Virtual School Resources: June 2012   

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Dual Enrollment or A.P?

Is your high school student dual enrolled? With nearly 70 % of our nation's high schools offering high school students the opportunity to dual enroll, it doesn't make sense to not take advantage of these early college courses.

Reported in a recent article in Education Week, Chris Tutje, a 2012 grad of East High School in Des Moines, IA, acquired 36 college credits through dual enrolling at his local community college. This also earned him his highest GPA of high school. In the year where many seniors get lazy and may even begin the celebration of graduating a bit too early, dual enrollment might just be the motivation your high school student needs.

I hear some of you asking, "What about A.P. classes?" I would suggest you pick up the book, Push Comes to Shove by Dr. Steve Perry, Principal and CNN Education Contributor. Here's what he thinks: 
"Even the best kids struggle in advanced placement (AP) courses. Hell, AP courses are meant to be hard. They’re like high school courses on steroids; their only contribution to kids’ high school experience is more zits and stress."

So, why would you put your student through that if you don't need to? Unless your child's college of choice is requiring A.P., I'm not sure of a good reason. Many students have taken A.P. classes and passed the course final only to get a C on the A.P. test, which means it does not qualify as college credit. 

I did a bit more research on this as I know there are people who disagree. Don't get me wrong, I know you can't please everyone! However, I just wanted to get some different opinions. I found The Student Doctor Network, a forum for students who are planning to become doctors. This is written by students, which is why I think it's pertinent information. One student said "dual enrollment classes are by far more likely to be accepted by medical schools." This was the second comment that also stated you may need to retake A.P. Science classes when you get to college. Another disadvantage, according to one of the students, is that the A.P. class may not be taught well. Remember, the same teacher is not giving the A.P. test. One student said he wishes he had known about dual enrollment in high school. Make sure your student understands this option.

My daughter, who won't even be 16 for a few more months, already has 4 college classes under her belt. She got A's in each one, and is on the Dean's List at our local community college. In my opinion, Dual Enrollment is the way to go. However, as I always recommend, do your own due diligence. 

Do you have high school students? What do you think?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Institute for Excellence in Writing

The Institute for Excellence in Writing is one of my favorite educational companies, for so many reasons.

I had heard about the great writing program this company created, and decided to use it with my girls about 5 years ago. Today, not only are they both really good writers, but they enjoy writing. Watching Andrew on the DVD's was always something they looked forward to. My favorite part of the program was the list of banned words; words like nice, fine, and run. These and a long list of other words were never to be used, so a thesaurus was close at hand, and still is in our home. IEW also has a High School Essay Intensive which teaches students how to write an essay for the SAT. The first time I saw this, I wanted to stand up and applaud! Andrew makes it so easy, you'll wish you had been taught this way. I know I do! 

The other aspect of IEW that I love is the Leadership Education. If this is new to you, check out the book by Oliver & Rachel DeMille. 

IEW has several free webinars this summer which you can register for today so you can get them on your calendar:

July 9: Inspiring Aspiring Entrepreneurs, or What I Did on My Summer Vacation- inspiring children and teens to create a business this summer. 

July 16: New (Online) Writing Lab- for college students and young professionals

July 23: Experience Excellence in Writing- for those new to IEW

A few other webinars are available on the website, including one for teachers. Don't miss this valuable free resource!

If you've used IEW, I'd love to see your opinion in the comments!

By the way, I am not affiliated in any way with IEW, I just love their products!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back to School Blast Giveaway!

Back To School Blast I'm excited to be participating in the Back to School Blast which runs from August 1st through August 14th! For us, that's the last two weeks before school starts! How about you? Will you be ready to enter to win some fabulous back to school prizes? If you are a blogger who would like to participate in this hop, you have until July 27th to sign up and join the linky. As always, if you wait until the last minute, you will be lower on the linky, so why not sign up today? Thanks to This Flourishing Life, Tailor Made Momma, and Generations Of Savings, there will be a lot of blogs to hop, and a lot of prizes to enter to win! Whether you have a preschooler, a college student, a homeschooler, or anything in between,you'll be needing back to school gear! See you then!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Over 50 giveaways in the Made In America 4th of July Blog Hop!

