Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Little, recently received the announcement of being nominated for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year 2020 in October of this year. Mrs. Little (previously Ms. Housam) began teaching at PA Virtual Charter School in 2014. This is her fourth year at PA Virtual teaching Kindergarten. Mrs. Little has used a collaborative approach across groups and uses theme based learning to relate content to daily life. When Mrs. Little was asked what it means to be nominated, she replied that she was pleasantly surprised, “See, I always had this growth mindset. I have always wanted to improve my teaching. It seems like possibly the reflection of lessons and listening to the students’ needs really has paid off.” We interviewed Mrs. Little to find out more about what motivated her to become a teacher and why she enjoys teaching at a virtual school. Read her answers below!
First grade teacher, Katie Barnett, recently received the announcement from the Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year that she was nominated for Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year in 2020. Barnett began teaching at PA Virtual in 2006 and this is her 13th school year here. When Katie, or as her students call her, Mrs. Barnett, was asked what it means to be nominated she replied that she was flattered, “but it just makes me want to work harder for my students. There are so many fantastic educators out there and so many wonderful modes of teaching. I want to continue to improve myself, my knowledge, and ultimately the educational experience I am able to give my students.” We interviewed Mrs. Barnett to find out more about what motivated her to become a teacher and why she enjoys teaching at a virtual school. Read her answers below!
Stay on top of your child's education with the latest industry news and events. Fill out the form for updates directly to your inbox.
At PA Virtual, we offer both asynchronous and synchronous learning models for our students based on their academic performance, learning style, and need for academic support and socialization. So, what does that mean and how are they different?
I love family meal time. I love it when schedules allow the whole family to be at the dinner table at the same time, enjoying favorite foods, and having great conversations that continue long after the last spoonful of chicken pot pie has been claimed. I love it the most when the conversations happen spontaneously, and we have to follow a backwards trail to figure out how the topic ended up here. And, of course, plenty of inside jokes and family stories make it even better. But, sometimes meal time is, well, quiet. A long day at work, a hard practice on the field, or an impending stressful assignment can keep lively banter at bay. But family conversation is often the perfect recipe for those tough, exhausting days. So, how can we encourage that stimulating, therapeutic dialogue when our family members seem reserved at the table?
For the first time in PA Virtual’s history, we have hired one of our alumni as a teacher! Former student Sigrid Gulbis was hired this past summer as a High School Math Academic Support Teacher. Ms. Gulbis entered the first grade during PA Virtual’s second year in business and graduated four years ago. This past May, Gulbis graduated Summa Cum Laude from DeSales University with a bachelor’s of science in math. “It’s interesting to see many teachers who instructed me are still at the school and now are my coworkers,” Gulbis said.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where they can easily be caught and disciplined. It happens behind screens and on social media platforms, many of which parents don’t even know exist.
Did you know? Nationwide, school staff and parents are in a heightened state of concern due to the growing number of students involved in bullying. But only 1 in 10 students who are bullied will inform a parent or trusted adult of the problem. October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so we have prepared a two-part blog series to help parents learn more about bullying. The series will help you recognize signs your child may be experiencing bullying, and give you tools to help your child resolve an issue with bullying, and offer tips for preventing bullying.
During the 2018-2019 school year, the Pennsylvania Department of Education is introducing a new school assessment tool, the Future Ready Index. This new tool is designed to take a more comprehensive look at individual students; assessing their unique needs and abilities, measuring their year over year growth, and determining if schools are truly preparing Pennsylvania’s students for long term success. While in the past, great schools were measured almost exclusively by standardized test scores, the new Future Ready Index will take multiple criteria into consideration including how a student performs over several years as well as whether a school is providing opportunities for exploring career pathways and college options.
How does PA Virtual offer additional support to our students and families? Great question! Here are just a few support services we provide throughout the year:
Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” This advice is particularly useful as we transition out of the summer and back into school. While the transition is major for some families, and routine for others, we all need to adjust to some degree. Fortunately, it’s the small things that matter most in making that adjustment. In this blog, we draw upon the experiences of several PA Virtual parents to provide tips that will help families ease back into the school year.
Share: Cooking and baking are great ways to incorporate math, reading comprehension, and following directions into a fun activity! Over the summer, one PA Virtual parent challenged her children to help come up with breakfast and dinner ideas for the family. Seventh grader, Sarah Hallberg, shares her experience and her great-grandmother's 'famous' sticky bun recipe! Make sure to read to the end to get the recipe!
Each fall teachers work with students who have experienced the all too common “summer slide”. Symptoms include learning loss, forgetting math formulas, and even a decrease in vocabulary. Keeping academic skills intact is a concern for many parents. After all, we want our students to be ready to make progress when school starts next September, rather than spending the first few weeks playing “catch up.”
A common question families ask us when beginning the enrollment process is how often their child will get to socialize with others while being educated in a virtual environment. Socialization is an important part of a child's development. At PA Virtual, we offer plenty of opportunities for students and their families to explore local attractions, meet other PA Virtual families, and build strong relationships.
Photo by William Iven on Unsplash
January is nearly synonymous with fresh starts. It seems to be the perfect time to evaluate, plan, and improve. As parents, many of us like to take a close look at our school day during this time of year and do just that before starting into the second semester. Sometimes, very simple changes can go a long way to making the school day smoother and more productive. One great place to start is to consider the morning routine, because that really sets the tone for the whole school day. If you don’t already have a morning routine that seems to be working well for your family, consider the following ideas to get your school mornings started on the right foot:
As temperatures begin to drop and winter approaches, your children will begin to spend more time indoors. To limit screen time this winter season, encourage your children to read more. Of course, this is easier said than done. Below are some tips on how to get your kids to read more during the winter and into the New Year.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where they can easily be caught and disciplined. It happens behind screens and on social media platforms, many of which parents don’t even know exist. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In the second part of this blog series, we take a look at some of the warning signs parents can look for if they suspect their child might be bullying others.
As families in Pennsylvania close their pools for the off season, many students won’t even think of swimming until the weather turns warm again. For PA Virtual junior, Matthew Bonnell, he doesn’t ever stop. Matthew swims competitively and is in the pool 6-7 days a week for practices. No matter the weather, his competitive forte is open water swimming – meaning lakes, rivers and even the ocean. Two-a-day practices keep him in the water for about four hours a day, and his workout regimen also includes other conditioning and strength training. As a junior in high school, how does Matthew balance his demanding training with school? By attending PA Virtual Charter School, Matt has the flexibility to complete his studies whenever and wherever he can.
Did you know? Only 1 in 10 students who are bullied will inform a parent or trusted adult of the problem. October is National Bullying Prevention Month. In acknowledgement of this, we have prepared a two-part blog series that examines the hidden signs a child may be experiencing bullying online AND warning signs a child may be bullying others. Bullying and cyber bullying take many forms. PA Virtual teachers go to great lengths to monitor classroom communication on our online platform to make sure that all students are treating one another with respect and interacting in a positive manner. However, away from the school computer, there are a number of other communication and social platforms that young teens use almost every day. Snapchat, Instagram, and even video games have become a common way for teens to bully others. When parents become aware of bullying incidents on social networking sites, it is important to have the right tools and know what steps to take to combat the problem.
