C-I Board hears update on blended learning

Cambridge-Isanti Schools continues its focus on transitioning to a blended-digital curriculum through growth and support for teachers.

Paige Washburn, a student with Cambridge-Isanti Early Childhood, presents Board Member Heidi Sprandel with a May Day basket during the May 18 board meeting. All of the students who presented May Day baskets are members of the Class of 2030. Pictured with the students is Kim Goodmanson, early childhood coordinator. Photos by Rachel Kytonen

During the Cambridge-Isanti School Board meeting May 18, the board heard a report from technology coordinator Ray Sperl and curriculum coordinator Dave Blanchard on the blended learning initiative.

Sperl explained the general goal for the 2016-2017 school year focused on device access and exposure for both students and staff in relation to digital content, resources and application for learning. Sperl described the different Chromebook device learning initiatives that took place this past school year as well as the iPad initiative that took place in kindergarten through second grade.

In preparation for the influx of devices, Sperl explained the teachers involved in the blended learning model were asked to participate in a professional development session last summer titled Blended Learning 101. And teachers who wanted to dive deeper into preparing to teach with devices were able to complete Blended Learning 102 and Blended Learning 103 courses focused on engaging and creating lessons rich in digital content and resources.

Blanchard explained part of blending learning is focusing on real experiences for its students.

“We want to develop and support modern educators who are reflective and collaborative,” Blanchard said. “We want to foster dynamic learning experiences that are flexible and engaging.”

Mackenzie Sowada, a student with Cambridge-Isanti Early Childhood, presents Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent Kim Cheney with a May Day basket during the May 18 board meeting.

 

As for the devices, Blanchard explained six iPads were provided in each kindergarten- through second-grade classroom, and this was the second year of the kindergarten- through second-grade iPad initiative. Grade five students had access to Chromebooks while in their classroom. Students in grades six through nine had access to Chromebooks while in school, and also had an option to take the device home with them.

“This is about providing students with access to information and also helps the district cut down on some paper costs,” Sperl said.

Sperl said support for teachers is provided through academic coaches, technology integration coaches and through the district’s technology instruction leadership team composed of teachers from each building.

As the district looks forward to the next school year, Sperl said teachers will once again have opportunities to attend any of the blended learning professional development sessions. In addition, the district will be adding 850 more Chromebooks to extend the blended learning environment to fourth grade and grades 10-12.

Tylar Williams, a student with Cambridge-Isanti Early Childhood, presents Superintendent Ray Queener with a May Day basket during the May 18 board meeting. Pictured to Queener’s right is Board Chair Tim Hitchings.

Sperl explained in grades four through 12, for the 2017-2018 school year, the cost per device per student is 48 cents per day.

The general goal for the blended learning initiative for 2017-2018 is “intentional instruction utilizing technology resources in a thoughtful and purposeful manner in order to help students learn more effectively.”

Sperl said he is excited about continuing the blended learning initiative in the district.

“Our journey has been about support, growth and learning together with the teachers,” Sperl said. “We are supporting the teachers who are utilizing these devices, and there has been a lot of coaching from the academic side and technology side. We are aspiring to be the true innovative leaders in education.”

Superintendent Ray Queener thanked Sperl and Blanchard for the presentation, and for all their hard work on the blending learning initiative.

Ethan Swiontek, a student with Cambridge-Isanti Early Childhood, presents Board Member Carri Levitski with a May Day basket during the May 18 board meeting. Pictured on the left is Board Member Nate Reibel.

In other news the board:
• Heard updates on the Rum River Special Education Cooperative and on Cambridge-Isanti Food Service.

• Approved the 2017-2018 transportation diesel fuel and gas bid to Beaudry Oil and Propane.

• Approved a facility use agreement with the city of Isanti for use of the tennis courts from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2018.

• Approved a resolution for membership in the Minnesota State High School League.