Jim Wilson, Associated Press - Nyt

West metro schools put technology at the forefront

  • Article by: KIM McGUIRE
  • Star Tribune
  • August 28, 2012 - 5:19 PM

These aren't your father's classrooms, and maybe not even your older brother's.

Many west-metro high school students will find new technology awaiting them when they head back to school next week. From iPads to "Clouds," the schools are introducing more computer-aided learning.

They are also experimenting with "flipped" teaching -- having their students watch their videotaped lectures at home on computer and then working with them more one-on-one in class.

Several high schools have new assistant principals, and several are introducing new Advanced Placement courses.

Here's a roundup of some of the changes they will see:


Principal: Patty Johnson

Expected enrollment: 1,831

High school teachers will be experimenting even more with "Flip the Classroom" this school year. With this teaching approach, students watch their teachers' video lecture as homework, then take a short quiz on the content. The teacher walks into the classroom the next day with an assessment of students' understanding of the concepts. That allows them to customize classroom time, revisiting difficult concepts or expanding learning by delving into a topic in-depth.

Also new this year is Advanced Placement Photography. The high school offers 36 AP classes.

Trent Lawson will be joining the high school this year as a new assistant principal, replacing Anne Campbell, who accepted a job as athletic director for Grand Rapids Public Schools. He most recently worked as the dean of students at Columbia Heights High School, a role he held for three years.

Mound Westonka

Principal: Keith Randklev

Expected Enrollment: 900

Implementation of Cloud-based computing using Chromebook technology will begin this school year. Laptops will run entirely on the Cloud using the Google Chrome operating system and web apps. High school administrators believe the introduction of this tool in the classroom is a first in a Minnesota school, though various individuals in metro schools were considering the use of Chromebooks.

"Flipped" digital curriculum classrooms are being piloted in the school's earth, science, physics, chemistry and senior government classes using iPad and mobile lab tools.

Project Lead the Way engineering curriculum is being introduced to grades 9-12 via the Introduction to Engineering course. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is being incorporated into various classrooms. Students, when applying their personal mobile devices to educational purposes, will have the opportunity to use those tools for research, collaboration and assessment in the classroom.


Principal: Mike Trewick

Expected enrollment: 3,267

New to Wayzata High School is a digital, multi-sport video scoreboard that debuted last week at the first girl's varsity soccer game. The digital board supports scoring for all seven stadium sport teams -- football and girls' and boys' soccer, lacrosse and track. The high school students in Advanced Television Production classes will be the producers of the student videos and other scoreboard content.

Wayzata High School also has two new associate principals joining the staff this year, Stephanie Bruggers and Ross Downing. Downing is moving from teaching English on the first floor of Wayzata High School to the 10th grade associate principal's office. Bruggers, the new ninth-grade associate principal, comes to the high school from Osseo Public Schools, where she taught ninth grade social studies for 11 years at Maple Grove Junior High.


Principal: Dave Adney

Expected enrollment: 2,900

All ninth- and tenth-grade students at Minnetonka High School will have iPads for the start of the 2012-13 school year. A pilot program last year equipped half of the freshmen class with the technology during the first semester, and the program was expanded to all freshmen students in the second semester after seeing growth in student achievement data.

The International Studies program is expanding to include schools in South Africa and India. The program is an independent study course where students establish relationships with a student in one of six countries. The program already includes schools in China, Russia, Serbia and the Netherlands. Students complete weekly assignments with their international partner using Internet tools like Skype.

Students will have the opportunity to take hybrid classes in Biomechanics, Business Integration and Development, Psychology, Sociology and Physics. Hybrid classes allow students to receive instruction in the classroom and online.

The school is expanding its International Baccalaureate Programme to 27 courses and is expanding its Advanced Placement program to include 22 courses.


Principal: Bruce Locklear

Expected enrollment: 1,950 for grades 10-12

One new initiative is the "Pass it On" campaign. Edina High School is going to pick a different "theme, core value or trait" each month and have similar stories and posters distributed around the school that highlight different students and staff. For example, the first one will be on leadership.

Also new is a senior transition program that will focusing on what lies ahead for seniors post-high school. It is still in the planning stages.

This year an anti-hazing campaign will be launched throughout the school. Edina High also will be expanding existing programs such as May Term and AVID.

Eden Prairie

Principal: Conn McCartan

Expected enrollment: 3,050

Eden Prairie Schools will be working with the new PAES Lab (Practical Assessment Exploration System) this fall. PAES is a hands-on simulated work environment that allows students to explore careers in the areas of Business/Marketing, Construction/Industrial, Consumer Service, Processing/Production and Computer/Technology.

