Thursday, August 26, 2010

Technology Integration

This week we took several Sioux Trail classrooms to the next level of instructional technology. District maintenance staff finished installing six interactive white boards in our classrooms. The interactive white board (SMART is the brand name) allows users to interact with the display on the screen. We used building budget funds to purchase four boards, the PTO purchased one with proceeds from one of our book fairs and the sixth SMART board was acquired through a grant. In order to have a SMART board installed in their classroom, teachers had to apply and specify how using an interactive white board would impact teaching and learning in their classrooms. Teachers also had to specify how they would obtain professional development so they would know how to use the SMART Board in the most effective manner. Each SMART board is approximately $1200 and requires an LCD projector to work. Through a combination of building and PTO resources,as well as several generous financial donations, we finished purchasing and installing LCD projectors this summer. Unlike the two elementary magnet schools, which had access to special budgets and were able to purchase this type of technology all at once, we have been making wise use of building resources, teaming with our PTO and gradually adding technology tools to classrooms. I doubt the process of increasing access to technological tools will stop anytime soon as there are always additional tech tools that we want students and teachers to have access to. We are also adding document cameras (watch for a future post on these), sound field technology and student response systems to teaching spaces.

For the 2010-11 school year there are SMART boards in rooms 110, 118 (Science), 203, 204, 205, 206, 208 and several Special Education classrooms. If you think this type of technology is important in the work that we do please let your child's teacher know that!

Friday, August 20, 2010

TRAIL Blazer Club

Dear Panther Pages Reader,

You are invited to join Sioux Trail students for a monthly meeting of the Sioux Trail "TRAIL Blazer Club". I believe that being successful fuels our willingness to try new things and be the best we can be. At Sioux Trail our primary goal is increased student achievement and one of the ways we achieve this is by helping students be successful.

One of the methods we are using to recognize success is through "TRAIL cards". Students who are "caught" making good choices may receive a TRAIL Card at any time during the school year from any Sioux Trail staff member. These cards contain messages which offer positive reinforcement and encourage students to continue making good choices. Students have several options when they receive a TRAIL card. One of the options is entering the TRAIL Card in a drawing for lunch with special guest and me at a monthly meeting of the TRAIL Blazer Club.

There will be a meeting of the TRAIL Blazer Club each month and I'm inviting adult members of the Siuox Trail community to join me at a meeting(s). We will be meeting during student lunch times and there will be four to eight students per grade level each time. The meetings are approximately two hours long as students will rotating in during their half-hour lunch times. When we meet students will share what types of good choices they are making, learn about you and what types of choices you have made to be successful. In the beginning of the school year I will share with students what the acronym TRAIL means to me and we'll discuss what it means to them at the TRAIL Blazer Club meetings.

Students will be providing their own lunch, but I'll be providing a treat for dessert and lunch for our special guests. I hope that we will have a wide variety of special guests and if you are interested please let me know and I will email you the meeting schedule. There are two meetings each month which provides for an uninterrupted meeting for each grade level. In addition to inviting all of our blog readers I have extended the invitation the ISD 191 school board members, ISD 191 distrct administration and elected state and national officials. If you are able to join us please contact me and let me know which month(s) you'd like to participate.

Thank you,
Taber Akin

To Blog or . . .

With 11 followers I think the answer is "to blog"! Thank you Panther Pages followers.

Within a week we have grown from 3 followers (of which I was one!) to 11. Here is the next question - can we continue the growth and achieve 20 followers of the Sioux Trail Panther Pages blog? Thanks blog followers!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Dear Panther Pages Readers -
The challenge is on - I want to increase the number of "followers" on the Panther Pages blog! I sent out an email on Friday and we increased from three followers to five followers! That pales in comparison to a blog that I read this morning, Dangerously Irrelevant, with 19,000 followers! The scope is, of course, a little different as Scott is blogging about the national issue of technology use in schools and I'm blogging about life at a small (but great) elementary school in Minnesota. Irregardless of that, the challenge is on - I want to increase the number of people who follow this blog. Why? A large number of followers increases my desire to keep the blog up to date because I know that you are reading what I write. You are always welcome to post comments and keep me informed of what you think.
  • If you have not already signed up as a follower please sign up TODAY!
  • If you are already a follower please email this blog on to friends, family members and other members of the Sioux Trail community.
Thank you!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fire Lane

In the scope of everything that takes place at an elementary school the identification and establishment of a fire lane isn't the most important thing we do. But, that is exactly the project that was completed at Sioux Trail this morning. So you ask, if this isn't a big deal, why is he taking time to blog about it?

I'm writing about this because this simple act is restructuring how student transportation will flow around Sioux Trail and my hope is that clear frequent communication will make this transition easier for all involved. In the spring the Burnsville Fire Marshal contacted me to inquire about where our fire lane was and how it was marked. After we established that there was no place labeled as fire lane, decided where it should be and established a plan to get it set up I started looking at how this minor change would impact out traffic flow.

In previous years we had used the front of school as a parking area and a student pick-up area. As many of our parents know from first hand experience this section of the school was sometimes double and triple parked. Now that over half of this paved area is a fire lane, reserved for emergency vehicles, no non-emergency vehicle may park in the designated fire lane at any time.

For those of you who are parents and who will visit Sioux Trail I will be mailing you a map that outlines the plan for Sioux Trail traffic flow and includes a visual. Here are the three basic outside areas of the school and how they will be used for student traffic flow.

The area immediately in front of Sioux Trail is for bus drop off and pick up only. Buses will use the area in front of Sioux Trail to drop students off in the morning. Buses will pick students up in the same area at the end of the day. This area is for bus pick up and drop off only. Because part of this area has been designated as a fire lane there is limited visitor parking during the school day. There is no parking in this area during student arrival and dismissal

The rear parking lot will host parent pick up and drop off. The sidewalk along the rear parking lot is used for student drop off. Vehicles may not be parked and unattended along the sidewalk, but may load and unload students along the sidewalk. Visitors who are coming in to Sioux Trail with their children should use the visitor parking spaces.
  • In the morning students may be dropped off between 8:10 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.
  • In the afternoon students need to be picked up between 2:55 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
The small parking lot on the Northwest side of Sioux Trail is for buses only. This is a no parking zone.

I know this is a change, but by spreading the word I hope that this an easy transition. If you have questions please send me an email at: