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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Rock Hill School Board Election

Picture by Andrew Kiel - NAACP Candidate Forum
There are four Rock Hill School board seats to be filled next week. Only one  has any opposition, that being the at-large seat which Chairman Bob Norwood decided to not to run for re-election.

The four candidates for that seat are: Dan Ballou, Terry Hutchison, Tyrie Rowell, and Wayne Wingate.  Be sure to thank these folks for running. They are offering some real choices.

I usually point out at each election, something that has been attributed to Mark Twain, In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards. It is probably better to point out some examples of what a good school board member has and what a good school board looks like.

There have been three candidate forums (4 if you count the 6th grade at Ebenezer Elementary School). There were a lot of good questions (and answers). Here are some follow-up questions I would have liked to have asked:

  • You have all said the Rock Hill Schools are good or great. Please tell us the benchmarks you use to make this determination?
  • You have all said the Rock Hill Schools can be better. What should they  be improving and what would be the road blocks to making progress?
  • One of the board duties is to evaluate the superintendent. What do you believe are the most important qualities for a superintendent and what measures would you look to for an evaluation?
  • What do you believe is the school district's biggest barrier to improving academic success and what would you recommend to reduce the effects of the barrier?
  • If resources were no barrier, what would your school district look like?
A big thanks to the candidates. Good luck during this last week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Who Has The Best State Schools?

This is an interesting post from The Answer Sheet:

By Matthew Di Carlo
I’ve written many times about how absolute performance levels – how highly students score – are not by themselves valid indicators of school quality, since, most basically, they don’t account for the fact that students enter the schooling system at different levels. One of the most blatant (and common) manifestations of this mistake is when people use NAEP results to determine the quality of a state’s schools.
 For instance, you’ll often hear that Massachusetts has the “best” schools in the U.S. and Mississippi the “worst,” with both claims based solely on average scores on the NAEP (though, technically, Massachusetts public school students’ scores are statistically tied with at least one other state on two of the four main NAEP exams, while Mississippi’s rankings vary a bit by grade/subject, and its scores are also not statistically different from several other states’).
 But we all know that these two states are very different in terms of basic characteristics such as income, parental education, etc. Any assessment of educational quality, whether at the state or local level, is necessarily complicated, and ignoring differences between studentsprecludes any meaningful comparisons of school effectiveness. Schooling quality is important, but it cannot be assessed by sorting and ranking raw test scores in a spreadsheet.
 Income is one of the most common variables used to illustrate the interconnectedness of student background and educational outcomes such as test scores (even though it is the conditions often associated with income that exert influence, rather than income itself). And, indeed, the proportion of Mississippi’s public school students eligible for federal lunch subsidies, an income/poverty proxy, is roughly twice as high as that of Massachusetts (63 versus 29 statewide, and 67 versus 32 in the NAEP reading results below).
 Let’s see how this simple bivariate relationship looks across all states. The scatterplot below presents free/reduced-price lunch (FRL) eligibility rates of test takers by average NAEP reading scores from 2011. We’ll use eighth rather than fourth grade scores, since the latter only reflect 3-4 years of schooling; the sample is also limited to public school students only.
 
 Each red dot is a single state (D.C. is excluded), while the line in the middle of the plot represents the average relationship between students’ FRL rates and their NAEP reading scores. Predictably, this is a strong association (the correlation coefficient is -0.83 [and -0.79 in math]). There is some deviation of dots (states) from the line, but, on the whole, scores tend to be lower in states with higher poverty.
 And income is of course not the only relevant observable student characteristic. Although one must be very careful about interpreting models that use state-level data (i.e., this ispurely illustrative), a simple regression that includes FRL, as well as the percent of students who are minorities, special education, and limited English proficient (LEP) explains about three-quarters of the variation in NAEP reading scores.
 These crude results are indicative of what we know from other, more rigorous research:How highly students score on tests is mostly a function of their backgrounds, rather than where they attend school.
 That is precisely why most value-added models, which are specifically designed to isolate (albeit imperfectly) schools’ effects on the test performance of their students, focus ongrowth – how quickly students improve – and they actually posit absolute performance level as a control variable.
 Even using this growth-oriented perspective, however, any attempt to determine which state has the “best schools” would be rife with complications (the models are really most useful for analyses within states and districts). Most basically, NAEP is really the only test administered to a representative sample of students in all states at regular intervals, but the data are cross-sectional, which means that changes over time may reflect differences between cohorts (see here). Also, school effectiveness, like education policy in general, likely varies more within than between states.
 What we can use NAEP for is to determine – with a reasonable degree of confidence – which states have the highest performing students (at least to the extent tests can measure this). Yet this valuable information is frequently lost in a barrage of misinterpretation on the part of adults, sometimes trying to advocate on behalf of their policy preferences or their personal reputations.
On the whole, interpreting testing and other outcome data requires a humble, nuanced approach. The choice of measures must be guided by what one is trying to assess. This is not easily compatible with the highly-charged political environment surrounding today’s education policy debates. But we’ll know we’ve made progress when we stop hearing statements such as those positing the “best” and “worst schools” based solely on absolute scores.
 The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the Albert Shanker Institute, its officers, board members, or any related entity or organization.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Using Twitter? Check This Out

