Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pontiac Promise / Update!

Bill may bring tuition help for Pontiac district students

Friday, December 26, 2008 10:22 AM EST
By RANDAL YAKEYOf The Oakland Press

Students in the Pontiac School District could get a boost from legislation passed in Lansing.State Rep. Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, chairman of the House Education Committee, said the Michigan Promise Zone Act has passed the House and Senate and is headed to Gov. Jennifer Granholm to become law.

The plan is designed to increase the accessibility of higher education by providing tuition assistance.“In order for us to grow Michigan’s economy and create good-paying jobs for our workers, we need a strong and vibrant workforce,” Melton said.Melton said the plan was not meant to be the cure-all for college funding woes for Pontiac students, but that it was a good first step in getting money for students who otherwise would not be going to college.

“There will be an 11-member authority board established,” Melton said. “This will not be run by the school district or the city, because we have several different cities in the Pontiac School District.”

The geographical boundaries of the Pontiac School District include all of the city of Pontiac, portions of Auburn Hills, Lake Angelus and Sylvan Lake, and the townships of Bloomfield, Orion, Waterford and West Bloomfield.

The Pontiac School District superintendent will establish the requirement for students receiving the funding. The requirements will most likely be based on how long the student lived in the district, grade-point average and ability to secure scholarships and grants.

“We limited it to the 15 Michigan public universities, and some private colleges and community colleges,” said Melton.

“If you go to a private school like Baker or Lawrence Tech, we cap the tuition you can get at the average you pay at a public university.”

The authority board will also have to raise the first two years of funding on its own.

Melton said he has already contacted Oakland University, Oakland Community College, Fifth Third Bank and Flagstar Bank authorities about helping with funding.

He has also contacted Chrysler Corp. and General Motors.Under the legislation, up to 10 Promise Zones will be authorized throughout the state in areas that have a combination of low rates of educational attainment and high rates of poverty and unemployment.

The Pontiac School District has already submitted an application to be the state’s first Promise Zone.

Melton’s plan is based on the Kalamazoo Promise — the nation’s first Promise Zone plan — which guarantees graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools free college tuition at any university or community college in Michigan.

The Kalamazoo plan was funded by a wealthy benefactor.Melton said after two years of raising money for the district, other sources will become available.“After the third year, we will be then be able to capture half the state education tax in the zone,” Melton said. “That money can then help this Promise Zone authority capture some revenue.

We may also have to continue to raise money.”

According to the House Fiscal Agency, the legislation could capture over $46.2 million based on data on the Kalamazoo Promise Zone.

The Fiscal Agency said that the legislation could have a significant effect on the School Aid Fund.

Melton said he did expect Granholm to sign the legislation sometime before the end of the year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008



St. Clair County students work on a solar-hydrogen fuel cell car. From left: Jason Hoogerhyde, John Freeman, Cody Benedict and Evan Miller. Rather than learning TV repair, students are getting trained in alternative energy.

Schools to invest in alternative energy, give students edge


St. Clair County RESA Career Technical Center students will be calculating actual energy outputs from school-owned windmills, solar panels and a hydroelectric plant.

In Warren Consolidated Schools, students will find lessons from a district-owned wind power station integrated into their classes.

Both programs are the result of a trend by a growing number of schools to meld alternative energy into their lesson plans.

"I think kids are interested in this type of thing. And a lot of us see it as the future, to lessen our reliance on nonrenewable sources. And there are going to be jobs there," said Dan DeGrow, superintendent of St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency.

St. Clair RESA plans to invest up to $450,000, depending on how much grant money it receives, in three wind turbines -- each about 100 feet tall -- solar panels next to the turbines and a mini-hydro plant. It will be working with local governments on getting site permits.

Gone are the days of students taking high school electronics to become TV repairpeople. The jobs are moving to other categories, such as alternative energy technicians.

"What we decided was we wanted a way to teach traditional electronics but within a more current context," said Pat Yanik, director of career and technical education for RESA.

Beginning next fall, students will monitor the electricity generated by their three alternative energy sources, learn how to convert the power to actual energy and make decisions on how to distribute their self-generated electricity to RESA facilities. The actual energy generated will be small, but the lessons will be huge.

"With the energy crisis and the government push for it at the federal level and the state level, alternative energy seemed to be a pretty going item that students and parents can understand," said electronics teacher Zack Diatchun.

The Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education has approved up to $9,000 for a wind spire -- a smaller (30-foot high) version of the windmill-style turbine -- to establish a district-wide alternative energy institute, said Superintendent Robert Livernois. Like St. Clair RESA, Warren Consolidated also hopes much of the cost will be offset by grants.