Need some extra help with school this year? Here are a few apps that can help jumpstart your academics during the 2017-2018 school year!
What is it like teaching in a cyber school? What can students expect as they settle into the school year? PA Virtual teacher, Ms. Lisa Steen, shares some of the behind the scenes action that takes place at cyber schools and gives advice for students who want to start the school year strong! Ms. Steen has been an elementary classroom teacher at PA Virtual since the school opened. She has taught all grades (K-5) and this year is excited to work with our Kindergarten students. How do cyber school teachers spend their day? A teacher’s job is never done! Ms. Steen and other PA Virtual teachers do complete tasks similar to teachers at a brick and mortar school, such as data entry, lesson planning, grading and attending meetings, but there are also lots of differences. First – they don’t have to drive to class! Many PA Virtual teachers have an office set up in their own home, just as students have a designated “school” space. Here, they sign into their computer, load lessons for the day and engage with students and families during live lessons or remediation classes. The flexibility of cyber school often allows teachers to individualize lessons based on the needs of students.
Need some extra help with school this year? Here are a few apps that can help jumpstart your academics during the 2017-2018 school year!
A step by step guide to help new families be successful in cyber education
On average, 1.3 million children in America start kindergarten each year. One of the most important parts of a kindergartner’s education is spending time sharpening their basic learning skills. Whether your child is away from home for the first time, or they are enrolled in a cyber program and you are a Learning Coach, there are areas you can work on as parents to help your children succeed.
A deeper look into the nationally recognized curriculum used by PA Virtual PA Virtual challenges students each day in a flexible online learning environment from the comfort of their own homes. How does a school connect students from across the state and ensure their academic needs are met? Our state-certified teachers guide students through their studies using the nationally recognized K12, Inc. curriculum that aligns with the PA Core Standards set by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. PA Virtual teachers deliver these online courses to students in each grade at every level of learning. Teachers use their creativity to individualize lesson plans based on the needs of students in the virtual classroom. PA Virtual has used K12, Inc. as the source for curriculum since its inception in 2001. Nationally, the curriculum aligns with the Common Core, however the PA Core Standards are slightly different. Parents may find “PA Only” lessons or supplements provided by K12, Inc. or teachers during the course of the school year.
Sawyer Wright of Pittsburgh is headed into 4th grade at PA Virtual this Fall and has been bitten by the robot bug. His love of creation and competition led the Wright family on a trip to Gastonia, North Carolina this June to compete in the Clash of Bots 2017, held at The Scheile Museum of Natural History. Sawyer and his robot, MUGGA JUNK, were prepared to battle, not knowing he was going to be one of the youngest competitors in the ring. Sawyer was the only competitor under the age of 18 at the event.
As the last few weeks of summer approach, families are trying to squeeze in every bit of fun they can. Trips to the amusement park, movies, and beaches can get expensive. Here is a list of 10 free or low-cost activities you can do with your family in the Philly-area, which are not only fun and kid friendly, but budget friendly too!
As August approaches, families can’t help but think about back-to-school– whether it’s the kids thinking about how many days of summer vacation they have left, or parents thinking about back-to-school shopping. There are some things you can do now to ease your family into the back-to-school mindset and allow everyone to enjoy the remaining weeks of summer. Laura Shearer, School Counselor at PA Virtual Charter School, provided us with some tips so you can hit the ground running once the school year starts.
Daniel Pfeiffer was born with a rare craniofacial condition that required six major skull reconstructive surgeries. In addition to physical disabilities, Daniel was also diagnosed with a number of developmental learning disabilities, which made a traditional brick and mortar school environment nearly impossible.
Summer is the perfect time for parents to reflect upon their children’s learning environment and consider their options. Have you ever wondered if a public school might be a good choice for your child? This blog will highlight some of the benefits of a cyber education and help parents learn more about what online options like PA Virtual have to offer. Has your child been struggling academically? Are they interested in pursuing other athletic activities or passions? Is there something just not working at your child’s current school but you can’t put your finger on it? In Pennsylvania, families are afforded a handful of choices when it comes to K-12 education. There are of course, parochial and private schools where families would directly pay tuition for each student to the school, but also a number of public options you could explore if you are looking for a change.
Mrs. Christine Gallagher just finished her 11th year teaching 5th grade at PA Virtual this June; and the end of this school year came with an extra surprise. Mrs. Gallagher has been nominated by one of our PA Virtual students as Teacher of the Year!
Photo Source: Twitter/ @MNWild Less than two weeks after graduating high school, Class of 2017 graduate, Ivan Lodnia has been drafted by the Minnesota Wild! The 2017 NHL draft was held at the United Center, home of the Chicago Blackhawks. Ivan and his family spent last weekend in the Windy City. Going into the draft, Ivan was ranked 37th among North American skaters and it was anticipated he would go sometime in the second or third round. Ivan spent the last two seasons playing right wing for 2017 OHL Champions, the Erie Otters. The Otters were the number one overall seed going into the 2017 playoffs, and defeated the Sarnia Sting, London Knights, Owen Sound Attack and Mississauga Steelheads to claim the J. Ross Robertson Cup. Ivan enrolled in PA Virtual during his junior year, but has been cyber schooled since 8th grade. The flexible schedule allowed Ivan to balance school and classes, between the Otters practices, road games, and a hectic playoff schedule.
The 2017 school year just came to a close and for one student, it means the era of a new adventure!
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's (CLP) Summer Reading Extravaganza is one of the best ways we know to kick of summer reading! This annual outdoor festival offers music (we love Timbeleza!), crafts, games, storytelling, food trucks, and most importantly the opportunity to enroll in a summer reading program. This year PA Virtual gave participants the chance to express their creativity by making magic scratch bookmarks, which they can use all summer as they read their favorite books. According to Story Pockets, the official blog for Children’s Services at CLP, "participating in a summer reading program can help kids and teens retain the literacy skills they have gained during the school year. Studies have shown that when kids and teens read during the summer, they are more likely to succeed when the new school year begins. Summer slide, or summer learning loss, can be challenged by reading books and engaging in out-of-school learning opportunities."
Organized by Mrs. Willits and Mrs. Burke, the first ever school wide virtual fair highlighted some key concepts and projects students studied throughout the 2016-2017 school year. Most science fairs take place in crowded gyms or classrooms, but in a virtual school, these teachers were faced with the challenge of bringing everyone together in a unique way - in a virtual classroom! Students in younger grades tested scientific methods and basic concepts such as figuring out different solutions could clean pennies and experimenting with making crystals at home. Older students explored more in depth topics such as how music impacts your mood and researching acid reflux.
Last Friday, members of the Class of 2017 shared their post-graduate plans with teachers, staff, and younger students. Our graduates shared a variety of plans including vocational school, two-and-four year colleges and universities, and even military service.
