October 16, 2018 Greenwood is Accredited! What now?
A very happy mid-October day to you all! I’m truly sorry that it has been a couple of weeks since I’ve published something here on the site, but some great things have been happening here at Greenwood!
Last week, Greenwood successfully completed our 5-year evaluation from the Florida Council of Independent Schools, and I am pleased to report that Greenwood has retained our accreditation status. The evaluation team was highly impressed by the organization of our programs, the safety of the campus, the calmness and kindness evident in the learning environment, the skill and dedication of our faculty, and the enthusiasm and achievement of our students! We have a few areas in which we will continue to work on improving—communication, growth, long-term planning, and integration of technology—but those are areas that I’ve previously discussed with you our plans, and we simply need to continue to make them reality. I’ll continue to keep everyone informed of plans and their progress!
Areas that particularly impressed the evaluation committee included: a commitment by all constituents to the School’s mission; our thorough, practical, and valuable Environmental Education program; and, our school-wide commitment to improving opportunities for our students to hone their academic writing skills.
Improving the frequency and quality of writing opportunities is a direct goal in the School’s Continuous Improvement Plan, which I’ve explained in earlier posts on this blog—and believe me, I know that it is a frightening and audacious goal for some of our students sometimes—but it is a vital skill that is lacking nationwide and Greenwood students are making marvelous progress in yet another area that they stand out positively amongst their peers! I just reviewed our 2018 graduates’ ACT performance summary report this morning, and noted that they are on par with statewide averages for college readiness in the area of English Composition. While thanking our 11th-12th grade English and Literature faculty for their efforts in this regard, I asked her to contribute some thoughts about why it is so important for us to apply an emphasis on academic writing throughout the School:
“Writing is a gateway to students’ emerging role in our nation’s future as participants and decision makers in a democratic society” (National Writing Project & Nagin, 2012, p. 104).
Several parents have expressed concern about the amount of writing in classes such as science and history.
Nationwide, only 25% of students meet college readiness benchmarks for writing skills. This is cause for concern as college classes require students to write in-depth essay questions in all disciplines.
As our school provides a standard diploma and we also encourage students to seek higher education, the frequency of opportunities to practice academic writing proficiency will be an area of increased focus at Greenwood. Greenwood School encourages writing across the curriculum, especially as the students get into higher level classes.
Simply put, the best way to find out how much our students comprehend is to have them write. Writing shows teachers that students can evaluate, analyze, inform, explore, reflect, provide and discuss examples and figure out cause and effect relationships. Multiple choice, matching, and true/false tests do not provide this information in any degree of depth. The best way to improve student writing is to have them write more often.
Here are some suggestions to help: Talk to your student about what is going on in the world. Ask questions (What is your favorite video game? Movie?). Encourage your student to provide examples and explain how they fit the point. Watch a TV program together and talk about it. Does the situation remind them of anything? The characters?
Even if your student does not currently desire or plan to attend college, the increase in writing skills will help them to clarify thinking and expression. Every career and industry requires people to communicate clearly!
National Writing Project, & Nagin, C. (2012). Because writing matters: Improving student writing in our schools. 2nd ed. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.