Friday, May 10, 2013

Reflection & Celebration

“Wahoo! This is such an exciting and great opportunity! Thank you on behalf of my students!”  LASD Teacher in response to Innovative Teacher Grants

“The conversations I am hearing around campus are so exciting-change is in the air!”
“I am so excited with the direction we are moving as a district.   You all have expressed just the right amount of  urgency while also being understanding to teachers' questions, concerns, and feelings of overwhelmedness.”

Spring is a tricky time in education.  The pace is fast.  We are fully engaged in the current school year and yet already looking ahead to next year.  We are exhasuted, overwhelmed thinking of everything we hoped to accomplish this school year and excited by all of the new possibilities next year will bring.  For these reasons, I find it is even more important to reflect and celebrate all that has been accomplished.  I am amazed and humbled by the collective accomplishments in LASD this year.  Below are  a few accomplishments that come to mind.  This is certainly not a comprehensive list.  If you have another LASD accomplishment to add, please feel free to add in the comments.   

LASD Admin Team Featured in New Educational Leadership Book
A newly released educational leadership book,  The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside our Schools shares stories of leaders who use their intelligence to amplify the smarts and capabilities of the people around them.  LASD administrators are listed among some of education's best leaders.  Under the leadership of Jeffrey Baier, LASD Superintendent, the LASD administrative team has been recognized for harnessing new ideas & energy to drive educational innovation. We have been so fortunate to work with the author Liz Wiseman and are honored to celebrate the launch of the new multiplier book with her next week.

Upgraded Units of Instruction
This school year we have worked with our entire teaching staff on upgrading units of instruction. The process has pushed our teachers outside of their comfort zone, but the results for students has been incredible.  We recently created this short video to highlight the process and encourage reflection among all teachers:

Student EdCon 2013: Learning Rocked & Redesigned
This year we will be launching our first ever Student Ed Conference.  The goals of this conference are to: increase student voice in our vision of revolutionizing learning and empower students to become creative doers and thinkers. This event will be held in June 2013 and will be an opportunity for students to participate in a design challenge to help reimagine the school day. Seventy to one hundred jr. high students will work in small action collaboratives with facilitators on a design challenge.  The conference will culminate with a showcase of ideas that have the potential to improve learning for all students.  

iLearn Classes
We launched an after school opt-in professional development program for teachers.  Thus far we have had the following
  • 20 different classes offered
  • over 80 hours of  after school professional development
  • topics included: project based learning, digital storytelling, design thinking, eportfolios, visual thinking & infographics, Creating Innovators Book Club, Google tools, edmodo, twitter, Maker Faire, hands on science video production, podcasting
  • 90 classroom teachers opted in to after school professional development during the fall session - 38% of teaching staff

Instructional Coaching
  • over 500 coaching interactions logged between August - March
  • interactions include modeling lessons, debriefing, instructional planning, observation, one on one coaching, small group coaching

Targeted Initiatives
  • Increase access to technology in special education teachers
    • equipped resource rooms with additional technology and provided teachers training to help them individualize instruction for all students.
  • Blended Learning
    • Target Audience: new Grade 5 & 6 Teachers, Jr. High Math Teachers New to Khan Academy in a Blended Learning Environment
    • provided a full day of training to equip new  teachers with knowledge and tools necessary to implement a blended learning environment in math to more effectively differentiate the instruction.
  • Innovative Strategies - Rethinking Instruction in Grades K-4
    • equip primary teachers with the tools, strategies and training to implement innovative instructional strategies to more effectively engage students and meet individual needs of students.
  • Systematic English Language Development
    • 120+ hours of professional development to over 65 teachers in Systematic ELD
    • 3 of the 7 elementary school sites have almost 100% of their teachers trained in Systematic ELD.

Innovative Teacher Grants
  • Completed 3 cycles for the LASD Innovative Teacher Grants
  • Teachers awarded grants had the support to work on an idea they believed would help improve the learning experience for their students.  Here are some of the ideas explored
    • Redesign Primary Classroom - removing desks replacing with round tables covered wtih idea paint, & WittFitts for seating.
    • Redesign Upper Grade Classroom - the room will be designed with the end users, our students, in mind using the design thinking process
    • Contemporary Music Instruction -  piloting the use of SMART music an online interactive tool to help with instrumental music practice.
    • Design Thinking - create lesson plans using design thinking and pull together a prototyping supply rack to use with students during the process.
    • Sound/Filming Studio - creation of space in the computer lab for students to use for filming with green screen and basic sound equipment that is accessible to all students and teachers on campus for multi-media projects.
    • STEM Project - creation a new STEM project aligned with a current fifth grade science unit incorporating materials from “Engineering is Elementary.”
    • Multi-media Projects -development & best methods for incorporating the creation of multi-media projects into the first grade curriculum.
    • Programmable Robots - collaboration with Khan Academy to have students create simple robots that can be programmed during their CSTEM class
    • ePortfolios: creation of electronic portfolios to move towards becoming a paperless classroom.
    • Robotics Elective:  creation of a Lego Robotics elective for jr. high students
    • Chromebooks in Primary Classes:  piloting the use of four Chromebooks in each classroom to determine the effectiveness of this tool in primary classes.
  • Now we get to focus on identifying which initiatives have been most successful and which ones we want to scale across our district

Lead Learners on Every Site
  • invested in 2-3 teachers (professional development, resources) on every site to enable them to be lead learners
  • lead learners worked to inspire teachers to change instructional practices and support them in this process
  • creative structures and supports implemented such as morning genius bars, staff presentations, modeled lessons
  • each lead learner documented their experience through an eportfolio

Reflecting and celebrating these achievements makes me realize how much progress we have made towards realizing our vision of revolutionizing learning for all students.  Thank you to all of our teachers, administrators and parents who contributed to this collective success.  I am beyond excited when I think about all of the possibilities and opportunities that await us next school year.
Contributed by Alyssa Gallagher, Asst Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction

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