From Left to Right: Morgan (Hagar) Kutz (Bride), Colton Hagar, Holly Hagar & Ridge Hagar
PA Virtual had a FANTASTIC time this past weekend at the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival! The Festival is one of the best activities that Pittsburgh has to offer families, and we were so glad to be part of it this year.
Congratulations to Katie Barnett and Christy (Ansell) Kotwica who are heading to New Orleans this summer after being selected to present at the BbWorld17 Conference!
By: Julia Darkey While most kids used their spring break to relax, catch up on sleep, or maybe go on vacation, I was up every day at 7:30 a.m. getting ready for college tours. From April 14th to April 21st, my dad, mom, and I went on college tours throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. My mom and I scheduled tours for almost all of the colleges we visited so we had a set schedule of where we were going to be and when. I would HIGHLY recommend scheduling the school tour on their website. Often there were as many as 50 students, plus their parents on my tours; and colleges often set a limit of students per tour so you don’t want to be disappointed that you can’t tour the school after traveling there because you didn’t make an appointment. It was really a huge help to schedule visits with the schools not only so we had a set schedule, but also so we had an actual student showing us the ins and outs of the campus. I was able to ask any questions I had and get a truthful answer from someone who is actually attending that school. The schools were also very great about giving me the option to attend live classes and even go to lunch with a student!
National Robotics Week is April 8-16! While PA Virtual does not have a dedicated robotics club, several students from the school are involved in the highly competitive and successful 4-H Robotics Club of Franklin County. Team 4050 Biohazard recently competed in Cleveland at the FIRST Robotics Buckeye Regional Competition.
Congratulations to three PA Virtual Students whose creative talent has been recognized by the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards! Nationally, the Arts & Writing Awards receive about 300,000 submissions, and this year over 1,000 students submitted their original work.
Enrolling your child in Kindergarten is one of the most fun and exciting times in a parent’s life. There are more options than ever for children – if you are considering cyber education, PA Virtual Charter School is an excellent option.
Your voice is how you engage with the world. So what happens when a person loses the ability to speak? With technological advances, people with vocal disabilities are able to use assistive devices to communicate. Many times these devices use a voice that can sound robot-like. One company has set out to humanize these narrations, and PA Virtual Charter School students and staff have joined this innovative new project. Over the holiday break this past December, the school challenged students to join the VocaliD project. The VocalID platform creates unique vocal identities using “donations” from real people to give its recipients a human sounding voice. To join, students created accounts and began to dictate sounds and words through the VocaliD online platform called BeSpoke. VocaliD then processes these noises and words into a Human Voicebank – like a blood bank, for those in need. The complexity of creating a unique voice requires 7-8 hours of soundbites in an effort to fully digitize a human voice.
Susan Wilson enrolled her son at PA Virtual Charter School almost seven years ago. Johnny, now in 6th grade, was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis as a toddler. Children who suffer from this type of colitis, find it difficult to keep a regular schedule – a huge concern when looking into traditional brick and mortar schools in the area. The family began to research other options and on the recommendation of a friend, began to look into PA Virtual.
After deciding she wanted to focus on a competitive tennis career beyond the high school level, Julia Darkey, a former student in the Manheim Township School District, has found a great balance by enrolling at PA Virtual. “In Lancaster County the idea of homeschooling is very common, but not so much cyber school,” said Renee Darkey, Julia’s mother. “We knew another local family through tennis who had a great experience with PA Virtual and knew it was the right place for Julia.” Each year, the media reports stories of cyber students who face challenges when trying to attend their local proms, homecoming or take part in district activities- a practice that is illegal per charter law - because they are not considered “district students.” The Darkey family, however, has never experienced this with MTHS. Coaches and the administration have since gone above and beyond to make sure that Julia is always included in school team activities, despite the fact that she isn’t present in the same classrooms as her teammates during the day.
Parents - what do you do when you start to realize that your child is not only incredibly talented, but is one of the best?
Join us in our 2nd Annual PA Virtual Pride Art Contest! School Choice Week is January 22-28. One of the ways PA Virtual celebrates is through our annual art contest! All PA Virtual students are invited to submit a photo of one original (new) artwork that shows off their PA Virtual Pride.
What does a "typical day" look like for a high school cyber student? We asked to hear from our students, in their own words. Here is ninth grader, Javier Pitre's honest and comedic narrative of what a "typical" day in school looks like for him.
When you sit down to make resolutions this New Year, consider the option of school choice, and see if cyber school is a good fit for your family! This year, you can make a positive change in your child's education and watch them flourish with PA Virtual. Enroll by January 18 for the new semester! In 2017, does your family want to make a resolution to…
What really happened to the dinosaurs 65 million years ago? One PA Virtual family headed to Rowan University’s Fossil Park earlier this month to find out! Dinosaur lover and PA Virtual 7th grader Joshua Griffith and his family spent the day at the fossil park learning about the importance of this particular fossil pit and digging into layers of earth that were formed during the Jurassic period. Eventually Josh found a shark tooth, piece of turtle shell, pieces of sponges and a piece of bone. Of course, we know sharks don’t live in New Jersey, but millions of years ago, part of Southern New Jersey was a shallow sea making sea animals fairly common to find among other fossils.
In the cyber setting, we know our Learning Coaches go above and beyond each day to be a part of their child’s educational journey. A PA Virtual, we know that when parents are engaged and supportive of what their child is learning, the child is more likely to succeed. However, the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is enough to distract even the most attentive family. How can you keep students focused as the holidays approach this year?
INTRODUCTION: Your “how to” blog post should teach the reader how to do something by breaking it down into a series of steps. Begin your blog post by explaining what problem you are going to solve through your explanation and be sure to include any relevant keywords. Add in a personal story to establish your credibility on this topic. And make sure to end your blog post with a summary of what your reader will gain by following your lead. Need some inspiration? Check out these "How-To" examples from the HubSpot blog: How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula to Follow How to Do Keyword Research: A Beginner's Guide How to Write an Effective Meta Description (Yes, They Still Matter)
Each month PA Virtual hosts a number of outings across the state for students and families to encourage socialization and provide support. PA Virtual is proud to partner with local community service and outreach organizations throughout Pennsylvania, teaching students that they really can make a difference in their community.
After moving to Philadelphia from Florida, Keith and Tracy Bunn took a good look at the educational options in their new home town. Feeling discouraged, they started to look into alternatives and found PA Virtual. The flexibility of cyber school appealed to the family. Triplets Keith, Kameryn and Kayla were enrolled as first grade students and have been with PA Virtual ever since. Older brother Tyler is also a student, all four learning crucial time management skills to balance school with time honing their tennis skills. Often times, Keith Sr. gets the kids up and started on school work early, giving them extra free time on the courts in the afternoons, in addition to the coaching they receive at Legacy Youth Tennis and Education.
The 2016 Election has certainly been one that will go down in history, regardless of the outcome. While we can’t predict who will win, we wanted to make sure that our students and families know how important it is to have your voice heard! At PA Virtual, we are always encouraging our students to give back to their communities – there is no better way to give back, than to vote. Many people think that their vote can’t make a difference, but especially at the local and state levels, one vote may be all you need to have your candidate pull through.
