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Voice & Choice – Not Just For Students

August 4, 2017

The Saline Area Schools Strategic Framework Goals and Learner Compass are a roadmap for all learners, young and not-so-young. One of the key aspects of improving student outcomes in the Saline Area Schools and living the “Student Led – Future Focused” motto is to allow students to have a voice in their own learning and to be able to exercise choice within the instructional framework.It is important that students make real-world connections with their learning.  A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t beneficial for students.  In modeling the student led, future focused model for teachers and staff; it is important for me and our administrative team to know that a one-size-fits-all approach to learning is not beneficial for adult learners, either.

Malcolm Knowles, an American educator, studied adult learners and discovered that adults need:

  • To know “why” they must learn something
  • Need to learn experientially
  • To approach learning as problem-solving
  • Learn best when the topic is of immediate value

Just like students, staff comes to us with a variety of learning needs and preferences.  As leaders, we need to build in the element of choice.  Here are a few plans for the year designed to address the model “Voice & Choice” model with adult learners:

  • Instead of having all teachers attend the same professional learning sessions, we are looking for ways to allow them to choose topics and formats that fit their preferences and needs.  In late August, a symposium with numerous topics and instructional delivery models is planned.
  • Encourage staff to set their own learning goals.  Engage in conversations with staff to understand and support their unique learning goals.
  • Develop and use “micro-credentialing” as model the for adult learning
  • Allow teachers to be innovative and take risks. Further, we hope to instill a quest for curiosity in all staff.  Over the years, I have seen teachers rise to new heights when they learn in authentic ways.  

The start of the new school year is around the corner, and as the excitement for the new year builds, educational leaders are entrusted with the opportunity to show both students and staff that their voice is important in their own learning.

 

Survey Says….

August 3, 2017

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Summer is in full swing, and so is the planning for next school year in Saline Area Schools. I want to share some of the information that’s guiding our work.

This spring, we asked students, parents, and employees for feedback on the quality of SAS schools. We knew from previous surveys that much of our community views our schools positively, and we were pleased to see those trends continue. However, this year’s survey results also highlighted important opportunities. 

Of the more than 2,300 people who took our survey (Thank You!), 97 percent of parents and 96 percent of staff members rated their school as excellent or good, both increases from last year’s survey. Similarly, 84 percent of participating students rated their school as excellent or good. While still a strong positive response, that is a 6 percentage-point decrease from last year.

The survey results revealed disconnects between what our students think and what our staff members think. For example, only 33 percent of participating students said teachers successfully connect classroom lessons with life outside of school, while 82 percent of participating staff members said they do.

An overwhelming majority of all participants said their school is safe, but there was less agreement about discipline. Parents and students (65% and 60%, respectively) were much less likely than staff (81%) to think discipline is enforced fairly.

Parents and students continue to have overwhelmingly positive views about our school technology and the resources and materials available to students. We also saw significant increases from last year in how positively staff members view some district operations, such as central office support of schools (76% to 89%) and availability of technology resources (80% to 92%).

Thank you to everyone who took the time to share feedback and opinions with us. You’re helping us make our district a place where all staff members feel supported, all parents know they are heard, and all students are inspired to achieve beyond what they can dream.

Summer Reading… How is it going?

July 21, 2017

Screen Shot 2017-07-21 at 2.49.53 PMAs we all know… the summer goes by way too quickly!  The fact is, we are nearing the ½ way point of the summer break. How is your summer reading plan going?  Are you and your children on track with the goals that you set for the summer?  Here are a few quick tips and reminders regarding summer reading:

  • Read aloud together with your child every day. Make it fun by reading outdoors on the front steps, patio, at the beach or park. Also, let your children read to you. For younger children, point out the relationship between words and sounds.
  • Set a good example! Parents must be willing to model behavior for their children. Keep lots of reading material around the house. Turn off the TV and have each person read his or her book, including mom and dad.
  • Read the same book your child is reading and discuss it. This is the way to develop habits of the mind and build capacity for thought and insight.
  • Let kids choose what they want to read, and don’t turn your nose up at popular fiction. It will only discourage the reading habit.
  • Buy audio books. Listen to them in the car, or turn off the TV and have the family listen to them together.
  • Talk about what you’re reading. The value of sharing good literature through conversation is immeasurable. Make mealtime a “book talk” time. No electronics allowed.
  • Find something that “stretches” you a bit.  Read about a culture, country, or political view that is outside of your comfort zone. Show your children that you’re curious and open to learning about people that have differing views and cultural experiences.
  • Take your children to the library regularly. Most libraries sponsor summer reading clubs with easy-to-reach goals for preschool and school-age children. Check the library calendar for special summer reading activities and events. Libraries also provide age appropriate lists for summer reading.  Check out Saline District Library: www.salinelibrary.org The teen program is all online this summer! On the Teen page is a fairly comprehensive list of books that all teens should read before starting high school Check it out!

