Planting Seeds for Life-Long Learning: School Gardens

School gardens throughout the district are thriving, thanks to the dedication of students, families, school PTOs, staff, local businesses, and Carver County Master Gardeners. These gardens are a source of learning for students throughout the summer and into the school year. Teachers from a variety of studies, including science, social studies, math/engineering, etc., often creatively incorporate their school garden into Standards-Based lesson plans to learn about topics such as life-cycle, germination, the history of the land, and more. Not only do students enjoy the school gardens and have fun taking care of them, but they also walk away with a strong sense of community and environmental stewardship. This sustainable model makes for great learning opportunities. Learn about the school gardens in our district: Bluff Creek Elementary Students planted the first seeds in this garden four years ago with the goal of establishing an outdoor focal point for learning. At the start of the... Continue reading Planting Seeds for Life-Long Learning: School Gardens

What’s happening next year with Empower and standards-based learning?

A number of surveys and in-person meetings around standards-based learning have happened this school year (2017-18) with students, teachers and parents. A variety of work has been happening all year, and the result of it will be evident this coming fall. Next school year, expect the following action steps to be completed: Most relevant for parents/guardians are technical improvements to Empower. The student interface will be revamped, and a feature added to give quicker access to assignment feedback and grades. Overall, these adjustments will create a more user-friendly experience. High school principals will work with teachers more closely on the implementation phases for standards-based learning. Some of the teaching and assessment practices required for standards-based learning are different from the way some teachers were trained originally. They need more time to introduce practices in their classrooms that support personalized learning and standards-based learning. This will... Continue reading What’s happening next year with Empower and standards-based learning?

What’s standards-based grading? Why does it matter?

If you’ve had a performance evaluation at work, the most valuable part of an evaluation is not a ranking or score. We want to hear what our supervisor says about how we’re doing our work: What we did well and what we could do to improve. It’s constructive feedback that helps us learn and grow. We know this as adults. Yet school systems have focused almost exclusively on grading systems that relied on accumulations of points and calculations of percentages. As a result many students become adept at “playing school.” They figure out for each teacher exactly how much work to do to get the grade they want. This puts all the emphasis on the points, not on the learning. Like a good job evaluation, a good grading system should give students constructive feedback about learning. In Eastern Carver County Schools, we are improving the feedback teachers provide to students. Students should know clearly if they have mastered a learning target or if they need more practice. Elementary gradebooks... Continue reading What’s standards-based grading? Why does it matter?

Understanding standards in learning

Have you ever been given a task but you were unsure of why you were doing it or its purpose? Even if you were successful, there was probably a level of frustration or anxiety. When we are learning something, we are more likely to be successful when we know what needs to be done and understand what a successful outcome looks like. Being as clear as possible about learning goals is essential to a high-quality education and a hallmark of exceptional, personalized learning in Eastern Carver County Schools. This is why our educators are putting academic standards front and center in the teaching and learning process. You may have heard of “standards-based learning” or “standards-based grading.” It may sound like something new, but standards have always been foundational to the learning process. An educator must know what a learner should know and be able to do. Everyone involved in education from preschool through doctorate-level programs uses something like standards, whether they are... Continue reading Understanding standards in learning