A Look Behind, A Look Ahead Part 1
We have now officially come to the end of the first quarter of the 2014-15 school year at Ottawa High School. So far the first nine weeks have seen a number of new initiatives put into place that have substantially changed the way our students learn every day. I would like to take the opportunity in this column to discuss those changes that are already in place and those that still lie ahead of us.
Cyclone Connect: We are now 9 weeks into the implementation of chromebooks for every student at Ottawa High School. In my opinion I do not think that this implementation could have gone much better. Our teachers are evolving in their utilization of the technology to provide students opportunities that they have never had with us before. Our students are also, by their own admission, more organized, able to communicate with our staff better, able to collaborate with one another better, and now have the majority of their textbooks available online which provides a number of interactive technologies we had not been able to utilize in the past.
MTSS Reading: We are in our third year of reading intervention at OHS. This initiative has been one of the most important in our improved success in the classroom. This year the intervention groups will include juniors as well as freshman and sophomores. The purpose is to identify reading gaps that our students may have and provide intense, individualized instruction to help our students fill those gaps and become better readers.
MTSS Behavior: The future holds yet another major undertaking that will catapult OHS to the top of school innovation. By working with the University of Kansas and the Kansas Technical Assistance System Network (TASN) we will be one of only 5 school districts to work to implement a behavior program in which our building practices are more about teaching behavior and less about creating consequences for it. We are currently working to develop a common understanding of major and minor infractions as well as consistent classroom practices throughout our entire building.
Assessments: Last year the State of Kansas made a pitch to the Federal Government to allow high schools to make a choice as to which assessments they will provide to our students. Subsequently OHS and USD 290 made a determination to use the ACT and WorkKeys to meet those requirements and to follow our push for college and career readiness. SInce then the Federal Government has determined that we will not have that opportunity and must utilize the State Assessment. This means that we will be adding another assessment to our list of assessments as we still believe that the ACT and WorkKeys are the best assessments for our students as they prepare for life post high school. However, with the utilization of the chromebook we have been able to drastically reduce the time needed for assessment and even with the addition of the new assessments we will still spend less time assessing students than we did last year.
These are just some of the initiatives that are currently in place or are currently under construction. Next week we will continue the conversation and discuss facilities, our school improvement and accreditation process, Polar technologies, parent teacher conferences, and some of the opportunities that lie ahead of us because of our increased utilization of technology.
Dr. Ryan Cobbs