Summer school isn’t so bad

By on July 3, 2012

By: ALICE HUMMER Review Correspondent, Staff Writer

Junior Vanessa Sinyagin from Schoeneck (left) and 16-year-old Anastasiya Filipets from Reamstown (center) consult with teacher Anthony Tartaglia. (Photo by Alice Hummer)

Remember when having to get up early to attend summer school was a terrible thing?

Usually it meant more class time in a course you did not pass and didn’t like in the first place.

Things have changed for Cocalico High School students with the introduction of technology-delivered curriculum.

"This is the third year we’ve done online learning for summer school," said Ella Musser, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment.

"I prefer this kind of learning better than coming into the public school," said 16-year- old student Cody James Fulton from Stevens.

"You learn at your own pace," Fulton said. "If you take a pretest and test out, then you do not have to take that again."

Fulton is taking Algebra II this summer so he’s on track for Geometry in the fall.

Teacher Anthony Tartaglia earned his undergraduate degree from Kutztown University and is finishing a master’s degree program at his alma mater.

"I’ve been with this summer program all three years," said Tartaglia. "There are a total of 32 high school students taking 45 different courses."

Vanessa Sinyagin, a 16-year-old junior from Schoeneck, is taking two courses: Biology and World Cultures, while her 16-year-old friend, Anastasiya Filipets, a junior from Reamstown, is taking one of the same courses: Biology. On another computer in the lab, 18-year-old senior Jon Yang from Denver is getting his online learning orientation to Physics.

All students must report to the high school computer lab for a two-day orientation so that they know how to access the course that they need and how to navigate through all parts of the course.

"We’ve learned a lot over the three years we’ve offered online learning," said Musser. "Not all teenagers are wise managers of time and know how to prioritize. Students think they can listen to music, social network and learn a content subject at the same time. It doesn’t work that way. Teachers do a nice job of teaching students how to use this type of learning and how to shut off distractions."

Students may access the courses from their home; they may choose a combination of coming into the high school lab and also doing work at home, or they can do all their work at school during the hours the computer lab is open and staffed on Mondays through Thursdays during the summer.

"We keep a careful eye on student progress," Musser said.

This ensures that students pace themselves so that they can accomplish all the course work required and not let the workload accumulate until the last minute.

"The Cocalico School District recognizes that students use online tools and mobile technologies in their lives, said Dr. Kent Sweigart, director of technology. "We look … to provide an environment for student learning to tie to those 21st century skills."

In addition to summer school courses, Cocalico uses online learning for enrichment opportunities and for students who otherwise might choose a charter school option for their education.

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