Superintendent’s Message 4-29-16

April 29, 2016

From the desk of the Superintendent

Dear Parents/Guardians and Community Members,

Please join us in celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week next week! And we look forward to seeing you at Foundation Day at George’s Shop-n-Bag on Wednesday, May 4 from 9AM to 7PM! The schedule of events is posted on the School District of Upper Dublin website, the Upper Dublin Education Foundation website, and on Facebook.

School Safety: For the past two years the District has been engaged in regular school safety drills that have moved beyond the traditional monthly fire drills. In addition to performing all fire drills on schedule, each of our schools also participates in semi-annual drills including on-site and off-site evacuation drills, lock-down and lock-in drills, and parent-child reunification drills. This preparation and practice resulted in an exemplary performance by our faculty and staff at Jarrettown Elementary School last week when heavy smoke from a truck fire on Limekiln Pike forced the evacuation of the school. Under Principal Meg Place’s supervision, students and staff left the school and gathered at their designated Remote Rally site on school grounds, then proceeded to their designated off-site location when the circumstance demanded that they move to a safer distance. A successful parent-child reunification process for walkers and car-pool students was completed by 4:30 PM. Additionally, our transportation department re-routed buses and riders were safely delivered home with a minimum of delay to the schedule. Many parents subsequently contacted us to share their appreciation for the calm and controlled situation they found when they arrived to pick up their children. I am confident that the faculty at each of our schools is prepared to react similarly if a disruptive event should occur at their building. Our District and school administration meets regularly with the UDPD, Township Fire services and first responders through our District Safety Committee.

School Rankings: We were disappointed recently to find that UDHS was not listed in the annual  US News listings of what they present as the “Best High Schools”. We understand why UDHS was not included in the 2016 US News rankings; we have not successfully closed the achievement gap for our economically disadvantaged students. We recognize this problem and are taking explicit steps to improve outcomes for all UD students. Among those interventions are the alignment of our curricula to PA Core standards, eliminating level 3 classes at UDHS thus increasing rigor for all students, restructuring our system for Gifted Education, and commencing a study of the schedule at SRMS. School Director Dr. Joan Ludwig shared with the Board a concise yet comprehensive review of the methodology used by US News and several other ranking systems including those that gave high ranks to UDHS, and I would like to share it with our community.  To view Dr. Ludwig’s summary Click Here.

On a related note, am very pleased to share that UDHS student Richard Y. Zhang is one of 12 Montgomery County students announced as National Merit Scholarship recipients for 2016 and has been awarded the National Merit Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals Scholarship. Congratulations to Richard for this well deserved recognition!

SRMS Task Force Community Forum: The 2015-2016 Task Force for Exploration of Restructuring or Realignment of Grade Levels met for the final time on March 16 and reached a unanimous recommendation to the Board to maintain the status quo in placement of sixth grade at the middle school. The final report of the Task Force is posted on the District website. A community forum to review the process and conclusion will be held on May 9 at 6:00 PM in the UDHS cafeteria, before the Board of Directors’ Legislative Meeting. A sincere thank you to members of our school community who served on the Task Force as well as to those parents and community members who attended meetings, and those who shared their perspective through a petition to the Task Force.

Today our Maple Glen students participated in an Arbor Day recognition ceremony that included planting of a sugar maple tree in front of the school. Once again our students represented Upper Dublin in a manner that made us proud as they attended to the speakers and participated in planting the tree donated by the UD Shade Tree Commission. A tip of the Cardinal Hat to Mr. Bickhart, the MGES faculty and our students for a beautiful ceremony.

The Board of Directors will hold their next Legislative Meeting on May 9, at 7:00 P.M. in the cafeteria at UDHS. All members of the community are encouraged to attend. Approved minutes from Board meetings may be accessed on the District website.

As always, I invite interested members of the Upper Dublin community to contact me with any questions or concerns you might have. I can be reached at 215 643-8802 or through dwheeler@udsd.org . Follow me on Twitter @UDSDSupt.

 

Sincerely,

Deborah S. Wheeler, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

 

Student created “science TV”

From our New UD NEXT series.

Teacher Reflection – Robert Miller

Over the past 3 weeks my five 8th grade classes have been creating a “Bill Nye the Science Guy” type TV show.  Each class has been working to create a unique TV show explaining the details of Energy and the Conservation of Energy. The class has elected an executive board consisting of:  Exec Producer, Exec Screen Writer, Exec Editor and Exec Production Manager.  These 4 highly motivated and talented students are the leaders of the production company.  The remaining students are organized into production teams where they are tasked with creating each segment of the overall show. Ultimately the students work as one team to write, produce, shoot and edit a 27 minute science show complete with commercials and a public service announcement.  As the instruction switches from teacher to student centered each learner has the opportunity to be an integral part of the big picture.

Role of Technology 

Ubiquitous access to technology allowed students to collaboratively manage their learning.

Google sites and the team organization

Each executive team created a class website for management of all of the tasks and assignments.  The exec. producer was responsible for the master plan and the scheduling of all activities (example site)

Verification of Work

The executive board and team leaders ensured that all work was accurately completed, like quality control in industry.  As work was assigned through Google Classroom, team members shared their documents with the leaders. The team leaders provided feedback directly on shared documents as work unfolded, as learners continually refined their product.

Sharing and reflection on the work process via blogging.  

As the TV show came to life, a second set of students were responsible for blogging about the experience.  This can be seen at www.sciencetv403.blogspot.com.  

Publication to Youtube

As each class completed their project, finished videos were posted on a private youtube channel for peer evaluation.

Student Reflection

The reflective blog maintained by students captures their appreciation for the complexities and challenges of authentic project based learning. This included negotiation openness to feedback as students held each other accountable for the quality of their work, the challenges of cooperative interdependence, learning from setbacks, and persevering to solve problems.