Online program helping KCS students transition to next grade

Rick Wagner • Jun 20, 2013 at 8:28 AM

KINGSPORT — If you’re a Kingsport City Schools student with access to the Internet and a computer or wireless device, you can enroll in free online classes this summer.

The Summer ROCKS, or Reviewing Online Content K-12 Standards, program began June 3 and will go through July 15.

Laurie Norris, eLearning coordinator for KCS, said the program is in its second year in city schools and can be accessed by most “anything that has an Internet connection.”

She described it as an enrichment program, which can be accessed from personal or family devices at home as well as at public computers, including the Kingsport Public Library, the Kingsport Boys and Girls Club and Girls Inc.

“Students can pop in at any point in the summer and work where they are,” Norris said.

She said the program is designed to help students transition to the next grade level and retain learning from the just-completed school year. It is open to all city school students and is free.

The program has elementary, middle and high school courses, and a link is on the KCS website, www.k12k.com. Norris said students can still sign up for the program even though it is already under way. The high school classes were added most recently.

Courses are offered for first through sixth grade, as well as middle school language arts, middle school math, high school English and high school Spanish transition, first to second years.

Norris said participation has grown from about 50 initially to 110 Monday.

Two of this summer’s participants are Janaki and Bindiya Srinath, daughters of Veena Srinath.

“I didn’t know about it before,” the mother said. “I do think it is beneficial.”

The sisters access the program through home Internet access.

Janaki, a rising seventh-grader at Robinson Middle School, said she has been playing games, including language arts and math Jeopardy.

“It’s pretty fun,” Janaki said. “I think it’s really preparing me for seventh grade well. Having feedback from the teacher is really nice.”

Bindiya, a rising fourth-grader at Jefferson Elementary, said she’s been playing multiplication games. She said she hasn’t done a lot of online work at Jefferson, although the school system and education across the country is moving more and more online.

“Sometimes we play match games online,” Bindiya said.

About 20 of this summer’s participants are students at Girls Inc., where Leona Smith, who oversees family resources, sees the program firsthand. Some participated last year.

“They get excited because they’re playing a game. They don’t realize they’re learning,” Smith said recently as nine students used computers in the Domtar-donated computer lab to access Summer ROCKS. “If we didn’t have this, a lot of our children wouldn’t have math for three months.”

Madison Lankford, 8, and a rising third-grader at Jefferson Elementary, was “working on adding and subtracting.”

Emilyn Belcher, 11, and a rising sixth-grader at Sevier Middle School, was playing math and language arts games, while Ariana Wolfe, 10, and a rising sixth-grader at Sevier, was playing a letters game.

Asia Dukes, 10, and a rising fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary, was working on “how to find the next cow,” an order of operation exercise. She participated in the program last year at Girls Inc.

“They ask for pencil and paper because they’re trying to figure out why they were incorrect,” Smith said of Ariana and Asia doing math work.

Jasamine Roman, 9, and a rising fourth-grader at Lincoln Elementary, was working on “nouns and addition,” while McKenzie Lankford, 11, and a rising sixth-grader at Robinson, was doing addition and subtraction.

Jasamine and McKenzie said they can access the program at home or elsewhere, but the other students said Girls Inc. is basically their only online access.

Teachers are online and assigned to each student to help monitor and review the students’ work, although no grades are earned or assigned for the online courses.

Information on user names and passwords is available on the website, and for help or more information contact Norris at 378-8596 or John Payne, KCS director of technology, at 378-2145.

Norris said the program is planned to continue next summer. Aside from the content, she said the online learning will help make students familiar with other for-credit online learning courses in high school and online standardized testing that is to begin in 2014-15, the same year the Common Core standards for English/language arts and math go into effect in Tennessee.

“Just getting some online work is good for students,” Norris said.

In addition, KCS in August will have the hard launch of its Bring Your Own Device program, which had a soft launch in the just-ended school year.

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