How our Chromebook initiative is changing teaching and learning
This week eighth graders at Sunrise Middle School received Chomebook personal computers. Our Sunrise students and teachers are our "pioneers", as we gradually expand the grade levels which will have computers assigned to individual student use and care.
Much is written about "one to one" initiatives, but school districts approach planning, training, and distribution uniquely. Our approach has been to lay a firm foundation of training and experience, so once the computers are in the hands of students the classroom dynamic will change and will have a powerful positive effect on accelerating learning. To this point, teachers have had access to "classroom sets" of computers, so teachers and students have shared with many other classrooms.
This year we have expanded the number of computers for instructional use at both elementary and secondary schools, and are phasing in the "one to one" initiative slowly. Central Middle students will receive computers later this fall. Next year additional grades will receive computers.
What is different in these Sunrise eighth grade classes after one week?
First, learning is accelerated. Students have access to the teacher outside of class. Explains one student, "When I have a question I email my teacher. She sends me an email back so I know what to do and get my homework done. A teacher explains "we save 10 or 15 minutes at the beginning of class - students know the assignment and can get right to work".
Secondly, learning is more personalized. A math teacher describes a difference: "When I was the only one in the room with a computer I demonstrated graphing of equations by varying the numbers so the students could visualize how the slope of the line would change. Now each student can change the variables and see effects on the line." In a science class all students are actively engaged in a lesson, all offering probing scientific questions which other students can see and react to. A difference? In classroom discussion only one student can talk at a time. When all are offering their thoughts to the class using a common program, all are engaged.
Third, teachers and students are learning together. A teacher describes her excitement about learning (from a student) a new shortcut for moving data within a familiar software. Demonstrating what she learned, she asks, "How many of you knew how to do this?" She looks around and laughs, seeing nearly every hand raised. Usually the teacher leads and directs the class, but at other times students will share discoveries with class and teacher.
Fourth, students and staff alike are excited and appreciative of the opportunity to be our pioneers. Pictures will show better than words can describe. Please watch this video of week one!
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools
In Photos: Chromebook Kickoff, Boot Camp, and Amazing Race
Sunrise Park Middle School eighth graders received Chromebooks at a 1:1 Kickoff event on September 15. During the afternoon event, the students attended a program in which they learned why the district had chosen Chromebooks, went over the expectations of using the technology, and "donated" the current eighth grade Chromebook cart to the seventh grade.
Aside from the fun of kicking off the new initiative, a few surprise elements kept the students engaged. One lucky student was chosen to receive the first Chromebook - complete with a red carpet, balloons, and the Chromebook "gift" delivered by Principal Bob McDowell.
After the event, the students headed to seventh hour, where they all received their Chromebooks and instructions in preparation for the "Chromebook Boot Camp" they participated in on the following day.
Tuesday's all-day Boot Camp had students moving through their seven-period day, while their teachers covered various important topics related to the Chromebooks.
On Wednesday, students worked in groups during their science class to complete the Chromebook Amazing Race. This rigorous activity was designed so students would be able to apply the skills that they learned in Tuesday's Chromebook Boot Camp training. Students became familiar with a handful of online tools including Google Drive, Google Maps Engine, webcams and YouTube as they raced to complete the challenge.
Sunrise eighth graders are the first group to receive the Chromebooks. Central Middle School eighth graders will receive the books later this fall. The initiative is part of the district's overall K-12 technology integration plan and will expand as students progress throughout their school experience.
Our teachers, students, and community members are honored and give honors many times throughout the year. The past few weeks were filled with honor ceremonies and experiences.
First, on September 11 at Vadnais Heights Elementary, students and staff wore red, white, and blue colors in honor of Patriot Day, to remember the attacks 13 years ago. In addition, the school assembled at the end of the day and kicked off their new P.E.A.C.E. school theme. Watch the first 62.4-second update in the section below to see clips from the assembly!
Another form of honor was given to Carol Hultman in her admittance to the selective STEM Fellowship. This past summer, Hultman, science and math teacher at WBLAS Central Middle School, participated in the prestigious STEM Fellowship - a professional development opportunity sponsored by the Siemens Foundation and administered by Discovery Education and Oak Ridge Associated Universities.
Siemens accepted only 50 educators throughout the United States to this all-expense-paid fellowship hosted at the world headquarters of Discovery Communications - just outside of Washington D.C. During the week of August 3-8, Hultman and her colleagues learned how to integrate real-world and hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts into their everyday classroom instruction.
