Categories: News

The Mooseheart Child City & School Reinvents Teaching & Learning!


Posted on

Mooseheart Students

Beatriz Arnillas

L. Beatriz Arnillas, itslearning

The fifty minutes I spent on the phone with Dr. Jeff Szymczak, Superintendent of the Mooseheart Child City & School, reminded me of why I have made education my life.

The Mooseheart Child City & School (MCCS), located 38 miles west of Chicago, is a home for children and teens in need. Students from 28 states and four countries live in small residences that include six to twelve students with Family Teachers who provide consistent care with an emphasis on social and essential skills for a successful life. Students can go home to visit their family most any weekend. MCCS is a fully accredited PreK-12 school, and its motto is: “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.”

alternate text

Dr. Jeff Szymczak, Superintendent of the Mooseheart Child City & School

Dr. Szymczak shared with me Mooseheart’s Hist-o-gram. In it, I found a record of life-long relationships and commitments. The history includes notes such as “Four sets of twins attended Mrs. Roate’s 2nd Grade Class,” picture included, the introduction of the Ornamental Concrete vocation pathway in 1913, and that Mr. Frank Deni taught it from that year until 1966. Dr. Szymczak became the Superintendent in 2013, the year of Mooseheart’s Centennial. By now, you know that Jeff Szymczak and his staff perform a labor of love.

Being always mindful of the support of Moose Lodge and other generous donors, the Mooseheart school leaders and staff are conscientious stewards. They were not amongst the first to jump into comprehensive digital solutions. Instead, they did it progressively. In 2014 the school introduced online grading. They started recording attendance online in 2015, and in 2017, Mooseheart introduced a 1:1 computing environment thanks to a donation from the Greenfield Family Foundation. In 2018-19, Mooseheart added 3-D Printing, a STEM Camp, and a Safe Surfing course to ensure students’ responsible use of technology.

Choosing a Learning Management System

In 2019, the school’s Learning Management System was going out of business, and MCCS reviewed about fifteen LMSs. In Dr. Szymczak’s words, “…itslearning was, by far, the best… this sounds almost too good to be true.” After attending the itslearning demonstration and reviewing the student data privacy and security, his staff wondered, could it really be that good? What if they don’t deliver the quality and services they presented? The Mooseheart students and teachers found out the answer sooner than expected.

We are so blessed to have a working relationship with a company that cares about education. I have never worked with a company that I can trust like this. We didn’t know we would rely on a platform as much as we are. Every dollar we’ve spent has paid back multifold. But it not just about money …itslearning was a godsend.”

Dr. Jeff Szymczak, MCCS

MCCS closed the deal with itslearning in October of 2019 and delivered teacher and staff training in November. Teachers started preparing lessons and activities in December, and students joined them on the platform in January. Fast-forward to March 2020. When the Governor of Illinois announced that schools would close on March 17th and would remain closed through May, Mooseheart’s teachers and students were ready.

During the first phase of the implementation, the school selected a “tech-team.” These were the teachers who were interested in learning how to use the platform. The school made sure to include teachers with various backgrounds, including special education, literacy, art, elementary, middle, and high school. Some teachers focused on designing lessons, others on developing assessments. Their librarian built up the curriculum in itslearning and teachers chose to use the features with which they felt comfortable. “We used it to build capacity, did Backward Design and playlists. Some teachers uploaded resources into itslearning while others designed assessments and connected the instructional materials to the state learning standards.

Mooseheart’s remarkable adoption story is not an accident. They have great guiding support at the top and a “whatever it takes” commitment from the entire staff. Teachers who had become experts in one feature or another showed their colleagues how to use the platform effectively during daily 45 min. PLC sessions. Dr. Szymczak says, “…we learned fast because everyone knew who to go to for which tool.” And their questions about whether the itslearning support team would be responsive? “The itslearning customer success team is super responsive,” said Dr. Szymczak. Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, most of the 200 Mooseheart students and teachers went back home on March 15th. Today, only five months after implementation, 100% of the teaching and learning is done on the itslearning LMS.

During the last two weeks of March, teachers created twelve new courses and increased the number of assignments from 111 in the previous month to 334, a 284.8% increase! Students logged into itslearning 3,607 times, and teachers edited their lesson plans 2,082 times. Teachers and students are communicating actively via thousands of instant messages, a 2078% increase, and with a 400% increase in student uploaded files, the evidence of student productivity is equally impressive.

A week before our conversation, the platform data registered that MCCS’s forty-five teachers logged into the platform over 3,035 times in one week. The top two are Math teachers and the records tracked more than 935 logins between the two. Students are also very active. “We used to see 200-300 student logins per week when we used the other LMS. Today we see that number of logins in one day.”

