This is a link to an image in my G+ photos.

This is an embedded image from my flickr account.

It’s a changing world; how students learn  trumps what they learn!
Helping students acquire a wide variety of skills and dispositions utlimately prepares them for an uncertain future.

With those uncertain futures in mind, HCPS created the TIP Chart (originally the Technology Integration Progression chart, a document that combines technology integration ideals with many concept advocated by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.) The TIPC is an ‘at a glance’ document that allows observers to determine where students and teachers were in terms of four 21st Century skills: Research and Information Fluency, Communication and Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving and finally Creativity and Innovation.

Now the TIP Chart serves as the primary rubric for Henrico 21 lessons and Reflective Friends observations.

Sharing Some Ideas and Insights about Research and Information Fluency
When working with students, it is wise to acknowledge Google as a popular search engine!  (Hey, don’t look under your seat!)

Google wants users to sign-in (and this is starting to make students wonder why they need to do so and the implications such a policy has on providing them high quality content.)

Google is constantly changing; the advanced button is no longer visible for the initial search (though it does appear via the Gear icon once a search has been initiated.)

In order to help teachers lead students through the RIF component of the TIP Chart,  handouts have been created to simplify some involved concepts.  Here are two examples:
Advanced Google Content Search directions
Advanced Google Image Search directions

Other Search Engine Options (Anecdotally, logins and passwords are barriers; students rarely use these sites when working on their own.) (a search engine specifically designed for students, sites relevant and appropriate to students are selected by humans!) – uses slashtags (text preceded by a “/” forward slash,) that may allow easier categorized searches.

A Research and Information Fluency (actually ‘digital fluency’) module that shows promise:

For high schools, key indicators of student achievement are the Scholastic Aptitute Test (SAT) results with the most commonly cited measure being the average (or mean.)

How are students doing at Deep Run?

The DRHS SAT average  for the seven years of testing juniors and seniors 2004/05 – 2010/11 is 1092.
The DRHS math is 547 and Critical Reading mean is 545.
For the last several years, the math average has been higher than critical reading (a k a English) mirroring state and national data.

The graph below shows the results by school year.

Fortunately we are in an upward trend yet we would love DR students to do even better. Cohorts Freeman and Godwin have higher achievement!

Charting Software
Considering  SAT performance:
It is unlikley that re-testing alone will significantly  increase a student’s SAT score.  (Juniors taking the test again as seniors average only a 40 point gain.)

  • Increasing familiarity with the actual test and focusing on improving the skills tested can result in improved performances. That’s good news!
  • Many students find the writing portion easier than the reading portion. And that is good because the writing portion DOES matter — colleges receive those scores!
  • Research suggests students can improve their math scores more readily than they can improve their Critical Reading (English) scores.

Practicing for the test improves test results and reduces student anxiety.

SAT Strategies Specifically for Test Takers:

Difficult questions count the same as easy questions so a recommended strategy is to answer the easy questions first!  Generally speaking the easiest questions are at the beginning of each section.

It is better to answer every easy question than it is to answer all questions (as points are deducted for wrong answers.)

  • Regarding guessing,  if you are totally stumped, don’t guess! However if you can eliminate two of the answer options, go ahead and guess!
  • Numerous standardized test taking strategies apply to the SAT.  You can find many strategies described here.

In the actual test, be sure to keep track of your time and bubble your test carefully!

Most colleges combine the best SAT scores to get a composite for each student.

All DRHS 11th graders have free access to the SATOnline course — those students are typically enrolled in the course through their English 11 classes.

A wealth of information on the SAT  can be found in School Space > 2013 and 2014 Community Groups > PSAT, SAT and SATOnline folder.

Questions? Contact Mr. G. Metcalf at DRHS.

Straight from the Source: — here’s a Google Doc Overview (from
“Google Docs is an easy-to-use online word processor, spreadsheet and presentation editor that enables you and your students to create, store and share instantly and securely, and collaborate online in real time. You can create new documents from scratch or upload existing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.”

And there is much more to Google Apps than documents; users can share calendars, create forms (to gather data), and create webpages via Google Sites!

HCPS Specific Information:
Henrico County Public Schools has created Google Docs for all of its staff using the “domain.”
Every teacher now has access to Google Docs using their HCPS email user name (e.g., and a password.
For security sake, the default password protocol will not be revealed here. It will be revealed in face to face training.
Following this post online?  If you have found this site online, contact your ITRT for password information.

Google Docs works much better in Google Chrome (which is on HCPS laptops for secondary students and students. If you not in Chrome now, copy this post’s URL, launch Chrome and paste in the URL. (FYI, use the Star in Chrome to bookmark sites.)

