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Cascade Matters is the blog of Cascade Educational Consultants. Cascade has extensive experience in policy development, advocacy, education reform, youth leadership, teaching and learning strategies, education collaborations and civic development. We are committed to ensuring schools create and sustain quality teaching and learning environments for all students to be successful in school and contribute to their communities as active principled citizens. Learn more about us.

Cascade Educational Consultants is an educational consulting firm committed to high-quality equitable teaching, learning and serving environments for all students to succeed in school and in life. Click here to learn more about our services...




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Exit is an Option

In the modern economy and in most communities in history, organizations depend on collaborative partners to be successful. Even entrepreneurs and artists, who rely on innovation and creativity and are often independent operators, need partners to assist in design, production, distribution and marketing. And, in an era of specialization and customization, nobody does it all (at least not well).There
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Principal Leadership for Social Inclusion

I recently co-facilitated a webinar sponsored by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) titled Social Inclusion: An Opportunity for Principal Leadership. My co-facilitators included Steven Bebee, principal Cactus Shadows High School (AZ), Bill Schreiber, principal Granite Falls Middle School (NC) and Barbara Oswald, Special Olympics South Carolina.It was a privilege to share
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Differentiated Parent Engagement

Educators are familiar with differentiated instruction concepts and strategies; basically it refers to teacher’s understanding of students’ experiences, preferences and best options for learning and developing. Corresponding strategies include observations, frequent assessments, recognition of each student’s attributes, creating active learning environments and providing choices.Given
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Curious About Curiosity

Over the past week, three resources focusing on curiosity crossed my desk. First, an article in Psychology Today by my friend Jonathan Wai titled “Seven Ways to Be More Curious.” Second, a Phi Beta Kappa Society “Learning for All of Life” series asked the question, is your curiosity unleashed?” And, a third article by Brian Gresko titled, “7 Ways to Feed Your
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Choices

This summer, I have heard many parents, guardians, family members and friends asking young people, “What would you like to do?” The assumption is that there are many options for summer activities and that if youth make the choice they will be more motivated to engage in the activity.Giving youth choices gives them ownership and allows them to enjoy the activities and overcome challenges
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The Sole of Change

Over the past year I have walked over 1,300 miles in the same running/walking shoes. So, now it is time to buy a new pair.I am attached to my current shoes and they seem to understand my feet, my direction and my speed providing an incredibly comfortable feeling.When I “break in” my new shoes I will not wear both as the same time, rather I intend to wear one of my older shoes and one of
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Early Warning Systems: A Different Application

One of the strategies implemented by dropout prevention programs is an early warning system that schools can use to identify students at highest risk of dropout.These early warning systems analyze information on several student factors (e.g., attendance and course performance) and corresponding indicators (e.g., absences, grade point average and credits earned). The earlier these factors/indicators
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The Wisdom of Leaders

I had the privilege of being with a group of national leaders last week addressing complex issues such as shared leadership, strategic planning, capacity-building, equity, inclusion and organizational climate.Uniquely these leaders committed to and nurtured a safe, engaging and collaborative environment for deliberations and decision-making. In addition to addressing these complex issues they co-facilitated
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The State of Connectivity

I am on the road frequently. Invariably, whether in the airport, in transit, in meetings or in my hotel one of my first questions is, “How good is the Wi-Fi connection?”The quality of Wi-Fi determines how well I can share information, strategies and analysis from my interactions as well as stay current with colleagues.I am sure I am not alone in seeking quality Wi-Fi connectivity to effectively
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Life Lessons of the Barber Shop

My father was a barber. He opened the U.S. House of Representatives Barber Shop in Washington, D.C. As a youth, this provided me an opportunity to visit with him and legislators often.I remember the interactions among the barbers and the legislators and legislator-to-legislator exchanges. As I remember them, these conversations were more about friendships than opposing political views. They were more
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I Would Not Change

I recently heard about a study of 95 year olds asking the question: "If you could go back and live your life differently, what would you change?"Here is a summary of the responses:I would have reflected more. I don't think any of us do enough of this. We're too busy. We're too scared. We're too satisfied with our current situations and productions.I would have risked more. Man, I'm gonna be a risk
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Nine Tips for New School Leaders

