Online School: The Teachers, the Curriculum, and Why We Keep Coming Back
Colorado Preparatory Academy (CPA) is an online public school serving students in grades K-12. CPA opened in 2014, and we were among the very first to enroll. Although we are all new to CPA, our family is a veteran consumer of the K12 curriculum which CPA uses. Our education is all wrapped up into one robust, healthy schooling environment that offers all the necessary tools and academic services so my children, and all dedicated students, can be successful learners.
Our Colorado licensed teachers are the above and beyond type. They customize learning, offer one-on-one teaching, and they play an active and supportive role in the student’s daily online experience. So how do teachers teach in the online model? In the high school model, students are assigned a subject-specific teacher for each course. Teachers open an online platform that engages students in a virtual classroom. They have access to a whiteboard, audio, and lots of online tools to deliver effective learning in real time. Students have access to similar tools so they can raise their hand, type questions, or use the microphone to ask and interact with classroom discussion. Teachers are responsible for the academic growth of each of their students, monitoring and overseeing student progress, and grading assignments and overseeing threaded discussions. Every time I talk with a teacher I walk away knowing that they love what they do, and that’s the way it should be! You can feel their passion and love for what they do on a daily basis to ensure that students are academically successful and inspired to achieve. In this school it’s all about the student!
The partnerships teachers, students, and parents build is the foundation for a fruitful and effective year of learning. Along with those partnerships, CPA uses the K12 curriculum, a superior course of study which has allowed my children to learn without boundaries. In K-8 we focused on subject areas including math, language arts, world history, science, art, music, and world language. Lessons are followed by assessments so you can make sure your child has mastered the concepts in that lesson before moving on. It’s like a sticky strip of Velcro. The existing knowledge is the Velcro and the new information sticks to it and continues to build and strengthen the core knowledge base. Since we can move at our own pace and individualize our learning experience, we can take a step back if needed and revisit the lesson before moving on. Our learning experience is coupled with educational materials shipped to our home at the beginning of the school year. There are books, science supplies for hands-on experiments, and manipulatives for the younger grades. Essentially, we receive all the tools necessary to have a successful school year. Check out the K-8 Courses and the High School Course List.
To enhance our schooling, K12 provides parents and students with a user friendly online platform that offers lots of tools and resources to enrich the online schooling experience. Parents are given their own accounts and can see just how much time their child committed to class work on any given day, what lesson they completed, and the grades they received. The feedback that the teacher provides in the comment section is also accessible in the parent account. This state of the art platform includes an attendance tracker, a snapshot of the daily and/or weekly schedule for the entire school year, and you can click on “Advance Prep” to plan ahead and see what is needed for upcoming lessons. Over the years K12 has taken the feedback from parents to help make the parent portal not only easy to navigate but also inclusive of LOTS of features to help parents better help their students.
We started our online learning experience in 2004 when the idea of online learning in Colorado was in its infancy. Today we remain committed and enthusiastic about the model of education we chose. I often reflect on the many benefits we are afforded with an online education. Benefits like how my children have learned how to take control of their daily learning and meet the necessary course work deadlines. They learned self-discipline and to manage their time wisely. They learn when they are ready to learn, not when the teacher says let’s open our books to page 21. We take advantage of the flexibility the online school offers and plan our day around commitments and extracurricular activities. Some other big pluses are the student-centered learning approach, access to our school 24/7, more individualized attention, and immediate results from quizzes and tests.
CPA promotes life-long learning and gives me as a parent a meaningful way to be involved in my children’s education while learning alongside them. I am confident that through this high quality education and rigorous course of study that my children are and will be college and career ready.
Image courtesy of Colorado Preparatory Academy
This post originally appeared at www.lorislolz.org.
Lori Cooney is a mom of three, two of whom are currently enrolled in Colorado Preparatory Academy, an online public school offering a post-secondary preparedness program. She has served on the Governor’s Online Advisory Board as well as the National Coalition For Public School Options (NCPSO) board and is current president of the Colorado Coalition of Cyberschool Families (CCCF), an alliance of passionate parents who have come together to be powerful and vocal advocates for cyberschools and virtual learning in Colorado. Cooney is also Senior Member and first lieutenant in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP), an auxiliary of the United States Air Force and I assume responsibilities of Test Control Officer.