Personalized Learning

One of the great advantages of our district is the continued ability to be able to attend professional development conferences to witness first hand the trends and best practices in education.  What we bring back from our PD conferences is shared with our staff and I will use this blog to share as well.

Recently I spent a few days at the Mid Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning.  There was a time when this simply meant that students may have some differentiation in the content, process or product of a lesson within a classroom of their grade level peers.  Today it means so much more.

I was definitely intrigued to hear what some school districts have done with personalized learning.  Personalized learning has evolved into more about creating playlists of courses based on pathways of learning constructed around student voice and interest.  It is likely that your grade level becomes less important as you are working within cohorts of students whose interests are the same or similar to yours.  The teacher becomes the facilitator of different cohorts and the playlists dictate the projects, assignments and assessments that students participate in.  To go even deeper, the work is based on each individual’s  pre~assessments so that the content can be personally prescribed for each learner.  Important to note is that this is not learning solely via technology- i.e. online learning. Personalized learning platforms should also incorporate the strategies of collaboration, cooperative learning, peer research, direct instruction etc.   It is likely that upon graduation, high school students could not only have high school diplomas but depending on the cohort they have chosen, there is a potential to earn certificates in various areas as well ~ what a great way to set apart a transcript!

Personalized learning can also be utilized on a smaller scale for remedial type programs as well as a replacement and/or supplement to code of conduct consequences.  There are also opportunities for incorporating social emotional lessons into existing curriculum.

Some companies out there with websites on personalized learning may offer some additional information if you are interested in learning more- here’s one to start your journey…

https://www.edelements.com/

We will continue to explore new and innovative trends in education to provide our students with the best possible educational experience!

 

 

Attendance Matters

Interesting articles relative to why attendance at school matters:

https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/attendancedata/chapter1a.asp

http://absencesaddup.org/importance-of-school-attendance/

In addition to multiple interventions, we are also rewarding students who are achieving milestones such as perfect attendance with citations on their report cards and raffles to earn gift cards.  We also have a REMIND text message that can be delivered to each individual that signs up ~ with a remarkable resemblance to one of our own 🙂

remind poster

Teacher of the Year

It is with much pleasure that we congratulate Mrs. Lonie as the 2019 Teacher of the Year for RANDOLPH HS. Mrs. Lonie is a remarkable educator and an excellent example of the teachers we have at RHS.  On behalf of the staff and students – congratulations to Mrs. Lonie.  She is as passionate as she is knowledgeable and we are lucky to have her!!!

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Time to plan…

Hard to believe but this is actually the time of year to start planning your schedule for the upcoming school year 2019-2020.  Looking through a curriculum handbook can be somewhat of a daunting task.  At RHS we use a three tiered recommendation process giving students, teachers and parents an opportunity to talk about levels of core content courses for the upcoming school year.  Please use this time to take a sincere look at where you want to challenge yourself academically and how you want to prioritize your time.  There is also much thought that comes with deciding what electives will be most beneficial and fulfill requirements.  Included are some helpful hints as you move through your high school career to choose electives and possibly set your transcript apart from the norm:

  • Where do you think you want to be at the end of your four years?  This does not mean you have to have a definite career already chosen.  However, if you have certain interest areas, take a look at potential electives that are offered over the four years of high school and pick those that most closely align to a career path of interest.  The high school has begun to map out pathways such as the Education Pathway that, if completed, will allow you to transcript a certificate issued by the State of NJ upon graduation.  You will see this when you look through our handbook.
  • Consider a dual enrollment course.  As you look through our course selection handbook, take note of the dual enrollment opportunities.  We are looking to expand these possibilities as another way to highlight your high school transcript with college credits.
  • Investigate how our Option II program could benefit you.  Option II allows for a wealth of possibilities within the four years of high school.  Students who are self directed and motivated to follow less conventional paths of education are strongly encouraged to investigate Option II.  RHS has had numerous students placed in fashion, air travel, education, finance, business etc.   Another avenue of Option II involves our seniors who can benefit from our senior internship program in the last few weeks of their senior year by opting out of classes replaced by some real life experiences.
  • Incoming freshmen should strongly consider the freshman seminar class.  This semester course will acquaint them with all aspects of high school life and begin to map out that four year plan.  It is very hands on and relevant.
  • Our AP Capstone program offers students the chance to earn an AP Certificate and/or an AP Diploma upon graduation.  The program consists of two classes ~ AP Seminar and AP Research ~ with both courses being more about process than content.  In these AP classes, students have more choice in what topics they investigate.  RHS was one of the first high schools in NJ to be accepted into this program.

This is just a brief overview of all that RHS has to offer.  Please take some time to really look through our handbook and make thoughtful decisions about classes.  We are ready, willing and able to help you make decisions along the way.  More information regarding course selection will be coming out in the month of February with the scheduling window opening toward the middle to the end of that month.

The power of giving…

“For the Man Who Hated Christmas” by Nancy W. Gavin
It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past ten years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas
oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the
commercial aspects of it -overspending… the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma – the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.
Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears. It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat. Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.” Mike loved kids
-all kids
-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came. That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note
inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me. His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years. For each Christmas, I followed the tradition one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.
The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide
-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.
You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more.
Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing to take down the envelope.
Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit will always be with us.
To learn more about honoring a loved one through this special tradition, please visit
Editor’s
Note: This story was originally published in the December 14, 1982 issue of Woman’s Day magazine. It was the first place winner out of thousands of entries in the magazine’s “My Most Moving Holiday Tradition” contest in which readers were asked to
share their favorite holiday tradition and the story behind it. The story inspired a family
from Atlanta, Georgia to start The White Envelope Project and Giving101, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating youth about the importance of giving.

Assessment Literacy

A renewed focus at RHS is the idea of aligning all assessments to our curriculum and standards.  As we continue to review and revise our curriculum outcomes and goals to be in line with our state learning standards, we also need to be sure that the daily assessments we give our students are hitting the mark with regard to assessing what our curriculum states we should be teaching.  This is not a new process by any means but one that must stay at the forefront of what we do.

There are certain steps necessary to ensure this takes place.  It begins with “unpacking” our curriculum and identifying the intended learning outcomes for each unit of instruction and mapping those specific outcomes onto a table of specifications – otherwise referred to as a blueprint.  After each question of every assessment gets mapped onto this table,  teachers will be able to analyze what is and isn’t and what should and shouldn’t be on each unit assessment.   The table will also visually illustrate the relative emphasis on each area of the unit as well as the reliability and validity of the assessment.  While this process is tedious and time consuming, it will help us ensure that all areas of our curriculum are being assessed appropriately and allow us to make adjustments where needed.

A large part of this process will include utilizing tools such as Webb’s Depth of Knowledge, Hess’ Cognitive Rigor Matrix and Bloom’s Taxonomy.

This process began with our November 5th early dismissal day when we hosted a workshop by Dr. Leslie Grant, Associate Dean for Academic Programs and Associate Professor for Educational Policy, Planning and Leadership from the William & Mary School of Education.  Dr. Grant will be returning to RHS on February  7th to work with small groups of staff and administrators.  We will continue this critical work as a high school staff throughout the remainder of this school year.