Finishing the Summer School Semester and Earning Your Credit(s)

1.5 weeks left ? Yikes!

Holy moly where has the time gone?! It seems like just yesterday we started our summer school semester and here we are with one and a half weeks left until the July 21 end date. I have made it a point to stay in contact with all of my students and see how I can assist them, however, I wanted to use this blog as a place to post resources your teachers can provide you to help you complete your courses on time. I do have to preface that while they can provide the resources, it is 100% up to you to use what they provide. You have support from myself, your counselor, and your teacher or teachers, but it is up to you what you do with that support. 

Class Completion Resources

  • Pacing Plan: If you call or email your teachers and request a pacing plan they will provide you with a plan that will tell you how many activities to complete a day to complete your course.
  • Teacher Tool 1: Pacing VideoClick here to view this video that breaks down how teachers create pacing plan – save this to your bookmark tab and look at it whenever you have a question about pacing!
  • Teacher Tool 2: E-note Video– If you aren’t using e-notes, you should be. Click here to learn about this tool
  • Teacher Tool 3: Study Hall VideoClick here to learn how study hall can help you. If you have a prior commitment, communicate with your teacher and see what other options are available. They WANT to help you but they NEED you to tell them how they can do that. 

So Why all the Fuss?

In addition to wanting you to succeed in your courses and life in general, we want you to complete these courses because doing so will help you earn either .5 or 1 credit depending on how many courses you are taking (each course is worth .5 credit). Earning credits is important because it allows you to accumulate enough credit hours to move from one grade level to the next and eventually to graduate when all graduation requirements have been met. 

Wrapping Up

If you are feeling overwhelmed or need help managing your course or courses these last two weeks, please do not hesitate to reach out. I am here to help you and to guide you in the right direction. My next post will be all about starting off the Fall semester on the right foot and what you need to do in order to receive your diploma from GACHS. Until next time 🙂

 

 

Success in Summer School

Our summer school semester began on Monday June 28. It will run for a FAST and furious four weeks and end on Friday July 21. In order to be successful there are three things students NEED to do consistently. 

  1. Log on FIVE days a week
  2. Go no more than two days in a row without logging on 
  3. Communicate with your teachers on a weekly basis (at minimum).

Students, also please watch your pacing. With such an abbreviated semester, falling behind in your pace could be detrimental. If you are ever confused about why you are behind and how to get back on pace, reach out to your teachers. 

As always, you can reach out to me if you have questions. My next post will be fall in the middle of the summer school semester and will be about finishing strong. 

Until next time 🙂

 

Free Movement: What is it and how does it work?

Featured Photo– The week’s featured photo is of Tallulah Fall, Georgia. Tallulah Falls is home to a state park of the same name and attracts visitors from all over the state and country. Nature lovers and waterfall enthusiasts come from places both near and far to gaze upon the park’s beautiful waterfalls. Some of the things you can do at Tallulah Falls State Park include camping, cycling, swimming, fishing, and other recreational activities like playing tennis and practicing your archery skills. Adventurous visitors can even hike down to the bottom of a beautiful gorge and behold all the natural beauty of this serene area (https://rootsrated.com/stories/4-georgia-mountain-towns).  

Free Movement in your Edgenuity courses

Free movement is a feature that is enabled during the grace period for GACHS students. This feature allows students to navigate freely through their courses via their course map. Normally in your courses you need to watch the warm-up, view an instructional lecture, complete some practice concepts, turn in an assignment, and take a quiz for each lesson and you have to do so sequentially. This is because the skills and concepts you learn follow a sequential order building off of one another. 

However, when free movement is enabled you can navigate to any lesson in your courses. This is extremely helpful in assisting students in completing their courses as it gives you control over what you learn. If you are someone who likes a particular era in US History such as western expansion you can jump to that lesson and complete it without having to wait to reach that point in the semester. 

Free movement for our seniors who are slated to graduate June 2 is already enabled. For the remainder of our students, free movement will turn on soon. For more information on when this turn please contact me via the Edgenuity portal. For the best practices relating to using free movement, please contact your Edgenuity teachers. 

As a reminder, your Edgenuity teachers are your go-to experts when it comes to anything Edgenuity related. When it comes to courses you want or need to take next semester, please contact your GACHS counselor. Below I will be including a list of counselor assignments

Ms. Eaddie– Students with last names beginning with A-D, R-SL, and W

Ms. Hibbah Agha– Students with last names beginning with E-L, and Y/Z

Ms. Karla Garfield– Students with last names beginning with M-P and Sm-V

If you need their contact information, please ask your center administrator. 

Looking Ahead– My next post will be on Success in Summer School and the subsequent expectations of students enrolled in summer school which will only apply to a select number of students. See you then!

Citations

Featured Photo- https://rootsrated.com/stories/4-georgia-mountain-towns

Featured Photo- http://www.gastateparks.org/TallulahGorge

Finishing the Spring Semester and Preparing for Fall

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is of St. Mary’s, Georgia. St. Mary’s rests on the banks of the (surprise, surprise) St. Mary’s river and is located in Camden county. In addition to being quaint and serene , Saint Mary’s is one of the first cities in America to have been explored by Europeans (http://www.travelmag.com/articles/most-charming-towns-georgia/). They must have thought the New World was a remarkable spectacle to behold as they gazed off of the banks of St. Mary’s and into the peaceful horizon. 

My goal with this particular post was to bring a fresh perspective to the age-old concept of “finishing the semester strong.” It would be easy for me to say “listen to your teachers and put in extra work to complete your coursework”, but I am going to try to approach this post from a different point of view 🙂 . As such, I do have one piece of advice, that if followed will help you finish the semester and I also have a challenge to help you prepare for Fall! Are you intrigued? I hope so! Let’s get to it!

