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Monday, March 26, 2012

PD Opportunity: High Stakes Testing in Michigan - Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, Michigan will implement the new assessment system from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. We will use these assessments for our federal accountability in Math and ELA for grades 3-8 and 11.
A successful implementation of the new assessment system requires planning on all levels: district, school, and classroom. Educational leaders should attend this one-day session to explore and become familiar with the new assessment framework and to begin to plan for a successful implementation on the district and school levels.

May 10, 2012
9am - 3:30 pm

Together, we will explore and answer questions like these
· What opportunities will districts, schools, teachers, and students have to access and use the SBAC assessments before 2014-15?
· To what extent will educational leaders and teachers be involved in the piloting and review phases of development?
· What tools will be offered as part of the Balanced Assessment system? What type of PD will be provided?
· What will happen to our students’ proficiency scores on these new assessments?
· What will happen to the ACT? When is it going away? Will there be a MEAP assessment in 2014?
· What support will teachers need in transitioning to the new assessment system?
· What needs to happen with my district or school’s technology plan so that we are ready for the new assessments?
· What do our parents and guardians need to know about the new assessment system?

Pair this session with “High Stakes Testing – Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium – ELA" on May 23 to ensure you are fully informed and ready to plan for implementation with fidelity.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Calculus the Musical!

The Grand Valley State University Mathematics and Statistics Club and Physics Club are pleased to announce that Calculus the Musical will visit the GVSU Allendale campus on the evening of Friday, March 30. This event is free and open to the public and will take place from 7-8 p.m. in the Grand River Room of the Kirkhoff Center.

| Maps and Directions | Free parking is available in Lot H after 6:30 p.m.

Calculus the Musical is a nationally-renowned traveling theater production created by the "Know Theatre" of Cincinnati, Ohio. In this entertaining, dynamic production, actors use a variety of music genres, from light opera to rock to hip-hop, to parody the theory of calculus. Over 12,000 students across the country saw Calculus the Musical last year, and the production has become so popular that it has spawned both a Facebook page as well as a commercially available CD.

If you have any questions regarding the production, contact Paul Fishback at 616.331.2443 or at

Seating is first come, first served and is limited so arrive early!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Arranging the HS CCSS-M into courses - ANOTHER option

A suggested arrangement of the high school standards into courses, developed with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Pearson Foundation, by a group of people including Patrick Callahan and Brad Findell has just been released. It seems to be a solid effort by people familiar with the standards, so what do you think of these courses?
In Michigan, three options have emerged for High School math courses. Course pathways are offered
  1. in Appendix A of the CCSS-M
  2. from the MAISA collaborative project developed by Oakland Schools
  3. by the group that has been grant funded. Their work is presented here:

THE question
So, which pathway should we use in Michigan?
[And, should we use just one pathway across the entire state?]

Please leave your comments here.
If you'd like to weigh in with others from across all states, visit Bill McCallum's original post of these files.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Free April Webinars: Marzano's Common Core Implementation: Steps to Success

Developed by Robert J. Marzano and MRL associates, each webinar of this four-part series will overview the critical processes that must occur for successful Common Core State Standards implementation regarding curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Each presentation will last about 45 minutes, with 15 minutes at the end for Q&A.

Part 1: What are the CCSS?
Presented by Jan Hoegh
4 p.m. EDT, Monday, April 2
Learn about the purpose, organization, and content of the CCSS.

Part 2: How do proficiency scales support the CCSS?
Presented by Jan Hoegh
4 p.m. EDT, Monday, April 9

Explore what a proficiency scale looks like, the ways it can be used, and why it should be considered a crucial element for successful implementation of CCSS.

Part 3: What instructional practices support CCSS implementation?
Presented by Phil Warrick
4 p.m. EDT, Thursday, April 19

Distinguish the essential differences between cognitive and conative skills, along with their impact on 21st century learning.

Part 4: What assessment practices support CCSS implementation?
Presented by Jan Hoegh
4 p.m. EDT, Thursday, April 26

Discover obtrusive, unobtrusive, and student-generated assessments, and how to use student assessment data to monitor your CCSS progress.

Register now.

Technology Readiness Tool for Smarter Balanced Assessments

Attention: Superintendents, Assessment Coordinators, and District Technology Directors

On March 8, 2012, Michigan's State Department of Education released the following memo.

Beginning in the 2014-15 school year, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) anticipates transitioning to online assessments developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC). While there will be a paper version of the SBAC assessments available for the first three years, it is important that Michigan schools make significant progress towards technology readiness in order to take advantage of this next-generation assessment system.

To assist local districts in preparing for this change, the SBAC has developed a Technology Readiness Assessment tool that will be used across the consortium. This online tool will help local school districts, public school academies, intermediate school districts, and the MDE determine current readiness levels for this new assessment format.

