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K12/Virtual Academy Fall 2009

post #1 of 279
Thread Starter 
Hi all -
Just thought, as an absolute newbie to k12/virtual academies, that it would be nice to have a thread for those of us who are doing k12/virtual academies this year? This way, if we are struggling with technology or curriculum or guidelines or whatever, we can bounce some ideas off each other here.

Our Virtual Academy starts officially tomorrow (Tuesday the 25th); our boxes o' stuff don't arrive 'til Friday sometime. Had a nice talk with the 'teacher' this evening .... We are basically starting this week out by doing the orientation bits and that's it.

Still nervous and conflicted a bit about it ... we are choosing k12 because it's free, it's 'still public school' (transition bit to full-on homeschooling next year we hope, but appeases family a bit). We're hoping that the structure of it helps me get into a groove in terms of managing homeschooling, too. And this way I don't have to worry about curriculum this year. But I'd rather not have Big Brother watching our attendance and checking up on us all the time ....

I basically feel like a butterfly about 1 week into its chrysallis time. Pretty nervous about how this will all turn out!

(I should mention, dd1 is 5 and just starting kindergarten; dd2 is nearly 3 and will probably be trying to learn right alongside her sister!)
post #2 of 279
My ds James started K this past week with the South Carolina K12 public school. My elder dd is 3. (Hey, we're kid-spacing twins!)

We have a lot of the same stuff going on - it was free, it's our first year of homeschooling (plus a new baby in the house!) and I wanted to ease into it a bit, etc. I do not plan to continue next year, as I prefer the classical approach, but for this year I think it's going to be a good choice.
post #3 of 279
Were going into our 2nd year with a K12 school. It doesn't start for us until Sept 8th but they loaded the courses on the OLS today so people can get a feel for the system or get a jump start which we will be doing since last year we had a lot of days where no work was being done then had to cram about 75% of the school year into 3 months or so. Not fun, dd did fine with that pace but it would have been nice to gone at a slower pace.
post #4 of 279
We're starting our third year with Agora (PA's Virtual Academy). Bean (6.5) is a 'second grader' and BooBah (5) is starting kindergarten. Bella (3) has been working with BooBah and Bear (18 months) has been shouting "Book! BOOK!" and nibbling pencil erasers. Our official start date is 1 September, but we've been working for the past week.

I chose Agora for Bean largely because we're dirt poor. If we weren't, I'd probably still use K12 for at least part of Bean's education. He moves very very quickly through curriculum, thrives on structure and organization, and has been doing very well with K12. Agora was the only school in the state that was truly willing to allow him to progress at his own pace, and this is the only way I could afford anything like a classical education for a child who moves through curriculum as quickly as he does.

BooBah is starting with Agora because she wants to do what her brother does. I know that she'll be all right with the program, but I think that BooBah is really an unschooler at heart and I expect that she'll change her mind at some point. There are other cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania, so she may end up trying one of those or withdrawing to homeschool independently. For now she wants to do Agora with her brother, and that's fine-- I know it won't hurt her, and if she gets antsy I'll pull her out.

Bella is working with BooBah because they're at the same level. She actually has a much longer attention span than her sister when it comes to schoolwork, and is more demanding (she wants to work on more projects, and for longer periods) but at the same time she's three and can become overwhelmed and exhausted. She's entirely too young for a full-day kindergarten in a traditional school (not that it would suit her at all), but working at home we can essentially do a half-day program and still cover all of the materials. She might enroll in Agora next year, or she might not... we'll see. A year is a long time.

Bear is a baby, and he enjoys eating things. He was recently diagnosed with food allergies, so finding fun snacky things that he can actually eat has been... entertaining.

