Rockford Rotary, Rockford schools celebrate reading by DR. RYAN KELLEY Assistant Superintendent of Instruction Rockford Public Schools An important skill to develop at an early age is reading, as it is the foundation for all future learning. There is truth in the saying, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Recognizing this, the Rockford Rotary Club and Rockford Public Schools are co-sponsoring the Third Annual Reading Rocks in Rockford Festival. The primary objective of the festival is to promote the joy of reading for all ages. This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival kicks off with a parade through downtown Rockford. Kids and adults are invited to dress up as a storybook character and join in the parade, meeting at Krause Memorial Library at 9:45 a.m. Following the parade, there are many scheduled activities including a publishing center, book bingo, fish for books, readers theater, meet the authors, garden park entertainment, VIP Readers and providing recognition to some of our finest elementary school readers from this past school year. We hope that your summer is filled with memorable experiences, including the reading of many quality books. Additionally, we hope to see everyone at the Reading Festival on August 13. A special thank-you goes to the Rockford Education Foundation for providing additional financial resources to make the festival extra special. If you have any questions, please contact me at (616) 863-6556 or Sue Bodenner of Rockford Rotary Club at (616) 866-2002.
Equipping our students for the 21st Century by PETER J. YOUNG Director of Technology Rockford Public Schools Rockford Public Schools (RPS) entered into a partnership with Steelcase a year ago to study the environmental impact of a traditional classroom design. The current traditional classroom design uses a hierarchal configuration of the teacher at the front of the classroom with rows of fixed desks and chairs. The partnership with Steelcase utilizes a different design, which we termed as a “classroom of the future.” This new classroom layout not only involves new furniture but also integrates new classroom technologies. There are six teaching spaces within the district that make up this new classroom of the future with representation at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. The purpose of this partnership is to equip our students in 21st Century skills that require them to communicate, collaborate, create and problem solve in this environment. This allows our teachers and students to teach and learn differently while practicing these necessary skills with 21st Century tools. Funding for these classrooms came from the public elected bond passed in May 2008. These new classrooms utilize several aspects or elements to their design. One key design element is the layout of furniture and their mobility. The layout of these rooms can be thought of as a hub-and-spoke configuration. A table represents a spoke and can seat anywhere from six to eight students to form a group. A classroom design can have four or five of these spokes that are off the center of the classroom where the teacher has a lectern represented as the hub. The furniture in these classrooms are completely mobile, allowing students to easily transition to collaborative group work as well as focus their attention wherever information is presented. The teacher in this design has the ability to freely move in and out of this hub-and-spoke configuration, where they can have interaction, connection and eye contact with all students. This format eliminates the back of the classroom by providing multiple fronts. Within the new classroom design, an element specific to this environment is a term called “triangulation.” Information is presented off three projectors in each classroom that forms a triangular geometry within the room. The information can be […]
SCHOOL BEAT Presentation of a Graduating Class by DAN ZANG Principal, Rockford High School Rockford High School (RHS) recently celebrated our 2011 commencement ceremony. The class of 2011 is a tremendous group of young men and women who now move on to spread their wings. Below you will find excerpts from this year’s graduation speech: It is, with great honor that I present to you the Rockford High School graduating class of 2011. This class is composed of 590 graduates that have achieved great success in their time at Rockford High School. They have excelled first and foremost in the classroom. They have also excelled in fine arts, community service, and co-curricular activities. Their achievements and actions have made their parents, teachers, school and community very proud. To the parents here this evening: Congratulations on a job well done! As I look over this group of graduates one last time, I am so very proud of their many accomplishments. I can only imagine the pride and joy that you are feeling right now. An interesting fact to share with each and every one of you tonight is that our graduates were born in the year that we opened Rockford High School in its current location. On behalf of the staff at Rockford High School and Rockford Public Schools, thank you for allowing us the opportunity to work with your children. Rockford Public Schools’ success is directly attributed to the tremendous parent support we receive in its varying forms. We are proud to share this milestone with you parents; it has been a joy and pleasure to work with your children. To the graduates: In a short while you will exit this arena one last time as a Rockford High School senior. As you sit here waiting in great anticipation of walking across this stage, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate each and every one of you on a job well done. Each and every one of you has a story and a journey as to how you got here. We celebrate the fact that you have arrived and have accomplished. We know your story is only just beginning. Understand that the world you are facing is ever changing, interesting, and full of opportunities. […]
