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The Role of Success Coaches and Blended Learning in Boosting Learning Independence

By: Beth Werrell

Today's post by Charles Carver, Principal, Nexus Academy of Lansing, first appeared on GettingSmart.com.

Role of Success Coaches in Blended Learning

The personalized learning movement is profoundly changing the landscape of education. In all corners of the country and countless places in between, we are seeing blended learning schools open up in larger numbers each year. The value of high quality academic content delivered in a very 21st century and digital way combined with guided support and help from face to face teachers and academic coaches is resonating in schools and also at the dining room table.

At Nexus Academy, we employ a very special group of staff members known as Success Coaches. Our Success Coaches are certified teachers who work with their students every single day, but are not delivering any one content specialty. They are:

  • guiding discussion
  • overseeing academic research
  • providing daily college and career readiness activities
  • acting as each student’s go to mentor and advocate

The Success Coaches and their students spend significant amounts of time on soft skills, such as:

  • resume building
  • time management
  • decision making activities
  • skills they will need sharpened as they prepare to enter college and the workforce

The student and Success Coach relationship is the bedrock of a Nexus Academy education. They are creating GenDIY learners and adults through their daily interactions and support. Students who have graduated from our school come back and tell us that due to the nature of our school and model, they are faring very well in the college setting at ...

8 Ways to Help Students Transition to Blended School

By: Beth Werrell
Make an Easy Transition to a Blended Learning School

Traditionally, back-to-school preparation means buying new shoes and stocking up on spiral-bound notebooks. For families who are switching to a blended learning school, which combines face-to-face teaching and online learning, the steps may be a bit different, but parent involvement is just as essential. Check out the hints below to learn what you can do to help your student make a smooth transition to blended school.

  1. Get Oriented
    Most schools start the year with orientation sessions. For completely online schools, this may be done using the Internet, but for a blended school, there is likely to be an in-person orientation on campus. Attending this meeting will give you the opportunity to tour the school and get answers to any remaining questions you have about the school and its programs. Orientation also enables you to meet the people who will be working directly with your student. At Nexus Academy schools, for example, this includes teachers, school counselors, administrators, and Success Coaches, who guide students as they set and achieve goals—and help keep them on track for graduation.

  2. Set an Appointment
    If you have concerns about your student's needs, consider contacting the school to set an appointment for a conference early in the school year. This will give you a chance to discuss your student's learning style, course schedule, strengths, weaknesses, interests, and other traits. This information can help school staff personalize the program to support your child's learning effectively.

  3. Familiarize Yourself with the ...

7 Computer Skills to Master by High School

By: Beth Werrell
Computer Skills for High School Success

Computers are everywhere today, so it's normal for children to develop computer skills quickly and early on. By virtual elementary school, kids are figuring out how to use a mouse and navigate the keyboard.

As your child grows and his or her knowledge of technology expands, there are certain things that he or she needs to learn for school. Knowing how to cite online sources in a paper and create a chart in Microsoft Excel are just a few examples.

To make sure your child is equipped with the right skills, take a look at the list below. You’ll find the seven computer skills your child should master by the time he or she starts virtual high school.

  1. Typing
    Using a keyboard is one of the first computer skills a young child develops. By middle school, children should be able to type proficiently with two hands. To make typing even easier, have your child practice his or her typing skills with apps like Type-Fu.

  2. Digital communication
    Computers offer many different communication channels, such as email, chat, and social media posts. To use these channels correctly, your child needs to understand how messages should change depending on the context. For example, it’s fine to use emoticons and poor punctuation in an email to a friend, but an email cover letter to an employer must be formal and precise.

  3. Online etiquette and safety
    Another lesson that children learn early on is how to use the computer appropriately. You ...

Parent Involvement in Blended Learning High School

By: Beth Werrell
parent and blended learning students working together

When neither a traditional nor fully online education is the right fit for a student, some families opt for blended learning at the high school level. For the student, blended learning offers the best of online learning and face-to-face instruction, as well as opportunities to socialize and collaborate with their peers. What surprises many families is that parents also benefit from the change, because blended learning provides many ways to become more involved in their child’s education.

