Leading Virtual Public School, Connections Academy, is the First to Offer Exclusive Online Version of Junior Great Books®

Developed by Connections Academy for its Gifted and Talented Students in Grades 3 – 8


BALTIMORE (October 26, 2007) – Connections Academy, a high-quality, highly accountable virtual public school serving over 10,000 students nationwide, is the first school to offer an online version of the noted Junior Great Books® program for students in grades 3-8. Connections Academy adapted the on-ground curriculum for online use and is presently offering the program to students taking part in the school’s Gifted and Talented program.

Widely recognized as an accessible, yet academically challenging program, the Junior Great Books® curriculum aims to improve essential literacy skills such as critical thinking and reading comprehension. Students read important and age-appropriate literature and are encouraged to explore and examine texts – to read for meaning and develop their own, supported, interpretations. Text selections include works that are both culturally and experientially diverse; students read structurally complete excerpts or the entire texts.

Examples include:

  • 3rd grade: “Ooka and the Honest Thief” a Japanese folktale as told by I. G. Edmonds, and “The Fisherman and His Wife” by The Brothers Grimm
  • 4th grade: “Thank You M’am” by Langston Hughes, and “The Gold Coin” by Alma Flor Ada
  • 5th grade: “The Invisible Child” by Tove Jansson, and “The Hundred-Dollar Bill” by Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder)
  • 6th grade: “Soumchi” by Amos Oz, and “Raymond’s Run” by Toni Cade Bambura
  • 7th grade: The Diary of Anne Frank, and “At Her Father’s and Her Mother’s Place” by Natalya Baranskaya

Having worked with Junior Great Books® in bricks and mortar schools, Connections Academy curriculum experts were familiar with the program and aware if its quality and reputation. Connections Academy contacted Junior Great Books® – eager to translate the program for the virtual student.

The online version of Junior Great Books® leverages the on-ground curricular components including the integral Great Books® exercise of Shared Inquiry™, a synchronous online Connections Academy LiveLesson™* that initiates a literary discussion between students; the teacher serving as the facilitator and guide. “The Shared Inquiry process really illustrates the critical thinking aspect of the program. It is wonderful to see what happens when students have the freedom and space to express text supported interpretations after immersing themselves in a literary work. Our students consistently deliver thoughtful insights that demonstrate a high level of comprehension,” said Autumn Sadovnik, Gifted and Talented Coordinator for Connections Academy.

Other elements of the curriculum are designed to build vocabulary, listening skills, and speaking and writing persuasively.

Connections Academy students attend public school from home and work with state-certified teachers online and parents (or caregivers) in the home. “The Junior Great Books program offers a more challenging environment for our Gifted and Talented students. And, because our students are learning at home, it provides an opportunity for families to connect over literature – to explore great works, engage in intelligent conversation while gaining valuable skills that will serve the student throughout his or her education. Our parents and students are thrilled with the program and we look forward to its expansion,” Ms. Sadovnik commented.

The online version of Junior Great Books (for grades 3-8) is currently exclusively available through Connections Academy.

A leading national operator of high-quality, tuition-free, highly accountable virtual public schools, Connections Academy serves students in kindergarten through 11th grade*, with 12th grade to be added during the 2008-09 school year, Connections Academy is designed to meet the needs of students and families who are looking for an alternative to the traditional classroom – those who need a flexible schedule, learn at a different pace from their peers, are looking for a different learning environment or need more individualized attention. The school serves a wide range of students, including those who are significantly ahead or behind in the classroom, previously homeschooled students and students who may be homebound due to a medical situation or other condition.

*Connections Academy LiveLesson™(s) are held synchronously over the Web. Students and teachers interact online and use either a voice or chat function to communicate with each other.

About Connections Academy
Connections Academy is a leading national provider of high quality, highly accountable virtual public schools in thirteen states operated in partnership with charter schools, school districts, and state departments of education. Connections Academy schools deliver top-quality, personalized education for students that combines certified teachers, a proven curriculum, technology tools, and community experiences to create a supportive and successful environment for children who want an individualized approach to education. In Connections Academy’s unique Personalized Performance Learning® approach, students use daily lesson plans and curriculum materials provided by Connections Academy. Teachers develop a learning plan for each student, whose progress is tracked through a proprietary, web-based Learning Management System. In 2007-08 Connections Academy will serve students in grades K-11 in Arizona, California, Idaho, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Maryland, and Pennsylvania; grades 4-11 in Nevada; grades K-9 in Colorado; grades K-8 in Florida and Wisconsin; grades K-5 in Missouri. For more information, call 800-382-6010 or visit www.connectionsacademy.com