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Students, teachers making a ‘Habit’ of leadership

First-grade student Connor Maroney laughs as he tries to choose his favorite habit from The Leader In Me 7 Habits of Happy Kids, the student version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Connor is a student in in Katy Paas' class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County).

First-grade student Connor Maroney laughs as he tries to choose his favorite habit from The Leader In Me 7 Habits of Happy Kids, the student version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Connor is a student in in Katy Paas’ class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 12, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Earlier this year, Katy Paas was having trouble with her 1st-grade class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County) being too talkative during activity time. While there is little exceptional in that, what is exceptional is how they responded, she said.

The class wanted her to take away recess and other important behavior rewards.

“Then one of my students raised her hand and said she was feeling sad because we read our class promise each morning and say we will choose to learn and sometimes it will be hard, and right now it’s hard, but we are giving up. That’s not keeping our promise,” she said. “Then another little girl raised her hand, and said she wanted to go to college one day and all of the talking was getting in the way of that.”

The class promise and setting long-term goals are part of the school’s involvement in The Leader in Me (LIM), where students learn behaviors meant to make them successful in school and in life.

“At that point, I had realized my kids had started to own their learning. Are they perfect? No way, but it’s times like these I know LIM has positively impacted their learning,” Paas said.

Based on Stephen Covey’s 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, proponents say The Leader in Me produces transformational results such as higher academic Continue Reading

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Bowling Green High administrator wins national Milken honor

Bowling Green High School (Bowling Green Independent) freshman class principal William King is announced as the newest Kentucky recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Feb. 12, 2014

Bowling Green High School (Bowling Green Independent) freshman class principal William King is announced as the newest Kentucky recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.
Photo by Tim Thornberry, Feb. 12, 2014

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

A few minutes after William King was named Kentucky’s 2013 Milken Family Foundation National Award winner, the surprised honoree was busy networking with former winners who were there to welcome him into the Milken fraternity.

King, an assistant principal at Bowling Green (Independent) High School who is in charge of the freshman class, immediately started handing out business cards while receiving congratulations from Milken representatives, fellow educators and other stakeholders like Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

In between handshakes and hugs, he began asking the distinguished Milken attendees about presenting at upcoming Western Kentucky University TeachMeets, informal learning opportunities where teachers share 15-minute best practices before rotating stations.

“That’s just what he does,” Bowling Green High Principal Gary Fields said. “He’s always engaged in what’s going on. It’s so amazing that he’s very savvy when it comes to simple things and with other bigger things like technology. He’s just an innovative educator.”

Fields said King’s focus on simple things is an extension of his passion for student success.

“That’s why you saw him sitting up in the bleachers today with his students instead of down here (by the podium),” Fields said. “I could probably ask him any freshman’s shoe size, and he could tell me exactly what it is.” Continue Reading

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Gifted and talented education must be ever-evolving, educators say

Bullitt East High School (Bullitt County) art teacher Jason Kelty helps a student during a Saturday enrichment camp. Photo by John Roberts/Bullitt County Public Schools

Bullitt East High School (Bullitt County) art teacher Jason Kelty helps a student during a Saturday enrichment camp.
Photo by John Roberts/Bullitt County Public Schools

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

Gifted education stakeholders have a firm belief that all gifted and talented (GT) students and teachers need to be given the instruction and resources needed for optimum achievement.

Toddie Adams, director of Gifted Services for the Marshall County school district, says for this to happen, GT programs need to continuously evolve to meet the growing needs of Kentucky’s brightest students and those who teach them.

“GT teachers must be effective in the classroom providing differentiated instruction for their students,” Adams said. “GT students must be engaged and challenged every day in order to prepare them for higher education and careers. A stagnant classroom or program that is not continually revising its curriculum and instruction may be overlooking the most recent evidence to better meet the unique needs of our students.”

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) works with state districts to make sure that gifted programs don’t become stagnant. It offers resources and trainings for instructors and helps with technical assistance for districts that use Infinite Campus to document progress. Continue Reading

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Podcasts work on students’ minds, bodies

As students in Jessica Goldy Elliott's 5th-grade class walked past the Bath County Board of Education office Superintendent Harvey Tackett joined in to listen to a podcast about Christopher Columbus during a walking classroom session at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Sept. 27, 2013

As students in Jessica Goldy Elliott’s 5th-grade class walked past the Bath County Board of Education office Superintendent Harvey Tackett joined in to listen to a podcast about Christopher Columbus during a walking classroom session at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Sept. 27, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Jessica Goldy Elliott, a 5th-grade teacher at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County), recently faced what seemed like a sure disaster: She was leading one of her classes on a walk down Main Street and a man chased his loose dog for 10 minutes.

