Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Student Council President Ashley Clark

 I would like to thank our Student Council President, Miss Ashley Clark, for being my guest blogger. In her post below she shares one of the great events sponsored by the Centerburg Student Council.

Everybody can relate to being put into an unfamiliar situation where they feel scared or sometimes nervous. Many kids have similar feelings when it comes to changing school districts and starting in an environment where they have to start fresh. The small village of Centerburg is a small community where the people are close and the environment is friendly. In such a small community, the Centerburg Student Council hosted a pizza luncheon to welcome all new students and faculty into their school. This is a great event that we do every year after planning our homecoming
activities and consider very important. 

On October 11, 2013, our Student Council hosted their annual luncheon! It was a great time for the new students to connect with each other, as well as the new teachers to become more familiar with their students. This year I presented the students and faculty with red bags with the Trojan mascot on the side. This was a nice little gift that was also very appreciated. Great relationships, good behavior, and positive attitudes come from this simple, but warming welcome! 

 Thank you Ashley!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

High Tech, High Touch, High Performance

High Tech, High Touch, High Performance. You may have heard these words if you attended one the orientation meetings or our opening day staff meetings. The Centerburg Middle/High School staff has embraced these terms and they are adjusting to the new direction very well.  But what does all this mean?

High Tech – This past summer Centerburg invested in new computer equipment to meet the growing demands of the PARRC - the next generation of online assessments.  Our computer labs were updated with new Mac minis as well as continued improvements were made to the network infrastructure. Switches and hardware were replaced to create a more robust wireless network. Students are now permitted to bring their own device and connect to the wireless network. Each teacher will communicate with the students when it is appropriate to use their devices and when they should be put away.

Many would ask the question, “Why computer labs?” With the growing use of personal devices, why not invest in personal devices for students or ultimately a 1:1 initiative.  We believe that personal devices are just that, personal. We must meet the demands of the online testing requirements as well as provide technology to support pedagogy and ultimately student learning. We felt the Mac minis would meet our needs well.

But there’s more…

Creating a wireless network capable of handling the amount of devices carried by our students was very important to our decision. Students will be able to use their devices, when appropriate, to support their learning. This is a huge step to changing the traditional learning environment into a modern collaborative environment.  The addition of Google Apps for Education has increased the amount of opportunities our students have to collaborate on papers, projects or even just basic notes from class. These tools combined with available networks and devices will transform our instruction and benefit student learning.

High Touch – To become a high touch school we need to embrace and always work towards personalizing learning. We are attempting to do this in a number of ways. First in the Middle School we have created an intervention period for every student. This caused a bit of confusion at first due to the negative connotation of the word intervention. Our plan for intervention is this; we need to support our struggling students as well as support or advanced students as well. We will accomplish this through flexible grouping. Teachers will plan activities and divide students based on their needs at the time. The groups are fluid and may change as the activities change. Students will have opportunities to work on topics they are passionate about or have interest in exploring.  Second, the high school will be exploring the K-12 online curriculum to create blended learning opportunities. The online curriculum will allow students to work at their own pace as well as have face to face classes everyday with their teachers. This is an exciting opportunity funded entirely by our Educational Service Center. 

High touch also means that we want to communicate more and communicate better. We are working to increase communication from myself to our staff, from our staff to our students and from our school to parents and community members.  There are many tech tools that will help with this but it’s really about taking the initiative to communicate. We need to be communicating and sharing information daily – not just when there is a problem.  We have created a district Facebook page and Twitter feed. Please follow and like us. On our webpage middle school parents now have access to homework assignments all in one spot. You can access the link by visiting the middle school page and looking for the homework link under Quick Links.

Families – We want to partner with you. Working together we can create great learning opportunities for your children.

High Performance – Everything is changing. Ohio now has a new state report card to evaluate district performance and students will be taking the new next generation of assessments. The new assessments are not about memorizing facts and regurgitating information. Students will need to apply what they learn, solve complex problems and use higher level thinking skills. We expect to continue  Centerburg’s tradition of high test scores. To do this we need to be ready and adjust our instructional practices to meet the demands of the Common Core.  Our teachers are working very hard to stay on top of all the changes.

High Tech, High Touch, High Performance is more than a direction, or idea. It’s what we need to become to be successful as a district in the future. It is an expectation of our students and of ourselves.  This is going to be an exciting journey and it’s an amazing time to be an educator.

We are preparing students for tomorrow, today.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Working to Improve Communication

In order to increase our communication with the community and parents, Centerburg Local Schools has created a Facebook page and Twitter account. Please follow and like our social media channels. We will use these tools to share information about activities and events in the district.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Ohio Department of Education Video

The video below was created by the Ohio Department of Education. It was shared with all the schools this year to help parents and community members understand the numerous changes to our education system. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Why is my kid in intervention?

