Articles in the Student Engagement category

NSBA launches international student travel policy guide for schools

Bon Voyage! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel

Bon Voyage! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) has released a new policy guide on international student travel to help school boards anticipate and interpret important legal considerations and planning issues before students reach the departure gate.

This innovative guide, “BON VOYAGE! A Legal and Policy Making Guide for School Boards on International Student Travel,” provides vital information explaining the three types of international student travel, which include school sponsored and school district managed, school sponsored and tour-company managed, and non-school sponsored/private trips, providing guidance on recommended district-led policies for each. In addition, the report promotes improved understanding of outside tour companies, insurance policies, liability issues, and academic credit programs.

“Paving the way to successful international travel requires informed readiness,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, NSBA’s Executive Director. “This guide will help school boards understand the important questions they should be asking to ensure that districts and students conduct the planning steps essential to optimize overall return on investment and enhance students’ travel experience.”

Hundreds of thousands of students from U.S. public schools learn about the various countries and cultures of the world by traveling abroad each year in structured tour groups. These trips are often organized by teachers or the more than 250 tour companies that offer student packages.

The guide advises that every school board have a policy on international student travel. The document, which is laid out in a question-and-answer format, shows school board members the important details to consider, such as the educational value of a trip and class credits, the types of insurance to purchase, how to make clear to participants whether a trip is either school sponsored or non-school sponsored, and policies and procedures for school-sponsored trips. It also advises school board members to consult a school attorney to review their policies.

Alexis Rice|May 14th, 2014|Categories: School Boards, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , |

Blended learning showcased in District of Columbia schools

A small group of eighth-graders sit at a cluster of desks, staring down at their iPads. On their screens are diagrams of the interior of a slave ship. Their teacher, Tanesha Dixon, leads the discussion. She prompts them to consider what it was like on those ships. They enlarge the image for a closer look.

At another cluster of desks, students are discussing passages about the Atlantic slave trade on their iPads. The rest of the students are reading silently about the Fugitive Slave Act on their iPads.

From her tablet, Dixon can monitor all her students. An alarm sounds; the students working with Dixon move to the discussion group. The students working individually move to Dixon’s area.

Dixon is a social studies teacher at the K-8 Wheatley Education Campus, part of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). Her classroom is an example of blending learning, which integrates online technology and content with traditional face-to-face classroom activities. Her students have instant access to source documents and other resources electronically through their tablets through a service called Techbooks – digital textbooks with text, audio, video, and images.

Students have individual IDs and can log in on to any device – computer, mobile phone, or tablet.

“Digital textbooks are more engaging,” said John Rice, DCPS’s manager of blended learning. He recently took representatives from several national education associations on a tour of three district schools that were using blended learning in their classrooms.

The practice of blended learning is growing in schools across the country. Proponents say it allows students to practice simple or rote lessons online, freeing the teacher to do more small-group and individual instruction. DCPS uses blended learning in a variety of ways in its schools.

At the K-5 Randle Highlands Elementary School, all grades moved to a blending learning approached at the beginning of the school year. In one second-grade class, some students sit at classroom desktop computers, working on a program called ST Math. It allows them to work individually at their own pace, while their teacher works with another small group.

Other grades use a program called I-Ready, which includes language arts and math, for self-paced work.

Columbia Heights Education Campus houses a middle school and a high school. The high school, Bell Multicultural High School, features an early college program and classes taught exclusively in Spanish.

Sebastian Kreindel teaches ninth-grade World History in Spanish. He uses Techbooks to find digital resources such as Spanish videos for his students.

Fellow World History teacher Kristen Whitaker’s students don’t have individual computers or tablets yet like they do in Tanesha Dixon’s class, but she’s found a low-tech solution: She prints out Techbook resources for her students, including information about Genghis Khan for a recent discussion on psychological warfare.

Discovery Education, which sponsored the tour, provides Streaming Plus – a collection of instructional videos, skill builders, games, audio files, images, writing prompts, and encyclopedia reference materials – to DCPS district-wide. The company also provides the science and social studies Techbooks to five district schools.

“We are pleased to share with representatives from some of the nation’s leading education associations the wonderful digital learning environments DCPS educators are creating each day,” said Stephen Wakefield, Discovery Education vice president of public affairs. “The district’s efforts to create classrooms that mirror how students are interacting with technology and digital content outside the classroom are helping to prepare a new generation of learners for college, careers, and citizenship.”

The tour was organized by the Learning First Alliance, a partnership of education organizations, of which NSBA is a member.

