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ISD 181 Viewpoint: Beyond the chalkboard: Teaching & learning in today's classrooms

Brainerd Public Schools is committed to providing innovative opportunities for learning to all of our students and community members. We have implemented, with the generous support of local businesses and community members, many amazing learning opportunities both during our regular school day as well as during during out of school time through our Community Education offerings.

All of our school buildings now have access to MakerSpaces which allow learners to independently explore with science, technology, engineering, art, and math activities that they are passionate and excited about. Although every building has access to the materials for a MakerSpace, unfortunately not all of our buildings have the space needed for a MakerSpace to be as powerful as it could be. Most buildings are using a cart for their MakerSpaces which gives all students access, but it does not allow for the extended length of time needed to really get immersed in an individual exploration project.

Every classroom, early childhood through grade four, now has a SmartBoard presentation system. This system allows students and teachers to digitally interact with the lesson material being presented using large motor movements. Our early childhood and elementary level learners also have access to iPads and/or Chromebooks which allow for more personalized learning experiences.

Our secondary level classrooms have access to classroom sets of Chromebooks. These Chromebooks allow teachers and students to dive deeper into topics as well as practice the very important digital skills needed for college and workforce readiness. Most of our secondary classrooms also now have access to digital displays which allows teachers to present material from their device wirelessly. This is a necessity for student engagement and for maneuvering some of our cramped classrooms at Brainerd High School.

We are very excited to have the opportunity to utilize our newly upgraded planetarium at Forestview Middle School year-round and for special community events. This expansion was made possible through a grant from National Joint Powers Alliance. We are so happy to have this innovative facility, built during the construction of Forestview, be more widely used and available to everyone.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that technology is now integrated into our students' school experience. Technology allows teachers and students to move around the classroom more and interact with what they are learning in a much different way than when many of us were in school.

This movement has put a strain on classrooms across our district that are considered small by today's building standards. The goal of the Blueprint 181 comprehensive facilities planning process is to create facilities that promote opportunity, innovation, and success for all learners.

To find out more about the process that includes a commitment to visionary technology integration, please visit www.blueprint181.org.