By Ashley M. Casey
Remember the Fulton Junior High School’s “flipped” math classroom from last fall?
It has set the trend for learning throughout the entire district. The Fulton City School District is expanding Schoology, its online learning management system, to offer more interactive ways to learn.
Launched this spring, Fulton’s version of Schoology is open to teachers and students in kindergarten through grade 12. Schoology lets teachers create and share video tutorials, assignments and quizzes that students can access from home or any computer with Internet access.
Stephanie Maturo, Fulton’s director of technology, said Schoology looks similar to Facebook: it has a news feed section and calendar. It also features a “mastery” bar, which fills up with green as a student better grasps the Common Core learning standards.
This will help parents, students and teachers track kids’ progress.
“It’s a container for us to provide instruction and assessment all in one digital spot,” Maturo explained. “It’s easier to create connections between classes and courses.”
Maturo said students and teachers alike have responded well to the “social network feeling” of the Schoology software. She said it is a gateway to “blended” learning: connecting traditional classroom instruction with online technology.
“It allows teachers to flip their classrooms or blend them,” Maturo said.
A flipped classroom, which Fulton Junior High math teachers Todd Parks and Pamela McHenry explained to the school board back in November, has the students watching lessons at home and then completing “homework” in the classroom.
“They come in and do the higher-order thinking in class while they have the teacher there,” Maturo said.
Whereas Parks and McHenry were using free programs from Sophia.org and Tockify for their flipped classrooms, the Fulton district has purchased Schoology services for a number of reasons. Maturo said other schools in Oswego County are using the system, and the paid service allows for integration with the district’s existing login system.
While Schoology is being implemented K-12, Maturo said the intermediate and higher grades are more comfortable with it so far.
“What we’re seeing (in) the middle school and the high school — it’s a little bit more natural for them,” Maturo said.
To help teachers learn to integrate Schoology in their classrooms, Maturo and three staff facilitators are holding five technology professional development sessions over the summer. She said 147 teachers are signed up for these sessions.
“It’s not going to be a mandatory program to use,” she said.