Tips adapted from: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/summer-reading-tips-parents

Community Conversation – June 27th

June 26, 2017

Saline Area School Community,

With summer underway, I would like to host an impromptu  “Community Conversation” meeting. Over the last nine years I have had the opportunity to host numerous “Community Conversation” events to learn more about what interested community members see as the strengths of Saline Area Schools, and what areas they felt we needed to focus attention on for improvement. Through these conversations and other opportunities, I have learned a great deal about how many of you see our district and it has helped guide me, along with the Board of Education, as we move forward.

This is the first one I am trying over the summer (with short notice).

In an effort to continue this dialogue, I will be making time available on Tuesday, June 27th from 10:00am- 11:00am at Carrigan’s Cafe, 107 S. Ann Arbor Street. Please stop by, say hello and bring any thoughts about the district you feel I should know.

If you can’t make it, feel free to use “Let’s Talk” and let me know your thoughts.

Thank you,
Scot Graden

Summer Online Learning – Points to Consider

June 14, 2017

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Over the last few years, many Saline students have used the summer as an opportunity to take online courses.  The number has grown from 78 in 2014 to 192 (so far!) in 2017. Many students take summer classes to create more room/flexibility in a traditional high school schedule. Some take advantage of the credit recovery option. Others are intent upon advancement to a higher level of study in school. Whatever the reason, online classes taken during the summer help students keep their academic skills sharp. They appear more focused and ready to start school in the fall.

Here are a few key points to consider if you or your child/student is interested in taking an online course:  

Time Management – Students will need to learn and develop time management skills.  Faced with flexibility on when to work on their course, many students struggle to develop an effective pace to make the workload necessary to complete the course.  Studying for online is much the same as traditional – it still requires note taking, reading, etc.

Online = Easier – There is a common misconception that online is easier or faster than traditional courses.  Most often, they are not.  What is different is the flexibility that students have to learn at their own pace and complete assignments when they so choose.

Try Something New – Often, the coursework that is available online is not offered in the traditional classroom. Students can explore world cultures, languages, and specific areas of study that are of interest to them. Online learning can spark an area of interest or passion where the student was previously unaware.

Online courses are not an “instant” fix for students that have not been successful in traditional classrooms; it’s just a different way of presenting the material. Sometimes, tutoring is necessary, just as it might be for students taking taking traditional classes.

If you would like more information about online learning opportunities with Saline Area Schools, contact your child’s guidance counselor or Mrs. Carol Melcher at 734-401-4040. The application for summer online learning is available online. A list of available courses is included with the application. The summer session is short. If you’re interested in an online learning experience for your child, please enroll by June 20, 2017.

Screen Time… How much is too much?

June 6, 2017

 

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Over the last several years, the matter regarding “screen time” (time spent using a device such as a computer, smartphone, television, or games console) for children has been a hot topic among educators and parents. Many experts have noted the negatives of too much time spent looking at screens – and I don’t disagree with them.  However, with the proliferation of devices, apps, and opportunities for learning that are delivered via screens – how can we effectively manage the time children spend on looking at screens?

First, we need to understand that not all “screen time” is created equal.  Watching cartoon videos on YouTube and reading a book on an iPad are two very different activities, both delivered on screens. While one may have little educational value, the other can help with reading comprehension, content knowledge, vocabulary/culture acquisition and more.  There are also thousands of educational apps that children can use to create music, learn a new language, enhance math skills, and more.  It’s vital that we consider the content and purpose on the screen with setting targets for use.

