February 9: Innovative Practices


Hello, Black River Falls Community! This is Dr. Shelly Severson with the School District of Black River Falls here to share this week’s installment of our Spotlight on Schools!  This week I’m excited to share with you an example of some really innovative practices taking place in our schools!  I think we can all readily agree that technology is changing and advancing at a rate that makes it nearly impossible to keep up with!  Keeping up with all of the changes is not our goal.  Our goal is to find ways to use the technology to either be more efficient in our work, to enhance the student experiences, or to open opportunities that simply didn’t exist without it. Christy Roush is a fifth-grade teacher at Red Creek Elementary.  She is extremely “techie,” if you know what I mean.  Recently, she put technology to work in a way that saved money, time and removed barriers to student participation.  

Christy is also our Gifted and Talented Coordinator, and as such, she coordinates a Regional Vocabulary Showdown.  There are between 15 and 20 elementary and middle school teams that participate from around our region.  This includes Arcadia, Holmen and Whitehall--truly all over the area.  She had already prepared all of the questions for the event, organized the teams and the brackets and communicated with the teachers from the other schools.  On the day of the event, Mrs. Roush used a free tool called “Google Hangout” to connect all of the schools in order to be able to communicate in real time. By using the Hangout feature, she could share her screen with all other participants so that they could see the questions, answer choices, etc.  In each of the participating schools there was an adult that was projecting the screen so that the whole team could see it at once.  Christy was on the phone in a conference call with all of the teachers to gauge the timing and troubleshoot anything else that came up.  They were able to spend approximately an hour and half of their day determining the Vocabulary Showdown Champions of the region.  All from the comfort of her own classroom!  In previous years there would have been the expense of the buses, lunches, and hiring substitutes.  The participants would have lost a full day of instruction with the added travel time.  Because of the added cost and hassle, some schools opted to not send teams.  By using the technology that was readily available in all of the schools, Mrs. Roush hosted a fantastic event in a way that more students could have the opportunity to participate in!

We still do the nail-biting Spelling and Geography Bees where all students are up on the stage waiting for their turn to answer their question or spell their word correctly. Parents and family members still come to cheer them on, and they still get to hear the thunderous applause of their peers when they are deemed the champion!  But by using the virtual tools we have, our kids can connect with other classrooms in our region, around the state, country, and world.  The possibilities are truly limitless! 

If you are looking for something to do this evening, the Tiger boys basketball team is in action at the Fieldhouse.  It’s a special night as they will recognize the 1958 and 1988 state qualifying basketball teams.  Ironically, both of those teams were coached by Sam Young! The boys recognize that it was 30 years between those two state appearances...and it’s been 30 years since the last one...could it be possible that 2018 is the next in line?  Come cheer on the Tigers at 7:15 as they take on Onalaska Luther. The Music Booster Taco Supper is in the High School Commons beginning at 5:00 - stop in for dinner and a game!

As always, thank you so much for your support of the School District of Black River Falls!  If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me!  Let’s show our Tiger Pride in all that we do!
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