Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope you are taking time from the "hurly-burly" of work to give thanks for our many blessings. I certainly count your efforts to improve educational outcomes in my home region among the things for which I am thankful.

I am pleased to announce that from this day forward, your Triangle, Square, Circle Feedback will be available on this web page. Take a look at the menu on the right side of the screen. The feedback will always be available under the heading, "What We Are Learning." As you review the feedback, note that you can make a comment, ask a question, or provide your colleagues with additional information.

The web page also provides a group summary of our substantive discussion about mission and job. On the menu, that info is currently available at mission and job. And, take a look at the Notes category; that is where I embedded an attachment sent to me by OACHE.

Finally, the page provides direct links to your and ARC's web site. Several of you informed me that you are just developing one, so we will add your info/link when same is available.

We will be back in touch as we work together to develop plans for our February gathering in Greensboro, NC.

Friday, November 9, 2007

AHEN Meeting: Part I: Meeting Notes - 10/3/07

What is your AHE Program Vision?

NC - Increase college going graduation rates in Western NC; Collaborate with cfnc.org

WV - Statewide help; Increase college going rate

GA - College becomes the Center for college access for targeted high school, district, state, and graduation coaches

OH - Increase the college going rate in the 29 Appalachian counties in Ohio via collaboration

TN - All children prepared to make a decision to attend college, and have access to information that supports that decisions.

KY - Involve all eligible people (high School) in the KY ACHE

What is your job?

NC - Provide funds advocate leadership

WV - Liaison between WVACHE all schools and the state

GA - Strategies to encounter and assist high school students to finish high school, go to college; become a venue for high school and college collaboration

OH - Locate students, provide information and support

TN - Build again , provide piece of expertise linkage between counties schools and help students
Attached is a lesson plan sent to Brenda Haas, OACHE, after the conference from a teacher in the training. It made her day!!

Choice B: Teacher Supplement

Since the Schools 2.0 workshop and my extended professional development the following week with the Appalachian Writing Project at Ohio University, I have begun development of a website for my Creative Writing elective. While website creation was not part of the Schools 2.0 presentation, it seemed the only place I could begin as a base to connect the technologies that are quite foreign to me (learning an easy way to website was actually gleaned from a fellow teacher at the Schools 2.0 workshop).

My website will function for teachers and students alike as a place to publish writing to an authentic audience. My goal is to create an atmosphere of shared writing where both teachers and students reveal themselves as writers rather than only teachers and only students.

Unlike the traditional newspaper, writings will be supplemented by podcasts of students / teachers reading their own writing. I’ve already realized there is a great hesitation on the part of students in my area to read their writing aloud over the internet. I hope such an awareness of audience can be harnessed as a motivation for good writing. Successful implementation will also benefit them (both teachers and students) a great deal in terms of positive attitude, regional identity, and self-confidence as writers.

I am currently proposing to my building technology coordinator a joint presentation to our district faculty over-viewing the various technologies introduced at Schools 2.0. Tanner Heaberlin and I will be conducting the training (pending approval) and I plan to network my project with district teachers at that time. My creative writing class will serve primarily as my student-networking starting point.


Session: 21st Century Technology Tools

  • Effective and efficient use of technology is important to any classroom setting.
  • Students need to know how to use such tools in order to be prepared for life outside of the K-12 educational environment.
  • Educators realize the changing world of the students revolves around technology. They are willing to begin to learn the new tools of the tech world.
  • Technology can be utilized to make research and communication easier; however, it can also isolate us from the outside world.


  • If use of technology is the focus, why was session taught in the typical “talking head” format?
  • How can I introduce these technologies and ideas to schools still not using computers effectively? PD should model the message being taught.
  • How can we better utilize technology to communicate between and among the AHE Network and our grantee schools?
  • Are we training on tools that will be dated in a matter of months rather than years?


  • The culture around us is changing; education needs to change to meet the evolving needs of students.
  • Technology will continue to advance while we are still trying to adapt to old technology. Technology is moving faster than my learning curve; there is too much to keep up with; therefore, information overload.
  • Educators need to stay abreast of the students use and knowledge (especially social networking tools)
  • If we are not careful, the technology and college access will not be available to the geographically isolated population.
  • Technology, if used correctly, can enhance knowledge and skills.
  • Start slow and build skill sets until you reach your goal.

Session: Persistence to Success

Square: Community Colleges need to work to cultivate a culture of belonging and a sense of ‘camaraderie’ among students.

Circle: Rather than build retention and developmental courses for colleges, should we not better prepare students K-12?


  • Build a sense of community and belonging.
  • Enable students to receive the help they need to succeed.
  • Formatively assess and appropriately place students for success.

Session: Knowing Before it’s Too Late

Square: Typical welfare centers are being changed to better meet the needs of people looking for employment or to develop employable skills. They are educating/assisting people to change. It goes back to education.

Circle: How can I look for and enlist the services of similar centers in my state (TN) in the program? It seems like a natural match.


  • Welfare center staff are available to talk with schools; they have programs to help students see the value of continuing their education beyond high school.
  • How many organizations/programs are duplicating efforts toward the same goal?
  • Money game: How much money is needed for a particular lifestyle (or to buy particular items), and what education or skilled training is needed to obtain that lifestyle or to obtain certain items? Example: New video game system. How many hours of work are needed in a minimum wage job vs. a ‘professional’ job?

