East Greenwich Looks to Stay on Top

Yes, East Greenwich has economic advantages that Central Falls doesn’t have. It also has parents, teachers and a community that is involved in the school. These are all reasons for why East Greenwich High School has been ranked as the best high school in the state and one of the top schools in the nation. But, over and above all that, it is a willingness to continue to push boundaries and have a dialogue about re-shaping what it means to have an education.

During the second “Excellence in Education” forum held on Monday, School Superintendent Dr. Victor Mercurio told a group of about 25 residents that the state’s minimum requirements for a 180-day school year and 330 minutes of instruction per school day may inhibit student performance and teaching efficiency.
Mercurio said the School Department is exploring several alternative plans for creating a year-round academic schedule including the use of a four-day school week.
According to Mercurio, other school districts that have shortened their school weeks in an effort to reduce spending witnessed beneficial results relating to student achievement….In addition to a year-round schedule, Mercurio said the department is also examining the use of longer school days and alternative methods of instruction, such as digital devices and social media.
“The bricks and mortar part of school is no longer the essential piece of the relationship between a teacher and a student,” he said.

The idea of “flipping the classroom” (mentioned here before) was also discussed:

…[Assistant School Superintendent Paula] Dillon said other districts have found success by “flipping the classroom,” which essentially means that students use digital devices to experience the lecturing part of their coursework while at home. They then go to school to work hands-on with teachers for problem solving and review work. The educational model is the opposite of how most districts operate with teachers lecturing during the school day, and students working on the subject matter at home, she said.

The overall goal is to make actual instructional hours more efficient and effective. It sounds like it was an interesting and worthwhile dialogue, but it’s really just shooting the breeze until it is actually put into effect.

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9 years ago

Whenever educators get together to talk about things like “Excellence in Education”, you need to put on your hip boots. “The research isn’t definitive, but …” But they will pick out and push the things they like anyway. “The overall goal is to make actual instructional hours more efficient and effective.” How about eliminating all of the wasted time on mixed-ability, top-down, real world hands-on silliness in class? “Flip the classroom”? Yes, send the kids home to watch a video that can’t answer questions and then waste time in class on group work with the teacher as the guide-on-the-side. One person in the group might actually discover something and then proceed to directly teach everyone else (right or wrong). That’s supposed to be better than having a trained and properly prepared teacher do the job. As long as it looks like “active learning”, they will be happy. But in math, how does that work, exactly? You watch the Khan video one night (some I’ve seen are agonizingly slow), go in the next day to do some fun-time hands on group work, and then you go home and do a full homework set where the real learning is done. Oh yes, you also have to watch the lecture video for the next unit. I guess teachers don’t mind direct instruction if someone else is doing it. They just want to see good ol’ active learning in class. They can (and do) also send home notes to parents to work on math facts with their kids. Done right, flipping requires more work at home from the student. It requires direct control of the teacher to ensure that class time is really meaningful. You don’t get something for nothing. ““The bricks and mortar part of school is no longer the essential piece of… Read more »

9 years ago

The GoLocalProv rankings are methodologically challenged. A school gets rewarded for simply spending, not for what educationally effective practices the resources get used. Note the silly comment in the GLP story that EGHS retained its top ranking “despite” its low per pupil spending.
Also, the student teacher ratio can mask how the teachers are used. A class of 30 with 2 teachers produces the same ratio as a class of 25 and a class of 5 with one teacher each respectively.
Flipping the classroom is not the magic bullet; however, we should not be quick to dismiss such concepts either. As you note, flipping actually requires the teacher to use the time saved in a purposeful manner. Until we take seriously the hard work of differentiating how students learn, matching the right teacher (skills) with the right group of students, and moving away from the easy model of fixed time, place, pace, and schedule for learning, we’ll be stuck in the same place, just dressed up with 21st century gadgets.

9 years ago

Flipping doesn’t mean acceleration, and it isn’t a method for dealing with differentiated instruction. Differentiation in high school is done with different levels. NKHS has three levels so one teacher can focus on one presentation and content that targets all students in the class. Proper flipping requires more work from students. It’s not a way to rearrange work to get something for nothing. If teachers push the lecture to homework to get more time with “real, active learning” in class, then what are they taking away from homework? Hopefully nothing. I don’t think that’s what happens. Other homework is reduced or kids really don’t watch the online video. In the lower grades, flipping won’t help one bit. The problem is full inclusion and low expectations. It’s enrichment over acceleration. It’s schools that talk about critical thinking and understanding, but don’t ensure mastery of basic skills and content. They have a different view of education. My son’s first grade teacher said that “Yes, he has a lot of superficial knowledge” when we mentioned (off hand) that he loved geography and could find any country in the world. Ironically, later in the year, he had to show the student teacher where Kuwait was when they were doing a silly thematic unit on sands from around the world. So much for top-down and thematic learning. Many teachers really don’t like kids who have great memories. It’s great if you can draw a picture or do a dance to remember something (that’s authentic), but if you just remember it, then it’s rote or superficial. Flipping just rearranges the chairs on the deck of the Titanic unless it’s used to increase work and expectations. They might pull that off at Phillips Exeter or Rocky Hill with their Harkness Table approach, but I don’t see schools… Read more »

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