An Emphasis on Accountability

At blended high schools such as Nexus Academy, students attend school in person four half-days per week, either in the morning or afternoon. The rest of the time, they work independently at home. In addition to making sure their student has reliable transportation and attends school regularly, it’s important for parents to hold their blended learning students accountable for focusing on their studies during those at-home hours.

Parents need to let their students know that they will also be held accountable for completing assignments on time and maintaining acceptable grades. Naturally, these reminders should be delivered with a healthy dose of encouragement!

Know Your Student’s Studies

Because the curriculum in a blended learning school is digital, parents have easy access to their student’s learning materials 24/7. They can easily keep tabs on what a student is learning, and in the unlikely event that a teenager should admit that he or she needs help, the online texts are available for reference. A teacher’s lessons from the online classroom may ...

26 Practical Tips for High School Graduates

By: Tisha Rinker
26 tips for high school graduates

Congratulations! You’ve officially graduated from online high school, equipped with plenty of knowledge and a diverse skill set.

Now what?

How do your plans look for the summer, the rest of the year, or the next five years? Based on your specific interests and goals, you might be getting ready for college, starting an apprenticeship, joining the armed forces, or going on vacation. The options are endless!

As you jump into adulthood, we want you to know that you have everything within you to create a happy, fulfilling, meaningful life. And before you set off in pursuit of your dreams we’d like you to consider a few of these practical tips for high school graduates. They might provide you with some good reminders or inspiration for your future after high school.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
  1. Take calculated risks. Overcoming your fears and trying new things, even if it means making mistakes, is important for your personal growth.
  2. Don’t act impulsively. Always consider the consequences of your actions.
  3. Go out of your way to visit new places, meet people, and test out various hobbies. You never know when you’ll stumble across something you really love.
  4. Look forward to the future, but enjoy the present.
  5. Join an online or local club, activity, group, or team.
  6. Build new friendships, but still make time to stay in touch with old friends.
  7. Take lots of pictures and start keeping a diary. It helps preserve your memories, reflect, and gain perspective. Without ...

Inspire Your High School Graduate with Our Quotes Graphic

By: Beth Werrell

Do you have any advice for your high school graduate? Now that he or she is ready to take the next step, it’s time to pass on any wisdom you want to share.

Our quotes graphic for high school graduates offers a variety of insights about facing the future, doing what you love, and staying true to yourself.

Click on the image below to see the full graphic.

What would your high school graduate say if he or she had to give a graduation speech? Instead of asking your graduate to compose the speech from scratch, inspire him or her to assemble a speech out of famous quotes.

Besides getting your graduate to think about the future, this activity will exercise his or her ability to organize ideas in writing and make them flow. Your graduate can also cite the sources of the quotes using footnotes or another academic writing style, which will be helpful if he or she plans to attend college.

Take a look at this example speech made entirely out of quotes, many of which are found in the graduation quotes graphic.

There is a reason they call these ceremonies “commencement exercises.” Graduation is not the end, it’s the beginning.1 The fireworks begin today. Each diploma is a lighted match. Each one of you is a fuse.2 Education is the key to unlocking the world, a passport to freedom.3

Every [person] is the architect of his [or her] own ...

The Student Guide to Planning an Individualized College Visit

By: Tisha Rinker

“When it comes to researching potential schools, there is nothing better than the college visit,” says The Princeton Review, a company that offers college admissions and test prep services. “If possible, visit every college that you are strongly considering. No website, guidebook, or testimonial will give you a better feel for a school than you'll get by showing up on campus. Many students change their minds after a college visit.”

Going on college visits during high school is certainly a crucial step in the process of choosing a school. These visits take time and planning, but, ultimately, they help teenagers choose their path to the future.

