Sunday, March 30, 2014

Video Story: Mandatory College Applications- Transcripts as well

     In high schools across the nation, administrators and teachers alike have seen what its like to keep kids in school that really do not want to be there. This post will not look at the deep problems that surround this issue but in some states like Oregon, it is mandatory for students to apply for college as part of graduation requirements and it it is causing quite a stir.

Mandatory College Applications

Maggie: When it comes to jobs, there is evidence that a college degree is more important than ever. So one high school has decided to make a college education a priority by taking a unique and controversial approach. Keith Kocinski has the story.
Keith: Hey, everyone! I am outside of Corbett High School, which is near Portland, Oregon, and I am just about to step inside because I have one simple question for the students here. Come with me.
By a show of hands, how many of you guys plan on going to college?
Keith: Yep, that is everyone in the class. At Corbett, applying for college is not an option; it is required to graduate.
Principal Randy Trani: In order to graduate, you need to be admitted to a postsecondary degree-granting institution, and that was just ratified this year and it affects this year’s freshman class.
Keith: Only about sixty students a year graduate from Corbett High School, and when students heard about the new policy, it caused quite a stir.
Kodai Johansen: At first I thought that that was just crazy and ridiculous.
Sophie Steele: I was enraged because I was like, ‘well, what if there’s people who don’t want to go to college?’
Clare Babcock: Some kids don’t do well with pressure. And that might feel like a lot of weight on their shoulders.
Keith: So, what happens if a student doesn’t get accepted to college?
Principal Trani: That can never really happen in the state of Oregon. If you have met the state’s minimum diploma requirements, you’re guaranteed to be accepted in a community college. In fact, you don’t even necessarily have to graduate to be accepted.
Keith: Principal Randy Trani also says administrators aren’t forcing students to go to college, only get accepted. It is their choice to actually go.
Clare: I thought about it and then I was like, ‘oh, that’s a really good opportunity for other students that didn’t plan on going to college and now are encouraged to’.
Allison Croak: I think it’s an exceptional move towards empowerment and showing kids that they have more than one option.
Keith: But the new policy has its critics who say the only reason the school is requiring students be accepted to college is to boost the school’s ranking in national publications. In 2010, Corbett was ranked fifth best high school in the nation by Newsweek. But in 2011, Newsweek changed its system to include college acceptance as a major factor in its rankings.
Now, what if a student wants to join the military or even do a vocational trade?
Principal Trani: Military is an option we keep available for students. We think that’s a valuable option, also a vocational trade. That’s also acceptable as long as it’s going to give them a certificate, something that’s marketable that they can take. What we really don’t want is kids walking across the stage with a question mark or undecided.
Keith: But this isn’t the only thing that Corbett does differently. Before high school, students aren’t separated by age, but academic level. And they don’t get grades until after 8th grade.
In addition to having to be accepted to a college, students here must have passing grades and good attendance. Oh yeah, did I mention that they have to take six advanced placement classes?
School leaders and students hope to spread the Corbett philosophy to other schools around the country.
Allison: I would think it would be really interesting to see what would happen if you put this policy in place in an inner-city school or some school where those expectations aren’t there. This is a great policy, and I feel like it should spread and go beyond this already high-achieving school.
Keith: As for the chance this new policy will be successful,… Well, administrators believe odds are in their favor.
Keith Kocinski, Channel One News.
Maggie: Alright. Now it is your turn. Do you think college acceptance should be required to graduate? Head on over to and let us know what you think. Your comments might just make it on the show.

A grant gives all students at Harvey-Swanson Elementary access to I-Pads

     For students at Harvey-Swanson Elementary in Brandon Schools, the future is now. The old adage "if you cannot beat them, join them," certainly applies as kindergarteners are bringing cell phones to school and instead of it being a problem, the I-Pads that were given because of a grant from the Michigan Department of Education has turned a prior problem into a cutting edge solution. The I-Pads go well beyond playing and Students are solving real world problems and are posting You-Tube videos on their favorite books using QR codes. As a guest teacher in West Bloomfield recently, students using I-Pads rotated among several learning stations in one first grade classroom and I can tell you the students were extremely engaged. The following story shows how Harvey-Swanson Elementary is working with the technology. 

Brandon’s Harvey-Swanson Elementary receives iPads for every student with state grant