Advice on how to finish the semester strong

In order to finish the semester strong all you need to do is one simple thing: let us help you. There are not many places in this world where people will freely give you their support and will pledge to provide you with resources to help you achieve a goal. But, with us, you have that. You literally have a whole team of people who are rooting for you and want to see you succeed. Unfortunately, sometimes it isn’t easy to see this when you are stressed out and are seeing the end of the semester approach quicker than you would like. However, if you keep in mind that we are here because we genuinely care about your success I think it may be easier for you to let us help you. If you let us provide you with tools that we know will work, we can help you in finishing your courses for this semester. So please! When we reach out via email or phone respond and interact with us and LET US HELP YOU! We are here to offer you all sorts of things, moral support, additional educational resources, provide a way to get in contact with your teachers, and even to help you break down how many activities to do each to get back on track. Every single person you come into contact with, your Edgenuity teachers, your counselors, your center coordinator, the staff on social media, we are all here and we chomping at the bit to help you, so let us!

Okay there’s the advice on how to finish your courses, are you ready for the challenge? I hope so! 

The Challenge

This may seem a little weird, but I swear it will work! In order to prepare for the Fall, I want you …..to challenge yourself this summer. I think almost every time I have failed to meet a goal I have set for myself that it personally has had to do with a lack of discipline in some area of my life. In order to combat this, I have learned to do something that pushes me out of my comfort zone. I find that doing something that makes me uncomfortable such as driving in cities, striking up conversations with strangers, or trying a new hobby, often makes me feel invincible afterward. This boost in my confidence often has a way of transferring itself over into other aspects of my life. I have found a direct relationship between my productivity and discipline after I accomplish something I didn’t want to or didn’t think I could. In fact, even though I hate running, I make it a point to run every day that I work because making myself do that, makes me feel accomplished and proud of myself. As a result, I find myself invigorated and ready to tackle the day.  So this summer take the time to do something that really challenges you. Maybe you will learn to play an instrument, or take a public speaking class, maybe you will train for and run a 5k or half-marathon. There is nothing too great or too small when it comes to really pushing you out of your comfort zone. Whatever you choose, choose something meaningful, (and consult with your parent/guardian to help you plan how to achieve your goal if it is a large undertaking), but do yourself a favor and follow through with it. I will be here to offer you support and will be your champion as you push yourself through whatever it is you want to do to step out of your comfort zone. When we start our new semester in the Fall, I want to hear all about how you challenged yourself and I want to see you use that momentum to start off the year on a strong note. 

The next blog post will only apply to a select few of you but it will be tips on how to succeed in summer school courses! 

Citations

Feature Image -http://www.travelmag.com/articles/most-charming-towns-georgia/

Featured Photo- http://www.goodbreadhouse.com/stmarystory.htm

Full Body Test Preparation

This week’s featured photo is of Blairsville, Georgia. Blairsville is a nature lover’s paradise as it located in the “Chattahoochee National Forest and North Georgia Blue Ridge mountains” (https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/georgia/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-towns-in-georgia/). As someone who loves being outdoors, I am looking forward to visiting this beautiful town that is as steeped in culture and history as it is in natural beauty. 

Full Body Test Prep Overview

Everyone knows that in order to prepare for a test you study, but not everyone is aware that in order to perform your best you need to take care of your ENTIRE body. It makes sense, think about an injury to a part of your body that you use every day, like your leg. If you broke your leg, it would be much harder for you to do the daily tasks you need to do every day to function, like shower, cook, or drive. This would also probably stress you out (for tips on stress relief you can view my last blog post on stress management by clicking here) and would undoubtedly affect other areas of your life such as work and school. When you think about an injury to your leg it becomes obvious that our bodies are interconnected and that the health of the one part or system in our bodies directly impacts the health of other parts and systems.

I’ve got news for you, you should be thinking about your body’s reaction to testing the SAME way. If you don’t remember to care for your body, the part of your body that you are using to take your test (your brain) could suffer. SAY WHAT?? Yup, that’s right if you don’t make sure to treat your body like the temple it is all of the hours spent studying and the time spent toiling through your courses may end up being a waste because you may never reach your full potential. Read below to find out how to prepare your ENTIRE body for a successful test-taking session. 

Eat, Move, Sleep, Repeat

The key to making sure you are operating at peak performance when you take a test is simple and only entails making sure you are doing the things you are probably already doing before you test. Making sure to eat the correct types of foods, being active, and getting enough sleep are the three pieces to the test well puzzle. Below you can find more information on each. 

  • Eat: Eating the Correct types of foods: In order to be able to focus on your test you need to make sure you are not hungry. The best way to ensure your tummy doesn’t start rumbling in the middle of your milestone, distracting you from answering a test question is to eat foods that will fill you up. You don’t need to eat a five-course meal before your test to make this happen, and in fact eating too much or eating the wrong type of food can even make you feel sleepy and lazy instead of energized and focused. Instead of eating a lot of random and nutrient deficient food on the morning of your test,  focus on eating foods that are full of protein as these foods will keep you full and keep you from pondering about your post test meal during the middle of an essay question. Eggs, nuts, cottage cheese, peanut butter and certain types of greek yogurt will all fuel you with the necessary protein needed to remain full during a long test session. For simple breakfast ideas that are high in protein visit the site below
  • Move: Move it or Lose It: Movement does wonders for our bodies. Moving around helps get our blood flowing and improves circulation which can help us feel more awake. In addition, anytime you move and sweat, endorphins are released. Endorphins are chemicals that make us happy 🙂 Moving around before taking your test and, if you are given a break during your test you are testing, is of the utmost importance. Even something as simple as a quick stretch or some breathing can go a long way to help you stay more alert and more focused. For some easy breathing techniques that you can do anywhere, visit the following site: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/relaxation_techniques_breath_focus
  • Sleep: The uninterrupted kind– Sleep is one of the most valuable gifts that you can give to your body. Even when people are trying to lose weight and are doing everything right such as exercising and eating a nutritious diet, without enough sleep their efforts will have been for naught. It helps me to think about sleep the same way I think about my cell phone. All day long my cell phone works hard running my apps and receiving text messages and notifications. At the end of the day, my cell phone is drained and needs to be charged. Our bodies are JUST like cell phones in that they work hard to keep us functioning at work, school, and even at home. At the end of the day we need to recharge our batteries and the only way to do that is to get sleep. And to get enough of it that our bodies can go into recovery mode. While the amount of sleep required in order to function at peak performance is something that is always under review, most doctors will tell you to aim for at least 8 hours of sleep. However, the amount of time you sleep is not the only thing that is important when it comes to sleeping. It turns out that your sleep environment is super important too. I visited the National Sleep Foundation website in order to learn more about the best environment to drift off to sleep in. Here is what I found:
    • Your room shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. It turns out that “most sleep experts recommend a temperature of 65 degrees for the best sleep.”
    • Turning off or putting away your tv, phone, tablet, computer,  etc at least an hour before can actually help you sleep better. Both noise and light can disrupt your sleep so to alleviate anything that may disrupt your z’s  by keeping these devices away from you, out of the bedroom, and completely shut off!
    • Washing your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week and breathing in that “fresh sheet” smell can help you sleep better. There’s an excuse for students to learn how to do laundry nice and early, you’re welcome parents (sorry students, but facts are facts). 🙂
    • If you have to eat, have a small snack the hours leading up to bedtime. A larger meal may provide extra energy to your body that prevents you from sleeping.
    • For more information on sleep tips visit: https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/index.php