I am so excited to be participating in the 
Made In America 4th of July Blog Hop! 

As a participant in this hop, I'll be giving away an educational program valued at over $500!  As of right now, there will be at least 50 other bloggers giving away prizes that are Made In America! Yay, U.S.A! If that's not enough, how about a cash giveaway, too?! How fun is that?

You can still participate as a giveaway blog, but this hop will be closing next week, so don't delay! Go to Joy of Momma Joyner right now and sign up! 

If you just want to enter to win, subscribe to Virtual School Resources (you haven't done that yet??) so you'll be sure to get a reminder to come back and enter all the fun giveaways! We're counting the days until the 4th of July! See you there!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

FREE iPhone app from RetailMeNot!

Occasionally I see an app that may not be for education but is something I want to share with moms who visit Virtual School Resources. This app is a no brainer!

Retail Me Not has a new iPhone app that helps you find the best coupons to your favorite places to shop. Save online or in store directly from your phone! Let's face it, it has never been easier to save where you want, when you want! 

How frustrating is it to find out you missed a deal when you were at the store?! (Been there!) Never miss a deal again!

This app also provides access to a selection of RetailMeNot's best online coupons from thousands of merchants and more than 1,600 in-store redeemable coupons!

This simple, easy to use interface with curated "Hot Deals" from popular stores is updated every day and allows access via search to RetailMeNot's best online coupons from thousands of merchants.

So, this app gives you the ability to:

  1. Get thousands of coupons for in-store and online use
  2. Simple drag and drop function allows easy online redemption
  3. Save your favorite coupons for later
  4. Browse top coupons, popular stores and category listings

Visit the the RetailMeNot Facebook Page now through June 18 at 4 pm CST for Appy Hour! They're giving away prizes up to $1000! 

Don't leave the house without downloading this free app today!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Failing Students Graduating?

It drives me crazy when I read about people who oppose online schooling. I've actually read comments from some that say it is detrimental to the future of education. 

In Culcutt Middle School in Rhode Island, dozens of eighth graders who failed two to three of their core subjects were allowed to graduate to high school because the principal says students who fail are more likely to drop out, according to WPRI Eyewitness News. Wait. Am I misunderstanding something here? In addition, eight of the graduates missed at least 50 out of the 180 day school year, with some of them missing half the year. There is something very wrong with this picture. If that's not enough to baffle you, how about this: the school's graduation rate increased from 48% in 2010 to 71% in 2011. It was said that several teachers were skeptical about the graduation rate. Really?

Would it be so terrible to give these kids the chance to take these classes online? I don't know what the problem is at Calcutt. Do the students need to work to help support their families? Do they just figure they don't need to go as they will pass either way? I hope, for the sake of these students, someone comes in and straightens this school out. Can we clone Dr. Steve Perry?!

As a parent, would you prefer to see your child pass, or learn valuable life lessons by failing if they deserve to fail? I'd love to see your comments below!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hybrid Learning

This is a snippet of a great lecture from William R. Mattox, Jr., a Resident Fellow at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Florida, given at the Heritage Foundation's annual Resource Bank meeting in April 2011. Click on the title to go right to the entire article. It's worth your time!

The Promise of Online Learning

Even a non-techie like me can find merit in online learning’s promise to help transform education. That’s because digital education is what Michael Horn of the Innosight Institute has called a “disruptive innovation.” Online learning challenges almost all of the prevailing assumptions about how schooling should be structured.
  • It permits students to learn any time of day, during any time of year, from any location that has Internet access.
  • It allows students to work at their own pace, advancing from one level to the next when they have achieved mastery of a subject matter rather than after completing 180 days of seat time in the classroom.
  • It permits students to learn from teachers who may live across town or in a remote part of the state or halfway around the globe.
  • And it permits learners to benefit from market competition, since all that is required for one to “switch schools” or to “change classes” is a click of the mouse.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Take a Break Tuesdays: Online Fun!