Middle school parents -  I'm sure you are asking yourself the question, "Why is my kid in intervention when he/she scored so well on the Ohio Achievement Assessment" The past few days many of you have stopped in to pick up your child's schedule for the upcoming school year. Yes, there have been a few changes. First, every student in middle school has intervention on their schedule. But, it's not the intervention you are used to. It's different for a number of reasons.

Before I explain the new intervention I must say that I should have used a different name. Intervention can have a negative connotation. Think of it from now on as Trojan Time.

Trojan Time will be a fluid and ever changing grouping of students based on the needs of students at the time. What this means is that teachers will have the opportunity to schedule different groups or rotate students to reinforce and reteach concepts the students are learning. By creating Trojan Time I have tried to empower the teachers to push our highest performing kids forward and also provide assistance to any student that stumbled on a particular concept. There may be times when students have two periods of math to catch up and there may be times when students are working on a digital project.

Please understand that learning is messy. As we transition to the Trojan Time/Intervention for all model there will be snags along the way. But we are creating and working very hard to do what is best for our kids. In the past intervention was created to help struggling students. Now it is so much more. We will leverage technology to create opportunities for kids to be creative, accelerate and connect. 

Starting with a one cohort from each grade level in middle school I will be personally involved in creating a student blog as a portfolio. Don't panic... we can make it as public or private as you like. Students will create a variety of items that demonstrate their understanding of concepts they are learning and share them on their own blog. By categorizing and tagging each post they will have a record of everything they have learned. The ultimate goal would be that each student maintains their blog throughout their school career. The blog will be a positive digital footprint for each child and a wonderful resource to share when applying for scholarships and job opportunities.

This will be an exciting journey as we start the new year. Trojan Time will be what separates us from everyone else. I look forward to the opportunities we can create for our kids to be highly successful!

If you have questions or concerns do not hesitate to ask.

Mr. Gallwitz

Heartland 5K Huge Success!

Huge thank you to Heartland of Centerburg for their help putting together the Heartland 5k Run/Walk for Education. Approximately 80 individuals participated in the event. Between registration fees and sponsorships over $4,000.00 was raised for Centerburg Schools. This money will be combined with an early grant awarded to Centerburg Schools from the Knox County Community Foundation of $3,000.00 to help purchase computers. Thank you to everyone who participated and made this possible!

Here are a few photos from the event.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Run Walk For Education

Heartland of Centerburg's 5K Run/Walk for Education!

Saturday June 29th, 2013

Race will begin at 9:00am.

The cost is $20.00. All proceeds will go to Centerburg High School to support our technology initiatives. Registration begins at 7:30am.

Register Online by Clicking Here!

A Few Words From a Few Seniors

About a month ago I tossed my flip video camera to a couple seniors and asked them to share a few thoughts about their time a Centerburg. I was not with them when they filmed each other. Their words are their own!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You Should Read... About Technology

As Centerburg continues to explore how to leverage technology to support student learning I thought it would be helpful to share some thoughts from another administrator who gets it right. Chris Lehmann, Principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia often states that,

"Technology in schools must be like oxygen: ubiquitous, necessary and invisible." 

He recently wrote a series of blog posts explaining what he means by this statement. I have had the opportunity to see presentations by Chris regarding this topic and see it in action in his school. That is why I believe you should read:

Ubiquitous - "But when it is ubiquitous, it becomes a part of who we are and how we learn."

Necessary - "Technology becomes necessary when students see it as vital to the way they learn, when they cannot imagine doing the work without it."

Invisible - "The idea that technology must be invisible in school is simply this: Using technology to inquire, to create, to share, to research, to learn is not and should not be notable anymore. It should simply be a matter of course."

If you look closely at his words his vision for what school should is very clear. As we plan for the future, technology will play an important role but creating the best learning opportunities will always be our focus. 

Do you agree? 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Why Technology?

For those of us that are frequent users of technology and social media, we have a pretty good understanding of why we use it. Many educators, Twitter users, and edu-bloggers regularly discuss and debate technology use in schools. There is this massive echo chamber of educators discussing the benefits, tools, and debating what works best. Within the social media world of educators we regularly discuss where, when and why technology should be used in school. We get it. We see it. And we know the transformational effect it can have on the quality of education schools can provide to their students.

If you are not a Twitter user, if you do not read educational blogs you may have missed the "why". If you are a parent you may be wondering why the school is expanding their wifi capabilities. You may be wondering why schools would want to allow students to bring their own devices to school. As a tax payer you may be wondering why schools need more computers.

I hope to provide you with the "why".

Our students are growing up in a different world than when you and I went to school. Twenty years ago you could graduate from high school and enter the work force with a variety of job options. Decent paying factory jobs were available then, not so much now. Students are competing for jobs with not only members of their senior class, seniors from neighboring schools, but also the rest of the world. Technology has created a global job market where our kids will have to fight for jobs. For the first time in history more people in the world will be graduating with high school and college degrees due to the explosion of population and transformational effect technology has had on learning.

Students expect to use technology. They expect to use the tools they feel comfortable and confident using for education. Students also need direction with their digital footprint, the history of everything they do online.