Harvey-Swanson Elementary teacher Jessica Hevel watches as a student works on an iPad in her kindergarten classroom. “I think it gets the student better prepared for what they’re going to be doing in the future,” Hevel says of learning with tablet computers. 
ORTONVILLE >> When students arrive at Harvey-Swanson Elementary for the first day of school in the fall, there will be an Apple iPad there for each of them.
The school is the recipient of funds from a Michigan Department of Education program that aims for a 1-1 learning ratio, with access to technology at both school and home.
Principal Andrew Phillips said that he’s noticed that at kindergarten orientation, many preschoolers are using their parent’s cell phones.
“We can either embrace that and use it to speed up learning, or stick with what we’ve done before (mobile) devices were so popular.”
Student engagement can be improved with the use of mobile devices, Phillips said, explaining that students can “mirror” the work done on an iPads by showing it on a monitor at the front of a classroom.
“A kid is more likely to play a math game longer than they’ll work on a worksheet.”
Harvey-Swanson Elementary is the only school in Oakland County that’s been selected to receive tablet computers as part of the program, administered by the Genesee Intermediate School District.
Part of what’s known as the Whole School Technology Transformation pilot program will include an upgrade of the school’s Wi-Fi network.
In kindergarten teacher Jessica Hevel’s classroom, students are already using some tablet computers the school previously received using federal grant funds. Hevel, who’s a Brandon High School graduate herself, said students are excited to work on iPads.
“I think it gets the student better prepared for what they’re going to be doing in the future,” she said, as several kindergartners worked on iPads at a nearby table.
Hevel said she’s able to adjust each device to a student’s learning level: “It’s so much easier to differentiate instruction.”
In a hallway near Hevel’s classroom, the March is Reading Month posters include QR codes that can be scanned with a mobile device to access YouTube videos students have made about their favorite books.
Harvey-Swanson has a schoolwide festival each May, and this year’s will be the Festival of Technology.
With about 450 iPads coming to the school this year, the existing devices at Harvey-Swanson will be shared with the district’s other K-3 school, Oakwood Elementary. That will bring all of the district’s elementary students close to a 1-to-1 learning ratio, Phillips said.
Third grade teacher Bob Larson said another element of using mobile devices in class is teaching students about digital citizenship: How to stay safe online and communicate with each other using social media and other tools.
The arrival of tablet computers in every classroom means added training is needed for teachers is needed, Phillips said. “As excited as we are about (this), it’s going to be a lot of work.”
Since students will take the iPads home, Phillips said the program will benefit entire families and give parents a chance to learn, too.
“Parent newsletters won’t be on paper anymore. They’ll be on some kind of appropriate social media network.”
While he’s excited by the news of the coming technology, the elementary principal said the true payoff will come after the next year of instruction.
“What I can’t wait for are the congratulations when the year is up and they see what we’ve done with them.”

What can students teach Justin Verlander about sports injuries?

With the Detroit Tigers season on tap for March 31st, there are as many reasons to be optimistic as there are potholes on Michigan roads. Well almost.  In order for schools to close the gap on teaching relevant subjects, sports medicine is the studied subject at Conant Elementary in Bloomfield Hills. From studying data to talking to trainers of professional sports teams a trio of students are well past learning their multiplication tables and are looking to take their knowledge of sports medicine to change the way we treat sports injuries.


Bloomfield students study sports injuries, offer advice for Tigers star Justin Verlander

Students at Conant Elementary in Bloomfield Township with their mentor (right) conducting a research interview. Photo submitted
As Justin Verlander prepares to pitch another Tigers Opening Day game at Comerica Park, three students at Conant Elementary in Bloomfield Township have some advice for him.
“Always stretch out because, if you don’t stretch, you could pull something. But don’t just stretch before. You have to make sure to do cool-down stretches, too. People forget to do that,” Robert said.
Robert, Michael, and Byron have chosen to research sports safety, which includes researching athletic injury prevention and playground safety, as their international baccalaureate project in the fourth grade at Conant, part of the Bloomfield Hills School District.
“A big cause of injury for pitchers is arm injuries,” Robert said. “Because when they throw the ball, they can pull something in their arm. But they can also have head injuries because if they hit the ball back up to the pitcher and it hits them in the head, that can be a serious injury.”
“He needs good reflex skills,” Michael said. “If the ball is coming right at you — he needs to duck or move the mitt in front of his face to stop it,” he said, adding the students have also learned about pitching rotations and how that can prevent pitchers from getting fatigued throughout the season.
The students also interviewed an assistant trainer with the Detroit Lions who told them he treats player injuries with cold and hot baths.
“Now we know that there’s a law about sports safety,” Byron said. “A lot of football players talked to legislators about that and now we’re hearing that they’re trying to make baseball safer.”
Just this season, Major League Baseball changed the rules involving collisions at home plate.
All three boys wished the Tigers well in their season opener Monday against the Kansas City Royals and said they would like to interview Verlander about sports injury prevention.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Waterford Journalism Experience gives elementary students a chance for mentoring in Digital Media Arts programs

The Oakland Press video story appears online and at
Photo Album available in the Oakland Press at:

     Saturday's Journalism Experience at Waterford Kettering High School was an excellent idea. With parents, teachers and over 200 students representing every elementary and middle school in Waterford and some from surrounding districts, it was considered a rousing success. Waterford Schools largely produces excellent Digital Media Arts Programs and
teachers Brian Wilson and Dan Krompatic have been nominated for Waterford Teacher of the Year. Wilson won this year for his work on the Kettering newspaper and now serves as an adviser for the Academic Center at Kettering.

  With programs from newspaper,yearbook and Waterford Kettering broadcasting lab represented, students received hands on instruction, advice and exposure to computer software that the high school programs use and elementary and middle school students have access to.

 Think of it as a feeder program in academics instead of the AAU would do in several youth programs. Jesse Sutherland runs the Waterford Kettering broadcasting lab and has brought the program a long way in her four years on the job as both a broadcast journalism and English instructor.
Katie Mundinger, a 2009 graduate of Waterford Mott is now a senior in college and has an extensive resume in broadcasting and is a contributing reporter to WOOD-TV out of Grand Rapids. She was the keynote speaker.  If you have a program that you feel as though would be newsworthy, contact me at 248-238-4449 for both a picture album and video news story for the Oakland Press and this blog.
The video story below