"The sky's the limit for us. That's what's so exciting about it from a K-12 perspective, you can talk to a second-grader and a 12th-grader," Livernois said. "Our belief is you've got to start somewhere, so as we launch this institute, it's really designed to begin cultivating awareness."

Students at St. Clair RESA have been told their program will open in the fall.

"It doesn't seem like something that they put into a high school-type course, but it's a really good idea they're putting it in," said Cody Benedict, 17, a senior from Yale High School who will be going to school for another year and taking the energy program. "It's going to be a larger range of stuff to learn for jobs."

There's no timetable for the Warren Consolidated program yet, but Livernois expects there will be varying components of alternative energy that will be applicable to most grades.

"We're going to use it in a study of just how much energy you can produce in the community," said Mark Supal, a technology teacher at the Macomb Mathematics Science and Technology Center, where the wind spire will be located.

Even students who won't be around for the new programs recognize the possibilities.

"I got accepted to Michigan Tech ... and I'm probably going to take electrical engineering, but I'm probably going to branch into some kind of alternative energy," said Dalton Pelc, 17, a senior from Kimball Township attending Port Huron High School. "That's what we need, and that's because that's what the economy needs."

Contact PEGGY WALSH-SARNECKI at 586-826-7262 or

Monday, December 22, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS to the YAPO Wolverines 4-H Club!

The Oakland Press (, Serving Oakland County

Pontiac seniors get a 4-H Christmas

Sunday, December 21, 2008 12:25 AM EST
By ANN ZANIEWSKIOf The Oakland Press

Residents of the McDonald Senior Apartments tapped their feet and sang along Saturday as a group of angel-faced children belted out Christmas songs.

The children, who belong to the United Nations 4-H Club in Pontiac, also passed out goodie bags and cake as part of an effort to spread a little holiday cheer.“I like that we get to sing for the people who live here,” said 10-year-old Mary Wright of Pontiac. “It’s community service.”

While most people connect 4-H Clubs with farm kids and livestock competitions, the United Nations 4-H Club is for children living in the city.

The group, based out of Whitman Elementary School in Pontiac, has 40 members who range in age from 4-12.

Sharon Cornell, a former teacher and a Pontiac resident, is the leader of the club and of the Yapo Wolverines 4-H Club, which is also based in Pontiac.

The clubs are affiliated with Michigan State University’s 4-H program.Children who are members take field trips to museums, pumpkin patches and Detroit Tigers baseball games.

They also are involved in community service projects, such as a recent canned food drive that netted 800 cans and Saturday’s Christmas concert at the McDonald Senior Apartments on Baldwin Avenue.“The kids need to get out. They need to know that there are other people who need help,” Cornell said.

On Saturday, a group of children and Cornell’s husband, David, gathered in front of a community room with song books. They sang songs such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” to an audience of about 20 people.“It’s great. The kids are all good. Beautiful!,” said a smiling Alberta Stamps, who lives at the facility.

After the concert, the children passed out cake and goodie bags stuffed with cookies, candy and other items purchased with donated gift cards from Meijer and Target.“I’ll hang it on my door,” Stamps said, after a child handed her a piece of cardboard painted in rainbow colors that said, “Happy Holidays.”Laticia Greer, 6, doled out goodie bags and cake wearing a Santa hat.“I was a little bit nervous” about singing, she said. “The best one was ‘Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.’”

McDonald residents Lillian Blackwell, Helena Witherspoon and Anniebell Cowart all said they enjoyed the children’s company.“

It was really nice, just being around the kids, seeing the kids sing,” Blackwell said. “This kind of cheered me up.”

Contact staff writer Ann Zaniewski at (248) 745-4628 or

Saturday, December 20, 2008

21st Century Digital Learning Environments (Pedagogy)

21st Century Pedagogy

Even if you have a 21st Century classroom (flexible and adaptable); even if you are a 21st century teacher ; (an adaptor, a communicator, a leader and a learner, a visionary and a model, a collaborator and risk taker) even if your curriculum reflects the new paradigm and you have the facilities and resources that could enable 21st century learning - you will only be a 21st century teacher if how you teach changes as well. Your pedagogy must also change.

So what is 21st Century pedagogy?

pedagogy - noun the profession, science, or theory of teaching.

How we teach must reflect how our students learn. It must also reflect the world our students will move into. This is a world which is rapidly changing, connected, adapting and evolving. Our style and approach to teaching must emphasise the learning in the 21st century.

