Teacher Focus- Preparing For The Next School Year. ~Christopher Stolpa

The advent of the smart phone has ushered in a great number of things. We get updates after every baseball game; we know with whom Kevin Durant signed as soon as it happened; we know when it is raining 2 minutes before we see the drops. Perhaps the largest change has been our constant connection to the world, and most specifically, to our friends.

We no longer have to wait for the first day of school to find out who went where and who is now dating whom. Thanks to social media, we know not only where our friends went, but what they ate for every meal. We know what movie the new couple saw on their first date, and the sweet way in which they refer to each other.

Preparing for the new school year has also changed dramatically. When we leave for summer break, students are given reading lists and math workbooks. AP students may have papers to write and notes to take. Teachers are finding new ways to teach lessons, building on their previous year’s successes and failures, and students are using their own successes and failures to determine their own goals for the upcoming school year.

Freshmen are nervously spending their last weeks thinking about their new identity in a new school. How will they be viewed? Are the teaches more difficult or easier? Are the people in the class going to notice how much I’ve changed? Will they care?

Sophomores are wiping their brows, glad they’ve survived the first year of high school, and are ready to tackle the world. The word sophomore literally means “wise fool” and in preparation, they are hoping to only be half of that moniker.

Juniors have been told since 6th grade that this is the most important year, and also the most difficult. It’s time for the ACT and SAT, to look at the colleges they might be interested in, and to think about the world they might be most interested in creating. Will they contribute to society as a teacher, a CPA, a doctor, an electrician, a welder? The possibilities are endless.

Seniors are just thinking about getting through the first semester. Then they know the second is just an endless celebration of their accomplishments, as they get accepted into college, receive scholarships, get into trade school, and finally, receive a piece of sheep skin with their name on it.

Preparing for the school year looks different to everyone. August 1st rolls around, and everyone knows that sleeping in until noon is soon to be a thing of the past. The weather is hot, but those days of summer shouldn’t be traded for anything. Even teachers understand the important of mischief, and the summer time presents the best time to do this. It is a time for unstructured creativity, for making forts or sandcastles, or reading non-school assigned novels. Every time you are using your brain to invent a new game, or to wander the coast, or to figure out what happens when you tie three bottle rockets together, you are preparing for a new school year. Teachers want to come back on the first day of school and find out what you have done to get ready. They are not asking what math problems you have solved, or what sentences you have diagrammed. They want to know what you have learned about the world. They want to see what you have learned about yourself. And they want to know that you are ready to bring these new experiences into the classroom and make connections with the lessons at hand.

The Role of The Keystone Accountability Partner:

Keystone Accountability Partners play a very important role in the success of their students.  While Keystone provides a number of support opportunities, accountability partners are the ones with students on a daily basis.  The role of the Accountability Partner can be categorized into two words: Accountability and Communication. 

Accountability: 

Accountability Partners are at the front line of their student’s education.  It is important that there are measures of accountability right at home.  

Set expectations and goals:   Talk with your student to make sure they understand what you expect of them. Is there a time period that they must finish the courses. They have one year from their enrollment date, but many families have goals specific to their situation.  Do you have an expectation for how much time should be spent on the course work on a daily basis?  How about grades – what is your expectation there?  Talk over these items with your student right as your are beginning to set the appropriate tone and expectations. 

Know your stuff:  Go through the Resource and Orientation Center with your student, participate in webinars hosted by Keystone and read the Live While Learning Collective sent to you each month.  That information will help keep you informed as to how Keystone works, school expectations and aware of important Keystone changes and updates.   

Use the tools provided:  Read through the progress report sent every two weeks, review your Parent Observer Account (online families), and have a copy of your student’s Dynamic Course Schedule handy.  This will allow you to know if your student is progressing as expected or if there are any concerns.  

Communication:

Communication is important in any educational situation, but especially in distance education.   There are various types of communication that can help your family have a successful Keystone experience: 

Communication between student and parent

Have a weekly (or more often if necessary) meeting with your student to go over their schedule, check their grade book and discuss your student’s progress.  

Talk about school on a daily basis.  

Discuss the progress reports together when they are emailed every two weeks. 

Adjust goals as necessary. 

Communication between student and teacher

Keystone’s supported independent learning model means it is very important for students to ask questions when they arise.  Every student at Keystone is working independently and they all have a different plan. A teacher may not know that a student is struggling if they do not reach out.  Encourage your student to email or call and leave a voicemail for the teacher when problems come up.  Contact information for teachers can be found in the online classroom under “Staff Information” or Teacher’s Office,  or on the sheet that was provided to you when you enrolled for Print Students. 

Some students are very hesitant to reach out to teachers.  They may not have had much contact with the teacher in the past or maybe they are just uncomfortable reaching out for help in general.  In situations such as that, parents are encouraged to be a part of the call between your student and their teacher.  Put the phone on speaker or have the teacher conference you in if you are in a different location.  Help your student prepare for the call by having prepared questions that he/she would like to have answered.  This will help the call be more productive. 

Communication with other Keystone Resources

There are a number of resources available at Keystone to assist parents.  We are available via phone, email and various webinars. Click here to get the appropriate contact information

Student Services is available by phone or email to answer questions related to enrollment, payments, shipping and other general questions.  

Student Success Advisors are available to assist with time management, scheduling, motivation and helping your student establish study skills. 

The Guidance Department is available to help with course planning, SAT and ACT information, the college application process, and other guidance related areas.

Balancing Learning and Summer Fun!

