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Why A School’s Master Schedule Is A Powerful Enabler of Change

KQED News Mind/Shift – Katrina Schwartz

“When Jerry Smith became a principal six years ago he had been teaching for 22 years, so his administrative style is firmly rooted in the belief that the important stuff goes on in classrooms. When he took over Luella High School outside Atlanta, he began thinking about how he could propel fundamental change in what was then a traditional comprehensive high school. When a third of the students and a big chunk of the staff relocated to a new high school the district opened to ease crowding at Luella, Smith knew the moment was ripe for even bigger shifts. “We said we’re going to put anything and everything on the table and try to do this differently,” Smith said. He was appalled that the current system prioritized churning out graduates, many of whom weren’t actually “college and career ready — life ready,” as the school’s mission statement boldly pronounces. And, the school certainly wasn’t doing a good job by its gifted students or those who were struggling, Smith said.”(more)

Why every class should be cross-curricular

E-School News – Kimberly Greene

“As a teacher, I love when my students ask questions, but the one that used to break my heart was, “Will this be on the test?” I’m thrilled to tell you I rarely hear that anymore and no, it’s not because today I’m teaching more adults than children. Trust me: adult learners can ask that question just as much—if not more—than their children. The reason this question comes up so infrequently in my classrooms today is because of a very genuine change in the design of my pedagogy. All that I design and teach is built upon a cross-curricular base to infuse the learning experience with critical thinking—and all the motivation and personal engagement that it demands and affords.”(more)

Borsuk: Is high school hard enough?

The Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel – Alan J. Borsuk

“Four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies. That sounds like a fairly solid high school career, but not one that demands a super amount of effort. In fact, that’s what Wisconsin’s graduation requirements call for, starting with the Class of 2017, which is to say, this year’s seniors. Until this year, requirements under state law were actually lighter, including only two years of math and science. So it got me wondering when the annual report on the performance of Wisconsin students on the ACT college entrance test came out recently. Included was this: Only 55% of students in the Class of 2016 said they were taking what ACT defines as a “core curriculum” in high school. And the ACT definition is: four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies, the same thing Wisconsin is now requiring as a matter of law.”(more)

Personalized Learning and Sound Curriculum—Two Sides of the Same Coin

Education Next – Thomas Arnett

“When I use the term “personalized learning,” I do not picture a form of education that sets aside core knowledge and rigorous content standards for the sake of allowing students to pursue personal interests. Catering to students’ interests and passions can be a powerful means for engaging and motivating students. But that form of personalization should not compromise students’ mastery of core knowledge. Rather, I see personalized learning as a powerful means for enabling students to master core knowledge. In any given class, different students have different learning needs, if for no other reason than the fact that they all start the class with different levels of mastery of prerequisite core knowledge. Blended learning—the technology enabler of many forms of personalized learning—leverages the flexibility of online learning to break the constraints of the traditional whole-class, single-pace instructional model to differentiate instruction more effectively to students’ needs. As Hansel stated last year in a different post, ‘If personalized learning means personalized pathways to mastering a well-rounded curriculum, it could radically improve education.'”(more)

Online schooling wave of the future or failed experiment?

News Herald – Juliann Talkington


“You have probably heard the claim, “If you choose to educate your child online, he/she will be a social misfit.” To analyze this assertion, it is important to understand online education.

There are two basic types of online education: real-time and self-paced. In real-time online courses, students attend class on a computer. Classes are held at specified times and students participate in discussions during class periods. Each real-time online class is slightly different, because students participate in the instruction.

Self-paced courses are prepared in advance. Students progress through the material at their own pace. There is no real-time class interaction. Proficiency is sometimes tested with quizzes or tests that are integrated into the learning material. In this case, students must pass a quiz/test before they move on to future lessons. In other cases, students are required to go to proctored test centers to take exams.

In general, self-paced courses work well for material that requires little discussion. Real-time classes are more effective when most of the student learning occurs during classroom dialog.

Online education is appealing, because there is less wasted time. There is no need to drive to a physical location, worry about disruptions that occur in physical classrooms, or waste time dressing for school. In addition, students and parents have the ability to work school around other things in their lives.

Self-paced instruction is more cost effective than traditional classroom teaching, because lectures are prepared in advance and are used many times. In addition, this type of course delivery can be of higher quality than traditional classroom instruction, because the best teachers can present the content and there are no interruptions.

Some students find self-paced online instruction challenging, because they can procrastinate to the point that it is nearly impossible to learn the material. As a result, there is a reasonable argument that self-paced instruction is only appropriate for highly motivated and disciplined university and high school students.

Also, it is possible for students to succeed in an online environment without learning how to interact with others. As a result, it is imperative that online students have other avenues for developing social, leadership, and team skills.

Online education is not for everyone, but is an attractive alternative for motivated, self-disciplined students who have a strong social network and opportunities to build leadership skills and learn how to work on a team outside of school.


Educators Discuss Integrating STEM Education Throughout Curricula

The U.S. News and World Report – Alexandra Pannoni

“Science, technology, engineering and math, better known as the STEM fields, need to be integrated throughout a child’s education to be most effective. That was the the key takeaway at the “Shattering Silos: Implementing Interdisciplinary Learning” breakout session at the U.S. News STEM Solutions Conference. Panelists included Doug Moore, vice president of digital education strategy and business development at the New York Hall of Science; Greg Pearson, scholar at the National Academy of Engineering; Amy Sabarre, PK-12 STEM coordinator at Harrisonburg City Public Schoools; and William Wolfe, chair of the engineering department at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.”(more)