March 22, 2015

In this issue

Superintendent's Message

  • Old School, New School, and Real School

Student News

  • In Photos: Tamarack Preschoolers Tapping Maple Trees
  • Teamwork
  • Spring Break highlights
  • Setting the stage
  • Insight Program seeks accreditation
  • Community involvement
  • Alumni across the globe
  • 62.4-second video updates
  • Activities updates

School Board News

  • School Board Meetings

District News

  • General Information
  • Opportunities
  • Awards and Honors

Upcoming Events

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WBLAS IN THE NEWS

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Old School, New School, and Real School

"And in this classroom, our teacher said we are now 97 percent paperless..."


Guests walk through an eighth grade classroom, talking with students who use laptop computers to locate and analyze GPS coordinates in their social studies class. The teacher smiles and nods in agreement with the young tour guide, giving excited students the opportunity to explain the assignment and their achievements.

With eighth grade students as guides, during late-January tours members of our community learned how 1:1 computing is changing teaching and learning. Over the past decade, our society has experienced dramatic improvements in the power of computers: reductions in size, weight and price; and in schools as in many sectors of our economy, significantly more internet access.

 

All this new computing power and access has the potential to personalize instruction, engage students more fully in their learning, and accelerate learning. But for this to happen, we are fundamentally changing how we teach, how classrooms are organized, and when and how students are engaged in learning.Recently, several colleagues and I visited with Don Burton, CEO and Founder of Burton Ed Tech and Managing Director of Techstars. The following organizing concepts are from Mr. Burton, and the examples from our own experiences in the White Bear Lake Area School District.

Using technology in the "old school" model, explains Mr. Burton, is a matter of keeping the basic goals and structure of the classroom the same, but substituting new technology for old. Common examples of this substitution in American schools include using electronic white boards, such as SMART boards, as a substitute for a blackboard, or students viewing an online lecture rather than experiencing an in-class lecture.

 

"New school" models go further, he explains, keeping the goals for students the same but using technology and new strategies to change the core processes of when and how students learn. Examples in our schools today would be "flipped classrooms," a term used to describe teachers giving students the assignment to view a lesson, presentation, or experience via video before class (that is, for "homework") and then class time focusing on deeper discussions and application. Prior to class, students already have a common content.

"Real school" goes one step further, fundamentally changing the classroom structure to make the link between school and work more natural, or extending the goals of education beyond what would have previously seemed possible at the elementary and secondary level. Examples of this in our schools today include after-school 
coding clubs, where elementary age students are learning computer coding. At the high school level, students have opportunities for STEM classes to earn University of Minnesota college credit while still in high school, or post secondary manufacturing credentials via new manufacturing classes.

 

This winter three high school chemistry students from WBLAHS - South Campus presented at a state-wide conference. With their teacher sanding off to the side, the students demonstrated an original research project they had already presented to graduate students at the University of Minnesota. In place of a spectrometer, an 
expensive laboratory instrument measuring light waves for chemical analysis, the students demonstrated that similar - and even superior results- could be attained using a free smart phone app. This is a true example of "real school!"

After reading this primer, please consider visiting our schools. You will likely see a combination of "old school, new school, and real school." And everywhere, you will also see creative and inspiring teachers and engaged students making valuable use of our investments in educational technology.
 

Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D

Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools


In Photos: Tamarack Preschoolers Tapping Maple Trees!

 

Student News


 

Teamwork
The varsity girls' basketball team had a great season. They were second in their conference, beating Roseville in the section game. They advanced to the Class 4A State Tournament with a 22-7 record. The state game this past Tuesday against Shakopee was neck and neck, but in the end, the Bears fell short by just four points. Though they didn't take the state title, it was certainly a season to be remembered with pride. They'll go into next season with virtually the same team, as only one senior is graduating this year.

 

Several of our high school math students are also doing well in their competition, the Moody's Mega Math Challenge - they made the top 200 teams nationwide out of over 1,500 teams! The challenge is a one day, 14 hour competition in Applied Mathematics. Students get a problem and have only two hours to submit an up-to 20 page solution. This year's problem was "a degree in STEM - is it worth it?"

Miranda Fuller, Erin Edson, Paul Jokinen, Tapan Jasthi and Michael Pearson met every week for a half hour, then had between 30-60 minutes of practice on their own as well. They read past solutions, brainstormed for old problems, reviewed statistics topics, learned some simple differential equations and learned some simple game theory.

Now that they've made it through the first round, officials will identify the top teams to get scholarships and the top six to go to New York to present their papers.

 

Spring break highlights
Roughly 20 of our middle school students traveled to Costa Rica for the Week Without Walls trip. It's is an annual, week-long, school-sponsored trip to a foreign country during which middle school students take their studies outside of the classroom to serve, connect and gain understanding from their global community. 

Students who participated in this trip experienced the natural parts of Costa Rica by zip-lining through the canopy, rafting, kayaking lakes, hiking volcanoes, rainforests and tropical forests, swimming in hot springs and exploring tide pools. 

