Mistacres School is located about 14 miles from the Goshen/Lempster School in South Acworth. It is a K-8 school, just as Goshen/Lempster. The difference is that it delivers the curriculum through the technology of the Internet – virtually.
These two schools are joining together to form a blended approach to learning.
The International North America Council for Online Learning (iNACOL) defines blended learning as one that “combines online delivery of educational content with the best features of classroom interaction and live instruction to personalize learning, allow thoughtful reflection, and differentiate instruction from student to student across a diverse group of learners.”
This means that Mistacres School will be delivering specially targeted instruction to students who either need to increase their reading and math skills to be more successful at grade level or to those students that have mastered grade content and need enrichment.
The staff at Goshen/Lempster and Mistacres School are reviewing recent testing, report cards, and observations to determine which students will be receiving supplemental education from Mistacres and in what areas. These students will then have numerous times throughout the week to work within Mistacres School as well as having the school available to them at home 24/7.
If you would like to find out more about Mistacres School and what Blended Learning is, click on Educational Resources.
Studies have shown that if you give a child rewards for behaviors they were doing spontaneously, and then withdraw the rewards, the child will stop doing what they had done before they were getting rewards. So, if the child is already capable of getting good grades and now is getting rewarded, what happens when the child stops getting the rewards? And, if they haven’t got the capability to achieve the goals the school has set for them, what will rewards held out of their reach do? Teach by using the learning style of the student produces superior results in a blended learning environment, without confusing the joy of learning with extrinsic rewards.
Children are no different from you or me. If I have poor self-esteem and believe I can’t do something, chances are that I probably won’t even try the task. But if I’m taught the skills in a way I understand, I am much more likely to succeed in accomplishing the task. I will develop confidence in myself to try other tasks that might be a bit harder. My previous success becomes the motivation to do well on the next goal. Individualized learning where the students learning style is taken into account makes all the difference.
Allow children to succeed in their learning by adapting to their learning style. Paying students isn’t going to motivate them to become learners. This is what we as teachers should be doing, hopefully public schools will one day change their one size fits all mentality. The responsibility is not just to motivate our children to learn now, but to instill in them the desire and confidence to become life-long learners.
As a teacher of over 30 years, I have seen all kinds of fads used to modify students behaviors none that were overly successful. If we were to give children checks, what do we cut so there is money to do that? Should it by Gym, Art, and Music? Those programs have already been hacked just as Languages have. Most after-school sports programs have to be self-supporting as well. That leaves just the basics: Reading and Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies. The big push by the federal government to improve STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math), means paring down childrens education elsewhere. When there is a bloated bureaucracy within school administration, less and less is available for teaching.
Such a proposal to pay students assumes that the students have the capability to do the activity in question for the rewards to be influential. Monetary rewards to students do not address the fact that most students do not choose to do poorly in school. I believe that once schools learn to teach to the student, students will learn. For students that attend classes at Mistacres, each child receives an individualized learning plan that takes into account the different ways children learn. A blended learning environment gives students the best of in-class learning along with virtual learning. Parents who want the best education for their kids have turned to our homeschooling programs, and use our virtual classrooms and curriculum to successfully home school their children.
The home schooling vs. public school debate has been taking place for decades, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. Unfortunately, people often take part in polarized discussions on the topic, refusing to even consider the other side’s arguments. It’s no secret that our public education system leaves something to be desired, which is exactly why many people decide to home school their children. Preventing uncouth social influences and eliminating peer pressure are also common factors.
Advocates of the public education system say that learning in an environment with your peers is essential for developing basic social skills. The classroom setting also offers opportunities for teamwork and collaborative assignments. Of course each child is different, and what is best for one child may not be optimal for another. Luckily, there are constant innovations in education, including new methods that combine classroom and online learning.
The International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) recently released a research paper entitled “An Exploration of At-Risk Learners and Online Education”. There have been many claims that online education is successful at supporting students identified as “at risk” or having Learning Disabilities. This research was done to prove or disprove these claims.
The report is broken down into two sections: “Strategies for Working with At-Risk Student Populations in Online Environments” which presents and discusses various online programs that are successfully supporting “at risk” students; and “Trends and Instructional Practices for Teaching At-Risk Students in Virtual Courses” which surveys online schools to better understand the delivery and design methods being used to support these students.
President and CEO of iNACOL reports; “Blended and online learning programs are offering new student-centered school models for a diverse group of kids who are looking for more options. This report highlights how online education is providing solutions to help remediate and accelerate “at-risk” learners and meet their individualized needs. I believe this report is a must-read for education leaders and practitioners to think differently about innovative interventions through online and blended learning for addressing a wide range of student needs, providing guidance, and helping to change the landscape of education for all learners.”
I would go on to say that it is a “must read” for parents who may or may not have an “at risk” child but who wants to be more involved in their child’s education. If, in fact, online education can have such positive results with these children, then what could it do for the gifted or “normal” children. And aren’t all children entitled to have their individualized needs met?
Source: International Association for K-12 Online Learning
Getting kids interested in learning can be more than a little tricky, but there are definitely tactics and methods that can make the endeavor easier. For one, always make sure that education is presented less as a lesson plan and more as a game. This way, they get to build on any number of basic skills, but they will also have a lot of fun while doing so. Also make sure those games utilize many different forms of media in order to keep them appropriately engaged.
As such, educational games for kids are almost always more successful if they use diverse tactics. Some of these tactics can be utilizing internet games or internet sources. Kids are so comfortable with the internet these days that online learning tools are in no way intimidating or confusing for kids. Rather, it actually increases the likelihood that they’ll enjoy and use these various educational tools.
