Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rebuttal to NY Times

Nearly 60% are behind, or 40% are recovered that might never have been reached. Yes, the students work from home, with a teacher instead of completely alone with no direction or accountability.

No cafeteria catering to the ConAgra black market.
No gym, instead they are in local community sports, YMCA, swim teams, ballet, and other organized sports keeping local dollars in the local economy benefiting small business.
No playground, just utilizing the neighborhood parks, community centers, and multi-use complexes already in place in the community.
Teachers are able to cut across county boundaries and fiscally be responsible. K12 provides a tutor as a part of the remedial national program five days a week, for an hour a day. Our tutor resides in Michigan, we live in Texas. The distribution of resources is providing appropriate remedial services in a cost effective innovative solution.

Some work is cutting edge, however even in a digital age, there is still a need for penmanship and showing your work in the written form. To say “most” is ambiguous at best. Note taking experts will agree that a significant percentage of information is lost shortly after it is heard, when you write it down, an increased percentage is retained. Many studies have documented that students retain an increased amount of information when notes are hand written out.
each of my four students utilize a variation of this methodology. Student E splits his time, 50% hand written, 50% digitally typed documents. Student J utilizes printed out notes that have been typed in a word processing program. Student K meticulously hand writes all notes, essays, and then transcribes them into digital form to be submitted. Student M is other health impaired and almost exclusively utilizes computers to record work samples. The use of technology has befitted him with adaptations to facilitate growth and development that were not even a consideration in a traditional brick and mortar school due to financial restrictions and allocation of resources to the most severely disabled. with the virtual school environment, progress is made and stigmatisms removed, and resources are distributed without prejudice.

Education means money, books are not free, and while cutting edge technology would mean that books would be available on e-readers, the publishing industry is not there yet.So for now, those books, 85 pounds worth, do come each autumn, as well as materials necessary to implement an education in 12 subjects. math, composition, vocabulary, literature, grammar, spelling, science, geography & history, art, foreign language, health, physical education. Not just student lesson books, but learning coach comprehensive lecture guides, like scripts to give a starting point of the topic is not familiar to the coach. These resources combined with the online lesson plan, attendance database, and grade book, common core standards assessments make this program a complete turnkey system that would easily retail for $5000 when the teacher support is calculated into the package.

Enrollment is by choice, in a time in our community when the current system fails to meet expectations and does not produce college ready students, repeating the same mistakes over and over would be ludicrous. Many parents are disillusioned and want something that is more in-line with the current world standards. More substance, less busy work, and most definitely they do not want to fight bureaucracy for programs that should already be available. While there is a turnover rate, and more upfront information should be available. It was presented that a certified teacher would be overseeing the student, that can be interpreted many different ways for many different parents. What I expected and what I got was a compromise in both directions. The elementary teacher team teaches nine hours a week, I expected more. I teach six hours per student, which is more than I expected. Fundamentally what it boiled down to was that I was willing to sacrifice more teaching in exchange for more flexibility. My preferences is hands on in the field learning experience with major weekly field trips. It took over a semester to re-educate my students away from the current system of teacher spoon feeding the student on perspective and to redirect them to be inquisitive and formulate their own hypothesis and then research and prove or disprove it. I agree there is a need to redesign the promotional literature to more effectively portray a typical day with a more realistic scenario rather than high lighting on the super achievers with exceptionally gifted children. The stark reality is that if you have special need children that is struggling now, they will still be facing challenges. Those do not go away, the difference is that instead of coping with 3000 foot summits and 1000 foot canyons, as a proactive learning coach, you have the resources and the freedom to carve those mountains down to about 1000 foot plateaus and fill in those crevices to 200 foot valleys. Eventually the impossible becomes possible. The student that was reading 18 months behind grade level is now in 30 months reading at grade level with 75% comprehension. It does not happen over night, but it does happen. That is the 40% that are recovered. The academics are rigorous, the entire system is adaptive, right out of the box you have all the breadth and depth for a challenging gifted and talented program, and yet the simple assessments are short and brief enough that the special needs child can demonstrate effort and achieve success, leveling not only the peeks and valleys, but the playing field for academic success.

