Teach Your Children about Water Sustainability for Earth Month

By: Beth Werrell

In honor of Earth Month in April, teach your child the importance of water conservation. One way to start this discussion is to learn more about freshwater scarcity. With 97 percent of the world’s water supply being salt water, and with many people without access to fresh water, water conservation is a great way to make an impact globally.

One route to freshwater sustainability is water desalination, or removing the salt from salt water. There are more than 16,000 desalination plants1 across the globe currently, and that number is still growing. To begin learning how desalination occurs, click the image below for instructions on how to create freshwater from salt water using a few household items.

What Is Water Scarcity?

Water scarcity occurs when there is not enough drinking water to meet the needs of the population in a given area. Since most of the planet’s water is salt water, is frozen freshwater, or is not accessible, this leaves some areas high and dry.

What Are Some of the Benefits of Fresh Water?

Freshwater is an essential part of life. Water helps nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream move around the body. Humans are generally made up of about 45 to 65 percent water.

Freshwater is a key to good health. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it is dehydrated. Dehydration can keep you from doing your best at sports, school, and whatever else the day may throw ...

Virtual or Blended School: Viable Short-Term Education Options

By: Tisha Green Rinker
Online School:  Perfect Fit or Short-term Option?

With more school choices than ever before, many families are redefining what constitutes a successful K–12 education. Today’s parents can select from traditional bricks-and-mortar schools, private or charter, and technology-based learning options. They may even combine methods, switching schools and educational methods to meet their children’s needs as they change. While some decide to use a virtual learning method permanently, other families choose online school as a short-term solution to a child’s changing needs.

A “DIY” Approach to Education

The idea of choosing from a menu of options to create a cohesive educational experience that is customized to fit each child has enormous appeal for parents. It’s a trend that prompted education experts to dub these families “Generation DIY,” for their do-it-yourself approach to education. Over the past decade, parents and students have embraced the options of fully online schools, making online learning and, more recently, blended learning environments one of the fastest-growing forms of education in the U.S. today.

Full-time virtual schools deliver education directly to students in their home via the Internet. Students work with certified teachers online while a parent oversees progress in the home. With blended learning, students get a mix of in-person and online instruction—all from certified teachers—plus have 24/7 access to their lessons online. Both of these school options utilize curriculum aligned to state standards. And, as public schools, they are tuition-free.

Long-Term vs. Short-Term Education Options

Digital learning can meet the needs of all types of students and families. ...

Simple Ways to Spring-Clean Your Family-Fitness Routine

By: Beth Werrell
Spring into a Family-Fitness Routine

Well, it's official. Spring is finally here. Our students, along with Mother Earth, are practically bursting with pent-up energy, making this the perfect time for the entire family to ease into new fitness routines and outdoor adventures. From understanding the biology of spring fever to finding local resources, we've put together some of the information you need to give your family a jump-start on fitness this spring.

Making the Most of Spring Fever

Did you know that as the hours of daylight lengthen in spring, our retinas react and trigger hormonal changes in the brain that affect our sleep and mood? As our bodies produce less melatonin, we typically sleep less, crave fewer carbohydrates, and have more energy. The sunlight also triggers the release of serotonin, another mood and energy booster, and improves our absorption of vitamin D, essential for healthy bones.

In short, feeling happier and more energetic, we're primed by nature to try and succeed at new physical activities and dietary changes in the spring.

A Focus on Family

With research showing that family attitudes toward fitness, nutrition, and the outdoors have a profound impact on our children's future health, parents and Learning Coaches need to lead and join in when it comes to fitness. Fortunately, the prescription is simple and the resources readily available.

Let's All Go Outside and Play!

We're all more likely to stick with activities that are enjoyable and allow us to spend time with the people we care about. So here are a few tips and resources for outdoor activities that lay ...

How Students Can Accept Criticism and Grow from Feedback

By: Beth Werrell
How Criticism Can Be a Tool for Growth

“Fall down seven times. Get up eight.” —Japanese proverb

Let’s face it. Criticism can be hard to take. Depending on context, our critic’s delivery, or the mood of the moment, even well-intentioned criticism can make us feel embarrassed, devalued, or just plain angry. Yet criticism is an unavoidable fact of life. Learning from criticism is an essential life skill.

So how can parents and Learning Coaches help students handle criticism in school and beyond? It begins with understanding how students may perceive criticism.

