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 Most people have an outdated view of credit recovery programs, automatically associating it with plug and play and of poor quality all around.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



St Vrain Valley District Closes Achievement Gap Through eCredit Recovery Program: A Compass Learning Article

Check out the article here St Vrain Valley District Closes Achievement  Gap Through eCredit Recovery Program



eCredit Biology Teacher’s First Dance with eCredit

As a teacher that had not heard of the SVVSD eCredit recovery program until earlier this year, I had an opportunity this semester to learn so much about this very successful program.  I started working on customizing Biology units and labs early this summer and am still working on refining it.
When eCredit started this September some of my eCredit students recovering Biology came to the program with a rather negative attitude; however, within weeks they found themselves finding great success at becoming autonomous learners.  Part of the expectation as a facilitator was to deliver a learning experience that built autonomous learning skills in students. In addition to our culture of community and autonomy, students found the online coursework very motivating because they could test out of curriculum they understood and found the harder they worked, the faster they would recover their credit.  Each of them had a individualized plan generated by the online course work that allowed them to work at their own pace.  As students completed the program, the students remaining worked even harder to complete their course work.  Biology, as a course had a great challenge to overcome in having students fulfill the hands-on lab requirement portion of the class. Housed after-school at Student Service’s Digital Learning Lab, students are able to successfully complete labs. Students found the hands- on labs to be the perfect break from the online curriculum. I put together the labs  for each unit over the summer and adapted them from labs used in general classrooms throughout the district. The lab  procedures were adapted to be more individualized and the materials were adapted to be done on a smaller scale. Each unit has 2-3 required labs that students can work on to break-up their time in the classroom.  With my facilitation and direct instruction, students were able to work on different labs in different units on their own.
I am a great supporter of the eCredit program; it gives students the opportunity to get credit for what they know and work at their own pace on the material they struggle with. I am proud to join the eCredit team.

eCredit Spring 2012 Kick Off

I cannot believe we are approaching a new year and a new eCredit session. It feels like just yesterday that my eLearning department of one was scrambling to set up regwerks for online registration, forms for in person registration, coordinating locations for after-school ecredit, negotiating start dates for during the day eCredit at SHS, setting up sections in Infinite Campus, and then updating the website – not to mention researching and preparing for the ecredit teachers professional development day. Over the last few weeks I’ve been immersed in getting the spring session ready and am happy to report that eCredit Spring is set up and ready for registration next week.
Some things to keep in mind about the program 1) eCredit is only for students who have taken and failed the course which they are recovering. 2) This is a blended learning setting: this means this is an online course which requires face to face attendance after school up to twice a week for every course being recovered (More than one course = 4 days of attendance a week). 3) Seniors and some juniors with counselor recommendation may recover two courses (1 credit) and only attend twice a week.
eCredit Spring after school registration opens up December 10 and closes January 21.
Locations: OCHS and FHS computer labs with specific days and times 
Go to the updated and revamped eCredit site www.ecreditrecovery.com to learn more.

Schools running eCredit during the day (SHS and brand new LHS): registration opens December 10 and closes January 14th 
During the day program at SHS and LHS starts : January 14th – March 22nd
Find registration forms, fees and more information at www.ecreditrecovery.com

GT Online Art Enrichment in “Classes”

Click on the icon to check out the GT Visual and Performing Arts Course

About a month ago, GT coordinator Ross Greiner, and instructional technologist, Bud Hunt and I met to discuss how we could leverage our online platform, Classes (Formerly Virtual Campus and other known as Moodle) to deliver online enrichment content for GT students at the high school level. After careful analysis and determination as to how to best use our energies in supporting students with advanced learning plans, I was tasked with developing a skeletal outline of the space that would be used to deliver GT Visual and Performing Arts content.

The result: I got a little bit carried away.

Having once attempted a minor in Art but never completed it, as well as having exhibited and sold one art work (yes, my claim to fame), I personally took on the task of fleshing out the skeletal course.

If you’d like to review the content still in draft mode, simply go to Visual and Performing Arts for GT and log in with your regular district credentials.