The Night Before

The night before your test make sure you get a chance to get some moderate exercise in. You can go for a walk, ride your bike, anything to get the blood pumping. Have a nice dinner, but try to avoid overloading on carbohydrates (carbs) as this may make you sluggish tomorrow. Get to bed early and keep your electronics off and out of the bedroom. Making these few simple sacrifices the night before your test will help prepare your mindset for the mental exertion that will take place tomorrow. 

The Day Of

Wake up early enough to eat a protein fueled breakfast. Remember, it doesn’t need to be a four-course meal fit for royalty. Instead, focus on foods like eggs or greek yogurt that are full of protein and will keep you full. Give yourself enough time to shower, eat,  and still have time to do some stretching and breathing exercises to focus your mind on the task at hand. You can even write yourself an affirmation and repeat it before your test about what you wish to accomplish during your test :). If you get a break during your test, make sure to get up and stretch. This will help you relieve any stress you may have incurred from wracking your brain and get the blood circulating so you can power through the rest of your test. 

The Bottom Line-Everything is Connected 

One of the things that struck me the most when I ventured off to college was how interconnected my classes were. I was reading books in English class while I was studying those periods of history in my history courses. I was learning about why people act the way they do in my psychology classes and figuring out the different responses to stress in my science classes. Thinking about things as they relate to one another really helped drive my learning and is something that has stuck with me ever since. Similarly, if we view our bodies as a whole and understand that in order to test effectively we must take care of the singular parts of our bodies then it becomes easier to see why full body preparation before taking a test is so important. Think of your body as a machine that needs all of its parts taken care of and maintained, remember to eat, move and sleep and you’ll be ready to conquer any test. 

Next Week’s Post: Planning for the end of this semester and the beginning of Fall semester. I hope to have some awesome guest writers contribute some content, until then best of luck on your milestone tests!

Sources:

Featured Photo- https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/georgia/articles/the-10-most-beautiful-towns-in-georgia/

Healthy Eating- http://www.rd.com/health/wellness/high-protein-breakfast-ideas/

Breathing Techniques- http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/relaxation_techniques_breath_focus

Sleep Tips- https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/index.php

Stress Management

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is Athens, GA, a city famous for not only its “historic architecture” (www.visitathensga.com) but for housing Georgia’s Beloved Bulldogs at the University of Georgia as well. 

Although Spring Break was a wonderful way for many of us to take a break from school and recharge, it signifies that we are almost at the end of Spring Semester. This means that for many students there are only a few more months to finish up remaining courses and/or even finish the FINAL courses standing between you and graduation. This time of year is not only an exciting one but it is an incredibly stressful time of year as well. It is important to remember to find things to do that will help you manage and relieve stress so that you can focus on your courses and complete whatever tasks and goals you have set for yourself.

What is Stress?

Ever wonder what stress is? The simplest definition of stress is that it is anything that makes us feel strained or anxious. Stressors can include but are not limited to:

  • Work or Project Deadlines
  • School work or Mandatory Tests
  • A new addition to the family
  • Losing a family member
  • Moving
  • Relationships
  • Work

Stress is inevitable. Each person reading this blog post will feel stressed at some point between now and the end of the semester. However, how you react to stress can make all the difference in the world. There are many ways to manage stress, I am going to mention some of the best ways to reduce stress and take you through what I do when I find myself stressed 🙂

Stress Management Techniques

  • Drawing, painting, or creating art – For many people artwork can be very calming and cathartic (relieves feelings). Creating art is such a popular stress remedy that many adults and young adults have taken to coloring. There are even coloring books catered to these very groups because of how effective it is in regards to promoting relaxations.
  • Reading or writing– Reading or writing are two of the most tried and true stress relief techniques. Reading allows you to lead a life different from your own, even if for only a small amount of time. Reading can also help you escape from the stresses of your day. When you read you can be a wizard facing a dangerous foe,  a ghost trying to figure out what happened to you or even be a detective trying to solve a crime. Reading transforms our “ordinary lives” and allows us to be ANYONE we want to be. Writing is very therapeutic when dealing with stress. Writing can allow someone to release their emotions and can be private if done in a diary. More than once I have actually written a letter to someone who made me feel upset but I destroyed the letter before sending it to rid myself the feelings I had towards that person. You also know, from one of my previous posts, the power of writing down a goal and repeating and reading this goal. As a refresher, doing this can help you achieve this goal and literally takes five minutes a day 🙂
  • Napping– One of the easiest ways to relieve stress is to take a good old fashioned nap. There is a reason babies get really cranky if they have not had a nap and that is because sleep calms us and allows our brains time to shut down.
  • Getting into water Immersing yourself in water is a great way to relieve stress. Taking a bath or swimming are two amazing ways to relax. In fact, salt water which you can find in oceans is extremely healing. It can clear up rashes on your skin and clean any cuts you have. Water is peaceful to us because it reminds us of being in the womb. Many people flock to water to relieve tension or stress whether they are active in a pool or ocean or are hanging out in a bathtub or jacuzzi.
  • Massage– Getting a massage doesn’t have to cost a lot. You can ask your parent or loved one to give you a quick shoulder massage. On top of feeling nice, massages help release toxins in our bodies which help us feel better. 
  • Exercise– Exercising is one of the best stress relief techniques because its free and you can exercise anywhere. You can take a walk, do some yoga, go for a run, or ride a bike. Anything that gets you moving counts as exercise. The benefits of exercise are plentiful and include helping give you more energy, assisting you in maintaining, losing, or even gaining weight depending on what you do, and releasing endorphins , chemicals in our bodies, which help us feel less stressed  🙂

How will I know when I am stressed?