Kim McGuckin of Bucks County has always stressed to her children how important it is to give back to the community. Kim and her two sons Peirce and Conor have been volunteering with The Breathing Room Foundation for over a decade. The Breathing Room provides support and care to families facing cancer in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.
Bullying is no longer limited to children pushing and shoving on the playground where a teacher can easily see and discipline the offender – it frequently happens behind screens and through social media and online platforms. In July of 2015, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf passed HB229 – a measure that made it illegal to bully a child in the state through electronic communications. Adults and juveniles alike can now face criminal charges if caught in the act of cyber bullying a child. Here at PA Virtual, we have many students who chose cyber education to escape bullying, so we take every measure to eradicate bullying in our community.
Fall is in the air, and the seasons are changing! PA Virtual celebrated going back to school this September by bringing together hundreds of students over the past few weeks at almost 20 locations statewide. Celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, PA Virtual Family Support Coordinators are excited for the new school year. While September’s events were all about fun and casual picnics, PA Virtual FSC’s organize monthly events for local students, parents, teachers and staff to get together and socialize. Interactive games and other arts & crafts gave students in attendance the opportunity to get credit for 75 minutes of Language Arts and 75 minutes of PE for the day.
Parents and students choose cyber charter schools for many different reasons but one of the most widely known is flexibility. One student in particular, Isabella Uber, chose PA Virtual for just that reason. After her parents split, they considered both local school districts, and Isabella began to look into cyber school. After extensive research, she chose PA Virtual four years ago, and hasn’t looked back! “I love that I don’t have to worry about getting behind academically because of what house I’m in or what parent I am with,” said Isabella. “I can log on from anywhere, get my work done, and still spend quality time with my family.”
National Kids Take over the Kitchen Day is September 13! Cyber school families have an added responsibility that most may not think about - your kitchen is the cafeteria! Day after day of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can get old, but balancing healthy and cost saving meals can be tough for families. Let your students take over the kitchen with some of these fun meal and snack ideas on September 13 or all year round!
Did you know that nationally, as many as 7.5 million students miss 10 percent of school days in excused and unexcused absences every year? That’s 135 million days of school. As you know, a single missed school day is one a student never gets back. Each time a student misses a day of school, the entire class is affected. Good attendance is important at every grade level. It is important to instill this in children at the elementary level. In our community of partnership, learning and achievement, we work together to make sure all students can reach their academic goals and that begins with daily attendance.
Fall is fast approaching and we are excited to welcome all new and returning students back to PA Virtual. How can parents help make sure students are as prepared as possible and set up for success this school year? Here are a few tips and tricks! Establish a workspace and schedule for your student: Cyber school can be flexible, but the most successful students establish a schedule and stick to it. Balancing live classes with homework and community, or extracurricular activities takes time, but you can do it! Designating a space where your student can work free of distractions will also help them focus and get back into school mode.
When her son was ready to start Kindergarten, Jen Brodhag knew she wanted to find a place where she could give her children a structured curriculum in the comfort of her own home. Critics of cyber education are often teachers who don’t think that the classroom setting can be mimicked in the home. As a former third grade teacher, when Jen learned about PA Virtual she thought otherwise. In addition to an engaging curriculum, she loved how PA Virtual had accountability and support systems of a traditional public school, but she would also have the ability to share learning experiences with her children in her home.
This summer PA Virtual announced that Dr. John Chandler, a veteran of cyber charter education, would be joining the PA Virtual team as our new Chief Executive Officer. Lifelong educator and outgoing CEO, Dr. Joanne Barnett announced her retirement plans earlier this year. Under her leadership, PA Virtual has continually been one of the top ranked cyber schools in the state.
Kyra Smith-Cullen is a PA Virtual graduate from the Class of 2011. She attended Lock Haven University to study Journalism and currently works as a copy editor for the Daily Item. In the following article that was published in the Daily Item, Kyra shares and dispels some of the arguments that are made against cyber charter schools. Thank you Kyra for sharing your story! “In Defense of Cyber Schools” Kyra Smith-Cullen On June 10, I watched my youngest sister, Dimitria, graduate in a ceremony similar to my own. The principal made the same joke. Names were drowned out by families’ cheers — and an air horn. And, like me, she had never met most of the people she was graduating with.
In the heat of the summer, it can be difficult to motivate youngsters to leave the air conditioned bubble in the living room and even harder to encourage them to take part in activities where they can stimulate their minds. Studies have shown that students can lose up to one month of skills and knowledge learned during the school year over the summer. Here are a few more tips on how to stop the dreaded summer brain drain:
Each fall teachers work with students who have fallen ill with the dreaded summer “brain drain”. Symptoms include learning loss, forgetting math formulas, and even a decrease in vocabulary. For some, it may seem as if lessons students learned during the school year have melted away in the summer heat and out with the ocean tides! Parents: how can you help avoid the brain drain this summer? Use these tips to help your child stay on track to start the school year happy and healthy:
Annetta Hartman Annetta Hartman graduated from PA Virtual in 2013. She is a senior at Penn State majoring in Mechanical Engineering and minoring in Business Administration. We recently caught up with Annetta and she provided us with some insight into her college experience and also gave advice to PA Virtual seniors. Annetta will be one of the commencement speakers at Graduation this Friday, June 10.
There is still a week left of Keystone testing. Despite strange myths that exist, cyber school students DO take standardized state assessments just like every other school. Many cyber schools use resource centers or rent facilities to administer the tests in the same window as other students in the state. This year, Keystones are administered between May 16 – 27. Looking for a way to beat the test? Check out these 7 testing hacks below!
For most high schools, Prom is less than a month away. Many seniors have already picked their dates and their outfits, and are anxiously awaiting this special event. For those of you who haven’t gotten everything quite worked out yet- we got you covered!
Did you know about 72% of PA Virtual students continue their education in some way after graduation? Students preparing to enroll in college should take the PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or ACT before graduation. In 2016, some major changes were implemented to the SAT assessment. From here on out, here are a few things students should be prepared for when signing up to take the SAT:
Katrina Lynn Whetsel Katrina Lynn Whetsel graduated from PA Virtual in 2009 and capped off her educational experience by singing at graduation which was held at Hidden Valley Resort in Hidden Valley, PA. Katrina began her music career at 14 like most other vocalists – by singing her favorite cover songs. Cyber school gave her the flexibility to spend time in the studio while also finishing high school. After graduating from PA Virtual, Katrina went to The Art Institute of Pittsburgh and received her BA in digital design. One of the best aspects about a cyber education according to Katrina was the how she learned independence and personal responsibility. She found her teachers always went above and beyond to give students the tools and guidance needed to prepare for college. We caught up with Katrina and asked her a few questions about how life has been since PA Virtual and what advice she has for current students!