District’s First Online PD Course Wraps Up with High Success!


Last Thursday, we wrapped the district’s first online professional development course. Teachers began the course at a face to face meeting in late September and worked online the rest of the time. Teachers met again one last time to celebrate and display and discuss their researched projects.

Teacher after teacher shared positive experiences and commended Traci and I for our efforts in creating and facilitating the course. We have learned so much from them and thank them for their high level of engagement in the course. And check out the video below of one teacher sharing her project.

The email below from one of the teacher’s who took the online course is a glimpse into the positive responses to the online PD learning experience

“Traci and Nawal,
I am still flying high from class. I wanted to personally thank both of you for the amazing opportunity this class presented. I love research and application and, even though I struggled at first, nothing worth while should ever be received without some blood, sweat, and tears.
Both of you were available whenever I emailed and you both  took the time to wade through the negative, whine tone to answer my questions professionally and with encouragement. HUGE!
I loved who I was sitting with during our evaluation piece (….the gal taking the class for credit.). She and I had similar comments and believed that the amount of work required fit a 600 level grad class. I took so much away from the class that it is hard to put into words everything I learned. All I can do is implement in my classroom.” from Theresa Randolph
Teacher’s Final Project: Online PD Practical Guide to the Teaching and Learning Cycle

eCredit Kick Off: How the eCredit program plans to get eCredit students back on track for graduation!

eCredit Recovery Facilitators

We started off eCredit this Fall with 177 students! Our highest Fall enrollment to date. Our big goal in mind as always is getting kids back on track for graduation. To do that, students need to complete the credit and earn a passing grade. To do that they need to attend and work with teachers. To do that… well…that’s where the learner has to choose to come to school and take on that responsibility.We are determined to discover what roles we play/should play in getting students to attend eCredit. This year we are determined to outline how we leverage the face to face time to build on students engagement.

Over the years, we’ve learned that we need to develop a way to build self-directed learners from non-self directed learners, build a sense of community with students who are disenfranchised and disconnected from the community, and grow a commitment to learn with students who don’t believe they can learn. The data we’ve gathered tells us that students, when committed to the eCredit program, can learn from the online content, and they can be successful—That’s IF they actually attend, log in from home, engage with it etc. In getting them to attend and keeping them there, is where we often find ourselves in eCredit.  We started our year discussing ways to get students 1) engaged with content, 2) engaged with us/each other 3) progress monitoring and DOing something with it that impacts their success 4) communicating progress. We asked ourselves: How do we do those things? How do we get at-risk, students who have not been successful in a regular classroom, to work independently? In thinking about those things we considered the following:

To be successful in any online learning experience, students must be self-directed, have autonomous learner skills; students must be prepared to work independently. So the challenge is: how do we get at-risk students (or any learner for that matter) to take charge of their learning? This meant asking teachers to examine the purpose of our face-to-face time with students. It’s certainly not so students can plug and play– face to face time needs to be highly purposeful. We know that. We outline things to do that are purposeful like intervening when necessary and checking with a student to ensure they are on track. But if we know that it’s all about whether or not they take charge, what are we doing to get them taking charge? So this year our PD centered around building student autonomy and even learning how SIOP strategies can help with learner autonomy. I wanted to be sure that we were going to be prepared to support students in doing what we wanted them to. I invited Mary Kennedy from Universal High School located at SCHS to shared her insights into Autonomous Learner model and Patrick Kilcullen, district’s Secondary ELA Coordinator  to help us make connections between autonomy and SIOP. We looked at student data and discussed whether the program policies etc need to adjust to support eCredit students. We leveraged the f2f time by scripting weekly community activities that support self-directed learning. Each week focused on an element of building student autonomy– from time management to self-esteem- it’s all tied to independent learning skills– It was fantastic learning, yet a daunting task for teachers who only meet twice a week after school with students from all over the district. We agreed that building learner autonomy is how we will get at getting kids recovering credit and back on track. With that as our focus, six weeks later, teachers were in the midst of reshaping their own expectations of themselves during their face to face time, in an effort to create a learning environment conducive to building that autonomy— and I think we’re getting there.