AISD uses online instruction for at-home learning

Alpine Middle School fifth grade math teacher Amanda Bolaños holds a sign showing love and encouragement to her students in the face of the school closures due to the coronavirus.

Technology and learning go hand in hand, and Alpine ISD is at the forefront, making sure students are still fulfilling their educational responsibilities, despite the statewide school shutdown due to COVID-19 concerns.

Alpine High School Principal Justin Gonzales said 60% of the high school students were using a program called Edgenuity, a leading provider of online learning for kindergarten through 12th grade. Students log in and work on assignments, and teachers monitor their progress and are available for questions Monday through Thursday. Students must have internet access at home, and for those who do not, the district provides devices that provide a mobile hotspot for internet connectivity.

For the past three years, the programs were designed for students who were absent from the classroom for extended periods of time. The online classes feature a virtual teacher and tutor, and students view educational videos where they can learn the lessons, much like a traditional classroom setting.

“All these programs are programs that the teachers have supplemented to the curriculum throughout the school year, just never on this scale,” Gonzales noted.

Students complete homework assignments, whether electronically through Google Classroom, or on paper.  

Gonzales said 70% of the students were using another chat communication tool called Remind! With Remind! students and teachers can chat in real time. Teachers build their own online classrooms within that app, upload videos, and students can respond with questions on assignments. Students also can also listen in to lessons with or without video capability. Gonzales said 20% of teachers utilize Google Classroom and Google Hangout, another popular online communication tool. According to Gonzales, 95% of the students are knowledgeable about how to use the programs, with the other 5% fielding questions by email.  

Alpine Middle School Principal Cody Patterson was also working with students, teachers, and parents. Students use either a tablet called a Google Chrome Book or their own personal device to work at their own pace on homework assignments. There are deadlines, but they are somewhat flexible.

Elective classes like physical education and industrial arts implemented their online programs on March 30, while the online core classes started March 23.

Patterson said that besides using Google Classroom and Edgenuity, students also use IXL, a personalized online learning tool. He said teachers were collaborating on grading procedures so that parents and students understand the expectations.

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