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Engagement Snap Shot To End Term 2

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RHS School Improvement Action Steps

I decided to focus this Blog on Ralston High School's School Improvement Plan.  I know that when you have a lot of initiatives on the table it can feel overwhelming.  I also recognize the need to examine our work as a staff. The leadership team and I have met this year and broken down the 5 year plan into a yearly action plan to guide our work.  We feel it is important to share and highlight how the plan supports college and career readiness and impacts the changes in how we operate as a school and serve our students.  To keep things as simplistic as possible I will explore two action steps which include a significant change to the ILP process for incoming 9th graders and delivery of ACT prep at Ralston High School.  These action steps will need to be in full implementation soon.


Let's start with the newly revised Individual Learning Plan or more commonly referred to ILP Day for our students.  Our goal is to increase the explicit communication about the importance of planning a…

New Year New DATA!

Ralston High School staff has a lot to be proud of and as their principal I am really excited to share some great data.  Last year in my first year of serving as principal we focused on defining and monitoring student engagement.  We created and used a rubric that defined levels of engagement on a spectrum.

A level 6 was the highest meaning students were engaged in higher order learning.  Some examples were authentic project work, cooperative learning, hand-on learning, problem-based learning, demonstrations, and research.

A level 5 students were engaged in active conversations that construct knowledge. Conversations may have been stimulated by the teacher but are not teacher dominated.  Higher order thinking is evident.

A level 4 students were attentive to teacher-led learning, experiences such as lecture, question and answer, teacher giving directions, and or video instruction. Discussion may occur, but instruction and ideas come primarily from the teacher.

A level 3 students were …

Highlights From The First Week Of School

School is back in session and Ralston High School teachers did not waste any time engaging in a learning walk the first week of class.  I am proud as their principal that they seized the opportunity to spend 45 minutes during a very busy and demanding time to engage in this high leverage professional development.  Teachers were able to see first hand what their peers were doing during week one in the their classrooms. Teachers started the kick off of the year learning walks by meeting as a group to remind ourselves of the purpose, direction, and process of the learning walk.  Teachers then broke out into teams of 3-4 teachers and visited 2-3 rooms for 7-10 minutes.  Teachers left the room to debrief what they saw that resonated with them and what they thought they could use in their classrooms. Teachers kept notes and then met back as a whole group the last 10 minutes.  Teachers spent this time together discussing the highlights they observed, writing a personal reflection to upload t…

Engagement at Ralston High School Looks Like This!

Ralston High School continues to push forward trying different instructional strategies to increase student engagement in classrooms.  In this BLOG I plan to highlight some of the teachers classes that ranked a 5 or 6 on our engagement rubric.  

A score of a 5 indicates students "All students are engaged in active conversations that construct knowledge. Conversations may have been teacher stimulated but are not teacher dominated. Higher-order thinking is evident. Curriculum alignment is clear and evident."

A score of 6 indicates students "All students are engaged in higher order learning. Common examples include:  authentic project work, cooperative learning, hands-on learning, problem-based learning, demonstrations, and research. Curriculum alignment evident and Student discourse is evident."

Mr. Earhart had students conducting a lab in Biology class where they were applying what they learned in a focus lesson(s) over identification of cell phase. Students used s…

Teachers at RHS Model Being Life Long Learners

The year is almost over with only one term left and I know Spring Break is just what staff needed to refuel and re energize.  Ralston High School embarked on a progressive year as we pursued a change in practices that required many people to rise to the challenge for different reasons. One of the goals in this first year was empower staff by creating leadership opportunities surrounding decision making that contribute to the creation and implementation of professional development. This change causes discomfort at times and challenges people's perspectives; however ultimately creates growth. Staff were put in positions were they had to work as a team and hold each other accountable as they accomplished a book study tied to instructional strategies and practices aimed at increasing student engagement.  Staff then had to do exactly what it is we ask our students to do, which is take their learning and understanding and apply, create, explain, and synthesize it. Staff were asked to wo…

Engagement Through Discourse and Purpose

RalstonHigh School has been looking at engagement all year.  One of the key areas of engagement comes from classroom talk.  Teachers can increase effective classroom talk by creating a discourse-rich classroom culture.   We all know getting students to this point doesn't just happen. The teacher must start the year discussing what discourse is, why we need to do it, and ensure students know what's in it for them by laying out the student benefits.  I have highlighted a some excellent examples below.

Amy Rector was prompting students to describe and analyze the characteristics of texts written during the Romanticism period. Amy did this by planning the lesson to introduce the idea of Romanticism by using examples and non examples through text, movie clips, and historical context.  Students used table top discussion methods to evaluate the movie clips for evidence of Romanticism using the descriptors from the focus lesson.  After students had a strong understanding of the writing…