Kathleen Vail|May 13th, 2014|Categories: Educational Technology, Mathematics Education, Middle Schools, Online learning, STEM Education, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA participates in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), represented NSBA at gala dinner reception in Washington, D.C., honoring student recipients of the 19th Annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

The May 4 dinner at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was the culmination of a four-day event that brought 102 state honorees — one middle level student and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia — to the nation’s capital to be recognized for their outstanding volunteer service to their communities. Selected from a field of more than 30,000 student volunteers, the state honorees were personally congratulated by actor Forest Whitaker, and each given a $1,000 award.

Ten students from the group were named national honorees for community service initiatives that ranged from feeding the hungry to helping victims of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Each received $5,000 personal rewards and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for charities of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards are sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals. NSBA is proud to endorse these awards.

 

Lawrence Hardy|May 7th, 2014|Categories: High Schools, Middle Schools, Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education shows disparities in K-12 education

Science classes with mostly high-achieving students are much more likely to use advanced technologies such as microscopes and graphic calculators than those with mostly low-achieving students, according to the 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education.

The survey is the fifth major report in a series of studies that began in 1977 and are funded by the National Science Foundation. The research documents long-standing problems, such as inequities in instructional technology and teacher preparedness, as well as positive indicators, such as findings that mathematics is taught every day in elementary schools and that more than three-quarters of elementary mathematics teachers describe themselves as “very well prepared” to teach mathematics.

On the downside, only about one-fifth of elementary school classes teach science every day, and less than 40 percent of elementary science teachers feel that they are very well prepared to teach the subject.

The results come from a nationally representative survey of more than 1,500 schools and 7,752 science and mathematics teachers from across the country.

The 2012 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education is “the only detailed, nationally representative snapshot of the K-12 science and mathematics education system, which comes at a critical time when the country is adopting new standards in these disciplines,” said Eric R. Banilower, the study’s principal investigator.

More than 40 states have adopted the Common Core State Standards in mathematics and literacy. In addition, 10 states and the District of Columbia have signed on to separate science standards developed by the National Science Teachers Association. Improving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education has also been a major objective of the Obama administration and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The report’s data on the uneven distribution of instructional technology document part of a larger problem with ensuring that all students have access to equal educational opportunities. The report found that 39 percent of classes composed of mostly high-achieving students had graphing calculators, compared to 23 percent of classed that had average achievers or a mixture of students at various levels of achievement. Just 18 percent of the classes with mostly low achievers had graphic calculators.

A similar disparity was found in access to microscopes, with 82 percent of the classes with mostly high achievers having access, compared to 63 percent of classes with mostly average or mixed achievers, and 59 percent of classes with mostly low achievers.

Among the positive findings were that 81 percent of elementary school teachers considered themselves “very well prepared” to teach reading and language arts, and 77 percent said they were “very well prepared” to teach math. However, these levels fell to 47 percent for social studies and 39 percent for science.

Just 29 percent of elementary school teachers said they were “very well prepared” to teach life sciences. The rates of high preparedness were 26 percent for earth science, 17 percent for physical science and 4 percent for engineering.

Lawrence Hardy|May 7th, 2014|Categories: Curriculum, Educational Research, Professional Development, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , |

Call for proposals for NSBA’s 2015 Annual Conference

2015 NSBA Annual Conference

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is requesting proposals for breakout sessions to be conducted during our 75th Annual Conference in Nashville, Tenn., March 21-23. The conference will draw thousands of attendees, exhibitors, and guests representing nearly 1,400 school districts, and will feature distinguished speakers and hundreds of workshops, presentations, and other events that will help school board members develop leadership skills, boost student learning, and improve school districts’ operations.

If your school district or organization has an idea for a high-quality breakout session that focuses on a topic of critical interest to school board members for presentation at this conference, please complete a proposal online by the deadline of Monday, June 16 at 5 p.m. EDT. Only proposals submitted through the online process  will be considered. Breakout sessions will be 30, 45, or 75 minutes in length and will be scheduled throughout the conference.

Proposals are being solicited for the following focus areas:

• Innovations in District Management
• Legal and Legislative Advocacy
• Professional and Personal Development
• School Board/Superintendent Partnerships
• Student Achievement and Accountability
• Technology + Learning Solutions

NSBA develops guide for school boards on boosting student success through community partnerships

Cover of "Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success"

Cover of “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success”

A new guide released today details how school board members can build partnerships to secure a high-quality education, from early learning to graduation, for students in their districts. “Partnerships, Not Pushouts: A Guide for School Board Members on Community Partnerships for Student Success,” demonstrates how school boards can work with other community partners to provide seamless services and engage community members to improve their schools.

Every student who leaves high school without a diploma costs the U.S. hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost income over the student’s lifetime. Despite the recent gains in U.S. graduation rates, far too many young people, mainly students of color from educationally and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities, are leaving school without a high school diploma or are severely underprepared for college-level work.

