April 5, 2011

High school to offer its first blended instruction class

Hamilton High School will offer its first “blended instruction” course next year. Two sections of a senior-level communication arts class will incorporate an instructional model that blends online learning and face-to-face instruction.

The pilot is part of a larger regional effort to harness the research known about learning and achievement to transform educational opportunities for students. School Board members learned about how Cooperative Educational Service Agency (CESA) #1 is encouraging school districts in its region to participate by forming research clusters around:

  • personalized learning;
  • technology integration;
  • deployment of adults to support personalized learning;
  • expanded use of time and space to support student learning; and
  • assessment of learning profiles, practices, progress and performance.

Hamilton was part of the first wave of school districts to begin working on transformational initiatives.

In preparation for the pilot at Hamilton, school staff explored technology capabilities in the district, met with other educators familiar with blended instruction, sponsored a teacher to get online certification to teach the course, identified lesson plan learning targets, established a back-up plan for struggling students and determined how to compare blended instruction to traditional face-to-face courses.

Educational Services Director John Roubik said the curriculum standards for the course and student expectations will be the same as a traditional course. Face-to-face instruction will occur the first few weeks of the course to build relationships, and move to online learning as the course progresses. Roubik said online instruction will include synchronous and asynchronous learning – at times students will be online as a group and other times they will be learning alone.

Business education teachers present Financial March Madness

March Madness has a whole new meaning for Hamilton High School students enrolled in Business Education classes. School Board members learned about the activities that teachers Toni Hillmann, Brenda Savic and Skip Hay planned for their students that had nothing to do with basketball.

Throughout March, students heard from special guest speakers who presented on personal financial management. The speakers were from Make A Difference – Wisconsin (MAD-WI), a nonprofit dedicated to providing youth with financial management tools need for success. Speakers presented six 45-minute sessions to each class on topics such as budgeting and saving, how to grow money, saving for a vehicle, using checkbooks, types of fees, online banking, identity theft, credit cards and building a good credit history.

Then students participated March 24 in a financial simulation, Reality Check, to help prepare them for the financial decisions they will face in their future. Business representatives, community members and staff worked the booths where students chose the best way to spend their imaginary incomes.

The response from students was positive, according to Hillmann, who spearheaded the March events. A parent even called to thank the teachers for holding the event. The mother told Hillmann that her son took the lessons learned to heart and had the parent take him to the bank so that he could open his own savings account.

School Board member James Long told the teachers that they probably made a lot of parents happy by providing the experiences for their children to learn about personal financial responsibility.

Personnel news

In personnel matters, the School Board:

  • approved the retirement requests of Marcy art teacher Suzan Markham, Woodside physical education teacher Jacalyn Rottler, Hamilton guidance counselor William Drogemuller, Hamilton special education teacher Susan Blackford, Hamilton guidance counselor  Patricia Mitchell, Woodside special education teacher Anne Gavigan, Hamilton special education teacher Mary Ripple, Templeton special education teacher James Lesperance, all effective at the end of the school year;
  • accepted the resignation of Hamilton library-media paraprofessional  Becci Olson, at the end of the school year.