Blended learning new buzzwords at Point Isabel schools

PORT ISABEL — A new innovative approach to teaching, called blended learning, will be fused into Point Isabel schools next year.

Four years from now, students in the district will be working at their own pace and juniors and seniors will have flexible attendance as blended learners.

“Students will be able to learn at their own ability level, and move as quickly as they are capable of learning,” said Dr. Lisa Garcia, superintendent.

The district is one of five school districts in Texas awarded a $500,000 grant to test the blended learning teaching model sponsored by Raise Your Hand Texas.

Raise Your Hand Texas is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization advancing public education by igniting fiercely innovative leadership and advocacy for our state’s five million plus students.

“This is an opportunity to transform the educational experience for our students,” Garcia said.

The district will transition gradually into the new innovative blended learning style next year.

As defined by the Christensen Institute, blended learning is a mix of online learning and brick-and-mortar schooling that takes place when students learn at least in part online, with some student control over the time, place, path and pace of their learning.

“Students will be able to work ahead or work on more courses, or internships in their career path,” Garcia said. “The school day won’t look like a traditional school day.”

Point Isabel competed against 75 other school districts in the state for the grant since applying in June 2015.

“Our parents, our school board and our students and all of the teachers have followed this process of applying for the grant,” Garcia said. “To find out we were selected as one of the demonstration sites really validates all the work that we’ve been doing all year.”

Garcia said blended learning is a more personal path of learning for each student and the money received will be used for student content, teacher training, technology, software and to modernize learning spaces in the district.

“We’re very excited about this opportunity for us to change the educational world,” Garcia said. “This is a better opportunity to prepare our students for college.”