eLearning

A Letter to Edutopia’s Guest Blogger: In-Class Flip Is Not A Version of Flipped Learning?

A few weeks ago @cultofpedagogy blogged about “The in-class Flip” and I tweeted a response.

in class flip conversation

Because of this so called “in class flip”, I have received and read comments from teachers curious and possibly confused about Flipped Learning. I started writing a comment to Jennifer Gonzalez @cultofpedagogy post and author of the article via @edutopia and discovered that it was just far too long for a comment. So here is what I have to say:

To Jennifer:

I think the biggest issue that bugs me about the article around this so called “in-class flip” is that it is trying to rename what already exists and has already been named. Teachers reading this post should have been told by you about the models of blended learning within Rotations. Flipped is one of the arms of a rotation model.  I see the word “rotations” was mentioned in your post and that is great but there is no reference, no link  to where this “naming” comes from or implies within the blended frame.  So, yes, there are different rotation models and the one you mention is ” station rotation” but you have renamed it “in class flip”. How is what you are describing as an “in-class flip” different from the definition of “station rotation”? Maybe it’s semantics, maybe am a nerd, maybe am totally wrong and misunderstood your post but what I am frustrated with is gimmicky new names like “in-class Flip” confusing newbies about flipped learning. Thank you for responding to my tweet but am not satisfied with the response that you are “just helping discouraged flippers realize possibilities”.  Flipped learning fits in with middle school and high school and other rotations should be considered for elementary. Is that your audience?

The name is not the only issue. You do a good job of referencing Flipped Learning, albeit “traditional” flipped. You indicate that this “version” is not the flipped learning they’ve read about, but your newer version which is different. It seems as though you are trying to make a name for yourself with some new model. And the moment you start using language referring to Flipped to the Traditional flipped, you are (perhaps inadvertently) trying to place it where tradition lives, where it’s not hip. There is no such thing as traditional flipped learning there is ONLY Flipped Learning. Your model is not the newer modified version of flipped.

Here is what I argue: Flipped Learning can Transform Instruction if done well. If it’s not working then we need to look at what is happening during instruction. Flipped learning is about Good Instructional Practices. Simple. Simply stating in your tweet that you are providing discouraged flippers with possibilities suggests to teachers that a cosmetic change to their class from traditional flip to the hip in class flip is a possible solution? What you need to be doing before throwing flipped into the recesses of tradition and administering a band aid to what is the bigger problem  is instead addressing how teachers are implementing their teaching and learning cycle within the flipped model? Or asking teachers how they are planning for their face to face time once stuff moved online? How about even addressing whether what’s online is engaging and do they have online assessments built in to build competency?  How about the homework issue? It was an issue before class started, it’s still an issue with flipping, right? How is that being addressed regardless of flipping?

I can tell from your post that you know that flipped learning can be powerful. But I’d like to recap why that is: Let’s talk about student at center of learning.  Moving content to an online space, and inverting instruction so delivery of content or low level procedural stuff can be accessed online places the student in the driver’s seat– students are able to personalize their learning. When students (assuming we are targeting middle and high school flippers only) control the path, place, and pace of learning it leads towards a more student centered approach. The station rotation you describe and acknowledge has some limitations in meeting blended learning that transforms since there are time restrictions within a class period clearly placed in an in class rotating model. So instead of those students listening to a teacher in person, now they are listening to it in class, online, right there, in class and still only have @15 minutes I assume to take notes and move along, right? What has changed? That pacing and place piece are missing which allows students to pause, reflect, take notes, rewind, come back. That’s the power of a flipped model. How about the opportunity to check for understanding, take a quiz, come back relearn, retake the quiz. When done away from class, at their pace, students come to class the next time and if needed the teacher clarifies the low level knowledge based stuff and moves students to digging deeper and thinking critically. I am not saying a station rotation isn’t a way to improve practices. It’s still an awesome model. I am saying it is not really leveraging technology to transform instruction- that is what Flipped learning does. So yes, “station rotation” works and should not be overlooked but you are confusing teachers by associating your version of station rotation with the power of flipped learning.

