ExtraCredit, the official blog of the Ohio Department of Education, offers commentary and insight on a wide range of education issues from department experts and guest bloggers from throughout Ohio’s schools and support organizations. We encourage your ideas, feedback and comments to promote a two-way dialogue. See our Comment Policy for more information.

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8/6/2019

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria Highlights Students and Educational Opportunities at the Ohio State Fair (Part 2)

By: Staff Blogger

The Ohio State Fair wrapped up on Sunday and State Supt. Paolo DeMaria shared in the excitement prior to this fair season’s finale. From a robotics challenge to musical performances, Supt. DeMaria celebrated the extraordinary talents of Ohio’s students. Mark your calendars for July 29-Aug. 9, 2020 for next year’s fair. We’re already excited to see what new learning opportunities it will bring!

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8/1/2019

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria Highlights Students and Educational Opportunities at the Ohio State Fair (Part 1)

By: Staff Blogger

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria was back at the Ohio State Fair last weekend, interacting with students, parents, educators and volunteers and highlighting the many educational opportunities available to attendees! As a reminder, the state fair is open now through Aug. 4, and we encourage you to explore everything it offers for students and adults. Find last weekend’s updates below, and stay tuned for more from Paolo in the coming days from the state fair.

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7/25/2019

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria Helps Kick Off Opening Day at the Ohio State Fair

By: Staff Blogger

State Supt. Paolo DeMaria helped kick things off at opening day of the Ohio State Fair yesterday, and it was an exciting, full day celebrating Ohio students! The state fair is open now through Aug. 4, so be sure to visit and see all of the excitement for yourself. Check out yesterday’s updates and photos, and stay tuned for more from Paolo in the coming days.

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7/5/2019

GUEST BLOG: Looking to Build Your Empathy Experience? Shadow a Student! — Dr. Neil Gupta, Worthington City Schools

By: Guest Blogger

Editor’s Note: This post originally appeared in Dr. Neil Gupta’s blog on Feb. 19, 2019.
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There’s a lot of talk about the need for empathy, so leaders spend a lot of time developing lessons and opportunities for students to engage them in experiences to be more empathetic to situations and each other as well as how to use it in taking action.

Yet, what empathy experiences can educational leaders employ? For the past four years, LaVonna Roth and I have participated in the Shadow a Student Challenge.  Why? We believe that to truly know what a student may go through on a daily basis, you must put yourself in their shoes – almost literally!

A student can be selected for various reasons depending on what kind of perspective you’d like to experience.  Here’s a link to a site that take you through all the steps on: How it Works.  

After shadowing high school students for the past three years, LaVonna and I shadowed a middle school student this year.  Based on our experiences throughout the day, we experienced the constant theme that students are more engaged when teachers create opportunities.  

Below are four areas in which Successful Teachers Create Opportunities for Success:

  1. Create Opportunities to Grow Relationships – Our students want to get to know their teachers.  They really do. No matter the age. We observed numerous opportunities where teacher’s checked in with students by asking them to share something good that happened to them over the weekend. This reminded us of the importance in sharing about yourself, telling them how your weekend went, and acknowledging birthdays (even in Spanish)! All things teachers took the time to do during our day there. The difference it makes is worth every second.

  2. Create Opportunities to Build Connections Students do have a desire to connect with classmates and collaborate with one another.  We got to see awesome teachers thoughtfully and carefully match up students to ensure they would be productive and healthy.  We were glad that students weren’t just asked to partner up on their own. Teachers provided scaffolded lessons to ensure students were on track.  And, teachers made a conscious effort to have students sharing the work by providing responsibilities through roles as well as moving around the room to provide feedback and support.

  3. Create Opportunities to Foster Curiosity – We were blown away by the hard work and creativity of each teacher creating an essential question, a “bell ringer”, or lesson to spark curiosity among the students.  Coming off the heels of the NFL “My Cause, My Cleats” game, one teacher opened class with pictures of various cleats and causes the certain NFL players showcased the previous night.  He allowed time for students to brainstorm their cause and show design as an opening activity. This proved to be a great segway to the lesson on selecting a certain historical person/perspective to research in continuing their passion project.  

  4. Create Opportunities to Support Learning – Our teachers not only provided high expectations, provided information and resources to the students, and provided clear details on how they’d be assessed, but they scaffold the learning and project steps with examples and models of expectations.  One teacher did a great job of giving specific examples of how to study for the test, and allowed the students to share their ideas with one another. Having the skills to “project plan and manage” can’t be left to students to learn on their own, regardless of age.  Helping students to develop study habits and select steps to help in their learning is not only essential but empowers them to keep moving forward.