There are some key indicators that will become obvious to those around of you if you are stressed. These include moodiness and a short temper. There are other things you may also notice about yourself when you are stressed which include headaches, trouble focusing, or even getting sick. As you can see managing your stress is an important step in keeping you physically and emotionally healthy. 

My Stress Relief Techniques

When I get stressed there are a few things I always do to help myself feel less stressed. Read about them below 🙂

Exercise– As someone who has always played sports it is no surprise that I exercise when I get stressed. My preferred method of stress relief is to take a kickboxing class or go swimming but since those require a kickboxing instructor and a body of water, I have learned to relieve my stress through going for a jog or walk with my family and through practicing yoga. I actually just started yoga a few weeks ago and although I am still learning the ins and outs of yoga, I love how I feel when I practice it. Yoga focuses on breathing on stretching which are two key components to maintaining your health. Many aches and pains can be relieved through stretching and believe it or not learning how to control your breathing can help change your mood instantly. 

Venting to a friend– If I am stressed I make sure I have someone to vent too. Sometimes talking out our stresses can help us find different solutions to what is stressing us out. If nothing else it takes your mind off what is causing you stress because you are venting to a friend and you get to catch up. The key here is to make sure you don’t ONLY call that person when you are stressed. You don’t want the person you are venting too to feel like you only call them when you need to unload, nor do you want to always make your problems their problems (which can cause them stress). I have a policy with one of my friends that once a week we will have a chat about the things that are stressing us out. All other talks are vent free unless they happen organically. The planned vent session helps us mentally prepare to hear about someone else’s troubles and helps us avoid always calling each other to talk about our problems.

Finding a Balance

The important thing to remember when dealing with stress is to find a balance. I am not suggesting that if you are stressed you spend your whole day avoiding what is bothering you by reading in the bathtub or napping and painting. Instead, I am suggesting that you recognize the signs that indicate you are stressed and take small breaks and steps to deal with your stress before it becomes too much to bear. I know this is easier said than done but going back to my last post on communication, this is simple of you learn to speak up.

Who can I talk too at school when I am stressed?

The first person you should contact if you are stressed is your professional school counselor. Not only are they great sounding boards for particular issues that are bothering you , but they are knowledgeable about different resources to help you deal with your stress as well.

If you cannot get ahold of your counselor you can address your school center leader when you are stressed. If you attend a brick and mortar center you should know who your leader is, but if not refer back to my communication post 🙂 If you are a virtual student your center leader is me 🙂 If nothing else, reaching out to your center leader signals to someone that something is going on with you and allows us to spring into action to put you in touch with the right person. 

My biggest piece of advice.

The best advice I can offer you if you are stressed is to NOT forget about your schoolwork. Communicate you are stressed to someone, take the time to do something for you, but continue to chip away at your work. Getting a few activities completed when you are feeling overwhelmed will help you feel better about your stressful situation. Not doing anything will only cause you to feel more stressed and put you even farther behind. One student below, who manages her busy personal life and schoolwork shares her thoughts on what she does when she is stressed out. 

“I work full-time but I remind myself that failure is not an option and that I have set goals for myself that I refuse to give up on. My favorite quote is “push for success” and I just constantly tell myself I can do just that because you can do whatever you want in life if you put your mind to it. I am lucky that my husband and my family support me and understand when I have to stay up late to put in time after working all day or when I have to use the weekends to catch up or put in extra time. I also remember to take a 30 to 60-minute break whenever I do work to give myself a little time to relax when I am working hard.”

Final Remarks

Stress is something we all experience, but you don’t have to let stress get the best of you. Find something you enjoy doing and even if you have to write yourself a note or find an accountability buddy, make sure you do that thing when you find yourself getting stressed. Remember that you can always reach out to your professional school counselor or your center leader if you feel overwhelmed. We are here to help and want you to be successful with the end of the semester approaching!

Bonus Post- 2017 Congressional Art Competition

If you are here you reside in our 7th Congressional District and you are interested in entering the 2017 Congressional Art Competition. There is some very specific information you need to be aware if you enter. Please check out the guidelines below and contact me via email or Facebook for additional information!

Entries should be delivered to:

75 Langley Drive

Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Additional Information on the 2017 Congressional Art Competition can be viewed at:

http://www.house.gov/content/educate/art_competition/

Communication: Learning how to ask for help

This week’s featured photo is of Helen, Georgia, a place I am looking forward to visiting sometime soon! According to the city’s website Helen, Georgia is the state’s “third most visited city” (http://www.helenga.org/) despite only have 430 residents! Wow! Located in  White County the city is viewed as a little slice of Bavaria or Germany right here in our state. Please comment in the blog comment box below any suggestions of fun things to do for those of us who still haven’t experienced Helen.

Communication: Learning how to ask for help

Have you ever heard the phrase “communication is key” and thought what in the world does that mean? It literally means that communicating is the key to solving most of the problems we face in our daily lives. Check out all of the times communicating can help you solve issues that are plaguing you:

  • Upset or uncomfortable with how your roommate has been treating you? Talk about it!
  • Feeling sick or not like yourself? Talk about it!
  • Need help understanding the terms of your loan? Talk about it!
  • Stressed due to your hours at work? Talk about it!
  • Moving out of your house and not sure what you need to do to keep your security deposit? Talk about it!
  • You need help reaching out to a teacher or professor but you don’t know what to say?Talk about it!!

As you can see solving issues you may be facing really is as simple as doing one simple thing, talking!

Communicating about YOUR Academics: But who I do talk too?

Because there are so many awesome resources put in place to support you sometimes knowing who to talk about certain issues can be confusing for students. Please download and look at the graphic below to learn about all of the great things in place to help YOU succeed. 

