A couple of online pilot projects are being met with enthusiastic response from teachers, students and families at Jarvis Community Christian School and providing individualized learning, says chief operating officer Doug Osborn.
In February, the Grade 1 and 2 class started using Raz-Kids, an online reading practice program. Grade 8 students took part in piloting an online math unit pilot from January to March.
Osborn says a general education trend is the movement to advance students at their own pace, rather than by age, using individualized or differentiated instruction with a blended learning model that may include some online and classroom instruction.
“I hope to continue to tailor our programs to meet our students meets in a more individualized way,” he tells the OACS News.
Raz-Kids provides animated leveled interactive e-books that students can listen to or read aloud. Words that may be difficult to read have vocabulary and pronunciation support.
Because it’s an online resource, students can access the e-books from anywhere with Internet access. Osborn says some students go home and ask their parents to go on the computer to work on Raz-Kids.
A motivating component of Raz-Kids is students receive energy star points for their reading activities. They receive more points from reading the book themselves rather than having it read aloud, and go through quizzes at the end of books to ensure they understood the content. The points are used towards a game where students create a spaceship.
Two boys in particular had their interest in reading take off through the program, as they really enjoy the game aspect, notes Osborn.
The other pilot project came out of a relationship with Heritage Christian Online School based in B.C.
Osborn is part of a group called Nimbus Christian Education which is working with Heritage to adapt their online courses to the Ontario context to make them available to Christian schools in the province. In addition to people from other Ontario Alliance of Christian Schools (OACS) member schools, Osborn says there are a variety of school backgrounds on the Nimbus board.
Grade 8 math students piloted a unit through Heritage, with beneficial results for both students who are motivated in math and those who struggle with the subject, says Osborn.
The students who are very motivated in math benefited from moving along in their lessons at a more rapid pace, while those who struggle with the subject were able to go at their own pace and be sure to really understand the material before moving on.
“A number of the students asked if they could do math like this all the time,” says Osborn.