Sweet Peaches

The Latest News for GCA Teachers and Staff - Jan. 21st, 2015

Please enjoy the Weekly GCA Staff Newsletter. It is our intent to inspire and encourage you through shout-outs, tech-tips and general reminders by taking a light-hearted and positive perspective to what makes being part of a virtual school special. While it is not intended to replace the important information which is shared through your school, we hope you will find even more reasons that it is truly a GREAT DAY AT GCA!

Georgia Cyber Academy - OUR MISSION

The mission of the Georgia Cyber Academy is to provide an exemplary educational experience to students in a unique and individualized setting. We embrace a collaborative partnership between teachers, learning coaches, and students that recognizes the needs of the individual child. The provision of research based curriculum and rigorous, standards-based instruction guarantees student success as measured by academic gains, parent and student satisfaction, and continued institutional growth in the respected academic community. Academic success and the ability of our students to reach their highest potential is our ultimate goal.

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Upcoming Staff Meeting and Training Dates and Topics:

1/23 - DDI Action Plan Follow-up / Student Ownership of Interim Assessment Results

1/30 - FIP - Collecting and Documenting Evidence of Student Learning

2/10 & 2/11 - Virtual Professional Development

2/3 & 2/11 - Elementary Virtual Professional Development

Please remember these meetings are required for all staff. Should you need to access the recording to a meeting, you can find all staff meeting recordings on the Home Page in Sharepoint. Professional Development follows our Staff Meeting each week.

Get Ready for the busy testing season!


Get serious about training.

The 1st Training Session for Milestones will be on February 11th - Virtual PD. Create a folder on you computer for Milestones, review the information at the link below and get ready for all-new training!

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Georgia Milestones

Please review the link below to learn more information about Georgia’s new testing system, Georgia Milestones EOC/EOG!

Preparations for our 2015 testing season is underway!

More Georgia Cyber Academy specific details will be coming soon!


TED Ed: 8 Traits of Successful People

This entertaining 7-minute video introduces you to the work of researcher Richard St. John who spent 10 years talking to 500 successful people about what made them successful, in dozens of fields.

To summarize, the eight traits are:

  1. Passion: Love what you do
  2. Work hard
  3. Focus on one thing, not everything
  4. Push yourself
  5. Come up with good ideas
  6. Keep improving
  7. Serve others
  8. Persist, because there’s no overnight success

Watch the video here:


Teacher Help for Computer Issues

All GCA tech issues will be submitted through the link below.


Technology concerns/issues will no longer be addressed via email. Please note that we must exhaust all troubleshooting at the school level, prior to submitting a ticket. At a minimum, all concerns/issues must be discussed with the direct supervisor.

All issues that previously went to Stan/SRIT, will continue to go to that ticket system.

Matthias will send a follow up email one the issue has been resolved/addressed. We believe that this will streamline the process.

Tip: bookmark the link above for easy access!

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Richard Woods Becomes Georgia’s 22nd State School Superintendent

January 12, 2015 -- Richard Woods was sworn into office today as Georgia’s 22nd State School Superintendent. A 22-year public school educator and former small business owner, Superintendent Woods brings years of experience and a commitment of collaboration to improve Georgia's schools.

“I am honored to serve as State School Superintendent and excited about the future of education in Georgia,” said Superintendent Woods. "Though we face many challenges, I am committed to listening to students, parents, and teachers, and working with the Governor, State Board, and General Assembly to develop solutions that ensure the betterment of our children's future and the teaching profession.”

Superintendent Woods has several issues he will concentrate on immediately. He will work to improve collaboration, ensure child-focused and classroom-centered instruction, and improve communication with education stakeholders.

January 14, 2015 -- To view a video message from State School Superintendent Richard Woods, please click on the following link: http://youtu.be/w90fatxEaC4

Richard Woods, Georgia’s School Superintendent Educating Georgia’s Future

The 8 Minutes That Matter Most

I am an English teacher, so my ears perk up when writers talk about their process. I've found the advice handy for lesson planning, too. That's because both writing and planning deal with craft.

In writing, you want your audience to be absorbed. You want them to care about your characters. You want them to be delighted by the suspense. That's not easy to pull off, and it's just as hard in the classroom. So when writers pull back the curtain on what they do, I pay attention. I look at the ways in which they create drama and tension. I study how their twists and turns pace a story much like the transitions of a lesson. I am also fascinated by rituals.

