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What Does a Live Cyber Class Look Like at PA Virtual Charter School?

By: Jennifer Gibbs on June 10th, 2024

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What Does a Live Cyber Class Look Like at PA Virtual Charter School?

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A Glimpse into the Virtual Classroom

What a Live Cyber Classroom Looks like at PA Virtual!


“Good morning, Folks!”

All former ELA 9 (English Language Arts)  students will recognize that greeting in a heartbeat– the call to attention for every class with Mrs. Gibbs. In this blog, I will let you into a glimpse of a day in the virtual classroom here in ELA 9 at PA Virtual. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities that a virtual classroom setting provides and how similar it is in many ways to a brick and mortar environment.

Sample Schedule

First, let’s look at a typical schedule for ELA at PAVCS. I teach a blend of synchronous and asynchronous classes that all function in a 50 minute period block, we have 6 periods at PAVCS.  That includes a lunch break every day from 11:05 to 11:45.  Our classes run Monday through Thursday and include interactive, engaging lessons.  Friday’s are the time to meet in office hours, participate in clubs and work asynchronously.


Gibbs 2Next, let’s take a peek into a class period in my ELA room!  The day always begins with a review of the agenda, and then we move on to a warm-up activity.  Warm-up activities range from vocabulary practice in Quizlet, to Jamboards (asking an essential question), short-writes and other brain-activating activities.  Then we move on to the meat of the sandwich-our lesson presentation!

Lessons are presented in a variety of ways including: Google slides, Nearpod lesson activities, and guided questions/answers.  Each student is able to see the slides or presentation on their own screen and still participate in the chat/discussion on the class page.  Lessons are followed by the assignment for the day, which can include questions, Nearpod activities, vocabulary practice in Quizlet, or a self-guided reading.  The end of class includes a wrap up of activities and discussion of what is happening for the next class.  Every class concludes with an exit ticket that requires students to answer a question based on that day's learning.

Questions? I am sure one big question is- how do you know your students are still in class and paying attention? Fantastic question!  In my classroom, I definitely have a few tricks up my sleeve.  I utilize a range of tools including: pop-up poll questions, which prompts students to answer a question pertaining to what we are currently learning in that lesson. Occasionally, students will be asked to answer a question in a google form which is time-stamped as they respond.  Sometimes,  I utilize the old-fashioned method of just calling on students to answer questions.  If students need to step away from their computer, they are always welcome to do that after they ask permission to leave.  Then they place their coffee cup emoji on and step away. We call this the “quick coffee break”. ☕

Polling Tools

What makes learning online interesting and engaging? In my classroom, I love to provide students the opportunity to enjoy learning, whether through a game of Kahoots! or group challenges in the classroom, where they are competing against each other for bonus points.  Multi-media is another important tool that I utilize, and I incorporate it into each lesson in some fashion, perhaps a video clip, music clip or another source to enhance our lesson.  Flip-grid, Kami, and Canva are a few of the creative tools utilized in the classroom to expand and enhance their learning experience. 

Ready for a sample lesson?  Let me walk you through a week of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. We start the week with reviewing literary elements through a slide presentation, discussion, and a Nearpod activity on literary terms.  Then we move on to the readings of The Raven, we listen to 3 different readings performed by: James Earl Jones, Vincent Price, and The Simpsons Family. We also read together, with the option for students to read aloud in class, and then we work on the guided questions together.  Students typically will take a quiz on Thursdays which include vocabulary and questions that reflect the week's lesson.  

Sample Questions:

There are many more elements to the insides of the classroom here in ELA.   We utilize discussion boards to work on larger projects, we also utilize breakout rooms to work one-on-one with students during classes.  Discussion threads are a great way to engage with other students and expand communication in the classroom.  This year, we had vibrant classroom discussions about the short stories we read throughout the year.  

Writing is an essential part of my ELA classroom, from blogs to essays, something is always in the works. Most recently, students finished the school year out with a final writing assignment creating a  narrative essay about a difficult decision they have made in their life.  We completed a prewriting activity that helped students to build the structure of their essay and enabled them to revise and polish for their final submission.  I really enjoyed reading all of the essays and was really impressed with the improvements with their writing skills. 

Classroom BlackBoard landing page: 

Our learning platform is BlackBoard and within each class page, students will find their course and assignment information.  On the ELA landing page you will find contact information, syllabus information, lesson plans, assignments (broken down by week and topic in folders), discussion threads, resources, and access to the students grade book.  Students have the opportunity to look ahead in the lesson plan folder, and check their grades and assignments 24-7!  

Pink Peace Simple Open Hours Instagram PostHere is another big question I am asked often–How do you help students that need extra assistance with lessons?  Every Friday, all teachers host office hours for a 2-hour block in the morning.  During that time, students come for extra help, assignment review, and plans for getting caught up if a student has fallen behind.  It is a great opportunity to meet and work one-on-one with students and get to know one another a bit better!  Students always have the option to meet during class when time is available for one-on-one assistance as well in break out rooms. 

There are many fantastic resources right at our fingertips to help enhance student learning, which is one reason I love teaching online.  The structure, design, and implementation of lessons very much mirrors a traditional brick and mortar classroom without the typical environmental stressors of that setting.  Thanks for visiting my classroom and I hope to see your student soon!