This article is a feature from the 2022-23 Minnetonka Public Schools Annual Report.
A Minnetonka Public Schools classroom looks very different today than it did 20, 10 or even five years ago—and in the years ahead, classrooms will continue to evolve. From flexible seating and modular desks to the worlds of possibility opened up through the interactivity of personal devices, Minnetonka classrooms are dynamic places where students of all grade levels are researching, collaborating and presenting, with technology as an accelerator for learning.
“Our District is research-driven, where proven and promising teaching and learning practices are the basis for classroom technology decisions,” said Dr. Amy LaDue, Associate Superintendent for Instruction. “Desired learning outcomes, coupled with the research on how students learn and the technologies available, drive our technology needs.”
“Classroom technology is any ‘tool’ used for any aspect of instruction or as a means to interact with the teacher and/or with classmates,” said Amanda Fay, Director of Instructional Technology. “These range from low-tech pieces, such as math manipulatives and whiteboards, to high-tech options, like iPads, apps, presentation screens and microphones.”
Throughout the 2022-23 school year, the Minnetonka Schools Teaching and Learning and Technology teams continued their iterative collaboration to research the next era of Minnetonka’s classroom technology, a project presented to the School Board throughout the year as the “Classroom of the Future.” The research process included stakeholder interviews, teacher surveys and focus groups, student focus groups and discussions with PTO/PTA leaders regarding classroom technology.
As administrators and teacher leaders prepare for “what’s next” in terms of technology in the classroom, it will not be a device alone, but an entire classroom ecosystem designed to support student experiences for meaning, engagement and deeper learning. “The era of independent hardware devices has passed,” said Mike Dronen, Executive Director of Technology. “What’s next is a connected classroom portfolio of higher performing hardware and software that outperform today’s current technology, better supporting learning, instruction, collaboration and access. We are looking to transform education.”
Through extensive “Classroom of the Future” research, four guiding principles emerged that will inform the District’s next steps for technology. Technology utilized should be 1) Visible, 2) Mobile, 3) Flexible and 4) Collaborative.
Visible technology refers to consistent, reliable, equitable, modern and easy-to-use equipment, including bright and clear classroom display technology.
Mobile technology refers to responsive equipment with productive and efficient workflows and tools to support teachers and students both in and out of the classroom.
Flexible technology refers to the ability of equipment to adapt, physically or digitally, based on individual or collective student or teacher needs.
Collaborative technology refers to equipment that allows every student and teacher to engage in learning activities.
These core priorities will ensure that future technologies in Minnetonka classrooms continue to act as a catalyst to accelerate student learning.
Photo caption: Students from Minnetonka Middle School West learn about robot coding using LEGO Mindstorm machines as part of a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) elective course.
Students Put Technology Skills into Action
Minnetonka Public Schools works constantly to support students in innovative ways that will stimulate learning and achievement. Teachers encourage students to work on real-world problems and pair their technology skills with innovation to solve challenges. Below are just a few examples of Minnetonka students putting technology into action.
Middle School Students Design & Create 3D-Printed Prosthetic for Pet Chicken
Seventh graders in Dawn Sorenson’s technology education class used the engineering design process to make life a little easier for Maple, a local pet chicken beloved by an MME family. After the chicken lost a claw to frostbite, the class worked together to design and fabricate a prosthetic for her. Students used the digital application Sketch Up to create 3D renderings of their ideas, which were then fabricated using a 3D printer.
Elementary School Students Teach Digital Citizenship Using Green Screen Videos
Clear Springs Elementary fifth graders learned important digital citizenship skills in a hands-on way. Working in teams during their media time, students created videos about how to interact with others safely online while keeping their personal information secure. Students led every aspect of the video production, from writing the scripts, acting out conversations and recording their ideas to editing their footage and presenting final films to the class.