C-I School Board hears teaching updates at CIHS, year-round programs

Administrators described positive improvements in their school buildings during the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting April 18.

Cambridge-Isanti High School Principal Mitch Clausen gave an update on the mission statement of the high school which is: “Students will develop and apply strategic literacy skills for the 21st century while building positive character traits.”

Clausen explained the three major components of the Rigor – Relevance – Relationships (RRR) Framework which includes content literacy continuum, directed study and teacher resources.

Clausen highlighted the Fusion program, which is a program for struggling readers, and includes 45 kids divided into three sections at the high school. This program is a part of the content literacy continuum.

Teachers Mary Grundhoefer, Thea Lowman and Vicki Courts discussed their work with the students in the Fusion program and said it has resulted in positive benefits for the students.

A few of the benefits mentioned included students who disliked reading now like to read; students are motivated; it’s a very structured program so the students know what to expect; students are building their vocabulary, and comprehension strategies; students are getting direct instruction time; and students get to read every day.

“The Fusion reading program combines everything good there is about reading,” Grundhoefer said. “When the students first started coming to class they didn’t like reading. But now that they have started to taste success; it’s now cool to them.”

Dr. Michael Hock, one of the authors of the Fusion program, sent a video to the district congratulating it on the successes its students have had by using the program.

“We really found three top-notch teachers to lead the Fusion program,” Clausen said “All three of them had a lot of intense training to lead this program. We have seen a lot of success with the program that is attributed to the hard work of the teachers and students.”

Year-round learning 

Randy Pauly, principal of the Minnesota Center, and Mark Ziebarth, principal of the School for All Seasons (SFAS), gave an update on the district’s year-round education programs.

The School For All Seasons is a year-round option for students in grades K-5, and is located at Isanti Intermediate School.

The Minnesota Center (MNC) is another optional year-round middle school program located at Isanti Middle School.

Pauly explained a renewal application for the year-long programs will be due to the state in the spring 2015.

He said the state will expect the report to include the following:

• Stakeholder feedback/participation/support

• A new emphasis/focus for the program

• Student achievement levels

Pauly explained a flexible learning year task force meets as needed so the district will be able to provide the expectation to the state of stakeholder feedback/participation/support.

As far as academics, Pauly said the year-round learning programs focuses on STEAM (Science, Technology, Environment, Arts, Math).

Science: Science Museum of Minnesota; Community college collaboration; Use of local community resources.

Technology: Flipped classrooms, BYOD (Bring your own device): Intentionally using students’ tech devices in instruction.

Environment: Service projects within the community, including park clean-ups; Rum River clean-up/conservation projects; Using our Seasons to Explore our World.

Arts: Performing Arts; Programs and performances; Artist in residence.

Math: WeatherBug station; Engineering.

Ziebarth said part of the renewal application process is highlighting what is different and unique with the district’s year-round learning programs.

“We need to continue the school board tradition that was started in the 1990s of giving parents options to allow them to make the best educational choices for their children,” Ziebarth said.

Pauly said providing information is important.

“We need to continue to communicate with our school district community and with our parents,” Pauly said. “We need to  market the wonderful things our teachers and staff are doing.”