“And I was thinking, in another circumstance these kids would be going wild, laughing and trying to get the dog to come to them,” she said. “But they were like little Army ants. They just stood there and they didn’t make a peep because they were so engaged with the lesson that was going on.”

Another class saw three fire trucks speed from the firehouse with lights flashing and sirens blazing, but the students continued listening to their audio players.

“They’re just so engaged with it,” Elliott said.

The devices are loaded with podcasts created by The Walking Classroom Institute, a non-profit organization in Chapel Hill, N.C. The WalkKits, as they are called, are being used in nine schools in the state, according to the organization’s communications director, Julie Zola. Continue Reading

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Playful teaching method helps German teacher, her students excel

Pam Pennington leads freshmen Chandler Yeary and Tyreke Padgett through a scene they were acting out during her German 1A class at Scott High School (Kenton County). Pennington was named the 2013 Outstanding Teacher from the Kentucky World Language Association. Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 25, 2013

Pam Pennington leads freshmen Chandler Yeary and Tyreke Padgett through a scene they were acting out during her German 1A class at Scott High School (Kenton County). Pennington was named the 2013 Outstanding Teacher from the Kentucky World Language Association.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 25, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Although Pam Pennington teaches German at Scott High School (Kenton County), she gets her students when they are about 18 months old – at least in terms of their language proficiency. As such, she tells them stories, getting the students to fill in details with their target vocabulary. Sometimes they will draw the story or even act it out.

It is a technique called TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling) that Pennington, the Kentucky World Language Association’s 2013 Outstanding Teacher, learned 13 years ago. As the students learn more vocabulary, their “age” goes up, she said. So Pennington doesn’t expect a lot of language from her students until the middle of their first year.

“It really helps connect in their brain, ‘OK, I don’t have to be good at this yet. It’s coming.” Every now and then they ask, ‘How old are we now?’ They understand that,” she said.

Because of that, Pennington stops short of immersing her students in German. She tops out at about 80 percent for her higher-level classes, the 19-year teaching veteran said. Yet proficiency has skyrocketed, she said. Continue Reading

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District working to increase number of National Board Certified teachers

Floyd County school district Superintendent Henry Webb is looking to grow the number of National Board Certified Teachers in his district with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.

Floyd County school district Superintendent Henry Webb is looking to grow the number of National Board Certified Teachers in his district with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.
Photo submitted

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

It’s been three years since the Floyd County school district has had a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), but administrators are looking to change that with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.

“We firmly believe that building capacity is the key to organizational success for kids,” Superintendent Henry Webb said. “And in hiring the very best people when we get a chance to hire, we believe the NBCT program is rigorous, practical and authentic. It will only serve to make our teachers even better for our kids.”

While hiring NBCT teachers (Webb said the district is changing job applications to include an inquiry regarding national board certification.) is important for Floyd County Schools’ teacher growth goals, it’s equally critical that his current staff members seek out the certification.

Currently, there are nine NBCT teachers in the district.

Ted George, district director of human resources, said some teachers have expressed concerns with the application process.

“There’s a perception that it’s very difficult and time consuming,” said George, who added that some teachers were hesitant to apply without a reassurance of necessary resources being made available to them. Continue Reading

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Robot breathes new life into learning

Sebastian Saylor and Gabbie Stinson watch KATE (Kentucky’s Automated Technology Educator) perform a routine about the water cycle. The Bullitt Lick Middle School students programmed KATE in preparation for an elementary school presentation. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 2, 2013

Sebastian Saylor and Gabbie Stinson watch KATE (Kentucky’s Automated Technology Educator) perform a routine about the water cycle. The Bullitt Lick Middle School students programmed KATE in preparation for an elementary school presentation. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 2, 2013

By Susan Riddell
Susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

When Dyllan Smith was asked if the robotics class at Bullitt Lick Middle School (Bullitt County) was his favorite class at the school, he pointed to KATE and said, “Have you ever seen anything like that?”

KATE – named as an acronym for Kentucky’s Automated Technology Educator – is a robot the school has borrowed from Murray State University. KATE can sing, dance, discuss movies and most importantly help students learn about robotics and programming.

