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How Cyber Schools Support Diverse Learners

Pennsylvania’s public school system, like others across the country, is tied into a one-size-fits-all approach to education, teaching students the same thing at the same time at the same pace. Full-time virtual schools, like Commonwealth Charter Academy (CCA), are built to suit every style of learner.

With our customized curriculum and the flexibility for our students to take courses at their own pace, we are adept at working with students of differing needs, abilities and interests. Our teachers will take the time to work with students who need extra help in one area and can offer accelerated course work in areas where students seek a challenge.

Cyber schools support diverse learners by offering courses for all levels of learning. We provide a core curriculum from grades K through 12 in math, science, language arts, English and social studies, and a wide assortment of electives to address various interests. CCA also offers Honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses for students seeking a more rigorous course load and College in the High School course options.

CCA’s special education program ensures students with unique needs receive the best education possible. As with all of our students, we customize our special education program based on academic needs, family schedules and outside activities.

Because of our unique online platform, we also customize strategies and interventions of services for special needs students, fully integrating them into the cyber school program from the safety of a student’s home.

What Are The Styles of Learning?

Cyber schools support diverse learners better than traditional public schools can because they are designed to offer multiple ways to learn. Also, because students can learn at their own pace, teachers can work more closely with students and tailor their instruction to accommodate an individual’s learning style.

Students learn in many ways – and not all people fit neatly into one category of learning because there is typically overlap between styles. Considering that, some psychologists have theorized that most students generally fit into one of these categories.

Visual Learners

Visual learners prefer to see and observe pictures, diagrams and written directions. This is also referred to as the “spatial” learning style. These students, who learn best by seeing things, will understand information better when it is presented to them visually. These are students who take notes, sketch in the margins and make lists.

They’ll do best if teachers use whiteboards, regularly make handouts and guides, and use presentations for teaching a concept. Teachers can have these students draw pictures and diagrams or sketch examples based on what they are learning. Sometimes visual learners need extra time to process material as they study the pictures, diagrams and handouts in front of them. Cyber charter students have the advantage of being able to work at their own pace, so taking extra time to learn is never a problem.

Auditory Learners

Auditory is a word that relates to the sense of hearing, so these students learn better when a topic is underscored by sound. These students want to learn by listening to a lecture instead of reading written material and will often use their own voices to reinforce new concepts and ideas.

They may read out loud to themselves, they are regular participants in class discussion, and they are good at explaining things out loud. They might also be slower readers and might repeat instructions or information someone tells them so they’re sure they understand it.

It can be hard for auditory learners to stay quiet for long stretches of time. Teachers can involve them in a lesson by asking them to repeat some of the new concepts the class has learned. Question-and-answer sessions are a favorite activity for them, as are group discussions that will allow them to process information. Using videos, music and audio recordings can help engage auditory learners.

Verbal (Linguistic) Learners

Verbal learners do their best with both verbal instruction and writing. They enjoy reading and writing, and they can express themselves in writing and in speaking. They like tongue twisters and rhymes, have a big vocabulary and enjoy learning new words. These types of learners can often be found in fields that involve public speaking, writing, journalism and debating.

Verbal learners need to read content out loud a few times or have someone speak information to them to learn. They often process information by taking notes and writing information – such as new vocabulary words – several times.

Verbal learners need a combination of reading, writing and speaking to learn best. That may involve reading about a concept and taking notes, writing a short paper and then discussing the topic or presenting to classmates. Role-playing, acronyms, mnemonic devices and lists of key words help these students learn best.

Kinesthetic Learners

These are tactile learners who learn by experiencing and doing things. They act out events and refer to, touch and handle materials to understand concepts. They may be good at physical activities such as sports or dance, they may have trouble sitting still, they may need frequent study breaks, and they may have poor handwriting.

These students learn best by moving. Teachers could have them act out a scene from a history lesson they’re learning. Typically, any movement incorporated into lessons and learning is sure to help them. They could pace to help memorize, play learning games that let them move or have an assignment that requires building a model or similar activity. Once these students can physically sense what they’re studying, abstract ideas and difficult concepts will be easier to understand.

Where the Public School System Falls Short

Most parents are familiar with the difficulties that public schools face today. Too many students, too few resources and too little funding.

The funding difficulties are felt across the nation, and that’s because most states have stuck with traditional funding systems that rely on property taxes to support their public education systems. In most states, children who grow up in a wealthy neighborhood attend well-funded public schools because of a large and stable property tax base. Children who live in low-income or rural neighborhoods often are forced to attend under-resourced, budget-challenged schools because their community’s property tax base cannot support a robust school system.

