Allerton Hill Blog

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Monthly Archives: July 2016

Summer Break

July 28, 2016

Finals are over, swimming pools have opened, and school books have been tossed aside – it is officially summer. However, the thought of summer break can evoke many different reactions. To students it may mean months of freedom and neglect of their educational materials. For parents, it may mean finding ways to fill free time. However, for many teachers and school districts there is no real break, but instead an opportunity to stay connected with students, parents, and the community, and prevent a lapse in learning. Even with students away from school, there are several ways to keep them reading and learning, which seeks to benefit all parties come August. Additionally, it is to the benefit of the school district that it stays active in the community and upholds a positive image of a district that is truly caring and involved.

Firstly, it is essential for schools to keep in touch. Without regular information being passed along to students directly from their teachers, utilizing mailing systems and social media becomes even more important. Sending out newsletters to student households is a great way to give out tips on retaining last year’s lessons, preparing for back-to-school, or sending updates on programs that the school may be hosting. Most importantly, creating a consistent presence is a comfort to parents as well, and will not go unnoticed during future levy campaigns. The same can be said for a presence on social media, keeping the district more accessible and up-to-date.

Secondly, schools can benefit from being more involved as well. Most cities or towns have an influx of parades, fairs, family days, and other public events in the summer months. These are perfect opportunities to make the school district one with the community and reach out to families and students. Giving out tips on reading retention, holding book drives, book giveaways, or even tabling with fun math based games or science experiments encourages parents to keep their children mentally engaged and garners trust in the school. However, districts don’t need to wait for an event to be active; a public library or even the school itself can provide further opportunities for involvement. The library is the perfect place for one or all of the reading centered events previously described. Furthermore, an even simpler solution to fighting the reading lapse could be allowing students to rent books from the school library throughout the summer as well.

Summer break shouldn’t be seen as freedom from education, but time to engage. When a school district utilizes these months wisely, the benefits are seen throughout. Students come back to school better prepared, parents are happy that their children are busy and their schools involved, and the responsibility of teachers to make up for months of neglect is lessened. Ahead is a brighter school year with strengthened relations and trust between the school and the community.

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Trending Topics that Talk Real Issues

Can schools talk about controversial topics on social media? Allerton Hill Consulting talks about social media in a real world

July 26, 2016

Last year when Starbucks announced its #RaceTogether initiative, the backlash was quick and relentless. The idea of having authentic conversations about race relations between Starbucks baristas and customers appeared to be contrived, a publicity stunt and an elitist, narrow-minded, savior-complex way of approaching a serious and complicated issue that requires the voices of people who aren’t spending $4 on a latte each day. The initiative was considered by most to be a failure and as public relations experts rehashed what went wrong, it was a clear that no matter how well intentioned the Starbucks initiative, there remained a disconnect in delivery, execution and tone.

So how do we talk about serious issues in this coffee-to-go, Twitter-feed world? Or should we even try? Is it possible to talk about race, class, gender and sexual orientation in a real way on a Facebook timeline or in a podcast? How do you balance speed with substance?

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Social Media
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From the Podcast: Hands-On Learning

July 25, 2016

This week’s show concerns the impact of teachers and the role they play in inspiring us all. Our guest is Crissy Lauterbach, an experienced educator and works with Contact Learning.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Inspiring Leadership

Tips for Effective Leadership that Inspires Community and Collaboration

July 21, 2016

Good leadership is something all school administrators aspire to. It is something that takes years of study, years of practice and years of growth, assessment, re-growth. So how can a blog post help improve leadership skills? In the same way mantras reinforce what we already know, an article on leadership reminds us of why and how good leadership is so important to us as educators. As we prepare for a new school year, there’s no better time to recommit and refocus our goal for effective leadership that inspires our school.

Effective leadership is easy to talk about — just do a quick search for inspirational posters! — and of course, it is a difficult and lifelong task to accomplish. We talk to a lot of great leaders on our podcast and they often emphasize the importance of continued learning, continued inspiration and continued growth. To that end, we’ve compiled some of our favorite tips from these leaders and our own experience to help reframe your leadership goals for this coming year.

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Posted in Leadership
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From the Podcast: Engagement in Educational Leadership

July 20, 2016

This week’s show deals with women and community in educational leadership. Our guest is Dr. Gail Kist-Kline, superintendent of Mason City Schools and one of the premiere leaders in public education in Ohio.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast
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Apps in the Classroom: How to Find What Works for You and Your Students

Educational Apps in the Classroom // Tips on Technology & Communication from Allerton Hill Consulting

July 18, 2016

There is no doubt that the internet and the use of smart devices in the classroom is revolutionizing how teachers teach and how students learn. Think of any subject, any technique and “there’s an app for that”… in fact, there are probably thousands of apps for that! This, of course, is where the problem lies. How do you find the apps that will expand on your lessons and engage your students without distracting them or isolating them?

One criteria that can be helpful to use in narrowing down your choices is to look for apps that encourage collaboration rather than just one student and the screen. There are apps that allow students to share notes, write stories, create multimedia presentations and research long term projects. These apps empower students to work together.

Another solid benchmark to consider is whether it encourages students to “break the rules” or build something new. Are users just playing a game or filling in the blanks? Or are they encouraged to be creative? to create? to expand upon ideas and form new conclusions, new questions, new paths to discover?

Of course, it is critically important to ensure that any apps you use have safety settings that will allow you to contain search terms and access to appropriate materials.

There are hundreds of lists of the “best apps for educators” but we would be remiss not to include our own favorites that follows these 3 points of criteria. I’ve used all of the apps below and can speak to its ease of use, collaboration capabilities and creativity-inspiring capabilities.

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Posted in Education, Technology
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From the Podcast: Summer Communication

July 13, 2016

This week’s show deals with communicating during the summer and how to stay in touch with all the stakeholders in your community. Summer isn’t a sleepy time to cut off communication, but an opportunity to engage, inform and tell your story.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Podcast, Social Media

From the Podcast: Creating Opportunity and Engaging the Community

July 7, 2016

This week’s show concerns creating opportunity for every student and finding ways to engage communities that may not necessarily be directly engaged with our schools. Our guest is Dr. Jeffrey Butts, superintendent of the Wayne Township School in Indiana. He has been a teacher, an athletic director, a principal, and assistant superintendent.

To SUBSCRIBE to our podcast via iTunes, click here.

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Posted in Community Outreach, Leadership, Podcast