On Learning Outside the Lines we continue to focus on geographic areas where the student population is diverse and the needs of the students can’t always be met with the resources available. This month, our specific focus has been on Louisiana, as they have put together a program, Supplemental Course Academy (SCA), funded by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE), which provides access to a diverse listing of online courses to offer a more personalized learning environment.
Recently, we reached out to Natalie A. Lartique, a science instructor for middle and high school at Jefferson Parish Public School System in Avondale, Louisiana. Lartique shared with us about the challenges of meeting the advanced placement needs of the student population and how tools, such as online learning, were making an impact. Here is what she had to say:
Learning Outside the Lines (LotL): What are the top challenges that your student population faces?
Natalie Lartique: Our school has doubled in size in just one calendar year. One of the biggest challenges is having enough credentialed teachers to address the diverse needs for all of these students. As a magnet school we are fortunate to be working with some of the best and brightest children in the entire area, but we need the resources to meet their needs. For example, we have students who are prepared for Anatomy and Physiology 2 or AP Physics, but the problem is being able to schedule all of those students and teachers while still having core instructional staff.
LotL: Are you currently using online or blended learning programs to address these issues?
Lartique: Last year we offered AP classes online, which were taken with a teacher that acted as a mentor for those students. The majority of the work, as I understand it, was independent. I also have several students who would like for me to do independent study with them for Anatomy and Physiology 2, which would leverage some online components..
LotL: What lessons have you learned from your online learning experiences?
Lartique: If I were looking for the perfect online/blended tool, it would have to be teacher friendly for sure. The online course has to be easily navigable for both teachers and parents. While students have no fear of technology, if a teacher or parent has a sharp learning curve without a lot of success then they are going to shy away from implementing that technology. My biggest challenge thus far is not the material or the students, it is navigating the technology. When I navigate it successfully life is wonderful, but there are days where I am highly frustrated because something didn't work that should.
LotL: Anything else to add?
Lartique: I am fortunate enough to teach at a school with the most positive principal, office staff, and leadership team that I have ever had the pleasure to work with in over twenty-five years of teaching. The entire staff and faculty are committed to seeing these students succeed and to provide the resources needed to meet this common goal.