Second, it can’t be an all or nothing proposition.  Screens are here, and here to stay.  Wise parents and educators should focus on giving children guidelines for appropriate use of electronic devices. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting screen time for young children.  The recommended time varies with age. The AAP recommends no screen time at all for children under eighteen months. Between the ages of two and five, limit screen time to less than an hour per day.  As children become school aged, the regulating screen time becomes more complicated.  Evaluating the “type” of screen time is important.  While too much of the wrong kind of screen time can be harmful or detrimental to early childhood development, not all screen time is necessarily bad.  We have to be flexible – meeting the learning and developmental needs of all students.

An interesting study out of UCLA finds that children exposed to excessive screen time do not develop the ability to recognize emotion, interact appropriately with age-mates, or socialize with age-appropriate skill.

The focus should be on balance.  Limiting screen time is important; children also need time for physical activity, social interaction (without technology) and quiet time for reflection.

With summer vacation around the corner, it’s important for parents and families to consider what type of balance will work for them and also benefit the development of well-rounded, grounded children.

Saline High School – Class of 2017

June 4, 2017

Saline High School
2017 Senior Class Survey

On Wednesday, May 17, the members of the Class of 2017 completed an online survey to indicate where they would be sending their final transcript. The results for the 442 responses are below:

Michigan Colleges (317) 72%
Out of State Colleges (92) 21%

Michigan Public Colleges (292) 66%
Michigan Private Colleges (25) 6%

All Four Year Colleges (329) 74%
All Two Year Colleges (80) 18%

Technical or Vocational School (6) 1%
Military (5) 1%
Working Full Time (10) 2%
Exchange Students returning (5) 1%
Young Adult Program (6) 1%

Interesting Numbers:

Michigan Private Schools
Adrian College 3
Albion College 3
Alma College 1
Aquinas College 1
Calvin College 1
Concordia University – Ann Arbor 1
Hope College 6
Kalamazoo College 2
Kettering University 1
Lawrence Technological University 1
Northwood University 2
Olivet Nazarene University 1
The College for Creative Studies 1
University of Detroit Mercy 1

Michigan Public Schools
Central Michigan University 8
Eastern Michigan University 41
Ferris State University 2
Grand Valley State University 22
Lake Superior State University 1
Michigan State University 57
Michigan Technological University 2
Saginaw Valley State University 1
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor 54
University of Michigan – Dearborn 1
Wayne State University 4
Western Michigan University 18

Michigan Career and Technical Schools

Michigan Career and Technical Institute 1

Michigan Community Colleges

Jackson Community College 2
Lansing Community College 1
Schoolcraft College
Washtenaw Community College 75

Public Out of State Colleges

Arizona State University 1
Bowling Green State University 5
Christopher Newport University 1
Florida Southern College 1
Florida State University 1
Georgia Institute of Technology 2
Indiana University 3
Kent State University 1
Louisiana State University 1
Miami University 2
New York State at Buffalo 1
Ohio State University 1
Ohio University 2
Purdue University 1
San Diego State University 1
Savannah College of Art and Design 1
Technical University of Munich 1
University of Alabama 5
University of Arizona 3
University of California – Los Angeles 1
University of California – Santa Barbara 1
University of Cincinnati 1
University of Colorado – Boulder 1
University of Hawaii 1
University of Indianapolis 1
University of Kentucky 2
University of Mississippi 2
University of New Orleans 1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 1
University of Oregon 1
University of Texas – Dallas 1
University of Toledo 8
Utah State University 1
Virginia Tech 2

Private Out of State Colleges
Brigham Young University 3
Brown University 1
Butler University 2
Case Western Reserve University 1
Champlain 1
Columbia College Chicago 1
Culinary Institute of America 1
Furman University 1
George Washington University 3
Indiana Wesleyan University 1
Liberty University 2
Life University 1

Lourdes University 1

Loyola University of  Chicago 1
Marquette University 1
Mercy College 1
Oberlin College 1
Ohio Wesleyan University 1
Rose-Hulman 1
Saint Mary’s College of Notre Dame1
Smith College 1
Stanford University 1
Trine University 1
University of Dayton 1
Villanova University 1
Washington and Lee University 1
Wittenberg University 1

Other interesting facts about the Class of 2017:
1 National Merit Semi-Finalists
1  National Merit Finalists
10 National Merit Commended Scholars
1  Student having a cumulative unweighted grade point average of 4.0
86  Students having a cumulative weighted grade point average of 4.0 or higher
141 Students having a cumulative unweighted grade point average of 3.6667 – 3.999

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