CEA’s New Homeroom Process

Since I first began teaching at CEA, six years ago now, our online homeschool has grown and changed quite a bit! We’ve introduced two new curricula, ten new teachers, and three new administrators! Our numbers have grown, but our values are still the same: we want to make sure that we know each of our students and their families, and are shepherding them along as they pursue academic success!

When we were a smaller school, our fearless leader Mrs. Z used to do all of this on her own! She is still very involved with every student and family in the school—teaching elective courses with students and answering phone calls and taking registrations–but this past year, we’ve introduced a new Homeroom monitoring system that all of our administrators participate in. This system ensures that we are giving our students the most support possible, and that there is a system of checks and balances to keep everybody accountable.

Approximately every two weeks, Mr. Barnett, Mr. Zabor, and Miss G go through their respective section of students checking progress, emailing students for encouragement, and offering help where they see issues. They also email parents of students who have gotten behind, trying to make sure that we are partnering with parents to help students stay on track. This process has been incredibly important this year, and we have been so pleased with the results.

Our students have always been successful, but this homeroom system has allowed us to identify struggles earlier in the year so that we can intervene as quickly as possible. Our Homeroom teachers meet at least once a month with Mrs. Z to share information and make sure that we are engaging with every single student as productively as possible. We’ve seen students who were struggling make turnarounds and begin to improve, and we’ve been able to help parents feel more empowered and have a better understanding of their students’ schoolwork.

Every year we work to find new ways to improve and grow in our service of students and their families. We hire teachers who are experts in their subject area and who believe in our mission as a school; we work to improve communication and support wherever possible. We never want to remain stagnant, even if we are doing well; we always want to grow and improve and find ways to become better educators! This year’s Homeroom checking process has become a valuable part of our online homeschool, and we look forward to continuing to work with students to help improve their time management and study skills so that they can continue to be successful.

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student – Taking An Active Role

Parenting on Online Homeschool Student - Taking An Active RoleIf you have chosen an online homeschool for your child, you have chosen one of the newest, most innovative ways to educate your child.  Online homeschooling offers many benefits – the ability to do school at home, the flexibility to work on your own schedule and at your own pace, control over your child’s education.  In addition, if you have chosen a good program, your child has professional teachers, the school handles the administrative tasks and keeps you informed of your child’s progress, and you are in a properly accredited program – one that will be recognized by colleges and universities around the country when your child graduates.

Of course, if you are the parent of an online homeschool child, you still need to take an active role in your child’s teaching.  With an online homeschool program, it is true that you no longer have the day-to-day burdens of teaching and grading.  However, you still play a crucial role in your child’s development.   Raising your child will always be your responsibility – a responsibility that you cannot pass others or expect them to do on your behalf.  So how do you define your role and balance it with the online school along with the other resources you have brought into your childs life?

A good model is to think of all the resources as a team, with you at the center as the head coach and director.  Those resources include the online school, other activities and clubs your child participates in such as sports, arts, dance or music, your local church and youth group, your childs friends, and the community you live in.  Each resource plays a role in your child’s development, and contributes value in different areas.  You guide, direct and orchestrate the overall process, looking for areas where there are unmet needs, and making changes and adjustments to address new needs which are uncovered as you go along.

The primary job of an online school – as with any school – is to ensure that your child’s academic needs are met.  That he or she learns algebra, chemistry and how to write a good essay.  That he or she has enough of the right credits to graduate in four years.  That provides good learning opportunities and does everything to help your child succeed academically, that he or she has a good transcript that will help him or her get into the right college.  To identify your child’s talents, to give direction in areas of strength, and assistance in areas of weakness.  To encourage and motivate your child.

Encouragement and motivation are areas where your responsibilities and those of the online school begin to overlap.  Every school – online or not – has the responsibility to ensure it is providing an environment that is encouraging and motivating to students – that it is not intentionally or unintentionally doing things to discourage or demotivate its students.  On the other hand, schools also have a responsibility at times to challenge students to do better, to hold them to a high standard, and to encourage them to be responsible for their work.

There are certain things that an online school can not do.  For example, we can detect if your child is struggling, not spending enough time, or not logging in.  We can alert your student and you to the problem with e-mails, letters and phone-calls.  We can offer help and assistance.  However we cannot make your child log-in or do their work.  We can offer encouragement, but ultimately your child is the one who decides if they will work.  We can identify good and bad decisions, and let you know what the consequences will be, but we cannot make those decisions for you and your child.  Ultimately, each person bears the consequences of the decisions he or she makes – the principle of sowing and reaping.

This is why your role as a parent is so crucial.  At 13 or 14, your child cannot see the consequences of the decisions he or she makes now, but you can.  By putting a proper framework in place, you try to help guide your child into the right decisions, and into developing good habits.  And this is why it is so important that you take an active role in your child’s development – even if they are in an online school – in fact especially if they are in an online school.  If you were homeschooling in the past, an online school frees up your time and energy immensely by taking the burdens of teaching and administration away from you.  This frees up your time so that you can do the things that only you as a parent can do – the things that are most important.

