Update: Ohio’s #StraightAFund round one, greatest hits

http://gettingsmart.com/2014/09/progress-report-ohio-straight-fund/ a piece I wrote for Getting Smart.  Please click on the link to read more and to share with colleagues and others who may be interested.


How’s #BlendedLearning Doing on Campus? Survey Says!

Good morning sports fans.

I’ve got 4 great news clips right here for those interested in blended.

Gallup: poll of college and university presidents showing blended is catching on on-campus and they’re not in the mood for MOOCs anymore.

Straight A Fund: Mentor Ohio using innovation fund to increase its innovation. Mentor is taking it to the next level in its professional development. (Willoughby News-Herald)

Barriers: new report from Clayton Christenen Institute looks at barriers to implementing blended learning and what schools are doing to overcome them (T.H.E. Journal) You can get a copy of the report here

Can Blended Learning save Catholic schools? TJ D’Agostino is the Associate Director at Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE) and he writes in EdSurge that Catholic schools face their own problems with being relevant for today in the classroom. I would add that the small administrative teams and constrained budgets they also have to contend  with parents who can more easily withdraw their children from the system.  There is also opportunity and I think his piece has relevance for public school systems facing enrollment declines as well.

See you tomorrow… for another BONUS LINK!

Great Moments in Seat-Time Instruction #competencybasedlearning

Good morning sports fans.

After two days of probing the ins and outs of Common Core opposition, it’s time to move on to other topics. (Yeah, I am fully aware my page views will take a major hit now.) Competency-based learning takes center stage today, followed by two days of news and views on blended learning and personalized instruction.  If all goes well, I could be adding something to that discussion myself.

Competency: piano prodigy called “truant” by public school system now a home-schooler (Washington Post) any kind of personalization or competency-based policy could have kept her on the rolls as the best the DC Public Schools has to offer.  Now she is scoring points for the home-schooling movement instead.  So, yeah, the “competency” tag doesn’t just apply to the kid here, if you get what I am saying.

On the other hand, there’s this:

Philadelphia Freedom: two schools set to re-invent learning based on competency models (The Notebook)

Colorado: movement to move beyond grade levels taps into national movement (KUNC) 

College: surge in competency-based instruction models taxes accreditors (Inside Higher Ed) related: offerings surge in Indiana (Lafayette Journal/Courier)

Wisconsin: LaCrosse area students to receive personalized instruction in math and foreign language (WKBT)

BONUS LINK: continuing with our “Great Moments in Seat Time Instruction” series. Man, I am hungry now.

#CommonCore Opposition: it’s not just for Tea anymore

Good morning sports fans.

Looks like there is a market for clear-headed news and a dash of sarcasm on Common Core.  So here goes.

Teachers: survey shows teacher opposition growing.  Either that, or there are far more Tea Party/Glenn Beck fans in the classroom than most of us thought. Here is a teacher taking them apart.(Huffington Post)

Taking Route 180 back to Harrisburg:  Pennsylvania Gov turns against standards he helped implement (Post-Gazette) yes there really is an Interstate 180 in the Keystone State but it doesn’t actually go to the state capital city of Harrisburg. Maybe there’s a lesson there. 

Who Am I? Why am I here?: So, the conservative author who wrote the Common Core standards isn’t really a conservative, didn’t really write them, and isn’t much of a fan anyhow (Breitbart)

Start Spreading the News: New York Gov draws primary opposition from law professor Zephyr Teachout and she opposes Common Core 

Mr. MoJo Risin: well, not really.  Mother Jones a bit behind the curve here. 

BONUS LINK: where exactly does Route 180 in PA go? Williamsport PA home of the Little League World Series. My early pick for Sportsman of the Year was there.

Abhor the Core? There’s so much more!

Good morning sports fans. 

In a departure from my usual roundup of various tech-y links, I want to take a few moments to discuss Common Core opposition.  There is no doubt that opposition is growing and is no longer a “fringe” issue.  Parents are starting to complain.  In fact, it seems that anything that anyone finds wrong in their school or another school is laid at the feet of the Common Core State Standards.  (If you haven’t already done so, read them here.)

But guess what?  A “common core math problem” isn’t any such thing.  Textbooks have been taking apart math problems in different ways to reflect different learning styles for at least the past 30 years.  I can remember it in my own textbooks as early as 4th or 5th grade.  (Sorry for the vagueness but I had the same teacher for math both years… and we covered the same stuff over and over.) Ending Common Core isn’t going to change that.  Even before that, teachers and tutors struggled to find ways to relate math concepts to those who weren’t getting it with memorization.