And now, Bean is accosting me with a clipboard. This is his way of saying, "I think it's time to do some schoolwork." I'll oblige him after lunch.
post #5 of 279
My dd is going to try k-12 through the Oklahoma virtual academy this year. She will be in second grade.
I've been having the worst time getting her enrolled because the paperwork I send seems to go strait to oblivion. I've sent this stuff almost a dozen times in half a dozen different formats and it either disappears or isn't in the right format, it's been incredibly frustrating. The "Personal Admissions Liaison" has finally got the last piece of paperwork needed this morning: I'm so glad not to have to deal with that any more.
post #6 of 279
im the "coach" for my brother and sister this year, and we started yesterday here in texas. they are in 6th and 7th grade and so far so good...still trying to get used to everything and get my bro and sis out of the typical brick and mortar mind frame of school is from 8-3 kwim? as far as day 2 is concerned everything is going well nice to have a group of us doing this together :
post #7 of 279
Thread Starter 
Hi everybody!

I did my first day's attendance today - just the first 'lesson' of the online information lessons. Our teacher/coordinator told me to just do those 'til our boxes o'stuff arrive, and then once they do arrive, to just add one lesson group per day to our schedule - so we'd do a lesson plan from Math next Monday; then Math and Phonics on Tuesday, and so on ... this makes good sense to me, and was how I wanted to gradually ease into it anyway, so as long as it works for attendance purposes from the state's perspective here in WY -- then I'm good with it!

The teacher told me I'd need to 'translate' what I was learning about the online orientation to Ina -- so I had her sit next to me while I went through it. I couldn't see any part of it which really applied to her at all yet though (it was all what I needed to do as the coach).

SJ sat right next to us, wanted to nurse, etc. - I can tell that perhaps our largest challenge is going to be figuring out how to do the school without her disrupting things, and yet give her the attention she needs too. Once the boxes arrive and we're all set up, will try to come up with some ideas to keep her busy while we're learning ....
post #8 of 279
It really depends on the ages of the kids. I've never had a problem with a teeny person, they just curl up beside you and nurse and listen to stories and such. Last year Bella was two and she just wanted to have projects of her own, but she's a very easy child that way. She "read" a lot of books, and we did a lot of work during her nap time. This year, Bella's doing kindergarten with us.
post #9 of 279
Thread Starter 
I had a wonderful conversation with our 'virtual teacher' today. She checks in with us weekly 'til the end of September, then biweekly after that. We have a set time for her call, and can let her know when we're going to be traveling so she can call our cell phones or make other arrangements.

Anyway, she was a brick-and-mortar teacher for 18 years, but has been a virtual teacher for five years now. This is the first year that k-12 has been a state-wide option through a virtual academy system here. She's really passionate about it, especially as an option for so many of the rural families whose kids spend 2-4 hours on the bus every day. She said that the legislature has taken longer to be interested and still doesn't have much support for it. The topic came up because the public kindergarten called to tell us to attend their Open House this Thursday, I had to call them and the district and tell them we're not attending after all. The MOUA letter I dropped off wasn't sufficient, apparently, to get that all cleared up with them.

Anyway - good conversation. We talked about what we're doing beyond k12 with Ina, in terms of social activities, PE, etc. The importance of kids getting to just be kids and not have to do lots of makework or busywork, etc. etc.

Have not done my next online orientation session yet today - I may try to get two of them in, just to get them over with. Our packages are still due to arrive on Friday sometime, so Monday will be when the nitty gritty of schooling really begins to kick in. Virtual Teacher asked if Ina is excited about school, how she feels about it - and in all honesty, I don't think she really cares one way or the other. Life hasn't changed that much, and it doesn't sound like it will change that much [to her] other than getting to take Art Class at the Y and learning to read, which she is excited about. But frankly her major goal this year is to start jumping rope.
post #10 of 279
Oh neat, I missed this earlier!!! Excellent! We are a Georgia Virtual Academy family, my son is in the 2nd grade. I do have some problem helping my almost 4 yr old find things to do that aren't highly distracting for her brother.

