Saturday, May 17, 2014

Leaders of Their Own Learning

During my trip to Connecticut, I also started reading Ron Berger's new book called, Leaders of Their Own Thinking. Ron wrote this book in collaboration with author, Leah Rugen, and Libby Woodfin, the director of publications for Expeditionary Learning.

Of course, the first thing that attracted me to this book was the fact that Ron Berger was one of the authors. Ron Berger's book, An Ethic of Excellence, probably inspired more people at NSE to take learning to another level than anything else we have ever done with professional development. This new book is a great follow-up to Ron's first book and talks about how teachers and school leaders can involve students in their learning and assessment.

While Ron's first book was an inspiration, this book is a wealth of examples, stories, resources, and advice when it comes to formative assessment and student led conferences. The book has links to videos, actual case studies, a number of examples, and rubrics that help classroom teachers and school leaders better understand how to create a culture of excellence.

I am about one fifth of the way through the book and am sold that this is a great resource for all teachers and school leaders.

Leaders of Their Own Learning (Dr. H's reflections)

Magnet Schools of America

 I had the privilege of attending the 2014 Magnet Schools of America (MSA) National Conference this week. Even though the conference provides a wealth of information and networking opportunity among magnet schools across the country, NSE also received an award. NSE won the only MSA national school of distinction award for the state of South Carolina.

STEMS at NSE continues to be at the forefront of what it means to be a STEM magnet school. Not only are we judged on our development and implementation of an integrated curriculum, but we are also judged on our collaboration with outside partners (i.e. Midlands Technical College, USC, Midlands Education and Business Association (MEBA), and others). The award also recognizes our program because of our meaningful parent involvement. Overall, STEMS continues to be a quality magnet program that attracts the largest number of applications in the district for elementary school magnet programs.

MSA recently released national standards that describe a quality magnet school. The National Magnet School Standards of Excellence can be summarized as focusing on diversity, innovative curriculum and professional development, academic excellence, high-quality instructional systems, and family and community partnerships. STEMS at North Springs is in it's fifth year. Each year, our program becomes more and more successful in preparing students for their future under these five areas. Even though we are a school within a school magnet, it takes our whole school to make any part of NSE successful.

Built using old pallets by Mrs. Dawson's Class
One of the most popular events of the year for our STEMS families is the family showcase night which took place Thursday evening. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend, but the pictures people sent me confirmed that the quality and complexity of the projects and presentations that students are showcasing has increased over the last several years. I believe that we need to continue to expand the implementation of the STEM curriculum at NSE.