As your child’s parent, you understand them the best of anyone.  You know how they “tick”, what motivates and de-motivates them.  What things they gravitate to, and what things they avoid.  Until they marry, no one will understand your child as well as you do.

So, stay active in your child’s online school education.  You may have to work, or have other responsibilities and obligations pulling you away.  But find time to stay engaged and involved in your child’s life.  Don’t be an absentee parent.  Don’t try to delegate your responsibilities to others.  More on how to stay involved in future articles.

CEA Diploma or GED?

A GED, or General Education Development exam, assesses high school academic skills. However, there are a number of important differences between a high school diploma and the GED. The GED may be considered as equivalent to a high school diploma in very limited cases, but a GED usually does not provide the same opportunities as a high school diploma.  Read below for a full explanation of the CEA Diploma or GED.

The GED originated after World War II to allow veterans to complete their high school education in order to attend college. To pass the GED, a person must earn a minimum score on each section of the test along with a minimum combined score on all sections of the test. Those who pass the GED receive a certificate. In comparison, in order to earn a CEA diploma, students must take and pass individual courses based on credits. Most high school diplomas nationwide require 20-24 credits to be taken over 3-4 high school years. A diploma is your ticket to higher wages and is a key credential for applying to jobs or college.

High school graduation requirements for the CEA diploma are set primarily by Florida, CEA’s home state, but also by the individual state where each student resides. These requirements include a minimum number of courses per subject , standardized testing, and attendance . A high school diploma requires coursework in the core academic topics of reading, writing, math, history, science, as well as core electives. The course work taken to earn a CEA diploma is designed to build well-rounded skill sets as well as meet state graduation requirements. In comparison, the GED covers all of these topics with just one test, and earning a GED requires only passing that test.

Some community colleges will accept a GED in lieu of a high school diploma, but not standardized entrance exams such as the SAT or ACT. Some colleges accept students with GEDs, but require them to take additional exams, or take additional courses at cost without receiving college credit. Most colleges and universities, including most four-year colleges, require 24 high school credits for admission, and do not accept a GED at all. In addition, students who earn a CEA diploma and have demonstrated passing grades will often be able to get financial aid that is unavailable to students who only have a GED. This is where a CEA diploma offers a BIG advantage over the GED.

A CEA diploma is also better than a GED for employment opportunities. Many employers require high school diplomas for their employees, and do not accept GEDs. A GED tells an employer that a person “quit” high school. Employers may view the GED negatively, revealing a lack of ability to complete a program.

Another major benefit of a CEA diploma versus a GED is in regards to military service. Each branch of the United States military accepts a regular high school diploma from traditional and online schools. The GED may be accepted by the Army or Marines, however, a GED is regarded as Tier 2 education, which greatly affects pay scale as well as military assignments. The armed forces limit the percentage of Tier 2 candidates accepted in any enlistment year. In addition, GED holders must score higher on the ASVAB to qualify.[1]

In conclusion, for students currently in high school, it is essential to see it through until graduation. Whether your goal is to enter the workforce, go to college, or enlist in the military, a regular diploma is accepted as proof of graduation from high school – without question. If you get anything less, you will be limiting some of your options for the future.

Other advantages of a CEA Diploma vs GED:

  • High school graduates earn, on average, about $1,600 a month more than those with a GED (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2012).
  • Less than 5% of those with a GED receive a bachelor’s degree.
  • 77% of GED holders do not continue past the first semester of college (American Council of Education study).
  • Organizations and companies are no longer recognizing equivalency exams as a valid alternative to a high school education.
  • Research shows that people with GEDs are, in fact, no better off than dropouts when it comes to their chances of getting a good job.[2]

[1] http://www.communitycollegereview.com/blog/high-school-diploma-vs-ged

[2] http://www.npr.org/2012/02/18/147015513/in-todays-economy-how-far-can-a-ged-take-you

Dual Enrollment Program with Colorado Christian University

CCUSeal Earlier this year, CEA was approached by Colorado Christian University to submit some of our courses for consideration in their Dual Enrollment program. After a couple months of work—collecting all the relevant course materials, getting transcripts for our teachers, submitting it all for approval—we ended up with ten approved courses certified for Dual Enrollment credit. These are our courses, taught by our teachers, but available for college credit! We are incredibly excited about the new avenues this opens up for our school, and especially our students in this new 2015-16 school year and also the years to come.

What exactly are Dual Enrollment Courses?

Dual Enrollment courses are called “dual” because they count as both college and high school credit. This can be great for students for a few different reasons. First, students in essence are “killing two birds with one stone” in the sense that they are completing high school and college requirements at the same time. Second, when dual enrollment courses are taken through an accredited institution* those courses typically can be transferred to a student’s future college after they graduate high school. These courses often can count as “General Ed” courses; students who take them during their high school years can save quite a bit of time and money, since Dual Enrollment courses are more cost-effective than paying for a typical college course. Finally, Dual Enrollment courses are college-level; they require strong academic skills as well as a heavy dose of self-discipline. For students planning to head off to college, Dual Enrollment courses are a great way for students to “get their feet wet” and experience the rigor of a college-level course. However, these courses are still taught by our own CEA teachers who are very attentive to students’ needs as they transition to this level of work.