Another key to blended learning that transforms is online assessments: Once content is online and places students in the driver’s seat, online formative assessments help them personalize their learning. Online formative assessments are the game changer for teachers and students creating that step into competency based learning. Sure you can build that into the station rotation and the online content they engage in while in class but how can the teacher use the data from the assessments to make decisions that shape the rotation when the assessments are done in class during the time that we should be leveraging that face to face time to dig deeper ?  Online formative assessments within a flipped model gives us immediate results and feedback that translate to more engagement with the curriculum. Bottom line: high quality blended learning must allow for personalized learning and allow teachers to differentiate– how is that possible with the so called “in class flip” or as we all know it as station rotation? We need to be leveraging good online learning tools so that data is in-time and looped within student-centered feedback but we also need to have time to review the data so as to inform instruction, right? With that data, gathered prior to class, teachers are empowered to differentiate in real time, and now we are getting the most out of the promise of blended and flipped classroom.  Online formative assessments have allowed the teacher I work with to review assessment data BEFORE students arrive in class and thereby allowing her to tier activities based on that data and then continue to assess needs and adapt paths as needed. That is far more difficult to manage while instruction is happening and when the teacher should instead be taking advantage of small group instruction and ongoing formative assessments through observation and working with students.

A teacher with whom  I have been working uses online work within a rotating station but that is embedded within the Flipped model.  Since we spent time thinking about the WHAT NOW of class time after we started the flipping process, we ended up framing learning around PBL so her stations were designed as a means to answering the problem. The knowledge based procedural learning did not happen in class. If the knowledge based procedural stuff is still happening in the station rotation or what you call the in-class flip, how is technology being leveraged to transform instructional practices?  How do we free class time to get at the deeper thinking? The ability to work with real-time data gathered from an online course significantly increased the possibilities for differentiation for the teacher and it is through the frequent opportunities for differentiation that teachers’ instructional practices will be transformed. That is the promise of Flipped Learning.

I would have loved to see you describe how the power of Flipped Learning is about  freeing up class time so as to build in opportunities for application and critical thinking– to deeper levels of thinking. Your description moves away from the integrity of flipped classes to in class stations that are scheduled to allow students to digest low level procedural knowledge based stuff in class. When do students have enough time to receive guidance towards working on the application of the concept? Most districts use unit plans and teaching and learning cycle model. The unit plans are recommended to be completed within time frames. How do teachers meet those time frames from unit to unit while honoring the teaching and learning cycle?  How does the reteaching and then the intervention on the TLC fit into the time frames?  Flipped Learning when done well opens up the opportunity to meet the teaching and learning cycle within district time frames. This time piece in your version of flipped is not just a challenge and takes time as you mention, it’s simply just not Flipped Learning. It’s a whole different rotation approach that should not have the word Flip mentioned in its name.

 

Differentiated and Personalized: Getting At The Promise of Blended Learning

Edsurge EdTech Index

Edsurge EdTech Index

So I started this post wanting to write something short and quick about a cool online resource and instead ended up analyzing the promised land of Flipped learning.  How did I get there?  Well it all started a few weeks, maybe a month ago while I was exploring online stuff…

I’m always exploring online stuff and if you’re like me, you are probably slightly overwhelmed by the amount of digital stuff that is out there. Just step into  Ed Tech’s Index or EdShelf and you’ll see what I mean (personally, I prefer EdTech’s and strongly urge you to check it out). So while researching resources for Anne’s (@anneathertonLHS) Flipped Class…  I returned to EdTech’s Index page hoping to find free open sources that Anne can use in her Flipped Anatomy and Physiology blended class which she is creating, curating, crafting with some help from me. While at the Index page,  I stumbled upon sources listed under EdTech’s “Other” index and housed under Digital Textbooks, CK-12 that I had heard about but never dug into.

