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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…

We Love Public School Especially RHS

I am over the moon to report that Ralston High School has improved their classroom engagement according to our Impact Rubric for the third time in a row!  Ralston has focused on increasing engagement in classes with very specific indicators of "engagement"! We set out to improve the percentage of classrooms to earn a score of a 5 or 6 on the Rubric.  To earn a 5 or 6, administrators would have to see evidence as described in the rubric (below) during the 10 minute interval they vistited the classroom. Teachers are not informed as to when their rooms will be visited in order to keep the results authentic and accurate. Below the rubric you can see our data that indicates growth in the percentage of classes hitting the mark as highlighted in yellow.  For those who are interested in what a 3 or 4 indicates, it basically equates that a 3 means students were working on assignments, and a 4 means that the teacher was giving instruction.  To continue to grow the percentage of classe…

2017 Here We Come

What does a teacher do when it is Martin Luther King Day but students are not in session?  Mrs. Weland will be recruiting and taking a group of Ralston High School students to a University of Nebraska at Omaha Signature Service Day in his honor!  Mrs. Weland and the students will be honoring Dr. King by grabbing a paintbrush, mentoring a young person, or helping to clean up a public space. It is very important to me as the principal at Ralston High School that we acknowledge and engage students in multicultural activities that bring awareness to the cultural and ethnic diversity we share as a student body.  Thank you Mrs. Weland for making this possible through service learning.

Speaking of diversity we will be launching our new Edgenuity online learning system this month. Ralston High's department heads have been working hard to align the courses on the program to our district's standards.  We have many core classes ready to role out.  Bill Gillman and Cindy Raders will be w…