Criticism: Threat or Opportunity for Growth?

According to Stanford psychologist and researcher Carol Dweck, a student’s perception of criticism is profoundly influenced by whether a student has a fixed mind-set or a growth mind-set. When it comes to criticism, then, students with a fixed mind-set can see it as pointless, personal, and even spirit-crushing. They can’t change their abilities, so what’s the point? On the other hand, students with a growth mind-set can take criticism as a road map for improvement. They may even see criticism as an investment in their personal development.

Applying a Growth Mind-Set to Feedback

So, how do we apply this understanding of mind-sets to help students develop a healthy, lifelong relationship with criticism?

  • Praise effort, not abilities or intelligence. Focus on process, not personal traits. Say you praise your middle-school student for being a "natural in algebra." If she later struggles with calculus, she may attribute those struggles to a lack of natural talent and simply give up. By contrast, if ...

Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach: What’s the Difference?

By: Stephanie Osorno
The Difference Between an Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach

Teacher and Learning Coach: what was your initial interpretation of these titles? Did you have to think twice because they seemed similar? At first glance, these titles could be construed as synonyms since each involves a degree of leadership for students. When it comes to virtual school, however, teacher and Learning Coach represent two distinct roles.

So, as the parent of a virtual school student, which role should you be playing? Teachers and Learning Coaches are accountable for several duties that they handle differently, but both collaborate to enhance the student’s online learning experience. If you’re considering online school for your child, we are here to help you determine how to stay within the Learning Coach bubble. Take a look at the various differences between teacher and Learning Coach below to learn more about your specific duties and the ways each role can complement the other!

Online Teacher vs. Learning Coach

Virtual schools have certified teachers who are dedicated to helping students succeed—that means a Learning Coach serves as a guide, supporter, and motivator to further stimulate learning and establish a suitable structure for the school day at home. The role of a Learning Coach evolves over time as the student gains confidence and develops more academic skills.

Among other things, teachers and Learning Coaches oversee daily learning, provide assistance, and monitor progress in different ways.

Daily Learning

Breathe easy; it is the teacher's responsibility to teach and provide students with learning material. A Learning Coach is not required ...

Take the Digital Learning Day Online STEM Trivia Challenge

By: Stephanie Osorno

Mathematician, scientist, engineer, computer technician—does your child aspire to pursue any of these careers in the future? Is he or she interested in these disciplines, or does he or she enjoy learning about them? If you answered yes, then encourage your student to try our new STEM-themed QuizBowl trivia challenge, just in time for Digital Learning Day on March 13 and for Pi Day on March 14!

What Is STEM?

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. STEM education is a unique, hands-on learning approach that combines each field, rather than separating them into individual classifications. This interdisciplinary and applied way of learning is designed to focus on skills that students will eventually need in order to be successful in the workforce.

STEM-themed Online Trivia Game

What better way to celebrate Digital Learning Day than trying this year’s QuizBowl trivia challenge? The QuizBowl is a fun way for your child to learn more and test his or her STEM knowledge without the pressure of a course grade or assessment.

The challenge includes twenty STEM-themed trivia questions that will quickly get the brain fueling. After taking the quiz, your student might even want to research some of the topics further or discuss them in more detail—it could stimulate an exciting academic conversation or new interest.

And it’s not just for students; the quiz is for all ages, so you can take it too and have a little friendly competition ...

Will My Child Miss Out with Virtual School?

By: Beth Werrell
Social and Character Development in Online School

Your child’s education is important, and so are his or her social skills and character development. If you’re considering enrolling your child in a virtual school but are worried that he or she will not have the same opportunities as in a traditional classroom, think again!

Children who attend online school can have very similar socialization opportunities as they would in traditional school, while receiving a well-rounded education that prepares them for life after graduation. So what are some of the integration concerns parents may have about online school education? Let’s address them together.

Socialization Opportunities

It’s still a common misconception that online school limits social interaction for kids. Many of our enrolled families, however, dispel the lack of socialization myth. In reality, online students have access to student clubs, field trips, volunteer opportunities, and more. Some schools have designated community coordinators, who manage events for families, principals, and teachers to meet face-to-face. Virtual school technology creates collaborative learning environments and, through tools such as the LiveLesson® online classroom, enables real-time teacher-to-student and student-to-student interactions.

