When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, United Independent School District in Laredo, Texas, was more prepared to shift to a remote learning model than many other districts. That’s because the district had already been using the digital-curriculum platform Exploros in some classes to drive student engagement and drive instructional improvement.
Exploros is built around the 5E instructional model (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate) and aligned with state and national standards. It focuses on student-centered, social learning with peer interaction and teacher guidance. Students actively contribute to the learning experience using social-media-style posting, which then fuels rich classroom dialog. When United ISD shifted to remote learning, they already had a tech-enabled core curriculum that preserved the social nature of the classroom, maintained the ability for teachers to guide synchronous or asynchronous instruction, and provided visibility with learning analytics.
“We were able to connect the gap between curriculum and instruction because we did have this resource at our disposal,” says Blanca Ibarra, the district’s Middle School Social Studies Coordinator. “The fact that everything was there, and that the kids were familiar with it, and teachers knew how to use it, made it a lot easier to continue instruction.”
With more than half the schools in the world closed because of the pandemic, and many more functioning under a hybrid learning model, United ISD’s challenge is a common one for districts: Given the need for education continuity in the current environment, how can ensure that you have standards-aligned instructional solutions that seamlessly transition between face-to-face and remote learning? How can you simplify, not complicate, effective teaching and learning? If your classrooms don't effectively integrate technology during face-to-face instruction, transitioning to remote instruction necessarily requires significantly different instructional approaches and tools, dramatically increasing complexity and reducing the chances of success.
United ISD’s answer to this challenge is one which other districts can learn from.
Right now, teachers need a pedagogically sound solution that brings their subject matter expertise and engagement strategies to life, both face-to-face and remotely. They need an approach that:
- Works in synchronous or asynchronous learning models
- Preserves the ability for teachers to guide the learning, yet enhances the ways in which students can interact, engage, and enhance social-emotional learning while gaining skills and content knowledge.
- Provides proven, pedagogically sound content that aligns with school- or district-wide curriculum goals, as well as state and national standards
- Increases digital equity by being accessible and meaningful to students of all demographics, regardless of special learning requirements or needs
- Produces real-time data for insights into attendance, progress, and learning-standards achievement
- Integrates with existing frameworks and platforms like Google Education Suite, Canvas, or other ecosystems
In short, teachers need a solution that enables them to focus on the art of teaching, not just content orchestration. Exploros brings all of these essentials together, saving teachers’ time and increasing student engagement and academic success.
Accessed through Lenovo best-in-class devices, Exploros supports the all-important educational continuity that is essential in modern classrooms. Together, Lenovo and Exploros provide the technology and infrastructure to keep students learning, no matter where that learning takes place.
When focused on teaching technology, don’t forget about curriculum
Exploros is built around state and national standards, strategies that teachers know, and approaches to instruction that are supported by professional organizations. Its full-year courses provide excellent content, innovative student tasks, and student performance analytics so teachers can adjust and personalize instruction.
Exploros has more than 650 lessons—and is well on its way to 1,000 lessons—covering digital citizenship, social studies, and English language arts accessible through Lenovo devices. Embedded in its lesson plans are visual supports, primary source documents, paintings and pictures, videos, and graphic organizers to catch and keep students’ attention.
Technology that empowers teachers
This past year has confirmed that students working through digital lessons or skills practice in isolation is a recipe for failure. Teachers are the most valuable resource in education and the key to student success. And students need social-emotional connection for motivation and meaning. Technology should assist teachers in the art and science of teaching, give every student a way to be an active contributor to the social learning experience, and automatically provide learning analytics to assist in ongoing instructional improvement. In a way, technology is not a distraction—it helps augment the learning. Exploros brings these essential elements together in a seamless way so that teachers can focus on what they do best: addressing student needs.
United ISD’s use of Exploros meant that teachers and students didn’t miss a beat in the quality of their learning, even as their classroom moved to home dining room tables, basements, and (let’s face it, very commonly) bedrooms. And as the district returns to in-person learning, they can seamlessly transition using Exploros without lost learning time. For schools everywhere, that continuity is important to providing students with the best instruction during the most trying times.
Learn more about best practices for ensuring educational continuity through a standards-based curriculum, in-person or remotely, and see how other educators are using Exploros, with our Student Engagement Playbook, part of Lenovo’s educational continuity resources.