CK-12

CK-12

From the CK-12  About page: CK-12 is an online educational content site sponsored by the CK-12 Foundation, a nonprofit that desires to   increase worldwide K-12 access to high-quality STEM content. CK-12’s main offering is a collection of free digital textbooks (called “Flexbooks”) for high school age students, particularly on topics in science,engineering and math. As of September 2013, CK-12 has created a total of 88 Flexbooks that cover approximately 5,000 STEM content areas (from life science, like DNA vs. RNA, to sequences and series in calculus). Need more? Read through their vision here.

CK-12 digital Algebra

CK-12 is free and free is good. And in my opinion the content appears to be well-developed and thought-through open source content.  In my spelunking around, I landed on Algebra, where I could choose from 18 Flex books at various grade levels.  Yes, there are 18 digital textbooks and one of which is in Spanish! And as you can see from the linked image to the left, there are two ways to play in CK-12: one way is by browsing just by concepts the other by browsing entire Flexbooks.  I like that most have built-in videos, and the built in assessments, I like that I can search by CCSS and by content and grade level, I also like that I can  create a class and assign work to students! And I can even create my own Flex Book! And I liked that it is compatible on the iPad Mini. Not too shabby for free digital content. (There are some features that seem to work better on a computer’s browser than the App, and I have read they are working out kinks…)

Use CK-12 for your Class

Log in with Twitter or Facebook to Use CK-12 for your Class

But is it a good fit for blended learning? Yes, I think it is.  The CK-12 Flexbooks include digital text, built in interactivity with videos and assessments and what’s more, teachers can also build their own content right into CK-12. In my thinking, a digital text book that includes built-in assessments and provides immediate feedback so teachers can use that information to make decisions about students next steps makes sense for a blended setting.

It was about here, while thinking about the applications of this cool resource that I started wondering about the promise of blended learning to allow for differentiation and personalization and how this resource and others deliver on the promise of blended learning.  

It doesn’t matter how much I read on blended, there’s so much more to learn and am still learning and to be frank, sometimes am lost in the sea of information — And this is what has risen consistently:  high quality blended learning must allow for personalized learning and allow teachers to differentiate–  none of which are possible without ongoing formative assessment and in time feedback. As educators, we know that formative assessment is part of the learning and supports learning as learning is happening. As educators, we also know that with formative assessments teachers check for understanding and use data to inform and differentiate their instruction. Online content that has built-in assessments and provides immediate feedback is one way we can use online resources  to help teachers differentiate instruction, and personalize student learning- key components of exemplary blended models.

In a good blended model, teachers have and implement excellent instructional practices AND the model also integrates effective online tools and resources, well-developed online content that includes or allows assessment to be embedded.

When the online component can be used to administer and gather data which students and teachers can then act on and which empowers teachers to differentiate in real time, we are then getting the most out of the promise- now we can differentiate and personalize. We should leverage good online learning tools so that data is in-time and looped within student-centered feedback. Teachers and students need that data to differentiate and personalize their paths. I’m not saying embedded online assessments is the only way to assess formatively, but in a blended model it is certainly an advantageous component . Blended learning models allow us to build in face to face and online formative assessments which if done well allows teachers to be more efficient in reviewing assessment data before students arrive in class and thereby allowing  teachers to tier activities based on that data and then continue to assess needs and adapt paths as needed.

