Coastal Community School offers a hybrid program for Kindergarten through 7th grade (eventually to expand through 12th grade). Founded in 2014, students attend class two days per week, receive instruction from parents two days a week, and participate in enrichment activities every Friday.
Sarah Angrisani, Principal, Janet Corley, 7th grade teacher and Kim Carley, Information Specialist, know the value that educational technology brings to their school community. The ability to create a completely portable school experience using Google Classroom and Google Docs in conjunction with their school management system, Sycamore School, makes this school a model for parent involvement in student education.
Coastal Community School’s unique schooling model needed a simple way for teachers to be able to co-teach with parents and track the student’s learning progress. Previously, Coastal staff communicated information and lesson plans primarily by email and sending home papers with students, and student grades were entered manually in multiple places. As a result, parents and students had limited teacher support without the ability to share resources digitally and communicate effectively.
Prior to implementing Sycamore School, teachers would enter student grades manually into either a paper grade book or spreadsheet. From there, grades would be re-entered into Word by administration in order to create report cards. Because data had to be entered multiple times to complete these tasks manually, this increased the likelihood of errors occurring. The same issue happened when changes to grades needed to be made.
“This integration is so helpful to us because we are a small school and do not have a devoted technology department,” says Sarah and Kim . Both ladies have students who attend Coastal, and so they are able to see the situation from both the classroom and home perspectives.
Sarah and Kim, who were both involved in the research and implementation of Sycamore School at Coastal, discovered that using the integration the system has with Google Apps for Education, would expand co-teaching opportunities and provide a platform for sharing accurate data in real-time.
Prior to Coastal adopting Sycamore School and Google Apps for Education, methods of co-teaching and data tracking were cumbersome and complicated. As a result of the integration, Coastal was able to connect the two systems in order to access Google Classroom and Google Drive, among other features, from within their school’s Sycamore site. This facilitates the utility of both systems, and simplifies preparation and work for teachers in the classroom, as well as empowering the parents and students to take charge of their learning.
The first step for Coastal was syncing their Google domain with Sycamore, their student information system, which allows for the provisioning of student and staff accounts, as well as Google Classroom. Sycamore already contains the necessary information, such as names, emails, rosters, etc., which eliminates the need for additional data entry. Next, Google Drive was synced in Sycamore for teachers and students to be able to access assignments directly from the Sycamore site. The teacher now has the ability to remain involved with parents in co-teaching, even on days when students are being taught at home. So now, while Janet’s 7th grade students are at home with their parents, she can still offer feedback and direction via Google Classroom and Google Docs.
Finally, Coastal needed a way to be able to eliminate entering data into multiple areas. Because of the integration, they are able to share data between Google Classroom and the grade book in Sycamore School using an export/import process, where data is exported from Google Classroom and imported into Sycamore without manual re-entry. The data can then be used by Coastal for creating report cards, transcripts, and other reports as needed within Sycamore. This ability saves time and decreases errors within the data. Should changes need to be made to data, the process is simplified by only having to make the change in one place and have it reflected throughout the system in real-time.
“The integration between Sycamore and Google Classroom is such an exciting proposition,” says Sarah and Kim. “Sycamore is phenomenal with their grading and reporting technology and Google Classroom is a phenomenal tool for teachers to easily communicate and provide instant feedback to their students.”
Coastal hopes to continue expanding their use of Sycamore’s integration with Google Apps for Education. As staff, students, and parents become more familiar with these tools, Sarah and Kim know that they will see the ongoing benefits of enhanced co-teaching with parents, continue to save time and increase efficiency, as well as simplify data upkeep, which many schools struggle with.
With Sycamore and Google Apps for Education working together, the amount of manual entry is reduced, therefore increasing productivity and allowing teachers and administrators more time in the classroom supporting students instead of systems. In an age where classroom time is incredibly valuable, schools reap the benefit of this integration.
Sycamore offers schools a true all-in-one solution that amplifies student learning by increasing interactions between students, parents and teachers. Combining Sycamore’s 300+ features with the strength of Google Apps for Education, provides schools with a school information system that is unmatched by any other product on the market.