School has over 200 members.  The goal of Best Buddies is to create one-to-one friendships between students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their general education peers.  The students get together as a club several times a year to help foster these friendships, which often continue beyond the walls of the high school and beyond the years of attendance.

This week, all of the HSE Best Buddies are focused on the Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.  This campaign is an ongoing effort by Special Olympics, Best Buddies, and our supporters to inspire respect and acceptance by raising the consciousness in society about the “R-word.” 
Our Best Buddies are doing what we can to end the use of this hurtful word that disrespects people with intellectual disabilities.  We know that the old saying about sticks and stones is absolutely wrong!  Words can and do hurt as well.

Please take a minute to watch the video below and consider what words can do.  If you are moved by this video, join our campaign and spread the word to end the word.

From Jenny Ourand: Friendship and Inclusion

Our chapter of Best Buddies at Fishers High School includes more than 75 students.  We have students paired in one-to-one friendship matches as well as students who commit to being associate members and come to events as they can.  

Our goal is to spread a message of friendship and inclusion throughout our school.  

This past week we participated in the national Spread the Word to End the Word campaign.  Our students made videos for announcements to explain the campaign and how the use of the R-Word can be hurtful.  We have a table available at lunch for students to take the pledge to end the use of the R-Word, as well as a banner they can sign.  
FHS Best Buddies with student signatures

The kids sell bracelets to increase awareness, and the week culminates in our annual spaghetti dinner.  We held the dinner on Tuesday, March 8th as a way to promote our club and come together in friendship.  

It was a blast!

Click Here for the Best Buddies Videos: 

Thanks for sharing, Risa and Jenny.  And thanks for making sure everyone feels involved and that all really means all in HSE Schools!

Respond to Risa:

Respond to Jenny:

Have a great week!

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

A few final thoughts on friendship:

A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out.  
     –Walter Winchell
Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity.  
     –Khalil Gibran
The only way to have a friend is to be one.  
     –Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, March 4, 2016

Whole to Part or Part to Whole?

From Jan: Putting the Pieces Together

I often hear the lament, “Oh no, it’s one more thing….  Another new initiative….  Another new expectation.” 
Do you ever feel this way?

What I have come to realize is that, as educators, we often get and give pieces without understanding how it connects to the whole.  I liken this to giving someone 1,000 pieces to a jigsaw puzzle without the picture of what happens when those pieces come together.
There is no way to know what this puzzle
will look like when completed by looking
at the individual pieces.

We do it in the classroom when we teach students isolated skills without helping them with conceptual understanding and application.  We do it as leaders when we roll out “initiatives” without helping everyone understand the whole—what it is that we are becoming and how those “initiatives” help get us there.

The “whole” for our district is HSE21, classrooms that are learning labs filled with creativity, inquiry, real-world applications, and student voice—driven by the use of research-based instructional best-practices. 
This is the "Big Picture" for Hamilton Southeastern!

Challenge Us!

When we start with the whole, the individual parts make more sense. 

Our professional development should support teachers in that transformational journey toward leading a HSE21 classroom.  All of the individual pieces of professional development should be united and moving us closer to our vision of preparing students for life in a global society.

If you do not see the connection in your professional development to HSE21, challenge us!  

Help us put the pieces together.  Help us get better!

Have a great week, HSE.

Your HSE Teaching and Learning Team
  • Jan Combs, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning
  • Stephanie Loane, Director of Elementary Education
  • Tom Bell, Director of Special Education
  • Jeff Harrison, Director of Educational Technology
  • Phil Lederach, Director of Secondary Education

Respond to Jan:

A few closing thoughts:
  • “To be a champion, I think you have to see the big picture. It's not about winning and losing; it's about every day hard work and about thriving on a challenge. It's about embracing the pain that you'll experience at the end of a race and not being afraid.”  --Summer Sanders
  • “Children astound me with their inquisitive minds.  The world is wide and mysterious to them, and as they piece together the puzzle of life, they ask ‘Why?’ ceaselessly.”  --John C. Maxwell
  • There is no end to education.  It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education.  The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.”  --Jiddu Krishnamurti