John Irving, the author of The Cider House Rules, begins with his last sentence:

I write the last line, and then I write the line before that. I find myself writing backwards for a while, until I have a solid sense of how that ending sounds and feels. You have to know what your voice sounds like at the end of the story, because it tells you how to sound when you begin.

That is the crux of lesson planning right there -- endings and beginnings.

If we fail to engage students at the start, we may never get them back. If we don't know the end result, we risk moving haphazardly from one activity to the next. Every moment in a lesson plan should tell.

The eight minutes that matter most are the beginning and endings.

If a lesson does not start off strong by activating prior knowledge, creating anticipation, or establishing goals, student interest wanes, and you have to do some heavy lifting to get them back. If it fails to check for understanding, you will never know if the lesson's goal was attained.

Here are eight ways to make those eight minutes magical.


1. Trend With YouTube

YouTube reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds than any cable channel. One hundred hours of video are uploaded to it every minute. There's something for every grade, subject, and approach on YouTube. Not only does it make learning HD visible, it also allows teachers to make connections that could never happen before. I had my students draw comparisons between Carl Sandberg's poem "Chicago” and the Chrysler Super Bowl commercialfeaturing Eminem. Fifteen years ago, I would have had to keep my finger on the record button of my VCR remote and pray for it to air. YouTube makes anticipatory sets a whole lot easier.

2. Start With Good News

If you want to create a safe space for students to take risks, you won't get there with a pry bar. Edutopia blogger Todd Finley starts his classes with two minutes of sharing good news. Classrooms that celebrate success build the comfort necessary for students to ask critical questions, share ideas, and participate in honest and open discussions. Starting with celebrations is a short, easy way to get there.

3. Cross Disciplines

Toss a football around the class before you teach the physics of a Peyton Manning spiral. Play a song that makes a classical allusion for your mythology unit. Measure the angles of a Picasso painting in math class. Integrating other disciplines teaches students that ideas and concepts do not stand alone but rather exist within a wider web of knowledge. Starting with another discipline can open their senses to deeper learning.

4. Write for 5

Kelly Gallagher says that students should write four times as much as a teacher can grade. Students need to write -- a lot -- if they are to improve. One way to achieve that is to start each day with an essential question that students must spend five minutes answering. If done day after day, it becomes ritualistic and builds stamina. Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe have a diverse list of essential questions.


1. Level Up

GameStop operates 6,457 retail stores throughout the world. It's no secret that kids love video games, partly because of the constant reward for reaching new levels and earning higher rankings. This creates a sense of accomplishment, competency, and worth. Teachers can play upon this need and develop levels of proficiency based on standards. At the end of a lesson, have students chart their own progress toward mastery based on standards. A popular game offers beginner, heroic, legendary, and mythic as levels, and they may be just the right motivation to get reluctant learners to overachieve.

2. Exit Tickets

Robert Marzano classifies exit tickets into four different categories: formative assessment data, student self analysis, instructional strategy feedback, and open communication. However they are used, they provide quick and comprehensive bits of data and feedback. Wiggins and McTighe also have a comprehensive list of checks for understanding.

3. Mimic Social Media

The digital world's spirit of collaboration and connection can be replicated in the physical classroom as bulletin boards become mock social media spaces to share ideas. Erin Klein has written about the positive ways to use of Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram in the classroom. In the final four minutes, you can challenge students to compose a tweet or find an image best capturing the learning that occurred.

4. Post-It Power

Another way to create a positive classroom climate beyond the "good news" start is to end with notes of influence. Have students write one thing that they learned from someone else in class on a Post-it note and stick it to the chalkboard. At the start of the next day, read these notes aloud. This affirms that a classroom is a community of learners and validates participation because it does so much more than answer a question -- it helps others understand more deeply.

How do you begin and end lessons in your classroom?

Brian Sztabnik

source: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-minutes-that-matter-most-brian-sztabnik

High School News

On Wednesday, January 21st at 10am, Tom Dickson will be a guest lecturer for the government and American History classes for GCA. Government teacher Amanda Priewe will travel, along with three students, to the Capitol and do a special CC on how laws are made in Georgia
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