The ratio of learning coach teaching commitment in the elementary stage is completely different than that of the high school model. I am only addressing what I know and have experienced in the last three years working with 3rd - 6th grade. In our typical week, E is in regular education and he works about nine hours a week with a certified lead teacher online live discussion. He spends an additional two hours a week with that teacher and his homeroom class in live social discussion. As the learning coach, I spend about 6 hours as week in guided instruction, and he spends and additional 8 hours in independent learning, approximately 32 hours in all of balanced and comprehensive with a significant commitment in time and effort that should be clearly defined up front.. M is on a remedial program. In addition to his certified teacher support team, he has five hours a week of concentrated remedial math tutoring.

While each state virtual academy is responsibly for attendance verification and compliance requirements, ti needs to be pointed out that k12 is the vendor of the curriculum and that the Virtual Academy is the administration. Accountability does start at home and ends with the virtual academy not k12.

I appreciate that socialization was broached. I find it exhausting trying to schedule time to attend the live events that are offered. It is hard to pick and choose, field trips to state parks, historical museums, and N.A.S.A. Opportunities to see local, county and state government at work as well as just cultural and physically fit programs are just too abundant. Some are hundreds of miles away, but even the ones that are 30 - 50 miles are so frequent that we have to pick and choose which ones we would benefit from the most and which ones we have to pass so that we can study. We have to set a personal limit of one one educational trip a month and one entertainment trip a month. We never turn down a workshop that focus’s on common core standards, but with 1.5 hours in traffic each way, we have to do some creative study space so that we do not have a lot of down time. Students are afforded the opportunity to work through a more structured problem solving activity, it is not as much fun but the social visits before and during lunch in the park give everyone ample opportunity to socialize. Rest assured the exchange of phone numbers, email addresses, and skype contact information is rampant. These students are forming friendships that transcend boundaries of social class, religion, nationality and native language. It is a global community that fosters a global outlook on how other cultures live and communicate. They are making friends without the limitation of social hierarchy or limiting their own social standing by befriending someone unique or other-abled. This freedom to move out of the box of age, class, or gender role modeling is much more healthy form of socialization than those that are strictly controlled in other settings. Granted the benefit of the managed social interaction with church affiliation, scouts membership, gated communities, and country club could have a multitude of benefits, but I find a more global approach to produce an empathetic and diverse socialization skills set that benefits at least our own family since we do have to maneuver between two different continents and cultures with students that are dual citizens. Our objective is better met with familiarity with all social classes and cultural norms. We do not want them to feel left out, to ever think it is sociably acceptable to shun someone, everyone gets a chance to participate and everyone counts. I am pleased with the diversity we have at each virtual academy activity. I think that the more diverse association, the more likely each student will appreciate diversity of opinions, giving rise to more complex and sophisticated problem solving solutions.

As a taxpayer, I can see the benefit of a subsidized school at home program because I can see how an educated individual contributes significantly more positively to community than an illiterate one. I can adamantly support oversight to those dollars with accountability. To suggest that those procedures are not in place is erroneous. While there will be a small percentage that are abusing the system and a small percentage of the administrators that are too lenient, overall there is adequate accountability and the core fundamentals are preserved and the integrity of the program is preserved and the accreditation is intact.

To suggest that a local school loses money when a student enrolls with the virtual academy it to give rise to the possibility that the school is entitled to those funds by the shear population of the community. Enrollment should not be the default fund raiser for the schools. They were designed to serve those that could not go elsewhere, they are now so ingrained and entrenched, it is hard for them to realize that enrollment is voluntary not obligatory. Our society expects student to attend a neighborhood brick and mortar school, they count on it. They select homes in communities so that their children will associate with other people of the same culture and norms as themselves. They are very vocal when there is busing that changes the dynamics of the school and forces diversity. It dilutes the whole point if the child is forced to be bused to a different school to serve some political purpose. The parent became so dissatisfied with the current situation and prognosis for their child’s education that they were willing to sacrifice their own personal time, decrease income from lost wages, family dynamic changes that induce increased stress in a last chance effort to salves what time was left. Virtual Academy is rarely a first choice, it is the choice of last resort when all others efforts to work within the system have failed. I heard about my virtual academy from word of mouth referral from a staunch home-school parent that made a recommendation based on the criteria that were my family’s needs assessment.

As a prospective parent, my criteria was school at home with a high level of structure, accountability, and accreditation through testing. As a tax paying family, I wanted a return on that investment. Currently 50% of my property taxes are allocated to the local school district. The community has voted that education is a high priority and while my children are school aged, those dollars that would be allocated towards their education should be directed to that end.

