Oakwood Educational Master Plan: 2010-23

A common analogy used in describing educational change is to compare it to constructing a 747 while the plane is in the air. The flight takes off for a predetermined destination with the passengers strapped into their seats while the crew restructures onboard systems and the tower reconfigures the flight plan. As difficult a challenge as this analogy depicts, 21st century educational planning requires even greater dexterity. We are no longer constructing a 747, we are exiting the 747 in mid-air to dock with a space shuttle. The view from this change in perspective is dramatically different.

These analogies for educational change hold particular meaning for the Oakwood Schools right now as the district defines its Educational Plan for the period 2010-2023.  By January 2010, our Board will have worked for fifteen months with a district leadership team, representative of all stakeholder groups, to articulate the curricular and extracurricular program components that will define our educational system for the near future.

In this first phase of the planning process, the Board is: 1) examining what the Ohio Department of Education and national Think Tanks have researched about future trends, and 2) listening, in focused dialogue sessions, to what community members whose business and research endeavors encompass world markets have to say about the knowledge base, skills, dispositions, and attitudes young people need to compete and lead in the 21st century.   

While a subsequent article will describe what we are learning from community members, this article will focus on an initiative of the Ohio Board of Education and Department of Education.

In 2006, the Ohio Department of Education convened the International Education Advisory Committee.  This was a group of educators, business leaders, foundation representatives, policy makers and community organizations who believe that Ohio must plan strategically and take action to prepare students to succeed in the world of the 21st century.  In October and November, the committee rolled out a series of International Education Summits throughout the state to engage business, community, and school leaders in a discussion of the committee’s goals for engagement:

Goal #1: Ohio citizens will understand the global context and diversity of relationships between themselves, their communities and the world.

Goal #2: Ohio educators will deliver global content as a component of a world-class education and create systems to support it.

Goal # 3: Students will become global thinkers with 21st century skills so that they can think critically and creatively across disciplines, manage complexity, embrace technology and value diversity.

Goal # 4: Ohio citizens will achieve greater economic prosperity and improved quality of life.  

These goals are correlated with the Ohio State Board of Education’s Top 10 Ideas for
Education in the Global Economy:

1. Critical thinking, problem-solving skills and applied knowledge for practical results
2 Mastery of rigorous academic content, especially in literacy, mathematics and information technologies
3 Innovative and creative thinking, including entrepreneurial skills
4.  Communication skills, both oral and written
5. Team learning and work, relationship building and interpersonal social skills
6. Alignment of education with the needs of economic development, including better communications and cooperation between educators and business people
7.  Personal responsibility, including good work habits, work ethic, knowing how to be flexible and continue learning and financial literacy
8. Global awareness, languages, and understanding other cultures (including history, economics and  geography)
9. Communications and better interfaces between K-12 public education and post-secondary/higher education to make high school graduates better prepared for the next stages of their education and lives
10.  Teacher education, preparation, and professional development to support content mastery and skill development, including applied learning (or problem-based learning) across disciplines in a global context (For more information visit www.10ideasforeducation.ohio.gov)

To share your thoughts on education in the global economy, please email education@oakwood.k12.oh.us.

OSEF outfits classrooms with hi-tech learning tools

Students Learn in Ways Their Parents Only Dreamed About!.. Students enter their responses on their “clickers” during a recent lesson at Smith School.  

Thanks to a technology demonstration package funded by the Oakwood Schools Education Foundation (OSEF), students at Smith and Harman Elementary Schools are learning in ways that their parents could have only dreamed about.  The technology now being utilized in the classrooms is completely changing the way students learn.  

Smart Boards and Interactive “Clicker” Student Response Systems (similar to the ones now used in many college classrooms and on the game show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”) give teachers the ability to survey students and assess understanding, either as a prepared test, or “on the fly”. Teachers instantly know whether or not the class understands a concept, which students may need additional support, and how to better differentiate instruction according to students’ varying abilities.

Students love the clickers as well because it empowers them to answer every question – no more waiting to be called on or not raising their hand because they don’t want to be embarrassed. One student announced, “I like the clickers because I like to take tests on them.”  Another student added, “All I have to do is press the button and it automatically happens.  So I get to answer everything.”

