Spark Online Academy

Family Newsletter - July 26, 2021

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Message from Mrs. Johnson

Greetings, Spark Online Community!


I hope you are all enjoying some summer fun and staying healthy and safe. Catching some of the beginning events in the Summer Olympics, I find myself even more inspired by the athletes than I normally am. Like the rest of us, they have had their lives turned upside down, and the journey to success completely changed. Yet, they stayed focused, adapted, and continued pursuing dreams with new energy and spirit.


While every family and student has a different story and journey leading to Spark Online Academy, you all have taken new and unexpected paths, and the Spark Online staff is preparing learning experiences and materials for you that honor your unique journeys. Our focus and commitment are toward connected, caring learning that brings energy, excitement, and relevancy and keeps it growing.


In this newsletter, you’ll find:


  • Important upcoming dates
  • Information about orientation and device/supply pick up
  • What we've learned and how that will make Spark Online even better
  • Ways for you to take the mic and spotlight



As always, please reach out with any questions or information needs. It’s an honor and privilege to partner with all of you in the success and development of our learners.


Committed to your student's success,


Julie Johnson

Principal, Spark Online Academy

julie.johnson@d11.org

719-328-4302 Office

719-322-6270 Cell

Important Dates Ahead

Orientation and supplies distribution


On August 2 and 3, Spark Online will host orientation and device and supplies distribution. At these sessions, our teachers and staff members will help you learn about the new devices students will be using and how to access the learning platforms and applications that will be used throughout the school year.


With new D11 devices, it will be necessary for students to log on at a D11 site the first time. We will also assist in setting up parent accounts on our learning management system, necessary for your partnership in your student's education. Our teachers are preparing a brief introduction and information presentation for families and students.


These sessions are scheduled to take place at our flexible learning spaces at Trailblazer Elementary School, with windows open and staff will be wearing masks while we are indoors. While it is most efficient to distribute information and supplies at a scheduled session, we understand that some people may not be able to, or are uncomfortable attending an indoor session with other families and students. Please let us know on the RSVP form linked below and we will make other arrangements for you to receive the information, devices, and supplies.


Our grades 6-8 orientation is scheduled for

Monday, August 2 from 1:00-4:00 as follows:


  • Grade 6 - 1:00-2:00
  • Grade 7 - 2:00-3:00
  • Grade 8 - 3:00-4:00

Our grades K-5 orientation is scheduled for

Tuesday, August 3 from 1:00-4:00 as follows:


  • Grades K-1 - 1:00-2:00
  • Grades 2-3 - 2:00-3:00
  • Grades 4-5 - 3:00-4:00


If you have students in multiple grades, we will accommodate your needs for combining device and supply distribution, however, our teachers will only be available at the times listed above for each grade level. We will have a "station rotation" schedule in order to keep the number of people in a space lower and yet give you access to the information and supplies needed.



Kindly complete the RSVP form linked below to help us plan for the best orientation experience.


LINK TO RSVP RESPONSE FORM FOR ORIENTATION


Trailblazer Elementary

2015 Wickes Rd.

Colorado Springs, CO

80919


Monday, August 16

First day of school for all students

What we've learned and why it matters

Ask anyone who experienced emergency remote learning last year, and they'll most likely tell you it was pretty bumpy at times for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common challenges reported were inconsistencies of knowing what to expect, changing learning models from in-person to hybrid to online, and kids feeling disconnected from their classmates if they chose to remain online. Some teachers, through heroic efforts, were managing both in-person and online instruction creating high levels of stress for students, teachers, and families.


These experiences have had a huge impact on planning for Spark Online Academy. Our staff is fully committed to consistent online learning with the confidence of knowing that Spark Online is not temporary or fluctuating in response to other events. A full day of engaging, interactive, both on-screen and off-screen learning will be planned for all of our students by teachers who recognize and celebrate the benefits and opportunities opened up with virtual learning and remove the need to be bound to traditional learning structures.


Rather than longer, more passive learning episodes, Spark students will have shorter, more focused, and personalized direct instruction accompanied by hands-on, group, game-based, or problem-based learning. that will help kids stay engaged in their learning.


We know the negative effects of feeling isolated or disconnected from a community and are intentional in creating active, ongoing webs of support and connectedness to peers, caring adults, and the local and global community. We are a school without walls and the ability to leverage technology to open new doors and ways to engage with the world.


Starting the school day without the trusty tardy bell ringing helped us rethink a better way to prepare our bodies and brains for learning without the adrenaline rush of making lunches, grabbing backpacks, and catching the bus on time. Spark students start the day in a more human-centered approach by giving students a choice in an active or creative entry into their learning day. By getting centered and prepared, we set the day up for success.


We listened and paid attention to our students and families to design Spark and we will continue to access your feedback and be responsive to continuously improve learning experiences and outcomes for students.

This might help

Instead of trying to find the best deals on school supplies and lunch boxes, now is the time to create the best learning environment at home for your student. Click on the link below for some tips to consider.


TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL HOME LEARNING ENVIRONMENT


Our school's master schedules are below; please keep in mind your student's teacher will have a more detailed schedule for your child's day. You will notice some common learning and break times between the grades to support families with more than one Spark student. Also, our "CAB" time is when all students will start the day in a Creative and Active Beginning to get their brains and bodies ready for learning. Students will have a choice of classes to attend for CAB time.

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Don't be shy!

We are getting more and more attention from the media wanting to hear your stories of success in online learning and why Spark is a great fit for continuing the success. We're happy to talk with them, but families and kids are far more interesting to hear from. Interviews are not live and are usually done virtually.


Please consider chatting with one of our local news stations about your success and choice of online learning. Send me an email or give me a call for more information.


julie.johnson@d11.org

719-322-6270

About Spark Online Academy

Spark Online Academy empowers learners through connected, rigorous, and relevant learning experiences that combine caring, skilled educators with the power of technology to connect with the local and global community.