Communication Slide

I will break down the resources that are available to you and what you can expect from each resource below 🙂

  1. GAC Counselor– Your GAC professional school counselor is your GO-TO source for all things relating to credits, transcripts, class schedules, and college and career readiness. In addition, anytime you need someone to vent to about how you are feeling, the counselor is your go-to person for that as well. If you are confused about why you are enrolled in a certain course ask your counselor for a phone call. If you would like to see how many credits you have earned and how many you still need to earn to graduate,  ask your counselor for this information. Your counselor can also explain post-secondary processes to you such as preparing for a job interview, writing a resume, applying for college, and how to fill out financial aid. Your counselor LOVES being able to answer your questions and assisting you with finding ways to deal with the curveballs life can throw at you, but we ask that you give your counselor 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails.
  2. GAC Center Leader- Each of our physical centers has a center leader, the YCA sites have a partnership manager, and the virtual students have a Virtual Manager (me). Your GAC Center Leader is your GO-TO source for assistance connecting with other resources. If you are unsure who to reach out to about an issue (hopefully you won’t be after this blog post 😉 ) reach out to your center leader. If you are having an issue getting a response or support from any other person on this list your center leader is the person you should contact. In addition, your center leader can provide you with additional supports such as helping you pace yourself in your classes and can provide you with additional tools and opportunities to make the most of your experience at GACHS. Your center leader loves to help remove obstacles for you and provide you with resources whenever you are in a bind, but we ask that you give your center leader 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails.
  3. Edgenuity Teachers– Your Edgenuity teachers are your GO TO source any time you feel as though you need more assistance academically. If you feel like you need one on one tutoring for various concepts, contact your Edgenuity teacher to schedule a blackboard session or attend their virtual study hall. Your Edgenuity teachers can also assist you in providing supplementary materials to assist you in better understanding your coursework. Your teachers LOVE to hear from you, but we ask that you give them 24-48 hours to respond to all phone calls and emails so they can do the best job of creating a personalized plan of support to help you learn.
  4. Edgenuity Success Coach-Your Edgenuity success coach is your GO-TO source for anything related to Edgenuity. If you need an in-depth explanation of how to utilize any Edgenuity resource, talk to your coach! Your coach can also help you figure out the best way to reach a particular Edgenuity teacher and provide you with ideas to help you enhance your learning experience. Your coaches love it when they get to check in with you, but we ask that you give them 24-48 hours to answer any phone calls or emails from you. 
  5. FEV Tutor– Whenever you log onto FEV tutor via the website gac.fevtutor.com you will be connected with a tutor who is tasked with helping you in the specific course, unit, and lesson you select. This resource really is incredible and can be used in a multitude of ways. To learn more about FEV tutor please refer to my post on this wonderful tool which features a live session video made by Ms. Kelsea. Anytime you have an issue with FEV tutor, please contact their support team at gac@fevtutor.com. For larger requests, we ask that you give the folks at FEV tutor 24-48 hours to respond to your phone calls or email.
  6. Other– There are other various support systems in place for groups of students. These include special education services, 504 planning services, ESOL services, graduation coach guidance and support, and the math teachers available through CatchUp Math. If you are interested in learning more about any of these resources please contact your GAC Center Leader and she or he can provide you with additional information 🙂 

Tips for Effective Written Communication

Below read my tried and true tips to ensure that whoever you are attempting to contact can answer any question you may have or provide you with any information you are seeking quickly and effectively.:)

  • Customize your Subject Line– I have seen a lot of my former students use subject lines like “hey” or “help” when writing their teachers or counselor. While whoever you are writing to will still check an email with subject lines like these, they do nothing to increase the effectiveness of your email. In fact, an email with a subject line like this may even be pushed to the bottom of someone’s list because someone else who is customizing their subject line has gotten their attention 🙂 Below are some specific purposes/issues that students commonly need help with and an appropriate custom subject line that would get the attention of those you are sending these emails to 🙂
    • Purpose/Issue: Help on an assignment in a course Custom Subject Line: Assistance on Supply and Demand Graphs in Economics
    • Purpose/Issue: Changing your address or phone number on file Custom Subject Line:  New Address or Phone Number for (First letter of your first name and entire last name)  J. Smith
    • Purpose/issue-Questions about the credits you need to graduate Custom Subject Line: High School credits still needed for (First letter of your first name and entire last name) J. Smith.

Taking the time to customize your subject line provides the person receiving your email with all of the important information to help them solve YOUR issue more quickly. How cool is that? Just by taking a few extra minutes to create a subject line that states what you need you can actually get a quicker response to your question or issue. 

THERE IS ONE EXCEPTION TO CUSTOMIZING YOUR SUBJECT LINE. If you have private information you need to discuss with your teacher or counselor NEVER put this on the subject line. It is actually best to request a phone call for this type of communication. Not sure how to do that? Simple! Title your subject line Sensitive Information Discussion Request. In your email simply ask whoever you need to speak with for a phone call to discuss some private information. 🙂

  • Keep your email brief but be specific The best way to get a quick response to an issue you are having is to be brief in what it is you need. By including a long narrative (story) about what is plaguing you, you are actually hindering the solution process since it will take someone a longer amount of time to read and respond to a long email. Be brief in your email and just like you should be in your subject line, be specific. Instead of saying I need help in math in an email reword the message to read: I need assistance understanding how to work with some of the mathematic formulas in my Advanced Algebra B class. 
  • Be polite- It is very easy to send an email that comes off as rude or impolite especially if you are stressed. Often times we won’t even realize we are sending an email like this because we are writing how we would talk. However, any time you have any sort of written correspondence you need to take extra care to use pleasant phrases in your emails like “please” and “thank you” in order to help make sure you don’t come off as seeming like you are agitated or don’t care. Displaying etiquette in your emails shows the person you are sending your message to that you appreciate their help. This can also assist you in receiving a quicker response than if you sent an email that could be considered rude or snippy. 

