Belinda Medellin and her high schoolers at CAST Tech quickly adapted to the new remote learning environment, successfully implementing project-based and personalized learning from home.
CAST Tech High prepares high school students for careers in technology and business. The school works with industry partners to give students hands-on experiences through internships—typically in one of three pathways: Computer Science, Digital Media, and UX Design. To graduate, students are required to create a digital portfolio to apply for internships, jobs and further their education opportunities.
CAST Tech is the first high school in the U.S. to teach UX Design at the high school level. The innovator of the UX Design program is 2020 Secondary Texas Teacher of the Year, Belinda Medellin. Belinda has been teaching for 12 years, three years at CAST Tech. She discovered bulb Digital Portfolios, and helped implement the use of it school-wide.
School closures due to COVID-19 have been overwhelming and challenging for educators to teach students remotely. Some of the concerns of teachers include:
- How can I stay connected with my students every day?
- How can I effectively teach new concepts, and deliver individualized learning plans?
- How do I ensure the learning is taking place and how do I encourage it?
Belinda addressed these concerns with bulb. Her students were able to quickly adapt to remote learning, using bulb in conjunction with Google Classroom. Even remotely, students are working on jump-starting their careers and documenting their work to show future employers. bulb has allowed students to effectively communicate with their teacher and peers, and become active agents of their own learning.
Communicating with students clearly
Teachers can clearly communicate with their students about assignments, rubrics, expectations, and office hours using bulb. They can address the different learning styles of students when explaining assignments—Belinda uses video for students that are more visual, written instructions if they like to read, and adds supporting images and links to resources. Below is an example of what Belinda’s weekly assignments and objectives to her students look like in bulb.
Knowing she does not have dedicated face-to-face time within a classroom with her students, and that some of the juniors and seniors are completing internships, Belinda relies on bulb to keep communication going. Through bulb, Belinda states her office hours and offers different ways students can communicate with her. Students also have the ability to add comments through in line commenting, or at the bottom of a page.
Being able to quickly and easily communicate with their teacher through bulb, students were able to provide real-time feedback on what was working and what wasn’t working in their new remote learning environments. Belinda and her students quickly adapted, creating a setup that is tailored to individualized learning.
Giving students a voice and a choice
bulb gives students a platform to complete projects using their preferred method of delivery: they can use audio, video, text, images, or a creative combination of all of them. It helps students take ownership and feel proud of the work they produced. It gives educators the ability to individualize lesson plans and discover students’ hidden talents.
“I’m able to make it fun. I can add video, pictures, cool things I think are neat. I’m able to do it my way, instead of sitting down at a desk and just writing.” —Li, 10th grade student from CAST Tech High School
“For a lot of students, bulb helps them express themselves differently and make learning their own. They still need the requirements of the assignment, but they can choose to express it in a way they do better with, or it allows them to go deeper into their learning. It’s so customizable they can use it to help them with really, anything. —Peyton, 9th grade student from CAST Tech High School
Documenting process to show learning is happening
In Belinda’s project-based learning classroom, her students are able to document and show their learning processes using bulb. It demonstrates the student’s ability to synthesize information, break it down into logical steps, and show more than the final answer. In a remote learning environment, it’s more important than ever to find ways to document process since a teacher is not able to monitor in class, student’s work.
“Now is our time to shift from the rigid ‘teaching to the standards’ method that only focuses on outcomes to more student-centered learning. Learning that focuses on accountability, progress, and personalized goal-driven strategies that demonstrate achievement.” —bulb Founder and Chairman, Erik Petrik
Documenting processes in a digital portfolio helps educators see where students land at the end of the 19-20 school year, and provides clear directions for individualized learning plans in the 20-21 school year. It also helps students archive and refer back to their work.
“Since bulb is so easy for me to archive my work, it’s really helped me to go back and look at my work to see what I can improve on. I’m doing a lot of retrospective learning through that.”
Integrating with LMSs
Using bulb to assign and grade student work ensures Belinda doesn’t inundate the LMS. Students and teachers exchange direct, valuable feedback within bulb. Her students agree that this has streamlined the process, and “instead of using two or three platforms, bulb makes it so all of their work can be found in one place.”
On Google Classroom, Belinda easily shares a link to a bulb page and the students can create a template from it. After the student completes their assignment in bulb, they simply post the link back to Google Classroom, instead of having to upload multiple files.
Get inspired by Belinda & her students
Teacher & Student View: Using Digital Portfolios for Remote Learning
Belinda Medellin's digital ortfolio
An example of Belinda's Remote Lesson Plans