Each area has a comprehensive array of tasks for students to learn and perform. Students are encouraged to become as independent as possible while learning the tasks and developing skills. Instructors become their supervisors as students work through the activities. Tasks range from creating photo layouts in computer areas to using a coping saw to cut a pattern in the construction area.

The goal is to gain experience that will help students develop successful future plans. The data collected will assist families in identifying career interests, understanding which work behaviors need further development and understanding strengths of their students.


Principal: Jason Wenschlag

Expected enrollment: 1,171

One of the new additions to Richfield High School this school year is new Principal Jason Wenschlag.

Wenshlag was a business teacher and ninth-grade administrator for seven years at Bloomington's Kennedy High School before becoming an assistant principal at Richfield High School for five years. He was then an elementary principal in Richfield and Wayzata for three years before returning to high school this year as principal.


Principal: Rob Metz

Expected enrollment: 1,357

The most significant change at St. Louis Park High School is the class schedule. The Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule will remain the same as last year; however, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, first period will begin 20 minutes later, at 8:40 a.m., and there will be seven 46-minute class periods rather than the usual seven 50-minute class periods.

Teachers will still report to work at the same time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so the later student start will give them the opportunity to meet in interdisciplinary teacher teams.

Buses will pick up and drop off students at the same time every day. Bus riding students will notice that they will have less time than last year to stop at their lockers, eat breakfast, visit with their friends and get help from their teachers on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but more time than last year to accomplish these same tasks on Tuesdays and Thursdays.


Principal: David Brecht

Enrollment: 1,315

What's new: Half of the planned $3 million in renovations were completed at Chaska High School this summer, including new tennis courts, a track, resurfaced parking lots, lockers and improved lighting.

The school is also adding college-level Advanced Placement courses like multi-variable calculus, meaning more than 40 percent of 10th-12th grade Chaska students earn college credit.


Principal: Tim Dorway

Enrollment: 1,623

Twice weekly 20-minute mental health breaks are new this year, designed to help over-scheduled teens get a little balance. Teachers agreed to 12 no-homework nights during the year to encourage students and their families to get out and do things they enjoy.

Students who have a healthy balance of school, family and fun have a mature perspective and can still be highly successful in their academics, says Principal Tim Dorway. Case in point: Chanhassen will offer advanced college-level, multi-variable calculus.


Principal: Steve Hill

Expected enrollment: 1,700

The school's Technology Education Department has retooled itself over the past five years and is now primarily a pre-engineering program, offering five courses in a rigorous Project Lead the Way Program. Students can obtain college credit similar to programs. In addition, the school offers a class, Robotic Engineering and Programming, and an after-school club in robotics. The BLITZ TEAM -- a Robotics Club -- starts the school year off with an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair. General Dynamics continues as the primary business partner, with Nelson Numerics providing assistance with engineering and machining robotic parts. As part of FIRST Robotics, the team will compete in the Annual FIRST Robotics Competition at Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota in the spring.

The school will be offering academic intervention and support classes for students who need that extra help in their core classes. The school also has increased staffing in honors and AP classes by 30 percent from past years to meet the different learning needs of students.


Principal: Andy Beaton

Expected enrollment: 1,600

College Possible (formerly Admission Possible) is a program that makes college admission and success possible through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. Visit the Kennedy College Possible web page for more information or learn more about this non-profit organization at

Academic seminars are personalized, small-group study sessions held every Thursday of any full week of the school year. Teachers select students from their regular classes who may need extra study time or one-on-one help in that particular academic area. Academic seminars are approximately 45 minutes and are a helpful feature of JFK's modified block week.

Sectionals time allows the classroom teacher to selectively schedule time for focused, small-group instruction for those students needing extra instruction to keep pace with classroom instruction. Teachers can elect to schedule a sectionals time, which uses a building substitute teacher teaching a portion of the class while the regular teacher tutors a smaller group of students for extra subject review.


Principal: David Dahl

Expected enrollment: 2,000

Robbinsdale Armstrong has a new assistant principal, Lori Sundberg. Sundberg comes to the high school from Noble Elementary, where she served as principal.


Principal: Michael Favor

Robbinsdale Cooper welcomes Jim Calhoun as a new assistant principal. Calhoun previously served Sonnesyn Elementary as principal.

This year, the school is also launching Project Lead the Way, a nationally recognized pre-engineering program.

Kim McGuire • 612-673-4469

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