Reinventing Teaching and Learning

When I asked Dr. Szymczak to what he credits such a high number, he replied, “We are reinventing teaching and learning. Teachers post their lessons, see what the students are doing, where they are struggling or not engaging, and log in again to give feedback or tweak their lesson design.” The two Deans of Students check the platform’s extensive reports daily to monitor student engagement. One can see who has logged in, for how long, what are they using, doing, or not doing. If a student is not engaged, the guardian gets an immediate call with specific data about what they need to do to ensure their student’s success. “Our goal is to make sure that students are writing and reading every day.” Thus, the levels of student engagement are no mystery.

So, how do they measure success? For Mooseheart, it is about outcomes. The State of Illinois has decreed that there will be only “Pass or Incomplete” reports. The adoption of an LMS that aligns actions and products to learning standards, that provides the tools to design flexible lessons and variable pacing was timely. Mooseheart’s students can continue to engage with the material until they master each lesson and course outcomes. If students don’t pass courses before the end of the school year, teachers can design Individual Learning Plans (ILPs) for them so they can complete the work during the summer. Summer courses cost between $200 -$1000, but Mooseheart students can continue learning in their LMS without cost.

During our conversation, Dr. Szymczak said, “We are so blessed to have a working relationship with a company that cares about education. I have never worked with a company that I can trust like this. We didn’t know we would rely on a platform as much as we are. Every dollar we’ve spent has paid back multi-fold. But it not just about money …itslearning was a godsend.”

For more customer stories, please visit this webpage.

Free Remote Learning Starter Kit


Recent Posts

    Feed has no items.

News

The NEN Interview – Steve Tucker, CEO itslearning

June 28, 2021

Community

The itslearning planner is a great tool to give students structure, sequence and scope

June 21, 2021

Community

Isle of Man endorses hybrid learning as the way forward following 3 lockdowns

June 15, 2021

News

itslearning will exit the US market over time and strengthen its position in Europe

June 9, 2021

Our Product

A brand new, visually appealing planner for Back to School 2021/2022

June 8, 2021

Community

Virus versus the internet — education during and after the pandemic

June 8, 2021

Highlights

Schleswig-Holstein extends contract with itslearning for further three years

May 28, 2021

Community

Personalizing Learning through a Hybrid Model

April 27, 2021

Community

9 reasons why you should be at itsConvention

April 20, 2021

Community

Tips from the online classroom: How to engage students and activate their interest

April 15, 2021

Highlights

The future of education: remote and hybrid learning

April 12, 2021

News

ROC Midden Nederland chooses itslearning

April 12, 2021

Highlights

Podcast – How itslearning empowers students and teachers across the globe

April 8, 2021

Community

Aarhus Tech uses video conferencing to prevent dropouts

March 2, 2021

Highlights

2021 brings some major improvements to the itslearning platform

February 17, 2021

Community

Online Learning Tips & Tricks

February 17, 2021

Higher Ed

Implementing a Digital Learning Environment at Centria University of Applied Sciences

February 11, 2021

Community

Berlin offers the itslearning LMS to 400,000 students and teachers

February 10, 2021

Community

7 easy steps to engage your students during live video online classes in itslearning

February 2, 2021

Community

Five important data privacy takeaways from 10 months of remote and blended learning

January 27, 2021

Community

How the Dutch Police Academy Streamlines & Secures Education

January 18, 2021

Community

itslearning is moving fully to the cloud to scale up faster and better serve you

January 4, 2021

Community

How education disruption prompted this Finnish school to reinvent vocational learning

January 4, 2021

Community

5 free & fun tools to learn a new language

December 15, 2020

Community

Engaging Students with Virtual Reality

December 10, 2020

Higher Ed

What kind of technology can be used to support the learning process at universities?

December 10, 2020

Highlights

Baden-Württemberg selects the itslearning LMS for over 1 million students

December 9, 2020

Highlights

Introducing our brand new Test tool

December 7, 2020

Highlights

10 ideas for creating accessible content for everyone in itslearning

December 3, 2020

Higher Ed

Review: University of Southern Denmark to replace Blackboard with itslearning

December 1, 2020

Higher Ed

University Digitalization – How can an LMS make a difference?

November 18, 2020

Community

5 key strategies to make remote learning fun and engaging for younger learners

November 3, 2020

Community

Overview of itslearning October Updates by Brenny Kummer

October 20, 2020

Community

The SPARK Schools Covid-19 playbook to keep learning going for every child

October 14, 2020

News

itslearning: A Powerful Partner for Online Learning by Aimée Skidmore

October 13, 2020

Higher Ed

An effective implementation of technology (LMS) in Higher Education

October 13, 2020

Highlights

Becki Lee of Hopwood Hall College Awarded “UK Teaching Oscar” for Digital Innovator of the Year

October 12, 2020

Highlights

itslearning October 2020 Release

October 5, 2020

Highlights

Another great literacy tool – itslearning adds Immersive Reader to the platform

October 2, 2020

News

itslearning establishes new partnership with Altitude Learning to manage its US business

October 1, 2020

Highlights

Remote Learning Tips from the “Digital Teacher of the Year”!

