Virtual School Resources: April 2012   

Monday, April 30, 2012

Flipping a Coin for College

One thing I am always telling parents is to be early. Be early choosing your classes for the new school year. (We're already thinking about it, in May.) Be early registering. Pick the first date for that orientation meeting, so you can fall back on the second or third. (Isn't it Murphey's Law that someone will fall sick?)

This applies to college, too. If you have a child in 8th grade, you should be thinking about college. What? 

In my state, students can dual enroll in 9th grade. Yes, you can fulfill gen ed requirements in the first few semesters, as long as your child gets in the classes you choose. If you are a registered homeschooler, in Florida, these classes are free. If your child is taking the classes as part of a public or private school, they may be free as well. However, the students who don't pay are the last students to choose classes. What a shame to not be able to apply the credit to your child's chosen field of study.

You can go to just about any college website and look at the degree program your child is interested in. Print it out and put it in a folder or notebook. That way, you'll have it when you need it.

In an article in today's New York Times Education section, a couple of high school seniors just aren't sure where they're going yet. "I finally visited U.G.A. a couple of weeks ago, and I wish I had done it sooner." says  Clare Tiarsmith who, along with another classmate, is blogging about the process. "The truth is, I have no idea where all my time went. Senior year has gone by faster than I had ever anticipated, despite the warnings I heard from so many before me." 

Eric Eichelberger , also in his senior year, had this to say, "Where did senior year go? I feel like someone pressed a fast-forward button from August to April. I blinked, and my college application process was over — except for the decision...Having visited barely any schools, I spent hours flipping through books and searching through Web sites, trying to find my match."

Clare ends her post for today by saying a friend told her to flip a coin, and if she can't figure it out, she's "flipping that coin." 

Seems like a lot of stress in addition to everything else a senior has to deal with. We'll start visiting colleges in my daughter's junior year, in hope of alleviating some of the decision making worrying. Of course, she'll change her mind a week before graduation. I think I better invest in a carton of Tums. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Your Kids can be Published!

If you have been here before, you probably know that I incorporate a lot of ideas that aren't part of our virtual schooling program, but are additional resources. My kids love to write, and who doesn't want to see their name in print?

One of my favorite newsletters is from C. Hope Clark. Every two weeks I get a dozen or so places where my kids can submit their work and possibly get published. The markets are for kids in elementary school all the way to college age teens. I've seen prizes ranging from cash, to manuscript critiques, to certificates for everyone who enters! I've even seen trips to Disneyland Paris!

Visit the site, WritingKid to sign up for the free newsletter and get your kids writing!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Praise for Virtual School

From today's Khaleeg Times Magazine, Jeffrey Herr, K12 Middle East's senior director,  says virtual or online students are generally are more independent, more organized and more committed to their studies as they have more ownership in their education. I couldn't agree more. Herr goes on to say,
“The ability to work at your own pace and to your abilities enhances the chance for success."

Rebecca Lavallee adds, “It is a path that requires an immense amount of self-discipline and commitment, not just from the kids, but from the family as a whole. You have to make it a way of life. When there are no formal commitments you may tend to slack off, or let life and its distractions get in the way. That is not an option,” she says, adding, “If you do not have that kind of commitment or time then you are perhaps better off not attempting it.” Again, well said. 

If you can't commit to being there for your child, virtual schooling will probably not work. It's very discouraging for a student to be behind because they aren't disciplined enough to get everything done each day. Unless they are very motivated, and probably in high school, this isn't a skill they have acquired yet. Don't think of virtual school as being a babysitter. Of course, I'm not suggesting parents would leave young children alone while schooling, but being too busy to encourage your child to submit work throughout the day is detrimental to your child's success.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

TED Ed...bring it on!

TED Ed (that's Technology, Education, and Design) is sweeping the web with videos about the arts, math, heath, literature, and a myriad of other subjects. TED's intention is to give teachers a supporting platform, with hopes that it initiates the desire to learn. At this site, educators can create videos for teaching. Videos students can watch at home, when they need them. Teachers can not only privately distribute the videos they make, but they can put them out for the world to see, and track how they impact viewers. That's powerful stuff.

Flipped learning is another term that has recently gone viral. As a subscriber to many different education and tech blogs as well as news sources, it seems I'm seeing that phrase daily. However, I haven't seen much about Flip Teaching. Have you ever asked your kids what they did in school, only to hear they watched a movie for the entire period of Science class? Flip Teaching aims to flip the learning sequence. Instead of students watching a movie during class and going home to work on homework, they are doing the 'homework' in class, where they have assistance from the teacher. Wow! Do you think they read my mind? I can't tell you how many times my kids came home from school (in the short few years they were in a brick and mortar school, that is) and needed help with their homework. Telling me, "that's not the way my teacher did it," was pretty frustrating. Okay, so it was a few years ago when I took Algebra, but as I wasn't in the classroom when your teacher explained it, what's a mom to do? Flip teaching gets this. Amen to that.

