Creating Exceptional Student Engagement through Blended Learning in Oregon

November 11, 2015

 

Contributor: 
Amanda Cunningham
Wednesday, November 11, 2015 - 9:30am

With today’s public education challenges, such as resource and budget constraints and increasing enrollment, it is a rarity to hear a student voice outright enthusiasm about their school.

But when we visited the Crater Lake Charter Academy (CLCA) in Eagle Point, Oregon, last winter, young student Chayton Smith did just that. Chayton enthusiastically proclaimed, “It’s really, really good to come here . . . it’s amazing!” Chayton, and more than two hundred other students at Crater Lake Charter Academy, enjoys a blended learning environment.

After researching various online learning models,  Bryan Wood, CLCA’s executive director, recognized that a blended model offered students the best opportunity for a personalized education.

Blended learning allows students to:

  • Take control of their learning through online coursework that can be completed at their own pace
  • Delve deeper into subjects that interest them
  • See their progress and academic reports at anytime from anywhere.
  • Come on-campus when they need teacher support and assistance.

Crater Lake Charter Academy’s mission is clear: to positively impact every student every day. Established in June 2014 as an alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar schools in Jackson County School District, the school is expanding rapidly due to its reputation of student growth combined with teacher, administrator, and student happiness.

"It’s student-oriented. What I feel about this school is that they care about us. It makes me feel very confident, very self-accomplished. I just have a great feeling coming here."

Chayton Smith
Crater Lake Charter Academy

CLCA offers a comfortable environment complete with couches, bean bags, and a variety of individual and group learning spaces. A comfortable learning environment is a major factor when reporting on student motivation, successful collaboration, and increasing a student’s ability to learn.

Within this safe environment at CLCA, two full-time teachers rotate with students individually and in groups to lead project-based work. This close interaction and collaboration between student and teacher has a major impact upon the success of the program.

When Chayton was asked what he liked best about his school, he praised the staff and the learning environment. “It’s student-oriented. What I feel about this school is that they care about us. It makes me feel very confident, very self-accomplished. I just have a great feeling coming here,” he said.

Further, Chayton commended and gave thanks to his parents for enrolling him in CLCA. Chayton stated that, “I think that was one of the best decisions my parents did for me—is to put me into this school.”  Chayton’s enthusiasm and engagement is a testament to the successful implementation of the blended learning model at CLCA.

Administrator Wendy Daw attributes the success of the program as a combination of key factors at the right time, in the right environment. She says, “When we partnered with Fuel Education, it was like a perfect storm.”

This ‘perfect storm’ was created with three key factors according to Ms. Daw:

  1. Crater Lake’s fantastic school faculty
  2. A welcoming learning environment
  3. And Fuel Education’s online curriculum

Ms. Daw says that with the combination of these factors, “[t]he school was engaging. Students wanted to be a part of it. They wanted to get online and learn . . . they could excel.”

To hear from other staff and students about Crater Lake Charter Academy’s exceptional blended learning environment, watch this video.

 

 

 

 

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