Apparently the learning model of re-teach is now out of vogue. I know that first time it was mentioned in an individual education planning meeting, I was perplexed. A strategic intervention tool that has been around for a while to enable a student to engage, reflect, and redirect to master a subject while they can still learn from the process is highly advantageous. Mastery teaching is the core foundation of k12 and by extension virtual academy. By schooling at home, we are afforded the opportunity to speed up the coursework when mastery is achieved and slow down and reteach until it is mastered by implementing this strategy we have students willing to risk a wrong answer to find a solution, but more importantly, by mastering the core subjects, they are less likely to have to take remedial math and composition at the college level. A situation that occurs with alarming frequency currently. The credit by examination paradigm are very beneficial however if a family has taken a recent vacation to national park, historical museum, or monument and learned the material in an enrichment activity. It would be entirely reasonable to have access to credit by examination. The goal was to master the knowledge not to teach to the test.

Class connects are dynamic. Occasionally a class is canceled due to technical difficulties or human error, I am in the opinion that more people are in need of some lessons in tolerance and forbearance. This is a sad state when we are so inflexible that we just can not see the other side of the coin. In our family, situations arise, we can not always be there for every single live online class lecture. Our family personally rely on the recordings when it is convenient for us to receive that information.

Ultimately it comes down to benefit debt ratio. How much does the benefit of managing my students learning environment and affording them every opportunity for a free and appropriate education is counter balanced by the overwhelming exhaustion that I face each day when my hours for entering grades, marking attendance, and reviewing the weekly lesson plan. For now, this system works for our family. My objective and goals drive my desire to make a difference in their lives, over riding my desire to collapse and sleep for a week. The primary objective for me was a non secular program that implements reading, writing, and arithmetic as its core foundation and this solution works for us on a global scale.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

I just want to Minecraft all day

A 10 year and 4 months old (male) child
who is 74 pounds
and is 5 feet tall has
a body mass index of 14.5,

which is at the 6th percentile,

and would indicate that your child is at a healthy weight. Keep in mind that it is still possible for a child to have an eating disorder even if they are at a healthy weight though.

BMI Calculator

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

5th grade Field Trip

Robotics Academy

This project is a 10-week, resident summer internship for students specifically interested in robotics who have taken active interest in robotics in demonstrable ways.
› Find out More

Digital Learning Network

DLN offers videoconferencing or Webcasting at no charge, providing interactive educational experiences to students and educators from kindergarten to university levels across the Nation and around the world.
› Find out More

Friday, August 26, 2011

End of First week

Amundsen, Magnus Week 1

Fundamentals of Pre-Algebra

Language Arts

Intermediate Language Skills A 9%

Composition 0%

Grammar 6%

Vocabulary 19%

Literature 0%

Spelling 3%

Welcome Back to Online Learning (3-5) SY11-12

TX Science 5

History Social Studies 6

Intermediate Art

Music Concepts

PE 5

Health 5

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Language Arts FUN

here is what we got for LANGUAGE ARTS:

American Lives & Legends
American Tall Tales
Bard of Avon: The Story of Shakespeare
Classics for Young Readers, Vol 5A
Classics for Young Readers, Vol 5B
Curious Creatures
Don Quixote
Exercises in English, Grade 5 (Level E)
I Didn't Know That
Language Skills 5 Student Pages Sem. 1
Language Skills 5 Student Pages Sem. 2
Language Skills 5 Teacher Guide Sem. 1 & 2
Literature 5 Student Pages Sem. 1
Literature 5 Student Pages Sem. 2
Literature 5 Teacher Guide Sem.
Literature 5 Teacher Guide Sem. 2
Paddle to the Sea 08466 1
Spelling 5 Student Pages Sem. 1
Spelling 5 Student Pages Sem. 2
Spelling 5 Teacher Guide Sem. 1
Spelling 5 Teacher Guide Sem. 2
Test Ready Lang Arts, Book 5
Test Ready Longer Passages Book 5
Vocabulary Workshop - Gr. 5 (Blue)
White Dry-Erase Board
Writing in Action, Volume E
Writing in Action, Volume F

and here is what we kept out:
On Your Own
Exercises in English, Grade 5 (Level E)
Vocabulary Workshop - Gr. 5 (Blue)
Spelling 5 Student Pages Sem. 1
Help from Mom
Language Skills 5 Student Pages Sem. 1
Writing in Action, Volume E
American Lives & Legends
American Tall Tales
Bard of Avon: The Story of Shakespeare
Curious Creatures
Don Quixote
I Didn't Know That

