Sunday, October 22, 2017

Flipped Homework...

One of the most talked about educational practice over the past 100 years has to be homework. Why is there so much assigned? Why do we have to do it? What is the purpose? How is it figured into my grade? And then there are the educational cliches associated with it. It builds responsibility. It develops a student's skills. It's good practice. Regardless of any of this, the fact remains that there is still no clear reason why we should or shouldn't utilize homework. More than a century after the advent of American schooling as we understand it and we still don't have a great utilization/explanation for homework beyond compliance. If homework is meant for practice, then why is it done outside of the supervision of the teacher? Any sport or competitive activity I have ever participated in had the coach at every practice to correct and improve errors/mistakes the moment they happened. If it's meant to build skills, what do you do if the student can demonstrate the skill in class? Should they still have to complete homework? How about all those students who are performing well on assessments without doing their homework; or doing every bit of homework perfectly, but not passing the assessments? Are we examining what this means for our homework? So often we hear that homework needs to have meaning. The only meaning for education in general is to develop thinkers. We need our children to think for themselves and ask questions. Flipping the classroom can provide this opportunity for homework. Rather than practicing skills at home, students could be reading, listening, or viewing a new topic at home and developing questions that they may have associated with the topic. Skill development can be done in the classroom with the supervision of the coach/teacher. No matter the amount of homework assigned, we should want our students to be thinking about the topic/content and wanting to learn more. Compliance is not the purpose of education and it's time that we start to reinvent what it means to be a learner in public school. If being a student in 2017 was meant to feel and look like it was to be a student in 1917, then we are doing a good job. We cannot continue to work in a manner in which we were taught because those times are gone. Our students have more knowledge at their fingertips than we ever did. We need to teach them to think and how to ask questions to develop meaning of knowledge. We aren't afraid to flip many other things around in society, why are we afraid to flip our approach to education. Challenge the norm and flip your homework. You won't be disappointed and you will most likely find yourself more engaged with your students and content.

Immunization Update

During the past week, the District was audited by the Department of Health relative to students and their vaccination records. As you know, there are legal requirements for students and vaccinations that allow for participation in New York public schools. Our practice has been that if we are provided with documentation from a doctor that a student is scheduled to receive a vaccination, we have permitted school attendance. We feel that this practice is permissible under Education Law, however the Department of Health disagrees with the Education Law and claims that the District must follow Public Health Law. As a result, the Department of Health will be penalizing the District $2,000 per day per student who is admitted to school without the proper vaccination records, moving forward. While we feel we are in compliance, I am not going to put the District or tax payers at risk for unnecessary fines. To that end, if your child does not have current immunization records on file with their school, they will not be permitted to attend school until the vaccine is administered. If you have not received notification from the school or the nurse regarding your child's status, you should expect to hear soon. Our nursing staff is working diligently to make sure that all students are covered. In the meantime, we continue to work with the State Education Department and Department of Health to reach a more clear understanding over which law we are truly to adhere to. A copy of all immunization records can be found HERE. Thank you all for your patience and understanding with this matter.

Master Teachers

This week, three Rome teachers have been named New York State Master Teachers. Megan Spado (Science at Strough), AJ Spado (Science at RFA), and Melissa Richardson (Math at RFA) were honored with this outstanding achievement. In total, only 214 teachers State wide were selected to be Master Teachers. Over the years, Master Teachers in New York State have been utilized to provide professional development to current professionals and to be mentor teachers to students in collegiate/university teacher preparation programs. Congratulations to these three amazing teachers and thank you for representing the Rome community in such a positive way!!

Board of Education Recognition Week

The week of October 23, 2017 is dedicated as Board of Education Recognition Week throughout the State of New York. It takes strong schools to build a strong community, and these men and women devote countless hours to making sure our schools are helping every child learn at a higher level. They make the tough decisions every month and spend many hours studying education issues and regulations in order to provide the kind of accountability our citizens expect. The key work of school boards is to raise student achievement by: Creating a shared vision for the future of education, setting the direction of the school district to achieve the highest student performance, providing accountability for student achievement results, developing a budget that aligns district resources to improve achievement, supporting a healthy school district culture in which to work and to learn, and much more!! On behalf of the entire District staff and community, thank you to our nine Board of Education members who devote many hours to our children each week. 

Gansevoort Craft Fair

On Saturday, October 28, the Gansevoort Community will be hosting their annual craft fair from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Gansevoort Elementary. All proceeds from the event benefit the Gansevoort Parent Teacher Group. For more information, including how to volunteer and/or be a vendor, please contact the organization through email at