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WINDSOR -- Windsor Junior Senior High School this year has offered seniors a new course option with an online-based English class.

The course is taught by Windsor teacher Shanna House, but there is no class time; the work is done on the students' own time. The curriculum is exchanged through an online teaching aid called Google Classroom, and since students have an extra class hour they are able to take another course they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to, says Principal Erik Van Hoveln.

“This came out of Common Core discussion and us brainstorming on different ways to help expand our curriculum,” Van Hoveln said. “What we saw was a real need to help our kids learn how to be successful in an online class, and it was a way for us to add a college-bound course to our curriculum.”

This year nine of the 22 seniors took advantage of the class, and Van Hoveln says it’s been a success so far.

Seniors had the option to take the standard English IV course or the Web-based equivalent.

“We were up front with them about it being a more difficult course,” he said. “The reading is all on your own. You’re not gong to be reading ‘Hamlet’ with us face-to-face in class. We all learn differently. Some of the students who don’t care to sit in a classroom have benefited from this. Some kids learn better on their own and those kids have found success with this option.”

The students and House use Google Classroom to communicate and exchange assignments.

“Even though the teacher is here in the building first through ninth hour the kids see her but they don’t have to take her class,” he said. “We get our online training and it’s a college-bound course so the rigor and curriculum is more than the standard English IV.”

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Van Hoveln said the teacher is given a stipend for the extra work, but this program is a cheaper way to expand the curriculum without having to hire new teachers or find new classroom spaces.

Next year Hoveln said school leaders plan to look into offering an advanced placement course where students receive college credit while working on their high school graduation requirements. Another option is to expand into other subjects, specifically math and science.

“With Common Core standards one of the big things about this is college readiness, and this is one step for Windsor to help prepare kids for college,” he said.

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Contact Rahn at krahn@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6869.

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