A blended learning model that supports this approach is The Flipped Model

where students complete lecture viewing and quick quizzes at home and in a well-designed system, the data is automatically generated and informs the teacher of how to tier activities before students arrive. In a Flipped classroom, students essentially get the bulk of  lecturing and information online and not during the class time. They  read, watch, engage with the lesson, pause, take notes, re watch etc as often as they want to. The Flipped class time is an opportunity for teachers like Anne Atherton at LHS who has Flipped her class to be able to use face to face time more thoughtfully (7 Things You Should Know about Flipped) . Instead of lecturing in class on anatomy and physiology, Anne will be spending time in class utilizing the best of teaching practices, driving small group instruction,  focusing on content, mind sets, skills, relationships, and instilling more student agency, “more time to implement more literacy and numeracy activities to align with Common Core.  Now I have an opportunity to include small group instruction so I can include more of the SIOP strategies  I learned about in my Masters classes, but have only had a little time in class to implement until now. So what has this flip done….it has given me the gift of time.  Time to engage students in critical thinking, apply content into real world case studies and to differentiate content with more small group instruction!” (From Anne’s blog post on Flipping her class, The Atherton Chronicles). With the data gathered from the night before, Anne can conduct small group instruction and rotate and listen and identify misconceptions and thus allow her to make decisions on how to move groups of students along that personalized path towards mastery of content . Because when Anne has data before her students come to class, she will be able to spend time on students critical thinking skills. She will spend time on assessing students needs, making decisions about appropriate intervention. And with her incorporation of a rotation class model in a Flipped class she has many opportunities to continue to assess formatively and she can use the data to make decisions that offer opportunities for students to advance or correct their understanding. The varied formative assessments that can now happen in class as a result of a Flipped class will give teachers like Anne a clearer picture into students learning and allow for differentiation and personalization. When learning is personalized, it is no longer fixed but flexible, and when it is flexible it means students are in varied learning places, so more than ever, teachers need to have effective ways to stay on top of measuring student learning so as to know how to tier future activities, how to move them along.

So here I am  with Anne, entering the promised land of blended learning, standing at the start of a Flipped world. Here we are  looking for the promise of the blended model to offer flexible learning pathways and along the way discovering first hand that to get the most out of that promise and get to that flexibility, we should be harnessing the power of good online stuff/technology, harnessing the power of exemplary classroom instructional practices, and in turn harnessing the power of using formative assessments to generate actionable data that informs and guides so that we can differentiate and students can personalize learning.

Part One: Should Blended Learning be Disruptive? From Emerging Sustaining Hybrid to Disruptive Blended Solution. Where are we in St. Vrain?

In my last post I mentioned ” high quality blended learning” in reference to eCredit. What exactly makes a program high quality blended learning ?

Think about personalization and mastery-based learning in classrooms. Do we expect students to master concepts before progressing? Yes. But what happens when students don’t master grade level concepts at the end of the seat-based, time controlled learning experience? Are we holding students back each grade level or how about advanced students, are we allowing them to test out of concepts and move forward? Is learning personalized for each student? Unfortunately, students are not in control of their learning and cannot move at their own pace and on top of it will be passed through to the next year whether or not it’s the best thing for them. According to the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive innovation in their white paper “Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive”, published May 2013 , high quality blended learning is one that is personalized, one that is mastery based, that has high expectations and a level of student ownership.

In eCredit recovery we’d like to think we come some what close to meeting the criteria of high quality: learning is indeed personalized with Compass’s individualized assessments and automatically generated learning paths and from there students can work at their pace yet within a specific time frame. I have worked to design ways that teachers will build autonomous learner skills that yield increased student ownership of learning  which include things like modeling study skills such as note taking and habits such as daily review of goals and goal setting while all along building community and forging deep relationships with students. The online content used is rigorous, diagnostic, and because of that teachers can work individually with students to intervene and reteach concepts in conjunction with the software. But that’s eCredit; a small district program that’s doing big things beyond just helping kids recover credit! It can be done! What about steps in the district to start implementing blended learning solutions?

And wait a second, do we even understand what blended is and isn’t?

