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Posts tagged ‘Shoreline-Christian’

By What Standards? (Tim Visser, Shoreline Christian School)

David Coleman, President of the College Board, has announced that the class of 2016 will see some changes to their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT).  While I believe the SAT is long overdue for some changes, I find it interesting that the SAT will join the American College Testing (ACT) in aligning themselves with the Common Core Standards.  I guess I should not be surprised since Mr. Coleman was one of primary designers of the Common Core.  Like it or not, this move makes the Common Core something worthy of our attention.


By way of some background information, we need to remember that education standards are the responsibility of each state.  Fifty states plus the District of Columbia means fifty one different discussions on what defines competency within a grade or discipline.  During the 1990s, education moved to a more discussions on standards.  By 2009, the Common Core was born out of state governors and their education specialists recognizing that the discussion on standards could be strengthened if they worked together–a noble idea that had the potential of elevating the impact of education on our nation’s children.


It should be no surprise that the discussions on the Common Core were derailed.  California and Texas control the textbook market, but they operate on opposite ends of the political spectrum.  Implementation proved more of a challenge with fifty-one ways of funding education, fifty-one teacher groups involved in the mix, and fifty-one governors flexing their political muscle.  On top of this, we have the College Board and ACT acting as the gatekeepers to college admissions.  Their  tests and their standards for Advanced Placement (AP) Tests were used to determine who was getting into what college and with how many credits.  Growing dissatisfaction with the tests being accurate predictors of success began to surface a few years ago.  Over eight hundred colleges are no longer requiring the SAT or ACT as part of their admissions process.  Colleges are also expressing concerns as to how poorly students with AP credits were prepared for college level courses.  Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school in the Northeast, announced it would no longer accept AP courses for credit.  The children in our own state are the latest casualties when the state and federal government could not agree on standards of accountability.  As a result, the state loses 40 million dollars in federal support.  Do we really need more reasons why education in the United States is in trouble?


Shoreline Christian School stays above this fracas by staying true to our Mission Statement:

Shoreline Christian School works in partnership with Christian families and their church to challenge students in preschool through high school: 

To celebrate that all of creation belongs to God

To respond to God by developing their unique gifts and abilities 

To live as dynamic and transforming influences for the glory of God


We are in a partnership that is focused on the child.  Our role4Q2 is to defined by four questions:


  • What do we want students to learn?

With so much confusion over what standards to use, this question gets to the heart of the matter.  At our school, we pull from a myriad of resources, the skills of our teachers, and the expectations of our community.  Our curriculum maps are linked to Christian schools across the nation so that we can compare and contrast.  We have access to the college admission offices, to the Common Core, to the SAT, to the ACT, to the Iowa Test of Basic Skills (ITBS), and to national organizations that represent the disciplines we teach.  No single text book publisher or imposed state standards will dictate what our students will learn.


  • How will we know what and how well students are learning?

    Again, no single source offers a completed picture.  Assessment of student learning needs to be both process (formative) and completion (summative) oriented.  Portfolios, test quizzes, papers, projects, presentations, and the list goes on.  We offer access to SAT, ACT, PSAT, PLAN, and ITBS.  When the data is collected, we listen to the students to validate the accuracy of the data we collected.  Finally, we ask the graduates and parents tell us their stories about how well the students are learning.


  • How do we engage students in relevant learning?

    We need to ask ourselves constantly, why do we need them to learn this stuff?  Where does this learning fit in a plan?  If it is just the next page in the textbook, we are not doing our jobs.  The answer must be reflected in our curriculum maps.  The learning must have purpose and compliment the overall plan for learning.  When it is all said and done, I take a graduate out for lunch and ask the same question.


  • How will we respond when some students learn quickly or don’t learn well?

    The size of our school, the dedication of the staff, and the support of our parents allows us to make adjustments.  Curriculum is only a plan and plans have to change to reflect the standards they seek to attain.  We learn what works, and we adjust to replicate the results.  When learning does not happen the way we plan, we adjust according to what we learn.  The best teachers at SCS are the best learners.  The more we learn about what works and what doesn’t work, the better we can work with our impact our student learners.


