Tupelo explores hybrid, online courses

HUDSON

HUDSON

By Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Tupelo School District will begin offering a few hybrid courses that blend both online and traditional classroom instruction.

The district’s school board on Friday heard reports on plans to teach three classes next year that will have online components.

That update led the agenda on the second day of the district’s School Board retreat at Tombigbee State Park. After using most of the first day to refine the district’s goals and indicators, board members spent Friday listening to reports that also included updates on curriculum, facilities and teacher training.

“As a board member, it is helpful to see the strategies the district is implementing in order to meet the goals,” board president Rob Hudson said. “The more information we have about the strategies, it helps us to see and understand the big picture.”

Tupelo Middle School will allow a small group of about 25 seventh graders to take Information and Communication Technology-1 as a hybrid online course. They will be able to complete most of their assignments independently through the online Canvas program, but will still have certain times they will need to work one-on-one with teachers at the school.

It will be designed to help students with an advanced course load who are having difficulty also scheduling their desired fine arts and elective classes. It will be for atypical students who are disciplined and able to work independently without direct instruction, principal Kristy Luse said.

Meanwhile, freshmen and sophomore English classes at Tupelo High School will have a writing component offered through Plato Courseware, a new online program recently purchased by the district. Teachers will be able to use that to add more writing assignments, and each class will be worth 1.5 credits.

Secondary teachers throughout the district also will be able to use Plato’s online resources to supplement their lessons or to provide assignments to students who may miss school for an extended period because of an illness.

“The natural step with the technology we have in place allows us to have more personalized learning,” said Superintendent Gearl Loden.

Said Hudson: “It can help us provide additional support to a struggling student or a path to acceleration for a student who needs to be challenged. I really feel our district is trying to be innovative.”

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com