Adding technology to a classroom is just that, a layer of technology- a technology-rich classroom. We know that. Some are still shocked to think that showing students an instructional video from Khan Academy  or Compass is still not meeting the definition of  blended learning. But am not shocked. How can we expect to share in an understanding of blended learning when we haven’t come to the table to discuss what that is in our district. It is safe to say that as a district, we are not offering high quality blended solutions. And the few who are are blending do it this way: taking the old way of doing things layering with new. While it appears that it may be blended it’s actually considered the “hybrid” model of blended learning. Think of hybrid as the marriage of old and new to create a new solution that performs better but because the old way of doing things is still there at the core, not much changes in the logistics of teaching and learning practices and policies –and so we don’t see a shift.   So let’s take the flipped classroom model that is thrown around a lot ; this is an emerging sustaining hybrid solution and while it is a good one, according to the Clayton Christensen Institute, it does not meet the definition of high quality blended learning that disrupts. Models that disrupt are the Flex models, A La Carte, Individual Rotation and Enriched Virtual which basically is online enriched with added traditional classroom experiences, such as working with a teacher on as needed basis. Perhaps the district’s one to one iPad roll out will allow us to try those emerging hybrid models though still married to the traditional practices, at the very least any hybrid model is a step in the right direction and will help us perform better such as implementing a Flipped class or the Station rotation model. It is clear that with the hybrid model, schools essentially attempt to improve the existing traditional classroom with the new product which while is an improvement, is not disruptive.

But should blended learning disrupt?

In the disruptive model of blended learning we see a scheduling and staffing change, we see students pacing themselves, and learning is more personalized. I’ve got a side job writing professional development courses and I’m working on a course on blended learning and this past weekend I checked in online to do some reading at the Clayton Christensen Institute. I focused especially on their recent article on whether blended is disruptive and clearly the impetus for this blog (that and the Coursera that I’m enrolled in on Blended Learning). I was tickled to see that the Institute is using the word hybrid to suggest the marrying of old and new and blended to indicate a departure from the old rather than using blended and hybrid interchangeably! So on the one side we have the sustaining option: a hybrid solution where we have the best of both worlds, where the advantages of online learning are  combined with the best of the traditional classroom. On the other side we have a disruptive blended option. In the disruptive option online learning is deployed “in new models that depart from the traditional classroom” so learning isn’t tied to seat time but to mastery of content and learning is personalized. Why should you care about whether you are teaching and learning in a blended solution that is sustaining or one that is disruptive? Well, according to the research, “disruptions almost always become good enough to meet the needs of mainstream customers who, delighted by the new value propositions they deliver, adopt them. In other words, the disruptive models almost always supplant the sustaining models over the long term.”

Getting to high quality blended learning is the goal and while eCredit isn’t completely there, we are very close and we are constantly working on the model. For true blended learning to emerge, a change in policies and practices and philosophies around the logistics of teaching and learning would need to occur. If we do not move away from the sustaining hybrid models, history shows that these hybrid models which allow us to hold onto traditional practices and policies will eventually be ineffective and will inevitably be supplanted by the disruptive models.

To better understand this theory of hybrids and disruptive blended learning, spend some time with the white paper: Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive? 

And as you read, consider the specific steps that need to be in place at schools to first get to the hybrid zone of blended learning that will allow us to implement one of the models  and/or transition from the emerging hybrid zone to a disruptive blended solution.

RTI & eCredit use of Compass

I’m an eCredit teacher after-school and a Biology teacher at Longmont High. I am also one of the people in my building who is on the RTI team. You can read more about me and the other teachers in the eCR program here

This fall I started teaching for eCredit and I immediately saw the connections for using the online software as an RTI support mechanism. Research shows that the best RTI programs have credit recovery opportunities during school or outside of school for students to make up failed classes and our district’s eCredit recovery program and content show great possibility. eCredit uses Compass Learning Odyssey software and it’s mostly beneficial because it is standards based.  Here’s what i mean: if a student has a high knowledge base, they can test out of topics or units that our district has customized. Then the Compass system generates what they didn’t show proficiency on. This way, they only need to focus on the work that they maybe missed in class due to absences or topics they just did not understand.

