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SHS begins offering online courses

Bailey Mitchell and Hannah Meyer (right) work together to solve a question in the Consumer Education course at Somerset High School. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Consumer Education is a required class at Somerset High School to help students prepare for their lives after high school.

It made complete sense for a class that helps students plan for their future to be chosen as the first class to be offered as mainly an online option.

The online course was offered this summer at SHS. Offering the class during the summer had another benefit. With so many students looking to Youth Options and other early post-secondary options, this gave the SHS seniors a chance to get one of their required classes completed early.

The Consumer Education course is usually offered over a full semester as a half-credit course. In the summer course, the students met with teacher Jen Sutton once each week over the six-week run of the class. The students were responsible for classroom work on their own every other weekday.

Sutton said incoming seniors were surveyed for "out-of-the-box" instruction ideas.

"We found kids were really interested," Sutton said of the idea for an online course.

She said students were interested in getting a required class completed, and getting experience with an online course, considering that more and more post-secondary courses are offering online options.

Sutton said 21 students signed up for the course and 19 of them were able to complete all the coursework successfully. She said by meeting once a week, she was able to keep tabs on the progress each student was making. She was also available for any questions from students, allowing the students to work through the new challenges of their first online class.

SHS Principal Shannon Donnelly said Sutton deserves credit for offering a progressive idea to broaden her students' opportunities.

"She was very passionate about trying to find an innovative way for students to master the standards in her class and allow students to experience taking an online class. We discussed the importance of students learning how to manage their time and to experience the autonomy of learning the material on their time, when they are ready to learn it, which fits beautifully with many of the personalized learning philosophies that we are bringing to the Somerset High School," Donnelly said.

This class is also the starting salvo in a restructuring of the approach for summer school.

"The creation of Jen's class also led us to have bigger conversations within the building about how we can reevaluate our summer school programming for our high school students as traditionally that time has only been used for remedial work. Moving forward we will be offering additional credit-bearing classes in the summer so students can open up more time in their schedule during the school year to take more classes (electives, AP classes, College in the Schools, etc.) that many students cannot take now with our current structure," Donnelly said.

Sutton said the Consumer Education course had to be restructured so it would work in the new format, compared to daily meetings with the students. She said she went back to the standards on what needed to be accomplished in the classes. The course ended with each student making a presentation on their results from the class. The course is designed to help students understand the financial responsibilities they will face after they graduate from high school.

Dave Newman

Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.

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