I want to share with you some quotes from from students who were involved in Project Tomorrow’s Speak-up. They refer to assessment as it refers to learning. They continue to encourage me to provide online education to children. I hope you will enjoy them as well.
“Technology is important because you can share ideas with people online, and you can also get help from many different websites. Also, there are many games or quizes you can play online to practice.”
– 8th Grade Girl, WEAVER HIGH SCHOOL, AL
“Get online tutors and play educational games, and find different kinds of websites and do like tests and quizes. technology is important to me because it makes things in life 10 times easier for everyone.”
– 10th Grade Girl, DIGITAL HARBOR HIGH SCHOOL, MD
“I need technology to help myself understand lessons. Educational games will help me better understand the lesson, and online tutors will help me if i still dont understand. i can also check myself w/online tests and quizzes.”
– 8th Grade Boy, LAFAYETTE TWP., NJ
Virtual Learning is not a one-size-fits-all method of education, any more then the brick-and-mortar school fits all. However, there is a natural resistance to change in education which is slowly but surely changing. According to a recent report by the U.S.Department of Education, more then 1 million K-12 students took online courses during the 2007-2008 school year. And that number is growing at a rate of 20 to 45% each year.
This report also found that students that took course online either part time or entirely out-performed students taking the same courses in a brick-and-mortar class with only face-to-face instruction. In fact, it was found that the most effective approach to teaching today’s students is through a combination of both online and face-to-face instruction.
This type of instruction is called “hybrid” or “blended” and is one of three alternatives that has become increasingly popular with schools and their students and parents. This model allows students who do not wish to be full-time virtual learners to have their education supplemented with online courses that may fill gaps in the traditional school curriculum or offer a more individualized approach to students having a difficult time with traditional approaches. Technology allows these courses to be delivered in traditional school settings.
Offering options to how our children are taught is more likely to meet the multitude of needs and styles that schools face today. These options also feed into how our students want to learn.
Today’s students are not like any other in history. The amount of information they have available to them and the expectations for learning this knowledge can be over-whelming. Many of our schools and teachers are still trying to use 19th and 20th century materials and methods to teach our students. Therefore, it should not suprise us when we read that they are underperforming.
We teach our students, test them, reteach them, try to motivate them, spend countless hours planning lessons and yet still they fall behind. What must we do to regain quality education for our students? How do we stop the downward slide?
The first thing we must do is to start to listen to what they are telling us and teach them with the tools and methods that they want to use. Technology is clearly what they are asking for.
Online education offers them current information rather then out-dated text books, interactive opportunities to solve problems with immediate feed-back rather then pencil and paper assignments that take days, sometimes weeks for results, direct and personalized contact with teachers, individualized attention to their problems, not the problems of others, and the ability to colaborate and network with not just those limited to a classroom but those within the world.
Using technology and educating online is not just for the few who might homeschool but can be blended with any school. Supplementing and supporting the public school would stop the downward slide in our student’s achievement. This fact is becoming more and more apparent as current research data on virtual learning and student achievement is being released.
Blending with Online Schools can also help those dwindling budgets schools face. They offer a cost effective alternative to how public schools currently teach. Think about eliminating the yearly cost of textbooks and support materials. Could the number of days in the brick and mortar school be shortened if online schooling was used? If so, what would that do to the cost of bussing? Or the maintanence and heating bills?
Imagine the possibilibies – Everybody wins.
Our world is changing rapidly. In my day it was transportation that changed the way people looked at the world. Individuals no longer had to stay in the town of their birth, families started to travel and explore not only their state but their country and beyond. Remember, “See the USA in your Chevrolet”? And now, we all take it for granted because it is what we grew up with. We don’t know anything differently. And what of the introduction of television! But I wonder, did our parents and grandparents find it difficult to adjust to this new way of thinking and living?
Today’s children are growing up with new technologies that are changing the world as we know it again. By now, most everyone is accepting the term “digital natives” when describing our students of today. Technology surrounds them and they are as adept at using it as the Chinese use chop sticks.
Learning online and the technology used is a natural for our children. Our rapidly changing economy demands that our students have the skills and knowledge to compete when they graduate. Most business today are embedded with technology. Digital resources are expanding learning opportunities at a fantastic pace. Yet our classroom pedagogy has not changed much over the past 50 years. Schools struggle to meet the academic demands, are in financial distress, and yet they continue to put money into exiting approaches that no longer work. What are we doing? “Teaching Jetson kids with Flintstone technology”.
Up until now, schools have depended on textbooks to deliver instruction. These are expensive and, for the most part, out-of-date by the time the are published. Our world is ever changing more rapidly then any teacher can keep up with. More then once in my teaching career was the material I was using in class challenged by my students. They had gone to the internet for more current information.
California’s budget is in true crisis. How is the Governor ever going to get it back into check? One way is through the schools. He is calling for them to shift to digital textbooks and instructional materials, which he feels will save much of the $350 million California spends on textbooks and instructional materials!
I recall thinking that I had to be like Sesame Street to ever get my students to pay attention to me – balloons from the ceiling, interactive characters to sing and play with, fast, quick, fun, active. Yet I was using textbooks which are hardly interative and most definitely not fun. Usually droll, dry and written above most of the students.
As educators, we need to change our approach to meet the needs of the 21st century. The old school pedagogy just doesn’t fit today’s students and the gap will only widen unless something is done now. Give each child a computer when they enter school instead of a backpack filled with out-dated text. (It’s healthy for their backs as well.) Teach teachers to be facilators of learning through technology. Embrace online learning, blend with virtual schools and you will see the cost of education drop, students academic scores go up, behavior issues dimminish, and an educational system to meet the demands and expectations of the 21st century.