The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 16, 2009

CCHS learning enhanced with technology

This year the Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) is piloting a new program – the Virtual High School that augments the curriculum with an on-line learning environment. Principal Peter Badalament described this and several other computer-based educational tools when he spoke at a parent presentation on October 6.

Virtual High School

Up to 25 students can sign up for a variety of on-line classes through the Virtual High School program. Students who pass the course will receive full high school credit for it. Currently, 16 students have enrolled in a virtual class. These virtual classes are taken in addition to a student’s regular school schedule as enrichment.

Four Advanced Placement (AP) courses are available through the Virtual High School which are not offered as part of the CCHS curriculum: Government and Politics, Economics, English Language and Composition and English Literature and Composition. The AP courses are all a year long. Semester-long courses include: Poetry Reading and Writing, Personal Finance, Eastern and Western Thought, The Holocaust, Oceanography, American Popular Music, Animal Behavior and Zoology, Democracy in America and Arts and Ideas (see

Parents at the meeting asked why the high school does not offer AP classes in English and History. Badalament explained that the English and History faculty have developed electives that are as challenging as any college course. They feel they are doing a better job in getting kids ready than typical AP courses. “The electives play into what teachers are passionate about.”

Badalament said that seniors are encouraged to take the AP English Exam. Last spring, 22 students took the test and received scores of four and five, which some colleges accept as college credit. He said the problem was motivating students to take the test. One of the requirements for taking the science and math AP classes offered at CCHS is that students must take the exam. There is no such requirement in the English classes. Once seniors have been accepted into college, it is harder to convince them to sit for another test.

Moodle, Noodle or Google?

Badalament gave parents an overview of several technological tools that give students an opportunity to create and share with the world. Some of these tools are: Wiki, Moodle, iGoogle, Google Docs, NoodleBib and NING. Wikispaces are webpages that educators can create for a class or subject, a place for information to be viewed, commented on and added to. Moodle is a course management system, a free Open Source software package designed to help educators create effective online courses. “iGoogle” is a tool that allows you to create a personalized homepage that contains a Google search box and allows access to activities and information from the web. Google Docs is a free, web-based word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and form application offered by Google. It allows users to create and edit documents online while collaborating in real-time with other users. NoodleBib helps students record and organize research information using online notecards.

Badalament explained how teachers and students use these tools. Moodle allows teachers to put many aspects otheir courses online, such as class notes. Absent students can then access the notes of the classes they miss online. NING is a private social network that is administered by a teacher. It has some aspects of Face Book. NoodleBib helps students organize resources take notes and build a bibliography.

Some teachers are quick to learn these tools and take advantage of them. They become leaders, teaching and supporting other teachers. Badalament said he is applying for a grant from the Concord Education Fund to give small honorariums or stipends to these technology leaders.

Parents to gain access

to attendance records

Badalament hopes to have a Parent Portal up and running this year so parents can view their children’s attendance record. He said, “It would be eye-opening.” Students receive an attendance report every two weeks. For each class, they are either present, have an excused absence or an un-excused absence. If the report is incorrect, students are advised to work with teachers to get them corrected. Students start to loose credit if they have two unexcused absences. ∆

© 2009 The Carlisle Mosquito