On Your Own
When I have to do my kitchen chores, my student can work in: Exercises in English & Vocabulary, I put a Post-it Note: START on the part for the WEEK that they will start and STOP at the end of that subject. the books are self explanatory and can be worked independently. I have inputted the words from the spelling list (OLS - Copy and paste) into spelling city, this is also independent learning. they have the fun of printing out the certificate when they get the test correctly.

Help from Mom
student can self direct on this for the most part. I put a Post-it Note: START on the part for the WEEK that they will start and STOP at the end of that subject. the books are self explanatory and can be worked independently.

student open up computer , go to google docs and create a new text document, title: (lesson one is Memoir)
and start your rough draft... (First 8 lessons on Memoir) keep using the same document without having to rewrite and rewrite and well you get picture:
be sure and 'share' the document with MOM and TEACHER.

I do not stress about this part of the lesson, the spirit is that I do some reading, they do some reading, we talk about what is going on and why. basic understanding of what the author meant.

NOW IF ... IF we have time later in the year and we WANT to go back and pick up some of other books, lovely, but for us, this is our limit of what we can get done and be successful and what I feel is the core foundation that we need to read and write well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

5th Grade Reading List

A Lion to Guard Us by Bulla, Clyde Robert
Stone Fox by Gardiner, John Reynolds
Sarah, Plain and Tall by MacLachlan, Patricia
Henry Huggins by Cleary, Beverly
Charlotte's Web by White, E.B.
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Li Lun, Lad of Courage by Trefinger, Carolyn
In the Year of the Boar... by Lord, Bette Bao
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Little House on the Prairie by Wilder, Laura
The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
The Book of Three by Alexander, Lloyd
Tuck Everlasting by Babbitt, Natalie
The Sign of the Beaver by Speare, Elizabeth G.
War Comes to Willy Freeman by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
The Cricket in Times Square by Selden, George
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats... by O'Brien, Robert
My Side of the... by George, Jean Craighead
Call It Courage by Sperry, Armstrong
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes
The Cay by Theodore Taylor
The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Cleary, Beverly
Dragonwings by Laurence Yep
The Hundred Dresses by Estes, Eleanor
Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson
Caddie Woodlawn by Brink, Carol Ryrie
Shiloh by Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
Old Yeller
The Dark Is Rising
White Fang
Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery, Lucy Maud
The Door in the Wall by de Angeli, Marguerite
Island of the Blue Dolphins
Ben and Me: by Lawson, Robert
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Across Five Aprils
Catherine, Called Birdy
The War of the Worlds
The Swiss Family Robinson
The Incredible Journey

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Typical online Week

3 - 8th grade in a typical week:
for my current students: we checked the OLS, in a week, each child will complete the following:
5 math lessons, 5 literature lessons, 3 vocabulary lessons, 5 grammar / composition lessons, 5 science, 4 geography, 2 art, 2 health, 1 music, 5 pe

He is expected to spend 30 hours working on that. it can take more or less in each lesson, but that is the ballpark, and that is actually a very good estimate.

6 hours a day, WE open up OLS, in each subject / course there will be a pdf 'guide', that is the 'script' that the 'teacher' in a typical classroom would go through, it has the objective of the lesson, it has the reading assignments, it has the written assignments, it can be located as 'materials' in the OLS, but it should be the student / parent guide books.
it is all up to me to get this done, I am guiding him through the course, I am teaching the information that is on the assessment. I am taking attendance, it is school at home with me the primary tutor. the 'benefit' is that the guide is already written for me, the 'teacher' portion was that the guides were written by the teacher, the amount of work portioned out by the teacher, and I am just facilitating that the work is getting done and answering question, and grading the results.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: more of the same

if you choose to do one a day in each subject, you can, if you choose to do a couple of subjects a day, and double up on lessons, you can, if you want to work less hours but more days you can, but in the end, by end of the week, 30 hours and 3% of your course.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Brain Dump