As virtual school students enter high school, they also may have the option of attending unique field trips to colleges, universities, college fairs, and businesses. And much like in a brick-and-mortar school setting, your child can typically choose from many student organizations to find activities that fit his or her interests and needs.

Character Development

Through an online education, students can develop essential life skills that may be ...

Measuring the Transition between Winter and Spring

By: Beth Werrell
How to Measure Snow and Rain

Can you believe that our clocks are springing forward this weekend? And with spring being right around the corner, you don’t have much longer to enjoy the snow and frosty air. Use the changing seasons as a way to teach your student how to track weather changes with this fun weather measurement activity.

What Weather Metrics Do We Measure

Before you start experimenting, go over these measurable weather vocabulary terms with your student.

  • Temperature: A measurement of heat or coldness in an object. Temperature can be measured with a thermometer on three different scales: Celsius, Fahrenheit, and Kelvin.
  • Precipitation: Liquid and solid particles that fall from the clouds. Snow, rain, hail, and sleet are all examples of precipitation.
  • Wind speed: A measure of air movement with respect to the earth’s surface.
  • Cloud cover: The fraction or percentage of the sky that is covered by clouds, as viewed from one location.
  • Air pressure: The weight of air pressing down on your body and the earth’s surface.
  • Humidity: The measurement of water vapor in the air.
  • Sunshine: The amount of direct light from the sun.
Weather Experimenting Time

Snow and Rain Gauge

As spring approaches, the rain begins to wash away the snow. What a great way for a math in nature activity and measuring the changing temperatures with your student! Here’s a simple way to get started with a snow and rain gauge to measure precipitation.

You’ll need

  • One clear glass or plastic jar
  • One ruler
  • One notebook
  • Graph paper
  • Colored ...

The Growth Mind-Set: How Intelligence Can Change and Grow

By: Tracy Ostwald Kowald

Teaser Image for Student Success Is a Matter of Mind-Set chartScience teachers know that metals are malleable: that is, they can change in shape. Artists who work with clay know how malleable it is: shapeable, stretchable, and changeable. Cognitive scientists know that intelligence, or the ability to learn, is malleable, too.

Now, decades of educational neuroscience research proves that when students become aware that their intelligence is malleable, their motivation to learn soars. But when they believe their intelligence or abilities are “fixed” by nature, their motivation may plummet at the first sign of a learning challenge.

Mind-Set Matters

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, researcher, and author, calls these two very different outlooks on learning the growth mind-set and the fixed mind-set, respectively. According to Dweck, these mind-sets have a profound impact on students’ success—in the classroom and beyond.

If you have a fixed mind-set, you believe that we are each born with fixed intelligence and abilities and that our personal efforts have relatively little impact on those abilities. However, if you possess a growth mind-set, you believe that our intelligence and abilities can grow and improve over time through personal effort and perseverance.

In short, students benefit from knowing they can learn. Students with a growth mind-set have higher motivation to seek out challenges and learn from mistakes. They view a rigorous curriculum as an exciting and energizing challenge that can lead to success. They understand that, just as people get stronger and more agile by training and working out physically, working out the brain can increase ...

Motivational Journal Prompts and Craft Idea for Students

By: Beth Werrell

Creating a journaling schedule for your child early in his or her education can make a noticeable difference in the development of writing skills. Journals provide a safety net for early writers, so they can gain confidence in their writing abilities and practice writing skills without the fear of messing up.

It can be tough, for children of all ages, to journal regularly. Sometimes, it may feel like there isn’t anything to write about. To many students, finding a topic may just seem too daunting. But it doesn’t have to be difficult! Below, you will find some resources to get your student started journaling, including homemade motivational journal instructions and writing prompts.

To begin, print the motivational pockets template and click the image link below for instructions on how to make a motivational journal with your student.

Get Writing!

Here’s a little bit of inspiration for your student’s journaling schedule. Take a look at the motivational journaling prompts below and choose any that apply to your child. Feel free to add your own as well! Write, or print out, each prompt on individual slips of paper and place them in a jar or other container. Your student should schedule 30-minute increments on one or two days each week for journaling. A new prompt may be chosen out of the jar for each new journaling session.

Expressing Emotions

  • My happy place is _______, because…
  • I was proud when I…
  • My hero is…...

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