By KERRY DRAGER
It is only a matter of time before printed materials become obsolete, something the Upsala School Board discussed at its April 23 meeting when deciding between printed text books or digital ones. The social studies curriculum is ready to purchase new materials for all grades kindergarten through twelfth. Currently the district is using Houghton Mifflin printed text books but Social Studies Alive would provide both a printed copy as well as a digital version that can be used on tablets, computers and smartboards.
“The biggest difference between the two is that textbook companies offer a lot of complementary things like planning software and teacher resources. But maybe we can get Access Alive to throw in some complementary things,” said Dean of Students Vern Capelle.
Social Studies Alive is an application based curriculum that contains content that ties into real world societies, allowing students to have a more engaging and comprehensible experience while learning. The digital option and the nature of the material is a benefit as the classroom becomes more technologically driven.
There is the option to purchase only the digital version and this would reduce the cost. The Board decided to go ahead with the purchase of both the digital and printed version due to Internet accessibility for students.
“A large amount of students don’t have accessibility. We can be flexible but inevitably it’s going to get frustrating to the kids that don’t have accessibility at home. Even if the students start bringing their own devices to school, our own infrastructure is not ready for that much traffic. Teachers are becoming more comfortable with implementing this technology into their classrooms. We’re asking our teachers to be diverse enough to handle this change. Eventually we wouldn’t need the printed copies but at this time, I’d say we still do,” said Capelle.
A new course will be available to high school students next year. For the last two years Upsala’s robotics team has participated in competitions. The new robotics class will be available and will help engage these students in other areas of engineering and development.
“Out in the real world, these are the kids that make things happen. They are using all these skills in digital production and graphic arts. The people who are using these skills are the people who keep the world turning,” said Board Member Dean Peterson.
A new Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine and plasma cutter will be purchased this summer to be added to the shop. These tools and opportunities gives Upsala area children an opportunity to pursue passions and talents that will have real world advantages.
“If you don’t expose them, then they may not even know they have these talents,” said Board Member Randy Pepin.
A $1,000 donation from Blattner Energy was approved by the board to help fund this new course.
Upsala School Board Briefs
Other business that came before the Upsala School Board included:
•Learning that quotes are needed for painting and new roofing over the kitchen and cafeteria;
•Hearing that three new sections of Spanish as well as additional art and physical education courses will be added next year;
•Learning that book circulation in both the high school and the elementary have seen substantial growth. It has been Upsala’s highest circulation numbers since 1986;
•Approval on authorizing the hire of six youths for summer positions. The district is in need of four custodial and one office staff;
•Approval on the additional hour to Dave Piasecki’s contract as the school’s part-time adjutant college instructor;
•Approval on the upgrade to the cooperative football agreement between Swanville and Upsala. Upsala will now host the second playoff game;
•Approval for the temporary leave of absence for Elizabeth Vandergon; and
• Approval for the resignation of Caitlyn Heinen as a secondary science instructor. Upsala is looking to fill this position again.