Debbie Koon has been a public school teacher for 14 years—the last four of which have been at St. Louis Public Schools’ high school alternative program. She works with students who attend the alternative program on a part-time basis after the close of the regular school day, where students participate in FuelEd Credit Recovery courses. Debbie also works with students who have aged out of the public school system, who also attend the alternative program on a full-time basis and take FuelEd Online Courses to earn the credits they need to earn a diploma.
For the last two years, Debbie has used PEAK—FuelEd’s Personalized Learning Platform that enables districts to personalize, integrate and manage their online learning programs—to monitor her students’ progress. Continue reading to learn how PEAK helps Debbie and her students.
Melissa Davis (MD): How do you use PEAK in your classroom?
Debbie Koon (DK): With PEAK, the data I need is at my fingertips. The PEAK daily updates let me know which of my students are excelling and which students are idle. I use PEAK to check my students’ progress and make sure they are working. If a student tells me they are not coming into school to complete their work, but they will complete it at the library, I can go into PEAK and confirm whether they have completed their assignment. I also use PEAK to enroll students in courses and to grade assignments.
MD: What do you like about PEAK?
DK: With PEAK, I do not have to keep a separate, hard-copy file on each student. I can access every student and see their activity, their enrollments, and if they are following the lesson plan. And, I can redirect them, if necessary. Students must complete a unit exam to move forward. If I have a student trying to move too quickly, barely passing quizzes, I can track this, and tell the student to slow down so they can really learn the material. PEAK is also great because it automatically posts grades for my students’ coursework. As the instructor, I can see the grade in PEAK within 24 hours, or I can log-in as the student, and see the grade immediately. PEAK also allows me to track and keep up with my homebound and homeschooled students. I could not do this before, so being able to do this through PEAK is a big help.
MD: How do PEAK and PEAK Mobile make your life easier?
DK: PEAK is fast and easy to use. I can log-in and access multiple resources directly from the PEAK homepage. PEAK Mobile is great because I can access it any time from my phone or tablet. For example, if I am away from class, and my aide calls me with a question, I can access PEAK Mobile to look up the information she needs.
MD: What would you tell another teacher about PEAK?
DK: Do not be afraid of new technology. PEAK saves you a lot of time and headaches, especially if you have a large number of students to track. I have 120–130 students who come through the program each day. There is no way I could track that volume using a pencil and paper. PEAK provides a weekly update of attendance, cumulative grades, actual grades, completed work, and outstanding work. PEAK tracks grading in multiple ways.
MD: What do you like about PEAK Library?
DK: PEAK Library provides an avenue to add different content to my lessons. It offers different tools I can use to teach and modify lessons.
MD: What benefits are you seeing for your students?
DK: Students don’t have to carry a lot of books. They can log on and complete their lessons. Students can work at the level where they need to without others knowing, so they are not embarrassed if they are behind. They are also not distracted by other students. Classroom management is no longer the issue it once was when some students were faster learners than others. When students access their assignments through PEAK, they can work at their own pace, and learning is individualized.
MD: Why does online learning through PEAK work for your students?
DK: The lessons that students access through PEAK hold their attention better than textbooks because they are more engaging. They feature activities, videos, and games that provide hands-on learning opportunities. The curriculum also includes built-in learning tools, like text-to-speech, which really help my students who are not good readers. Another benefit is that students can log on to PEAK anywhere with Internet access so they are also able to work inside and outside the classroom. That means they do not have to worry about completing all of their coursework in class—they can finish up at home!
Melissa C. Davis is Fuel Education’s senior manager of Client Communications.