“As advocates for equity and excellence in public education, school boards play a key role to build a student-centered environment that addresses the academic, social, and emotional needs of all students in their school district,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, Executive Director, National School Boards Association (NSBA).

“School board members are local leaders who understand the needs of their students, teachers, and school staff, and this guide shows how to tap into community resources to further enhance and strengthen their community’s schools.”

NSBA led the effort to develop this guide with a group of school board members from NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members, National Caucus of American Indian/Alaska Native School Board Members, National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members, and the Council of Urban Boards of Education.

The guide serves as a blueprint for school board members to build a better-coordinated system of supports for children and their families. By partnering with key stakeholders and local service providers, school boards can ensure that all children benefit from a “Personal Opportunity Plan” that guarantees access to out-of-school resources each child needs to succeed in school and in life.

One such example is the Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN) Initiative in Oregon, as featured in the guide. This school community partnership helps create a seamless learning environment. A cohesive collaboration between the school districts, the city, and county, it includes more than 70 schools within the Portland-Multnomah County Area. SUN partnered with various partners such as libraries, parks, local health clinics, churches, and businesses to provide in-school and wraparound support to students and their families. The collaboration is guided by an inter-governmental among between all three entities that outlines that processes in which they will work together in creating a shared vision and common goals to support the schools within the initiative.

NSBA partnered with the Alliance for Excellent Education; American Federation of Teachers; Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning; Coalition for Community Schools; National Education Association; Opportunity Action; National Opportunity to Learn Campaign; and Rural School and Community Trust to release the guide.

Alexis Rice|April 22nd, 2014|Categories: Dropout Prevention, Reports, School Boards, Student Achievement, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

NSBA Past President Earl Rickman recieves Abrazo Award

Earl Rickman, center, receives the Abrazo Award from Elizabeth Sanchez and NHC Chair Guillermo Lopez during  NSBA's 2014 Annual Conference.

Earl Rickman, center, receives the Abrazo Award from Elizabeth Sanchez and NHC Chair Guillermo Lopez during NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference.

The National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) National Hispanic Caucus of School Board Members (NHC) has awarded NSBA Past President Earl C. Rickman III the 2014 NHC Abrazo Award for his work as a leader and advocate on behalf of children as well as an advocate of NHC along with National Black Caucus of School Board and National Caucus of American Indian and Alaska Native School Board. Rickman served as NSBA President for the 2010-2011 term.

First presented in 1998, the Abrazo Award is given annually by the NHC to honor individuals who have committed their time, energy and resources to improving educational opportunities for Latino children. The term “Abrazo” in English translates to “hug” or “embrace,” a common gesture used to greet and say goodbye.

Rickman is Michigan’s Mount Clemens Community School District’s Board of Education President. Rickman has been working with NHC for the last 20 years.

In an interview with The Macomb Daily about receiving the Abrazo Award, Rickman noted, “Being a minority, I realize the immense difficulty and challenges facing our Latino and Hispanic kids in schools throughout the country. Speaking a different language is an incredible barrier that so many of these youngsters have to work through. At the national level, I represent all kids and all school boards, not just those who look like my district. I feel we all should do whatever we can do to help the 50 million children we have in public schools across the country.”

Alexis Rice|April 18th, 2014|Categories: Student Achievement, Student Engagement|Tags: , , |

Courage is an essential quality for school leaders

How big is your brave, Angela Maiers wants to know.

Courage, according to the teacher, speaker, and social media evangelist, is not just an essential part of being a leader – it’s the most important quality and the one through which other qualities follow.

Maiers was part of a three-speaker hour-long opening General Session April 7 at NSBA’s annual conference in New Orleans, which included Erin Gruwell and Nikhil Goyal. The speakers then continued in separate sessions that went more in-depth.

Maier asked a group of kindergartners, “What does it mean to be brave?” They came up with this list:

1. Love yourself

2. Never give up

3. Be calm in yourself

4. Stand up for yourself

5. Believe in yourself

6. Be brave

“If you don’t follow that to-do list, you have no chance of asking anyone else to do any of those things,” she said. “You are the leader they wish to be. You are the change that needs to be.”

Maiers shows schools how social media and technology can bring out the genius in students and teachers and bring about social change. Some schools have put into place a “genius hour” where students can meeting physically and virtually to plan projects.

An entire district – with children from kindergarten to 12th grade – took on this project – Hutto, Texas. The district has 6,000 students. “All I said was give me a group of kids and we’ll figure it out,” Maiers said. “All we needed was school board that said, ‘I believe in you; we will be brave.’” From the project, 57 social enterprises were launched.