From edudemic:


100 Simple Ways To Effectively Use Twitter

Twitter is too big to ignore. You see hashtags in commercials, sponsored tweets, posts, news broken on Twitter, etc. It’s quickly become an indispensable tool for teachers, admins, parents, and students too. Right now, there are still many (MANY) in education not using Twitter. They may think it’s tough to start using, difficult to monitor, and even a waste of time.
But what if they had a categorized list of the top tips to help you use Twitter? Our content partners at Online College have shared an incredibly useful set of tips that are too good to not share.
From how to follow people to asking for help to the best tools to use, it’s all here. I hope you find this list as useful as I have and spread the word (likely via Twitter!).

Getting Connected

twitter tips for teachersWith these tips and tools, you’ll be able to get connected with the people that matter most to you on Twitter.
  1. Follow experts: Get useful information from other experts in your field.
  2. Twitterholic: With Twitterholic, you’ll be able to find the most popular users on Twitter.
  3. Make friends with your competition: It may seem counterintuitive, but connecting with your competition can help keep you in the know and well networked.
  4. Follow people because they are interesting: Find people to follow that offer some sort of interest or value to you.
  5. Twitter Fan Wiki: Find a directory and more in this wiki.
  6. Don’t follow too many new people at once: Follow too many people without reciprocation, and you’ll come off as a spammer.
  7. TwitterPacks: Check out this tool to locate people according to their interest group.
  8. WeFollow: Find people by industry or hobby using WeFollow.
  9. Follow back: When you discover new followers, be sure to follow them back if they are interesting or offer value to you.
  10. Keep your follow ratio balanced: Follow too many people without being followed back, and you will seem spammy, but if you have lots of followers that you don’t follow back, you’ll come off as snobby.
  11. Localtweeps: You can use this tool to filter tweets by zip code.
  12. Participate in Twitter events: Be a part of #followfriday, #musicmonday, and similar events to be a part of the community.
  13. Omnee: With Omnee, you’ll be able to find out the quality of people you may want to follow on Twitter.
  14. Geofollow: Search for others in your location with this site.
  15. Social Brand Index: With this directory, you can find brands on Twitter.
  16. Twitterel: With Twitterel, you can find users with common interests.
  17. Twinfluence: Use Twinfluence to discover users with good reach, velocity, and social capital.
  18. Twellow: Use Twellow to find Twitter users based on category.
  19. Twitter Snipe: Twitter Snipe will auto follow users based on your niche.
  20. Talk to people about their interests: Show that you’re human by discussing things that are important to others.
  21. Follow your followers’ followers: Check out the follow lists of people you find interesting and connect with them.
  22. Who Should I Follow?: With the help of this tool, you can find out who you should be following on Twitter.
  23. Avoid follower services: Stay away from websites that promise you thousands of followers-you may get them, but the people that follow you won’t be listening.
  24. Be patient: Amassing Twitter followers doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, and you’ll build a group of valuable followers.
  25. Just Tweet IT: Check out people in different industries using this tool.

