Tag Archives: EDSP6644

A Conversation with Mike Williams, Principal, Echo Glen School, Issaquah, WA

Background:  Echo Glen (EG) is a Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration (JRA) facility in Issaquah, WA.  Mike has been Principal there for approximately 6 years, after graduating from SPU as MAT class of 2003.  I posed some questions to Mike in e-mail and he was kind enough to respond not only to those, but also to some other questions I was able to ask via a phone call with him on 11/10/2010.

[John Weisenfeld]  Does Echo Glen (EG) has its own set of teachers that do instruction for the kids while they are there?
[Mike Williams] We are part of the Issaquah School District, so our teachers are actually ISD teachers and part of their union. We currently have 14 teachers in a variety of subjects.

[JW] Does EG have classrooms on site?  Or do they have to go somewhere else?
[MW]  The whole campus is the correctional facility, but unlike many, it’s not fenced in. We’re tucked back in the woods pretty far, so we don’t have many problems with AWOL or unwanted visitors. The residents live in what we call cottages – approximately 16 residents per cottage and there are 13 cottages on campus with only 9 in use at this time. The school buildings are also on site and the students walk up to school each morning. Cottage staff escort the students up and then pick them up at lunch and again at the end of the day. Some of our residents are Maximum Security (about 20 of them) and have 2 classrooms attached to those 2 cottages. Max students can transition to our upper campus school from Maximum Security School as their behavior improves and their sentences allow a less restrictive setting. Once residents get to Echo, they do not generally leave unless they have a court appearance or an off campus medical appointment that can’t be met here.

[JW]  What is the range of ages of the students?
[MW]  Our male residents range in age from 11 to 16 years of age. Our female residents range in age from 11 to 21. We’ve had residents as young as 9 or 10, but that is rare. The male residents go to Maple Lane or Green Hill as they get older. Maple is scheduled to close in the next year or two as a result of budget reductions and reduced enrollment.

[JW]  How many students are there?
[MW] Currently, we have 144, but that changes daily. Students parole and leave, but then are replaced by new or returning students. During my tenure as principal, we’ve had enrollment as high a 192 and as low as 118. Our average for this year is projected to be 133, but JRA has a difficult time making accurate projections as there is never any clear indication as to how many students will be incarcerated over the course of the year.

[JW]  What is a typical school day look like?
[MW]  As much like any other school as we can, but with several differences – probably too many to list, but I’ll try to point out the more significant ones. Our class sizes don’t exceed 11 students. We have 2 mental health classes (one boys and on girls (these do not exceed 9 students and also have a staff escort throughout the school day. Students arrive to school at 7:50 and are released by security via a radio transmission to their first period class. Staff and teachers supervise the walkways while students go to their classes. Between class periods, there is a passing time (2 minutes) and students travel between classes much like a regular school. Attendance is critical and gets called into the office every period – we know where every student is every minute of the day. This is absolutely critical as you can imagine and something we do very well. Teachers have a common planning time and lunch. The students return to their cottages for lunch and then come back up to school for afternoon classes. The school day ends at 2:20 and the teachers are her until 3:00. Wednesdays are a half day ending at 11:23 and the teachers have planning time for the remainder of the day – we follow the same calendar and scheduling routines as the Issaquah School District with the exception of a 40 day summer school. We also use the Wednesday afternoon time for staff development and team meetings.

[JW]  According to the WAC I assume that students there take the same standardized tests, etc.?
[MW]  Yes, we administer the HSPE and MSP – in the middle of DAPE’s currently. It’s a bit of a challenge with grades 5 or 6 through 12, but we manage.

