Educators planning to attend NSBA’s T+L Conference in Denver have the opportunity to book a visit to the same district that President Obama included in one of his campaign stops last fall. The Mapleton Public Schools and their innovative small school initiatives offer an interesting alternative to past T+L conference site visits. No doubt that technology is essential to their programs, but it serves in a supporting role to the real star of the show, improved student achievement. If you’re not familiar with Mapleton’s Reinvention Campaign, check out this Business Week story from 2006 or listen to the district’s teachers and administrators tell you why they embarked on this journey to change the educational experience for their students. If you care about kids, you owe it to yourself to visit a district that has actually put ideas into practice that are often just the subject of conceptual debates. Whether or not you agree with all of their decisions is irrelevant. What is important, however, is how their work can inspire you to think differently about the educational alternatives your own district is providing.Mapleton – Building on Choice
School Board News Today, an online publication of NSBA, provides timely and relevant stories and analysis from NSBA and other news outlets to school board members, administrators, and all others interested in K-12 education.
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Articles tagged with Students
The start of the school year is a great time to stop and take stock of exactly what frame of reference the customer (our students) bring into the education system. Take a look at the annual list Beloit College compiled of the cultural touchstones for their future class of 2013. Their world is different. They don’t remember a world without the Cartoon Network and blue JELL-O! In addition, text has always been hyper, the European Union has always existed, and Rap music has been main stream. The way they communicate with one another, view the world, and find information bears no resemblance to student behavior of the 1970’s a time when many of today’s teachers and school leaders were in high school. Understanding the fundamental differences between the students of yesterday and today’s youth is an ongoing challenge in a world where technology introduces new opportunities and potential pitfalls at an ever increasing rate.
NSBA’s Technology Leadership Network offers K-12 educators an opportunity to learn from one another about the best ways to serve this amazing new generation of students with their passion for creating and connecting. Student voices will be an important part of the mini-academy on 21st century learning during NSBA’s T+L Conference in Denver, Oct 28-30, so participants can hear first-hand how they blend technology throughout their lives and how they want and expect it to support their learning. Join us!
For anyone who’s read this blog consistently, which I’m sure all of you do, you know my feelings about cash incentive programs for students who get good grades, stellar test scores or have perfect attendance.
But in case you missed it, I’m of the opinion that exchanging money for student performance is misguided and sends the wrong message. Yes, supporters argue, such financial enticements are no different than bonuses employees receive for a job well done and its the end result that matters anyway.
Of course, I disagree. I don’t think the ends always justify the means. What sets quality employees apart from their average counterparts, who when incentivized (thanks Arne) do quality work, is pride in workmanship and that’s a trait that can’t be cultivated purely with money.
So, here’s comes another reason why I don’t think cash rewards are a good practice for getting students to do the best they can do: the funding sources can dry up, as they have in Chicago, which launched its “Paper Project” program in 20 high schools just last year.
Officials aren’t writing off the program, just yet, but given the poor economy and the fact that the private donors who completely funded the project are surprise, surprise feeling the pinch, district officials are weighing their options as they also start prioritizing their spending.
“It’s not just a discussion of does the The Paper Project get funded,” Chicago schools’ CEO Ron Huberman told ABC News. “It’s a bigger discussion of— in these difficult times, with funding being cut everywhere— where should we be using those dollars most effectively to have the best outcomes for our kids?”
Hey, Ron, in this economy, I think the best lesson kids can learn is that money can come and go but their performance can stick with them forever.
Senior Editor, Naomi Dillon
Perhaps such a headline would send more young students running to sign up for math classes (although it might also have teachers fleeing)? Despite our oft professed condescension towards Paris Hilton, BoardBuzz was intrigued by this story on MSNBC about a recent study that ties the lack of students entering the math profession to the “geeky” social stigma associated with being a mathmetician.
Nearly all participants, both math-friendly students and those who steer clear of equations, think of a mathematician as a white male with white hair, who is obsessed with the number-laden subject to the exclusion of any social life. For instance, participants labeled Albert Einstein and John Nash (portrayed in the movie “A Beautiful Mind”) as lacking social skills and as weird or not normal.
Because of the “geek” status associated with mathematics, many who excel at math in their early years decide to pursue other fields in higher education and as a profession. And females are considerably less likely to describe themselves as excelling in math.
For the few brave souls that pursue careers in mathematics, the study found that they view the characteristics others describe as “geeky” as assets. An obsession with numbers is not crazy–it’s a skill. And being unconcerned with a social life shows devotion. Some also choose to embrace their “geekiness,” though also pointing out that underneath the geek stereotype, they are normal individuals.
So, how can we as educators help to change the stereotype associated with math and science? Maybe one day we will see more young boys and girls dreaming of becoming–not a rock star–but a math star (whether Paris makes that movie or not)!
BoardBuzz was intrigued by this story from Sherwood, Arkansas. When his school had an opening for computer network administrator, Jon Penn applied, interviewed and was offered the job.
The catch? He’s eleven years old.
Once the school board heard his presentation on modernizing the computer system, the position was his!
“He calls it geek speak and he talks like that. I have to remind him to say it in English,” explains Jon’s mom Paula Penn.
She’s the school librarian and says Jon’s been a computer guru since age 3.
He does the job for free because he enjoys working on computers. And Penn said that so far his work has not affected his social life. He still enjoys recess with his friends. BoardBuzz is glad to see he has an appropriate work-life balance.
In addition to his plan for modernizing the system, Penn has installed a program to protect students from unsafe websites and helped to teach a class. Well-spoken and articulate, Penn has certainly demonstrated that he was the right person for the job!
As his mom points out, “Parenting is not always about giving information to your children. Sometimes it is about learning from them.” BoardBuzz certainly agrees! What can you learn from the students in your district?
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