Why I would recommend K12 and Virtual School: the good: less distractions, less drama, less anxiety in the morning, evening, and just generally during the day. the bad, you still have to do the work, you still have to teach and learn, and get an education, it is the 'job' of our children and it doesn't change by changing locations, and this is a school at home program, not a fly by the seat of your pants party, that being said, you have a lot of options for gifted and talented learning that you would be excluded from in a typical Brick and Mortar school, they guard them programs with an iron fist, you also have a blossoming Individualized Education Program, you are your only limitation when it comes to small group education, minimal distractions, preferred seating, and one on one education that is based on mastery in stead of dumbing down courses, teaching to the middle or lowest common denominator, or worse, teaching to the test. there are fail safes to keep the child progressing, there are accountability models, and you will be expected to contribute, work hard, and it is not for every family. It is a lifestyle, not just send them off in the morning and hope all goes well, you can make it spectacular or you can fight it tooth and nail and wonder what in the world you got yourself into. we are gone on explorations around the globe 24 weeks out of the year, without penalty, I can not imagine my children becoming life long learners in any other circumstance. It is an amazing opportunity for children to learn to love learning, and become self directed learners. it does take awhile to teach them to be inquirers, the schools have conditioned them to be spoon fed without questions, and that sucks all the creativity right out of them.

When I feel intimidation, it is just the fear of the unknown. you didn’t know what kind of wife you would be, just dived in, didn’t know what kind of mom you would be, just dived right in, same with educating your children, if you were able to successfully get them to learn to feed themselves with knife and fork, use a toilet instead of a diaper, ride a two wheeler, tie their shoes, put on a seat belt, wear a coat in 32'F weather, you are the perfect type of mom to home-school. WHY? because you give a care about them. that you will mess it up, is HIGHLY unlikely, why? because there is a script built into the lesson plans, there is a schedule built into the OLS, there is progress reports that you will see daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and your students will take assessments daily, weekly, and three times a year and every spring to let you know that your doing a bang up job! just worry about how your going to spend all that free time that you would be looking for shoes when the bus is coming in the morning, and how your budget is going to react to NO SCHOOL LUNCHES and you cooking at home, and better yet, eating today’s science experiment for desert tonight. it doesn’t take a PHD to teach, it doesn’t take a MASTERS to teach, it doesn’t take a BS to teach, it takes someone that wants their kids to want to be inquiring minds and not mushrooms sitting in the back of the class and molding.

Gym / PE, we take bike hikes every week, we ride to different parts of our community, sometimes we ride to the piano teachers house, sometimes we ride to the store to get groceries. PE is what you make of it, it could be a day at the park, it could be a day at the beach, it could be a day at the amusement park, it could be a day at the health center, it could be a number of things, just teach your children to be active. we have even had Wii days of PE.

What I love is that it is a complete turnkey system in a box, if you MIGHT need it, it is in there, if you could use it, it is in there, and if you must have it, it is IN THERE. the script for teaching the class is in there, the grading each assignment is in there, the workbooks and reading books are in there, the science experiments are in there for the most part. we had some that we had to go get supplies last year, things like plant fertilizer and jelly jars from the recycling box.

The first year was a mix of deschooling and inquiry schooling. Getting the children to stop expecting me to stand at the front of the classroom and spoon feed them nuggets of knowledge, & evolving into a more lifelong learning model of them asking a question, and following it down the garden path to find out who, what, where, when, and why. the second year, was a mix since I added another child from B&M to the equation and he was confused why he didn't see his brother doing as much work as him, because he was still getting deschooled and his brother was quietly working independently and it would just be such a confusing thing for him.

We discovered that the first 9 weeks was a lot of review, things he already knew. COOL. at some point I would have to start teaching SOMETHING right? well the second quarter came and went, and we were still plodding along nicely, stressing reading and keeping up with everything else to various degrees. he was gifted in science, he could breeze through it like no bodies business, wow, I had a gifted child right? well, not exactly, if we spent the day doing the fun stuff, then we didn't keep up on the not so fun stuff like social studies and math, so we had to ration the science and balance our day with everything else. the best thing I learned was that everything is cyclic, that means that if you do not get it the first time, do not fear, it will come back around again, that spelling words will be there next year and the year after, that vocabulary will be there, the next year and the year after, that fractions will come around every year until they finally get it and understand what a fraction is. so that means that no matter what, I will have an opportunity to reteach and they will finally get it eventually.