Final Remarks

In any relationship, communication is important to keeping everyone on the same page and functioning at peak performance. Your relationship with your school work and with those who care about your academic performance is no different! Giving yourself the best opportunity to quickly solve problems can be boiled down to knowing how to do two things

  1. Knowing the right person to approach to help a particular issue
  2. Knowing how to express the issue you are having in a brief and specific yet polite manner.

I hope that after reading this post you know have a better idea of how to do both of those things, but if not you can always reach out to me for more assistance! My next post will be on managing stress and will post in three weeks after Spring Break on April 12th. See you then 🙂

Sources Used

Featured Image- http://www.exploregeorgia.org/blog/helen

Helen, GA Quote-http://www.helenga.org/

 

 

 

 

Life After GACHS: Post-Secondary Planning

Featured Photo: This week’s featured photo is of Perry, Georgia. Perry is where the Georgia state fair is held each year. You can find some of the tastiest food in the state at this fair and you can ride all of your favorite amusement park rides while enjoying beautiful Georgia weather. 

Life after High School

I know it may seem far away for some of you, but it is never too early to start thinking about life after you graduate high school. Some people know immediately what their life’s calling will be after they receive their diploma while others take a little longer when deciding. There are three main categories when it comes to post-secondary planning.

  • Entering the workforce
  • Attending college
  • Joining the Military

Each option comes with benefits and with what could be considered potential drawbacks. Each also comes with a unique set of requirements in order to be successful. Below I will give you an overview of all three as well as provide you with specific resources to assist you in being successful in each 

Earning a Paycheck: Entering the workforce

Some students choose to enter the workforce full-time as soon as they graduate high school. Those who choose to get a job as soon as they graduate may need the money from a steady paycheck to pay for rent, pay for other bills, or feed their families. A student may want the money to help purchase a large ticket item such as a car or a vacation to an exotic beach. 🙂 Whatever the reason is, going directly into the workforce has some powerful benefits which I will list below.

  1. Discovering which jobs or careers you like or dislike: This is important because often times students make the mistake of spending money attending college only to find out that their future job is not what they thought it would be. 
  2. Learning how to work with and cooperate with different types of people: Learning how to work with all types of people is a skill that will serve you well as you move through life. Some people are introverted (shy) and laid back while others are extroverted (outgoing) and are go-getters. Some people are neat and tidy while others are messy and seem to leave their personal things strewn about. It can be challenging to work with someone who does not have the same personality or work style as you, but it is something that you need to learn how to do in life. Entering the workforce gives you experience dealing with all sorts of people and provides you with the opportunity to learn how to handle stressful situations every day you’re on the job. 
  3. Acquiring a skill or trade: Getting a job after graduation offers students the opportunity to learn a skill or trade.  Getting a job in retail will teach a person how to stay organized and how to de-escalate a situation when someone is unhappy. Getting a job in waitressing will teach a person how to multi-task and stay calm under pressure. Getting a job in construction will teach a person how to work as a member of a team and help them learn valuable skills such as how to roof, lay concrete, and build structures. The best part? Every skill or trade learned on the job can be equally as important and helpful in everyday life 🙂

There are also some potential drawbacks to entering the workforce directly after school. These drawbacks include experiencing stress associated with your job and potentially getting stuck at a job you don’t like because you need the money. 

Hitting the Books: Attending College

Attending college is a post-secondary option for students that is beneficial in a multitude of ways. As Mr. Willis pointed out in his live session presentation, people who attend college are more likely to earn more money and less likely to experience unemployment. College has some other benefits as well which are listed below.

  1. Opportunities for travel and cultural experiences– One of my biggest regrets is that I did not take advantage of a study abroad experience in college. Studying abroad is one of the best ways to learn about a place and expand your cultural horizons. You can spend as little as two weeks or as long as a year studying abroad in a different country. It is very important to do your research and speak with members of your college community and family before signing up for a study abroad experience since international travel of any has risks associated with it. 
  2. A new set of friends who share the same interests as you– For those of you who long to leave your small town where everyone seems to know everything about each other, going to college allows you the opportunity to meet a whole new group of people in a brand new environment. These people will come from all over the country and all over the world. While they may have different personalities and a different set of values than you are accustomed to, the people you meet in your classes may end having the same interests as you which makes it easy to make new friends at college. 
  3. School Pride- Being Part of something larger than yourself- Even decades after graduation people still have an immense amount of pride about the schools they attended for their education. Whether this pride shows itself in a love for a sports team (UGA anyone) or by memorizing all of the words of your school song, attending college and developing a connection to the people and place your schooling occurs in is a huge benefit to attending college. You will have something in common with thousands of other people who have walked the campus and halls before you and with the thousands who will do so after you. 

There are a few potential drawbacks to college and these include incurring loans, having to learn how to manage your time, and living with another person or set of people! All of these negatives are small potatoes compared to what it is you gain from attending college. However, each student should consider how all of the above will impact them and have a discussion with their counselor in order to figure out the best choice for them 🙂

Lacing up your Boots: Serving our Country

Joining the U.S Military after high school allows you to earn money while serving your country and provides you with a skill set that you may be able to use after your career in the military comes to an end. Joining the military is not for everyone as it requires physical training and the ability to relocate which can and will take you away from family and friends. The very first thing you should think about doing if you are interested in joining the military is conduct research. You can visit the website for any of the branches you are interested in and find hundreds of jobs. As I mentioned in Mr. Willis’ live session, the best way I have heard the jobs available in the military described is that whatever job you can find in a city- you can find in the military. After you have a list of the jobs you are interested in and you have had a conversation with your school counselor it is time to meet with a recruiter. Your recruiter’s role is similar to that of a school counselor in that they will provide you with resources and information in order to help you make the best decision for yourself. Below read about some of the other benefits the military can provide you with.

  1. Discipline- The military will ingrain in you a sense of discipline so strong that the people you have known your entire life may not recognize you after you complete your basic training or boot camp. Things that once seemed hard to imagine like making your bed or working out will become habits and may even become things that you enjoy.
  2. World Travel- One of the reasons people join the military is that it affords them the opportunity to live in different regions of not only our own country (think Alaska and Hawaii) but in other countries as well. There are military installations all over the world and whether or not you are there as a resident per your military orders or on an assignment seeing the world is inevitable. 
  3. Educational Assistance- There are many resources that the military provides its employees with to help them pay for school. These include schools that work with your schedule as a soldier and resources like the G.I Bill which can assist you in providing funds for the school. It is important that you understand what is required in order to use educational assistance from the military. This is something your recruiter and once you are in the service your career counselor can answer. 