If you are a high school student looking to make the most of your college visits, we have created a visual guide that demonstrates how to customize your college visit itinerary. Click on the preview below to see the full graphic.

Planning a College Visit

Part of creating your own college visit itinerary is planning for it ahead of time. Try the college visit planning tips for students listed below to prepare for a great trip.

  • Research the college or university online before the visit. It can help you determine what you’d like to learn more about while on campus.
  • Schedule a visit with the college admissions office a couple of weeks in advance. The school might only be open to prospective students on certain days, and it will need some warning if you want ...

5 Steps toward Independence in High School

By: Tisha Rinker
Teen gaining independence in high school.

If you’re ready to start the next phase of your education—and life—in high school, then you have plenty to anticipate. High school is a time when you can have fun, expand your interests, and gain new responsibilities. In other words, high school is when you start transitioning into adulthood.

Parents and Learning Coaches, it’s time to step back and offer your support while your student navigates through his or her high school years.

Here are five steps that students can take to become more independent.

  1. Take control of your education.
  2. By now, you’re pretty good at handling your schoolwork each week. You can follow your schedule and get your work done on time. Now that you’re in high school, it’s time for you to evaluate just how independent you are.

    Look at the list below and see how many statements are true about you:

    Do you have all of these independent study skills? If not, you know which ones to work on so you can prove yourself as an independent student.

  1. Find your first job.
  2. After you gain more independence in the classroom, you can start gaining more responsibility outside of school. ...

Helping Kids of Different Ages Transition to Virtual School

By: Beth Werrell
New virtual school student transitioning from a traditional to home classroom.

Are you and your family starting virtual school for the first time? School will begin in just a few weeks, so it’s time to get ready for the big switch! After plenty of researching, discussing, and planning, you’re familiar with the virtual classroom environment. But the experience will be very different depending on your student’s age.

The last couple of weeks before school starts can easily get crowded with the details of scheduling, setting up your virtual classroom, and more, so don’t forget to stay focused on the big picture. Here’s a brief breakdown of the issues you and your student can work on to help make sure your first year of virtual school is a successful one.

Elementary Students (K–5)

Younger kids need extra guidance to get used to the school environment, especially if they’re just starting kindergarten. Below are some ways you can expose them to the traditional elements of attending school and draw their attention to a few things that are especially important in a virtual setting.

  1. Make new friends and work well with others. Help expose your student to new people and new relationships by giving him or her a chance to socialize with different people. Arrange a playgroup, go to the playground, sign up for swimming lessons, or attend events in the children’s section of the local library. If you have more than one student, work on teaching them to collaborate effectively and get along during the school day.
  2. Learn how to use ...

Blended Learning: Building High Schools Around Student Needs

By: Beth Werrell
Blended Learning High School Students Studying

While full-time virtual schooling is a great solution for many kids, it might not be a good fit for everyone. Some students may prefer face-to-face instruction or miss the company of their peers. Yet teens in particular desire the added flexibility and personalization online school can provide. As online education continues to grow in popularity, Connections Education has drawn on the knowledge gained from 11 years of experience with virtual school students to develop a brand new high school model that brings together the best of both worlds.  

Improving the Ability to Personalize Learning

New Nexus Academy blended high schools  in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio offer a unique blend of in-person and online learning, plus the extra personal attention some students need to succeed.

Mickey Revenaugh, Connections Education executive vice president, explained the thinking behind these blended learning schools in a presentation at the International Association of K–12 Online Learning (iNACOL) Virtual School Symposium in 2012. “Many teens typically think high school is boring, impersonal, and irrelevant to their lives. This new school model offers more flexibility than a traditional school, plus ways to customize learning to a student’s abilities and interests, making it more personal and engaging.”

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Increasing Student Engagement and Motivation

“We’re essentially wiping the slate clean on high school and starting over by building schools around kids instead of vice versa. We have discovered that when students can sit where they want, eat when they want, and tackle their courses in the order they ...

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