The best thing that I discovered is that I had more flexibility to change the approach, to change the technique, to change the direction of a lesson so that my child could benefit from more than one presentation method. say a video game would help, yippee, use it. say a trip to the museum would help, wow, go for it, say you would rather give an oral test, YES YOU CAN. it doesn't have to be all or nothing, just keep plodding along. now say your are keeping track of the clock, what if you didn't make 3% this week in EVERY SINGLE SUBJECT, YIKES, what will happen, you will catch up next week, you have the entire quarter to have everything balance out so find what works for you. if you make 3% in one subject, you can change topics or you can push ahead and do 6%, just keep it balanced 25% max per quarter, and then bring the next subject up to that level, until you have ALL of them at 25% before moving ahead in a 'fun' subject. all the teacher tools have literally a script in there so that you can not mess it up, once you get comfortable, you can deviate and shoot more from the hip and teach off the fly.

Here is my take after 24 months of this 'experiment', figure out what is the worst possible thing that could ever happen? is it that you children will not make as much progress as they were in B&M? that they will stop learning all together, or perhaps forget everything that they ever learned and work for Taco Bell? now that you can see the worst case scenario, think about this. In an IEP meeting for a child that is challenged, they set a goal, what would you like to see by the end of the year? would you like to see your child reading on level? would you like to see your child able to complete an entire assignment without you doing 90% of it? would you like to not have homework consume your evenings? now break that goal down by 1/4, what would you like to have accomplished by the end of the first quarter, the second quarter, and so on. find measurable improvements based on what you find in your family to be worthwhile. for us, we really wanted our child to be able to READ, that was the first year goal. to ENJOY reading was an expectation, and to ENJOY READING on LEVEL was the end of the year Plan. if nothing else, if he was able to do that, we had succeeded.

Smart Art History

Art History...

Monday, August 1, 2011

5th Grade Curriculum

The UPS man Ding Dong Ditched our boxes.
Magnus observed that the boxes are AMAZON boxed (FRUSTRATION PACKAGING)
Less boxes than last year, yipee
That is a monster pile of books
Pile reduced down to Essentials, Labeled and returns noted.
Totally organized and ready to start working on 5th grade achievements.

Monday, July 18, 2011


9 am: wake up to kids playing online games:
announce that today is a school day
response: suddenly everyone has to go eat breakfast, I go down with kids and make my breakfast: coffee, vitamins, cheese sticks, they have left over pizza, hhmmm my favorite

10 am: prompt them to get laptops, meet me in the living room, and log in to Online Learning School, and check kMail, follow the prompts for daily activity which include a visit to Study Island.
while they are completing that, I am cleaning the kitchen and shining my sink.

11 am: prompt them to visit Math is fun and work through the math trainer for multiplication

12: prompt them to go outside and run two miles.

while they are doing that, it is time for NURSES STATION, yep, time to check the First Aid Kit, throw out anything that is out of date, make of list of anything that is running low on supplies, you do not want to break rhythm of the day with a run to the local pharmacy for a tummy ache (Pepto Bismo) or a scrape (Bandaid) so get ready now and thank me later.

I got a Plano Tackle Fishing box to organize the supplies and keep them on a top shelf away from curious toddlers.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Reader

just keeping up with the books is a full time job.

Reading list for the net 30 weeks:

Friday, July 15, 2011


Declutter Day: I dragged up the big bad trash can and am ruthlessly cleaning, I have way too much clutter in the school room to be able to function properly so before we the boxes arrive I need to get this place in order. that does not mean shoving everything in another closet / cupboard or the poor pitiful garage. HotSpot today: School Closet / Classroom lavatory. (for those curious about these names: we moved our bedroom into a traditional child's room, and converted the "Master Suite" into the classroom.

now that I am making progress, it is time to really find a way to utilize my brainiac children's talents:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What is for Dinner

Sunday: PIZZA
Tuesday: Taco's
Wednesday: BOY's Tomato Soup, Hard boiled Egg, Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Thursday: DAD's Spaghetti
Friday: Fish and Vegetables
Saturday: Crepes

Mom's Chicken Deluxe (7 minutes prep time):
1 pack of Chicken Quarters ($3.40)
1 lb of baby carrots
1 onion slivered
2 Tbl corn starch for gravy
1 bottle Vidalia Onion Fig Sauce ($4.95)
baked at 350 for one hour, served on bed of:
3 cups of steamed rice