I recently visited West Tallahatchie School District in Webb, Mississippi. I asked the new Superintendent, Darron Edwards, who has been on the job for just seven months, what advice he has for new superintendents to be successful. Here is what Dr. Edwards shared with me:Be strategicPace yourself – do not do everything at onceBuild trustFrequently engage with a mentorEnsure open communicationsTake
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The Genius Bar in Schools: Students

We are all familiar with the Apple Store Genius Bar where specially trained and certified “geniuses” offer help and support for Apple products and services. They offer personal support when customers have problems or questions about their Apple products.Wondering how we can apply the concept of the Genius Bar to schools I Googled “genius bars in schools” and found 5,240,000
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Socially Inclusive Schools Benefit All Students

Through my work with Special Olympics Project UNIFY, I recently had the privilege of visiting elementary, middle and high schools throughout the nation. I was able to see how they integrate social inclusion and the impact they make on all students. The corresponding Social Inclusion Lessons From the Field report can be found by clicking here.One of the unique characteristics of Special Olympics Project
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Learning From Students Part 3: Implications

The following is the third of three blogs reporting on a new protocol used to interact with and collect and analyze data from students about their school experiences. In the first blog the new protocol examined how we engaged four junior high schools and a teacher on a day’s visit throughout the City of Prague; seeing the city through the eyes of the students and engaging them in conversations
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Learning From Students Part 2: The Results

The following is the second of three blogs reporting on a new protocol used to interact with and collect and analyze data from students about their school experiences. The new protocol engages four junior high schools and a teacher on a day’s visit throughout the Prague; seeing the capital city through the eyes of the students and engaging them in conversations about their school experiences.The
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Learning From Students Part 1: A New Protocol

The following is the first of three blogs reporting on a new protocol used to interact with and collect and analyze data from students about their school experiences.Over the past decade I co-created and implemented several national and international case study or school visit protocols to examine students’ school experiences. The content of these initiatives included civic learning, student
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10 Stretch Questions

During a recent keynote address Tim Shriver, Special Olympics International Chairman of the Board, encouraged each of the 800 Special Olympics North America Meeting participants to consider a set of stretch questions.I was intrigued with the concept of a question that can stretch my thinking, my conceptual frameworks and possibly my actions. It got me to thinking about how we should incorporate stretch
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Assign, Align, Adjust

Some years ago, a colleague talked to me about her use of the “Three A’s” strategy: assign, align and adjust. She shared that her father, a football coach, taught her these three simple ways to be strategic.Recently, I have been reflecting on this framework and its application to education reform. Could education reform be this simple: to assign responsibilities, align responsibilities
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Tell Me I Am Wrong

On a local sports radio station there is a daily segment titled “Tell Me I am Wrong.” Callers, texters and/or e-mailers send in a statement that begins, “Tell me I am wrong.” The listener makes a statement that she or he believes is correct. Here’s an example, “Tell me I am wrong, but football has replaced baseball as America’s national past time.”
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Action Steps: Cards vs. Screens

As a session adjourned at a recent international online student summit, I saw many adults sharing their business cards. By contrast, the youth participants connected by sharing the screen on their smartphone, tablet or computer.It became clear to me that business cards are slowly but surely going out of style. They are being replaced by electronic means such as exchanging email addresses or Twitter
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Looking Back, Looking Good and Looking Forward

After 49 years, I recently had the opportunity of returning to my old high school in Chandler, Arizona.Many things seemed to have remained the same. The building appearance, the familiar courtyard in the center of the school, similar bulletin boards and similar class schedules. Some things were no longer there, for example the catwalk that once connected the buildings, the large auditorium at the
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From Survival to Success: 7 Critical Skills

A colleague recently shared a story of a young man who said where he comes from prepares him with certain survival skills. This got me to thinking about the skills our students gain from their formal education experiences. Current national, state and local education conversations about student competencies tend to focus on academic achievement rather than skill development. However, there are alternative
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Aspirations and Inspiration

