News from Trent Grundmeyer
Can the U.S. Still Compete?
Technology - Sunday 30th of January 2011 01:50 PM
The below article was posted by CNN News on the same day that Present Obama addressed the country with this State of the Union speech. The article truly focuses and on education as a necessary change agent that may allow the United States to continue to compete in a market that is more global than ever before. As an educator, we must understand that our challenge is big but most important to prepare students for an unpredictable future.
President Obama promises to focus his State of the Union tonight on one of the most important domestic questions we have faced in years. Whether he will succeed in moving the nation forward will depend not only on his own leadership but on the willingness of others -- the left, the right and the media -- to put the country first.
The question: Will the United States renew its capacity to compete in global markets so that we create quality jobs for our people here at home? If we do, America's best days are still ahead; if we fail, they will soon be far behind. It's about that simple.
For more than a century, we didn't have to worry much about our greatness as a people. But times have changed. We may be the nation that astonished the world by building a transcontinental railroad. But today, as the president pointed out last month in a visit to North Carolina, we find that Shanghai in China has built more high-speed rail in a year than we have built in the past 30 years.
For most of the 20th century, we were No. 1 in the world in education; today, we are ninth in the proportion of young people with college degrees, 18th in high school graduation rates among industrialized nations and 27th in the proportion of science and engineering degrees. China now graduates more English-trained engineers than the U.S. and has become the world's No. 1 exporter in high technology.
As others have become more competitive and we have slowed, American jobs have been disappearing. According to a 2010 report by a national competitiveness commission sponsored by the National Academies of Science and Engineering, along with the Institute of Medicine, GE has now placed the majority of its R&D personnel outside the U.S. The number of Americans employed in manufacturing in the U.S. computer industry is now lower than when the first personal computer was built in 1975. With foreign-made cars growing in popularity, the number of auto jobs in Michigan has dropped from 460,000 in 1970 to 98,000 today.
Can we turn things around? No one is certain, but the competitiveness commission -- representing some of the best minds in the country -- believes we still have a chance. In the 2010 report, its top four recommendations, in descending order of importance, were:
- Upgrade U.S. K-12 education in science and math to a leading position by global standards.
- 2. Double real federal investment in basic research in math, the physical sciences and engineering over the next seven years, while maintaining the recent doubling in bioscience research.
3. Encourage more U.S. citizens to pursue careers in math, science and engineering.
4. Rebuild the nation's "competitive ecosystem" by introducing reforms in our patent, immigration and litigation policies.
None of this is all that expensive. The total annual costs of all of the commission's recommendations, it estimates, would be less than we spend on cigarettes each year -- with $60 billion left over.
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Newsletters - Friday 21st of January 2011 03:30 PM
I hope the new year finds you well! Second semester is off to a solid start at Indianola High School. Overall, students and staff seem to be favorable about the new semester starting directly after the holiday break. Though there are no staff changes for the second semester, we are welcoming four student teachers into our high school classrooms. Student teachers will be working with cooperating teachers in the Fine Arts, English, Social Studies, and World Languages departments. We are also excited to have a parent volunteer starting this semester. She graciously will be giving of her time to help students in Mr. Netsch’s Student Services room.
As I look ahead to a successful semester and end of the school year, I want to make mention of a couple future events and foreseen changes to courses. One new offering to Gifted and Talented students is that of an independent course entitled Sprint. This course allows gifted students to work with the G/T teacher to develop their own course around an area of interest to them. Looking ahead to next year, we will be offering multiple electives in the physical education department. This will give students the chance to differentiate their PE class based on their fitness needs. Please note that because of our new PE offerings next year, the BFS Summer PE class will not be offered this summer. The general PE class will, however, still be offered this summer. Debate classes will also be differentiated next year. Both general and more specified classes will ensure that academics in the debate area will be able to be accelerated. English 12 will also be an English course offered to students next year who meet the requirements. I believe these course changes will be positive for both the students and staff involved.
Spring will be here before you know it. Looking ahead to important senior dates I want to pass on the schedule for senior festivities. Baccalaureate is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11th. The seniors last day will be Thursday, May 12th. Graduation rehearsal at Simpson College will be at 9:00 on Friday, May 13th. Senior activity day will be the rest of the day. Dollars for Scholars will hand out awards on Friday, May 13th at 5:00 in the high school auditorium. Senior Scholarship Night will also be Friday, May 13th at 7:00 p.m. Indianola High School graduation will be at Simpson College at 10:00 on Saturday, May 14th. Project graduation plans have been scheduled for Saturday, May 14th.