An Essay by Elias Harkins, Class of 2013 When I graduated from PA Virtual in 2013, most people called me Eli, or if they wanted to use my full first name, Elias. This year, though, I found that I have a completely different name unknown to my parents or me. To learn this new name, I had to travel 5,000 miles from my hometown of Hershey to the wonderfully welcoming African country of Ghana. I should first begin with what brought me to Ghana. After graduating from PA Virtual in 2013, I became a student at Messiah College, a small liberal arts college in Grantham, PA. There I am a junior in the biopsychology program, a major that combines several of my favorite topics, which are the sciences of biology and psychology. It also utilizes my love for the way diverse topics can be brought into synthesis. The field of biopsychology fundamentally delves into how our biology can impact our psychology and vice versa.
Ninth grader, Robert Putnick wrote a “Thank You” letter to his math teacher Jennifer Burke and submitted it to the “My Favorite Teacher Contest” hosted by Barnes & Noble. Participants in the contest will have the opportunity to read their essays at celebrations at their local Barnes & Noble store. Mrs. Burke has been with PA Virtual for nine years and teaches Algebra, Biology, and Geometry. You can read Robert’s letter to Mrs. Burke below.
What is a SPP score? Why do cyber charter schools have lower SPP scores than traditional brick and mortar schools? No cyber charter school in the state has a School Performance Profile score of 70 – but that does not mean it is not achievable.
Across the state, Pennsylvania sure knows how to celebrate the luck of the Irish each March. Here is a quick look at parades and activities families in each city can enjoy: Right in our capital, the Capital Region Association of Irish and Celts host a handful of events between March 11 – 19 to celebrate the Irish in everyone! Proceeds from their events and fundraisers go towards a scholarship fund for local students, but you don’t have to be Irish to apply.
Celebrate Women’s History Month by learning about these five women who have had significant impacts on the landscape of the educational and STEM fields. Many of the advances in modern science and technology we have today would not be possible without the work of Marie Curie. Marie is one of the most frequently studied and well-known pioneers in science and education. Born in 1867, Marie had to overcome the obstacles continually placed in her way simply because she was a woman and became the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in two subject areas – Physics and Chemistry. Her research advanced the field of radioactivity, X-ray equipment, and modern medicine.
Philadelphia, PA In the United States alone, roughly 2.7 million young women participate in Girl Scouts and cookie season officially kicked off in January! Last year, Caitlin Wert, now in 10th grade, received the Silver Award from the Girl Scouts of Eastern PA for her efforts in educating her female peers on a range of important matters. Through lessons learned in cyber education, Caitlin was able to confidently and accurately teach these lessons. “Through sessions offered by the Guidance Department at PA Virtual, I have become educated on important topics such as bullying, self-esteem and respect. I incorporated some of what I learned into my "Girl Power" program, especially during the session I held on anti-bullying.”
PA Virtual is powered by K12! Like traditional charter schools, cyber school curriculum is chosen as a part of a school's charter and approved by the state Department of Education. Over the years, we have credited the K12 curriculum as one of the biggest reasons for our students success! It is one of the most widely used curricula and is a recognized leader across the country. Not only that, but PA Virtual is the highest ranked cyber school inPennsylvania that uses K12 curriculum at EVERY grade level.
We would like to congratulate Ian Snyder, a member of our PA Virtual family, for the honor of participating in the "2016 High School Honors Performance Series." Ian shared his tenor voice alongside other talented student-musicians at Carnegie Hall.
Show someone you care! There is no better way to show someone you care, or help someone in need than with a Random Act of Kindness! This year, Random Acts of Kindness Day officially fell on February 17, but who’s to say you can’t participate for an entire week, month or year?
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival varies annually based on the lunisolar Chinese calendar. Events and festivities last for a few weeks, so celebration dates vary around the globe. Check out a few of the largest celebrations that will ring in the Year of the Monkey!
The difference between cost & curriculum – how does a cyber charter school & your local school district compare? As we continue to look at some of the of cyber education in Pennsylvania, we take a look at some of the fundamental differences between your local school district's online program and a full-fledged cyber charter school. How do you choose what is right for your child?
With These Tips and Tricks! The classic 90’s movie Groundhog Day follows a Pennsylvania reporter sent to cover Punxsutawney Phil and his Groundhog Day traditions – only to find out that he repeats the same day over and over again! During a time of year when students are sometimes promised six more weeks of winter, how can students break out of their own endless loop and avoid the winter blues?
PA Virtual students are celebrated National School Choice Week (#NSCW16) by participating in our statewide art contest! All PA Virtual students were invited to submit a photo of one original work of art that shows off their "PA Virtual Pride."
Another way PA Virtual students are celebrating National School Choice Week (#NSCW16) is through participation in our statewide art contest! All PA Virtual students are invited to submit a photo of one original work of art that shows off their "PA Virtual Pride." After we receive all submissions, winners of the contest will be determined by our own students who will vote on the top three pieces of art. Check back in February to see the winning entries posted here and on the PA Virtual Facebook page.
On Friday, January 29, PA Virtual students will join with others across the nation and celebrate National School Choice Week!
Service Learning is an important aspect of community life at PA Virtual. The mission of the Student Services Department is to provide PA Virtual students and families with an atmosphere that supports the needs of self and family and encourages a spirit of leadership through community outreach. In January 2016, millions will come together to volunteer and honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who never stopped asking the question, "What are you doing for others?"
Where does cyber school funding come from? There are plenty of myths about the state of cyber education in Pennsylvania. Many families who are interested in alternative education, but may not be able to afford private or parochial options are turning to cyber charters as a solution. This series of blogs aims to answer many of the questions that our enrollment department hears on a daily basis.
Positively Throughout the Year At this time of the year parents everywhere are making the same resolutions for the New Year we’ve all heard before – eat better, lose weight etc. Some parents may be happy with how things have gone with their children this year, but others might be looking to make some changes. Take a moment to reflect - how have you handled tough situations this year? What could you have done better? Here are a few ways parents can go above and beyond making the “normal” resolutions this year family focused:
Wallet Ninja Multi-tool – This nifty gadget is a slim piece of steel that can easily fit into a wallet or pocket and is no bigger than a credit card. With 18 tools including a cell phone stand, this would make a perfect stocking stuffer for a teenager on the go. This summer fashion trend of flashy metallic tattoos has stayed strong this school year, thanks to teen celebrities like Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez continually showing them off. Gone are the days of temporary butterflies and peace signs – sheets of these fun shiny body art can be picked up almost anywhere. Another stocking stuffer idea if your student drives often is a gift card to a local gas station. Across PA Sheetz and Wawa let you purchase gift cards in store and online for almost any amount.
The Fuze Bike FX Wheel Writer attaches to any bike wheel and comes with a dozen pre-loaded LED patterns that light up the street when the wheels start to turn. You can also program your own picture or text messages using any Apple device. For less than $20, the waterproof battery operated lights can be mounted to almost any standard sized bike wheel. Encourage outdoor exercise, while keeping them safe. LEGO! Well, Lego anything really. With the recent successes of The Lego Movie (available on DVD or Blu-Ray) these timeless toys are always a safe bet. From a full blown Millennium Flacon or Elsa’s castle (for the ambitious builders) to starter packs with simple cars and buildings, these toys are great for kids of any age – and adults too!
