Of my soon to be 56 years on this planet, I have spent 47 of them in a school setting either as a student or through employment. My school life had a rather inauspicious beginning. As kindergarten approached, I had decided that I was already pretty happy with my life and felt no need to upset the apple cart by attending school. I had a loving home, a large yard and a really nice shaded sandbox with a fleet of Tonka trucks. My favorite by far was the payloader. I could move a lot of “earth” with that payloader. From my perspective, this whole kindergarten thing was an unnecessary risk. Life would continue to be just fine if we maintained the status quo.
Naturally, my parents had other ideas. Despite my less than enthusiastic attitude towards kindergarten, my mom was able to convince me to give it a try. As the story goes, my response was, “okay, but I am only going for one year and then I am done.” I must have felt my kindergarten experience was alright because I decided to keep going to school afterwards. Two memories stand out from my first year in formal education. First, we attended school in a portable trailer-styled classroom. Second, a fellow classmate, named Jeff, managed to get a red crayon stuck sideways in his mouth. Jeff’s face soon matched the color of the crayon and we gathered around to watch the spectacle unfold. Mrs. Anderson handled the situation like a pro and order was once again restored. Kindergarten teachers are special people.
Questions have been posed regarding the district’s utilization of the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) standards. This column will provide detail on what the standards are and why they are being taught.
How were the standards developed? Way back in 1998, ISTE released the first version of student standards. At that time, ISTE was known as NETS (National Educational Technology Standards) The standards came about through a group of forward-thinking educators who wanted to form a framework to provide guidance as educational institutions sought to ensure a relevant and effective 21st century education.
The ISTE standards are just that - standards. They are not curricula. Educators have the freedom to choose how they teach the standards and the standards readily lend themselves to other curricula being covered.
The ISTE standards are not political. As you read through the standards below, it should become apparent that they can be utilized under a very broad set of topics and applications.
I have written several columns about the district’s vision which we refer to as our Portrait of a Graduate. The vision contains five points of emphasis: Core Knowledge; Creative Problem-Solver; Communicator; Character and Contributing Citizen. I have covered every topic during this year with the exception of Contributing Citizen.
The following paragraph is a brief narrative intended to capture some of the basic tenets of Contributing Citizen:
Otters should have pride in themselves, their school, their community and their country. We want our students to have respect and appreciation for the freedoms we have as U.S. citizens. We acknowledge that we each have a responsibility to be agents of change - actively engaged in efforts to improve our local community, state and country. We want to cultivate the idea that through serving and stewardship, we can positively impact the world around us. It is essential that we develop cultural awareness so that we might better understand, accept and communicate with people who may have different knowledge, customs and beliefs than our own.
Read more: Supt. Drake: The basic tenets of Contributing Citizen
The Fergus Falls Public School District is very unique for its size. We offer a traditional school experience, an opportunity for a targeted environmental education experience through the Prairie Science Classroom, a full K-12 virtual learning option (iQ Academy) and an alternative learning center (ALC). This column will focus on the ALC.
Alternative learning centers (ALCs) in Minnesota were established in the 1970s as an alternative approach to education for students who were struggling in traditional school settings. The intention was to provide students with a more individualized and flexible education plan, tailored to their unique needs and circumstances.
Read more: Supt. Drake: About our Area Learning Center (ALC)
Technology is changing the world. Most of the time, I think it is for the better, but occasionally I long for the simplicity of days gone by. Take for example, a recent shopping experience. The self-checkout station and I had a serious conversation about the “bagging area.” I had scanned my item which happened to be a bag of water softener salt. I don’t recall if the machine wanted the item in the bagging area or was upset that the salt had been removed from the bagging area. I do know neither taking the bag of salt away nor leaving it there solved the problem.
Fortunately, a friendly store associate came to my rescue. Apparently, there was a “skip bagging” option available at some point in the transaction that I had missed. She recommended this in the future - especially when purchasing heavy items. I learned a new trick and got a nice workout hauling the bag of salt in and out of my shopping cart.