Virtual School Resources: March 2012   

Saturday, March 31, 2012

How long have you been working on that??

When your kids are schooling online at home, you really can't know if they should be working on a paper for 20 minutes or 2 hours unless you look at the details. Most virtual schools provide the information somewhere, calling it a PACE chart or schedule. If they don't provide easy access to the information, ask for it! Speak to your child's teacher, asking how long each subject should take. My kids have some papers that only take 15-20 minutes to complete, but there have been times they have spent HOURS on a test (mind you, I do have a high school student), and when I checked to see how long the lesson should take, it said three hours!

Before you get frustrated that your child isn't completing enough in a day, be sure to check the PACE chart or schedule.


Friday, March 30, 2012

Electives

My daughter has always had the gift of musical ability. She has taken piano lessons, and her teachers were always amazed at how quickly she learned, as well as her ability to memorize songs. After playing a song from sheet music a few times, she would know it by heart. She also sings. She has a big voice, reminding me of the little girl from Annie. Her voice has always been that way. We joke that she was loud when I delivered her and is still loud. We are always telling her to keep her voice down. We knew it was a blessing, it was just in disguise for a while!

Now she's taking guitar lessons. She's never taken group lessons before. It's fun because they have "jam" sessions. Not that she's met any of the other students. She's in a virtual setting. How cool is that?
I'll bet your saying, "How can you learn a musical instrument over the internet?" I was apprehensive at first, too, but my daughter is really learning, and getting pretty good.

Virtual Schooling can provide so much more than the basic subjects. My oldest completed Spanish 2 last year, and learned much more than she did in a classroom setting in Spanish 1. In fact, because she had a speaking test where she had to record herself for each module, she became more fluent. She never got that much personal attention in the regular classroom.

My youngest is taking photography this semester. I'm learning a lot myself, just by looking over her lessons. It almost makes me wish I was in middle school again. Almost.

The point? Don't be afraid to sign up for electives just because you don't think they won't be beneficial in a virtual environment. It does work. If you're ever confused about how, just ask your kids. I'm sure they would be happy to explain it to you. Maybe they will even explain it in layman's terms so you will understand :)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Virtual Homeschool Convention & Freebies!

I love homeschool conventions, but would prefer not to have to get there, walk a half mile after parking, and have all my goodies mailed to me. Sound too good to be true?

Go here  http://bit.ly/FP4oW6 to attend the Virtual Homeschool Convention today! There's a "tote bag" freebie from Knowledge Quest, one of my favorite History curriculum companies. You'll also find curriculum reviews for every subject, and a lot more giveaways. Just register and browse around.

I'm already thinking about what to do in the fall. Take a few minutes and check it out!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bandwidth Restrictions?

It seems 4 out of 10 colleges now track the bandwidth (how many devices are connected to the internet) each student is using, according to eCampusNews. Restrictions on the bandwidth used is making some students angry. Using an ipad to go over classwork, listening to an ipod between classes, and texting with their smart phone all day is pretty much routine for today's college kids. But someone has to pay for that bandwidth, and right now, most colleges aren't recovering their cost. One thing is for sure, if you work in the IT field, your job will be secure for many years to come.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Special Needs? Reach Out And Touch.

When most people think virtual school, they probably would not link it to special needs students. Teacher Marissa Rega of Clairview School in Greensburg, PA, figured she would have to start with the basics in teaching students how to use new devices like the ipad or ipod. Imagine her surprise when she handed out the devices and the kids just started using them. According to eSchool News, the students are engaged for the entire 20 minute period. Rega says, "You can't hold them for two minutes when you're standing in front of them."

The primary students are learning about strangers, and the secondary students are learning about job applications. Both are practical applications they will need when out in the world.

For less than $200.00, there's even an application that helps non-verbal kids communicate. The article, in today's eSchool News, ends by saying, "It's a blessing." Indeed.

Devices and applications like the ipad and ipod will continue make it easier for all kinds of students to school virtually. I think that's pretty exciting news.

Monday, March 19, 2012

California Dreamin'

E-School news reported today about California Virtual Academies holding a science fair in a Barnes & Noble store in the Corte Madera Town Center. As the judges were not present, each presentation would have to be photographed from several different angles. Judging would be done, as most everything else, online. K12 is the virtual school company that serves California Virtual Academies. K12 serves many other state virtual schools, and is available to students in any state. California Virtual Academies offers real outings for the virtual students on a regular basis. For the students who participated in the Science Fair and did well, they may have an opportunity to go on to the State Science Fair. As in homeschooling, those who think the students are cloistered don't have any idea of how many opportunities are available to students who school online. In fact, many students who cyber school do so because of their crazy schedules, consisting of athletic competitions, music and art classes, and even auditions for commercials and television shows. These students have big dreams. I, for one, can't wait to see them come true!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Night at the Museum

I took my kids to a homeschool event at a museum last night. So clever. The mom who put it together reserves the museum every year for this event. The 6-12th graders watched a movie(Journey to the Center of the Earth was the pick for this year),then had a scavenger hunt through the darkened museum. It was a blast walking through seeing flashes of light streaming off the huge dinosaur skeleton in the main room, and hearing the screams now and then as someone jumped out to scare the kids. I've always thought I was an "involved" kind of mom, you know? I always brought a snack when I was supposed to. Organized a few small events here and there. But this mom, she is the bomb! The director of the museum told me he wished she could do more for them. You should have seen the clues she provided for the scavenger hunt. She zoomed in with her camera on certain exhibits or items, and all the pictures were on one sheet. I think there were about 18...things like one flower petal, or one shell in a mound of others. They were NOT easy to identify! In addition,13 chaperones had clues for the kids, but they had to ask for the clue. Mine was leprechaun. The others were things like lucky stars, green clovers,and marbits. Now, it's true that if your kiddos weren't allowed to eat sugary cereals, they may not have known what the answer was! But surely you know, right? What? You don't know what marbits are? I didn't either! I learned they are the little marshmallows in the...Lucky Charms! Well, it was St. Patrick's Day. Pretty clever! What a fun time for the students. After the hunt was completed, we all gathered in the courtyard for snacks and to see the winners announced. I just may ask Susan, our incredible organizer, to share details of how she came up with such great ideas, and to tell us about previous events so you, too, could organize something in your area. Interested? I'd love to hear your comments!
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