A parent, grandparent or other family member who is with the child regularly is the child’s primary teacher/learning coach. We provide on-line classes, workbooks that go along with the on-line portion, and other classroom materials. The learning coach takes the student through provided calendar/daily activities each day. Then the student watches short videos and then does workbook pages associated with those videos. The teacher coaches the student along and does the activities with the student and provides him/her with additional instruction and feedback as needed. At the kindergarten and 1st grade level, students' days are divided up into 4 'cycles' with math, reading, science, and social studies making up a part of each of them. So teaching is done in small bits throughout the day as the student can do them. Parents can decide when appropriate times for recess, snacks, lunch, etc are. Older students have classes in core subject areas: Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science. Breaks for them can be divided up between classes as needed.
One common misconception about our program is that there is a time to log in to do a live class with me and other students. The videos are pre-made to fit the curriculum and everyone moves at their own pace through the course. This gives you the flexibility to teach to the student’s needs and work around him/her and your schedules. When an area of need or interest for several students comes to light, we can schedule some synchronous sessions for learning. For example, this year we did do a live writing unit where students video chatted (using Skype) as well as came in to class for live sessions. This worked well.
Brick and Mortar Role
Students have the option of doing two classes at Northside Elementary School or Kromery Middle School in Middleton. I am based out of Northside Elementary School. The school is very welcoming. In addition to taking 2 classes some students stay for a lunch or recess if it takes places directly before or after their classes. For example, I have a 1st grader who attends music, art and PE (because these classes only take place a few days a week, we allow an exception at the elementary school and they can take an extra course). Some days, she goes to art and then music and then her class has lunch so she joins them for that and recess. It's great for her to have some unstructured time with her class and she loves it.
We are also experimenting with doing some instruction with small groups of both eSchool students and Northside students together. For example, during the 1st grade day, they have a small group time they are to use to focus on instruction where students need it most. During that time, I asked the 1st grade eSchool student who already attends to come a bit earlier and now about 2 days per week, I'm working with her and Northside students on instruction in small groups along with the classroom teacher. We're hoping to build more of that in, but it all depends on student needs. The reason we're doing this is that there are such small numbers at each grade level in the eSchool and this allows students to work with others their age by involving Northside students. Everyone benefits!
It is mandatory that I meet with all students twice a month in some capacity. For most students, I see them more than that. For homebound students, I go to his/her home twice a month and do assessments and instruction as needed. We also can do other activities based around student interest (that's what's so great about this program- everything can be individualized!). Some students come in to Northside and I meet with them individually to do instruction. We have made some small groups for instruction based on student need. For example, I have a 5th grade girls math group that meets one to two times per week. Sometimes I invite all students in for a planned activity that all levels will enjoy.
There are also certain assignments within the curriculum students need to scan and send in to me. I grade them and provide feedback. Each year, there are many assessments required by the state and some that give me feedback about student progress that we also ask students to participate in.
Each month I try to plan a few field experiences: seeing plays, Wisconsin Science Festival, corn maze, Engineering Expo, Rube Goldberg building day, Writing Club, Book Clubs (at library), cookie decorating, Pheasant Branch Trail tour, WI Veteran's Museum, and much more. I involve families in making decisions about these experiences so that we do activities they will find valuable.
Most of our students have great outcomes. They're taught by family members who are invested in their education and commit to the time and life style this type of education requires. Students are taught in 1:1 or 1:2 situations so that obviously makes the teaching/learning process go more smoothly. Everything is tailored to individual needs, including the speed of the lessons, so that makes learning more enjoyable for both parties. Students need to learn to respect their parent as a teacher and the relationship changes, but many parents find teaching their own child very rewarding and enjoy how their relationship builds. That said, there is a big time commitment and each day needs to be scheduled around learning and other appointments.
We primarily use curriculum from Lincoln Learning for students grades K-5 with the alternative option of K12. Students in grades 6-8 utilizing curriculum through the Wisconsin eSchool Network. Please find more information under the Curriculum page.