Our FSC (Family Support Coordinators) organized service learning projects in their local communities and worked with Jump Rope for Heart, Koats for Kids, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and the Make A Wish Foundation. Here is a video highlight from our 2015 Ugly Quilts program where PA Virtual Charter school students, families, and teachers from across the state took action to help the homeless. An Ugly Quilt can best be described as an emergency sleeping bag. Made from recycled fabrics, the Quilt’s sole purpose is to provide warmth to those who need it most. Included in each Ugly Quilt donation were a variety of basic toiletries. In total we made 36 Ugly Quilts!
Did you know? This year over 30,000 partners in 68 countries joined a global movement called #GivingTuesday and raised over $116 million dollars for charities, small businesses, non-profits and government agencies globally. Held the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving (and after Black Friday and Cyber Monday) #GivingTuesday aims to kick off the holiday giving season and bring people together around the values of service and giving back. How can you get in the giving spirit this holiday season? Here are a few ways you and your child can help in your community:
Sniffle season is upon us, and our nurses here are PA Virtual have a few tips on how to stay healthy this winter! In traditional brick and mortar schools, the common cold spreads very quickly this time of year. Cyber school students may be at an advantage when it comes to consistent exposure to germs, but that does not mean they won’t get sick. PA Virtual school nurse, Christina Woltjen has a few tips and tricks for students on how to stay healthy this winter:
Did you know? Just like traditional school districts, cyber students are required by state law to receive health screenings each year. The Pennsylvania Department of Education mandates all children in grades K-12 receive this screening, and depending on your age, also requires hearing, vision, and scoliosis tests at no cost to the student or family. PA Virtual nurses provide all of these services to our students– no matter where you live in the state!
We would like to congratulate Ian Snyder, a member of our PA Virtual family, for the honor of participating in the "2016 High School Honors Performance Series." Ian will be sharing his tenor voice alongside other talented student-musician at Carnegie Hall.
and Armed Forces Across the US we see countless celebrations of our service members and armed forces during the month of November. Every NFL game played by the Steelers and Eagles this month will honor veterans and active military during their Salute to Service initiative. Now is the perfect time of year for high school students to start thinking of their future and what they can do after graduation. At PA Virtual, our guidance counselors work extensively with students to help them assess what their next step should be after leaving our guidance.
High School Continuing with top educational apps for students, here are some choices that will help your high school aged student and may even be useful once they enter college.
"In a report on October 27, 2015 (“CREDO/Mathematica/CRPE Report”) released by Stanford University, it was suggested that students of online/cyber charter schools had significantly weaker academic performance in math and reading, compared with their counterparts in conventional schools. The Pennsylvania Coalition of Public Charter Schools, who PA Virtual is an active partnership with, has released a statement concerning this report.
Elementary & Middle School If everyone spends so much time on their phones and tablets, why can’t that time be educational? Here are a few helpful apps that parents and students can download to help further their education on any phone or tablet.
Pittsburgh, PA Jennifer Jerome had wanted her son Austin to attend a traditional brick-and-mortar public school at least through elementary school, but by second grade it was apparent PA Virtual Charter School would be a better option for him. Because he is autistic, Austin struggled to pay attention in a traditional classroom. “I would actually volunteer in the school just to be able to observe him in class,” Mrs. Jerome said. “He wasn’t paying attention to the teacher. He would watch what the other 27 students in his class were doing to make sure they were doing their school work first. He wasn’t really learning.”
Looking for more ways to celebrate National Children’s Health Month? Here are a few tips on getting outside and staying active!
We are going to offer a few tips for keeping your children healthy this October and year round! Today’s theme is…teach your children how to go green! Calculate your Carbon Footprint Using this nifty tool from the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) you can figure what your household carbon footprint is, and adjust different options in your routine to see how it changes during different seasons or what would happen if you changed certain habits. Cyber school students are on their computers all day – which might impact your homes energy bill. Combat a possible increase by turning off lights when you leave the room, minimizing TV usage, and unplugging or powering down devices that aren’t in constant use.
Lewistown, PA Angela Wright homeschooled her oldest son Caleb when he started kindergarten 11 years ago, but she discovered she needed more support with developing the curriculum and a more structured learning environment in order for her children to be successful. For first grade, Mrs. Wright and her husband, Thomas, enrolled Caleb in a traditional brick-and-mortar school operated by the local school district. When their younger daughter Lydia started kindergarten five years later, they decided to give learning at home another chance — this time through PA Virtual Charter School.
from PA Virtual Students All across the internet there are tons of websites that will give you advice on how to create routines for a successful school year– but when you attend cyber school, some of that advice might not apply. Now that students are starting to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for them, we spoke with Ginger Hahn and Maggie Shive, two 12th grade PA Virtual students for their take on finding your own groove. Here’s what they have to say!
Students aren’t the only ones taking some time off over the next few months. Our final summer series blog will share helpful tips for teachers focusing on key ways to relax, reorganize and refresh while not in the class room and still stay sharp! Our first tip for teachers– relax!
The final post in our summer reads series – this time we focus on books for young adults and high school aged students. These books will engage and challenge students with deep emotional storylines, and are set everywhere from small familiar towns to far off places.
The second edition of our summer reads posts, focuses on middle school aged students. These books will challenge them while also keeping the themes and story structures simple and age appropriate.
The first of a series of three on some great summer reading books for all ages! These books will provide both education and entertainment during the dog days of summer for your K- 5 students. Many of these books tie together other subject areas.
We hope you did not miss our first two blogs of this series for ideas, but if so please check out Idea 1: Zoos and Aquariums and Idea 2: Historical Sites The final blog of this series continues with another idea to subtly sneak in some learning opportunities for your children over the summer:
We hope you did not miss our first blog of this series for ideas, but if so please check out Idea 1: Zoos and Aquariums This blog series continues with another idea to subtly sneak in some learning opportunities for your children over the summer:
It’s been a great year at PA Virtual! Let’s take a look back at some of the highlights from the class of 2014 – 15 school year and see how our students gave back, and stood out:
With the temperature on the rise, students are certainly looking forward to the end of the school year. Parents, while you may not be quite as ready for school to finish, this might be the time of year you are planning your summer family vacation or trip. This blog series will give you a few ideas to subtly sneak in some learning opportunities for your children over the summer:
In an article on May 25, 2015 by Christina Thompson (a freelance writer for CBS Philly) Dr. Joanne Barnett (the CEO of Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School) discussed how teachers who view themselves as learners are more effective teachers. “The majority of teachers want to create the best learning environment possible for their students, but resources and policies can prevent teachers from implementing the type of teaching and learning that their students need. The challenge of defining the ‘classroom environment’ is a result of technological advances. The classroom in the 21st century is continually changing.
PA Virtual is pleased to announce the opening of our new learning center in Harrisburg! Please join us for a Ribbon Cutting to celebrate the Grand Opening of the new central regional center for PA Virtual.
