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District Goals

Washburn School Celebrates Lifelong Learning

4 months ago

First grader McKinley Bitzer from Washburn Elementary School demonstrating her digital portfolio –
a district-wide requirement for all K-12 students as a way to document their accomplishments.
(Photo by Hope McLeod)

By Hope McLeod

 First graders Lucas Cadotte, Grace Anent, and McKinley Bitzer opened their iPads to demonstrate entries in their digital portfolios – a requirement for all K-12 students. Cadotte hit the play button on a bat video made in class with their teacher Matt Larson.

“Bat wings are made of thin layers of skin,” announced the first talking head, blue-screened into a real bat cave.

“Bats are the only mammals that fly,” said another.

“Bats use echolocation that makes a high sound that bounces off of an object that tells the bat where things are,” recited a fact-detective.

Not only did these kids learn cool stuff about bats, they also learned about technology, like blue screening – taking an image and plopping it into another setting.

Demonstrations such as this will be on display at two public events hosted by the Washburn School District (WSD): Digital Citizenship, 5:00-6:30 p.m., February 25 at Washburn Middle/High School; and Connecting Social-Emotional Learning and Academics, 4:30-6:00 p.m., March 5 at Washburn Elementary School.

Both events fall under the heading of Lifelong Learning, a term established by District Instructional Coach Ivy Meierotto and a team of Washburn educators. This team set out to merge two sets of social-emotional standards established earlier at the school: one, 10 years ago as a WHS graduation requirement, another, four years ago at the elementary school.

“The mission of the WSD is to enable students to enter the global society with the knowledge, skills, habits, and attitudes required to be contributing citizens,” Meierotto explained. “We use the term Lifelong Learning to encompass this comprehensive educational experience.”

Under this banner, the school identified seven significant categories of learning, which flow through every activity and teaching module in the district: A Responsible Learner; An Effective Communicator; A Socially Responsible Person; A Healthy Person; A Cooperative Individual; A Knowledgeable Person; a Creative Thinker.

Each year the district spotlights some aspect of Lifelong Learning. Last year it was math, literacy, and youth mental health, this year, Digital Citizenship and Connecting Social-Emotional Learning and Academics.

“We work to ensure that every student receives an excellent and well-rounded education by focusing on high levels of academic achievement as well as social-emotional growth and development,” Meierotto said.

One way to demonstrate these achievements is by keeping portfolios, a project started at WHS last year. Seniors Charles Motiff, Dean Karr, and Sawyer Armstrong opened their Chromebooks to share some highlights.

“Portfolios demonstrate different things we’re supposed to do in order to graduate, with examples of what we’ve done to satisfy those requirements,” said Armstrong, rifling through his accomplishments: a poem for English class; a picture of his soccer team; a group project called Refugee Camp.

Each entry satisfies a Life Learning standard, but the student decides what to feature.

“There’s been a shift in public education to individualize education for each student,” Meierotto explained. “Each student’s portfolio is really different and highlights different aspects even though they have similar criteria and requirements.”

For instance, Motiff highlighted a graphic design he created in art class – a cross between a DNA helix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s with swirls of something saucy and sweet.

“What we do is take pictures of what we’ve done or created in or outside of class,” Motiff said. “We also write a small reflection about it so we can keep track of how it’s helped us as students as we become ready to graduate.”

From bat videos to a Certificate of Proof for being in student government, each entry is a map of a student’s individual journey. The upcoming events will highlight different aspects of every grade level’s journey.

“Students, families, and community members are welcome to attend the Digital Citizen event to learn more about resources, activities, and ideas related to digital citizenship,” Meierotto said. “This includes informational booths and activities related to the Lifelong Learning standards, and a space for younger siblings and family members to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) activities as well.”

Digital citizenship, she said, helps support students as they face the changing opportunities and challenges that arise from advancing technology in today’s society.

At the second event the public will learn about ways social-emotional and academic learning intertwine and are taught across the 4K-6 curriculum. There’ll be food and fun activities for the entire family.

WSD will also host a student Winter Festival from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., February 7 at the Elementary School with games, sledding, hot cocoa, and a campfire. If interested in volunteering, pick up an application form at the school.

Upcoming Washburn School District events:

A Winter Festival for students & volunteers from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Friday, February 7 at the Washburn Elementary School; Digital Citizenship, 5:00-6:30 p.m., February 25 at Washburn Middle/High School; and Connecting Social-Emotional Learning and Academics, 4:30-6:00 p.m., March 5 at Washburn Elementary School.