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New Tool Helps Teachers Let Students Drive Their Learning

Dover — The Delaware Department of Education announced today that it has signed a contract with Schoology, a New York City-based company, for a learning management system (LMS) that all schools and teachers in the state will be able to use to personalize instruction, provide students with access to a wide variety of content aligned with the Common Core State Standards and share lesson plans with other teachers with a click of a button. 

 

The LMS will allow teachers to do routine tasks such as distributing documents and assignments, providing written feedback to students, posting grades and accessing student grades more efficiently. Even more importantly, teachers will be able to personalize students’ learning in ways that would not otherwise be possible. Students who successfully complete a lesson at home can keep going, allowing teachers to give extra help in class to other students who need it. They will be able to give students different assignments, based on their needs. Students whose teachers use the LMS will have more control over when, where and how they learn.

 

The LMS will help teachers align their lessons across the entire curriculum with aspects of the Common Core State Standards—more student engagement, independent learning and critical thinking. “We are fully committed to making sure that the Common Core State Standards are fully implemented in our schools and the Schoology LMS is an important tool for doing that,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said. “When we give students options in their learning, we put them in the driver’s seat and they become more engaged.”

 

The Schoology LMS replaces one that teachers were using to access professional development opportunities provided by the state. Schoology will continue to be used for that purpose by all districts, with the cost covered by the state.

 

Six Delaware school districts that are part of the BRINC Consortium are currently using this LMS to blend traditional and online learning and close achievement gaps in some of their schools. BRINC is an acronym of the Brandywine, Indian River, New Castle County Vocational-Technical and Colonial school districts. Two other districts—Appoquinimink and Caesar Rodney—joined the consortium at the beginning of SY 2014–2015 and also are using the Schoology LMS.

 

The state expects that districts serving about 40,000 students will sign up to use the system with their students in the 2015-2016 school year, with more districts signing up in subsequent years. The state will pick up about half the per-pupil costs. 

 

“It has been very exciting to see Schoology’s organic usage growth within the state of Delaware – starting with the BRINC consortium and now expanding to the entire state,” said Jeremy Friedman, Schoology’s CEO. “We are thrilled that the state selected Schoology, and we are eager to work together as partners to drive new efficiencies that improve outcomes.”

 

Students whose teachers use the tool will be able to access a wide variety of content across the entire curriculum aligned with the Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards, including videos of lessons, images, original historical documents, virtual science experiments, educational games and software, anytime, anywhere.

 

The Delaware Department of Education’s Chief Academic Officer, Michael Watson, stressed that teachers will be able to decide how to use the LMS in their classrooms. “This is a tool the state is making available to teachers, and we expect that once they dive in they will find countless creative ways to deepen and extend students’ learning,” he said.

 

The Colonial School District began using the Schoology LMS in January 2014 to personalize student learning.  “Schoology has been the hub that allows the district to push digital curriculum and make content easily accessible for both students and staff,” said Thomas P. Gavin, the instructional technology specialist for the Colonial School District.


“Students and staff have the ability to access files from anywhere, submit work electronically, create dynamic content, collaborate, and engage in many other educational activities. Teachers can go in and grab the content and put it right into their class.”

Also, he said, “It’s easy to use and fun. Teachers are really getting in and using it and figuring it out on their own.”

 

Laura Bossert, a 4th grade teacher at Carrie Downie Elementary School in the Colonial School District, said she’s been using the LMS for only a month. “I’m really amazed at how fast it has changed my classroom,” she said. “What I love best is that my students can pace their own learning and can showcase their mastery of concepts using their own learning style.”  Recently, for example, she taught a lesson on how writers make dialogue interesting. She had her students read a chapter in a book and then write their own chapter. Then, she gave them three choices as to how they could further demonstrate what they had learned: they could use drawing software to make an illustration, they could use software to make an animated video or they could write a play and make a video of themselves acting it out.  “I’ve seen so much awesome stuff from our students,” Bossert said. “They’re getting so much out of what we do. Learning should not be a one-size-fits-all kind of thing.”

 

Lauren McCool, a 6th grade social studies teacher at Gunning Bedford Middle School in the Colonial district, began using the LMS last year. “The kids love it, that’s the most important part,” she said. “They ask every day if we’re going to go on the computer.  It’s a central hub for everything they do. It’s easy and it’s convenient.”  She recently made a video of her teaching a lesson and had students watch it at home and use a graphic organizer to take notes to show they had understood the key concepts. When they came to class, they could dive right into an assignment. “It definitely changes the dynamic of the classroom,” she said. McCool said that when her students take quizzes or test on the LMS she gets instant feedback on their performance. “That makes it a lot more evidence who’s able to do what and I can make changes in my instruction right away,” she said.

 

The Schoology LMS is being used by teachers in pilot classrooms in both of the high schools and three middle schools in the Indian River School District. Michael League, the instructional technology specialist for the district, said Schoology allows for “student-centered learning.” “Students are owning their learning, they’re taking responsibility for their learning,” he said.

 

Schoology is the fastest growing learning management system in the K-12 market, and with partnerships like the DDOE, Schoology is used by more than eight million students across more than 60,000 institutions worldwide.

 

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A demonstration of the Schoology LMS can be arranged for the media. Contact: Wayne Hartschuh, Delaware Department of Education, Executive Director, Delaware Center for Educational Technology. Wayne.Hartschuh@doe.k12.de.us