Partnering for Better Academic Opportunities
Saginaw Intermediate School District uses partnerships and technology to provide its students with more academic opportunities and resourcesBy Brian Warkoczeski, March 2009
Saginaw Intermediate School District (ISD) has been a vital resource to residents in Saginaw County. Saginaw ISD is the seventh largest
regional educational agency in Michigan and provides educational services, resources and technology to area school districts.
To offer more educational opportunities to its students and school districts, Saginaw ISD
is using partnerships with nearby ISDs and Saginaw-area organizations.
One such cooperative effort is the Multi-District Consortium, a collaborative organization that
pools resources from intermediate school districts to provide students and school districts with more
academic offerings and tools.
The Multi-District Consortium, which includes Genesee ISD, Lapeer County ISD, Midland County ESA,
Saginaw ISD, Shiawassee RESD, and St. Clair RESA, enables the participating members to provide
interactive television courses, special online programs, virtual field trips, and more to its school districts.
All ISDs in the consortium are Merit Network Members and can use their network connections
to stream videos-on-demand and send network traffic between each other, which is considered "on-net" traffic, at a reduced cost. Consortium members can also access Internet2 to participate in interactive videoconference and virtual field trips.
The consortium enables rural school districts to offer specialized courses, such as
American sign language, Chinese, and French. Districts can also take advantage of nature center
programs, such as the Farm Learning Center and Harley Outdoor Education Center.
Through professional development programs, like the Algebra Teacher Academy, the consortium
works to provide teachers with more resources and learning opportunities.
TRUE InitiativeA collaboration that Saginaw ISD uses to benefit Saginaw County's young learners is the
which is a partnership between Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club,
Saginaw Head Start, Saginaw ISD, Saginaw Valley State University, Creating Character—a local, for-teachers-by-teachers curriculum developer—and several Saginaw-area human services
The TRUE acronym stands for Teach, Reinforce, Understand and Engage. Educators launched the program during the 2006-07 school year with a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Partnerships in Character Education Project.
The goal of the initiative is to teach young students to be good citizens and build character.
Through literacy and cognitive development activities, the TRUE Initiative
teaches preschool, kindergarten and first grade students lessons and traits that
will benefit them in school and life.
The primary teaching tool in the classroom for the program is the
Peddlesfoots book series, which was created by Saginaw teachers
Matthew Hill and Lisa Workman. The books revolve around a family of rabbits, called the
Peddlesfoots, who through their many challenges learn to make wise moral decisions
in the face of many pressures.
Each year the TRUE Initiative has focused on a different class level, providing
participating teachers with training and classroom kits. The 2007-08 school year focused on
kindergarten classes, shifted to first grade classes in 2008-09, and will
move to preschool classes in 2009-10.
To support the TRUE Initiative, Saginaw ISD hosted "Cultures of Thinking" workshops, which
were led by Dr. Ron Ritchhart of Harvard University. The workshops focused on
ways teachers could use thinking routines and improve their students' understanding of classroom lessons.
When the four-year program is completed, evaluations and information gathered from
the project will be sent to the federal government.
A technology effort that Saginaw ISD is using to deliver distance learning programs and help school districts share resources
Saginet Telecommunications Network,
a consortium that connects 13 school districts
in Saginaw County to each other via a fiber optic network. Saginaw ISD and Saginet provides the participating schools with access
to the Internet and Internet2 through a
high-speed connection to Merit Network's backbone.
Most high schools that are part of the Saginet consortium have
installed state-of-the-art distance learning rooms that contain
videoconferencing equipment, a computer, IP phone system, DVD/VCR player, and more.
By using Saginet, schools in the district can provide distance learning courses and innovative programs
that connect students around the county, such as a virtual spelling bee
and a high school cultural exchange. Students can
also participate in virtual field trips to far off locations, such as the
Columbus Zoo in Ohio and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
A popular videoconference program with schools in Saginaw County is MysteryQuest, which fifth and sixth
grade classes use to test their geography knowledge. Students at schools across the county
participate in the game in real time, with one team providing clues to teams at the other schools.
Students use props and a poster board to give clues about the geography, culture, political, and
economy of a specific location somewhere around the world. The goal of the geography game is to stump your competitors, although
no score is kept.
Saginet also opens the doors to collaboration with schools outside of Saginaw County and Michigan.
Saginet's Collaboration Page lists educational opportunities via videoconference that Saginaw County teachers
can use to supplement their classroom work on a variety of subjects, such as the
Louisiana Purchase, Italian Language and Culture, and much more.
Through partnerships like Saginet, the True Initiative, and the Multi-District Consortium,
Saginaw ISD is giving students in Saginaw County more opportunities and
tools to be successful in the classroom and in life.
More About Saginaw ISDSaginaw Intermediate School District is a regional school district created in 1962 by the Michigan Legislature.
Saginaw ISD includes Hartley Outdoor Education Center, Millet Learning Center, REMC 3 & 9, SISD Head Start, SISD SVR4C, and the Transitions Center. Saginaw ISD has been a Member of Merit Network since 1995.
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