“KATE has been a great way to give the kids a real-world robotics experience,” said teacher Shaun McIntosh. “In the time we’ve had KATE, their knowledge of robotics had grown so much.”

Principal Robert Fulk said KATE has been a great experience for students at his school.

“I am happy to see any of our students engaged in authentic, meaningful learning,” he said. “At Bullitt Lick Middle, we provide as much individualized instruction as possible for our students. We are happy to be able to have KATE available to kids who want to do some real world, hands-on work that is meaningful and also very fun. KATE is a great example for the kids involved, and any in our building, how learning can be and should be fun.” Continue Reading

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KBE, KDE focus on school funding as 2014 General Assembly gets underway

Kentucky School for the Blind 7th-grade student Heather Anthony uses a Braille typewriter while working on a poetry project. Funding for capital projects at KSB and the Kentucky School for the Deaf is a priority in the Kentucky Board of Education's legislative agenda. Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 11, 2013

Kentucky School for the Blind 7th-grade student Heather Anthony uses a Braille typewriter while working on a poetry project. Funding for capital projects at KSB and the Kentucky School for the Deaf is a priority in the Kentucky Board of Education’s legislative agenda.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 11, 2013

By Tracy Goff-Herman
tracy.herman@education.ky.gov

Most of us kick off the New Year with a list of resolutions. Many of us resolve to save money, eat right and exercise more – perennial favorites on resolution lists. The Kentucky General Assembly also has a list of returning issues that will once again feature prominently in the upcoming 2014 Regular Session. The state budget, pension shortfalls, gambling, and charter schools are all back on the table.

For the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) and the Department of Education (KDE), the focus in the upcoming long session is on the budget. The Consensus Forecast Group, the official body charged with producing revenue projections for the upcoming biennium, hasn’t met to finalize budget numbers yet. But the discussions around the budget do not look hopeful, with the state Budget Director Continue Reading

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Conducting code in classrooms

Director of Awesome Inc Garrett Ebel helps senior Elisha Mutayongwa create variables and functions in JavaScript while visiting Tates Creek High School (Fayette County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 9, 2013

Director of Awesome Inc Garrett Ebel helps senior Elisha Mutayongwa create variables and functions in JavaScript while visiting Tates Creek High School (Fayette County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 9, 2013

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

Last week, when Nick Such asked students in the Tates Creek High School (Fayette County) auditorium to raise their hands is they’ve ever written a line of code, about five students put their hands up.

When he asked them again at the end of the hour, practically all of the 120 students in the room put a hand up.

Introducing students to coding is what the Hour of Code is all about. The weeklong event, which ran Dec. 9-15, was an effort to get 5 million students to spend one hour learning to code.

“Learning to code had a huge trajectory on my life,” said Such, who is director of labs and co-founder for Awesome Inc U, a Lexington-based code school. Awesome Inc U offers hands-on classes that help people learn how to create software.

Such said he started coding in 3rd grade. Awesome Inc U’s other co-founder, Brian Raney, began coding in middle school. “It didn’t take me long to figure out it was a great way to make money,” Raney said. Continue Reading

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Next-Generation Science Standards take learning to the next level

X'Zashea Mayes prepares a solution during Simone Parker's AP Chemistry class at Trigg County High School. Mayes is planning on studying medicine or chemistry at the University of Louisville. Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 15, 2013

X’Zashea Mayes prepares a solution during Simone Parker’s AP Chemistry class at Trigg County High School. Mayes is planning on studying medicine or chemistry at the University of Louisville.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 15, 2013

By Susan Riddell
Susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

When Simone Parker was a lab technician performing basic chemical analysis on hazardous and non-hazardous waste at an incinerator in Calvert City, she was using skills that she learned in college and refined while on the job.

Now as a chemistry teacher at Trigg County High School, she is tasked with making sure her students master those real-world skills before ever receiving a high school diploma.

“All I did was learn theory,” Parker said of her experience as a chemistry student early on. “There were several opportunities to engage in scientific thinking if I looked for them (like science fairs or partnering with college professors for research).

“Now, my students are asked to plan and carry out investigations and design solutions to problems that they have determined. Students need to think scientifically, be engaged in science and do science,” Parker added. “The Next-Generation Science Standards (NGSS) give us the tools and the connections to make this a reality for our students.”

Parker, who has been teaching for 13 years after eventually running an inorganic metals laboratory, was one of many Kentucky teachers Continue Reading

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