HCPS staff members can log into HCPS Google Docs in two ways:
1) Go to (and then enter your HCPS email account user name and default password.)
2) Go to (and then enter your entire HCPS email address and the default password.)

Upon logging in, users will be prompted to change their password. Google Docs currently requires user passwords to be at least 8 characters long.
Eventually HCPS personnel will use their laptop user name and password to get into Google Apps (but we are not quite there yet!)

Some HCPS folks may have already created a personal Google Docs account using their HCPS email address as their user name; upon logging in those users will receive a warning from Google that their account has been taken over by the owner of the domain (yes, Henrico County itself!)  For more on what to do in that situation, check out this shared document:



October 8, 2012 Google Docs Session Agenda:
1A) Welcome, Information Regarding HCPS Google Apps Accounts, Logging In and a Brief  ‘Where Am I? 30 minutes
1B) Seek and Find An Elbow Partner – Find a ‘study buddy’ for this session now!
(We will be sharing documents in small teams. It is rare that everyone in a large group needs to edit the same document at the same time
—  and smaller groups should make the sharing experience easier and faster.)
1C) Logging In (Click this link!)
1D) This Doesn’t Look Like Kansas Anymore –
a brief tour of key parts of Google Docs.

2) Begin Exploring Google Doc Features (Small Team Choices!) 40 minutes

a) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs (specifically word processed documents) for powerful peer review purposes, explore the online Creating New Documents handout.  Then have one person in the team create a blank document, name it and then share it with the elbow partner (giving the other person ‘edit rights’) so both can edit it together.  Be sure to discover how to make a copy of the document and how to download a copy (e.g., as a Word document.)  Hint: check out the File menu!

Be sure that both team members open the collaboration screen using the Drop Down arrow on the far right.
(This screen is an integral part of Google Docs; it cannot be turned off!)

b) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs (specifically Presentations) as members of collaborative teams, investigate the handout on PPT2GoogleDocsAndBack . Then either follow the directions for making and uploading an existing PowerPoint presentation OR have one member of the team create a new presentation, name it and share it with the elbow partner (giving the other person ‘edit rights’) so both can edit it together.
Be sure you discover how to make a copy of this document and how to download a copy (e.g., as a PowerPoint document.)  Hint: check out the File menu!

Be sure that both team members open the collaboration screen using the Drop Down arrow on the far right.  (This screen is an integral part of Google Docs; it cannot be turned off!)

c) If you are interested in having students use Google Docs to submit their own data from labs and investigations (in order create a larger set of class data), explore this tutorial.
Then work together to make your own Google Form (e.g., for students to enter their height in centimeters, or to enter the mass of a known object.)  Forms filter data into a Google Doc spreadsheet that can be easily share and / or edited (and exported as an Excel file.)  Forms are easy and powerful and students do not have to have a Google Docs account in order to enter data on a form.

d) If you are interested in giving students read access to your online Google Docs calendar, follow the directions in this tutorial.

Direct Instruction – Step by Step Overview of the Topics Above  (60 mins)
Documents (focus on word processed documents and presentations), Forms and Calendars.
–  with Small Group Input, Dialog and Discussion

Things to Cover Beyond the Topics Above:
What are collections?

What’s Next?  Back at your school!
1) Creating Documents and Forms (if students don’t have accounts.)
2) Creating and Sharing Google Calendars
3) Working with students who have Google Doc Accounts

Ice Breaker > Please Take This Google Docs Assessment Confidence Survey!

You can view the survey results here:
Use the Form Menu > Show Summary of Responses to see group choices in graph form.

An Overview Article to Read –How Classroom Assessments Improve Learning

Introductions (and How Might We Do This Work?)
What Is Balanced Assessment Anyway?

Who is Rick Stiggins and What Does He Say?
Use this guide while watching the video > Assessments Of and For Learning

What Does Research Say About Formative Assessment?

Here’s An Article You Can Share: What a Difference A Word Makes!

Oh no, not another Power Point Presentation…
Here is the talking points file (the presented content is in the notes section of each slide!)

Background Info: In an effort to stress the importance of and increase fluency with the Henrico 21 scoring rubric for 21st Century lessons, each Deep Run teacher was asked to submit a detailed lesson plan of an activity or project they use with their students.  Additionally teachers were asked to submit evidence of student work from the lesson. To increase familiarity with the tools within School Space, a drop box was created allowing teachers to turn in lessons and artifacts electronically.

Once the lessons were received, they were read and rated by members of the school’s Henrico 21 Review team (consisting of DR administrators, school counselors, librarians,  two teachers – one a  previous 2010 H21 award winner, the activities director and the instructional technology resource teacher.)

