INNOVATIVE LEARNING TEAM: VISIT #1
As many of you know, at the beginning of the 2019/2020 School Year, USD 254 began the process of Redesign as part of their Apollo Mission. We are the fourth wave, preceded by Mercury 7, Gemini, and Gemini II, of Kansas Schools that have decided to sit back and really study what we are doing in our schools: is it working, what should change, how can we make these changes, what is best for our kids? The first several months involved a lot of silent work. On our early release Wednesdays, faculty and staff met together to design a plan and to choose where we should focus. The Medicine Lodge Junior-Senior High School has broken into four different Investigative Teams that we found most pertinent to begin our Redesign. Each team had to connect with at least one of four Redesign Principles that have been developed by the State of Kansas. These four Principles are Community Partnerships, Student Success Skills, Personalized Learning, and Real-World Application.
Our Investigative Teams include Innovative Learning, Technology, Scheduling, and Community Involvement. Each team has found themselves responsible for creating a focus, a wildly important goal, developing a prototype, and visiting schools. This week, we would like to update you on what this all means!
First up is our Innovative Learning Team. This team consists of Nathan Honas, Mary Hill, Josh Ybarra, Karen Cunningham, John Kirkbride, and Tina Andrews. They are working towards developing a prototype that will be tested in our school this spring! The Innovative Learning Team has taken a couple of trips. Last Monday, Nathan Honas, junior high science teacher, Mary Hill, junior high and high school special education teacher, and Tina Buck, representing the MLGS, traveled to Lyons Middle School. Some of the details that the team shared with MLJSHS staff was information on a power hour, a no bell system, and project-based learning. For Lyons, Power Hour consisted of sixty minutes where students could choose when they wanted to go and eat lunch during that hour. This allowed students to stay and work on assignments during the first part of lunch or to go and eat right away. Once finished eating students had the choice of one of six activities (dance, arts and crafts, board games, robotics, movie, etc.) However, if a student was on the failing list from the previous week they were required to go to a study hall and were not allowed to go to the activities for that week. Lyons has also implemented a No Bell Schedule, meaning teachers watch the time and let their students move to the next class when it is time rather than being interrupted with a bell. Schools that have implemented this say that the school day seems less chaotic and makes students less anxious.
Updated: March 2, 2020
As promised, we will be discussing the Technology Team and their visit to South Barber.
Before we jump into it we would also like to hit on our monthly trips to ESSDACK. Located in Hutchinson, KS, ESSDACK is our Educational Service Center. They are our hub for all things professional development and they do a fantastic job of keeping us up to date on the latest and greatest. As part of Redesign, we send our Apollo Team to ESSDACK on a monthly basis to gather knowledge, collect new information, and air out concerns. Administrators, co-pilots, and staff members have found the monthly meetings to be extremely helpful in keeping our teams up to par.
Lowell Dohrmann, Tech Director, Shane Hahn, Junior High Social Studies, and Heather Smith, High School English, traveled south during their school visit to South Barber. The team observed a High School English class under the direction of Meagan Henry. Along with other teachers in the South Barber School District, Henry uses a Smart TV to teach her classes. The team was able to test out the capabilities of the Smart TV in order to decide if it would better fit our needs as a building. The team also met with Luke MacKinney, Technology Director, to discuss more in-depth what South Barber is doing to keep up with the growing demands of technology in the classroom. Dohrmann and MacKinney discussed in detail aspects such as Chromebook rotations and bandwidth. Other members of the Technology Team include Cheri Dohrmann, Kay Stimatze, Adam Maloney, Preston Thomas, and Darryl Honas.
The Technology Team's prototype quickly turned into an action plan. The team decided to add at least three new Smart TV's per year to replace the dated Promethean (Smart) Boards that are currently in use. During the 2019/2020 school year, Smart TV's have been implemented in the classrooms of Nathan Honas, Junior High Science, Dacy Woods, High School Math, Josh Ybarra, High School History, and Shane Hahn, Junior High Social Studies and Tech. Bandwidth has also been nearly doubled to help with internet speed throughout both grade school and junior high/high school buildings.
Technology is constantly growing, changing and improving. The goal for our schools is to keep up with those growing demands and help our students make these connections to real-world scenarios. Many of the career fields and industries that our students are interested in are heavy in the technology department. We look forward to bridging that gap!
Updated: March 3, 2020
Let's travel to Dighton, KS, a 1A school in Northwest, Kansas. We will travel with Eryn Guy, Library & Media Tech, Dacy Woods, High School Math, and Mel Hrencher, Freshman & Sophomore English. Mrs. Guy, Mrs. Woods, and Mrs. Hrencher are on the Scheduling Team with Cheryl Theis, Nick Schmidt, Jodi Lonker, Patricia Cargill, and Margie Eck. While visiting Dighton, what seemed to stick out the most was their Flex-Mod. In short a Flex-Mod is a schedule made up of modules of different variations of time. This would allow for students to have a more flexible schedule that included classes that they may not usually get to take with a traditional schedule. Some of the classes offered included Culinary Arts, Nutrition and Wellness, TV Media And Broadcasting, and Residential Maintenance. By opening up the schedule up to a Flex Mod, it also allowed teachers to choose classes that they may not usually get to offer. Teachers are able to choose how long their class periods are and how often they are meeting throughout the week.
During modules that students did not have a class, they are designated one of two options: Flex or Focus. In the Flex Room, they are shown more leniency. Students may work on homework, play board games, or have snacks and social time. The Focus Room was implemented for students that were failing. Students on the ineligibility list worked on homework in the Focus Room, with the hopes of getting help when needed and moving their way back to eligibility.
Students were able to choose for two different paths for certain classes, such as English. For a student that planned to continue their education at a 4 year University, they would take Traditional English. However, a second option was made available to ensure a path for students that planned to attend tech school or do another program after high school, called Applied English.
At Dighton Junior-Senior High School, 7-9 students followed a Summit Curriculum, which was a blended curriculum using teachers for lectures, and online opportunities to complete projects.
Lastly, Dighton has also implemented a Project Based Learning (PBL) Academy. In the PBL Academy, students in grades 10-12 can choose to take a class or combine two classes for credit, and prove mastery of the class requirements through completing projects that addressed state standards. Through the Academy, students worked independently with the help of an advisor to research, plan, complete, and then present a project within a specified amount of time. One example that was shared with the team was a student who wanted to combine a Physics class with Art class. Her final project was a comic book about an area of Physics that interested her. The student is hopeful that the book will be published someday. Project Based Learning gives the student the opportunity to move through content at their pace while allowing them to choose how they prove they have learned and mastered the standards.
Updated: March 2, 2020