Search

Put Twitter’s massive amounts of information to work by using these search tips and tools.
  1. Twitority: This search engine offers results based on Twitter users with authority.
  2. TwitterLocal: Search for tweets around a specific area with the help of this tool.
  3. Use keyword tricks: Take advantage of the advanced search option on Twitter.
  4. Use quotation marks: If you’re looking for a specific term, put it in quotation marks to get better results.
  5. Twithority: With Twithority, you’ll find Twitter search results with authority.
  6. Use hashtags: If you come across a useful hashtag, click on it to see what else you’ll find.
  7. Subscribe: Keep up with useful keywords and hashtags by setting up an RSS subscription for them.
  8. Pay attention to trends: Stay on top of the latest in your field by seeking out and participating in trending topics. For instance, students enrolled in political science degree programs may want to follow trending topics related to upcoming local and state elections.
  9. Trendrr: Stay on top of trends on Twitter with this tool.
  10. Find stories: Listen to useful sources on Twitter to get news you can share with your followers.
  11. Retweetist: Retweetist shares popular trends, topics, and people using retweets on Twitter.
  12. TwiBuzz: This tool will help you monitor your favorite keywords in realtime.
  13. Tweet Volume: With this tool, you can find out if your keywords are popular on Twitter or not.
  14. Retweetradar: You can find popular information being retweeted on Twitter with this tool.
  15. Tweetmeme: Check out Tweetmeme to learn about retweeting stats for articles on Twitter.
  16. Twitt(url)y: Find out about hot news with this tool that sorts URLs by how frequently they are mentioned in tweets.
  17. Twackle: With this aggregator, you’ll be able to find news and more in a single destination.
  18. Twitter Sniffer for Brands: Twitter Sniffer makes it easy for you to keep track of conversations about you on Twitter.
  19. Twist: Using Twist, you can see trend graphs for topics on Twitter.
  20. Twuoted: Find popular quotes with this site that follows the #quote hashtag.
  21. Tweet Scan: Follow Twitter conversations by keyword and category using Tweet Scan.
  22. TweetStats Trends: See what’s trending right now and in the past with TweetStats Trends.
  23. TwitScoop: Use TwitScoop in order to find trending topics and useful friends.
  24. Monitter: Stay on top of 3 keywords at once with this keyword search tool.
  25. Pay attention to timing: Monitor the most popular hours for your Twitter followers, then concentrate your most important messages in those hours for more effective tweeting.

Organization

With these tips and tools, you can keep all of your information on Twitter well organized.
  1. Use a tool to manage Twitter: Don’t let your research get lost-use a tool to organize everything.
  2. Tweetdeck: Make use of this tool to organize tweets from various groups into easy to manage categories.
  3. Don’t try to read everything: You will be on Twitter all day and all night if you try to read every single tweet from your followers-just drop in when you can.
  4. My Tweeple: This tool will help you organize the people you’re following.
  5. Tweetree: See your Twitter stream in a tree with organized conversations using Tweetree.
  6. Twickie: With Twickie, you can organize Twitter conversations.
  7. Tweetake: Back up your hard work and research on Twitter with the help of Tweetake.
  8. Make good use of alert tools: Make sure you’re not missing good conversations by setting up alerts that will tell you when friends and other Twitter users discuss keywords you’re interested in.
  9. Tweet Clouds: Analyze your keyword usage with this tool.
  10. Twitterator: Monitor groups of people while staying organized with the help of this script.

Authority Building

Follow these tips and use these tools in order to establish yourself as an authority in your field.
  1. Own your brand: Even if you don’t want to use your real name on Twitter, at least claim it so that no one else can use it against you.
  2. Be retweetable: Share tweets that others will want to retweet.
  3. Use popular tweets as blog posts: If you share a site or bit of information that turns out to be very popular, use it as a jumping off point for a blog post.
  4. Use your real name as your Twitter name: Be more personal and authoritative by using your real name.
  5. Check your stats: Find out how often you and other people are Tweeting using TweetStats.
  6. Respond: Don’t just sit in your ivory tower-talk back to the people who want to engage with you.
  7. Share your credentials: Let people know why you’re an expert in your field.
  8. Shake things up: Offer a good variety in your stream of links, blog posts, retweets, responses, and questions.
  9. Just don’t spam: Don’t do it-no one likes it, and it won’t be tolerated.
  10. Share information: Gain a reputation as an expert by sharing helpful links, resources, and more.
  11. TBuzz: Use this tool to find out if a site has been tweeted about before.
  12. Be sincere: Be honest and considerate in your tweets and replies.
  13. Find out authoritative keywords: See which keywords the authorities in your niche are using.
  14. Discuss what’s hot: Share your opinions and resources on what’s currently moving on Twitter.
  15. Don’t go crazy with links: Avoid using your Twitter account just to post links to your blog.
  16. Point out interesting information: Don’t just talk about yourself, discuss what’s happening in your field.
  17. Follow authorative accounts: Populate your Twitter neighborhood with people who have authority.
  18. Promote your Twitter URL: Share your Twitter name on your email, blog, Facebook, and other locations online so people can find you.
  19. Slow down: Don’t clog up your followers’ Twitter screens-keep your Tweets relevant and interesting, not inane and constant.
  20. Don’t always talk about yourself: Talk about more than just your own agenda.
  21. Be helpful: Spread goodwill by answering questions, introducing others, and offering recommendations.
  22. Use an avatar that represents you: Use a strong avatar that’s friendly and easy to recognize.
  23. Reply to others: Get involved with the people you follow and engage in the Twitter conversation with replies.
  24. Show your personality: Show off the person behind the brand on Twitter.
  25. Use keywords: Use keywords that are important to your field to attract followers.