Each lesson was rated on an absolute scale of 1 – 4 for the four domains of the H21 rubric (Research and Information Fluency, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration, and Creativity and Innovation.)  The numbers 1 – 4 correlate to Entry, Developing, Approaching and Target (measures of where the lesson is  on an integration continuum.)

After the lessons were scored (by  three to six readers,) the results were collated to  composite scores (the average for each of the four areas above.)  Teachers with the highest rated lessons across all four domains were encouraged to submit their plan and student artifacts to the county for further consideration.

Over 80 lessons were received from 98% of the Deep Run faculty. That is incredible!
We applaud the efforts and commitment of the entire faculty!   
Many teachers collaborated (hopefully) making implementation and documentation easier for all involved.
All teachers used the Drop Box feature of School Space to submit their lessons. Thank you for your patience!

We appreciate and value the ‘can do’ spirit in getting this difficult task accomplished!
Personally, the creativity of the lessons was the most pleasing part of the rating process.
A special shout out to Terra Balla, David Kern and Linda Maillet for inspired efforts on behalf of your students!

An analysis of all lessons reveals the following averages: 

Areas for improvement include Research & Information Fluency AND Communication & Collaboration. 
Evidence of quality student research was often missing or very vague in many lessons.  From previous surveys, this is not an area of concern for the teaching faculty yet the October 2010 Reflective Friends results, this collection of lessons and the resulting average above  indicate research and information fluency is an area of growth for DR students and teachers.  Additionally, students need to be communicating and collaborating with people beyond the walls of Deep Run.

Be sure to submit samples of student work!
Many lessons lessons were submitted without such samples.  (No lessons were recommended to go forward if they did not contain student work.)

Read and review the Henrico 21 Rubric as you evaluate your own lessson!
Although the rubric has flaws, it is the hand we are dealt.  In order to be Approaching in any category, the sub-bullets must be fulfilled (e.g., a lesson cannot be Approaching in Communication & Collaboration if students are not communicating beyond the classroom.)

Please take the Henrico 21 lesson submission process (as well as the emphasis on 21st Century lessons at Deep Run) seriously!
The process is not likely to go away.  The rubric will be updated for next year.  Complete your lessons during the first semester and retain artifacts!

Thanks for your time!



1) As much as possible, allow numerous opportunities for students to work in teams in your classroom

  • Notice the term is teams, not groups.  Rarely do students or teachers find value in group work.  Nearly everyone likes being on a team, especially being on a successful team!
  • So form, reform and (even) let student form teams throughout the school year!  Learning is social; we learn more from each other than we do by ourselves.
  • Working with teams – creating them, managing them, helping them be successful, and ultimately evaluating them –  is not easy.  Teachers need some resources; here’s a start:
  • Working on a team is not easy or natural.  Behavioral expectations (a k a ‘norms’) help a lot in keeping the experience positive and productive.  Consider these norms, create your own or even better – have your classes create them!

2) Practice Quality Questioning, that is let your students do most of the communicating within your class – following both your lead and your prompts.

  • Ask open ended questions and provide substantial ‘wait time’ for their responses and for your followup questions.
  • Diminish the use of hand raising protocols by encouraging all students to listen and think how they would respond. Then ask them for their answers and listen to their responses.  Make it a goal to talk to and with each student in your class.
  • Practicing Quality Questions techniques is not easy and it takes time to both learn new things and change established practices.  You can find additional resources on instructional questioning here.

3) Provide lots of opportunities for students to engage in metacognition – thinking about thinking.

Learning about learning provides a greater return on teaching time.  Students learn subject area content while learning about how people think.  It is important for young people to realize that as human beings, we can think about and improve our thinking practices.

4. Use the new Bloom’s taxonomy (with its shift toward verbs) in defining,  requiring  and evaluating student thinking. For a visual explanation of the new Bloom approach, go here

login screen for DRHS

We are now fully LIVE with Google Apps at Deep Run!

Teachers and students have the ability to create and share electronic calendars, documents and web sites with members of Deep Run and the global community.

These are exciting times!

Such powerful tools help students communicate and collaborate with their world in a decidedly 21st Century way! Promoting access to Google Apps is not without risk; yet this is an opportunity whose time has come!


What happens within DR GoogleDocs depends largely on the behavior of the Deep Run student body. Please show caution and maturity in how you use these online tools. Much more detailed info about DRHS Google Docs can be found in your graduation year community group in School Space.

 If you need help, see Mr. Metcalf (5003) or email him (grmetcal AT

Is the 2002 DRHS mission statement still valid when the majority of teachers who work here now didn’t create the original document?

