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Meeting the Needs of Students in Military Families

Roland Rios is the district director of instructional technology for the 1,300-student Fort Sam Houston Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas, which is one of nine in the country that serves exclusively the children of active military personnel.

We met on the floor of the exhibit hall Monday at the International Society for Technology in Education's annual conference to talk about how he promotes the use of technology to keep students in touch with parents, especially those who may be far from home, at the unique district.

The average student Fort Sam Houston ISD serves moves 6-7 times during their K-12 education, said Rios, and a third of those students have a deployed parent, both of which create unique student and parent needs.

His students and teachers use email to keep up with assignments, and teachers post student work online for parents to see. (His district uses eChalk's services.) An online gradebook allows parents to follow exactly how their children students are are progressing from anywhere they're deployed. Some of his teachers even record their lectures for students to watch at home.

Because students are continually transferring to and fro all around the globe, keeping everyone in synch is challenging, said Rios. Having that archive of lectures allows new students to familiarize themselves with what the class has already covered, and move at their own pace by watching videos many times as needed, he said.

Keeping students—and parents—updated and engaged is a top priority of the district, said Rios, and one technology plays a key role in facilitating.

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