Getting Value

twitter best practicesFollow these tips to make sure you’re getting value out of your Twitter experience.
  1. Networking: Meet offline with others in your field to get great value out of Twitter.
  2. Be useful: Give advice, resources, and more.
  3. Share your announcements: Get recognition and PR by sharing important news through Twitter.
  4. Fill out your bio: Make sure people know where to go to find more information about you.
  5. Use Twitter on your blog: Keep your blog updated up to the minute with Twitter.
  6. Twitt Poll: Crowdsource answers and opinions with the help of this polling tool for Twitter.
  7. Stop abuse in its tracks: Use Twitter to find out who is badmouthing you, and use action to stop it.
  8. Connect with complementary businesses: Find value in Twitter by getting connected with others that can support your business or niche.
  9. Enjoy ambient knowledge: With Twitter, you’ll be able to stay on top of news in your field around the clock.
  10. Listen: Just listen, and you’ll find interesting and useful information.
  11. Promote events: Use Twitter to promote live and virtual events like seminars, sales, and more.
  12. Ask for help: Get instant feedback by asking for help on Twitter.
  13. Meet your customers: Use Twitter as a way to interact with your customers, whether through the service or in real life.
  14. Twitter Answers: Make use of Twitter Answers to get answers and opinions from your followers on Twitter.
  15. Listen to your critics: Find out what people are saying about you, then respond to it and act on it.

Wait, Here’s How To Actually Use Twiiter

Honestly, these tools, tips, and tricks are just the tip of the iceberg. Use Twitter how it works best for you. Don’t feel like you have to be always on it, always tweeting, or always worrying you missed something. Because you will miss stuff. You’ll also find stuff you never knew existed. Use it how it works for you and just take it from there. Enjoy the adventure!
Want even more tips? Check out the preview article ‘25 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Twitter

York County Rules South Carolina Marching Band Competition

Photo by Northwestern Purple Regiment Boosters
After finishing one/two in the upper state marching band competition, the Northwestern and Rock Hill High School bands finished 3rd and 4th in the state competition. They were pushed aside by two county and region foes, Fort Mill and Nation Ford. The top 4A finishers were:

  1. Fort Mill High School
  2. Nation Ford High School
  3. Northwestern High School
  4. Rock Hill High School
  5. Ridgeview High School
  6. Irmo High School
  7. Clover High School

Below are some videos of our school bands from fellow board member, Ginny Moe.

Upper state champion and 3rd place state finisher, The Northwestern High School Purple Regiment Band:


Click here for a link to the video. Upper state runners-up and 4th place state finish, The Rock Hill High Band of Distinction: Click here for a link to the video. The South Pointe High School Band of Thunder: Click here for a link to the video.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Design Thinking


Click here for a link to the video.

Friday, October 26, 2012

School Board Candidate Wayne Wingate on Friday's Straight Talk


Straight Talk: 10/26/12 James Shultz & Wayne Wingate

Posted October 26, 2012 1:27 pm, Modified: October 26, 2012 1:27 pm | Filed under ProgrammingStraight Talk
By Mike Crowder
Dr. James Shultz, a Winthrop University economics professor, joins Manning Kimmel on Straight Talk.  He is followed by Rock Hill School District at-large candidate Wayne Wingate.

What is School For?


Click here for a link to the video.

Rock Hill School District Leadership Conference

Alan November
Alan November gave the opening keynote address to the Rock Hill School District Leadership Conference Friday.

He made a point of teaching students  to evaluate data available on the internet. Most schools he goes into do not do this. Most teachers do not know how to do this. He gave several examples of student reports, utilizing online resources, which were completely wrong because the sources were not reliable.

I recently took a Google Online Power Search class. I signed up to see how the online class worked, and found out I didn't know a lot about using Google Search. The class addresses most of the issues Alan mentioned and is available for free. It is something all students and staff should complete.

How did I do? I did pass. But more importantly, I learned an awful lot about the power of good search of the internet. You can take the class, or just get more information, by clicking here.

Future of Learning?


Click here for a link to the video.

School Board Candidate Dan Ballou on Thursday's Straight Talk


Straight Talk: 10/25/12 Dan Ballou

Posted October 25, 2012 1:11 pm, Modified: October 25, 2012 1:11 pm | Filed under ProgrammingStraight Talk
By Mike Crowder
Rock Hill School Board at-large candidate Dan Ballou joins Manning Kimmel on Straight Talk.

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