Over the weekend, an older gentleman informed me that Common Core is requiring  schools to make their bathrooms all unisex. He said the Federal government has explicitly forbidden schools from notifying parents.  That was a first for me, and between serving on a local board of education and my own third-grader who would totally freak out if that were the case, I explained that I would have heard about it by now.  He back-pedaled by saying it was going into effect next year. If your school is going to unisex restrooms because of Common Core, I wouldn’t suggest merely notifying me; instead, notify the child welfare authorities in your local jurisdiction or the news media. 

As it turns out, there is a push in Austin TX to require all single-stall bathrooms to be unisex. (Although, if they’re single stall, what’s the difference in terms of privacy as long as the door locks?) And an Oregon high school created a unisex bathroom for a trangendered student. Weird, but far from a Common Core mandate.

Then there is the testing issue around common core.  Teachers complain about “teaching to the test” something that has been a complaint since the first time teachers were forced to give a test they or their textbook publisher didn’t create. Ending Common Core isn’t going to get rid of state testing, not in this age of demanding measurable accountability for just about everything.

Moral of the story: if Common Core does fall by the wayside, and assuming sets of perfect standards are found to take its place, we’re still going to be stuck with convoluted math textbooks, news of the weird, and using someone else’s tests to measure how your students learned. 

5 Friday #EdTech Nuggets to Read Before You Call It A Week

Good afternoon sports fans.  A sports-filled weekend awaits and hopefully other forms of relaxation do too.

Leadership: Brookings study in Georgia and Florida says that student achievement is little affected by who’s at the top. (NPR) This is where the board member in me comes out.  I’ll just say that I disagree.  I’d also question the extent of the study.  Florida and South Carolina superintendents oversee large, countywide districts.  In Ohio, we have 614 districts for about 1.8 million students.  The average school district has under 3000 students.  Districts of that size have fewer central office administrators between the superintendent and the principals who oversee the teachers.  I’d also add that truly charismatic leaders the study cites are rare in any walk of life.  I’ll take a superintendent who can hire and mentor good teachers and principals over a visionary who is good on the podium any day of the week.

Digital Learning: national news outlet explores emerging trends in various forms of digital learning.  I don’t think they’re the first to go all-digital in the US as this implies.  Not by a long shot. Again, nothing Earth-shattering but it’s always good to see the mainstream, popular press validate the work we are all doing.  An even better day will be when it’s so commonplace it doesn’t merit a news story. (CBS)

Bandwidth: blogger makes case for better bandwidth for our schools. (Crain’s Detroit Business) I don’t think this is anything Earth-shattering but it makes for a good read.

You read it here first if you read here yesterday: Rhode Island trains blended learning pioneers (EdSurge)

Ontario: province invests $150,000,000 in iPads. OK that’s in Canadian dollars, but that’s still a nice chunk of change. The article doesn’t say anything about wiring schools or teacher training.   Hope they don’t overlook that. 

BONUS LINK: I went to college in Toledo.  It’s an hour away from the Canadian border. We got there through Detroit.  One of the attractions to going to Canada was that 19 is the legal drinking age.  This song was very popular around that time in my life, though it didn’t rate highly in my circle of friends.  We were more the Smashing Pumkins type.  Nevertheless, we found it ironic that this song share the same initials as the local law enforcement agents. We made sure we were never down with them, either. 

11 Newsy #EdTech Links #coffeebreak

Good morning sports fans.

So much for my 8:30 goal to get this out.  Oh wait, I meant 8:30 Central Time. Right.

Rhode Island: inside “Little Rhody’s” fellowship program where fellows learn to spread the blended Gospel. (EdSurge) This has laid the groundwork for the state’s new partnership with The Learning Accelerator

EdTech: 5 Big EdTech Trends and what they mean (Tom Vander Ark, in EdWeek)

Comptency: 2 Wisconsin schools get thumbs-up from Feds (Inside Higher Ed) and a university’s student newspaper gets on board (The Diamondback, from the University of Maryland-College Park, that’s the flagship institution, the one that just became the 14th school to join the Big Ten)

Screencasting: you won’t believe what happens when the flipped classroom meets blended learning (unless you’re a practicioner) a professor of Education Technology breaks it down for us all (T.H.E. Journal)

Implementation: we haven’t heard much from Los Angeles’ poor iPad rollout lately so here is a catchup as the superintendent continues to field questions (LA Times)


6 Top Newsbits #CommonCore #Tenure #Blended #CastAWideNet

All aboard the SS Harlow Report.  Sailing off into the wild blue yonder to bring you the latest in techy topics in education policy, plus a few other surprises in the wide nets we cast here at The Harlow Report.