Today was a short day, we started last Monday (17th) but had been doing a lesson each day since August 3rd (when our OLS was opened to us, but attendence started on the 17th)

We only did Math and Language Arts today, and we'll review our science lesson from Monday later.
post #11 of 279
We're just starting up our second year with CAVA. I have 8 yo ds who is working on finishing up his 4th grade curriculum (he's officially a 4th grader, having skipped 2nd on the way into CAVA last year, and will be moving on to 5th grade curriculum soon) and 6yo dd (officially a 1st grader, but doing all 2nd grade except Art and left over Science 1from last year). School doesn't officially start until 9/8, but dd has been chomping at the bit, so we got started yesterday. Ds is taking his vacation very seriously, and doesn't want to start yet. We're still waiting to hear from our "teacher" (seriously? I HATE that the VA's call them the teacher and the parents the "learning coach!") about, well, anything. We have had our materials for weeks now, but we need the teacher to order History 2 for dd, since she finished His1 over the summer.
post #12 of 279
Thread Starter 
WOW.

So, the computer stuff arrived today. Two days sooner than expected. So maybe the rest of the boxes will arrive tomorrow instead of Friday? Ina is soooo excited.

I just did the second lesson of the online learning orientation ... to be honest, I have been stressing out about how I'll fit the time necessary to do kindergarten with Ina into the rest of my day. I don't know that this lesson helped at all. If you could see my house, it's definitely not flylady or Martha Stewart standards .... housekeeping is pretty low on my list! My daily priorities (have to's) are:
3 meals
2 snacks
make bread if we're out [girls have allergies, meals etc. are mostly from scratch]
walk/shower for me
Get dressed/teeth brushed (girls and me)
Get ready for bed/teeth brushed (girls and me)

My 'need to' list is basically to try to keep up on housework - no giant piles of laundry, be able to keep using the clothesline to hang laundry in the morning, maybe keep the floor clean a bit, you know - the bare minimum (which is about what gets done right now anyway! ). I've got a big garden to maintain, things like that ....

And my 'want to' list is to make sure the girls still get lots of play time, SJ gets attention from me, that we start branching out and meeting more people in the community for the socialization for Ina, and that I de-clutter my home (a gargantuan task). And maybe get a little reading time in for myself, and sewing. I honestly don't think I'll be able to do as much of that, once we're really going full swing.

Anyway - I looked at their 'proposed' schedule and frankly - wow, it looks like a LOT of time devoted to school. IIRC, basically 9 to 5 with a break for lunch and a half hour of running errands? Yikes.

How's everyone feeling with this?
post #13 of 279
We've never, ever had a schedule resembling the ones in the samples, and have only rarely spent five and a half hours on *lessons* in a day. With Bean, a more typical day went like this:

Our days began earlyish (between 7:30 and 8:30). I'd get up and have a shower. Kids would start waking up and/or I start on breakfast. The kids would then eat, be changed & bathed and Bean and I would sit down to do some math work (avg time: 30 minutes). Bean would take a break to run around and do whatever while I attended to the siblings for 5-20 minutes. Then he'd come back and we'd do phonics and/or language arts (avg time: 20 minutes). Outdoor playtime if the weather permits (this would be the vast majority of days) and the kids are interested; Indoor playtime otherwise until lunch (around 10:45/11:00-- getting up that early, the kids are hungry early).

After lunch the smaller kiddos like to nap. Bear will almost certainly be taking an afternoon nap for most/all of this coming school year; Bella will probably have naps some days but not on others, as needed. Bean and I would sit down to do more schoolwork, either history or science. We might spend fifteen to fifty minutes on lesson work if it was very interesting. After that, we'd do something else for which we could count hours. Bean might read quietly for half an hour, or he might watch a documentary relating to the lessons covered that day, or he might play a math game on the computer. All told, time spent on lessons probably accounted for 1/4 of our total school hours-- all the rest were accrued in enrichment activities. In general, we were finished with lesson work before 2:00. I would run errands with the kids once the smaller folk had awakened, and when we got home they'd play outside until dinner, then indoors until bed.

