This fall, Coronado High School (CHS) will further broaden the options offered to students for online learning.
In a recent proposal he submitted to the Coronado Unified School District (CUSD) school board, Super-intendent Dr. Jeff Felix cited a 2014 State of the K-12 Market report that focused on a rise of flipped and blended online instructional models and the proliferation of online learning. “This research reminds us that…online learning is an extremely valuable asset to pursue,” Felix said.
Felix explained that these “flipped and blended online instructional models” have students watch initial lessons online, prior to attending class. Then, during class hours that follow, teachers use the class time to help students practice what they learned from the online lesson. (This model “flips” the traditional model, wherein teachers provide the initial lesson during class time, then students are assigned practice work to complete on their own time at home.) “Flip learning is an exciting advent,” Felix said. “Not only does it give a child the opportunity to learn at their own pace in the comfort of home, it ensures they’re not practicing the skills incorrectly outside of the classroom.” Furthermore, he explained, this model allows students to watch lessons as many times as they need to grasp concepts.
Several teachers at CHS have already implemented this flipped online learning model. History teacher Kellie Moore teaches a program called Big History (bighistoryproject.com), which has students explore the program’s online components at home — lectures, videos, pictures and interactive text — and then discuss, practice, and reinforce the concepts they learned at home with Moore and their classmates during class hours. “It’s a huge and popular program,” said Felix. “The lessons are pretty cool!”
CHS Principal Jenny Moore explained that math teacher Katie Leverich has also implemented her own version of flipped online instruction. Leverich video-records herself giving math lessons and posts them online. Students are asked to watch the lessons at home, then class time is dedicated to focused practice while Leverich circulates throughout the classroom providing one-on-one guidance.
Moore added that this year’s eligible students were offered an online Advanced Placement computer science class through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) which, Moore said, has been a successful offering. (A MOOC is an online course with unlimited enrollment and open access via the internet.)
As far as CHS’ ability to support online learning models and integrate technology into lesson planning, Felix explained that the board has done a commendable job of setting up infrastructure to successfully do so. “Things like bandwidth and wireless access points don’t seem very exciting — and they’re things no one thinks about unless your phone’s not working — but by putting those working systems in place we’ve made it easier for teachers to be more confident in trying new things, like using Kahn Academy lectures to supplement instruction.”
Another online learning component at CHS is that students needing some remediation are able to make up course credits through an online software program called Edgenuity, which is facilitated by a CHS teacher. This program is not a flipped or blended model; rather more of an independent, online course model, where the student studies and partakes in course material on their own and his or her progress is monitored and guided by an instructor who is not involved in actual lesson planning for the particular course.
More independent online learning models (through the Edgenuity software and others no longer used) have been executed with success at both Palm Academy and Coronado Pathways Charter School for students needing to remediate course credits in an alternative setting, and CHS is now looking to those schools to enhance its more independent online offerings to students.
“What we’ve learned from Palm and Pathways,” said Moore, “is that students want more flexibility in their schedules and their lives. They want to work at their own pace, but they also want to have a ‘high school home.’ That looks like an online and blended learning experience.”
In fact, Moore, Felix, and Palm Academy and Coronado Pathways Charter School Principal Kevin Nicolls have proposed to the school board that, beginning this fall, the online class structure offered at Palm Academy become available to students at CHS, making Palm Academy more of an integrated division of CHS. (The plan also calls for allowing Palm students to become involved in CHS extracurricular activities such as athletics.) “We have a goal of offering the learning options afforded by Palm Academy and Coronado Pathways Charter School to all students at CHS as well as offering the social options at CHS to the students at Palm Academy,” Felix explained. “We’d like to take the personalized online learning services at Palm and provide the same type of individualized opportunities for all CHS students.
“In order to do that, we need to recognize we have children who need remediation and we also have children who need to be let go to graduate in three years if that’s what works for them,” he continued. “We should accept that if there’s an accredited course that excites students but that we don’t offer — like Mandarin, for example — that we could offer that to them.”
Felix clarified that this integrating of school services has little to do with current budget constraints, but rather “It’s all being done because it’s what’s best for the kids.”
Moore explained that online course offerings could be flexible because students’ needs and abilities vary so greatly. Currently the plan would allow for students to take 10 credits per year through online coursework, but, she said, some students can accomplish that in one semester while others do not do well without some kind of direct guidance. “At this point, we’re opening the door to online learning for CHS students just a crack as we figure out how to best support them.”
Moore said that offering new options to students this way could free up more time in their loaded itineraries. “We want to be able to allow our students to learn a la carte — to let them have their cake and eat it too — and hopefully by doing so, help them achieve greater life balance.”