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Each student is different and each teacher is different and each student / teacher interaction is different. that being said: I have two children, one that is pleasant, interactive and one that would rather not interact at all. when the teacher sends out a monthly 'interactive' email to get a response, one child will respond with a couple of sentences to complete the task, the other child with one word, generally with the least amount of syllables possible. that is not to suggest that either child likes or dislikes the teacher, the school, or the process, it is simple preferences. take those same two children, both are eager to participate in the weekly online classrooms, they arrive on time, and are eager to engage. but one on one puts them on the spot and they feel overwhelmingly uncomfortable.

last year we were having difficulty with writing, the grammar was too easy for the 4th grader but the composition was extremely difficult. by sorting things out, participating in a 6/7th grade weekly composition classroom, the 4th grader was able to help the 6th/7th graders with grammar and they in turn was able to help with writing process. imagine any other place where a child that is three years ahead in grammar but two years behind in composition would be able to get that type of support. By the end of six months, he was able to progress from 8 hours to write two sentences to 400+ word essay in 2 hours during the State Exams. He still answers the teachers email queries with with things like 'no', but he is just a minimalist and he is not being ugly about it.

the cons? it puts a lot of work on the parent / learning coach, we are there 7 hours a day, 5 days a week on top of parenting, we are the teacher, the administrator, the nurse, the nutritional, we are the bus driver, the chemistry teacher, the swim coach, the recess referee, we are the librarian, there are very few 'breaks', no time off, and we always having a running list in the back of our head of how much literature is still to be done before bedtime, how many math lessons are due by the end of the week, and what science supplies still need to be purchased with the weekly groceries to complete the next science experiment or art project and always in the darkest part of our sub conscientious is the thought "will we get through enough to do well enough on the state exams so that we reflect well on our family, our school, and demonstrate that we made the right choice to pull our children from a situation that is considered 'acceptable' in lieu of a child not able to function in a classroom of 20 noisy students and having panic attacks and going to the nurses office three days a week from stress and anxiety, missing academic lessons, suffering teasing for being different .

the saddest part of it all, he probably could benefit from a partial day and a micro small group setting, but the local schools do not see a hybrid as a solution for children that are somewhat homebound. it is currently all or nothing in the majority of the schools. He would do well with a increased frequency with other children, and exposure to other children. the reason we chose Virtual School is that we believe in a non secular classical education with the same benefits and responsibilities of a public education in exchange for a curriculum that is already researched and set out to meet the Common Core Standards, that not all states have adopted. K12 gives us that, they take the State Standards, and they add in the Common Core Standards on top of that so that they follow the National guidelines for an education that will transfer to the University Level when the time comes. Do not confuse Virtual School which is at it's core Schooling at Home with Homeschooling and Unschooling, they are as different as night and day.

As with everything with k12, we generally move at the speed of light. when it comes to IEP / ARD, there is not a whole lot of resources delegated to help the children, it is generally left up to the parent / learning coach to implement the modifications. I recently have had to shake my head at my own school, my child 'needs' a modification in how he takes the State exams, in order to request that, there should have been a simple referral process. however, the school is insisting a written form from a doctor. I provided a letter from the doctor, the school came back with no, it had to be the form, I provided the form, but they didnt get a perfect fax and couldnt see if it had the right check boxes even though they could read the written notes. at that point I was mad enough to tell them to screw it. that I really didnt care if he did well on the exams, that it was not worth it to me to put in the effort to focus on achievements and that it will just be another day which I know negatively impacts their state status.

The overall issue that works well for virtual academy and against it, there is a high population that the typical school is not and does not reach, kids that need a significant support system, they by nature are going to score lower because they already are fighting an uphill battle, the offset is that they are supported by parents that are desperate to something better, something that will reach their kids.

With a teacher that is driven to make a difference, can and does but it is not without sacrifice. there are nights that I am online and get an IM from our homeroom teacher at 1 am, she needs to talk, she is just getting back to me, she wants some feedback before she sends out an email blast to other parents and has me proof it for readability. She has a cornucopia of parents from the absolute brilliant (like me heehee) the the proverbial box of rocks that consistently redefine blithering idiot. she is responsible for 75 kids across several grades in multiple families. I would say that she spends a significant amount of time administrating parents that just can not get their act together.