Say you are considering (or already have) cyber education for your children – how can you as a parent, know that you are keeping them safe while they spend countless hours online? All cyber charters in PA provide their students with the hardware and software needed to best suit their educational needs. A secure internet connection, along with learning platforms that are all password protected are just the first step to keeping our children safe. PA Virtual also has an Internet Safety Policy pursuant to the Children Internet Protection Act (CIPA).
By Maurice Flurie, Joanne Barnett and Patricia Rossetti As educators of schools that teach more than 36,000 students, we welcome reforming Pennsylvania's charter school law. We are, however, extremely disappointed that the needs of students and opinions of parents are seemingly being ignored in the current political debate. The Pennsylvania Department of Education has increased its oversight of public cyber charter schools over the past three years. The accountability measures of House Bill 530, recently passed in the House and currently residing in the Senate, will only improve those efforts. These changes are welcomed by the CEOs of all 14 public cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania.
Recently fifteen PA Virtual Learning Coaches completed a course with Bank Street College in New York entitled “Meaningful Discipline”. The classes were geared toward ages 5 – 13 and even though our daughter is approaching her 16th birthday, I nonetheless benefited as a Mom and Learning Coach. Our instructor, Virginia Perrin kept the classes lively and gave many tips for teaching your children discipline as well as how to discipline for positive results.
Special Education & Life Skills teacher, Stacey McGowan spends all year working on social skills and training students in the online setting. Next week, for the 11th year in a row, PA Virtual Students will compete in the Montgomery County Special Olympics held at Souderton HS. Cyber education in Pennsylvania tends to attract a high percentage of special needs students due to the opportunity and flexibility families can have with their education in their own homes. Oftentimes, cyber charter schools are also able to accommodate the needs of the student with added care and individualized learning curriculum.
This week, Google Education On Air will offer a completely free online education conference which will focus on the impact of technology and education around the world. Over the two days, Google will pose the question “how do we prepare our students for a future that is ever-changing?”
Across the nation, the term “Common Core” has found its way into our homes since 2010. As defined on the Common Core Standards website, “The Common Core is a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA). These learning goals outline what a student should know and be able to do at the end of each grade. The standards were created to ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life, regardless of where they live.”
A common misconception about cyber charter students is that they lack the opportunity to socialize with their peers. In reality, many students who chose online learning do so because flexible learning schedules enable them to become even more immersed in outside activities. These outside commitments to arts, athletics or entrepreneurship thrive on interaction and growth.
This month, Pennsylvania students began a series of standardized tests in various subjects and concentrations. From the inner cities to the most rural farm towns in PA, students will feel the pressure of standardized testing over the coming weeks.
Now more than ever, reading is vital to leading a better life. It’s the door opener to the 21st century for all children. Knowing how to read is just the beginning. Motivating young people to keep reading, comprehend what they read, and develop the ability to think creatively are the end goals. PA Virtual participating in the Scholastic Read 100,000 Contest because we know that setting a reading goal is a proven way to keep kids reading. A reading goal is a great way to enhance relationships with the whole school community including parents, teachers, reading specialists, and your principal. Tracking progress online is an easy way to see reading minutes add up. Check out how PA Virtual is standing up to the competition on Scholastic's School Tracker.
February 19, 2015 from 2pm - 10 pm Ace college admissions at All Access Day! Whether you’re just starting your college search or need help reviewing your options, All Access Day will help you conquer your latest challenge. Join us on February 19th from 2pm - 10pm EST to get all of your questions answered.
PA Virtual Charter School students, teachers and staff are introduced to a new friend and tutor — Lynda.com. PA Virtual can now provide its students and staff with answers and solutions to virtually any question or problem using technology and software programs in their classrooms and school work.
By Sara Myer, Esq. Again this week, we are honored to have East Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator, Sara Myer, continue her guest blog on school choice, this time approaching it from her perspective as a lawyer:
By Sara Myer, Esq. This week, we are honored to have another guest blogger for the PA Virtual Blog: East Parent Ambassador Regional Coordinator, Sara Myer. Sara is a 2003 graduate of Penn State's Dickinson School of Law and holds a juris doctorate in law as well as a certificate in mediation and conflict resolution. Her family has been with PA Virtual since 2009, with son Gavin currently in 5th grade, son Rhys in 4th, and 5-year-old daughter Bryn looking forward to enrolling with PA Virtual next year.
This time of year is wonderful for many reasons, including presents (woot!), time spent with family, and lots of cookies! But another reason this time of year is special is the variety of opportunities we have to reach out to others and show that we care. Even better, many of these opportunities provide chances to involve the entire family in giving to others—whether it is the gift of an item or simply time.
[thangk-fuhl]: adjective 1. feeling or expressing gratitude; appreciative. There may be nothing controversial, innovative, groundbreaking, novel, or unique about expressing gratitude this time of year, but that does not make it an insignificant or wasted expression. Time spent counting our blessings and expressing thanks is always time well spent. What is PA Virtual thankful for this year? Our CEO Dr. Joanne Barnett, sums up PA Virtual's gratitude simply and succinctly... “I am thankful for the opportunity of school choice and that it allows PA Virtual to exist.”
Daylight Savings Time Saving? Although it has been a few weeks since we set our clocks back for Daylight Savings Time, the shortening daylight has us wondering once again... What exactly is Daylight Savings Time? Why do we do it? According to timeanddate.com, Daylight Savings Time (or DST, as the cool kids call it) is intended to make better use of daylight and save energy. The web site details the history of DST, going the whole way back to ancient civilizations. (Who knew?)
Today at PA Virtual, one of our students led a presentation entitled “Choose Kind” as part of a month-long anti-bullying campaign spearheaded by our Guidance Counselors. The presentation led to a discussion among students about how to treat each other. A quick internet search on “choose kind” yields a wealth of sites promoting that message. From Random House to Disney, The Chicago Tribune to YouTube, the sites encourage kindness among our children, feature stories about bullying, or provide kindness resources.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day, and it often seems like we focus on having a day off of work or school more than we do the holiday and its meaning. Perhaps it is because we don't quite understand the holiday's intent, seeing it rather as a "recycled" Memorial Day. Even the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs web site is aware of the conflation, and address it in its FAQ:
Many of us are likely aware of research that supports the benefits of music education for children and young adults. It can improve language development, IQ scores, spatial-temporal scores, and more. While scientific research is important in recognizing and understanding the benefits music education provides, it is also important to hear from students themselves about how they interact with music and what they appreciate about it.
Today on our Facebook page, we shared a great article from Philly.com about girls and science (Boccella, Kathy. Teen girls having fun - with science, 11/7/14, philly.com). Highlighting Super Science Saturday, an event hosted at West Chester University, the article reminds us that we continue to face a significant educational dilemma: “Even in an era when more women are attending college than men, there is still a shortage of females working in the fastest-growing fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.” (Bocella)
We're out at meetings this week so we'll be taking a break from creating our fabulous Blog content. Luckily, Grete DeAngelo, a mom, women's fiction author, and history teacher, wrote a thoughtful piece for the Huffington Post that we thought we'd share. It's definitely that time of year when parent-teacher conferences are happening, so we hope you find her perspective useful. Comment below and let us know what you think. Do you have any advice to add?