The key features of 21st Century Pedagogy are:
? building technological, information and media fluencies [Ian Jukes]
? Developing thinking skills
? making use of project based learning
? using problem solving as a teaching tool
? using 21st C assessments with timely, appropriate and detailed feedback and reflection
? It is collaborative in nature and uses enabling and empowering technologies
? It fosters Contextual learning bridging the disciplines and curriculum areas

Knowledge does not specifically appear in the above diagram. Does this mean that we do not teach content or knowledge? Of course not. While a goal we often hear is for our students to create knowledge, we must scaffold and support this constructivist process. The process was aptly describe in a recent presentation by Cisco on Education 3.0 [Michael Stevenson VP Global Education Cisco 2007]

We need to teach knowledge or content in context with the tasks and activities the students are undertaking. Our students respond well to real world problems. Our delivery of knowledge should scaffold the learning process and provide a foundation for activities. As we know from the learning pyramid content delivered without context or other activity has a low retention rate.


Image 3

Thinking skills
Thinking Skills are a key area. While much of the knowledge we teach may be obsolete within a few years, thinking skills acquired will remain with our students for their entire lives. Industrial age education has had a focus on Lower Order Thinking Skills. In Bloom's taxonomy the lower order thinking skills are the remembering and understanding aspects. 21st Century pedagogy focuses on the moving students from Lower Order Thinking Skills to Higher Order Thinking Skills.

Image 4

The 21st Century Teacher scaffolds the learning of students, building on a basis of knowledge recall and comprehension to use and apply skills; to analyse and evaluate process, outcomes and concequences, and to make, create and innovate. For each discipline in our secondary schools the process is subtly different.

The 21st century is an age of collaboration as well as the Information Age. 21st Century students, our digital natives, are collaborative. The growth of social networking tools, like bebo and myspace and the like, is fueled by Digital natives and Gen Y. The world, our students are graduating into is a collaborative one.

Collaborative projects such as Julie Lindsay's and Vicki Davis's Flatclassroom project and the Horizon Project, iearns and many others are brilliant examples of collaboration in the classrooms and beyond. These projects, based around tools like ning or wikis, provide students and staff a medium to build and share knowledge and develop understanding.

For example:

My own students are collaborating with students from three other schools, one in Brisbane, another in Qatar and a third in Vienna; on developing resources for a common assessment item. Collaboratively, they are constructing base knowledge on the technologies pertent to the topic. They are examining, evaluating and analysing the social and ethical impacts of the topic. But perhaps even more holistically they are being exposed to different interpretations, cultures and perspectives - Developing an international awareness which will be a key attribute in our global future.


Don Tapscott in Wikinomics, gives are many of examples of the business world adopting and succeeding by using global collaboration.

In a recent blog post from the Official google Blog, Google identified these as key traits or abilities in 1st Century Employees...

"... communication skills. Marshalling and understanding the available evidence isn't useful unless you can effectively communicate your conclusions."
"... team players. Virtually every project at Google is run by a small team. People need to work well together and perform up to the team's expectations. "


So to prepare our students, our teaching should also model collaboration. A vast array of collaborative tools are available to - wikis, classroom blogs, collaborative document tools,social networks, learning management systems - Many are available at no cost. If you have not yet tried them, look at:
? wikis - wet paint and wiki spaces
? Classroom blogs - edublogs, classroomblogmeister
? Collaborative document tools - Google documents, zoho documents
? Social Networks - ning
? learning managements systems - Moodle etc
These tools are enablers of collaboration, and therefore enablers of 21st century teaching and learning.

Collaboration is not a 21st century skill it is a 21st century essential.

If we look at UNESCO's publication "The four pillars of Education, Learning: The Treasure within" Collaboration is a key element of each of the four pillars.

  • Learning to know
  • Learning to do
  • Learning to live together
  • Learning to be


Collaboration is not limited to the confines of the classroom. Students and teachers collaborate across the planet, and beyond the time constraints of the teaching day. Students work with other students regionally, nationally and globally. Learners seek and work with experts as required. This is 21st Century Collaboration

Real World, Inter-disciplinary & project based learning
21st Century students do not want abstract examples rather they focus on real world problems. They want what they learn in one subject to be relevant and applicable in another curriculum area. As teachers we need to extend our areas of expertise, collaborate with our teaching peers in other subjects and the learning in one discipline to learning in another.
Projects should bring together and reinforce learning across disciplines. The sum of the students learning will be greater than the individual aspects taught in isolation. This is a holistic overview of the education process which builds on and values every aspect of the 21st Century students education.

Image 5

Assessment is still a key part of 21st Century Pedagogy. This generation of students responds well to clear goals and objectives, assessed in a transparent manner.