I'm a huge fan of Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, the educational site that offers free video teaching on just about any school subject you can think of. Khan is one of the advisors for TED, along with Melinda Gates. It's pretty exciting to watch this team of amazing leaders take the education community by storm. I say, bring it on!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Students Observe Live Virtual Surgery

Short post today as I am working on an assignment! Check out this article at the Examiner about students at Venice High School observing an interactive live surgery at Sarasota Memorial Hospital! You can follow this first time event at Facebook or Twitter! Talk about!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Virtual Frog Dissection

Apple has an ap for a virtual frog dissection for those who are squeamish about cutting open the real thing. At $3.99, it's certainly less expensive than ordering a real dead frog. Parents seem to be really pleased with the ap, too, saying there is an incredible amount of information to learn from. One mom says you can even manipulate the internal organs to get a complete view.

Rated with as one of the top Apple education aps of the year by eSchool news, this ap is sure to show up in virtual schools, and homeschools, across the world.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Thomas Jefferson blogs?

Who knew? Thomas Jefferson has a blog! Patrick Lee of Thomas Jefferson Leadership was kind enough to send me the information about this site where you can read posts on everything from aging to slavery. What I love about this site is that Mr. Lee goes on to explain, in terms a middle schooler could understand, what he feels Jefferson was trying to say. There is no other way to explain than to read it yourself. Here's a post on Education:

Thomas Jefferson on the value of history

I want to make history interesting and relevant to you. Am I succeeding?
History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.

Notes on Virginia
, 1782, 3736
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
These words are part of the closing challenge in every presentation I make as Thomas Jefferson. He recognized that human nature does not change. Lessons learned from the past can not only guide the present, they can protect the future.
He was particularly averse to human ambition, the desire of a few to gain authority over the many. He hated the idea that the few … the wealthy, well-born, or those already entrenched in power … were somehow superior to the masses. Reading history would help one recognize ambition, no matter how it presented itself. Once recognized, it could be defeated.
As part of that closing challenge, I pair this thought with another written decades later in 1816 to Charles Yancey, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
 Visit for more information. Do you include leadership training in your teaching? 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Teachers Texting

A lot of press has been given to the inappropriate behavior of teachers lately. It seems one allegedly sent photos of himself to one of his students. Another allegedly offered a better grade in exchange for the ability to view naked photos of one of his students. Nice, huh?

The problem isn't the texting. The problem is the teachers! I have not been involved with the public ed system since I attended school...more years ago than I will mention here. Fortunately, my kids have either been in private school, or schooled at home. Now they virtual school at home. I will say that I know people who are my contemporaries who had affairs with teachers. My mother has told me of people she knew in school who had affairs with teachers, too. Why is everyone blaming the technology?

I don't know how teachers are screened. I am assuming background checks are done. Is the problem supervision? Evidently, a man who left his wife for a student had exchanged 8,000 texts with her. That's a lot of communication. Yes, we can say someone should have been keeping a better eye on the student (parent?), but we trust our kids to these teachers, and I am wondering if there were red flags that no one stopped to think about or check out.

What do you think of teachers texting?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Paying Attention

Just because a student has trouble paying attention in a traditional classroom does not mean they won't be able to focus if virtually schooled. Trust me on this! I have a child who would doodle and daydream while her teacher tried to keep the attention of 25 second graders for 25 minutes of teaching. Her teacher was so frustrated she called a meeting. It seems my daughter wasn't "paying attention," but when called out in front of the entire class, she could repeat everything the teacher had said! Does that mean she wasn't "paying attention?" I think it's more like she was BORED! In my opinion, seven-year-olds should not be expected to sit still for 25 minutes straight.

If your child is struggling in a classroom environment, see if they would be able to take just one class online. It doesn't have to be at home. Just see what happens when kids can move at their own pace. You might just have a gifted student on your hands.

I'd love to hear about your experience with virtual schooling!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I can play games all day?

Don't mislead your child into thinking that virtual schooling is all fun and games. It can be fun, and there are games, but it is not all fun and games, any way you look at it.

Virtual Schooling is hard work. Most online schools give students the opportunity to enroll in advanced and honors classes. If you get that chance, take it! You will usually have time to change your mind if it's too difficult. But don't let your child take the easy road. Life is not easy, so teach them that along the way. These years of education will be over before you know it. Take full advantage of every learning opportunity!

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