What is the difference between Dual Enrollment and AP?

At CEA, our Dual Enrollment courses take into account all of the work for the entire course. Often, for AP students to receive college credit for the course, they must complete all the coursework and pass a high-stakes test in early May. In Apex, we are using AP-level courses for our Dual Enrollment classes, because they are the most rigorous courses in our curriculum. However, students enrolled in the Dual Enrollment version of the course are not required to take the AP exam at the end in order to receive college credit. We prefer this, because it helps reward students who are phenomenal workers, but who might struggle with high-stakes, high-pressure exams. We feel that the grades for the whole semester—assessed with a blend of multiple choice and written assessments—are a much better representation of a student’s work in the classroom and their preparedness for college. Thankfully, for our Dual Enrollment courses, the AP exam is not required to receive credit for the course. However, we still do offer the AP courses for students who prefer that to the Dual Enrollment option.

Is Dual Enrollment right for my student?

If your student is academically strong and well disciplined, they are a good candidate for one of our Dual Enrollment courses. We look for students, primarily juniors and seniors, who have been successful in honors-level courses earlier in their high school career. Certain Dual Enrollment courses, especially in math and science, have prerequisite courses that must be completed before a student would be prepared to take the Dual Enrollment version of the course. Our history and English courses typically require a writing sample to ensure that the prospective student can handle the rigorous writing requirements. Students should also be ready for a challenge and interested in the subject matter. Finally, students who have an idea of the colleges they will be applying to should reach out to admissions counselors at those schools to check and confirm that our courses will transfer easily and meet relevant requirements.

Conclusions

In the end, we are incredibly excited for the new opportunities these courses will provide for our students. We know that many of our students are certainly capable of succeeding in these courses; we are hopeful that this will provide a way for them to be challenged in their thinking and their academic skills as well as saving them time and money in future college expenses. We are also hopeful that this will continue to draw new students into our school who are looking for Dual Enrollment opportunities.

Our Dual Enrollment Coordinator, Miss Gentile, is happy to help students with any additional questions or requests for information. She is the one who will guide students through the process of navigating the Dual Enrollment courses and making sure to register with CCU for college credit. She is also available to answer questions about course equivalencies that might be helpful to discuss with prospective colleges.

*Our partnership college is Colorado Christian University, which is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. A full list of their accreditations can be found here: http://www.ccu.edu/accreditations/

Our school is also accredited by Advanc-ED and SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and Schools).

CEA Accredited Online High School – FAQ

Christian Educators Academy – FAQ

This is the time of year when we are inundated with phone calls from perspective new families (and we love talking to you!) asking about our online school.  Although much of this information is elsewhere on our website here is a quick recap of the most commonly asked questions.  You can always email us at info@christian-educators.com, and we are always more than happy to talk to you.

Q: Where is Christian Educators Academy (CEA) located?
A: Our business office is in Florida, and we are registered as a private school in Florida.  Our teachers are located throughout the country, and our students throughout the world.

Q: What curriculum do you use?
A: We use two prestigious, highly awarded curricula, both are considered college preparatory – Apex and Gradpoint.  Apex covers grades 9-12, and offers opportunities for Honors, Advanced Placement and Dual-Enrollment through our program with Colorado Christian University.  Gradpoint covers grades 6-12 and offers a wide selection of electives.  Both curricula come with full teacher support.

Q: What is the difference between Apex and Gradpoint?
A: With Apex, depending on the course, 20-40% of assessments are teacher-graded.  With Gradpoint, most assessments are computer-graded.  Because of the additional teacher support required by Apex, we run the Apex curriculum as a traditional 9-10 month term.   With Gradpoint, students have the option of taking up to a full year to complete their courses, although they can complete in the traditional 10 months if they choose.  With Apex there are more essays to be graded, requiring more writing.  In Apex, students frequently have to wait for teachers to grade or unlock assignments, and need to plan their schedules accordingly.  Gradpoint allows students to work more independently, without the need for teacher interaction.  Overall what we have found is that Apex works better for some students, Gradpoint for others.  We believe that have the choice of two great curricula allows us to adapt more effectively to the learning styles of our students.

Q: How do students interact with the school?
A: Most of the time, students interact by logging into their classes through their computer.  Most of the instruction and many of the assessments are online.  If an assignment needs to be graded, the student completes and submits it online.  The teacher has 24-48 hours to respond (most teachers respond within 24 hours).  The same is true if a student has a question, they submit it via e-mail to their teacher, and the teacher has 24-48 hours to respond.  Most of the time, grading and questions are resolved using e-mail.  If a teacher feels that additional support is needed, they can set up a conference call or Skype with the student at a designated time.  Usually a short call resolves any issues.

Q: Are there any live classes or discussion groups?
A: In the past we tried to implement these, but what we found is that because of the differences in time zones and student progress through a course, it has been impossible to successfully organize regular discussion groups or live classes.  We are continuing to look for ways to do this in the future, and are open to new ideas.