Taking classes can be time consuming enough without the pressure of summer activities. As we move into the summer time, you might want to take a class here or there to either get ahead or to fill in some missing gaps. With some careful planning, you are able to enjoy both summer fun and the productivity of taking extra class at the same time.

Keep A Consistent Calendar

As you map out your summer activities, you are going to want to make sure that you are able to make time for a class or two. If you need help with time management, you can always try different apps and programs that may help you with a busy summer schedule. Web-based calendars such as Google, Outlook, and Apple iCal work great because you can access them from pretty much anywhere. This can be beneficial if you have a smartphone to keep your calendar with you or if you travel and have the possibility of work on multiple computers. If these do not suit your needs, then try a good old fashion wall calendar or personal planner.

Be Realistic When Picking And Planning Your Classes

When planning your daily courses, make sure that you are as consistent as possible. Think about the time of day in which you are to be most productive with your classes. For example, if you are involved in a summer sport or camp, it might be worth your while to work on your classes in the morning before your activities, rather than after. Keystone offers both print and online classes that may the education experience as flexible as possible. Keep this in mind with planning what your day to day schedule is going to be.

Prioritize Your Studying Time.

One you have a class or two picked and your schedule of activities and assignments planned, now it’s time to think how much of your day needs to be devoted to your school work. At Keystone, we recommend completing about 10-12 assignments per week. This is dependent on the number of assignments in each class.  

Working While Working

If you have a summer job that takes up the majority of your time, make sure that your weekly schedule in place. Sometimes summer job hours change on a weekly basis. Make sure that you get your hours on your calendar so that you may keep a plan that balance work, school, and summer enjoyment.

Stay Refreshed

Make sure that you take time for you. Don’t worry about taking the time to go on summer vacation or a weekend trip. That is really what summer is for, enjoying your time as you want. So, so take a break every now and then and enjoy it while it’s here! Doing so may take a little extra effort in planning, but it’ll be well worth it when you are able to get ahead or catch up and have some summer fun!

Message From Your Guidance Counselors

Rising Seniors who are college bound can sign up for the August 24, 2019 SAT.  The online registration deadline is July 26, 2019.  Students can sign up at www.collegeboard.org where they can also find free test prep. 

Keystone’s school counselors will be hosting College Application Process and College Financial Aid webinars in the fall.  Students should look for email announcements as well as notices in the Guidance Services Course located in their Blackboard Homeroom.  Dates and times will be posted with lots of advance notice.  All guidance webinars are also recorded and links to the recordings are posted in the Guidance Services Course. 

July Keystone Leadership Message -Morgan Decoteau, M. Ed. Lead School Counselor

At Keystone, we know some of our students continue to stay active and complete courses during the traditional US ‘summer break’ but many of our students take at least a little bit of a pause from their studies during June, July and August.  So how can students prevent summer learning loss? This phenomenon, where a student starts a new academic year with achievement levels lower than where they were at the beginning of the summer break, can be stopped with some of the strategies suggested below:

Summer Reading – Parents can assign books that aren’t homework based but rather encourage your student to think on a larger level.  Maybe even start a family book club and have regular discussions as the family reads together.

Journaling – Encourage your student to start and keep a daily journal.  Give guidelines and potential topics to be considered and ask your student to periodically share journal entries if he or she feels comfortable doing so.

Summer camps/Educational activities –Look for ways your student can participate in structured activities in your community.  There may be community service opportunities in your town or even the potential for a part time job where your student can gain valuable skills. 

Summer doesn’t have to be a time where students fall behind in their academic development.  Parents and students can take steps and plan activities that allow for a much-needed break from school while still fostering an atmosphere of learning and growing. 

Thinking of Taking A Course Or Two This Summer?

Taking courses through the summer is a great way to get ahead of the game and keep you in a strong academic stride. The overall question a lot of families and students have, is that is it even possible to complete classes in the summer time before the traditional start of the school year? In fact, yes, indeed it is! There are a few key factors to being successful in taking classes over the summer. 

First, ask yourself, Do I have enough time to fit a class into my schedule?

 Classes that you would take during the summer are the same length and difficulty as classes that you would take during the traditional school year. A good recommendation would be that if you have decided to take courses during the summer, take 1 or 2 classes. Our full credit courses have 180 hours’ worth of work built into them. So, think about it this way, in roughly two months you would be completing the equivalent of a full year course in that short amount of time.  You can lower the amount of work needed by looking into some half credit courses. These count toward graduation and you won’t have to stress of completing two semesters and you will have your time during the summer to enjoy.

Second, consider this time to take some electives.

While not taking core classes, you can try out some electives that you normally wouldn’t have thought about. Who knows, it may lead you to thinking about a career path that you may have never considered before. Again, don’t overload your schedule but maybe try two half credit electives in different fields of study and leave the core classes for the standard school year.

Last, look into print classes if available.

Our print courses are typically comprised of less assignments to submit for grading. They have the same amount of material as our online classes, but due to the way that they are graded, the number of graded assignments are less in number. This may be to you advantage because if you travel during the summer or go to camps or are just generally not around the house, you can take your materials with you anywhere you go.

In the end taking a class can be to your benefit in more ways than one. Take a look through our course catalog and give our Student Services Dept. to get more information on some classes that you can take throughout the summer!

High School Catalog: https://hs.keystoneschoolonline.com/KeystoneOes/portlets/catalog/CourseCatalogController.jpf

Middle School Catalog:

https://ms.keystoneschoolonline.com/KeystoneOes/portlets/catalog/CourseCatalogController.jpf

Student Services Dept.

Phone Number: 1-800-255-4937

Email: info@keystoneschoolonline.com