OKLAHOMA CITY (May 5, 2014) — The Oklahoma State Board of Education recently voted to approve a unique way for Fort Gibson Public Schools to keep school in session on snow days.
The program allows students to submit work from home, engage with teachers and receive credit for a school day when schools are physically closed for inclement weather. With the board’s April 24 approval, the virtual classes will be able to continue.
“This is a great example of how technology can be used to enhance education inside the classroom and at home. It’s an innovative way to empower teachers, teach students responsibility and make good use of time,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi said. “With the proper administration, I think it could be very beneficial. I look forward to seeing it fully implemented.”
Under the program, teachers can record lessons and upload them to a central website. Students then access those lessons at home. For students without easy access to technology, printed packets will be sent home. Students are required to work with their teachers either by phone or online at least once a day.
Fort Gibson tested the program during the current school year. Ninety-five percent of students attended and 85-90 percent of work was completed, Fort Gibson Superintendent Derald Glover told the board.
Glover said his district has been working on a model for the program for about five years. It allows for more useful instruction time than tacking on extra days at the end of the year.
“It’s a true 21st-century approach to learning,” he said. “We have used virtual, online instruction in our school. We have used traditional teaching methods, and we have used blended instruction. We totally believe that blended instruction is, by far, the best way to go.”
Glover said teachers still are the key component to student growth, but using technology in this manner can also increase parental involvement.
“We want students to take ownership of their work. I’ll be honest, this thing exceeded my expectations as far as success,” Glover said.