Blended learning opportunities at Ellis in 2015-16

Published 9:30 am Friday, March 6, 2015

By Jason Senne

Ellis Middle School principal

In September of 2014, the school district provided each Ellis Middle School student a laptop.

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This device has allowed for more access to curriculum, research topics and other learning activities. Ellis Middle School still has three traditional computer labs that are used for graphics/multimedia, digital literacy and a tech café.

Jason Senne Ellis Middle School principal

Jason Senne
Ellis Middle School principal

The tech café is an area that allows students to get assistance with printing documents, charging and reporting issues with their laptop. The Ellis building continues to have traditional classrooms and recently added Flexible Teaching and Learning Areas (FTLA).

The FTLA spaces are equipped with collaboration stations, flexible furniture and presentation areas. Classroom teachers use these spaces with their department colleagues for collaborative learning activities. Language arts and social studies teachers often collaborate for interdisciplinary projects. Ellis teachers are using technology to provide students with authentic learning opportunities throughout the year. Ellis has recently partnered with LT Media Lab, a division of the University of Minnesota, to provide on-going staff development focusing on the use of technology and collaboration. Teachers have been recognized for their efforts in creating lessons that infuse technology and collaboration. The timeline below shows the background information, implementation and future planning for continued progress.

Ellis Middle School Technology Implementation Timeline:


• The I.J. Holton Intermediate School building opened with a STEAM focus and all fifth- and sixth-grade students and staff received a laptop.

• Ellis teachers received laptops in December and were provided an opportunity to explore the devices.


• Ellis wireless access was updated to accommodate the extra devices.

• Student laptops rolled from I.J. Holton to Ellis Middle School.

• All seventh- and eighth-grade students received a laptop.

• August Technology Boot Camp for Ellis teachers was implemented.

• Twelve hours of staff development time was provided.

• Topics covered included:

• Infinite Campus

• Moodle

• Prezi

• Smart Tools

• One Note

• An instructional coach and technology integrationist was provided weekly support to teachers.

• Meet bi-weekly with departments.

• Focus on SIOP instructional strategies and literacy.

• Focus on collaboration and technology.

• U of M provided staff development during early release times throughout the school year.

• Technology challenges in October.

• Staff celebrations and flops were celebrated equally in December.

• January’s teacher challenge was to model one of the district’s instructional approaches.

• May early release staff development will provide time for departments to share their projects centered around the district instructional approaches.

Learning should be:

• Authentic: originating in and empowering the real-life experiences of our students, families, and communities.

• Inquiry-Driven: nurturing challenging investigations fueled by curiosity, creativity and exploration.

• Participatory: guiding learners in taking an active role in what, where, why, and how they learn.

• Shared: communicating and collaborating within and beyond the school community.

• Reflective: reviewing experiences in order to enhance learning and inform future decisions and actions.


(future planning)

• August Teaching and Learning Boot Camp

• Classroom management and the laptop

• Infinite Campus

• Packer Pride Building Goals

• Innovation- Social Media/Website

• Grading for Learning

• Response to Intervention

• Continued Staff development opportunities throughout the school year

• Focus on Using the technology as a tool

• Social Media- how do we get our message out

• Blended Learning

• SIOP Instructional Strategies

• Writing across disciplines

As you can see there are many exciting changes ahead for students and staff at Ellis Middle School.

Please be sure to stop by and check out our progress or follow us on twitter at #EllisMiddle492.