September 25, 2020

Higher Ed

Tips for blended learning in higher education – the Stockholm University experience

September 8, 2020

Community

International Schools Embracing Technology for Blended and Remote Learning

August 25, 2020

Highlights

All set for Back to School after summer

August 24, 2020

Community

The Learning Platform That Enables & Enhances Blended Learning

July 7, 2020

Community

Whatever it Takes – Supporting Personalized Learning Remotely

June 17, 2020

Highlights

itslearning June 2020 Release

June 12, 2020

Community

How the Millis School District is tackling Remote Learning

June 11, 2020

Community

Learning Paths Simplify Online Learning

May 22, 2020

Community

itslearning LMS Makes Remote Learning Easier

May 19, 2020

News

itslearning + Google: All That and a Bag of Chips!

May 11, 2020

Our Product

itslearning May 2020 Release

May 8, 2020

News

Digital Solutions at Bremerhaven Schools

May 6, 2020

News

Shifting from eLearning to Remote Learning

May 5, 2020

Higher Ed

University of Southern Denmark chooses itslearning as its learning platform for 45,000 users

May 5, 2020

News

Elizabeth White — Harford’s 2020 Teacher of the Year — keeps caring for students while working remotely

May 4, 2020

News

Lightening the lockdown load

April 27, 2020

News

Tools that teachers love for fostering human connections in remote learning

April 17, 2020

News

The Mooseheart Child City & School Reinvents Teaching & Learning!

April 16, 2020

Highlights

Düsseldorf fast tracks remote learning – connecting 80k users in 24 hrs

April 15, 2020

Highlights

itslearning is ISO 27001 certified

April 14, 2020

News

itslearning Announces UBIT as New Partner in Turkey

April 14, 2020

Highlights

Bahçeşehir University Uses itslearning to Support Remote Learning

April 7, 2020

News

Remote Learning for All

April 2, 2020

News

Helpful teaching tools for virtual learning

March 24, 2020

News

Update: Efforts to boost platform capacity for itslearning users

March 17, 2020

News

Remote learning usage peaks as schools around the world close

March 16, 2020

Higher Ed

Turku University of Applied Sciences Selects itslearning

March 13, 2020

News

The successful implementation of a learning platform at Bartholomew Schools

March 5, 2020

News

How schools can ensure continuous learning during the coronavirus outbreak with remote learning

March 4, 2020

News

Amy Ong, from St Paul’s Catholic School wins UK User of the Year 2019

February 14, 2020

Our Product

itslearning February 2020 Release

February 14, 2020

News

Meet our new CEO – Steve Tucker

February 13, 2020

Higher Ed

What is an LMS… and Do We Need One?

February 12, 2020

Higher Ed

3 Things You Need to Know Before Implementing an LMS in Your University

February 10, 2020

News

Leadership change at itslearning

February 4, 2020

Our Product

itslearning January 2020 Release

January 10, 2020

News

itslearning is now a part of Sanoma Group

December 5, 2019

Higher Ed

itslearning at the OEB Global Conference 2019 in Berlin

November 27, 2019

Higher Ed

University College Copenhagen Selects the itslearning Platform

November 20, 2019

Higher Ed

Stockholm University hosts series of pedagogical course design workshops

November 4, 2019

News

Vi e’ Bergen – itslearning is Bergen

November 4, 2019

News

Virtual Learning Environments: What is their role in contemporary education?

October 18, 2019

News

5 Ways to Use an LMS to Support Blended and Online Learning

October 15, 2019

News

7 of the Best Apps for Teachers

October 9, 2019

News

Developer Festival – Sparking New Ideas

September 25, 2019

News

9 Ways to Help Students Practice STEM Skills

September 23, 2019

Our Product

itslearning August 2019 Release

August 30, 2019

News

5 Ways to Use Edtech for Project-Based Learning

August 29, 2019

News

Returning refreshed and recharged for the new school year

August 28, 2019

News

A very special visit from China for back to school

August 26, 2019

News

A second summer interning at itslearning

August 21, 2019

News

Boost Student Engagement with Technology in the Classroom

August 6, 2019

News

6 Ways to Use an LMS for Blended Learning

July 24, 2019

Our Product

itslearning July 2019 Release

July 19, 2019

News

Externship at itslearning

July 8, 2019

previous arrow
next arrow