Last year we did a block schedule and finished even earlier on most days, but I don't think that will work as well for BooBah & Bella as it did for her brother.

Oh-- I'm a horrible housekeeper. : That said, the house is cleaner than it's ever been-- it's more a function of the kids' ages than anything else. I'd often find lesson time compatible with things like collecting & folding laundry, cooking meals, etc.

Off-topic: I'm totally in awe of people who bake their own bread. It's something I'm certainly interested in now that the baby's been diagnosed with food allergies, but I dislike cooking and I dislike baking even more. Given the choice, I'd happily trade home-baked allergy friendly goodness for tutoring time. I'm seriously considering working out an agreement with one of my son's classmate's parents this year. She's completely tone deaf and doesn't understand the music curriculum at all ("How can I tell if she's singing the right thing? We do the hand signals but I haven't got a clue about anything else, I can't hear it at all")... but she bakes, and her own daughter has food allergies too (more severe than Bear's, but Bear has more of them).
post #14 of 279
Honestly, we don't spend nearly as much time as they suggest, and I have two kids doing k12. I found that a lot of the K stuff was things dd already knew or learned very easily. We don't do every activity included with every lesson. The most important thing to remember is to read the lesson objectives - what they want your dd to learn from the lesson. You might find that she already knows it - and then you can mark it off without doing any of it. Or it might be something that you know you can teach with only one activity, so only do that one with her. We didn't do music at all because we both hated it - so I just marked those lessons off (and signed her up for Spanish this year instead!) Language Arts often uses the same book over several lessons - we would usually do all of those lessons in one sitting, and just count read aloud time as LA for the next few days. For k and 1st, we rarely spent more than 2 hours total with the curriculum, unless DD really wanted to dig into something. DS spent more time, but he was more self directed and required less help from me.
post #15 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclipse View Post
Honestly, we don't spend nearly as much time as they suggest, and I have two kids doing k12. I found that a lot of the K stuff was things dd already knew or learned very easily. We don't do every activity included with every lesson. The most important thing to remember is to read the lesson objectives - what they want your dd to learn from the lesson. You might find that she already knows it - and then you can mark it off without doing any of it. Or it might be something that you know you can teach with only one activity, so only do that one with her. We didn't do music at all because we both hated it - so I just marked those lessons off (and signed her up for Spanish this year instead!) Language Arts often uses the same book over several lessons - we would usually do all of those lessons in one sitting, and just count read aloud time as LA for the next few days. For k and 1st, we rarely spent more than 2 hours total with the curriculum, unless DD really wanted to dig into something. DS spent more time, but he was more self directed and required less help from me.
Ditto this, we do the same exact thing as Eclipse except had tried Spanish last year (it sucks, really) and will just be doing the marking the music lessons as done because we don't want to do that period.
post #16 of 279
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post #17 of 279
Subbing!

We started K12 last week for Kindergarten. I think I have the hang of it. YDD was sick Mon and Tues with a respiratory virus and didn't do any lessons. Our teacher said to go ahead and count time anyway since we did math with the thermometer, watched some ed. tv and read a lot. It seems much more lax then I expected actually.

History has been great, and our only issue is the possibility of getting completely derailed. We spent hours on the first lesson simply because it talked about space briefly but DD wanted to go wider there.

Math: we were told to run through the assessments until she hit a wall. It's already a little tedious just doing the assessments but we're working with it.

LA/phonics is a different story. The teacher told us just to assess there as well, but there are not many assessments. I couldn't get dd to sit down and do some of the simple activities within LA if I tried. She likes the stories though and automatically role plays many of them anyway. Phonics is another issue. I'm trying to figure out where she is but I'm having a difficult time as she's not engaged in those assessments at all.
post #18 of 279
Welcome, Exolax! Kindergarten Language Arts has few assessments, but phonics should have one assessment for every five lessons. Concentrate on those, especially if your daughter isn't reading fluently. If she *is* reading fluently, I'd ask her teacher if they'd be willing to evaluate her for a skip into LA1 or LA2.