Today's job market will require workers to use a vast array of digital tools. Students need to enter the job market with experience using digital tools professionally. They need to have experience collaborating with peers on a single project using tools that allow team members to be anywhere. We can create real world opportunities for students at school through the use of technology. A few examples of this could be: publishing an ebook then selling it on Amazon, collaborating with other students in other parts of the world, remixing music and video,  and building apps.

Technology use in schools is not about setting in front of a computer all day or replacing teachers. It can be so much more. Using technology in schools is about creating the best learning environment and creating opportunities for our kids. Using technology in school is about taking the great things we have always done and transforming them into something so much better.

At Centerburg, we are expanding our wifi capabilities, we have created Google Apps for Education accounts for our students, we are searching for ways to provide students with computers, and we are sharing ideas as a staff. This is a long and involved process. A lot of time and professional development is needed for our staff but we are headed in the right direction. Transformation will not happen overnight but you will begin to see new opportunities very soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Reaching out to the Community...

Centerburg Community,

I am excited to announce that I recently completed a small grant application to the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County. requesting $3,000.00. The grant is written as a partnership between the Centerburg School District, the Community Foundation and local members of the Centerburg Community. The goal is to raise $10,000.00 to transform a traditional classroom into a 21st century classroom. The funds will be used to purchase twenty-five Google Chromebooks and to provide professional development for the teachers involved in the project. We will also need to purchase a cart to store the computers as well.

The goals of the project also include:
  1. Increase students access to cutting-edge texts, news and primary sources
  2. Promote interactive, digital methods of collecting real-time feedback from students.
  3. Enhance opportunities for students to publish media for authentic audiences.  
I would also like to create a Community University where opportunities will be created and scheduled for the community to come in and learn how to use the tools our students will be using daily. An example of this could be an evening dedicated to Google documents or G-mail. I would like to utilize  volunteers and students within the Community University concept.

What I need:

I am seeking funding for this project and I need your help. Currently Heartland has committed $2,000.00 to this idea and want to be a partner with the school. As you can see If you open the Chromebook link the computers are relatively inexpensive as compared to other devices. If you, your family, or your business would like to support this initiative by purchasing one computer or just making a donation please contact me in the HS/MS office by calling 740-625-6055. You can always leave comments or questions in the comment feature of this blog. I encourage you to comment. Positive comments are contagious and provide fuel for projects like this.

I have not hidden the fact that I am a fan of technology. Our students are growing up in a different world and have easier access to information. We need to provide them with the tools to mange the information and learn how to apply it to solve real world  problems. Technology will never replace a great teacher but it certainly can transform a child's education.

Let's Do This!

In service to children,

Ryan Gallwitz
MS/HS Principal Centerburg Local Schools

Monday, January 28, 2013

You Should Read... #Educon Style

I was very fortunate to attend a very unique professional development opportunity this past weekend in Philadelphia, Pa. at Science Leadership Academy, a public magnet school. Many educators traveled several hundred miles to "meet old friends for the first time" as well as forge new relationships. Social media played a huge a part in all of this as the #educon hashtag trended nationally during the event. Leading up to Educon many of the participants had become good friends professionally by sharing, debating and commenting through social media, specifically Twitter.

This was not a technology conference or even a social media conference. It was a conversation between passionate educators that struggle everyday finding the perfect learning environment for their kids. It was a conversation about what is learning, innovation, inquiry and taking risks. Each session or discussion would lead to more questions and deeper thinking. Professional debate and discussion forces us to challenge each other as well as our own beliefs. Reflection is a powerful tool and after spending time with all the amazing folks at Educon, reflection is exhausting. I am blessed to have been a participant and thankful to have great educators in my network that I can rely on for help, motivation or in the words of  Chris Lehmann principal of SLA, to be imbued.

Here are a few blog posts I feel you should read... #Educon!

Educon: Shift Happens by Tom Whittby Tom provides us with a good synopsis of how the event works and why it has a huge impact on what we do.

What I Learned Today Steve Goldberg shares his experience at Educon and provides examples of his learning as well as some very meaningful tweets.

Educon 2.5-ish Random-ish Reflections - Will Richardson, author of Why School, shares his thoughts about the session he led where participants attempted to create the 95 Theses of contemporary learning and schooling

Why Preaching to the #educhoir Really DOES Matter - Bill Ferriter shares not only a few pictures of his notes but also his thoughts about being a real change agent when everyone is preaching to the choir.

My big take away from Educon is this: I am not alone! Take a chance! Create the environment where your staff can take a risk. Learning is messy. If we are going to be great tomorrow, we have to be great today!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Sincere Compliment

Today after school I came across the following tweet by George Couros:

I clicked on the link in the tweet and the following Youtube video popped up:

This is just one high school students attempt to find the good in everyone. Many times social media is used or is portrayed  negatively when in reality it can be a very positive tool. I encourage everyone who reads this post to leave a sincere compliment for one of your friends or followers using social media. Never underestimate the influence you have on your peers.