When the Hampton City Schools (HCS) began working toward integrating instructional technology into their teaching strategies and modeling a learning environment based upon the 21st Century Skills Framework, SoftChalk was selected as the ideal tool to help accomplish the task.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills was formed in 2002 through the combined efforts of several major technology corporations, the U.S. Department of Education and the National Education Association. The goal of the partnership is to introduce a framework by which K-12 schools can model classrooms and curriculum to promote the multi-dimensional skills necessary for students to succeed in life and work in the 21st century. HCS embraced this philosophy and began structuring their own program to meet the challenges of preparing their students for life beyond the classroom walls.
With 36 K-12 schools in the HCS district, it was an ambitious undertaking to implement the initiative. To get started, one exemplary teacher was selected from each school to collaborate with an instructional technology resource teacher and teacher librarian to create teaching and learning tools for the 21st Century Skills Framework. SoftChalk met the initiative’s requirements on all levels. In addition to being easy-to-use and engaging for both the instructor and the e-learner, SoftChalk provided additional benefits as well. A professional looking desktop application that functions on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms, it features shareable learning objects and is able to deliver content via a Learning Management System (LMS), CD/DVD or web server. Furthermore, because SoftChalk is a stand-alone product, teachers are able to download it to their laptops and prepare lessons; then once the “lesson package” is completed, it is easily uploaded to the HCS LMS where it is available to all staff.
SoftChalk allows us to easily organize information for both teaching and professional development because it makes it so easy to integrate our own content and then add SoftChalk’s interactive activities. Here in Hampton City Schools, we love having this resource to assist us in our instruction. Using SoftChalk for my work has helped me be more productive so that I am working smarter, instead of harder.”
Nancy Terrell, NBCT, Teacher Librarian
Using Softchalk the HCS team works to format lessons into a template that includes a title, subject area, objectives, standards of learning, resources/materials, procedural steps for teaching the lesson and attachments such as presentations, activities and movies.
These banks of lessons are then posted to the HCS LMS where they can be accessed by all staff members. Additional links on the LMS connect teachers to the SoftChalk Web site where they have access to SoftChalk documentation, webinars, FAQs and more.
But ease of use and excellent integration with their LMS is only part of the reason that HCS chose SoftChalk as their tool of choice. The other goal of the initiative was to create simple tools and engaging activities for students in an e-learning environment. Lessons designed with SoftChalk include sidebars for quick access to documentation and handouts, quick links to related websites, text poppers for annotating, and labeling, seek-a-word, and drag-and-drop activities for providing immediate feedback.