Using Compass as a math intervention especially can be very beneficial and something we have discussed at LHS for 9th grade RTI. Students could be working on Compass class they failed concurrently with the math class. This would allow them to make up the topics right away instead of falling further behind. If teachers had some training with Compass, they could assign pieces to students to use at home for re-looping purposes. This would be so great to use with students that missed class for an extended absence or to reteach materials that were not proficient on Unit tests. It is so hard to find time in class to reloop and that is such an integral part of the teaching and learning cycle.

But it doesn’t end there, we could use Compass as an evaluation tool to see where students are at and to diagnose needs of students. Since compass can be individualized per student, teachers could assign different concepts to students based on the diagnostics.

 

We can serve students way before they need eCredit. So why don’t we?

 

Our eCredit teachers are passionate about students learning;  however, it’s difficult to assess whether students learning eCredit impacts their achievement in the next grade when the majority of students are our 12th graders looking to graduate by May. What’s even more frustrating is getting 12th grade students enrolling in eCredit  to recover a 9th or 10th grade course. If  we had helped them sooner, imagine what they could’ve done with their learning over the four years? Can you imagine if eLearning was able to support schools beyond eCredit Recovery and inject some of the programming as intervention not as recovery? What do you think would happen? These credit recovery students who are typically at-risk, disengaged students, often close to dropping out students, may have had a more successful academic career had they been targeted earlier on to receive credit intervention rather than recovery. Rather, they come to eCredit at the end of their K-12 experience when they are exiting the system and desperately looking for options to recover credit and earn a diploma; unfortunately, it’s too late for their high school experience and a missed opportunity in that child’s life .
I would like to see eLearning and eCredit serving our students when it matters; when they can take their learning to the next year and be able to be successful in the next grade level– and maybe, by doing this we will open up doors for them by preparing them sooner than later to take, for example, advanced courses which can become a realistic and encouraged one. So instead of waiting for eCredit, when we see a student failing mid-semester, we give teachers access to Compass Learning and allow them to use it with their struggling students. I’ll bet that those students will not fail that course that school year. Teachers and students should have access to the content that eLearning is sitting on… it can be used for MORE than eCredit. And I will continue to push to make this a reality for our district’s students.

eCredit Survey: What our toughest customers are saying about eCredit

Monday March 4th marks the start of the sixth week of the eCredit Recovery spring session and while we have 4 more weeks to go (not including Spring Break) in the after-school program and just 3 in the during the day, we already have about 14 students who have successfully completed and recovered their credit, and are back on track for graduation! Since we kicked off this past fall 2012, we have had 229 students enroll in eCredit alone and an additional 21 students at DLA accessing Compass Learning Odyssey content for supplemental use. So far this year, 94 students have agreed to take an anonymous exit eCredit survey. (Keep in mind that not all students who have completed eCredit this year took the survey):

Let’s start with a basic demographic: students grade level this year. Take a look at the percentage of students who are seniors and juniors enrolled in eCredit: 88% (not unusual) and look at that in relation to the courses recovered:
Grade Level

Grade Level

The image below shows at least 65% of courses recovered are 9th and 10th grade level courses. Just think about what that has meant to a student’s academic success over the past four years if he or she didn’t get the content in 9th and 10th grade and is only NOW recovering that freshman course!
Courses Recovered 2012-2013

Courses Recovered 2012-2013

Also interesting are the number of students who selected “didn’t understand content” for why they failed the course the first time round: 35%…  Meanwhile,  29% who selected “didn’t pay attention” as their reason and 24% who selected “didn’t come to class” and the 45% who didn’t complete homework, selected behaviors that were probably a result of them struggling with the content and subsequently checking out of learning it the first time.
(Note: you’ll notice for some questions, students were able to select more than one checkbox so numbers do not add up to 100%. It’s indicated on the image if it is)
course the first time

Reasons students failed the course the first time

In fact, it’s supported here with 74% selecting that before taking the credit recovery course they had struggled understanding the content in the regular classroom.
Struggled understanding the content

Struggled understanding the content

And here’s the exciting part, 97% of students who completed the survey selected that after taking the course their understanding of the course content improved. This coming from students who have rarely felt academic success most of their lives is fantastic and exciting feedback!
After taking eCredit, understanding of content improved