 

They connected with the culture of Costa Rica by working with other schools online, where they met buddies from CEDES Don Bosco School in Costa Rica. They also made friends while providing service to a National Park (a sister park to one here in Minnesota). 

Thirty percent of the students were able to travel because of the full or partial support of a long list of local organizations including White Bear Lake Rotary, White Bear Lake VFW, White Bear Lake Ed. Foundation and The Riders of Legion. 

 

And while some middle school students traveled many miles to the much warmer climate of Costa Rica, Extended Day students brought the tropics to Willow Lane Elementary. The district's Extended Day School Age Care Program arranged luau for students during spring break. Willow was packed with activities, from folk storytelling, dance parties, a limbo contest, beach volleyball and a chance to play with real sea shells and coconuts. There were also many crafting opportunities where students made things like palm trees, grass skirts, masks and fruit kabobs. 

A total of 116 students took part in the fun. The Extended Day program plans fun activities every spring break, from field trips to on-site programming such as the luau.

 

Setting the stage
It's that time of year again, when we can anticipate theatrical performances across the district. 

Lincoln Elementary students have been busy preparing for their upcoming play, "Getting to Know the Sound of Music," which will be performed this weekend at the Community Auditorium. 

Meanwhile, Ashland Productions in Maplewood has been the stage on which other White Bear elementary students have shone. Oneka students just wrapped up their performance of the "Big Bad Musical" this past weekend, following Matoska's performance a few weeks ago. Otter Lake Elementary and a second Matoska cast will both be on that same stage in April.

Middle school students are gearing up for their performance of "The Little Mermaid, Jr." You can catch that play April 23, 24 and 25. Tickets go on sale Monday, March 23 and can be purchased online here.

Lastly, the spring play put on by our high school students is coming up just around the bend! This year, they will be performing a rendition of "Alice in Wonderland" in front of an audience of all ages. The students have plenty of practices ahead, as the performance is scheduled for May 14, 15 and 16. We will make sure to share additional details as the play approaches!

 

Insight Program seeks accreditation
Exciting visits happened this week at the Insight Program, the White Bear Lake Area School District's recovery school that serves teens in the East Metro area who desire a school setting that supports their goals around sobriety and wellness. 

The Insight Program has functioned as a school within a school inside the Area Learning Center since 2001. Most recently, Insight has been preparing for accreditation through the Association of Recovery Schools, which is a national organization that supports recovery schools like Insight. 

ARS Board Members from Nashville and Houston visited Insight this week to observe classes and interview teachers, students, parents, support staff and administration about the program. These accreditors will finalize a report following their visit that gives their impressions of Insight's strengths and provides feedback about areas of growth. Meeting criteria for ARS Accreditation will potentially make Insight eligible for some additional federal funding and grants.

 

Community involvement
Earlier this month, six students from South Campus joined Principal Tim Wald at the White Bear Chamber of Commerce Annual meeting to hear local meteorologist Paul Douglas address the topic of "The Accidental Entrepreneur." 

After the meeting, Petra King, Jacqueline Nguyen, Brittany Zine, Mitchell Kohler, Matthew Brenno, Tyler Cohan and Austin Duffy visited with Douglas about his advice for encouraging innovation. 

The Chamber regularly invites students to attend Chamber events at no cost as part of their outreach to our schools.

 

Alumni across the globe
This month, 1979 White Bear graduate Dr. Tove Dahl was back in Minnesota to keynote this year's Central States Conference for Teachers of Foreign Languages. Dahl is a university professor at UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromso.

While in town, she visited her father, Dr. Tor Dahl, and met Superintendent Lovett, with whom she discussed how her education in White Bear prepared her for what has been a remarkable career. Among her many accomplishments, Tove has been the director of Skogfjorden's Concordia Language Villages Norwegian camp. In 2008, the King of Norway recognized Tove and her Skogfjorden work by naming her a Knight of the First Class of the Royal Order of Merit for promoting the Norwegian language and culture in the USA. Read more of Tove's accomplishments by clicking here.

Meanwhile, 2004 Graduate Ryan O'grady has been busy doing a climate study in Africa. He is now a geologist at the LacCore Lab at the University of Minnesota. He has been to Africa four times working on this project: Rwanda, Nairobi and two different areas of Ethiopia. He is involved in drilling the lake beds to study the cores. All the cores are currently at the University of Minnesota. His work was featured in this video here. (You'll first see Ryan at the 2:43 mark, in the orange hat and white-t-shirt!)
 

62.4-second video updates

Take a look at our 62.4-second update that highlights weekly activity throughout our schools!

 

 

 

Activities update

The Girls' Basketball Teamadvanced to the Class 4A Tournament. They placed second in their conference overall.

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. 

School Board Meetings

School Board meeting agendas and minutes can be found here.

Date Type Time Location
March 23 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center
April 13 Regular 7 p.m. District Center
April 27 Work-Study 5:30 p.m. District Center