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Saturday, June 1, 2013

June 1, 2013 Updated

As mentioned below when this post was originally published on June 1, 2013-14 student schedules are now available on Power School.  These are TENTATIVE schedules, meaning that they could change when the master schedule is adjusted.  For example, the Math Department will be adding a couple of sections (Algebra 1A and another course to be determined) and this will likely necessitate changes elsewhere in students' schedules in order to balance sections. In other instances, departments may move sections to different periods in order to balance class sizes.  Still, students should check to make certain that the courses appearing on their schedules are, in fact, the courses they've chosen and wish to take in the next school year.
Students may access these schedules by clicking on this link.  Once there, current EOS students should log in as if they were making their requests and should click on the icon that reads "Next Year's Schedule."  Current 8th graders should click on this same link and use their last name followed by first letter of first name (i.e., Lisa Doe would be DoeL) for user name.  Their passwords will be their birth dates (MMDDYYYY means, for example 01011999 for January 1, 1999).
Students wishing to make changes to their schedules should contact their counselors immediatelySee below for more information about this.

2013-14 Student Schedules Available Soon
Students will soon be able to view their tentative 2013-14 class schedules.  Schedules will be available on Power School in the next week or so.  The word "tentative" is used because schedules are subject to change.  Any changes would be contingent upon adjustments made in the master schedule.
Students wishing to make adjustments in their schedules should contact their counselors immediately.  Schedule changes will be allowed through the end of this school year.  Otherwise, failure to meet prerequisites in courses will be the only reason to prompt changes in student schedules afterwards. 

ECE Application Deadline Extended
Students enrolled in Early College Experience (ECE) courses for 2013-14 MUST submit applications to the EOS Guidance Office by Friday, June 7th.  This deadline has been extended from May 31. See the May 15 post for more information about the importance of this application. 
Registration for UConn Campus Courses Scheduled for Friday 6/14
Students interested in taking courses on the UConn campus next year must submit their applications (available in the Guidance Office) on Friday, June 14th between 10:30 am and noon.  Representatives from UConn will be in the Guidance Office to review these applications and help with questions.
 For more information, see the May 15 blog post.
Mastery Continued...
The Early College Experience Program recently hosted the first-ever conference in New England on dual and current enrollment that was called Innovations and Trends: Concurrent and Dual Enrollment.  Attended by representatives from each state in New England, the conference agenda focused upon changes occurring in higher education and dual enrollment programs offered to high school students.
The keynote speaker was Nicholas Donahue, Director of the Nellie May Education Foundation, and his remarks were intended to challenge the educational paradigm that has driven instruction for decades. His comments were linked to two mindsets.  He argued that the traditional paradigm views learning as a variable while time and place are the constants.  Instead, he said, learning should be the constant while time and place are the variables.  If you're wondering, the answer is "yes" to this sounding like mastery learning.
Donahue then equated the current model to building a house, and he did so in what I paraphrase in the following sentences..  Let's say that the housing inspector agrees to check progress in phases relative to the entire construction project.  Those responsible for pouring the foundation have a week to complete the job.  As they begin this phase, they encounter problems with the weather and are unable to complete it as they had planned.  Still, the building inspector reviews the work at the end of the week period and, although he finds fault with the foundation, assigns a grade of C+ and moves on.  The next phase involves framing the house and this group has two weeks to finish the job.  Well, the group gets off to an inauspicious start as the materials are late arriving and then a couple of the framers become ill.  They manage to complete this phase in the two week period, but not without some flaws in their work that are noticed by the building inspector.  The contractor responsible for the overall project seeks the inspector's approval and the latter assigns a B-.  The electricians are up next.  One is called out on a personal emergency and another is in between two jobs, trying his best at completing both.  In the week given for the electricians to finish their work, it's obvious that the work is shoddy.  Although the building inspector sees this, he nevertheless admires the electricians' efforts in the face of their difficulties.  Recognizing this effort, the inspector gives a C- for work that he really feels deserves an F.
By now, you get the picture - according to Donahue.  When the house eventually collapses, he asks, who is ultimately responsible?
It raises this question - who is ultimately responsible for student success?  Teachers, administrators, parents, students?  If you claim that all are, then to what degree?  Is it an even split?  Or is this distribution uneven?  If so, how is it skewed?
This issue about student ownership of the learning process has been around for quite awhile and is at the core of any discussion about mastery learning - or any educational paradigm, for that matter. President Obama expressed his thoughts on ownership of student success in a speech he gave to students a few years ago that remains relevant today.  You can read an unedited version below (words in bold letters provided by me).
   Who Owns Student Success?

"Now, I've given a lot of speeches about education. And I've talked about responsibility a lot.

I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn.

I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox.

I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education.

I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something that you're good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That's the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a great writer -- maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper -- but you might not know it until you write that English paper -- that English class paper that's assigned to you. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor -- maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or the new medicine or vaccine -- but you might not know it until you do your project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a senator or a Supreme Court justice -- but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you'll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You're going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You've got to train for it and work for it and learn for it.

And this isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. The future of America depends on you. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You'll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You'll need the insights and critical-thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You'll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents and your skills and your intellect so you can help us old folks solve our most difficult problems. If you don't do that -- if you quit on school -- you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country.

Now, I know it's not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what it's like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mom who had to work and who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn't always able to give us the things that other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and I felt like I didn't fit in.

So I wasn't always as focused as I should have been on school, and I did some things I'm not proud of, and I got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was -- I was lucky. I got a lot of second chances, and I had the opportunity to go to college and law school and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, she has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn't have a lot of money. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren't right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- none of that is an excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude in school. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. There is no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up. No one's written your destiny for you, because here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That's what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn't speak English when she first started school. Neither of her parents had gone to college. But she worked hard, earned good grades, and got a scholarship to Brown University -- is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to becoming Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I'm thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who's fought brain cancer since he was three. He's had to endure all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer -- hundreds of extra hours -- to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind. He's headed to college this fall.

And then there's Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods in the city, she managed to get a job at a local health care center, start a program to keep young people out of gangs, and she's on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

And Jazmin, Andoni, and Shantell aren't any different from any of you. They face challenges in their lives just like you do. In some cases they've got it a lot worse off than many of you. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their lives, for their education, and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That's why today I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education -- and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, by the way, I hope all of you are washing your hands a lot, and that you stay home from school when you don't feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work -- that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.

The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That's okay. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who've had the most failures. J.K. Rowling's -- who wrote Harry Potter -- her first Harry Potter book was rejected 12 times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. He lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that's why I succeed."

These people succeeded because they understood that you can't let your failures define you -- you have to let your failures teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently the next time. So if you get into trouble, that doesn't mean you're a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to act right. If you get a bad grade, that doesn't mean you're stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one's born being good at all things. You become good at things through hard work. You're not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don't hit every note the first time you sing a song. You've got to practice. The same principle applies to your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right. You might have to read something a few times before you understand it. You definitely have to do a few drafts of a paper before it's good enough to hand in.

Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength because it shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something, and that then allows you to learn something new. So find an adult that you trust -- a parent, a grandparent or teacher, a coach or a counselor -- and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you're struggling, even when you're discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don't ever give up on yourself, because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn't about people who quit when things got tough. It's about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It's the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and they founded this nation. Young people. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google and Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask all of you, what's your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a President who comes here in 20 or 50 or 100 years say about what all of you did for this country?

Now, your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I'm working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books and the equipment and the computers you need to learn. But you've got to do your part, too. So I expect all of you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don't let us down. Don't let your family down or your country down. Most of all, don't let yourself down. Make us all proud."

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