[JW]  Do teachers that get contracted to work at EG have particular credentials in special ed, or child psychology, or…?
[MW]  Much like any other school, they are required to be Highly Qualified in the area of instruction that they are teaching. Our population ranges from 45% to 55% sp. education, so several of our teachers our sp. ed. endorsed along with a content area endorsement. We are also able to have teachers with a K-8 general ed. endorsement based on the age of the students we serve. We have a school psychologist who is dual certified – counseling and psychology. Our School staff represent 24 people (That’s including myself, School Psych, Office Secretaries (2), Librarian/Tech Specialist, 14 Teachers, 5 Educational Assistants, and a Part Time SLP.

[MW]That’s the school side of things in a nutshell. The state (DSHS/JRA) actually owns/operates the facility and the ISD is contracted to provide the educational services. The state (DSHS/JRA) is responsible for security, treatment/rehabilitation programs, medical needs, dental needs, and general welfare of the residents 24/7/365. The facility has a Superintendent, several Associate Superintendents, Maintenance Department, Food Service Dept., Cottage Staff, Intake Staff, Support staff, Security, Recreation, Treatment consultants, Contracted Psychiatry and others I’m sure I’m forgetting – quite the operation.

following is my recollection of the phone call and Mike’s replies may not be verbatim.

[JW]  So you get residents from all over King County?
[MW]  Actually from all over the state.

[JW]  Is it hard to get teachers to work at EG?
[MW]  There is very little turnover in staff at EG.  I am still one of the newest people here after my 6 years.

[JW]  So it sounds like teaching positions there are in high demand?
[MW]  That’s correct, there is a waiting list to get to work here.

[JW]  What are the opportunities for students/graduates?
[MW]  We work with communities to place students in transitional educational or vocational positions after they serve their sentence.  Many can work on food handlers license at EG, which gives them some opportunities,  others may need to work on GED, if their credits are lacking.

[JW]  What is the recidivism rate like?
[MW]  Actually that is a discouraging thing, we find that some of our students actually commit minor crimes in order to be placed back here.  They actually are   smiling during their intake photos the second time.  On the other hand that is a credit to us that this environment is safe for them.

[JW]  So it sounds like students might actually do better here than in their usual environments.
[MW]  That is the sad truth, it turns out that many of our clients have come from rough backgrounds where, for example they didn’t have a safe place to sleep, 3 square meals a day, and an environment of adults that really cared about them.  Granted that each one has done something wrong for them to be here, but the interesting question is how much of that is environmental influence and how much is innate.

[JW]  How are your classrooms outfitted with respect to computers, science, and math instruction.
[MW]  Although we are attached to a relatively resource-rich school district here in Issaquah, we still don’t have such things like Smart Boards.  Our science education could also be improved beyond the current botany that we offer.

[JW]  How is the food?
[MW]  Ahh, no comment, but I can say that most staff brown-bag it!

Thanks again to Mike for allowing me to pepper him with questions.  For more information on JRA or Institutional Instruction see OSPI web page.

Microsoft OneNote and BlackBoard Online Course: Anatomy of a Module

My last post did a brief overview of using OneNote as a tool to interact with an online course program called BlackBoard.  Here’s some step-by-step of the three concepts I outlined there.

First I captured the online discussion question of the week into OneNote and started drafting my own response to that question on that OneNote page.


Next I captured a screen shot of the BlackBoard page for that module where I can check things off as I download, read, and otherwise interact with.


Since there is a PowerPoint presentation in this module, I download that and then print it back to OneNote so that I can annotate it or otherwise mark it up as I read it.  Note that in the below screenshot, I am also *searching* that whole document (for grandin) using the search box in the upper right corner.  When you print into OneNote it indexes the text that it can identify from the printout/screenshot so that you can search.  This is an amazing piece of functionality!


When I drill down into the Articles folder in our course documents this week, I find some more items to read.  I again insert a screen shot of those items which I can again check off as I work through them.  In this case, I can take the article as it opens in BlackBoard and “print” it via “Send to OneNote 2010” so that it winds up in my notebook ready for me to read/use without having to save or otherwise store somewhere.