Q: Do you ensure that students pass all material?
A: Yes.  We have a mastery-based system, which means that students needs to pass all quizzes and assignments with a minimum score of 70% (80% for Honors / AP).  The system allows one re-try on a failed test.  After two failed attempts, the system locks the student out, and they need to contact their teacher for help.

Q: Is tutoring available?
A: Yes.  This year, one member of the staff will be available as a tutor, to assist on occasions when a student needs a little extra help.   We cannot provide tutoring for individual students on a continuous, on-going basis.  If a student needs this, parents should arrange for support outside of CEA.

Q: What do I need to do to sign-up?
A: If you are interested in CEA, fill out our 1-page information form, which tells us how to contact you.  To register for the school, you need to fill out our 10-page registration form, send us the students birth certificate, immunization records and transcripts, and pay the tuition.  Once we have all this, and have a discussion with you about which curriculum and specific courses your student will be taking, we can generally set up the students classes within a day, and then will send the student their username and password.

Q: When do classes start?
A: You can start and end classes anytime you want.  Most students start their school year in August or September, and end in May or June.  You can pick any dates you want for the start and end, just tell us what dates you want when you register.

Q: Does the student have to work during a particular time of day?
A: No, students can set whatever hours they want to work to fit their schedule.

Q: How much time is required for the school?
A: The material covered by our courses is the same approximate content and workload as any traditional public or private school.  In high school, for non AP/Honors courses, students should plan on at least 3-5 hours per day, 15-20 hours per week.  This may vary depending on the abilities of the individual student.  For AP / Honors courses, students should plan on 5-6 hours a day.  In the middle school, about 3 hours a day should cover it.

Q: Do assignments have due dates?
A: Yes, in both Apex and Gradpoint, every assignment has a due date based on the chosen starting and ending dates.  You and the student can see all of these dates when you look at the individual syllabus for a student’s course.

Q: What happens if a student misses a due date?
A: The due dates are intended as guidelines, not as strict requirements.  If a student misses due dates by a few days, it is not a big deal.  We recommend that students turn in assignments sometime within the week that they are due.  This gives students the flexibility to devote particular days to particular subject (e.g. Monday = English, Tuesday = Math), etc.  What we look for is students falling more than a week behind and the gap appears to be growing.

Q: What if my student is sick, or has to travel?
A: This is not a big deal at all.  Just let us know.  We recommend if possible that students continue to work while they are traveling if possible.  If this is impossible, as long as time is allotted for the students to catch up when they get back, that is fine.  What does not work is students not doing any work for a whole semester, and then trying to catch up a whole semester’s work in a few days.  This is just not possible, and it does not provide a quality education.

Q: How can I monitor my children’s progress?
A: The access account we set up for your student is also accessible to you.  By going into your child’s account, you can quickly see if they are keeping up to schedule, and how much time they have been spending online in their courses.  We recommend doing this on a regular basis, particularly if your student is young, new to the program, and/or has not yet established a successful track record of working in our environment.  Even if they have a successful track record, we still recommend monitoring on a regular basis.

Q: Will I get progress reports, etc?
A: Parents in the Apex system automatically receive a progress update once a week.  Parents in the Gradpoint system will receive an update at least once a month.  In addition, we send out quarterly report cards (November, January, March, June).

Q: Are there any books?
A: Generally, no.  All of the material for all courses is 100% online, with only a few exceptions (AP courses, Health, Bible).

Q: What hours do teachers work?
A: We allow all of our teachers the autonomy to set their own work hours.  Many of our teachers work in the evenings or at night.  We only require that each teacher logs in at least once per day, and address all outstanding issues – questions, unlocks, and assignments to be graded.

Q: What is my role?
A: We ask parents to take an active role in their children’s progress by routinely monitoring their activity, asking how they are doing, finding out if they are staying on schedule in their courses and putting in the required seat-time.  We ask parents to read any progress reports, e-mails and letters from us, and to contact us immediately  if there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

Q: What is included when I enroll?
A: For high school, 6 classes – 4 core (English, Math, Science, History) and two electives.  For middle school – 4 core classes and in 8th grade, 1 elective.

Q: What does my student receive when they complete their courses at CEA?
A: Students graduating from CEA receive an accredited diploma, and an accredited transcript showing all the courses they have taken in high school, whether at CEA or another school.  Students not graduating from CEA receive an accredited transcript showing all the courses they have completed at CEA.

Q: Is there a minimum number of courses that must be taken in order to graduate from CEA?
A: Yes, our accreditation agency requires that students must take at least 6 credits with us (the equivalent of the entire senior year) in order for us to grant a diploma.

Q: Are there age limitations?
A: Our programs are intended for students ages 12-20; they are not intended for adults.  We do not accept anyone above the age of 20 into our program.

Q: How is CEA accredited?
A: CEA is accredited by SACS – the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – the same organization that accredits all of the colleges and universities in the southeastern U.S., and by Advanc-ED, which has accredited over 20,000 schools worldwide.