Parent teacher conferences are scheduled for February 14th and 17th. Conferences will be from 2:30-8:00 on both nights. The PTC Online Scheduler will again be used to schedule conferences with teachers. Please watch the daily announcements for further information. Thank you in advance for making parent teacher conferences a formal time to communicate with your child’s teachers.
Lastly, Indianola Community Schools and Prevention Concepts have partnered to host a speaker on January 26 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Mike McGuire will be the featured speaker who will address parents and community members on the topic of “The Toxic Culture of Teens; The Impact of Technology and Media.” His presentation is free and highly promoted by those who have seen and heard it. If you have teenagers, you may want to especially consider attending.
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Moving forward with a new state director
Technology - Sunday 16th of January 2011 09:56 PM
Jason Glass was recently selected as the new director of the Iowa Department of Education. This change is occurring at a critical time in a very hostile political climate. His leadership and that of the incoming govenor, and legislature will certainly have a big impact on the future direction of education in the state of Iowa.
On Monday Jason posted three questions on his blog. My responses are below...
1. What should we stop doing?
I believe there are two things in particular we need to stop doing. First, we need to stop relying so heavily on the standardized tests currently used in Iowa today. Those assessments do not evaluate higher level thinking skills. The tests, which have become the strongest indicator of a district’s success, have been a driving force behind instruction taking place in our schools. If you have ever read the questions on most standardized tests you would agree that they do not always capture what a student truly knows. Instead they tend to be a measure of a students reading level, ability to stay on task, and motivation to do well on the test.
The second thing we should do is quit letting non progressive people win. There are teachers, administrators, school board members, outspoken parents, and legislatures that constantly quote the past and are marters from progress. I believe that if we truly want to prepare students for a positive future we cannot let these people "win." Books, articles, the changing demographics, changing jobs, etc. all point to rapid changes in our society. Yet, in education it is a big deal to change the schedule for the day (even when it makes sense). We often wonder why some students aren't motivated in school? Perhaps it is partly because we try have all our questions answered before we make changes that we know are good for students. My job as a principal is to help the progressive teachers "win" and for the sake of our students I challenge others in leadership roles to do the same!
2. What should we keep doing?
We need to finish local alignment to the state Iowa Core Curriculum. We need to finish this because so much as already been invested in the process already and because once the core is adopted focus, time, attention, and money can be on other factors that matter more than standards and benchmarks. School districts have invested much over the years to maintain local control of standards but everyone I know is simply ready to adopt the core. Once the core is adopted and aligned hopefully standardized tests will be aligned to the core. This will help substantiate test scores and allow teachers to have the peace of mind in knowing concepts have been taught before students are tested. Lastly, time spent on curriculum alignment can be shifted toward better teaching. The 5 Characteristics of Effective Teaching have already been established but more focus and time on these 5 skills will truly promote learning.
3. What should we start doing?
I have posted this blog after seeing Nick Sauers post last week. I agree with many of his thoughts. I have provided 3 points that I believe we should focus on in our district and state. I am passionate about technology because I believe it is an effective an efficient tool to engage students but also because technology will be an increasing part of anyone's future. What jobs do not utilize technology these days? What would the advances be in medicine, science, banking, etc. without technology? I believe...
- We need to stop acting like technology is something “extra”. Teaching technology as a class and not integrating it throughout the curriculum is a big mistake. As schools, our job is to prepare responsible skilled citizens for our society. Can students truly be contributing members of the future in which they will live (not the world we live in) without a firm grasp on technology use? Almost all of the jobs our students have will involve some sort of new technology. Most will also be heavily involved with technology in their personal lives. We can’t expect them to gain these skills without the help of our schools.
- We need to embrace technology as a way to teach 21st Century Skills. Tony Wagner’s lists the following seven things as 21st Century Skills:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
- Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
- Agility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
- Effective Oral and Written Communication
- Accessing and Analyzing Information
- Curiosity and Imagination
3. Technology is not going away. Instead it will get better and cheaper at a dramatic rate. School districts need to make technology a priority and budget for it reasonably. There is no doubt that technology is expensive and keeping up with upgrades and new tools costs money. Effective technology that allows teachers to teach at high levels and students to learn at high levels must be a priority.
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Invitation to Parents
uncategorized - Friday 7th of January 2011 10:53 AM
Indianola Community School District
Invites Parents to Attend
Generations X, Y & Z
The Toxic Culture of Teens
The Impact of Technology and Media
Presented by Mike McGuire
Wednesday, January 26th
6:30 – 8:30 PM
Indianola High School Auditorium
Today’s pre‐teens, teens and young adults walk every day through a culture that has become increasingly toxic. They face personal, familial, social and societal issues that often result in risk taking, danger, loss and sometimes tragedy.