Blended Learning: MIT experiment launches dozens of startups (Boston Innovation)

Deeper Learning: blended learning and deeper learning go hand in hand (EdWeek) done right, blended learning IS deeper learning

Scaling: EdSurge’s newest columnist asks what “scaling” really means, and a surprising look at who and what have been successful (EdSurge)  now, this is just scaling on a national level.  Scaling in a state such as, oh, I don’t know, Ohio, would top out at about 1.7 million K-12 public school students, and about 2.2 million once charter and non-public students are added.

Tenure: CA’s state superintendent, who is running for re-election, joins the Gov in appealing the Vergara ruling (Sac Bee) which stated that tenure violates the Equal Protection clause in the Constitution.  Two months before the election… now THAT is the age of knowing what you’re made of!

Common Core:  the Associated Press’ latest manifest shows who is on the SS Common Core, which states are jumping off, which states are standing at the edge wondering what to do, and which states never got on board.  Here in Ohio, our legislature is pushing repeal, our Governor is still backing them, and his challenger accuses him of waffling but doesn’t have a position of his own. (Columbus Dispatch)  Then again, the challenger’s campaign deserves a nautical metaphor all its own.

 Legal disclaimer: as regular readers of The Harlow Report know, I am an elected member of the Northwest Local School Board here in Hamilton County, Ohio. The district has been sued by 4 parents of students who were expelled (under Ohio law, a suspension lasting more than 10 school days is an expulsion) during the last school year when we had an incident that led to a total of 14 students being disciplined.  As these things go, I will be providing regular updates here, but am refraining from any independent comment. Here is a local story on it. (700 WLW)


5 Quick News Links #EdTech #OHSchools (brought to you by Sears)

Good morning sports fans.  

I hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day weekend, though there seemed to be some amount of confusion as to the holiday being celebrated this weekend.   For some today marks the first day of school.  For others, it marks the second abbreviated week for school.  In Indiana, some students are 4 weeks in and already have a fair number of tests, quizzes, papers and projects under their belts.

Here are some quick hits to get your week started.

1:1 computing: Licking Valley offers 1:1 in middle school, pays for it by eliminating computer labs (Newark Advocate) interesting that textbook reduction wasn’t cited

Canada: digital learning and digital citizenship education in Calgary will have student projects evaluated by the private sector (Calgary Herald)

Competency: why it’s so hard to study its effectiveness (eCampus News)

Reynoldsburg: blended learning Mecca sees high teacher turnover, but thousands (literally) apply to replace them (Columbus Dispatch)

Katrina: a look at the changes to New Orleans schools, then and now (Nola.com/Times-Picayune)

BONUS LINK: a retro back-to-school commercial from Sears.  I probably had some of these clothes, especially the corduroy pants. 


The Sportmanship Implications of Playing a Service Academy

Good morning, Sports Fans

It’s game day!  College football kicks off.  Lots of fans, lots of fun, lots of drinking, lots of trash talk.  Lots of talk, when you get right down to it, of speaking of one’s team in some rather militaristic terms.  “We’re going to crush the enemy,” etc. 

For the most part, it’s all in good fun.  However, some schools have young men (they’re college students, remember) who will soon be facing combat of a very different sort.  In particular, the United States Military Academy (Army), the US Naval Academy, and the US Air Force Academy.  There are some other schools founded on military traditions with a Corps of Cadets (The Citadel and Texam A&M come to mind), but for the service academies’ students, it all going to get very real very soon.

And remember, regardless of whom you’re rooting for today, the service academies will be fighting for us all.  

Most of the time, it’s just another game on the schedule when a service academy rolls into town. Given the national spread of their fan bases and the small sizes of their home fields, they’re on the road more often than not.  That said, some students have taken the usual trash-talking of the opponent to an extra-low level, taunting them for military scandals and mistakes, and implying they’ll soon be dead. Here is a story from 2007 involving Rutgers University, a school not widely thought to have a rowdy fan base. And here. And another with an apology from RU. And here in 2013 against Middle Tennessee State University, again, a team not widely thought to have rowdy fans.

In response, and perhaps knowing what kind of microscope they would be under if it happened in their stadium, when Ohio State played Navy in 2009, the school asked fans to salute Navy when they took the field.  Other events took place when the Buckeyes went to Baltimore to play Navy today.  I am not aware that anything disrespectful took place in Columbus in 2009, in Baltimore today, or if any other schools have had similar responses.  If so, please drop me a note.

In case you’re wondering, Ohio State won today 34-17. 

BONUS LINK here is video from the Ohio State section from 2009