Students should be involved in all aspects of the assessment process. Students who are involved in setting and developing assessment criteria, marking and moderation will have a clearer understanding of:
? what they are meant to do,
? how they are meant to do it,
? why it is significant
? why it is important.
Such students will undoubtedly do better and use the assessment process as a part of their learning.

Students are often painfully honest about their own performance and that of their peers. They will, in a collaborative project, fairly assess those who contribute and those who don't.

This is their education, their learning and their future - they must be involved in it.

Linked to assessment is the importance of timely, appropriate, detailed and specific feedback. Feedback as a learning tool, is second only to the teaching of thinking skills [Michael Pohl]. As 21st Century teachers, we must provide and facilitate safe and appropriate feedback, developing an environment where students can safely and supportively be provided with and provide feedback. Students are often full of insight and may have as valid a perspective as we teachers do.

What is fluency and why is it better than Literacy? Ian Jukes introduced this concept at NECC. He asserts that students need to move beyond literacy to fluency. They need to be
fluent in:
? The use of technology = technological fluency,
? Collecting, processing, manipulating and validating information = information fluency,
? using, selecting, viewing and manipulating media = media fluency,

What is fluency compared to literacy? A person who is fluent in a language does not need to think about speech, or reading rather it is an unconscious process of understanding. A person who is literate in the language must translate the speech or text. This applies to our students and their use of 21st century media. We need them to be unconsciously competent in the use and manipulation of media, technology and information.

The conscious competence model illustrates the difference between Literacy and Fluency. The person or student who is literate is in the conscious competence category. The person or student who is fluent is in the unconscious competence category.

Image 6

As educators, we must identify, develop and reinforce these skill sets until students become literate and then fluent..

Conclusion and the path forward.

To teach using 21st Century pedagogy, educators must be student centric. Our curricula and assessments must inclusive, interdisciplinary and contextual; based on real world examples.

Students must be key participants in the assessment process, intimate in it from start to finish, from establishing purpose and criteria, to assessing and moderating.
Educators must establish a safe environment for students to collaborate in but also to discuss, reflect and provide and receive feedback in.

We should make use of collaborative and project based learning, using enabling tools and technologies to facilitate this.

We must develop, in students, key fluencies and make use of higher order thinking skills. Our tasks, curricula, assessments and learning activities must be designed to build on the Lower Order Thinking Skills and to develop Higher Order Thinking Skills.

Image 7

For being a brilliant critical friend, thanks for the advise and especially for the grammar - Marg McLeod.

By Andrew Churches

Arne Duncan Secretary of Education

Reform Starts Now: Obama Picks Arne Duncan

His secretary of education selection shows education is a priority.

by Grace Rubenstein
December 16, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama talked reform while announcing Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan as the next U.S. secretary of education.

"For Arne, school reform isn't just a theory in a book, it's the cause of his life," Obama said at Tuesday's press conference. Obama specifically mentioned pay-for-performance teacher salaries and charter-schools development as strategies with strong potential.

"If charter schools work, let's try that," Obama said. "Let's not be clouded by ideology when it comes to figuring out what helps our kids."

Duncan described his clear-eyed view of education in a June 2007 interview [1] with Edutopia when he said, "Quality public education is the civil rights issue of our generation."

Duncan, known for transforming underperforming schools and experimenting with new models, has a record as a pragmatist with a taste for innovations. His version of reform, judging by his record, centers on boosting teacher quality and supporting students with added services such as after-school programs. In the Chicago Public Schools [2], where 85 percent of the 400,000-plus students live below the poverty line, test scores, attendance, and teacher retention all went up during Duncan's seven-year tenure, while the dropout rate declined.

The Buzz
For weeks, pundits, educators, and education bloggers have speculated on what Obama's pick would show about his true beliefs on education.

"Arne Duncan has a type of personality that Obama seems to prefer, which is a pragmatist who will bring about change, but he'll do it in a way that will minimize confrontation in conflict," says Jack Jennings, president of the nonpartisan Center on Education Policy [3]. "He's brought about change in Chicago, but it hasn't been a head-on clash with the teachers' union. He's done it in a way that they all walk away from the table congratulating each other."

Supporters say Duncan has the right constitution for the job. On both substance and style, he has won praise from divergent interest groups, including the American Federation of Teachers [4] and the New York City-based Democrats for Education Reform [5].

Duncan shut down Chicago schools that performed poorly and reopened them with entirely new staffs. He started coaching and mentoring programs for teachers. He also supported a boom in new charter schools with diverse models, from military academies to single-sex schools, and piloted a program to pay teachers bonuses for top performance -- two controversial innovations Obama supports.