An Honest Teacher Evaluation by BLAKE R. BOWMAN Dad and Principal, Lakes Elementary School I was given the opportunity to write this article because I am the principal at Lakes Elementary School, but the inspiration to write this article comes because I am a father at Lakes, too. I’m in a unique position to examine education from two very unique perspectives. I can watch what happens through the lens of my office, and yet I’m also privileged to see it through the eyes of my daughter Melanie and my son Brennan. Both vantage points offer clarity into the state of education that seems to be missing in most analysis from Lansing and from some media sources. Rockford teachers have shone brilliantly throughout a year in which our profession has been under attack from legislators and the media alike. It’s not easy to consistently give your best each day when you are hearing from all these outlets that your best isn’t good enough. They are wrong! They have never been to Lakes Elementary. They have never spent time in Rockford Public Schools. They have never seen our teachers hug our children, weep over them, whisper in their ears, touch them softly on their shoulders. They’ve never seen our staff wrap their arms around a child who was scared to sing at the talent show and give them the strength to overcome anxiety to realize a dream. They’ve never seen our teachers embrace a child whose father died unexpectedly just a few days earlier. They’ve never seen what time teachers go to bed because they’re still up working. I’ve exchanged e-mails with my teachers between 1:00 and 2:00 in the morning on school nights! Teaching is not an 8:00 to 4:00 job! Critics of our teachers have never seen the pile of receipts for things teachers have bought for their students, or the bills that will go unpaid this month because teachers made sure their students came first. The average teacher spends well over a thousand dollars of their own money on their students annually, providing those things for kids that reduced state funding no longer can. Folks down in Lansing have never seen the adoration in the eyes of our kids when they look up at […]
SCHOOL BEAT RPS provides teachers with digital tools by MAGGIE THELEN Principal, Belmont Elementary School Gifted/Talented Coordinator Quick! In 140 characters or less, what do you think Abraham Lincoln’s advice to President Obama would be? This may seem an odd question for those of us born before 1982, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary for today’s Twitter-savvy students. Otherwise known as digital natives, Generation Y or the Net-Generation, today’s students are unique, due to their level of Internet access and daily interactions with computer-enabled technologies. “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our students of tomorrow.” While spoken by John Dewey around the turn of the 19th century, these powerful words apply to us today and into tomorrow as each new generation fills classrooms. How does today’s educator keep up with the constantly evolving trends in instruction and technology? Proudly, the Rockford Public Schools has taken advantage of a program offered through Central Michigan University in which in-district experts can design and teach a college level course sponsored by CMU. This innovative program allows our talented staff to share their areas of expertise, provides relevant professional development, and offers the benefits of earning college credit within one’s own professional learning community. This spring, district staff offered a course called “Differentiation for Highly Able Students Using Technology”, a three-credit class for teachers in second through eighth grades. The course targeted instruction for the highly able, but was also applicable to the needs of the diversity of students found in every classroom. To promote 21st century skills of collaboration, critical thinking, and communication while continuing to maintain a solid focus on required objectives, teachers in this class were introduced to technologies which change the way students acquire and interact with knowledge. Literary discussions are no longer confined by the classroom walls. Instead, students can blog across schools or around the world about literary insights and analysis. Technology allows us to remove the physical barriers that have—until recently—prevented students from easily communicating with like-minded peers with similar interests. Today’s students have unprecedented Internet access through home computers, iPods, iPads, and other mobile devices. While these devices can sometimes cause distraction, being “plugged in” has its advantages. When students create their own podcasts or listen […]