Thursday, December 19, 2013

Toys for Tots

We have always believed that the Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District is a place full of outstanding individuals committed to civic leadership.  This school year we competed in a Valley Conference competition in raising Toys for Tots donations. 

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (JWP), St. Clair and Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial (LCWM) chose to compete this school year.  Today (12/19/13) all three schools went to Mankato to deliver the donations each district collected.  In the end JWP won the competition.  The point totals (rounded) from each district is notated below:

LCWM - 700 points
St. Clair - 2400 points
JWP - 2500 points

The JWP School Community contributed roughly $3,000 in cash donations to Toys for Tots and over 1,000 toys.  Please be proud of the impact you all have made on our local and national efforts.  JWP's work will put several smiles on the faces of children throughout the local, state and national levels.  We couldn't be more proud of our District.  We are simply humbled by your efforts.  Thank you for making our district a great place to live, learn and teach.  Simply put, you are amazing!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

10,000 Hours of Practice

In my days as an assistant wrestling coach we used to tell our wrestlers that they needed to practice a move 10,000 times before it would become part of their muscle memory.  In essence, practicing the move 10,000 times would increase a wrestler's ability on the mat.  However, after reading the book, Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, I found that my old way of communicating that message was a bit flawed.

Gladwell states that research supports it takes 10,000 hours of practice before one can become an 'expert'.  In his book he talks about three specific examples of this theory.  Bill Joy, Bill Gates and the Beatles.  In each case, these folks engaged in their area of expertise for 10,000 hours before they reached the pinnacle of their early careers.

So how does this relate to education.  Students spend roughly seven hours per day in classroom instruction for 174 days.  7 hours x 174 days x 13 years = 15,834 hours of instruction.  However, the example relates directly to practice not necessarily seat time.  Therefore, we need to begin shifting our attention to finding ways for students to 'practice' or 'apply' their learning to engage the 'expert' status.

Although this blog entry will not solve the gaps in student learning, I hope for it to start a conversation. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Technology is Evolving in Education

From December 14th to December 17th I will be attending the TIES Conference in Minneapolis.  This conference is focused on the potential use of technology in today's classroom.  I have just completed the first day of this conference and the sessions I attended involved the use of Evernote and Twitter in K-12 classrooms. 

Evernote is managed by the cloud.  Students and teachers can utilize Evernote to eliminate paper, increase engagement, and enhance achievement.  There are many features in Evernote that can be tapped to move our educational capacity forward.  As the JWP School District continues its journey to engage the student population through technology, Evernote will be a strong contributor.

Twitter is a social media platform that many utilize in a variety of ways.  Although Twitter has received negative attention, it can actually provide a positive influence on the education of our students.  Please click on the following link to learn more about the use of Twitter in the K12 classroom:

While I attended the conference I overheard educators talk about the ability our youth have with technology.  After listening to the dialogue, I came to the conclusion that educators need to begin discovering new social media tools prior to our students discovering them.  Right now, Facebook and Twitter are almost a foregone tool for teenagers.  Our students are now moving onto Instagram and Snapchat from Facebook and Twitter.  A reflective question we need to begin answering is the following:

What can we do as educators to discover the next best thing for our young learners and begin including it into our instruction? 

Although we are all comfortable with the tradition of education, we need to begin adapting our practice to meet the needs of the new learner.  This is a call for all to embark on the challenge of evolving education!

With Regards,
Bill Adams, JWP Superintendent