Mar
19
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 19-03-2014

Parents, in an effort to improve school practices, Ellendale School District is conducting a parent survey.  We value your opinion and ask that you take the time to complete this survey.  Begin the survey by going to http://www.advanc-ed.org/survey/public/2320280 Please be assured that your responses are anonymous. Your honest opinion is appreciated.  Thank you.

Mar
19
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 19-03-2014

Ellendale School is beginning a new school improvement cycle.  School improvement is a fundamental process for our school.  Without periodic review of what is being done well or not so well from the very top of the organization to the grassroots we cannot improve.  AdvanceEd is being organizes this improvement process into one that is based on data, is measurable, focused on teaching and learning, and sustainable. AdvancEd is the process endorsed by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and was approved by the last legislative session to be funded for all schools.

At this time stakeholder groups including teachers, administration, board members, parents, and support staff have started their internal review of our systems and programs.  This review will look at all aspects of the schools operation from vision/mission, leadership, instruction, assessment and more.  Already committees are completing self-evaluation processes outlined by AdvancEd. Shortly, parents, teachers, and students will be asked to provide their input via surveys.  In the fall of 2014 the committees work, surveys, and student performance data will be combined together to provide a big picture of what is working and what could be improved.  In the winter of 2014-15 goals and action steps will be crafted in cooperation with all stakeholders.
After the goals and actions are approved by the Ellendale School Board the focus will be on doing the work to improve.  This could part of the process could take a few years depending on what is determined to be our action steps.
In the spring of 2015 an AdvancEd team, outside observers, will visit our school to review the process and work that is completed right now.  They will be vital in ensuring the process was used to improve teaching and learning and to validate the actions we propose.
Mar
13
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 13-03-2014

Many of you may have seen this graphic being run on BEK Sports the last few days.  It is in regard to questions being asked as to why BEK is not broadcasting the final night of the Reg 3 tournament.

Let me begin by stating the administrative team and coaches at EHS would like to have the final game televised on BEK tonight.  However, the idea planted in many peoples minds by this slide says that it was our idea NOT to air it.  That is completely inaccurate.  The decision to air the final night is solely based on the contractual agreement between ABC and NDHSAA.  The agreement in short does not allow any other telecasts of ND HS Athletics in direct competition to what is being aired by ABC (ie, the State A tournament).

I did reach out to Mr. Jordan Hassler at BEK to inquire as to why he was directing you to contact us about this issue.  In short it was due to his view that the NDHSAA was not responsive to concerns BEK had with the contract and airing of tonights game.  His view is that by calling me I have the power to change it.  I am sorry but I don’t.  EPS is a member school of the NDHSAA and we do have the power to vote for representatives on the NDHSAA Board.  However, once they are elected I don’t have much power left until the 4th year when I can vote for a different SE Reg Representative.  With that said, can I complain to my representative, Yes.  I will share my concerns not only with the televising of this evenings game but also concerns stemming from VB and Wrestling not being televised.  But, know that this is a multi year deal with ABC that was negotiated with a sub committee of the NDHSAA Board and approved by the full board.  I won’t hold my breath that it will be changed.

Mar
08
Filed Under (Uncategorized) by Jeff Fastnacht on 08-03-2014

Over the course of this first year of our 1:1 iPad implementation we have experienced many ups and downs.  The rollout and early meeting with students and parents were very positive.  The inclusion of these new learning devices in some classrooms was successful.  But, we then had bumps in the road that make you feel was this all worth it.  Seeing some students use them more for a gaming  console or posting to facebook more than doing work was depressing.  However, after a few experiences the last couple weeks I am fortified in my belief that our students need these devices intertwined in their educational experience even more than ever.

Since December we have hosted three school teams from both North and South Dakota that wanted to meet our teachers and students to learn more on how they could implement a 1:1 program like ours.  During these visits we openly shared our experiences both positive and negative.  We fielded hundreds of questions from how we selected this technology, professional development of teachers, and impacts in the classroom.  Each of these schools were tremendously impressed at what they saw in Ellendale and how well we are doing only after one year.  They each voiced an appreciation of the hard work done by the teachers and the respect the school has for them in doing it.  It was shared by a teacher from Langdon, that if she knew her school respected her time and efforts as much as Ellendale did for theirs she would work harder for them.

The stories shared by students and teachers reaffirmed to me that we are on the right track.  Despite our pitfalls this year, we are making progress.  For example Mrs. Irey has been piloting a program that we plan to roll out in all classrooms next year called MyBigCampus.  This allows students to use their iPad to complete assignments, compose essays, and test using their device. It will also provide parents with greater information on their child’s progress in their studies.  Second, we strive to provide options for students to learn all day, every day.  Take a look at Mrs. Land’s web site.  She posts every slide from her classwork on her site so students can review it easily with their iPad, anytime.  Next, we are starting to test digital textbooks.  Mrs. Herman tested a digital text earlier in the year.  Why is a digital text good?  A digital text is never out of date, it can be easily updated and changed as information and knowledge changes.  Lastly, our students are starting to learn how to share their knowledge in ways aside from a paper and pencil test.  A student, in one of these meetings, shared how their teacher is assigning tasks that ask them to produce 3-4 minute videos, or digital presentations, sharing what they know.

We have a long way to go, this is only the first year of our 3 year implementation plan.  But, we are making progress.  I want to conclude with some recent comments from Mr. Patrick Halley from the FCC.  He contacted me a week ago to ask if I would be willing to participate in a video conference on Rural Broadband.  This conference is being hosted by the FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler.  He specifically requested EHS to be part of the conference due to the work being done by EHS and DRN on using broadband to improve education in rural America.  When he inquired as to what EPS does to provide access to our students, he was amazed.  We are the example that they are striving to move all schools in our nation toward.  This conference will be taking place on March 19th.