After taking eCredit, understanding of content improved

This improvement in learning didn’t merely happen via Compass. It happened within the context of our eCredit Model. While the content is online, 87% of students selected that they benefited from the presence of an instructor. Wow!
Students benefited from the presence of an instructor

Students benefited from the presence of an instructor

77% selected they had a positive experience in eCredit and dare I suggest it’s likely related to their teachers of which 80% described eCr teachers as knowledgeable, 64% said they were approachable, 55% selected fun, 79% said instructors kept them working through the course and 48% described them as helpful and supportive.
How students described their eCredit Teachers

How students described their eCredit Teachers

It’s good to hear our toughest customers attributing some of their eCredit success to a combination of quality content and quality programming!

Reflections on the eCredit Blended Model

Developing a blended model for our eCredit program didn’t happen overnight. It’s been years in the making and is always under revision. And that’s why  eCredit continues to be successful because we are always looking at ways to improve the model; to better serve students. This week ended Week 5 in the eCredit Program. Week 5 is the magic week. Basically if a student can make it to the 5th week, they are more than likely progressing well and on track to successfully complete and recover credit. Getting students to commit to work for the first 5 weeks is due to the eCredit teachers diligent efforts– to get struggling students to work in an online course just doesn’t happen by chance– it happens with purposeful implementation of our blended program model. Most people have an outdated view of credit recovery programs, automatically associating it with plug and play and of poor quality all around. Let’s get one thing clear: We do not plug students in front of a computer and get them on their way. The blended learning environment of eCredit is focused on developing students autonomous learning skills. And it helps that we use content that is rigorous and highly customizable with licensed teachers- good teachers. Not only can we insert our own lessons, teacher created videos, written assignments and much more, but we can also mess with the current Compass Learning courses by deleting, reordering and customizing a whole new course. For example, I worked with the district math coordinator last summer to customize a “Jump Start” pre-algebra course made up of 6, 7,8 and 9th grade Algebra standards. Fun!

Before the school year ends, eLearning will purchase to own all Compass core content as well as a number of electives as well as courses from Florida Virtual School.
But good content would be useless if we did not have good people AND design an effective blended model that has factored in (what we believe are) some thoughtful approaches in dealing with the issues that often plague online learning programs.
So the next time someone asks you about eCredit in your district, stand tall and know we’re not like the others- we’re  doing things differently – better!

The eLearning A-Team

If you’ve been reading my posts over the years, you’ve probably noticed me mentioning the “we” and “us” of eLearning— well, truth is when it comes to the eLearning coordination which includes eCredit Recovery programming, it’s just an office of  me  🙂 But I say “we” because I do have people with whom I brainstorm and process and I’d like to think of them as The eLearning A -Team (loved that show). Who are they? Mary Malpezzi, DTS secretary extraordinaire who has been assisting me for the last few years with things related to tracking eCredit fees and  teachers paid time cards and so on. And as of this year, I have the wonderful Melissa Vantine, DMS secretary  dedicated to supporting me on the technical side of eCredit such as building sections in Infinite Campus as well as Regwerks  (online payment system) for the fall. She’s also learning to use Compass Learning Odyssey (provider of our online eCredit curriculum) tools to monitor eCredit student progress (all 170 of them this spring), and share that with teachers in a way that is meaningful to them. Then there is Donna Thompson, Digital Learning Academy Facilitator and licensed counselor, who has been a key person in supporting the coordination of the eCredit Recovery program as well as being an active facilitator and mentor to teachers. And last but not least, there are the program’s amazing teachers, genuinely committed to students’ success and who have each been instrumental in the shaping of the program. But don’t take my word for it, read the biographies and get to know our eCredit program’s brilliant teachers yourself and discover some of St Vrain School’s most dedicated, energetic, and enthusiastic educators! A BIG thanks to each of them!

