iPads increase curriculum options for ZM students and teachers

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By Alice Duschanek-Myers

MAZEPPA – Teachers Kelsey Bradley and Mary Graves reported on the Zumbrota-Mazeppa School’s iPad pilot project to the school board on March 24.

Bradley has been using the computers with her 7th and 8th grade language arts students. She and her students are working with many resources and applications for materials, communication, research, assignments, quizzes, practice, and reading. For reading they use a theory program with a placement quiz. The students are then guided to materials at their reading level. The iPads are used for nearly all of the classes inside and outside school, and students are gaining proficiency in technology. Bradley and the students (via video) thanked the school board for their support of the iPad program.

Graves reported on the social studies curriculum she uses with her sixth grade students. At this grade level geography and Minnesota history are taught, as required by the state. Students learn about indigenous people, the Civil War, civics, economics, and current events. 

Graves’s students use iPads to read sections of iBooks such as, “Northern Lights” (Minnesota state textbook), “Our World,” and “Soldier’s Heart” by Gary Paulsen for the curriculum. The district did not purchase textbooks for sixth grade social studies. There are a few paper copies of the books, some purchased and reused from Cannon Falls. For Minnesota history the students take field trips to Mantorville Rendezvous Days and to Fort Snelling and the Capitol. 

The students receive lessons in e-mails from Graves. They complete assignments, projects, quizzes, practice vocabulary, and communicate with their teacher online. Bradley said work and questions from students come in to teachers all day long on snow days.

Superintendent Tony Simons said, “The kids are taking responsibility for their learning…They are becoming active learners.” The development of curriculum and resources is ongoing in these classes.

Administrative reports

Simons reported that the district received recognition from Commissioner Brenda Cassellius of the Minnesota Department of Education for meeting the guidelines of achievement data to contribute to closing the achievement gap. The district was also recognized for accuracy of financial statements and meeting all financial deadlines for submissions.

The district’s achievement and integration funds were reduced from $39,000 last year to $17,000 this year. ZM must collaborate with the Rochester School District to use these funds.

Planning for the 2014-15 budget is underway. The school board will continue work on the strategic plan. Chairman Peter Hinrichs requested the board receive all requests for proposal on the insurance to be able to review this information. Stephen Rosenthal and Brian Haugen agreed that the board should review the complete bidding process, not just one bid. Simons will communicate this to the brokering agent. Haugen said the board can review the bids in May.

The board reviewed the treasurer’s report. Simons pointed out that there is positive cash flow and a positive food service balance.

Enrollment has decreased by two students. The early estimate is that kindergarten enrollment will be in the 90s for 2014-15.

Primary/elementary school principal Quinn Rasmussen reported the first-graders held their music concert on March 6. The fourth grade concert was on March 20 and the third grade concert is on March 27. The MCA kickoff is scheduled for April 14. There was 97% attendance at conferences with parents. This number might improve yet, because one teacher was ill and is still meeting for conferences with parents. The fifth grade took its field trip to Eagle Bluff. Rasmussen attended for part of the day. Kindergarten round-up is scheduled for Friday, April 11.

Middle/high school principal Erick Enger reported that he, Pam Langley, Angie Hunstad, and Kelsey Bradley completed the Ramp Up to Readiness workshops at the University of Minnesota. Students in grades 7-12 registered for classes with the help of their advisors. The requests will be processed to determine class offerings in 2014-15. 

Student academic achievements were recognized on March 14 at the six-week Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) celebration. These students received a ROAR award. The National Honor Society food drive was recognized. The losing advisory groups received pies in the face. The local food shelves were filled and $1,400 was raised by the drive.

The US Secretary of State recognized exchange student Martin Jordanov from Macedonia for receiving a scholarship to attend ZMHS through the State Department. A representative from Washington D.C. came to the school to present the certificate of recognition. His host family is Patrick and Sara Adams of Mazeppa.

ZM is officially a PBIS district. There are 430 districts in Minnesota that are using PBIS in the whole school. 

Activities director Tim McAthie provided the winter activities report. 177 of the 493 students in grades 7-12 (35%) participated in a winter sport. This includes dance team, wrestling, girls basketball, and boys basketball. 33% of high school students and 41% of junior high students participated in athletics.

Other business

The school board approved rejoining the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA). The MREA is lobbying for rural schools at the legislature. The annual membership fee is $2,200.

The student medication policy was approved with recommendations from district nurse Karen Moyer. The student discipline policy is being revised for review at the April meeting. The board approved a recommendation by Superintendent Simons to review a mandated reporting of maltreatment of vulnerable adults policy for the district.

The board approved an out-of-state travel request for the high school softball team to attend the Adams High School Friendship Tournament in Mauston, Wisconsin, from April 11-12. The booster club is paying for the trip expenses.

Rosenthal reported that Cannon Falls School is joining the Wasioja Education Technology Cooperative. Cannon Falls will be able to add courses that other districts will benefit from.

James Wendt reported that the Goodhue County Education District is working with architects to complete the final plans for the 64,000 square foot building.

Rosenthal reported that the new Southeast Service Cooperative (SSC) facility has opened. The SSC is studying the open insurance law. 

The ZMHS band concert is scheduled for April 15 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium. The art show is April 15-17.

There will be an early dismissal on April 2. There is no school for students on April 18 and April 21.

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