This presentation will focus exclusively on the “feeding” of this toxic culture by technology and media including television, movies, music, video games and the Internet.
Participants will gain awareness of how technology and media affect communication, development, “early mental sexualization,” violence and more. Participants will be able to personally examine the evolution of technology and media and the “good, the bad and the ugly” elements that have resulted.
A graduate of the University of Northern Iowa, Mike McGuire has been a Probation/ Parole Officer with the Department of Correctional Services for 21 years. Mike was the coordinator of the Cerro Gordo County Community Drug Court program from 2001 until 2009 and currently provides intensive supervision to high risk offenders. Mike previously worked as a Police Officer for the city of Waterloo; Iowa during the mid 1980’s and is a graduate of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Mike and his wife Christie have 8 children and have been foster and adoptive parents for nearly 20 years. Mike provides numerous trainings at the local, state, and national level on several topics including drug and alcohol awareness and now, the toxic culture of teens.
Mike provides ongoing trainings for the Iowa Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and other organizations throughout the year and has presented at the IFAPA state conference several times. Mike has given numerous drug awareness presentations to local community, school, and business groups as well. Mike has presented for the Iowa Juvenile Court School Liaisons, Young Lawyers Conference, GAP, and Iowa Attorney General’s conference on “Methamphetamine and Child Welfare” to name a few. Mike has also presented at the National Foster Parent Association conference in San Antonio, Texas, American Probation and Parole Association conference in Chicago, Illinois, and the “Methamphetamine and Child Welfare” conference in
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Why Teachers Should Be "Persons of the Year"
uncategorized - Monday 3rd of January 2011 11:58 AM
Carolyn Foote: Why Teachers Should Be 'Persons of the Year'
December 21, 2010 15:03:38
Time Magazine recently announced that Mark Zuckerberg was selected as their "Person of the Year." It seems a rather peculiar choice, since not only is Facebook "old hat" but also because Facebook has not been the best player in regards to user privacy.
So I have my own end of the year suggestion for Time Magazine -- how about making teachers the "Person of the Year"?
After 29 years in education, both as a teacher and librarian, I've known a great number of educators. And what I've seen demonstrated again and again by so many of my colleagues is how much, despite all the recent hype to the contrary, they care about children.
So instead of this being the year of software mega-giants or of the likes of Michelle Rhee or Davis Guggenheim, or the year of union-busting in education -- perhaps this should be the year we begin to honor and celebrate teachers.
Teaching is a complex job. There's the subject matter, which is complex in and of itself, there are the students, who are complex in all the ways every human being is, and there's the place in between where you figure out how to bring the two together for real understanding and growth. And, you could spend a lifetime as an educator honing your skills and still not master any one of these areas, no matter how dedicated you are. Being a teacher means reinventing yourself daily and annually to meet the needs of the students in front of you, whether it's figuring out a way to reach a particular student or learning the latest ways to connect your students to a global learning environment.
And so my heroes, my "Persons of the Year," are the teachers. Teachers like Diane Laufenberg, whose creative and authentic work with students in her classroom at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia takes them out into the field to interview voters. Or teachers like Vicki Davis, who leads her middle school students to a better understanding of a global world. Or teachers like Karl Fisch, a technology specialist who, when brought back into the classroom, brought his talents to bear in rethinking what it means to teach Algebra in a wired world. Or teachers like Lee Kolbert, another returnee to the classroom, who agonized over navigating the path between the practical daily realities of the classroom and the ideals to which she hears around her. Principals like Chris Lehmann at the Science Leadership Academy, who leads his own advisory period with students like every teacher in his building.
Teachers, librarians, and counselors are there helping students because they care. And it's not just about the heroics either; it's about the quiet, day-to-day care and support that they give students. It's about the late hours, the way you live/eat/breathe teaching and the passion and dedication that you bring to what is almost an impossible job.
And so, I believe it is time for our nation to respect teachers, value them, and care about them. It's time for the nation to recognize those quiet heroes who care for all our children and do their best to reach them. It's time for our nation to acknowledge that although there are teachers who struggle, side by side with them are teachers who are quietly dedicated to students and performing the real heroics of raising up our children.
That, Time Magazine, is why I think teachers should be our "Persons of the Year."
Carolyn Foote blogs at Not So Distant Future.
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