An Uncertain Future

Of course, an education secretary can't exactly dictate reform from on high. But he can use the bully pulpit to put a spotlight on certain problems and solutions, says Jennings, and hand out grants to support new innovations. He can also provoke change through regulations -- most notably those that guide implementation of the No Child Left Behind law.

On NCLB, Duncan is a middle-of-the-roader [6]; he supports the law's goals of high expectations and accountability but has challenged Congress to improve it by doubling its funding and amending it "to give schools, districts, and states the maximum amount of flexibility possible."

Not the least of Duncan's hurdles will be the nation's preoccupation with the economic crisis. In a sign of the media's interest in education, the first question at Obama and Duncan's press conference after the announcement of Duncan's nomination was about the Federal Reserve Bank lowering its interest rates.

The financial squeeze hitting schools could hinder Duncan's efforts.

Making money and resources key to success, Duncan and Obama both made the case for education by defining it as the path to prosperity; Obama called it the "single biggest determinant" of the economy's long-term health.

"We're not going to transform every school overnight," Obama said. "What we can expect is that each and every day, we are thinking of new, innovative ways to make the schools better. That is what Arne has done. That's going to be his job. That's going to be his task."

Grace Rubenstein is a staff writer and multimedia producer at Edutopia.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Monday, December 08, 2008

YAPO CLC (Vision & Mission Statements)

“where learning becomes a community of practice”
Due: February 4, 2008
  1. What is the mission or purpose of the YAPO Computer Learning Center (CLC)?
  2. What programs or events currently meet the purpose of the YAPO CLC?
  3. What programs or events need to be added to meet the purpose of the YAPO CLC?
  4. How can the programs or events be funded?
  5. Predict (vision) what the YAPO CLC will be providing to the community in 90 days, 6 months, 1 year, 5 years, 10 years.

  1. The continuing mission of the YAPO CLC is to create a digital learning-centered community that addresses "community needs" as defined by its participants (Youth, Parents, Educators, CLC Volunteers and the greater Pontiac Community of Partners).
  2. Current programming (with some outstanding exceptions) is merely what others whom provide some funding to the YAPO CLC feel is adequate. For the most part it is simply pedestrian, mundane and totally lacking in any inspiration, creativity and engagement. Additionally, it is bereft of any meaningful 21st Century learning experiences of any consequence or relevance to the technological-world we now encounter.
  3. NEW YAPO CLC programs must meet or exceed the criteria of inspired, creative and innovative while also engaging its participants. Well designed learning programs will also exhibit the following content thematics; self-directed learning, project-based learning, the utilization of cognitive and critical thinking skills, 21st Century skills and when possible by example, demonstrate the creation of new knowledge. These programs should be opened-sourced in nature for the purpose of being shared (see new revenue-streams below).
  4. Funding programs (new revenue-streams) have two schools of thought; (1) We do what others want and in doing so receive funding. (2) We do what we want and funding is attracted to what we do. I personally am a "BIG FAN" of the later simply because it insures that we get what we deserve in all cases. By that I mean whom would design a learning program that didn't assure success? Additionally, whom would know more about us and our needs then us? Finally, if we didn't have the "talent we have around our community table" then perhaps we couldn't be successful. But we do! We simply need to leverage this dynamic human-resource asset in meaningful ways.
  5. In the business-world vision has become a trite and meaningless word, having said that, VISION (Beginning with the End in Mind) suggests a plan or work in progress. Who among us have not witnessed something truly outstanding and when asked to describe it have resorted to "you have to see it to believe it." That's usually a VISION in progress. To indescribable to put into words (understanding) and therefore it is much easier to just witness it in action. This is the kind of VISION I'm speaking of and the sort of which I believe we currently have in some cases and are capable of creating more of in the future at the YAPO CLC.

So let's begin the "dance of change" by asking the question; What does that NEW YAPO CLC programming look like?


TENT-POLES: Inspired, Creative, Innovative, Engaging and demonstrates the creation of new knowledge.

Themes: Adult Community Needs; workforce development, education, skill reinvention, intervention programs, introduction to 21st Century skills.

Themes: Youth Community Needs; basic remedial education, 21st Century skills (deeper understanding), Science, Math, Art, Reading & Technology (SMART), informal social skills, critical and cognitive thinking, project-based learning.

Themes: Greater Pontiac Community of Partners; Provide community-wide impact, inclusive vs. exclusive, shared-resources, silo-busting vs. hardened silos of irrelevance, resonates with higher-ordered community-building thinking and doing and is exemplar in its execution.

CRAFTING the FABRIC (to put on the tent-poles): This requires identifying a theme so let's take Art as an example since everyone can relate to it.

Thursday, December 04, 2008