August 2010

I’m delighted to have been invited to keynote (1st time!) an independent school educational conference, the NYSAIS Education and Information Technology Conference (NEIT 2010).   I will offer two main presentations, and an additional session during the Open Space format.

Learners-in-Chief:  The Importance of our Own Learning in Leading 21st century Schools.   Our society, our workplaces, and our digital tools are changing faster than ever before, and there is no way for us to lead our students’ learning if we are not leading in our own learning about these changes.   This session will consider the significance of the growth mindset and how to strengthen it in ourselves and our students, and will offer suggestions in how we can best practice and facilitate adult learning in our schools.

Aligning Assessment and Data with Mission: Choosing the Right Measurements for School Improvement.    What gets measured is what gets done.  We can’t manage what we can’t measure.  The measurement is the message.  Assessment matters. Assessing effectively what we most want our students to be learning, and collecting the right data and using it appropriately,  can be very valuable in the messages we send about our priorities and in how we use the results to plan our school improvements.   This session will address both important reforms in internal assessments and also several 21st century data collection tools schools can use for these purposes. (more…)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Someone tweeted today: “when is the last time you were in a K-12 classroom that was not your own?”–with the clear implication that this happens far too rarely in our work as educators.  I agree; I don’t think I visited another school’s classroom in action in the entire decade I was a teacher, and only rarely visited another classroom in my own school.

This morning I visited Empire High School in Vail, AZ; it has received some acclaim for the quality of their 1-1 laptop implementation, even in the New York Times. Our visit this morning was lovely in the warm way we were welcomed and toured; it was unfortunate that a monsoon storm last night had crashed their system, and, we were told, they had the worst internet outage in the past five years this same morning we were visiting!

So unfortunately, our classroom visits were a bit compromised.  Classes we saw were engaged, but not online; one senior English class had underway a remarkably participatory conversation about the meaning of existentialism in Camus’ Stranger.   A Spanish class was devoted to showing students techniques for creating virtual flash-cards; (more…)

  • Back to Homepage.Continuing my review of HSSSE materials, seeking to learn more about how schools are using student engagement data (in part in preparation for a presentation next month).     One great source of information is in the 2009 report, a 25 page letter on the HSSSE data from 2009, and, more importantly, case studies in how the data are being used for school improvement in five schools or districts.

The only independent school profiled, Explorations Academy, takes its HSSSE data very seriously.

When the HSSSE data come back to the school, there are usually two kinds of initial analyses that emerge from the data: One set of responses are the “congratulations,” the things that students affirm the school is doing well.

Another set of responses are the “eye-openers” for staff, the areas that students say need more work…the school works on these issues, through “robust” staff discussions in which “HSSSE figures pretty prominently”; assumptions are uncovered and tested, and student engagement data are used to plan programs and processes, driven by an important central question: “Will something new gain us an additional unit of educational growth?” (more…)

Next month, as previously mentioned here, I am presenting at the US DoE’s Annual Private School Leadership Conference, on the topic of  Aligning Data and School Mission.   They have asked me to speak particularly about HSSSE, the High School Survey of Student Engagement:  I will also discuss CWRA, the College Work Readiness Asssessment,  and MAP, the Measurement of Academic Progress.

In preparation, I am doing some researching to learn more about HSSSE, which we have administered here at St. Gregory since 2009.   On Friday, I had a terrific hour-long conversation with Ethan Yazzie-Mintz, HSSSE’s ED, and he offered me a set of resources that I am now reviewing, and will be sharing and discussing on my blog this week.

I have also launched HSSSE user groups on two nings, both on ise-net for independent school educators and at EDU-PLN for the broader audience.

Ethan is portrayed in the video above, which is a nice gentle introduction to the administration at one public high school in Indiana. At this school, they had received a grant to update instructional strategies, the principal explains, and HSSSE gave data to them about how students viewed learning.   (more…)

My remarks at New Parent Night

Welcome to St. Gregory; we are so glad you are joining our school community.    You have come at a very exciting time, both in the history of our school and in an important moment in our national conversation about K-12 education.   This is a time of great change and energy in thinking about what and how our students need to learn in our fast-changing world.

A great example of how our school is changing and aligning itself with contemporary best practices is our new Wings program: 1:1 laptops at St. Gregory, by which every student has a laptop (netbook) and uses it every day.   This is a key step in the development of our educational program where our students exploit the power of digital technology to collaborate, communicate, and create on-line– and develop exactly the critical skills necessary for success in our new global economy.

Our teachers are fully embracing, with good enthusiasm and great attitudes, these developments and this new era in learning.    What is more, they are learning too.  One of the most exciting aspects of this new era of technology integration in learning is the way our teachers are, each and every day, learning in their classrooms and growing in their skills.  (more…)


Unconferences” and “edcamps” are gaining momentum as new professional development vehicles; we now increasingly recognize that as educators we learn well, sometimes we learn better, from our peers and colleagues than we do from the “experts,” and we learn better collaboratively, better than we do on our own.

If these are true, then wouldn’t we benefit from professional development that is in our own hometowns, with other educators, in an open-source, free or low cost, manner?   Unconferences seek to make this happen.

I attended my first “unconference” in July, in Boston: EduBloggerCon East, hosted by the November Learning group, and facilitated by the excellent 21st century learning bloggers and trainers Liz Davis and Lisa Thumann.  Lisa has a helpful blog post explaining unconferences; to quote,

What is an unconference?

  • A participant driven gathering of people talking about a common theme (more…)

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