Mentee Minute

November 8th, 2013, vol. 14

Communication

Communication is truly an art. In the online world, communication requires proactive approaches. Virtual instructors rely mostly on written and phone communication to interact with stakeholders. Face to face communication aides, like body language and facial expressions, are clearly absent. As a result, a greater importance must be placed on genteel etiquette, thorough explanations, and a timely approach.

Communication Best Practices

Just as you plan and prepare for your classroom and weekly lessons, it's important to dedicate some time to practicing good communication skills with stakeholders. We believe the most advantageous way to help new teachers improve and perfect communication is through modeling. We asked some of our outstanding faculty to respond to common questions asked late in the semester. You will likely note that all the responses below are instructional, thorough and supportive...all superior online communication skills. If you are ever in doubt about how to communicate with a stakeholder, call on your mentor or department chair for guidance and support.

Dear teacher, my child is struggling with his online class. What can we do to help him?

Michael Farmer - World Languages Instructor

The number one reason that students struggle in the online classroom is time management. I have attached a copy of your student's schedule, which includes the names of assignments and tests, and a suggested daily progression. Due dates are highlighted in orange. One roll that you could take is monitoring and advising your student on time management.
Additionally, if it's more about the concepts than time, the best route to success is constant communication with me. I'm available from X-X daily, and usually answer emails within 15-30 minutes during that time. I've also included, on the course's front page in a section called "User Links", a series of recordings that approach the topics from the course from my unique perspective (giving your student a different view of the content). Students should use this as a complement to the material in the modules.

Amy Perkins - Social Studies Instructor

Thanks for the email and thank you so much for supporting your student. I would suggest the following: make sure your student is logging in daily and following the suggested course pacing guide found on his course syllabus (I am attaching it here as well). He needs to read and do the assignments - email me with questions. I would also suggest he attend weekly office hour chats in order to have some "face time" with me and be able to ask questions there. If he isn't able to attend, I can arrange an alternative time that may better meet his schedule. I think this is a good starting point, but I am here to assist in any way I can.

Dear teacher, my child has been sick. We need an extension so she can get caught up in the class.

Kelly Walker- Science Instructor

Hello Parent,

I am sorry to hear that your child has been sick. In order to receive an extension, I will need to contact my supervisors with documentation of her illness for their approval on an extension. Do you have a doctor's note that you can send to me? Once I receive a doctor's note, then I will let you know of their response.

In the meantime, have your child continue working as much as possible to get caught back up. If she has any questions as she is progressing through her assignments, please have her communicate those questions with me. I hope she is feeling better!

Thank you,
Kelly Walker

Dear teacher, why can my child not turn in missing work? She has her assignments finished but can not submit them to the dropbox?

Kumiko Herndon - World Languages Instructor

Dear Parents,

Thank you for contacting me regarding your son/daughter's progress in this course.

The time allowed for those assignments has past due to our late assignment policy. The original submission due date was (Date) and 5 school days after that date are allowed to students to submit assignments with deductions. After those 5 days, 0% is placed in the gradebook for the semester.

I do offer extra credit activities and remedial activities. They are listed in the Course Home as well as bi-weekly newsletters to parents and students. I would encourage your daughter to take advantage of those opportunities.

The attached is the course syllabus with our late assignment policy. Please let me know if you have further questions.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,

Dear teacher, why can my child not turn in work over Thanksgiving to catch up?

Vic Ricchezza - Science Instructor

Dear Mr./Ms. Parent:

The Friday preceding the Fall Break is a benchmark due date. Your child may turn in work from that benchmark over the Fall Break on the following schedule:

Friday, November 22: Final Benchmark Due Date - work from November 11 through November 22 will be accepted for full earned credit up to midnight on the night of 11/22.
Saturday, November 23 through Monday, December 2: Work is considered one school day late (weekends and Fall Break are not school days) and is penalized 10%.
Tuesday, December 3: Last day to turn in work, penalized 20% for being 2 school days late.

Any work from previous benchmark due dates is, by this point, more than one week late, and in accordance with GaVS late work policy, cannot be accepted. Students are free to use the time over the break to study previous material for the EOCT/final exam, but making exceptions to the late work policy is not fair to those students who turned in their work on time.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

Sincerely...

Jeana Worley - Science Instructor

While there is no work assigned during Thanksgiving week, students are free to work on current assignments or get ahead with their work. Students, however, are unable to turn in missing work after a week past each Assignment Due Date.

There is an Assignment Due Date right before the Thanksgiving break on 11/22. Any work that she has not submitted from the past two weeks (from 11/11 - 11/22) can be submitted for late credit over the Thanksgiving Break.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Dear Teacher, I am able to see my student’s average but I would like to see the itemized list of grades and feedback to better communicate with my child. Can you help me?

