FIP in Action: Nordonia High School

Seniors from Nordonia High School presenting at the 2013 ODE Conference.

Seniors from Nordonia High School presenting at the 2013 ODE Conference.

Last week, the Ohio Department of Education hosted the Annual Statewide Education Conference, with an emphasis on continued progress and sustainability. Students from a school in Northeast Ohio spoke to educational leaders and teachers to show how they’ve been impacted by the integration of FIP principles into their education. Nordonia High School, which includes approximately 3,800 students, has integrated the first three FIP modules into their administration training process. Todd StuartDirector of Curriculum, Instruction, and Professional Development, highlighted practical examples for integrating FIP into a district, specifically focusing on clear learning targets. 

Last year, principal Casey Wright introduced a new program on leadership for students, challenging Nordonia to create space where leadership could be taught. Students were nominated to be a part of the Saturday morning training, which grabbed attention from both students and local community leaders. Principal Wright himself was enrolled in the program as a student, in hopes that he, too, could learn a few things. The final project was a simple yet challenging prompt: “How will you change Nordonia?” . Three Nordonia High School juniors mentioned their favorite teacher, Mrs. Czekaj. They wanted to know how they could get more teachers to teach like Mrs. Czekaj, as she consistently communicated clear learning objectives in the classroom. These clear learning objectives helped students maintain focus and develop knowledge of the classroom content on a daily basis. The three juniors, Steve McFarland, Steve Pastor, and Mike O’Neill, created a presentation highlighting the reasons why clear learning targets were needed in all of their classrooms, not just English classes. Their presentation was received with great enthusiasm; within weeks they were asked to present to teachers, department chairs, and administrators in several district buildings and around the Nordonia community. They set an initial goal of 75% of all teachers posting clear learning targets; the goal was specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound.  As a result, more than 85% of the teachers are posting daily learning objectives and, as a result, students at Nordonia are better able to maintain focus and enthusiasm for their learning.

We met with Steve, Steve, and Mike after their presentation at the ODE conference to learn more about the journey that they have been on since creating that presentation. It was very clear that these students were taking ownership of their learning by requesting that more teachers use the foundations of formative instructional practices. The students admittedly claimed that they weren’t even sure what the term “formative instructional practices” meant, but that they had watched as Principal Wright and Todd Stuart applied these practices strategically in a way that had students engaging in it along with their teachers. What started as a weekend leadership seminar with free snacks and training turned into an opportunity to enhance the way all students at Nordonia were learning- and now this has reached out into other districts across the state. These three students are all seniors this year and preparing for their college educations. Steve McFarland noted that the opportunities they have been given to speak in front of so many audiences, including the ODE Conference, was helping them enhance their communication and public speaking skills—something evident in their  confidence and professionalism. Steve Pastor noted his passion for serving others and helping create change, which has influenced his decision to enter the medical field upon graduation so that he can continue to help others.

This practical example is just one of many stories that we’re hearing as schools across Ohio are integrating formative instructional practices into their classrooms. Are your teams working to integrate formative instructional practices more intentionally? How are students getting involved and being impacted? Share in the comments below or use #ohFIP on Twitter.

To learn more and see how this could apply to your district, enroll in the Foundations of FIP Module 5: Student Ownership of Learning.