I frequently hear references to student aspirations and teacher inspiration. These are two great concepts. However, I think there is a striking imbalance between them.Student aspirations focus on the attainment or accomplishment of a specific goal. For example, high school graduation, college acceptance and securing a job. Teacher inspiration focuses on influencing students to do their best and strive
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10 Recommendations for Implementing School Climate Reform in Schools

School climate, the quality and character of schools, affects the life and learning of students. Research shows that school climate matters and sustained positive school climate is associated with positive youth development, effective risk prevention and health promotion, reduced bullying and harassment behavior, greater student self-knowledge and reflection, increased cultural awareness, student
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Supporting Student Development

Recently, a friend shared a set of responses New York City students provided to the following prompt: “What I need from my teachers to succeed is...”Here are a few of their responses:AttentionCaringIndividual timeAbility to ask questions privatelyIf I tell a teacher about a need I have, I expect them to follow-upWork better in small groupsChallenge meSlow down! What is the rush?Leave time
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Questions

One way we measure students’ knowledge and skills is to ask them questions. Tests, reports, presentations and reflections are common ways we encourage students to answer questions to assess their knowledge and abilities.Are we asking the right questions? Most questions we ask have a right or wrong answer; but what if we asked questions that had multiple correct answers. For example, what if
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Five Ways to Effectively Engage Students

As I talk to district and school leaders one of their major concerns is how to effectively engage students. Strong school leaders understand that an engaged student leads to positive behavior and student development. To answer the most-often asked question “how do we effectively engage students” I offer the following five strategies:Focus on all students to ensure equitable opportunities
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Voice: A Starting Point Not The Destination

Over the past year I have seen many advocates for education and social change focus on their voice being heard in national, state and local conversations. Once they have the opportunity to voice their opinion, share their insights and recommend strategies they feel successful, as their voice has been heard.This is a great first step rather than final step in advocacy. Yes, we need to share our voice
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Where Do We Look for Leadership?

There is a striking exchange in the 1995 Michael Douglas movie, “The American President.” There is a crisis in the White House and a member of the fictional President’s staff says, “People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They’re so thirsty for it,
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Reconnecting Civic Engagement

I clearly remember working with the Education Commission of the States in 2000. We released a report titled, “Every Student A Citizen”. It encouraged increased civic education in schools through curriculum, effective practices, school climate and policy support. This week's Gallup poll, "What Americans said about public schools" only serves to reinforce our work in 2000.Here’s what
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11 Things I Learned From My Grandchildren

In 2009, I wrote about the lessons that I learned from my grandchildren. Those lessons were published in Sam Chaltain’s book Faces of Learning. At that time, my grandchildren were two and four years old. Today, they are five and seven and they continue to teach me a variety of lessons. Here are the major lessons they have taught me.Love is unconditional; even small indiscretions and re-directions
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How Do We Define Ourselves?

It is absolutely critical as schools balance their focus on student knowledge and skills, that they do so within a safe, high quality and inclusive environment consistent with our nation’s democratic principles. Such a school climate combined with engaging teaching and learning strategies more effectively leads to student academic, social emotional and civic development. This is concept is reflected
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School and Community Engagement

At a nearby elementary school, third-graders eagerly await a bus full of senior citizens to continue their lessons on how to surf the web and send e-mails to their peers and family. Twice a week, these “tech tutors” engage with their older partners from the local senior center to increase their technology knowledge and skills.The collaboration between the local school and senior center
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Liberty is a Participatory Sport

Recently, I visited New York City with my four and six year old grandchildren. They were most excited about a visit to the Statue of Liberty. We arrived late at night and they both wondered aloud when they would be going to see the Statue of Liberty. The next day, we were at the top of the Empire State Building. They looked at the Statue of Liberty in the distance and told everyone within earshot that
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Where is the Outrage?

In the world of education there is a current stream of outrage concerning the cheating scandal in Atlanta Public Schools. How dare administrators allow or encourage changing students’ responses on tests? How dare teachers participate in such activities that do not accurately reflect students’ competencies? How dare a system create a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation?How dare
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Recalibration

Recalibration has become a popular term in our society over the past few years and reflects the reality of the constant and the increasingly rapid state of change in our society. Perhaps the most familiar recalibration for many of us is our GPS system as it recalibrates us toward our predetermined destination. I am amazed at how easily we follow the orders of the GPS system and rarely question its
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The Case for Intuition, Motivation and Engagement

As a daily reader of many newspapers and education briefs I have been fascinated with stories that focus on school success. What recently impresses me is that the issues and strategies oft-mentioned in these stories of success are not standards, testing or even accountability but rather arts, motivation, engaging students, skill-building, play-based education, exercise programs and even a story of
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Why Not A Century of Youth?