The military has some drawbacks associated with it as well which include being separated from family and friends for long periods of time, high-stress, and some jobs that can be considered dimensional as the skills do not transfer over to the civilian world. Make sure to have a conversation with your school counselor who can better fill you in on what you need to do if the military is something you are interested in. 

What can I do RIGHT NOW to prepare for life after high school?

I am going to be referring to resources mentioned in Mr. Willis’ Live sessions on March 15 during our post-secondary planning Lunch and Learn. Please visit the School Yard or Parent Support page to view this video 🙂

My favorite resource he mentioned to help with college or career readiness planning was the Roadtrip Nation website.  This resource appealed to me because I am busy and I am visual. In a matter of minutes you have TONS of information at your fingertips about careers you are interested in including what education is needed for this job, what the day to day life of someone working in this job is like, and the experience of people who are current leaders in that industry. NOTE: You need to have a College Board account in order to access this site. You can sign up for College bBoard by visiting https://www.collegeboard.org/ and signing up for an account. 

Other ideas and tips Mr. Willis mentioned were thinking about participating in internship or externship for school credit, taking a GAP Year, utilizing GA Futures, and participating in MOWR courses. Read below to find out more information on each of these wonderful opportunities.

  • Internships/Externships– Internships and externships are ways you can gain experience in a work field that interests you while also earning school credit. Currently, GACHS is looking into ways to better integrate internships and externships into our curriculum to help better serve all of you- our wonderful students 🙂
  • Gap Year– A gap year is something that is appealing for many graduates. It is a year “off” in between high school and college or work life. Gap years provide those who participate in them opportunities to learn a skill or trade through organizations like Job Corps or the opportunity to travel and volunteer in various countries through organizations like PeaceCorps or Americorps. For more information on what a Gap year is and how you can take advantage of a gap year visit https://www.gapyear.com/
  •  GA Futures–  https://www.gafutures.org/ GA futures is your resource for all things post-secondary in the state of Georgia. This website is where you go to apply for MOWR courses and where you will go to apply for state aid scholarships such as the Hope Scholarship
  • MOWR Courses– MOWR (Move on When Ready) Courses are one of my favorite opportunities for high school students. MOWR refers to allowing high school students to move on to take college courses. If you are interested in taking college courses where you will earn BOTH high school and college credit, talk to your counselor to find out what you need to do 🙂

Final Remarks

No matter what your plans are for life after high school in order to be successful you must prepare! The first step in being adequately prepared involves talking to your counselor. Your school counselor is not only an awesome listener when you are stressed but your counselor can provide you with resources AND schedule you in classes to help prepare you for your future. Please reach out to your counselor with ANY questions you may have about your future aspirations 🙂

Sources:

Featured Photo- http://www.perry-ga.gov/visitors/

 

The P Word: Pacing 

Featured Picture: This week’s featured picture is of Marietta, Georgia which is not only older than Atlanta but is also home to one of four physical GACHS centers. In order to learn about some of Marietta’s history, a must when you are in town is a visit to the Historic Trail of Tears.

Pacing and Edgenuity 

Your counselor talks about pacing, your mentor talks about pacing, your teachers talk about pacing, you have probably even heard me talk about pacing, but despite all the buzz you still may be unsure regarding what pacing is and how it affects you. 

Pacing is the term we use when we discuss where you are in your classes vs where you should be in your classes based off of the set end date for your course. There are three categories when it comes to pace: 

BEHIND PACE– You are behind pace when you have completed less work than that you should have completed at the current date 

ON PACE– You are on pace when you have completed the right amount of work relative to what is expected for the date 

AHEAD OF PACE You are ahead of pace when you have completed more work than what is expected of you by that date.  

The Breakdown 

For the majority of students, the end date for your course is the same June 2, 2017. Your pace is determined and starts on the date you were scheduled in courses. Each day your academic snapshot will tell you where you should be in the course based off of the current date. 

If you spend too little time in your courses you will fall behind, if you do exactly what is expected (this can be determined by either checking your assignment calendar or by keeping track of your course completion percentage) you will stay on pace, and if you do more than what is expected you will find yourself ahead of pace. 

Pacing and Book Clubs 

Have you heard of a book club? A book club is a group of people who select a book to read and meet, usually once a month, to discuss all or part of the book. The easiest way for me to break down pacing into a language that is easy to digest is to compare pacing to a book club.  

If you read your book too slowly you won’t finish your book at the same time as everyone else and may find yourself frustrated or feel left out of conversations about the book. 

If you stay on pace with the schedule your book club created you will read what you need to read but you may have something pop up where you suddenly can’t devote as much time to reading (an illness, a family emergency, etc.) and then you may find yourself behind and in a hole you can’t dig yourself out of. 

IF you get too far ahead of yourself and read your book too quickly you may not remember what you read by the time your book club meets :/ 

Think of pacing the same way. If you work through your classes too slowly and do not find a way to adjust your schedule you will more than likely not finish your course which will leave you frustrated. If you do as much work as is required to stay on pace you will be chipping away at your course but if something happens (your computer crashes or you find yourself sick) that causes you to miss some days you may find yourself behind in your courses and you will have to work extra hard to climb out of that hole. If you move too quickly through your courses when it is time to take the final exam or if applicable your milestone you may not remember any of the material you worked hard to finish.

What Should I do then? 

  • Talk it Out 

In order to get the most out of your GACHS experience the VERY FIRST thing you need to do is speak with your counselor either alone or with your parent or guardian and discuss your goals and expectations from your experience with GACHS. Being honest about what you hope to gain and what your limitations might be (such as working full-time) in regards to online work is extremely important to your future success. This will help your counselor come up with the best plan suitable for you and your particular needs.  

While you may not always understand or agree with what your counselor says or suggests it is important to remember that they ONLY have your best interest at heart.  