Q: How do I know that colleges and universities will accept your accreditation?
A: All of the colleges and universities in the U.S. are accredited by one of six accreditation agencies established by Congress and the US Dept of Education, SAC is one of those six agencies.  There is a reciprocity agreement, any school accredited by one of these six agencies has to accept any school that is accredited by any of the other agencies.  Almost 100% of our graduates go on to college, and a list of the colleges they have been accepted to is provided on our website.

Q: What if I transfer back into my local public high school, do they have to accept your accreditation?
A: Each public school board and school district sets its own policies, which we have no control over.  If you are considering going back into your public school after CEA, we advise you to talk to them first to find out what the expectations and requirements are.  Public high schools can require students to take end-of-course exams.  and to re-take courses if they do not pass these exams.  Students can also be required to take standardized tests such as FCATs and TCATs that were missed.

Q: If my student is not a Florida resident, what graduation requirements apply?
A: Since we are a Florida private school, all of our graduating students must meet Florida standards.  If a student lives in a state where the standards exceed Florida’s standards, those will apply.  The requirements in all states are fairly similar, with a few variations here and there.  The requirements in Florida are:
4 years of English, 4 years of Math including at least Algebra I & II and Geometry; 3 years of Science including at least Biology; 3 years of History including World History, US History, US Government and Economics.

Q: Do your students take standardized tests like the PSAT, SAT and ACT?
A: Yes, in fact we require it.  Students must take standardized tests in at least the 8th, 10th and 12th grades.  In the 8th grade they typically take a Terra Nova test.  In the 10th grade, they typically take the PSAT, but can take a Terra Nova test instead.  In the 12th grade, they take the SAT or ACT, or both.  Parents register and pay online with the College Board using our school code, then schedule a test-date at a local facility.  Test results are sent to us.  We also have an SAT prep course.

Q: Do you require/administer other standardized tests (FCAT, TCAT) or end of course exams?
A: No.

Q: Can my student enroll if they have been homeschooled?
A: Yes.  We just need a list of the classes taken, the curriculum used, and some samples of their work (essays, tests, etc)

Q: How much is the tuition?
A: For college prep, $2200/year, paid in advance.  For Honors/AP/Dual Enrollment, $2600, paid in advance.  For Middle School: $1600, paid in advance.  We also offer the option of paying for just one semester at a time, or one course at a time.  We also have installment plans that require $800 down with the balance paid over 6 months, for an additional $200.  A full break-down of our tuition is listed on another page.

Q: Can I get a refund if it doesn’t work out?
A: If the student has not logged in, everything can be refunded except a $200 registration fee.  Once the student has logged in, nothing can be refunded.  We advise all students to try our demo’s and make sure the curriculum will work for them, before they sign up.

Q: Can I take classes from both Apex and Gradpoint at the same time?
A: Generally no, all classes will come from either Apex or Gradpoint.  We do allow Apex students to take 2 Gradpoint electives for an additional $500.

Q: Can my student transfer from Apex to Gradpoint from year to year?
A: Yes, as long as they take a traditional Math curriculum (Algebra I & II and Geometry) and do not take Integrated Math.  We find however that most students become accustomed to whatever curriculum they are taking, and do not want to switch.

Q: My student is interested in taking Honors classes, but maybe not this year, what do you advise?
A: If they are 9th grade and above, we would definitely recommend enrolling them in the Apex curriculum, and consider taking 1 Honors class this year or next to see how they do (a student can take up to 1 Honors class at the College-Prep price).  If a student is new to online, we do not recommend more than this for the first year, until they have adjusted and have a track record.

Q: My student has never done online, and wants to take a full Honors load the first year, what do you recommend?
A: Honors classes are considerably more work than normal classes, and students can easily become overwhelmed, especially if they are new to online.  We will allow it, but we recommend this be done cautiously, with the student fully aware of the burden they are taking on.

Q: If a student enrolls in Honors classes and is overwhelmed, can they go back down to a non-Honors level?
A: Yes, absolutely.  However our strong preference is to place students appropriately from the beginning.  We want them to be challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Q: Between Honors and AP, what is better?
A: We strongly recommend Honors, as colleges treat these on a transcript just like AP Classes.  With AP classes, books are required, and AP credit can not be granted unless the student passes the course and takes and passes the AP Test with a 4 or 5.  Students who don’t achieve this are treated as if they just took an Honors course.  If your student wants college credit, we strongly recommend a Dual Enrollment option.

 

Life-Long Learning

By: Amy Gentile, M.A. Higher Education, Assistant Director and Head Teacher at Christian Educators Academy

Sometimes, I believe that we do a disservice in our schools (and our culture) when we perpetuate the idea that “learning” is something only really done in the classroom, in the formal curriculum. Don’t get me wrong—I believe that the core subjects of math, science, English, and social studies are important, as well as the specific concepts covered in them. However, there is so much more “life-long learning” to be done throughout a person’s life, and much of that will take place outside of the classroom. To that end, one of the goals at CEA, a key part of a philosophy, shared by our teachers, is to create students who are “life-long learners.”

