Students share candid thoughts during Student Advisory visits

I will complete the trifecta of Superintendent's Student Advisory meetings for the month today when I visit Sandburg after hitting send on this message. At Andrew and Stagg, we've had great conversations about absenteeism and the importance of attending school, the initial concept of eLearning days for winter weather days and what other districts in Illinois area doing, blended learning, technology use, and general updates about the happenings at their schools. I anticipate hearing input from Sandburg students today on these same topics.
At Stagg on Thursday, we welcomed International Society for Technology in Education Senior Strategic Adviser Dave Benoit to the meeting who listened in as students shared their views on technology topics. He was visiting the district to see how technology supports instruction so he jumped right into the Advisory meeting to observe. 
I continue to be impressed with the candor and insight students share on the topics we are considering as a district. Their feedback always provides a much needed student voice as we discuss potential programs and policy changes. 
Learning in action during school visits
In connection with the Student Advisory meetings, I also have an opportunity to visit a number of classes at each of the schools. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to see learning in action. Thank you to the teachers and students who welcomed me!
Andrew High School
  • I had the opportunity to visit Lisa Mondragon's Freshman English class where  the students were reading "In The Sea There Are Crocodiles". The students were reviewing the events of Chapter 2 using Imagery Notes.Tasks included: identifying and sequencing major events, selecting significant passages, providing support, and creating illustrations of events/related symbols. Each group presented to the class prior to starting Chapter 3.  
  • In Gary Young's US History class students just finished the Progressive Era, New Deal, 1920's, and Great Depression Unit. They participated in a review over the unit with Kahoot for an upcoming assessment they will have. During the class discussion, the students made some real practical connections to understand key vernacular terms within the unit like overproduction.
  • Next, I visited Liz Geiger, Chris Spiel, Brian Gascoin and Kim Gierhahn's Social Communication Resource/Peer Group where students were each given a teen-specific problem, and they were encouraged to analyze the best way to solve it (pros and cons, picking the best solution, making a plan, etc...)  After deliberation, the groups created role plays with thought bubbles (describing each person's perspective.) All students did an outstanding job participating and adding improvisation/humor into the role plays.
Stagg High School
  • I stopped by as staff who volunteered to earn certification in Mental Health First Aid were finishing up their training made possible through a grant from the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health.
  • During a visit to the Social Communication Resource classroom Margaret Lading and Hannah Rajkovich and students worked on various communication strategies and the benefits and potential challenges of each.  The students presented personal examples related to each strategy and had further discussion on appropriate and inappropriate responses.
  • I also learned that Margaret Lading and Kelly Fino continue to look for opportunities to help support our students with social communication deficits in the community.  The Connect Program, including Margaret Lading, Kelly Fino, Shannon Stearns, and Randy James presented to the Police Mega Meeting on Wednesday, February 20.  Information was provided to the surrounding police departments on characteristics of individuals with autism and other social communication disorders.  The police officers were also made aware of a supplemental resource card that students in the SCR program are given to share with others regarding their unique needs.  
Sandburg High School
Later today, I look forward to visiting Sandburg:
  • Dave Drzonek will conduct a targeted mini-seminar in the Social Studies Resource Center for students who want to improve their document analysis skills in AP History classes. The seminar is centered on the acronym HAPP (Historical Context, Audience, Purpose, Point of View), which is an analysis tool used across different levels of our AP classes. 
  • Students in US History with Jim Martin and Brian Ostrander will be putting finishing touches on their presentations that will begin next week. They are learning about the Great Depression and are working on presentations that focus on escapism in this time period. 
  • Dan McCabe will be wrapping up individual project planning conferences with students in his Sculpture class. While students are working on their projects, they will explain what they are doing and how their planning sessions are influencing their approach and efforts.
  • Kim Vander Woude's Spanish 3 Honors students will practice various techniques that improve pronunciation and fluency when engaging in presentational speaking in Spanish. I'll hear them testing out various tongue twisters in Spanish.
It's always a great day when I have a chance to see learning in action!
Dr. Jim Gay