There will be frequent Technology Readiness Assessment windows over the next three years that will allow local districts to use the tool and update information on the technology available in their buildings. The information collected using this tool will enable all stakeholders, including policymakers, to work together to ensure that Michigan schools are prepared for the transition to online assessments.

The first Technology Readiness Assessment collection will take place between
March 20 and June 14, 2012. Information regarding online training resources, as
well as login information for your district, will be provided to technology directors and assessment coordinators in the coming weeks.

Sources of additional information and who to contact
If you have questions regarding the Technology Readiness Assessment tool please
contact Bruce Umpstead, State Readiness Coordinator at:

Questions about the transition from Michigan’s existing assessments to those developed by the SBAC should be sent to

For more information on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, please visit

For more information on the national technology readiness effort, please visit

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's all of this about a 'flipped' classroom?

Have you been hearing about flipped classrooms? Curious as to what they are and why we might consider moving towards one?

From Harvard University to inner city Detroit to rural Colorado; from basic introductory classes to AP courses, teachers are experiencing significant improvement in student achievement transitioning to the 'Flipped Classroom' model. A side benefit is that teachers save time. The flip model represents a merger of:

  • The Socratic method where students are responsible for meaningful conversation while in class
  • Research in cognitive science that shows students need immediate feedback
  • The emergence of powerful learning online communities where student thinking can become more visible and mutually supportive

The flip model represents a significant cultural change in the traditional classroom and changing roles of student and teacher.

Curious? Attend a FREE webinar April 4 at 2pm to learn more.

Register now.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Free Math Technology & Common Core Webinars

Upcoming Free Webinars

Every Tuesday throughout the school year, Key Curriculum Press offers free technology webinars focus on using The Geometer's Sketchpad®, TinkerPlots® Dynamic Data Exploration, orFathom® Dynamic Data software to teach mathematical topics ranging from elementary to calculus. If you miss a webinar or want to review it, each one is recorded for on-demand viewing and support.

Sketchpad Webinars

Key Curriculum Press offers two Sketchpad webinars each month, one for beginning users of Sketchpad (no prior experience is necessary!) and one for intermediate or advanced users. The webinars use Sketchpad 5: Click here to download a preview copy or purchase the software.

March 20
Exploring Conic Sections with Sketchpad

More Info | Register for March 20

April 3
All About Area with Sketchpad (Beginner)

More Info | Register for April 3

April 17
Putting a Professional Polish on Your Sketchpad Presentation (Intermediate)

More Info | Register for April 17

May 1
Building Equations with Sketchpad (Beginner)

More Info | Register for May 1

May 15
Programming Demonstrations in Sketchpad (Intermediate/Advanced)

More Info | Register for May 15

Fathom and TinkerPlots Webinars

Every month they offer a webinar on either Fathom orTinkerPlots. Fathom webinars focus on high school mathematics, and TinkerPlots webinars focus on elementary or middle school mathematics. No prior experience with the software is necessary. (Fathom webinars use Version 2: Click here to preview or purchase the software. TinkerPlots webinars use Version 2 Click here to preview or purchase the software.)

March 13
Exploring Covariation with TinkerPlots

More Info | Register for March 13

April 10
Reviewing for the AP Statistics Exam with Fathom

More Info | Register for April 10

May 8
Using TinkerPlots to Foster Understanding of Charts and Graphs (Beginner)

More Info | Register for May 8

May 29
Data Games: Games that Produce Data that Leads to Mathematical Learning

More Info | Register for May 29

Common Core Webinars

Every month they offer a webinar on how to support the implementation of the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics through the use of dynamic technology tools. The Common Core webinars highlight how to foster the mathematical practices, particularly modeling with mathematics, using tools strategically, and construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. Each month has a different mathematical focus. To learn more about how our dynamic software supports the pedagogical approaches and content recommended by the Common Core, visit

March 27

Get to the Core: Algebra and Functions with Sketchpad

More Info | Register for March 27

April 24
Get to the Core: 6th Grade Statistics and Probability Standards with TinkerPlots (Beginning)

More Info | Register for April 24

May 22
Get to the Core: High School Algebra and Functions Standards with Fathom (Beginner)

More Info | Register for May 22

Great Principals Talk about Getting It Done

A 2011-12 webinar series presented by
The Education Trust

“We educators really do have the knowledge to provide all children with a high-quality education — an education that will help break the cycle of poverty and despair.”

Molly Bensinger-Lacy, former principal
Graham Road Elementary School

“Leading change is certainly complex, difficult, and continuous. ... The stakes are high, the risks are great, but the chance to have an impact on improving people’s lives is substantial.”

Jody Spiro, director of educational leadership
The Wallace Foundation

Join Karin Chenoweth and Christina Theokas Wed., March 21, at 4:00 p.m. (EDT), for the final session of our webinar series, Great Principals Talk about Getting It Done. Guests Molly Bensinger-Lacy and Jody Spiro will talk about what we can learn from leaders of schools that are helping all students meet meaningful achievement standards. The previous five sessions are available on demand.