Some of this is done implicitly through the formal curriculum. As students learn how to go through the lessons, complete their work, make adjustments, do research, and many other skills, they are not just learning the material itself. They are also learning how to learn. These skills can then be carried into other areas of life: learning how to cook, figuring out problems that arise in the workplace, pursuing extracurricular interests, etc. Knowing how to learn will give students the skills they need to approach any topic or information they can “get their hands on.” Thankfully, in the age of the internet, there is almost endless access to information on a variety of topics in all sorts of fields, so we have so many opportunities to continue our learning: both on things we learn about in class that spark our interests as well as things not covered in the classroom.

The difficulty is that the required nature of the formal curriculum sometimes stifles a natural love of learning. This is difficult for teachers as well as students, as there is so much material that is essential to cover that there is not always time to work in other things, or we see students get burnt out by assessments and written work that are intended to reinforce and apply the concepts. Due to these things, many students (as well as parents and even teachers) begin to see education as a series of hoops to jump through, an endless stream of one course after another. It’s easy to see how this becomes draining.

It’s difficult to break out of that mentality, but there are a few unique things at CEA that we have implemented to try and grab onto this goal of creating life-long learners. The first is that we have always supported and encouraged students in their extracurricular goals, even working them into electives as we are able. The very nature of online schooling and its flexibility allows students more time to pursue their passions. Additionally, we will incorporate things into the curriculum itself where it’s appropriate. My favorite writing assignments to grade are the ones where students get to choose to do a research project or write expository essays teaching a skill in which they have a personal interest. I’ve been able to learn so many things about a variety of topics, from stop-motion videos to equestrian riding to farming, from my students—and I love it! Helping to incorporate students’ personal interests and skills and what they learn outside of the classroom into their “schoolwork” helps reinforce the connectedness of different types of learning experiences. At CEA, we value all these things because we know that learning that happens outside of the classroom is just as important as learning that happens inside of it.

In addition to this, for the past couple of years we have run “contests” on approximately a monthly basis, designed by different teachers in different subjects. Usually the projects have a loose connection to a specific subject, but they also provide a way for student to incorporate their own creative skills and their own personal interests. We’ve had students write creative songs, send in pictures, write essays, create comic strips, design their own science labs, and complete a photo scavenger hunt of different places in Europe. It’s been wonderful to see students become creatively engaged and learn about something at the same time! We hope to continue these contests and get even more students involved to help them see learning as something that is something we do in all areas of life, and that it can be fun and exciting!

There are so many more ways we hope to foster this idea of life-long learning in our students. These things are only the very beginning, and we look forward to using creative tools and new ideas in the future to continue connecting with students and helping them to see the importance of learning and the ways in which it extends to all of life.

Online School for Hospital Homebound Children an Excellent Solution

Online School for Hospital Homebound Children an Excellent Solution

By: Deborah Zabor

Online school for hospital homebound children provides an excellent solution for children who are hospital homebound (HHB).  These are children who have been diagnosed with a serious illness or medical condition that seriously impedes their ability to attend school.  The condition can be due to a catastrophic event, an acute condition, or a chronic illness that requires continuous or periodic treatment.  It can be physical or psychiatric in nature.  Due to the nature of the illness, the treatment regimen or other considerations, hospital homebound children are restricted to their home or hospital for an extended period of time.

Public school systems provide programs and services to HHB children that attempt to emulate a public school education.  These programs typically consist of a teacher traveling to the student’s home or hospital once or twice a week.  Students typically work from textbooks or photocopied assignments that they hand in to be graded.  Assignments handed in one week are usually not graded until the following week.  Student questions may be handled through e-mail.

Aside from attendance, HHB students may have regular or rigorous treatment schedules that interfere with their ability to perform schoolwork.  In addition to treatment regimens, hospital homebound students may experience fatigue, pain or depression that impedes their ability to work.  This, coupled with the more drawn-out nature of the typical HHB program coupled with the students treatment regimen may result in a lower level of learning or having to extend or repeat grade-levels.

Online school for hospital homebound children provide a superior alternative for HHB children for a number of reasons.  First, instead of old textbooks and copied worksheets, students access up-to-date information that is presented in a way that is engaging and colorful, using a wide-array of audio and video technology to address all types of learning styles.  Students have access to their teachers through e-mail and video chats whenever necessary.  Grading is done online, typically within a day or two of being submitted.  The faster response and grading times means that students receive feedback on their work in a much timelier manner, resulting in an educational environment that is dynamic and stimulating.  Travel time is eliminated, allowing teachers to efficiently focus their time and energy on addressing students learning needs.  Online curricula offer the flexibility to allow students to maximize their efforts at the times when they are most able to do schoolwork. Overall, online programs provide a superior educational solution for hospital homebound children – one that is motivating and stimulating, and that adjusts to the students abilities and needs.

Children at any age may experience a medical condition that is challenging, not only to them, but to the families who are providing for them.  Fortunately, advancements in technology such as the Internet and online education, are providing new solutions and alternatives that are superior to what was available in the past – why not take advantage of them?