When I was burning through math assessments with Bean, we only did the *unit* assessments unless he got a problem wrong; Then I'd go back and pull the lesson assessment. (I don't remember that happening much in his first year, but there have been soooo many assessments in the interim.) It made things a little less tedious. His teacher didn't like it, but by then we already had a referral for testing. After she had the results, she never forced us to do drudgework again. It made things much easier for us.
post #19 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by eilonwy View Post
Welcome, Exolax! Kindergarten Language Arts has few assessments, but phonics should have one assessment for every five lessons. Concentrate on those, especially if your daughter isn't reading fluently. If she *is* reading fluently, I'd ask her teacher if they'd be willing to evaluate her for a skip into LA1 or LA2.

When I was burning through math assessments with Bean, we only did the *unit* assessments unless he got a problem wrong; Then I'd go back and pull the lesson assessment. (I don't remember that happening much in his first year, but there have been soooo many assessments in the interim.) It made things a little less tedious. His teacher didn't like it, but by then we already had a referral for testing. After she had the results, she never forced us to do drudgework again. It made things much easier for us.
Rynna, I have to say info I've heard from you helped us make the decision to do K12 for YDD. So, thanks!

It seems like we might have a good teacher. She was the one who told me to skip the lessons and just do the assessments for math and LA/phonics while she researched other options. Originally she said she may jump YDD to half way through K but to try this out for the first couple of weeks. We may get there at least for math before I even hear back from her. It helps that DD enjoys work sheets and sees the assessments as such so she just sits down and cranks them out until she's bored.

YDD isn't reading fluently yet. I have no idea where she is though. She's just past pre-readers but has phonics down. It's like she has a switch in her brain and right now she's strict phonics. She phonetically reads words she used to have memorized. She's been teaching herself to read in the car with one of those "teach your child to read books" and she's a little over half way through it. No idea what it all means though. We'll just keep testing out of the phonics for now.

Thanks!
post #20 of 279
We tested out of almost all of k phonics and math with dd. With the math, I didn't even have her do a lot of the assessments for the first half of the lessons - so many were things she clearly knew how to do (like 1st, next, last and top, middle, and, bottom, and 1st, 2nd, and 3rd etc). I did the unit and/or lesson assessments only when I had a question about whether she knew how to do something. For K phonics, we skipped to about half way through the year before I even started doing assessments (because as I started doing lessons with her I realized, "Hey! She knows how to read!" ) Then I would do the weekly assessments and go back to reinforce anything she had trouble with. I used the assessments more to focus on her writing than anything (as you get further into phonics they have sentance dictation, etc). For LA, we didn't do many of the little projects - like I know there was a color book, etc. We also didn't do any of the coloring pages for LA (or History or Science) because DD likes to draw, but not color. We did do the passport/suitcase folder thing when we got deeper into K history, because she thought that was fun. Anyhow, dd was on to 1st grade Math and LA by Christmas, if not sooner. For math, especially, some of it seemed so basic that it was more like preschool. She probably would have been placed in 1st grade math to start with, but she refused to cooperate with the placement assessment and told me "I don't know" for every question on it. As it was, she finished 1st grade math in about March of last year (her k year) and we decided not to order 2nd grade math until this school year because I didn't want to be starting 3rd grade math this school year with a 6 year old who doesn't like to write - it was hard enough last year doing it with my 7 year old. (There's a lot more writing in 3rd grade math, because there's no work book provided.)

Oh, also, for the kLA (not the phonics) - like Rynna said, there aren't too many assessments. I suggest just reading the stories and talking about them. If she doesn't want to do the activities suggested with the stories (and I think some of them are really awful. My dd was not into coloring and cutting out pre-made puppets to reenact a story), suggest things like acting the story out with costumes, retelling the story to her sister or you, drawing a picture to go along with it, or (if she's writing yet or when she starts to write more) writing a sentence (or even dictating to you) about what you read.
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