I can tell you that it is a lot of hand holding, a lot of dancing around with parents that have lots of motivation, lots of hope, as well as lots of excuses and lots well intentions. The key to finding balance is recruiting several parents to be virtual room parents / boosters, working together to keep socials with the other parents and working towards the common goal. this program is just as much about support the parents as it is reaching the kids themselves. we have class connects each week that primarily focuses on the state tests.

I hope that enlightens and doesn't deter your objectives. heehee for new teachers considering this avenue of employment, that your are even willing to take on the adventure speaks highly of you. this is not the education system that you were trained for in college, by a long ways. this is truly inquiry based gifted and talented education where the sky is the limit. I have seen great things with due diligence in my family, granted I earned the nick name benito mussolini which is humorous since my daughter's MIL teaches 5th grade and was surprised that my 3/4th graders even knew who benito mussolini was. what I love most about k12 is that I can incorporate as much or as little enrichment as I want. today we stocked the kid's Kindles with books from the Gutenberg Project so now they have 15 books that they need to read over the next 30 weeks. I have already purchased their rewards today, tiny Lego quick kits.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Space Place Classroom Organization Center

Educational Insights the Space Place Classroom Organization Center

1 for each child with a weeks worth of educational materials and assignments in all 11 courses:

[7]Social Studies

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back To School

Done Shopping (this took 24 months to finance, a bit at a time), Waiting for the k12 Boxes to arrive:

HP Pavilion Slimline s5670t CTO with Intel
  • Intel Core i3-540 dual core processor
  • 512 MB ATI Video
  • 4 GB DDR3-1333MHz SDRAM
  • 750GB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Lightscribe 16x DVD

OR (you do not HAVE to have both)

HP Pavilion dm1z series
  • 11.6" diagonal High Definition HP BrightView
  • Weight 3.52 lbs
  • AMD Dual-Core Processor E-350 (1.6GHz, 1MB L2 Cache)+AMD Radeon(TM) HD 6310M
  • 4GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
  • 128GB (Solid State Drive Flash Module)(much more durable if dropped)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

Unfinished Wooden Crate (18x12x9.5)


Expenses to School at Home (not counting curriculum, enrichment, or staff salary):
desktop $650
cam $70
mouse $27
keyboard $47
headphones $95

laptop $455

light $8

sharpener $31
desk $61
chair $60

trimmer $22
stapler $27
tape $18
scissors $5
brushes $5
clipboard $5
crate $10
11x14 $8
paper $23
ink $105
pencils $12
markers $26
alcohol $3
cotton balls $2
staples $3
glue $4
Post its $13
envelopes $5
Total $1,764

Friday, July 8, 2011

I want to get started RIGHT NOW

If I knew then what I know now, what would I do differently?

You made the hardest decision in your life, you are going to buck the system, pull your child from public school and homeschool.

You look at your options, weigh in your finances and opt to go with K12.

You pre-register, you follow up with mountain of paperwork, more than when you signed your first House Note, and you wait. You wait for the Registar to get it all input in to the system, and you wait, you check hourly to see if your missing any vital documents, you find 5 new grey hairs and you wait. You worry that you will not 'GET IN" or be "ACCEPTED" and you worry some more. You wonder what your Plan B is if this does not work out and you check your online dashboard again.

FINALLY, your IN, your registered, your approved, and your ready for the enlightenment to begin. and then you have to wait for the curriculum to come, for the OLS to open and you WAIT until you are quite sure if you wait one more minute, you will get a bleeding ulcer.

How about a guide to what to do while you wait.

If your going to build a house, your going to want to nail those board together, get the sheet rock up. WELL a walls / roof a house does not make. It is the same with Online School.

My first step: this is not "HOME SCHOOL", this is SCHOOL AT HOME and there is a difference. With the TXVA program, we follow the state mandates of public school, attendance, quarterly progress, standard testing.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pump-It-Up Cy-Fair

Meet TXVA @ Pump-It-Up Cy-Fair, Texas

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire

The Throne of Fire [Kindle Edition]

Rick Riordan


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Enrichment

Razzle Dazzle Writing: Achieving Excellence Through 50 Target Skills

Razzle Dazzle Writing: Achieving Excellence Through 50 Target Skills

Melissa Forney

Caught'ya!: Grammar With a Giggle

Caught'ya!: Grammar With a Giggle

Jane Bell Kiester

Journaling with