NEEDLES — Principal Amy Avila provided the Needles Unified School District board of trustees with a detailed account of online programs the schools are using as a means of having more to offer to students for the 2016-17 school year.
One benefit for this year was the district added something called Shmoop, Avila said. It’s an online program that allows students to choose courses they want to take and complete during a given class period, she continued.
High school students will have the chance to take a variety of advanced placement courses that can’t be offered on campus, Avila said. Students can also take other classes for elective credit while AP credit will be earned by students taking those classes, she added.
Students log into the courses online and work at their own pace to complete them, Avila said. It works by having teacher Ken Parker monitor how the students are doing based on targets. He looks at one-fourth, one-half and three-fourths of the way through the semester to see how the students are doing with the online classes.
Parker meets with students to ensure they’re on target. Once that class is completed, it can be put on the transcript as the class title such as AP statistics or whatever the class title may be, Avila said. The students can also take the AP tests for those courses online also.
She said it’s a way of growing the number of classes offered even though the high school is limited by staff.
Shmoop is an elective credit for the middle school students during seventh period. Students can choose band, Advancement Via Individual Determination or Shmoop, Avila said. Staff will tighten up Shmoop a little bit because there are two sixth, two seventh and two eighth grade teachers as the instructors for Shmoop and they will coordinate for their respective grade levels, she continued.
For instance, the sixth grade teachers will have courses related to cyber bullying or using Microsoft Word while the seventh and eighth grade teachers will offer different classes, Avila said. Not all the classes are for the same time frame so when that happens, students will be able to choose their own courses in between the teachers’ courses, she added.
She said there is a lot of flexibility with Shmoop. “It’s amazing how much is on that program. Like there is a class on how to buy a car, there is a class on personal finance,” she added. The list of what’s available on Shmoop is extensive and includes topics such as health and nutrition, using the Internet safely and more. She feels the program will grow and there appears to be a positive response to it so far but students will not be allowed to take courses that are offered on campus, she added.
Cisco Academy online courses are also being offered at the high school, Avila said. Staff is working to get all the equipment for that program. She informed students it is a two year commitment to be part of the Cisco Academy in order to earn certification, she continued.
Students have the option to stay in for a third year and work to develop computer programming and try to hack into other schools’ programs, Avila said. The group or students who develop a program that can’t be hacked will have other opportunities presented to them, she added.