When I insert a paper into OneNote, usually a PDF, as a best practice I create a title that is the APA citation for that document, and then commence with highlighting.  Here’s an example:


For forms, assessments and quizzes in BlackBoard I use my browser’s print preview function to get that content “printed” into OneNote, where I can document my thinking or progress toward completion of that item.  Below, in red, I am drafting my response to that question, which I will copy and paste back to BlackBoard.


Finally since a major component of the online coursework is the discussion forum, I use the same technique on a BlackBoard Collection view:

1.  Print preview…
2.  Print (Send to OneNote)

To capture all the posts to the discussion forum so that I have a personal archive outside of BlackBoard, i.e. available offline, which is searchable and highlightable.  Here’s a sample:


Microsoft OneNote (for PC only) and Online Courses

I wanted to document how I’ve been using Microsoft OneNote in my online course.  Note that this post is on relevant experience during my first online course, so I may be refining my approach further, but here’s where it stands at the current time.

OneNote is a full member of all Office 2010 suites and is billed to be “one centralized resource for all of your ideas”.  Think of it as an electronic notebook, where you can jot down notes, scribble ideas/drawings, and insert other media.

OneNote is best used these days with a Windows Live ID, so that notebooks you create on one computer can be saved online.  This allows you to see one notebook on two or more PCs.  For me I have my online course notebook synchronized on both my home PC and my laptop at all times.  For example, here’s how my course looks right now for my EDSP6644 Notebook with tabs for every week, and the green sync indicator says this whole Notebook is “Up-to-date”


I should also say that if my PCs crash, that there is a copy of my notebook on the web, that I can get to if I need it.  For those of you familiar with Google docs, this is similar, except OneNote is a rich client that is storing a web version all the time.  Of course, since my notebook is synchronized across PCs there is also a version on the web.  And Microsoft also has a web-client version of OneNote, so here’s how my notebook looks on my Skydrive (office.live.com)


All that to say that the notes or documents you are studying can be available from any PC you are working on, and especially on the internet via a browser.

But let’s dig into how I am using OneNote for EDSP6644, an online course in the Autumn 2010 quarter at Seattle Pacific University.  SPU uses a system called Blackboard for online courses.  Each course has weekly activities that must be completed online.  Blackboard does *not* have a rich client, so you must be online and signed into the Blackboard web site to interact, however, you can use OneNote to store and stage the information you are respectively receiving and sending to Blackboard.

Let’s do an overview of OneNote and Blackboard high level concepts in this post and in a follow-up post I will dig into a module and do some detailed interaction.

Concept #1 Get It From Blackboard Into OneNote

OneNote has the ability to insert screen shots, web pages, documents, and printouts of documents into your virtual notebook on OneNote.  In the picture above, for instance, I capture a screenshot of the course documents page in BlackBoard each week to make sure nothing has been added to that page that I have missed since last time.

In the following picture, I have inserted the syllabus from the course as a file, and also a printout of the file to this page in my OneNote notebook.  Also note that there is a virtual highlighter in OneNote so that yellow scribble is some information which I have highlighted on this page.


The same can be done with PowerPoint files, PDFs of papers, etc.

Concept #2 Work On The Documents in OneNote

Each week for this course there is a quiz.  Since you can view the quiz in BlackBoard before committing or saving your answers, I can print the quiz to OneNote and work on it at my own pace taking notes before I go back to BlackBoard and enter my answers.  Here’s a sample below, where I have highlighted my answers, circled my choice or entered the letters for a matching question that I think are right.


Concept #3 Get the Information from OneNote back to BlackBoard

For a recent mid-term I copied and pasted the question into a OneNote page, and then was able to draft up my answer in OneNote and fine-tune until I was ready to paste it back to BlackBoard.  The benefit of this approach is that you don’t need to be on the internet signed in to BlackBoard during the creative or authoring process.  However, you notes are there and being saved across your machines for future reference.  Here’s a screenshot of what this might look like.


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