Watson Groen/Shoreline Christian has stayed above the confusion and stayed focused on the learner created in the image of God.  Elements like the Common Core and the alphabet soup of tests are akin to the lenses that help sharpen the discussion, but the lenses do not define the image.   For sixty-plus years, this focus has been tested and proven by the graduates and the stories they tell of how they were equipped “To live as a dynamic and transforming influence for the glory of God.”


Tim Visser, Principal of Shoreline Christian School


Integrating Technology & the Benefits of becoming a Connected Educator

Every other year I teach a semester long World Issues course. Each year it  takes a different  shape based on the students I have and the world events going on. Once again this summer I thought about the form I wanted to take on. Firstly, as a “flipped” teacher I wanted to make sure the students were actively pursuing information and not just listening to me tell them everything I know. Secondly, I contemplated how a course on world issues could reflect the world around us: a world where information is at your fingertips, shared with social media, and commented on.

A few years ago I attended the Alta Vista-NWCSI August Event entitled “Becoming Students of our Students’ Work-Together.” There a Mount Vernon Christian Social Studies Teacher shared with me his framework for a similar course, having each student follow a country through the various issues and ending with a Model United Nations.

For each “issue” students researched its status in their own country. It was interesting to see the searching methods of students and organically, we could discuss how to vary search terms and how to evaluate the credibility of a source. Students also became efficient at citing their sources.

With the information they gathered, they had to “present” the information using technology. Educational Technology is a passion of mine so various blogs and Twitter posts have helped me build an arsenal of tools. Students used LiveBinders, Screencast-O-Matic,, Padlet, and Google Drive. Students experienced a range of emotions using all of these tools. They were frustrated, nervous, and excited. I was surprised by how uncomfortable students were using these technologies for learning. They are accustomed to entertaining themselves with technology, but creating educational products was not so easy for them. I am thrilled that they “survived” these technologies and have even used them again in other classes. Furthermore, it will be important in their future careers to feel confident trying new technologies that they must use.

The final piece of learning each issue was to share their knowledge. Not only does sharing reflect 21st Century learning, it also allowed students to see each issue from the perspective of multiple countries, not just the one they studied. Students would post their products on Edmodo and then comment on each other’s posts. In the future, I hope they will be able to share to a wider audience with Twitter and/or blog posts.

Much of this model was influenced by the C4 Framework for Social Studies education: collect, collaborate, create, and communicate. This structure is a great way to integrate technology in a regular way, it allows students to get out of stagnant textbooks and dig dynamic, relevant content.


Kaelyn Bullock, High School Social Studies teacher, Shoreline Christian School

Working to Make Curriculum Maps Dynamic

Working with a K – 12 staff to make the maps a dynamic tool in curriculum development:


In October, each staff member reviewed maps from three other schools. They needed to share what they learned in their review with three other staff members and then post their insights on our professional growth Google site. It appears the staff appreciated the diversity of the maps and have a better understanding of how our maps fit our school. This month we will work to update the maps we have in place. The goal this year is to make sure we have accurate maps. Next year, we will work on applying the Common Core State Standards to the maps.

Tim Visser, Shoreline Christian 

Submitted on 2013/11/11 at 3:28 pm

Attributes of a Healthy Learner

Our junior and senior high students have expressed concern over their workloads and subsequent stress levels. To address this, the staff has implemented a homeroom at the end of the day. The students place homework they have received in each class on the board. This allows every student to review their planner and gives a staff member the opportunity to intervene should workloads appear excessive. We also have a test and project calendar that we share in the hopes that we can spread out more high stakes work.

The system still does not address individual student learners. As a result, we have gone back to the drawing board. Using the LCC model, we are attempting to identify the attributes of a healthy learner in our school. Data is being collected in homerooms, and each class at the end of block days collects individual student responses to frustration levels in that class. Our goal is to identify the attributes of a “healthy” learner, use the data we have collected to see how it matches up against the attributes we have identified, determine adjustments for those who struggle with their “health” and maintain those who are “healthy.” Finally we will retest to see if the changes we make stick.

Tim Visser – Shoreline Christian

Submitted on 2013/11/11 at 3:51 pm


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