  • Get to work 

Once you and your counselor have had a discussion about the expectations of both parties and a realistic plan is put in place to help you earn credits, it is time to get to work. I would suggest staying a little bit ahead of pace in your classes in the event something pops up closer to the end of the semester. Just like my quote from last week’s blog post about Abe Lincoln spending the majority of the time he set aside to chop wood sharpening his ax instead of actually chopping wood, preparing for the unexpected is a crucial part of planning. 

Review time management strategies (some of my favorites were mentioned in last week’s blog) and determine what tool is best at keeping you on track. When it comes to working in your courses a set schedule tends to work best, but in the event your work is sporadic due to what you have going on in  your personal life, find a way to meet the minimum required hours to say on pace , an hour per day per course you are enrolled in (see the pacing math section for a numerical breakdown). This may mean using the weekend to get caught up but if you are dedicated to meeting your goals, sometimes sacrifices have to be made.  

  • Reach out 

If after trying to manage your time on your own you are still having trouble fitting school into your schedule ask for a pacing or progress plan. You can see an example of each underneath the descriptions listed below. 

                Pacing Plan– A plan that determines how many activities you must do each day during a five-day period in order to complete your course by a certain date. This plan is best for someone who needs to know how many activities  to do each day to finish their class by a specific date.  

                Progress Plan– A plan that breaks down the percentage in classes based on a semester schedule. This plan is best for the student who knows they cannot devote a whole lot of extra time to their schedule and is more visual. This plan lays out exactly how much progress you must make each day in a five-week period to complete your course by a set date (typically an entire semester). 

WOOT WOOT PACING MATH QUIZ 

Ready for some pacing math??!! Use the content above (hint: the formula to help you answer these questions can be found in the bullet point labeled get to work).

LEVEL 1 

Sally is enrolled in four courses. How many hours does she need to spend a day working in her courses? 

FOUR!!! 

4 courses times one 1 hour per course = 4 

Mike is enrolled in six courses. How many hours does he need to spend a day working in his courses? 

SIX!! 

6 courses times one hour per course=6 

LEVEL 2 

How many total hours A WEEK should Sally spend working in her courses? 

20 hours 

Four hours a day X 5 days a week = 20 hours 

What about Mike? 

30 

Six hours a day x 5 days a week=30 hours 

SO— IS THIS THE ONLY AMOUNT OF TIME Mike and Sally SHOULD DEVOTE TO THEIR STUDIES???

No, this is not the only amount of time they should devote; they should devote more to build themselves a bubble but if this is ABSOLUTELY all the time Sally and Mike can dedicate to their schoolwork they will at least maintain their pace.

How do school breaks factor into pacing?

The school calendar is set into Edgenuity at the beginning of the school year. So, the pacing of the course will not count weekends or school holidays against you. It is only counting the days GACHS requires you to attend school. The GOOD news?? That means if you use weekends and holidays and complete EXTRA lessons, you will move further ahead in your pace. Now, that is something to get excited about! 🙂

Sample Schedules

I AM IN THE PROCESS OF UPLOADING THE VIDEO THAT GOES ALONG WITH THIS SEGMENT- I WILL NOTIFY EVERYONE WHEN IT IS UPLOADED 🙂

Sally: Traditional Schedule (Sally devotes about six hours a day to her courses, three in the morning and three in the afternoon during the week).

Sally: Night job schedule (Sally works from 4:00-11:00 three or four days a week so she chips away at her classes in the morning after she wakes up and on the weekends)

Mike: Full-time job schedule (Mike works 9:00-5:00 Monday through Friday so he does his work after dinner during the work week and makes up whatever time he still needs on the weekend)

Mike: New Parent Schedule (Mike is a single parent with a two-month-old baby and the baby needs to be fed every 2-3 hours. Mike does an hour of work here or there when she sleeps but has to devote most of his time to caring for his newborn. He keeps track of the hours he puts in when he can and when he has family over to help out for a few hours on the weekend this is when he gets most of his work done)

Final Remarks

We can give you all the information, tools, and resources to be successful when it comes to pacing and your schoolwork but we can’t give you the willpower to get your work done on the days when you don’t feel like it. The days when you’re too tired from a busy shift at work, the days when you fail two tests and feel like giving up, the days when someone in your family says something to upset you, on those days you still need to find a way to log in and get your work done. If you don’t you have to make that time up or you will fall behind.

We are ALWAYS here to give you a word of encouragement and your counselors are available to listen if you need someone to vent to, but you have to put in the time to be successful and see yourself crossing the stage at the end of your high school career.

Tip of the week: Create an Affirmation 

An affirmation is a statement you write down and say over and over until it becomes true. The thought behind affirmations is that if you say something over and over again and open your mind to that thought becoming a reality you can actually make it happen. I played field hockey in college and on the first day of my senior season every player wrote down their affirmations as the goal or accomplishment they wanted to see themself meet that year.

170308032452.jpg
My Affirmation from my senior season

As you can see, I chose “I dodge every defender I come across and as a result, I score GOALS!” as my personal affirmation. In my mind I pictured myself dodging (which is a field hockey term for avoiding getting the ball stolen or blocked by a member of the opposite team) every defender I came across and going on to dribble down the field and score. My belief in my affirmation and my commitment to saying it over and over and visualizing it in my head before every game helped that vision become more than something written on paper! At the end of the season, I led the team in points and tied for the most goals scored :). More than that because I believed this affirmation could be true for me, I put 100% of my effort into every dodge I made around a defender and I gained confidence in my skills which helped me be the best player I could be that year, which since it was my senior season was the last time I set foot on a field as a NCAA college athlete.

An affirmation for your schoolwork doesn’t have to be complicated. your affirmation can be something as simple as “I will work in my classes for an hour each day” or “I will score an 80 on each final exam for all of my courses.” Once you create your mantra write it down and keep it somewhere where you can always see it. Begin each day reciting your mantra and picturing yourself making what you are saying happen. 

Sources:

Marietta history https://www.mariettaga.gov/1067/Mariettas-Rich-History

Featured picture http://www.marietta.com/wp-content/uploads/marietta-square-marietta-georgia.jpg