Maryellen Krueck - Assistant Coordinator of Instruction (World Languages)

If a parent should ask to see a detailed list of their students grades in your class the best answer is to ask the parent if they have linked their parent auditor account to their student's account. If they haven't, recommend they log into their parent portal and click on the Help button in the navigation bar. Our knowledgebase will open. From the sidebar menu they should select GaVS parent info. Then select the file Link Child to Parent Account. Information will be given on how to link their parent and student account. The parent will need to enter their student's GTID number and date of birth. If they do not know their student's GTID number they can request it from their student's facilitator or the instructor can give them information over the phone. We can not email this information. In 24 hours both the parent/student accounts will be linked and they can view their student's enrollments and grades with detailed feedback.


Direct link to link child to parent. Parent needs to be logged in to GaVS.

http://helpdesk.gavirtuallearning.org/support/index.php?/Knowledgebase/Article/View/41/14/link-child-to-parent-account


Tracy Rainwater - CTAE Instructor

Yes, I would be happy to help you with that! We are so glad you are using your parent auditor account and I am happy to show how to make even better use of the information available to you. After you login, that is a widget (or a box) on the right side of your screen. This widget is entitled "Auditors" and contains an "Audit Users" link. Click that link and you should come to a "Progress Summary" screen. On the left side of this screen, you should see a menu; from that menu, choose "Grades." This link gives you access to detailed information on graded items and current average. You can drill down to specific grades by clicking the triangles next to category names.

Dear teacher, what can my child do to bring up his grade? He currently has a 42. Can you give him some extra credit?

Robert Walker - Social Studies Instructor

Hello Parent,

Thanks for your email regarding your student's grade. I know a low grade can be very disconcerting for parents to see. For most students, the low grade indicates assignments not turned in on time. If your student's grade has dropped it is likely due to incomplete assignments. When you are looking at the grades, if there is a zero that means the student did not turn in or complete that assignment. Although there is a penalty for late assignments, your student is encouraged to turn in whatever they are missing from the last due date as long as it is within one week of the due date. A penalized grade is still better than a zero.

At the end of the semester there will be some extra learning opportunities that if completed properly can help your student's grade. However, I do not offer any extra learning opportunities at this point in the semester. Students should focus on submitting assignments that are currently due on the schedule rather than worrying about any "extra" work. Completing assignments before the due date gives your student the best chance of success in the course.

If your student is having trouble with tests or assignments, I would encourage them to attend the weekly synchronous chat session (or at least listen to the recording). I use that time to answer specific questions students have, to prepare for upcoming tests, and to provide enrichment and remediation. Students who attend the chats (or listen to the recording to the recordings when they can not attend) find them very beneficial. If your student has a specific question and can not attend the chats live, I am always available by email or phone. My contact info can be found at the bottom of this email and on the course homepage.

Also, how much time is your student spending in the course? The GAVS expectation for course participation is that students login to the course everyday. In fact, your student should plan to spend 90-120 minutes per day for this course. All of the time requirements are outlined on page five of the student handbook. There is a correlation between success in the course and time spent in the course learning the content and completing the assignments. If your student's average time is less than 90-120 minutes per day, they should adjust their amount of time so that they are having time to explore the content and complete the assignments.

Please make sure that your student is watching the news announcements for the extra learning opportunity at the end of the semester. I look forward to your student's future submissions!

Please let me know if you have any more questions.

Mr. Walker

Erin Hall -Social Studies Instructor

Mr./Mrs.,

The first thing that John/Jane can do to help bring up his/her grade is complete all of the assignments that are due for this next bi weekly due date (November 8, 2013). This will ensure that they do not incur anymore late penalties this grading period.

Any work that is not submitted can be turned in for up to one week late following Georgia Virtual School's Late Work Policy. Each day the assignment is late it incurs a 10% penalty beginning with 10% Sat-Mon, 20% Tuesday, 30% Wednesday, 40% Thursday, and 50% Friday. After Friday the assignment can no longer be accepted for credit.

All remediation assignments are offered to all students in the course and as of today John/Jane has not taken advantage of opportunities to earn back points on his/her multiple choice tests. Please have him/her go back and review the instructions for this and start completing the remediation. The instructions can be found in a NEWS item posted on October 17. If he/she has any questions about how to complete this have him/her contact me.

Additionally there will be one more remediation opportunity offered to all students before Thanksgiving Break. This will be posted on the course Bulletin Board in the next week. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

Phone Conferencing Tips - Many of the suggestions offered in the blogs below can be applied to phone conferences with parents and students.

Important Dates

November Faculty Meeting, Tuesday 11/19 6 and 7:30 pm

November Professional Development, Thursday 11/21 7:30 pm

World Language Speaking Contest 11/19 and 11/21 (for those participating)

Thanksgiving holidays 11/25- 11/29

Meet the Authors

Joyce Bearden ~ GaVS 2013/2014 Teacher of the Year; GaVS 2013/2014 Mentor of the Year; GaVS Latin Instructor since 2009


Kelly Gardner ~ GaVS 2012/2013 & 2013/2014 Teacher of the Year Finalist; GaVS English Department Mentor; GaVS English Instructor since 2007