Here's a way for your kids to continue learning throughout the summer (not that you have to tell them that!) and enter to win an ipad! I just love Bill Nye the Science Guy! He's teaming up with Sophia to present The Summer Challenge, keeping our kids from experiencing "brain drain" and giving them the opportunity each week to enter to win! It's easy to enter, and they just take quizzes based on their grade level to acquire points. Kids must be 13 to enter! 

Sophia is a great site to bookmark for over 25,000 awesome tutorials on everything from Order of Operations to poetry. Visit during the school year for help, but for now, just have fun!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Blended Learning Works

I love hearing the stories that are coming out daily about how virtual schooling is changing the face of education.

In School Reform Through Blended Learning, we are introduced to Kwame Simmons, the principal at Kramer Middle School in Washington, D.C. Given the opportunity to turn around Kramer, one of the lowest performing schools in our nation's capital, Simmons had his work cut out for him. Here are some of the statistics: 33% of the students were receiving special education, 
30 % were truant, and math as well as reading scores were "deplorable." Most would just walk away. Not Simmons. He began with making changes to policies and procedures and added support for special education. Next, he "reconstituted" the staff, which means teachers had to reapply for their jobs. For the teachers who did not return to their jobs, he replaced them with people who collaboratively wanted to see the school succeed. Finally, he went in search of a program that would be a good fit for the students at Kramer. 

Simmons found the Center for Talented Youth Online, a program through Johns Hopkins University. 42 students began taking some classes online, combined with face to face classes. In just two and a half months, students had improved an entire grade level or more. If that isn't exciting, do you have a pulse?! Two and half months! This is personalized learning at its best! 

Next, Simmons wants to take the program school wide. The school will also be working with Adaptive Curriculum, a provider of online math and science tools. Every student will have a laptop in the 2012-2013 school year to be able to access these online lessons. In addition to Hopkins, Florida Virtual School will add support.

Simmons said they will be surveying the students to see if they are having fun, too. Saying his students have been constantly reminded of their deficits, and "that sucks," Simmons obviously believes in these kids. 

Well done, Mr. Simmons. I personally can't wait to see the results next year.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Amazing Astronomy App

The new apps that are coming daily are just mind boggling. My latest fav?

Star Chart

Point your Android device at the sky to correctly depict all stars in the northern and southern hemispheres, as well as all 88 constelations, and every planet in the solar system. Just hold your device up and point, tap, and learn about anything in the sky, including distance and brightness. How cool is that?

Rated 4.4 out of 5 stars by eSchool News, and just $2.99 for Android devices.

Guess I can just hang my ironing on the telescope. Sure wish there was an app for ironing...

What's your favorite app? Share it in the comments section below!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Enter to Win 250 Business Cards with Free Shipping!

UPrinting has teamed up with Bloggy Moms to sponsor a giveaway of 250 beautiful print business cards with no shipping! I personally love having a business card to hand out instead of searching for a piece of paper to jot down my info! 

250 Die-cut Business Cards for one (1) winner! 

Choose your style!
2×3.5″ Rounded Corners, 2×2″ Rounded Corners, 1.75×3.5″ Rounded Corners, 2×3.5″ Leaf, 2×3.5 Rounded one corner, 2×3.5″ Half-Circle Side, 2×3.5″ Oval, or 2.5″ Circle

14pt Cardstock Gloss/ Matte / High Gloss (UV), or 13pt Cardstock Uncoated

6 Business days print turnaround time

a Rafflecopter giveaway

"You should assume that I will receive free print products in exchange for the post. Any and all reviews posted are based solely on my own experience and may be atypical. Please practice due diligence in making any related purchase decisions. Interested to hold a giveaway like this? Please sign up here.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sunsational Summer Giveaway!

Welcome to the Sunsational Summer Giveaway Event. This event is hosted by Blog It Forward, My Mommy's World, Taking Time For MommyAnd The Little Ones Too, and Put A Little Umbrella In Your Drink. This event features giveaways with a value of $25 or more at each of the participating blogs! Be sure to visit each blog from the linky below and enter for your chance to win! This event will close on the first day of summer, June 20th at 11:59 pm EST. 