Supported by The Wallace Foundation, these webinars are based on Getting It Done: Leading Academic Success in Unexpected Schools (Harvard Education Press, 2011), the latest book by Chenoweth and Theokas, respectively writer-in-residence and director of research at The Education Trust.

Sign up for Equity Express

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Teacher Survey Shows Morale Is at a Low Point

repost from the New York Times

The slump in the economy, coupled with the acrimonious discourse over how much weight test results and seniority should be given in determining a teacher’s worth, have conspired to bring morale among the nation’s teachers to its lowest point in more than 20 years, according to a survey of teachers, parents and students released on Wednesday.

    More than half of teachers expressed at least some reservation about their jobs, their highest level of dissatisfaction since 1989, the survey found. Also, roughly one in three said they were likely to leave the profession in the next five years, citing concerns over job security, as well as the effects of increased class size and deep cuts to services and programs. Just three years ago, the rate was one in four.

    The results, released in the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, expose some of the insecurities fostered by the high-stakes pressure to evaluate teachers at a time of shrinking resources. About 40 percent of the teachers and parents surveyed said they were pessimistic that levels of student achievement would increase in the coming years, despite the focus on test scores as a primary measure of quality of a teacher’s work.

    Sandi Jacobs, vice president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, a nonpartisan advocacy group in Washington, said the push for evaluations, punctuated by a national movement to curb the power of unions, had fostered an unsettling cultural shift.

    “It’s easy to see why teachers feel put upon, when you consider the rhetoric around the need to measure their effectiveness — just as it’s easy to see why they would internalize it as a perception that teachers are generally ineffective, even if it’s not what the debate is about at all,” Ms. Jacobs said.

    More than 75 percent of the teachers surveyed said the schools where they teach had undergone budget cuts last year, and about as many of them said the cuts included layoffs — of teachers and others, like school aides and counselors. Roughly one in three teachers said their schools lost arts, music and foreign language programs. A similar proportion noted that technology and materials used in the schools had not been kept up to date to meet students’ needs.

    “The fixation on testing has been a negative turn of events when the things that engage kids in schools are all being cut,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

    The survey, in its 28th year, showed similar attitudes among teachers working in poor and stable neighborhoods; in schools serving large numbers of immigrant students who are not proficient in English, as well as native speakers from middle-class backgrounds. The race and ethnicity of the students, and length of a teacher’s experience, had little bearing on the results.

    Nonetheless, teachers in urban schools and in schools with a large proportion of minority students tended to be less satisfied about their jobs.

    Teachers with high job satisfaction were more likely to feel secure in their jobs, and to have more opportunities for professional development, more time to prepare their lessons and greater parental involvement in their schools, the survey found.

    Parental engagement has increased over the past 25 years, according to the survey, but remains a challenge: parent participation declines during the high school years.

    Monday, March 5, 2012

    PD opportunity: Technology District Readiness

    The growing concept of Michigan’s Anytime, Anywhere, Any Place learning and other state and local initiatives are changing the way we fund and deliver technology to our students.
    Will you, your technology department, and school be ready?

    Consider the fact that beginning with the 2014-15 school year, our Michigan will implement the Smarter Balanced assessments. These assessments are scheduled to replace the MEAP and MME for both math and ELA. These assessments are entirely online.
    Will you, your technology department, and school be ready?

    The MSBO Technology Planning Sub-Committee along with Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has created this workshop designed to help you be an effective technology leader. Take your district to the next level.

    March 26, 2012 • Lansing Community College – West Campus
    8:45 am- 4:00 pm

    Will you be prepared for:
    • Funding Based on Educational Performance: Powered by Technology and Assessments Online;
    • Software Consolidation;
    • Moving from Static Computers and Labs to 1:1 Programs; and
    • Wireless Campuses?
    As a technology leader, ask yourself these three questions:
    • Does your district have a plan for implementing/upgrading supporting, purchasing and sustaining student technology access anytime, anywhere, and at any place (even beyond the school district walls?)
    • Are you a part of your school’s curriculum improvement efforts?
    • Are you as an effective leader as you can be?
    A detailed agenda is posted on the MIEM website.

    Early Registration Opportunity!
    The cost for early conference registration is $100 and if you register by March 16, 2012 at 4pm, the MIEM/MSBO Technology Committee will make a pledge on your behalf to the Look! I’m Learning documentary film. The film is intended to inspired school leaders and educators to embrace effective, technology-enable models of instruction for all children, even at the earliest ages.

    Register now.

    Regular Pricing after March 16, 2012
    $140 for a MIEM member and $200 for nonmembers
    SB-CEUs: 0.6 will be awarded. STM: Elective credit

    Overnight accommodations can be made at Country Inn & Suites (only 3 miles away), 6511 Centurion Drive, Lansing, MI 48917. Special rate of $65 has been reserved under MIEM. To make reservations, call 517.827.7000.