Online High School Time Management

Setting up a regular review process…
Bill Zabor, MSEE/BSEE/MBA, Business Manager at CEA.

An online high school program has offers tremendous benefits and flexibility for students with serious outside commitments, such as sports, music, drama and dance.  Even for students who are just working part-time or have a hobby they want to actively pursue, being able to set their own schedule is a tremendous advantage.   With online high school time management is an important thing for students to  recognize.

However with the wonderful freedom that online education offers, there also comes added responsibilities.  Students have to set up a schedule and stick to it.  Some students excel at this naturally, while others still need a little help from mom and dad or their teachers.  As the parent of an online student, what can you do to ensure that your young adult is successful?  Here are some helpful suggestions.

If your student is transitioning to online from another venue – public school, private school or homeschool – recognize that online is a different environment, and that it is a transition.  It is different from other venues, and there may be an adjustment process.   Understanding that is one thing, successfully managing the transition is another.  For the first semester, monitor your student closely to see how they are doing.  At Christian Educators Academy, we recommend that students put in at least 2.5 hours per course, or 15 hours total, per week.  Make sure they are putting in the necessary learning time; that they are staying reasonably current to their schedule, and that they are not having any issues.  For a students who are new to online, avoid the temptation to load up on heavy classes or take-on a super challenging workload the first semester.  Make sure they are comfortable with the transition and are reasonably proficient at managing their schedule and responsibilities first.

Once your student has successfully made the transition to online, match the intensity of the monitoring process to the student.  The secret here is to know your child.  Some students manage their responsibilities and schedule extremely well with little outside aid.  Other students need some support, some students need lots of support.  Match the level of support to their needs, and allow it to lessen over time as they progress.  Recognize that responsibilities and online high school time management are their own separate skills, independent from academics.  A person can be an A-student and still need help with time management and self-discipline.  A person who has done well in a traditional school environment may need time and support to successfully handle the added responsibilities that come with an online setting.

The best way to teach your children responsibility and online high school time management is to model it by doing it yourself, and monitoring their online progress is a great venue for demonstrating this.  Set up a regular time every week when you sit down with them and go over their progress.  It doesn’t have to take long – 5 or 10 minutes can suffice – or be onerous.  Be objective and follow the same procedure every week.

At Christian Educators Academy, we believe that a good monitoring program consists of 3 parts.  The first part is objective data gathering – looking at reports such as actual time spent in lessons, progress against the calendar.  The purpose of this is to give you an accurate, un-biased indicator of where your student actually is.   The second part is asking your student how they are doing – this gives the “soft side” of the story and is useful for identifying motivational or behavioral issues that need to be addressed.  The third part is your own observations from time to time of how your student is doing.   From time to time, check up on your student, see if they are indeed working when they supposed to be.  Make sure they are actually in their lessons, and not just spending time online.

Online Education the Future of Learning

By: Amy Gentile, M.A. Higher Education, Assistant Director and Head Teacher at Christian Educators Academy

One of my favorite things about working in online education is feeling like I’m on the “cutting edge” of educational innovation. There are so many positive aspects of online education that make it well-suited toward students in 21st century contexts. I love working with creative educators to help improve the online educational experience for our students, and am excited to see how this field will grow in the years to come. There are many reasons why I think online education will only increase in the next few years, but two of the core issues in my mind surround the areas of flexibility and customization.

 

Flexibility

 

One of the greatest assets of online education is its incomparable flexibility—a benefit for both teachers and students. This is something I’ve also personally experienced from the perspective of a student. Earlier in my career, when I still worked in a traditional classroom setting, I decided to begin pursuing my Master’s degree. I wanted to learn more both personally and professionally, but I didn’t want to leave my full-time job in an unstable economy and rack up student loan debt. After researching several options, I chose an online Master’s program which allowed me the flexibility to continue working as a teacher while being able to use my “off time” to pursue my studies. Since I didn’t have a physical classroom to attend at a set time, I was able to schedule my schoolwork around my existing job easily and save valuable time because I didn’t have a commute. Without that flexibility it would have been much more difficult and time-consuming to earn my degree.

 

While most of our high school students don’t have a full-time job (though some do), many of our students at CEA are heavily involved in extracurricular activities—sports, theater, and the arts—sometimes at a highly competitive level. We also have several students who are young entrepreneurs and run their own small businesses. I am constantly impressed by the dedication these young people have to their passions and the time they put into their commitments! These are wonderful things for students to be participating in, and I love being able to offer them a quality, flexible educational option so that they can pursue their passions without neglecting their education. The great flexibility of online education—allowing students to work on their own time, at their own pace, and anywhere they have a reliable internet connection and a laptop—opens up so many opportunities for students who are heavily involved in personal pursuits as well as those who travel or live abroad. As internet technologies help create an even more globalized society and as students pursue more extracurricular activities, I expect to see an increase in students who choose to learn online for its flexibility and compatibility with a 21st century lifestyle.