Session: Administrator Roundtable
(Discussion prompted by the 2007 Video Clip: Shift Happens)


  • There is instand virtual access to information through technology.
  • High school teachers and college faculty do not use computers and internet devices as much as students use them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t teach. It does mean that we might be missing a way to “teach them where they are” and where their world will be.

Circle: I am curious about how we will organize information in the future. Will we discover new organizational patterns than the ones we use now?


  • A single way for creating an ideal learning environment is not realistic.
  • Technology is an expensive and a critical learning tool.
  • Continuous teacher development, student support, and equipment maintenance will make up a tremendous portion of educational budgets – now and in the future.

Session: ACT Curriculum Study–Matching College Expectations to H.S. Practice

Square: There is a gap between what is taught in high school and what is expected in college. The gap is reinforced by the end of grade/course testing that determines a teacher’s or a school’s “reward” for excellence; there is a lack of awareness on the part of college faculty of what students know (or do not know) when they get to college.

Circle: What is the impact of this gap on first generation college students who are entering post-secondary education? Is this a different impact than on non-first generation students?


  • High school teachers and college faculty want to be successful.
  • Reward systems influence actions.
  • Students need information (fundamental facts and ideas) but they also need to know how to learn (process) – both need to be taught and reinforced by the next teacher.

Session: The United States of Appalachia

Square: The Appalachian region is a relatively small land mass (compared to the whole of the US) but its connection to the whole of US history is large. The region is often described as poor, isolated, and distressed, but there exist rich, varied, and potent resources throughout the region.

Circle: How does one gently, appropriately, take one’s place in Appalachian history without seeming ungracious?


  • Independence is an important Appalachian value and attribute.
  • The connection between Appalachia and the country is real.
  • Jeff Biggers is an excellent speaker; his language is amazing.

Session: Demographics of Appalachia

Square: Numbers don’t lie; people who work with numbers do. Statisticians lie without malice.

Circle: How do good thinkers discipline themselves to constantly seek the truth rather than be distracted by the interesting aside?


  • What impact will the statistics of Appalachia have on the country?
  • What influence about the Appalachian voice will I be responsible for representing?
  • What do the numbers suggest about the direction that Appalachian advocates should take?

Session: Brian Noland

Square: Earnest, informed belief can move masses.

Circle: What is the expectation of the/our state of our/the ARC-AHEN effort?


  • What is happening in Appalachian is probably happening to the rest of the state.
  • The Appalachian region is a microcosm of the rest of the state (NC) – utilize this region as a pilot/test project.
  • Come to terms with the political terms that will forward educational goals.

Session: Appalachian Literature in the Classroom

Teaching to State/National Standards

Square: Appalachian literature can be used within the rural classroom to enhance the learning of the Appalachian student. The use of place-based literature with connections to the current assigned Classics is a wonderful crosswalk for learning.


  • The number of Appalachian-focused texts is limited.
  • Why have the schools not been more conscious of our heritage?
  • Few people at the session had Appalachian literature in their classrooms or library. In fact, two of the schools did not have a high school librarian. Since the library is vital to college access, this was a red flag for me.


  • Appalachian students may relate to the stories based on their heritage and become more engaged readers.
  • There are many Appalachian authors willing to help schools use their literature.
  • If Appalachian educators do not value their own work, no one else will honor it.

(Pertinent quote about national standards from U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings: "I don't think the way to do it is a one-size-fits-all national standard that morphs into a national curriculum that morphs into national textbooks. It's the wrong way to go, and it's a giant time-waster." -- Secretary answering a question on national standards during an interview with U.S. News & World Report 11/5/07)

Session: Administrator Roundtable

(Audience was a mix of school administrators (K-16), Senator Padgett (Chair of the education committee), state agencies, counselors, and college students)

Square: All participating educators are concerned about the current status of education in the state and nation as it relates to the globalization issues. The urgency was apparent in the discussion. (The Ohio University students added to the discussion by presenting the need for schools to offer more “rigorous course offerings.)

Circle: Discussion of the current status of the education system is revolving around “fixing the system” rather than starting with a new vision of what an education system should be.
Why do educators try to “fix” broken parts?


  • Ask current students of the K-16 system for input.
  • Change is extremely difficult in the education system.
  • The policy makers and educators need to be talking about the system (barriers, challenges brought about by policies, etc)

Session: Importance of the Middle Grades

Square: College access begins in the upper elementary and middle grades.

Circle: Why were so many of the middle grade educators so defensive about the idea of ALL students accessing a more rigorous curriculum? Some of the group actually had tears in their eyes talking about “not all students are capable.” Very disheartening.


  • College access needs to begin in late elementary/middle grades.
  • Students rise to our expectations.
  • More work needs to be done on the aspirations of the middle grade student.
  • When does a child begin to think they “are or are not capable of college?”

Session: Financial Education

Square: Financial education is vital for both students and parents today, now more than ever.

Circle: How can we incorporate this concept into our model to ensure implementation by grantee schools?


  • Most parents have little financial education background; therefore, students have no positive role models.
  • Students have never been taught about financial planning and money management.
  • There are a lot of FREE RESOURCES available on financial education. Explore here.

Monday, October 1, 2007