The highest-spending districts in the United States spend nearly 10 times more than the lowest-spending, with large differentials across and within states. State funding rarely fills the gaps. In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania School Boards Association calculated that, for the 2017-18 school year, almost 58% of school district revenues came from local taxes and 38% came from the state.

While public cyber charter schools in Pennsylvania are public nonprofit entities, they receive their funding with public money from the school districts in which their students reside. So every cyber school has to live within that budgetary framework as well.

Funding difficulties aren’t the only problem with public school today. With a typical course period running only 45 minutes, teachers are hard-pressed to cover an adequate amount of material but also find little time to engage their students in any sort of collaborative learning.

To make matters more difficult, a vibrant elective program like CCA offers has fallen to budget cuts in public schools because school districts perceive electives as extras that are the first to be cut. CCA’s cyber charter students have the luxury of a vast array of electives that help them with everything from gaining specialized instruction in coding to learning about careers in the medical field.

Public schools also struggle with classroom size. One teacher for 20-30 students can be a lot to handle, and teaching can become impersonal. Students and parents depend upon teachers to evaluate student learning, figure out a child’s weaknesses and strengths, and work together to achieve educational success.

Combine a crowded classroom with typical student behavioral problems and disruptions, and teachers may have little time to customize an education, let alone make personal connections with their students. Cyber schools support diverse learners because they work with students to progress at their own pace and can engage face to face, during online lessons and through chats, emails and phone calls.

While CCA students graduate career- and college-ready, students in the public school system often are at a disadvantage because their districts cannot adequately integrate learning technology into the curriculum. The issues range from a lack of computers and software to inadequate time for teachers to incorporate new technologies to a lack of technical support and the slow development of technology-aware policies. Full-time virtual schools are technologically advanced and ready for their students to learn online at any time of the day or night.

How Cyber Schools Support Students With Diverse Learning Styles

At CCA, we recognize that students come to us with different skills, needs, abilities and learning styles. Unlike the public school system that often forces students into a one-size-fits-all mold, we meet our students where they are in their educational journey. We work together with their families to uncover the methods and styles that work best for them in our customized learning environment.

Full-time virtual schools offer a built-in ability for students to learn easily in a manner that fits their individual style. CCA students can take real-time virtual lessons or listen to recorded lessons later, undertake independent study and participate in hands-on career-readiness opportunities. Also, your enrolled student can attend more than 500 field trips at CCA. Not only do all of those options make it easy for students to learn on their own schedule, but offering so many ways to learn clearly accommodates the many learning styles students bring to our school.

In addition to supporting students with diverse learning styles, CCA constantly encourages our students to explore new ideas and opportunities. Through our rich core course offerings, electives, Honors and AP courses, and a plentiful selection of school clubs, students are bound to discover an array of choices that interest them. If there’s something your student wants to learn, cyber school is flexible enough that we can find a way to make it a reality.

Cyber schools also support diverse learners by promoting social learning. Just because their education takes place primarily online doesn’t mean cyber charter students are isolated in front of a computer screen all day. In addition to interacting with their peers and teachers online and during real-time virtual lessons, CCA students have the opportunity to participate in more than two dozen clubs. CCA also offers more than 500 social and educational field trips across the state every year for learning and for fun. Taken together, these opportunities give CCA students the chance to interact and make friends with students from across the entire state, not just in their local neighborhood school.

The public school system often is too overtaxed to help students determine exactly how they learn best and is rarely equipped to customize teaching to suit each individual student. At CCA, teachers and counselors work with students to determine their best learning styles and establish goals for success. And unlike many public school systems that keep their offerings and systems the same year after year, the education professionals at CCA adapt to students’ changing needs. Our cyber charter students, their learning coaches, teachers and counselors regularly work together to review their progress and adjust goals as needed throughout the school year.

Our counselors also help students set postgraduation goals, connect them with information regarding financial aid and scholarships, help with college test preparation courses and provide ample resources to explore career options and vocational training.

We also know a student’s success involves more than just school work – personal, social and academic issues can affect a student’s success in school and in life. Our counselors have received advanced degrees and specialized training in developmental and educational psychology to help students if issues surface.

CCA’s personalized education prepares our diverse learners for success in any path they choose after graduating from cyber school – continued education, military service or entry into the workforce.

Benefits of Cyber Charter Schools

CCA teaches all students from accelerated learners to those who have a learning disability. Our full-time virtual school has the right teachers to help educate your child with a flexible schedule and customized course offerings so your student can learn at their own pace.

Whether your child needs extra time to learn or needs to move faster than other students in the classroom, CCA’s teachers and counselors are ready to help them succeed. CCA is designed to suit every style of learner. This is how school should work.

Learn more today about how CCA can work for your family.

Author

Commonwealth Charter Academy

Published

April 21st, 2020

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