Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Beaver Dam High School Students Giving Back

In a joint effort among Beaver Dam elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school, a donation of 5,255 pounds of food was delivered to three local food pantries on November 20, 2015.  At Beaver Dam High School, the food collection was coordinated by the members of the girls’ basketball team and the Key Club.  “This was a great demonstration of what the Beaver Dam Unified School district can accomplish together; we collected approximately 1,000 pounds more food than last year, and the basketball team and Key Club are still collecting,” said Peter Duesterbeck, Key Club advisor and social studies teacher at Beaver Dam High School.  

This is an example of one of the many community outreach and service projects completed by our high-school athletics and activities groups every year. While some groups, like Key Club, National Honor Society, Charity Knits, have their primary focus on serving the community, other groups, like athletic teams, are now focusing on outreach efforts as well.  As a 2014 Key-Performance Objective of the Beaver Dam Unified School District, community-service projects are now part of the annual calendar of events for virtually all groups at the high school. The far-reaching impact of these events increases with time. In the first nine weeks of school, coordinated efforts of Beaver Dam High School students have directly impacted the World Orphan Fund, Melissa Mai Charity Golf Outing, Beaver Dam Community Hospital Breast Health, and the American Red Cross. Our students are also seen at nursing homes playing bingo with residents, and assisting at the YMCA.   Moreover, the benefit of these efforts has been reciprocated back to our students. The National Honor Society organized a breakfast, social, and an assembly for local veterans on November 11, 2015.  Savannah Pederson, National Honor Society advisor, said, “We had 68 veterans participate this year, which is approximately 40 more vets than the year before.   Our students did a great job from start to finish. Spending the morning with the veterans really showed our students the importance and meaning of Veteran’s Day.”

Future outreach projects are planned throughout the year with Special Olympics, Relay for Life, the Elk’s Lodge Food Drive, the Family Center, etc.  If you have an idea for a project for one of the many Beaver Dam High School organizations, please contact Associate Principal for Activities and Athletics Melissa Gehring at (920)885-7520.

Friday, November 20, 2015

When Technology Is Central in the Learning Process, What Does the Teacher Do?

Most aspects of our personal and professional lives have become inextricably intertwined with technological advancements.  Whether it's our smartphones, laptops, personal computers, smartwatches or smart televisions, technology has permeated our daily work.  The teaching-and-learning process has not been immune to the revolution technology has created.

Innovative teachers have quickly seen their roles transform. Technology has enhanced and shifted our teaching-and-learning environments in the following ways:

  • Instruction is more seamlessly differentiated based on the pace of the learner.
  • Immediate feedback is provided to a larger number of students.
  • Assessment can be immediate and responsive to student progress.
  • Data dashboards provide an instant visualization of progress.
  • Student screen time increases while face-to-face teacher time decreases.
  • Student questions are answered immediately by a network of experts or other learners.
All of this begs the question, what is the role of the teacher in a technology rich learning environment?

  • Relationship Building: When technology provides the lecture, feedback, and assessment, teachers have more time to develop relationships with students.  Students want to be seen, heard, and known. Technology enables teachers to better know their students for who they are as a whole as well as their talents, interests, and areas where they desire growth.
  • Guidance: Young people need and want guidance. Teachers can spend more time guiding and supporting a personalized learning experience for each student.
  • Tutoring: When whole-class instruction is done utilizing technology, teachers have more time to provide small group and one-on-one instruction.
  • Digital Literacy: Teachers can play an important role in helping students become responsible and respectful digital citizens.
  • Learning Network Development: Connections are key, and with technology, we can help students safely make local and global connections.
  • Goal Setting and Celebrating: Students love knowing you know their accomplishments. Technology provides more possibilities to expose what students have accomplished, to discuss what those accomplishments mean, and to give students support to set new rigorous goals.
This list is not all encompassing, but it does provide a starting point for understanding how the role of our teachers is evolving as technology becomes central to the teaching-and-learning process.

The specific examples and wording above have been taken from Tech and Learning, November 19 web entry:  Ms. Lisa Nielsen is the author.  Ms. Nielsen maintains the award winning blog, The Innovative Educator.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Facilities, Safety and Security Needs

In 2011, the district completed a comprehensive district-wide facility study.  The study identified facility needs across our district.  From 2011 to 2015, the district completed $10 million in facility and technology work, addressing the major needs identified in the district-facility study and leaving only large-scale mechanical and remodeling needs at the high school.

With the aforementioned work completed, the district turned its attention to the educational-facility needs of the high-school campus and safety-and-securing needs across the school district.  During the 2014-2015 school year, the district completed a comprehensive educational-needs assessment of the high-school campus and a district-wide safety-and-security assessment of all district buildings.  Both assessments were completed and significant needs were identified.

The high-school campus has significant mechanical, safety, security, and heating-and-cooling needs.  The 1958 campus was not designed for the modern teaching-and-learning demands of today’s students and teachers and does not reflect 2015 safety-and-security requirements for schools.  The other eight schools in our district do not reflect post Columbine and Sandy Hook safety-and-security structural requirements either. Specifically, the entrances to all nine buildings need to be remodeled to meet 2015 safety requirements.  

The facility needs we are focusing on are not routine-maintenance needs.  Meeting the maintenance needs of our buildings has been and will continue to be a  budget priority  for the school district.  Our buildings-and-grounds team has done an exceptional job maintaining building infrastructures and mechanical systems that are well past their life expectancy.

So where is the school district headed regarding our current facility-and-safety needs?  We will spend the next eight months sharing specific information about our needs with staff and community members and listening to feedback regarding what actions we should or should not take.  We will distribute a community survey in late April asking specific questions regarding our facility-and-safety needs.  The school board will make a decision in August 2016 regarding what path we will take to address the needs we have.  The feedback the school board receives from our staff and community will drive the school board’s decision.  

There are two web links at the bottom of this post.  The first link will direct you to a summary of our facilities journey from 2011 to the present.  The second link will navigate to a communication calendar articulating opportunities for staff and community to give input prior to the board making a decision in August 2016.

How can you stay informed and share thoughts and ideas?  We will meet with staff and community representatives to discuss these topics throughout the next eight months.  Representatives from the school board and administration will talk with staff from all buildings at faculty meetings in late winter and early spring.  By December 1, our website will hold all facility information in one place and will provide an area for written feedback. Our communication calendar articulates the current opportunities we have planned for sharing information and gathering feedback from the community.  
As always, please contact me anytime you have any questions or ideas.
Web Link to Facilities, Safety and Security Work Summary