A large part of being a courageous leader is having a community of leaders to turn to. “I feel brave because I don’t do this work alone,” she said. “I have a network of educators and others who make me smarter every day. I have never felt so supported.”

Maiers announced that she was starting a Twitter chat for school board members, SBchat, so they could build a community, as well. The chat will run through her Choose 2 Matter website.

 

Kathleen Vail|April 10th, 2014|Categories: Governance, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Social Networking, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , , , |

NSBA highlights international student travel concerns

Mark Blom Senior Staff Attorney for National School Boards Association (NSBA) presented a preview of a comprehensive policy guide for school boards on International Student Travel (IST), during a session on “What School Boards Need to Know About Student Travel” held Sunday, April 6 at the NSBA’s 2014 Annual Conference in New Orleans.

It is estimated that over 100,000 U.S. students travel abroad each year in groups touring and learning about the various countries and cultures of the world. The session and corresponding guide are aimed at raising awareness of important legal concerns and ensure school board leaders can ask the right questions and spot potential problems before students reach the departure gate.

Although IST offers enriching experiences for participants, a lack of clarity about responsibility can create legitimate liability for the school district, no matter the district’s perceived involvement in the trip. If a parent of a student harmed on a trip has a legitimate expectation that the school sponsored the trip—through its employees—the school district faces the costs of litigation, possible settlement, and judgment, in addition to adverse publicity.

The report lists the three types of IST and provides guidance on the recommended district-led policies for each.

A. School sponsored and school district managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district manages the tour. The school district arranges all aspects of the trip—itinerary, travel arrangements, lodging, tours, restaurants, local guides, ground transportation, etc.

B. School sponsored and tour company managed: The tour is school sponsored, and the school district contracts with a tour company to manage the trip.

C. Non-school sponsored: A tour takes place involving students of the district, perhaps even with a teacher serving as the host, but the trip is not sponsored by the district. These are purely private trips.

In addition, the report promotes better understanding of outside tour companies, insurance policies, and academic credit programs.

Alexis Rice|April 6th, 2014|Categories: Leadership, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Student Engagement, Teachers|Tags: , , , |

Friedman talks about ‘hyperconnected’ world at NSBA’s first General Session

friedman

In a “hyperconnected” world, public schools need to make Garrison Keillor’s whimsical idealization of America become reality, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman told the opening General Session of NSBA’s 74th Annual Conference Saturday. “All the children need to be above average.”

Being ordinary in any endeavor is no guarantee of being able to thrive, or even survive, in today’s economy, he said.

“Woody Allen’s line about 80 percent of life being about showing up? Not anymore,” he added.

“Every middle class job is being pulled in three directions at once,” Friedman explained:

* Up, as employers expect workers to update and improve their skills.

* Out, as jobs are threatened by outsourcing and replacement by robots and expert systems.

* Down, as jobs are being made obsolete faster.

Speaking without notes, the three-time Pulitzer Prize winner argued that the ability of anyone to make a living in the 21st century will depend in large part on being self-motivated and “innovation ready.”

That’s because no human endeavor is untouched by a “Gutenberg-level change” that is occurring amid the “flattening” of the world through the simultaneous effects of globalization, the Internet, and information technology.

He said that includes his job as a journalist, which often takes him to China. His goal used to be to find a morsel of information that would be interesting for a reader like his mom in Minnesota. But since 2011 The New York Times has had a Chinese-language edition, so “I have to tell my Chinese readers something new about China.”

For educators and school leaders, this means new challenges in preparing students for the globalized, hyperconnected world. “We had to find jobs; they will have to invent them.”

What to tell kids?

“I have five basic pieces of advice:

1. “Think like an immigrant.” Take nothing for granted; be a “paranoid optimist” in every endeavor.

2. “Think like an artisan.” Contribute something unique and be proud of it.

3. “Always be in beta.” Like makers of software, consider nothing finished. Always be working on a better version of your products and yourself.

4. “Think like a parent.” Realize the Internet is partly a sewer with misinformation, bias, hate, and pornography. That means modeling good judgment, because that’s the only way kids can learn it.

5. “Be like a waitress at Perkins Pancake House” by exploiting what you control to maximize customer satisfaction. Friedman said he came up with this suggestion after a waitress delivered a plate of pancakes and said, “I gave you extra fruit,” which prompted Friedman and a companion to leave a 50 percent tip. People who give others a little extra will get ahead.

 

Eric D. Randall|April 5th, 2014|Categories: 21st Century Skills, Computer Uses in Education, NSBA Annual Conference 2014, School Boards, Student Engagement|Tags: , , , |
Page 1 of 612345...Last »