In addition to the Smart Boards and Student Response Systems, the OSEF grant also outfitted the four elementary classrooms with MacBook Pro Laptops, LCD projectors, speakers, document cameras, DVD/VHS players, digital tuners, digital cameras, digital video cameras and color laser printers.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of the technology is that it helps students see and understand the curriculum in new and exciting ways.  One student remarked, “I really like our classroom technology because we’ve done a lot of cool things this year.  Like when we looked up really close at all kinds of bugs on the ELMO.  We could even see a cicada’s really tiny claws.”  The “ELMO” (document camera) is able to project two or three-dimensional objects onto the Smart Board and is capable of magnifying an object up to 50 times.  This allows an entire classroom of students to simultaneously observe and discuss papers, books or objects that the teacher projects onto the Smart Board.    

Scott Gowdy, a sixth grade teacher at Harman, says, “I am very appreciative of the technology…The Elmo Document Camera has been a fantastic addition to my science class.  I am now able to project a demonstration onto the board so that everyone can see what is going on.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house.  The Smart Board makes math more interactive.  Kids want to come to the board to work problems.  I am constantly finding new features that help engage students in the lesson.”

Jeff Sellers, a third grade teacher at Smith, is amazed by the potential of the instructional technology and how easily he can take advantage of those “teachable moments”. “This new technology has changed the way I teach,” said Mr. Sellers.  “It has helped me become a better teacher.  I already see a difference in the students’ engagement and achievement and I feel like we’re just getting started.  I do a lot more showing and a lot less telling… that’s what makes learning fun and exciting for the students and for me.”

Third grade students work together to complete an enrichment activity on the Smart Board.

Career tech options for students

Oakwood City Schools for many years have joined with Kettering and Centerville to form the KOC Compact which very cost-effectively has provided the students of all three districts with steadily increasing options for Career-Tech Curriculum Programs.  OHS enrollment numbers range from 20 to 40 each year for these junior-senior elective programs.

I am a member of the Advisory Board for this KOC Compact.  Last week we held our Fall meeting. Many of the students receive college credit for some of their high school work and qualify for Sinclair scholarships as well.

Four of the 20+ Oakwood 08-09 Compact students were there to meet with us and tell us about their programs.  I was  very impressed by these students so let me tell you a bit about each of them and their own programs and interests.

Junior John Stover is enrolled in the automotive program because he loves cars even though his academic goal is to become a stock broker—Wall Street, not ranching!  This program has become his electives at OHS.  He does lawn work and fixes other people’s cars to support his own -07 Mustang!  Perhaps we can get him to W.S.  soon—it needs some help NOW!

Senior Holden Radcliffe is a part of the Engineering program and his academic goal is to become an engineer.  He will use his college credits and Sinclair scholarship to prepare himself for a full undergrad degree at UD. Not only does he work at DLM, but following his dad’s path he will also have his barber credentials just after graduation next spring which will help pay for his own college expenses!

Senior Michael Baumgartner is also in the Engineering program of the KOC Compact. His goal also includes UD and becoming an engineer.  He saw this high school program as a way to get an entry into learning which he has long sought.  He has worked at Panera for the past 18 months and recently received his Eagle Scout award.  He is a typical Lumberjack with solid ambitions.

Senior Winston Cronenwett is in the Interactive Media program of the Compact. He absolutely loves what he is doing. In addition to his academic studies of radio and TV careers, he works part time (for pay!) at TV 16 - local public TV.  Ever since beginning this program his total academic focus has improved - a fact so often found among students who opt to become a part of Compact options tied to their own interests.  He plans to use his college credits and the Sinclair scholarship as a key step to a full undergrad degree in the media field.  He told me that a key plus for him has been the creative freedom his program has provided.

This curricular option for our Oakwood students is a real plus for them.  I am so very pleased that many of our youth are taking advantage of these choices.  But there is always room for more to do the same.  Contact Counselor Sudie Jacques at OHS for details about these many options.

Rotary Interact Club seeking student members

The OHS Interact Club is off to a great start! Interact is a new community and international service club for high school students sponsored by the Oakwood Rotary International.  This club approved the founding of our chapter this past spring and has continued to show support by generously donating club t-shirts.

If you are interested in joining Interact, look for signs posted around the school and attend our first meeting. If you have questions, feel free to ask any member or Mr. Mitch Miller, Rotary faculty adviser for more information. 


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November 25, 2008
Volume 17, No. 48

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