Did you know that tomorrow is Apple Crunch Day? According to the Penn State Hershey PRO Wellness Center, it is celebrated during National Apple Month and promotes healthy snacking. Here are some fun ideas about how you can celebrate Apple Crunch Day and National Apple Month! Watch this video for “The Apple Song” and get it stuck in your head all day. Learn about Johnny Appleseed. Make “Inside-Out Caramel Apples” or one of the other great recipes found on MommyPoppins.com.
When asked to tell us about their favorite book, the PA Virtual Staff was eager to share! From the whimsical to the wordly, our staff shares with you their favorite books. If you’re looking for a new read for your child—or yourself—be sure to check out some of these wonderful titles.
Keeping pre-school aged children engaged while their siblings learn It's not uncommon for cyber-schooling families to have pre-kindergarten children at home with their school-aged students. Keeping younger children engaged while making sure students have interactive, educational time with their Learning Coach is critically important. In order to achieve that with babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers involved, a little planning can go a long way. Here are a few tips that might help you keep your little ones busy learning and playing all day long.
With Columbus Day often comes attention to the bravery, determination, and daring demonstrated by Christopher Columbus and other intrepid explorers who helped discover new continents. Where would we be had these men been meek, timid, and easily deterred? While there may not be many uncharted territories for us to conquer today, and certainly little time to do so amongst our hectic daily lives, there is still value in the concept of exploration, and we can accomplish it in ways other than sailing the high seas to unknown lands.
We are just one week away from celebrating Columbus Day! While many celebrations of this day include parades, festivals, and other activities that celebrate exploration, Italian heritage, or just a day off from school and work, we’re going to celebrate Mr. Columbus’ alliterative name by playing a little name game right here on the blog. Below is a list of famous people who have the same letter for their first and last name. Can you figure out who they are? If you get all of the answers, email your completed game to email@example.com. One winner will be drawn from all of the correct entries and will win a prize! Winner will be drawn on Wednesday, October 15, so be sure to get your entry in!
While the lives of today’s teenagers may be very different than the teenage lives many of us led, there is still one part of the experience that is likely at the top of any teen’s list: the quest for spending money. While most teens eventually get jobs in retail, fast food, or restaurants, the employment many of them often begin with is babysitting. Whether it is for siblings, family, or neighbors, babysitting can be a great first step towards gaining the independence that employment requires and experiencing the feeling of earning money for one’s work.
Now that fall is officially here (although you wouldn’t know it from the weather we had this past weekend!), it’s a great time to celebrate the arrival of a new season. There are a number of creative ways you can do it, so let your imagination run wild. We found ways to incorporate music, art, cooking, and crafts into any celebration. Share with us your ideas to celebrate fall!
As fall gets into full swing, many families find themselves knee-deep in sports practices, games, and piles of dirty uniforms in the laundry. With all of the effort it takes to have kids participate in sports, it can be easy to wonder if it’s all worth it. While not all researchers agree on all points, many researchers do concur that sports have advantages for kids far beyond fitness. If you’re considering signing your child up for a sport, it might be helpful to consider some of the following benefits of sports.
Do Kids Need Art? The web site We Are Teachers has a great section addressing the timely topic of Art in Education. The site aptly captures the current conundrum in its introductory paragraph: “Teachers instinctually know that art, music and drama add value to kids’ lives. But in the era of high-stakes exams, the arts often fall to the bottom of the list, whether we intend them to or not.” (http://www.weareteachers.com/hot-topics/topics-in-education/why-our-kids-need-art)
A dilemma most parents face—whether cyber schooling or not—is if and when to begin assigning chores to their children, and what chores are suitable for what ages. If the internet is any indication, the belief that chores are an appropriate and important part of growing up, as the prevalence of sites, blogs, and articles on the benefits of and suggestions for chores greatly outweigh those speaking out against them. Most experts (and non-experts, too) seem to agree that doing chores teaches kids responsibility (and gives you some help around the house!). Rabbi Shmuley, perhaps best known for his television show Shalom in the Home, argues that if children don't help out with chores when they are younger, it can set the stage for their behavior as an adult. He explains, “Children get used to having things done for them. The result is that children feel entitled and parents are demoted to being a cleaning person.” Children need to play a role in the family, and chores are a way of giving children a role in the household, he says. "Kids can—and should—start doing chores from a very young age," Rabbi Shmuley says. Links to his suggestions for chores at every age and guidelines for assigning them to your children can be found here.
Are you new to PA Virtual and wondering what your life as a Learning Coach is going to be like? Or have you been with us for a while and wondering if your experience is the same or different than other Learning Coaches?
One of the current debates in education is regarding cursive writing. With so much of our "writing" being done electronically, the debate over cursive writing's usefulness has been seen across the internet and even in such prestigious publications as TIME magazine. One of our own educators, Learning Support High School Teacher Diane Eversmeyer, weighs in with her thoughts on the subject.
Has your family been considering an expansion? We're not talking about another child; we're talking pets! Pets can be a wonderful addition to a home. Studies have shown numerous benefits of pet ownership for both adults and children. For example, according to WebMD, "for nearly 25 years, research has shown that living with pets provides certain health benefits. Pets help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety. They boost our immunity. They can even help you get dates."
For families that have just begun cyber schooling with their children, it can be a little intimidating to figure out how to “do this virtual school thing.” One of the pieces of advice we hear most often from experienced families is that it helps to set up a specific area where school “happens.” While some students may work just as well in a more relaxed environment, setting up a dedicated school area can be a great tactic for helping new families get into the swing of things.
What Did You Want To Be? It's Labor Day weekend! The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. According to the US Department of Labor, Labor Day "is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
It seems that Young Adult novels are more plentiful than ever these days, and are so engaging that even adults have been reading them. Goodreads, a web site created to help people find and share books they love, asked its members to vote on the YA/teen novels that they are most looking forward to being released for the first time.
Cyber School Student: Part 1 Today we feature one of our students as a guest blogger, giving you an inside look at what it's like to be a cyber student. Lexi Dingeldein is a 10th grade student at PA Virtual and has been with us since kindergarten. She's involved in an FRC Robotics Team, and loves to plan, read, and write. She's even published three books, all of which are available on Amazon.
One of the concerns many parents have about cyber schooling revolves around socialization opportunities for their child. They may fear that their child will be isolated by not being in a brick-and-mortar classroom each day. However, experience has shown that cyber-schoolers are not at a social disadvantage compared to their peers. Both the cyber model and your local community offer numerous opportunities for students to socialize.
A cyber charter school is a tuition-free, public school that children attend from home via computer technology. Nearly 20,000 students in Pennsylvania take advantage of this model of education. While cyber schools offer varying instructional models, curriculum and technology, many—such as PA Virtual Charter School—have fully certified teachers, the same classes offered in traditional “brick-and-mortar” schools, tutoring, and social outings.