Hultman took part in several sessions on topics such as flipped teaching and learning methods, the importance of learning communities for educators and students, digital storytelling, project based learning, and national data about STEM education. Guest speakers at the STEM Institute included education pioneer Dr. Lodge McCammon, and the star astrophysicist of Science Channel's Outrageous Acts of Science - Dr. Hakeem M. Oluseyi.
"STEM stands for Students Teachers Energizing Minds! A hearty thank you to the Siemens STEM Institute for introducing the best skills and strategies in teaching more effectively for the 21st century," said Hultman. "This experience was truly about networking, collaborations, utilizing kinesthetic activities, and developing a reflective practice that will provide the best education for our students. I look forward to continuing this experience with our Siemens STEM Institute blog and sharing with my colleagues."
As an added bonus of the fellowship, Hultman also had the opportunity to visit leading institutions of STEM innovation, including the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the National Building Museum and the White House. At the White House, fellows discussed STEM strategic planning with Marisa Bold, Chief of Staff for Innovation and Development at the U.S. Department of Education. These unique experiences introduced fellows to real-world STEM applications and provided opportunities for collaboration with peers from across the nation.
Next, the senior program was honored on September 9 at the White Bear Lake City Council meeting for their work with Meals on Wheels, Lionmobile transportation, and helping seniors find the perfect living situation.
Mayor Jo Emerson's proclamation read, "I, Jo Emerson, Mayor of the City of White Bear Lake, in recognition of this important program, do hereby proclaim September, 2014 to be Senior Center Month and encourage residents to attend an Open House on September 23, 2014."
The open house will take place at the Senior Center (2484 East County Road F) from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Community members will have the chance to learn about all the opportunities available through the White Bear Area Senior Program including classes, daily group activities, volunteer opportunities, Meals on Wheels, transportation, resources for aging as well as the Craft Corner and lending library.
In addition to this honorable news, mark your calendars early because the Senior Center will also host their annual Holiday Boutique and Bake Sale on Friday, October 31 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday, November 1 from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. The sale will include a large variety of beautifully hand-crafted products contributed by more than 100 local seniors, along with an assortment of sumptuous goodies for purchase.
Wearing your White Bear spirit
The upcoming week of September 22-27 is White Bear Lake Area Schools' Homecoming celebration! Each day of the week features themed dress-up days, fun lunch activities, and many exciting events. Click here
for a detailed list of all of the festivities.
The dress-up theme for Friday, September 26 will be White Bear Lake spirit wear. Though individuals throughout the country will begin to dress themselves and their homes in orange and black in the next month, White Bear Lake students will be doing so for the pride of their schools.
It should not be difficult for us Bears to find spirit wear in our closets. Students, community members, and staff have access to a variety of orange and black attire.
Our newest members of White Bear Nation are still mailed baby onesies directly from our superintendent's office. Along with the onesie, families with a new baby in White Bear Lake are also mailed census information. It is important to fill out the census information to help the district keep the families informed about services and programs (to which your new baby can show off that new onesie).
Another popular White Bear garb is the rec t-shirt. According to a bulletin board on the Pioneer Press website, a White Bear rec t-shirt was spotted in a recent McDonald's tv advertisement. While this sighting doesn't quite fit into the BearPower initiative, it proves once again we are never too far from someone wearing a White Bear rec t-shirt.
Students and staff also have access to the new Bleed Orange and Black t-shirts provided by the White Bear Lake Educational Foundation. The WBLAEF has recently begun distributing Bleed Orange and Black shirts to staff members and students through various ways in different schools this year. If you would like to purchase a Bleed Orange and Black t-shirt, call the Foundation office to order one - the price is $5.
However you wear your spirit, wear it proudly next week!
62.4-second video update
Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools!
The White Bear Lake girls cross country team
scored in the top three in all three races at the Faribault Invitational on September 5. The varsity team also got third place at the Rum River Invite in Anoka on September 11. The White Bear Lake boys cross country team
placed second in the Faribault Invitational on September 5. The White Bear Lake football team
won 27-6 over Woodbury on September 12. Also in football news, the Pioneer Press covered an interesting story on Bear quarterback Trey Anderson's injury earlier this fall
White Bear Lake Area High School Athletics schedules can be found here.
Please contact the Communications Department
(651-407-7695) to submit Student News for inclusion in future publications.