Scentsy has sponsored this giveaway with a $25.00 gift card!
Good Luck and have a Sunsational Summer!

                                                              This is a Scentsy Buddy! Is it cute or what?

This is a Scentsy warmer!

Visit our sponsor, Jenn Harrison at Scentsy, to see other things you might buy with the gift card if you win! Jenn would love to share the business opportunity with you, too!
Now go and enter all the other great giveaways! Good Luck!

Please understand that Blog It Forward, along with the "Sunsational Summer Event" bloggers are not responsible for sponsors that do not fulfill their prizes. However, we are responsible for contacting our sponsors regarding the winner's prize at the close of the giveaway. We expect that our sponsors will fulfill their prize agreement and ship them to the winners in a timely manner.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Take a Break Tuesdays: Online Fun

I've decided to start a series for Tuesdays called Take A Break Tuesdays: Online Fun as there are so many fun online games for kids that I want to share with you!

For starters, some news: Now that my daughter is almost old enough to join Facebook, they are developing technology that will allow children under 13 to have Facebook accounts. Of course, now that my daughter is so close to the prize, she thinks it is very unfair! We have struggled in this area as so many of her friends who are NOT 13 have been on Facebook for years. You do have to fill in your birth date, so I'm not sure how kids are getting around that one short of fibbing, but we have stood our ground! My oldest had her account waiting to be set up on her 13th birthday, and my younger will follow suit. Facebook does say the new technology will require parent supervision. Uh, okay. I guess we will just have to wait and see what the requirements are. 

Even more exciting is that Nintendo is unveiling a new social and content network called Miiverse. Though it's not clear what this new addition to Wii U does, I know at least one kid that's pretty excited about it. My youngest told me all about how much fun Pokemon online games are, and I didn't even realize there was such a thing! I was under the impression that you still needed an actual game inserted into your 3DS. Not so, my daughter tells me. Her only disappointment with the online game is that you can only participate for one hour a day. Yay!! That's my favorite part! I love when companies limit the amount of screen time kids can have. After all, there are other things they can do, like (shudder) get outside and play!!

If your kiddos aren't aware of Pokemon Online, check it out and let us know what you think!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Virtual Schooling Works

Tony Baldasaro, Chief Human Resource Officer at New Hampshire's Virtual Academy Charter School, has written a great article about why virtual schooling works so well. He shares a personal story that many of us could tell. When he was a junior in high school, it looked like he was finally going to be able to take a photography class. Offered just every other year, and not available to him the year before, he would have to take it at the only time it was available, in third period. Unfortunately, a guidance counselor told him he would have to drop it as he needed Spanish, which would only work in that same time slot. 

I remember one year when my oldest was in eighth grade, and we had decided to try yet another private school. Figuring out her schedule for the next year was so stressful! Each parent had to make an appointment with the guidance counselor and try to work out all the classes to fit in those 7 boxes. Ultimately, there would be classes she would not be able to take as they were at the same time as other required classes. 

Virtual schooling offers so much more because our kids don't have to fit their lives into those little boxes on their school schedule. My children both take almost all classes online. In fact, my oldest has found it works better for her to do all assignments for each subject on different days. In other words, she will do all history for the week on Monday. If there are 5 assignments, she gets on a roll and plows through them all on the same day.She loves it! She can focus on just that subject all day, without having to stop in the middle and go to the next class. This schedule doesn't work as well for her with math as it isn't a strong subject for her, so she does math each day. The point is that she has a choice, and can choose what works best for her.

In Baldasaro's article, he sums it up nicely, saying, " Not bound by the constraints of physical space or out-of-date school calendars, virtual schools can provide opportunities for students to take courses at a time and place that meets their needs. In my case, I could have taken my photography course on my own time and still completed that Spanish course during third period of my junior year." Exactly. 

What is your opinion of kids learning online? I'd love to hear it! 

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