Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What is the JWP superintendent thankful for?

During this time of year we are called to reflect on the things we are thankful for in life.  On a personal note I am thankful for my wonderful family and the community in which we reside.  Being that this blog is for professional intentions, I will express my thankfulness for the school district in which I am employed and our district's communities.

Lists are always a good way to organize thoughts, therefore, my thankfulness will be expressed below.

1. First and foremost, I am thankful for the students that enter our schoolhouse doors on a daily basis eager to learn and grow.  We have outstanding students that will no doubt contribute to society in a positive way in the very near and distant future.

2. I am thankful for the outstanding staff members (all of them) at JWP that commit themselves to the world's most important job, educating future contributors to our society.  JWP staff members have experienced many changes through that past three years.  Each one of them have found a way to embrace the change and make the best of it.  As this district's superintendent, I can confidently say that you/we are extremely lucky to have such committed personnel positively impacting students on a daily basis. 

3. I am thankful for an outstanding school board.  School board members have a difficult job.  They are elected officials that represent our three communities and put forth 100% effort to ensure the students that enter our schoolhouse gate are provided with a world class education.  These members have set a strategic vision and have committed to ensuring those visions are met.

4. I am thankful for our communities.  The communities of Janesville, Waldorf, and Pemberton have provided us with financial and moral support to accomplish our goal of ensuring all students learn at high levels.  Without the support of these three communities, our recent great accomplishments would not have been realized.

5. I am thankful to those in our school and communities that came before us.  The hard work and sacrifice of those that came before us make us who we are today.  From the settlements of our communities to the development of our current school district, those before us made everything possible today.  You are all greatly appreciated.

I realize that my notations above have not included everyone.  For those I missed, thank you for your contributions to our district and communities.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Legislative Session & Technology

The 2015 legislative session is set to begin on January 6, 2015.  In the education world, this becomes an interesting and important time of the year.  The Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton School District will focus our lobbying efforts on a variety of issues.  In this blog entry I will share with you the items of interest for our district in the upcoming legislative session as well as technology news.

Governor Dayton and our legislatures have been supportive of education over the past two biennium's.  We have seen an increase to the funding formula, full funding of all day everyday kindergarten, expansion of early childhood education, fiscal allocations for the implementation of the new teacher evaluation law and a variety of other efforts.  Although we are thankful for the efforts, we have a long way to go.

Legislative Priorities

Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton's lobbying efforts will be as follows:

1. An increase to the funding formula with indexing for inflation.
2. Increase in alternative facilities authority so we can maintain our facility.
3. Continued equalization so our local taxpayers aren't stuck with the brunt of funding our school district.
4. Funding of unfunded mandates.
5. A variety of other needs.

Should you want to discuss these items at greater length, please feel free to contact me directly.  


Technology issues continue to be a topic of interest for our district.  Technology changes at a rapid pace.  Many districts throughout the state of Minnesota have implemented 1:1 initiatives in which each student is issued a device.  Our district is in the process of evaluating which device makes the most sense for our students.  Devices being considered are iPads, Chromebooks, MS Surface, Droid Devices, laptops and others.  Should any of you have a particular interest in which device we should implement and have rationale, please feel free to contact me as I would like to discuss this with you.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Must See YouTube Video

This week Mr. Erler (Elementary Principal), Mrs. Miller (4th Grade), Mrs. Morrow (2nd Grade) and Mrs. Schmitz (Kindergarten) attended the Curriculum Leaders of Minnesota Conference.  On Friday our keynote speaker was Scott McLeod (@mcleod for Twitter followers).  For me, his keynote was one of the most engaging conversations I have experienced.  It was wonderful to share this experience with some of our outstanding JWP staff.

Dr. McLeod challenged us to think about how to take technology from substitution use to higher order uses while educating our students.  This comes directly from the SAMR model of technology instruction.

S - Substitution - Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change.  For example, in the past, we may have used a chalkboard to teach and now we use the SMARTboard.

A - Augmentation - Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement.  An example would be the use of "Back Channels" to further discuss a topic or for continued reflection.

M - Modification - Technology allows for significant redesign, which might be concept mapping notes using different pieces of technology linking different learning.

R - Redefinition - Technology allows for creation of new tasks that were previously inconceivable.  An example of this would be that students are asked to make documentary videos of their grandparents or someone else they know in that age range.  They would specifically discuss historical points and cite experience in the documentary.  The documentary would then be shared via Twitter and Google Sites.

*Kathy Schrock (

Ultimately one can look at the SAMR model as being similar to Bloom's Taxonomy.  Moving from the bottom up in Bloom's Taxonomy allows more authentic learning experiences for students.  Likewise is the experience of moving from substitution to redefinition.

Thank you Scott McLeod for outstanding information and tools for future innovation and district wide development!  Those of you that have made your way through this blog entry, enjoy the following video.