Online classes subject of open house

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Parents will have an opportunity to view online classes being offered to Portales High School student starting in the fall.

Parents can view a pre-recorded session for one of the subjects the students will be working on during an open house from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday at the high school.
Director of Technology Mike Rackler has been training four teachers this summer in the core courses of math, English, social studies and science.

Rackler said more than 65 students have signed up to take at least one online class.

“It’s (open house) extremely important to see what we’re offering,” said Julie Fraze, who will be teaching the math online classes. “We want for them to have an input (on the online classes). We want to talk to parents and set up a schedule that will work for their children.”

The online courses will be taught in a computer lab just to the south of the high school gym.

Darnell Lewis, who will be teaching U.S. history, world history, government and economics, said the online teachers have been listening to each other’s recorded sessions and giving feedback.

“We do a lot of collaboration to make this work,” Lewis said. “We know there might be some problems, but we’ll be able to help each other.”

As part of the online classes, students are required to have a two-hour homeroom session for a minimum of four weeks from Monday through Thursday at the start of the semester.

“I think they (homeroom sessions) are very important,” said Leslie Lewis, who will be teaching science courses. “They need that one-on-one attention. By no means can you replace teachers completely. My students will have to come in for labs. They still need that hands-on experience.”

Students can visit with their teachers if they are falling behind in any of the subjects or they can request help via e-mail or chat sessions. The teachers will have chat sessions designed specifically for course topics.

“I’m excited about it,” said Garrick Matthews, who will teach English. “Students will be able to read something and discuss it (online) with their classmates. They can bounce ideas off of each other.”

Two evening courses will be offered as electives during each semester. In the fall a Web design class and an ag mechanic class will be in place for students and in the spring there will be theater and Spanish.

Rep. Keith Gardner, R-Roswell, obtained $50,000 through the Legislature for the program. Rackler said the money was used for software, online texbooks and a stipend for the teachers working during the summer.