September 23, 2019

Every year all over the country, teachers are creating meaningful lessons that engage students in learning so that students master the basic standards outlined by state departments of education.  These standards are pretty consistent state to state. The standards represent skills that are deemed necessary for all students to learn in order to master the curriculum in each content area.   

With the busy schedules of families growing busier over the last several years, often times completing assignments at home is difficult. Common practice in schools is to give students zeros on assignments that are not turned in or to reduce the points a student can earn if an assignment is turned in late. Two issues arise with these practices. First, if the assignment was a meaningful assignment that the student needed to complete in order to master the standard, and the student does not do the assignment, then the student is not acquiring a necessary skill. Secondly, if a student receives a lower grade on an assignment due to turning it in late, the student is being graded on behavior instead of skill. Therefore, the grade is not a true reflection of what the student knows.

Eight years ago, the middle school staff determined if an assignment was important enough to assign, students would not have the option to opt out of doing the assignment. The mind shift went from a student earning or not earning points to that of students learning the standards.  

Recently, several middle school staff have been reading a series of books by Danny Hill. One of these books is called “The Power of ICU”. The teachers realized the book totally aligns with what the collective body of teachers has been trying to accomplish over the last several years of having all students complete all assignments. Upon reading the books, it was discovered that a database had been created that would help teachers keep track of which assignments students are missing.  

If a student does not complete an assignment or does not complete it to the expectation of the teacher, then the student goes on the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) list. A text and email are immediately sent to the parent so the parent is aware there is a missing assignment. As soon as the student completes the assignment and is taken off the list, the parent is notified of that as well.  

One point of emphasis with ICU is students have support from every staff member at school because everyone can see the ICU list. Teachers are learning to ask students specific questions like: “What is owed?”  and “Who do you owe the assignment to?” Then the follow up is, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?”

The middle school staff volunteered to implement The “Power of ICU” this year as a pilot program. The leadership and staff at the middle school are committed to doing everything possible to ensure students learn the standards set forth by DESE (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education) as necessary skills each student should master.  “The Power of ICU” and the ICU database are two tools that support teachers in their efforts to make certain that all students learn at high levels. We look forward to realizing the positive student outcomes of “The Power of ICU”.