If you have a credit recovery problem- if no other options exist,  you know where to find us: the eLearning A- Team (If you remember the TV show intro, you’ll get that :))

Click to Learn all about your eCredit Recovery Teachers or read all about them in the box below:

Encouraging Initial Feedback for new eCredit Readiness Approach

eCredit has kicked off another session and counselors are expressing a sound of relief as students across St Vrain take advantage of the eCredit Recovery program and get back on track for graduation. Skyline and Longmont High are the only two schools in the district that run eCredit during the day. Yesterday, I received an email from one of the eCredit facilitators, Margo Miller . Margo and SHS math teacher, Natalie Stotz (also an after school eCredit teacher) are facilitating 3 sections of eCredit during the day at SHS. Margo shared feedback on the new approach to eCredit that I asked them to implement in the during the day program. During the day students at LHS and SHS did not start eCredit work till January 14th and prior to that I requested the teachers at SHS and LHS assign pre-ecredit work (customized content from our Compass customized core courses) to students as Readiness units. The feedback Margo shared from counselors and students is encouraging. As I plan for summer and the new school year of eCredit after-school, one of my hopes is to tack on additional weeks to the current ten week program and implement the Pre-eCredit Readiness. Here’s what Margo shared:

Hi Nawal,


Had an in-house meeting yesterday and heard some really good things about the readiness units.

At the meeting the counselors shared that kids were back reporting to them that they were sure they would be able to do this and they liked what they had seen. The counselors felt good that the kids would be confident going in after having had a taste of what would be expected.
From my kids:
The veterans resented having to spend the time “practicing” yet some admitted they learned good navigation tips or better understood all the things the gradebook could tell them, and one admitted actually trying on the pre-test had proved to be amazingly rewarding.

The newbies had the chance to get their feet wet and it opened their eyes about the format, the timing, and the rigor. I was glad to be able to field specific questions for them that would impact their progress later.
I think it was a good thing and so glad you tried it.

Augmented Reality at Sunset Middle School

                                          

This morning I met with Michelle, Faye, Universal Middle School facilitator located at Sunset Middle School. We worked on ways to customize content in Compass Learning for her students. But before we began we had to talk about the door decorating contest happening at Sunset Middle Schooland I reminisced over my middle school teaching days. She and her UMS students had gone for a “Winter Wonderland” theme (top left) You couldn’t miss the festively decorated doors- one after the other. One in particular, a winner from previous years had  Christmas music playing outside the door (top center and right).

So we got to work, reviewed online content, discussed standards and took notes. Good stuff. But the best part was what I learned from Michelle today.

Are you ready for this brave new world moment? Here it is: At one moment we began discussing Art and she mentioned their amazing Art teacher , Donna Goodwin and the work she has done in planning for Sunset’s  Academics & Arts Extravaganza happening tonight . One thing in particular that the art teacher had done was that she had added Auras to students art work. Yes “auras”.  At least that’s what the app that Michelle introduced me to calls it. What am I talking about?  Well it’s what the App Aurasma refers to what it uses to overlay images. Michelle Faye has dubbed it the Happy Potter App. Remember the still images in newspapers in Harry Potter were overlayed with videos? This app is sort of like that. Aurasma claims to be the world’s first free visual browser and leading augmented reality platform. How does it work?  “Aurasma uses advanced image and pattern recognition to blend the real-world with rich interactive content such as videos and animations called “Auras”.”

So I had to see it in action. The video below is of the app in action. The teacher opened the app, focused on art work, and one after the other, for each art work’s overlay, a recorded video of each student discussing their work automatically started playing. So tonight when parents perused the art work at the extravaganza, parents could use the app on their smart phones, hold the phone to the picture and listen to each student share their work. Way to Go Sunset! Thank you Michelle for sharing this fantastic tool. Oh the possibilities!!

I’ve been  home for an hour and already Aurasmatized my son, tree and dog!

Aurasma in Action at Sunset Middle School

Aurasma in Action at Sunset Middle School