We encourage you to break out the tennis shoes, put on your favorite sweatshirt, and shadow a student for a full day! Even if you work in a school setting all day visiting classrooms throughout the day, nothing will prepare you more or give you the same insights than shadowing a student.  This has had a lasting impact on how we support or schools, students, and teachers, and we are already planning for next year! Feel free to direct message us with any questions – and we’d love to hear your insights from your empathy experience! Good luck!

Dr. Neil Gupta is the Director of Secondary Education for Worthington City Schools. He oversees middle school and high school programs and leads the academic and safety work with the building principals. You can read Dr. Gupta's full bio and his other blog posts here

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6/20/2019

Voice, Recognition, Leadership... A Reflection on My Year-in-Residence

By: Jonathan Juravich

Group.JPGOne year ago, a proposal was on the table to transform the Ohio Teacher of the Year program from a one-year experience to a two-year commitment. The first year would be one of recognition and learning, followed by a year of service to the state as the Ohio teacher-in-residence. I was hesitant. What would life outside of my classroom look like? Would I be bored, spinning around in a chair all day? Was I even capable of living up to everyone’s expectations? Twelve months later, I am wrapping up my time piloting this program and dizzied from a year of growth and inspiration.

I was having lunch with a group of teachers this spring, and one of them asked me what I actually do in this role. I answered saying, “I focus on teacher voice, teacher leadership and teacher recognition.” She then said that this was all well and good but wanted to know more details. What was it that I was actually doing?

During this past year, I have toured the state, meeting with teachers, administrators and students while learning about their schools, aspirations and communities. Sometimes I offered professional development for teachers, spoke at conferences, led whole-school student assemblies or provided hot chocolate to teachers at staff meetings. Then, I brought all of these experiences and the information I learned from my visits back to the Department to help provide Department staff with insight from the field and context for decision-making.

In April, I testified to the Primary and Secondary Education Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives. One of the members of this committee asked me to reflect on what it is that I heard from teachers when I visited schools. I noted how inspired I was by Ohio’s educators, their professionalism and their heart. These teachers spoke of their admiration for their students and the strength of their colleagues down the hall that, in their words, I “just had to stop in and see before leaving.”

This year, I was motivated by great teachers like the enthusiastic Chris Basich in Riverside Local Schools; by the heart of third grade teacher Devery Scott from Whitehall City Schools; Chris Williams and the remarkable staff at Colerain Elementary School in Columbus; the thought-provoking conversations with Cheshire Elementary’s Mikela Thomas; and the creativity of Terry Stewart at the Ohio School for the Deaf. Meeting these teachers and countless more, hearing their stories, their hopes for their students and the triumphs they had just recently witnessed have changed who I am as an educator.

In one of my first meetings at the Department, I was told there was interest in an additional teacher recognition program. Through hard work and lots of collaboration, the TORCH (Teachers of Ohio Representing Character and Heart) recognition was rolled out this winter. In its inaugural year, TORCH recognizes teachers for their engagement with the community and advancement of educational equity. Five honorees from across the state were selected and recognized during surprise events this spring. I am honored to have met Tequila Pennington-Calwise of Cleveland Metro Schools, Leila Kubesch from Norwood City Schools, Sylvania’s Tami Blue, Sarah Thornburg of Columbus City Schools, and Alicia Spears from the Tri-State STEM+M Early College High School. These teachers strive to teach the whole child and every child. I, for one, cannot wait to hear about the teachers that will be recognized through this program in the future, for their service-centered lives.

Honestly, what I am most excited about is the future of the teacher-in-residence program and how it will continue even when I am gone. I am thrilled to see how future Ohio Teachers of the Year will put their own unique spin on engaging educators to use their voices, advance leadership, and recognize the goodness in one another. When I am back in my art room at Liberty Tree Elementary School this fall, I know that Mona Al-Hayani, the 2019 Ohio Teacher of the Year, will be stepping into this role, rebranded as the Ohio Teacher Fellowship. She will bring professionalism and passion to her work, advocating for all of Ohio’s teachers and students.

On my last full day as the Ohio teacher-in-residence, the Department hosted the first-ever Teacher Leadership Summit at The Ohio State University. Two hundred teacher leaders and administrators came from across the state to join Department staff and share in a day of learning and inspiration that had taken most of the year to plan. Many of the amazing people I met over the past few months were there, making connections with one another and filling the room with energy. As the morning opened, I stood on the stage looking out at faces I had not known a year prior and the table of staff members from my own school. These colleagues, both the familiar and the new, had become a part of the journey. I stood there at the summit realizing that this year-long adventure, this metaphoric summit, was only the beginning for me…for all of us. There are new mountains and challenges to take on in the quest to advance teacher voices, leadership and recognition. How incredibly grateful I am for the opportunity to have represented the amazing educators of Ohio in this work as the teacher-in-residence.

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