Rhetorical yet important questions:
Are mission statements important?
Are we who we say we are?
How are we doing as a school?
How do we measure our successes and failures?
How can we continue to improve our practices and crafts to raise the level of student achievement?
Are we truly a learning organization?

Here is the mission statement — please read it and privately consider its meaning and relevance:

“”The Deep Run High School Community is dedicated to life-long learning, student success, and involvement in the total school program. We are committed to a supportive environment fostering compassion, citizenship, respect for others and school pride. All students will reach their potential through differentiated instruction, innovative practice, and the effective use of technology. Students, parents, staff and the community are partners in this mission.”

Impressive stuff, yet does the statement still speak to and for us? Exploring the many dimensions of that question is today’s task.

More rhetorical questions:
How can we help such a large group reflect and possibly change?
Does collaboration make a tough job a bit easier?
What would smaller teams teachers think?
And how can those smaller teams help the bigger team work effectively and efficiently?
Do we value teamwork?

    Screenshot of Intel Ranking Software
    Overview of today’s activity: The DRHS faculty has been divided into five groups – selected classroom teachers have been asked to facilitate this process.
    All 5 teams will use technology to ‘rank order’ the salient items within the mission statement as to their relative importance. Folks will need to work as a team and come to consensus. Then we can quickly compare the work of every team.

    A couple of  tips:

    When you explore the program, work in teams of two to help each other figure out how to use the program. 
    Feel free to talk about these items and what they mean to you. Probe, paraphrase, pause, advocate, inquire, communicate, collaborate!

    When your entire group works on the final list, spend less time on the actual number than on the relative location as you advocate and listen to friends within your team.

Items near the bottom of the list may need to be ‘voted off the island!’

The team facilitator will help people log into the Intel site (you’ll need the link a user name and password): Once there you and your partner will be able to move the items within the list and easily compare your team’s list to the other four teams of teachers. After folks explore the process, the facilitator –  or someone else in the group –  will make the final moves for the entire team.  (You’ll need a time keeper.)
Just as in the real world there are no easy answers…often it is just enough to be asking the tough questions. 

  1. Intel Rank Ordering Web Site (free — and fun to use with students and adults, you know who to see for more information):
    Actual URL is”

    For teacher name, enter DRHS
    For group user name, enter DRHS01, DRHS02, DRHS03, DRHS04 or DRHS05 depending on your group’s number.
    Your facilitator will give you the password (it won’t be revealed here on the web…)
    When in the site, click on Prioritizing DRHS Mission Statements August 2010 on the left, then start moving titles. You may have to be patient as you explore!

Want more information about communication and collaboration? Start here

Teaching is a Herculean task; there is always too much to cover in too little time. Some educational researchers have referred to this lack of time as the “180 day rule” — teachers have about 6 full months to cover their content. Pep rallies, assemblies, tornado drills, standardized testing, etc., further erode time away adding to the dilemma and stress.

So one question that teachers must answer (or at least pay heed to) is WHAT to cover — since something has to be left behind. Making choices of what to teach is a thorny issue in an age of high stakes testing where the measurement of what students have learned is frequently determined by their performance on ~ 40+ multiple choice questions. Thus teachers frequently stress over what to leave out; a fear being that content not taught will be included on the state tests.

Over the years, content areas have developed pacing guides on what SHOULD be covered in a certain amount of time. Yet there is still too much to be taught in the content guides in order to prepare students for the high stakes tests. As an aside, objective test taking itself is a skill that can be developed and learned. Often test taking is a measure of reading comprehension as much as it is a measure of learned content. That elephant in the corner of the room doesn’t help lower teacher and student anxiety.

Little of the above is news to a veteran teacher and even less of it is any consolation; there is little wonder about the high turnover of teachers, especially among those teachers with five or less years of experience. The profession is losing many teachers just as they become more skillful, more knowledgeable and more effective in going about their jobs.

Trying to cover so much content (e.g., four thousand years in World History I, 10 billion years in earth science) frequently results in a race to impart facts. Such teaching and learning is not particularly rewarding. So not only is the issue WHAT to cover but it is also HOW to cover the content.

Certainly greater content can be covered in direct lecture style of teaching; however such a delivery method results in burned out teachers and disinterested students. Researchers point to the need to engage learners in uncovering content wth the teacher assisting in the process. Such uncovering of the content takes even longer!

Additionally, there is now pressure on schools to make sure students are prepared for the world of work and/or for additional education. The current pressure is a focus on the development of 21st Century Skills; those skills are frequently expressed as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, and tecnological fluency.

There are no easy answers yet asking the questions and starting the discussion helps. “In these uncertain times, how students learn is more important than what they learn.” As usual your mileage may vary.