The United Nations has designated August 2010-11 as the International Year of Youth, subtitled Our Youth Our Voice.According to the United Nations web site, “The International Year is about advancing the full and effective participation of youth in all aspects of society. We encourage all sectors of society to work in partnership with youth and youth organizations to better understand their needs
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A New Vision for School Reform: Where Are the Students?

In a recent article [link] Pedro Noguera, calls for a new vision of school reform stating: “change in education cannot be implemented on a piecemeal basis. The administration needs a new vision; one rooted in the recognition that schools must provide equal opportunity for all children to learn if the schools are to fulfill their vital role as the cornerstone of our democracy.”Well, here
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Paralympic Experience

Last week I had the opportunity to go back to my Alma Mater the University of British Columbia and attend a Paralympics hockey game between the Czech Republic and Korea for fifth and seventh place in the 2010 Winter Paralympics in Vancouver Canada.As a hockey fan I am always eager to attend any hockey game but was ill-prepared for the set of emotions I experienced at this particular game. Fortunately
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We will not stop until: it’s all about relationships

My colleague Dr. Shelly Berman, superintendent Jefferson County Public Schools (KY), co-created a wonderful document expressing what the district considers indicators of success. Click here to grab the PDF.My colleagues and I use this document in various professional development sessions as an initial activity; where we ask each participant to select one of the statements and introduce themselves by
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Youth Activation

I looked around the room and saw young people who are members of the Special Olympic Youth Activation Committee. They are leading a national social justice movement to create opportunities for al youth to engage in positive change to the benefit of all of us.The youth were making decisions about the sessions that will be offered for over 200 youth in July at the Special Olympics Project UNIFY Youth
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Youth Are Youth and Schools Are Schools

Recently my colleague Anderson Williams and I conducted a set of professional development workshops in Port of Spain, Trinidad sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Municipalities and Ministry of Sport focused on student engagement and leadership.We worked with a great cadre of teachers and school leaders assisting them to enhance their student engagement and leadership knowledge and
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Service-Learning Professional Development For Administrators

America’s Promise Alliance is tackling the national dropout dilemma by going directly to communities where the needs and opportunities are greatest. Building on momentum generated by the Dropout Prevention Initiative, America’s Promise is building new, scalable frameworks for intensive, collaborative action that changes lives of children at risk by bringing the following five promises into
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Climate Is Not Just About the Weather

As the summer season continues to sizzle in some areas and storms persist in others, the concept of climate seems to be only about the weather. As we all know, the weather is an uncontrollable variable. But what about a variable that is controllable and important to our nation, school climate?I had the opportunity last week to be part of an institute at US Department of Education Office of Safe and
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Hope, Engagement and Well-Being

A couple of weeks ago I attended a meeting co-sponsored by America’s Promise, the Association of School Administrators (AASA) and Gallup. The purpose of the meeting was to release and discuss findings of a recent Gallup poll asking young people their current sense of hope, engagement and well-being.The results of the Gallup Student Poll indicated that 50% of youth respondents were hopeful, 50%
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Voice vs. Echo

Over the past few weeks I have traveled to New York City, NY; Nashville, TN; Washington, DC; and Jackson, MS and consistently heard education leaders mention the importance of "youth engagement."It seems that there is recognition among key education stakeholders that for the next generation of citizens to be critical decision-makers, effective communicators, ethical and moral workers, good family members
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Youth Leadership and Advocacy

Spread the Word to End the Word 03.31.09, is an international campaign designed and implemented by young people throughout the world to eliminate the use of the R-Word.The following is from the Special Olympics web site.How It StartedCreated by young people with and without intellectual disabilities, Spread the Word to End the Word is one element of Special Olympics’ vision of a world where everyone
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