 

Customization

 

In addition to the great flexibility an online learning environment provides in terms of when and where to do school, online education also lends itself wonderfully to customization. Having taught in a traditional school setting before coming to CEA, I’ve come to appreciate the way that online learning uniquely allows teachers to really meet each student where they are and tailor both their feedback and sometimes even the curriculum to a particular student’s needs.

 

In my previous school, it was sometimes difficult to differentiate things for students as much as I would have liked since we were very small and private. Each grade-level only had one class of students, and it wasn’t possible to hire enough teachers to have separate “advanced” and “core” level classes with such a small student body. Thus differentiation mostly involved differing levels of homework as opposed to actual differences in the curriculum. Though CEA is still a small private school, because we exist online and don’t have to worry about maintaining the attention of twenty-five kids—all at varying levels—simultaneously, we’re given the freedom to really “meet each student where they are.” It’s simple for us to identify a student who struggles in a subject and move them to a curricular level that offers more support. Likewise, it’s easy to move a student who needs a greater challenge to a higher level, or to provide them with a challenging twist on an assignment, depending on that student’s particular strengths in weaknesses. Additionally, we have the ability to offer unique electives or to offer curricular alternatives much more easily than would be possible in a traditional school setting. This allows us the benefit of keeping our school small while still providing the curricular options and choices available at a larger school.

 

Online education also really puts the emphasis on the student as an individual learner. Students control the pacing of the lesson and can skip more quickly through material they understand, or spend more time on a lesson that’s difficult for them. In a traditional classroom setting, I often encountered students who were too shy to ask a question in class, or who worried about “slowing the class down.” Online education reduces these worries for students, and also encourages them to get to know their teacher because they are in constant communication. It’s wonderful to see students opening up and asking questions that they might not have asked in a traditional classroom setting. Additionally, no student gets “lost” in the classroom or has to worry about being too shy to participate in a group, since each student receives one-on-one attention from the teacher for all questions and assignments. This also allows the teachers the time to really get to know their students well—as both people and as learners—something that we care very much about at CEA.

 

 

Certainly, there are strengths and weaknesses to both the traditional classroom model and online models of education. At CEA, we constantly seek to evaluate these things, and to come up with creative ways to improve the online educational experience for our students. It’s also exciting to see all the wonderful opportunities that online educational naturally opens up for teachers that allow us to better reach students and to support them in their growth as learners and as citizens of the 21st century. I look forward to watching how this field grows and changes in the coming decade, and I fervently believe that the flexibility and customization that online education provides will be a draw for students as well as their teachers in the years to come.

Online high schools prepare students for college

There are two primary aspects of college life students must be aware of before embarking on an advanced educational journey: The first being academic successful with college preparatory classes, the second is learning time management skills expected on a college level. At Christian Educators Academy, one of the top-rated online high schools today, graduates have given written testimonies to the success of our online school.  Online high schools prepare students for college in many ways.

 

  1. Academic Success:

Study Skills: Online high school classes instill excellent study skills to prepare students for college. As an online high school student, CEA encourages students to get in the habit of studying and taking notes on a regular basis. “Studying” can mean re-reading lessons presented, completing a study guide or taking good notes on materials presented. Online high schools prepare students for college by offering SAT type test questions on computer scored testing and diagnostic testing. Practicing test taking skills sharpens study skills, by teaching students what types of questions may be asked to prove mastery in a subject.

 

Research: online high schools prepare students for college by regularly requiring students to be able to compose well-written essays, as well as developing research papers that are properly documented. In order to write these types of paper, students must have experience with developing thesis statements, writing outlines, taking notes, citing resources, using correct grammar and walking through the revision process. Students must know how to take notes as they read for research. In order to prevent plagiarism, students should always reword any notes right away, so they are not tempted to use someone else’s words in their document. Students should also learn how to document all of their research using correct the format to cite any resources used.

 

Reading skills: Students who want to be prepared for college-level reading should be reading all the time. Online classes require students to be online a minimum of 3 hours a week in every subject. Each course presents a variety of reading materials, from novel excerpts, to textbook materials, and well-written documents. For college success, students must learn how to read for comprehension as well as retention. The reading load in college is much greater than the reading load in a traditional high school, but with online classes, students often read at a college level as early as 10th grade. Students who have not practiced reading large amounts quickly will have a difficult time managing the workload of college reading requirements.

 

  1. Time Management Skills

This is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of online high schools. At CEA, we teach students to choose their priorities One of the hardest management skill for college readiness is prioritization . With CEA’s online learning program, students are given study guides to help them consider questions that may be important for each activity and quiz on their schedule. With our Apex curriculum, students are given a weekly schedule, which we often find better than daily schedules. Knowing what needs to be done within the week, allows students to learn how to plan.

 

How do online high schools prepare students for college in the time management area?

Most online high school students say that learning how to find academic resources online before attending a college is valuable. These same students recognize the importance for their college careers of being able to plan and coordinate group tasks using calendars, scheduling and discussion applications. Students learn to develop a daily to-do list, follow weekly calendars and adhere to assignment deadlines. They learn to use their time wisely in completing assignments. Most importantly, students learn to set goals that are realistic, not ones that may set them up for failure.