Busy families need options. Online education can help.

Guest post by Sally Roberts, DOE Educational Policy Consultant for Virtual Education

We appreciate all the feedback we received in the blog comment section, on Facebook and on Twitter regarding last week’s online education post. This blog post will feature the issue again so we can provide even more information.

Many virtual options

With three different options – Florida Virtual School Classic, Florida Virtual School Full-time and district online programs – students and families can choose which virtual offering fits their needs the best. This chart helps explain the differences and benefits of each program.

Flexibility

Online education provides incredible flexibility for families on the go. Florida Virtual School (FLVS) students can participate in online courses at any time and have teachers available from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. for phone calls, parent-teacher-student conference calls, instant messaging and emails. (District online courses and programs also provide flexibility for accessing online courses and curriculum. Please contact your local administrator for details) for district teacher availability.

As an example, if Jane is leaving school early to attend acting classes from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. then goes to her brother’s soccer game at 4 p.m., she can take her algebra class at 6 p.m. when she gets home and still have access to her teacher.

Personal, individualized instruction

Even though the course is online, teachers can still hold live online lessons. Say the teacher is receiving a lot of questions from students about conjugating verbs in language arts. The teacher can then schedule a live lesson so she/he can respond to students’ questions as the class is going on – just like at a brick-and-mortar school.

Preparation for the future

In addition, most post-secondary schools offer online courses, and chances are your child will be enrolled in at least one. By taking online courses in high school, your child is better prepared for their future education.

Which online course choices would fit into your child’s schedule? Do you have questions about the difference between Florida Virtual School Classic, Florida Virtual School Full-time and district online options? We welcome questions in the comment section!

You can “count” on it – even at home!

Guest post by Teresa Sweet, Curriculum & Instruction bureau chief

Math teacher Stephanie Thetford of Fort Walton Beach High School knows that her students can be successful when they have a rigorous curriculum, confidence in their skills and strong family support. These were just a few of the many reasons she was selected as a finalist for the Department of Education/Macy’s Teacher of the Year award. She has recognized that having success in math serves as a gateway to a career in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), which are some of the most in-demand, high-paying careers around. And she takes every opportunity to encourage her students to dream big when it comes to finding the right career path. 

Fostering a love for math and encouraging early childhood development are two areas where teachers like Ms. Thetford excel. She is a proud champion of instilling necessary math skills to all of her students and takes every opportunity to foster a deep passion for the sometimes difficult subject. To help families take simple, easy steps to support learning math every day, the Department of Education offers a wide array of tips. Encourage the use of math in your home by following a few of the tips noted below. With just a few household items, you too can make this subject exciting for your child:  

  • Use measuring cups and empty containers to explore fractions and estimations. Fill the items with different materials such as water and discuss what happens if you add ½ cup of water to ¼ cup of water [equals ¾ cup]. Sand and/or beans are other materials you can use to fill the containers. 
  • Use clean-up time as an opportunity to teach counting, addition and subtraction by counting the number of toys they pick up. You can also practice patterns by asking them to pick up one black block, then one blue block, and keep repeating different colors/patterns/items. 
  • Help your children estimate how much longer a car ride is by using distance and speed. If you have 60 miles left and you are driving 60 miles per hour, then you have one hour left [60 minutes]. If you have 30 miles left and are driving 60 miles per hour, you have ½ hour left [30 minutes].
  •  Come up with hypothetical situations involving math and numbers for your child to figure out. For example, a man went to a store and bought a $5 box of nails, a $25 hammer and $1,250 lawnmower. The store was having a 25 percent discount on all of the items. He then used a $10-off coupon. How much did his purchase cost? [answer: ((5+25+1,250) * 0.75) – 10 = 950] 

The most important thing to share is to encourage your child to tackle any problem. Try not to discourage your child’s efforts or comment negatively about your personal experiences with math. Many teachers, including Ms. Thetford make themselves available before or after school to ensure that children obtain the necessary help and support to be successful. Be sure your child takes advantage of these types of opportunities.

We’d also like to congratulate Ms. Thetford for being named a Teacher of the Year finalist. We wish her the best of luck as the winner will be announced next week!