A Day in the Life of a Snow Pond Arts Academy Student
A day in the life of Snow Pond Arts Academy (SPAA) students provides the ultimate flexibility for meeting the individual needs of each student. The environment includes a balance between online and offline work. Immediate active engagement occurs both with their onsite core teachers during whole group, small group or 1:1 direct instruction and in the FLEX area with their Academic Coaches as students not requiring additional direct instruction work at their own pace. A student’s day involves engaging with teachers during classroom instruction, working independently on their courses with the guidance and supervision of an Academic Coach, and interacting with their peers during school activities and collaborative academic sessions. As the school culture is established, there may be increased off site learning by students, as the online curriculum is available 24/7. Because of the wide array of communication modalities students will rarely miss opportunities for instruction e.g. due to Snow Days, student illness, family travel etc.
SPAA’s Blended Model allows each student the ability to work at his/her own pace with curriculum units that have been designed collaboratively by SPAA teachers in both the arts as well as core academic areas to ensure an arts focus. SPAA teachers have the flexibility to access and modify all of the curriculum units, lessons and activities, from K12 to add their own integrated Arts components. SPAA students will experience an arts infused curriculum on a daily base. For example the study of physics standards could be accomplished by learning about the harmonics and resonance of instruments; or projects focusing on the history of the art and architecture of an area like ancient Rome.
Onsite Direct Instruction
As the SPAA model is a blended model, instruction and curriculum resources are provided both in an online and physical manner. Human interaction is integral to its success. All core subject teachers are onsite. Students meet each day with these onsite state-licensed teachers based on their schedule. Additionally, students also meet with their core subject matter teachers up to five times a week for as long as needed to learn the material and master the skills necessary to be successful. This small group or 1:1 direct instruction is provided during FLEX time.
To enable students to access a broad array of electives, SPAA may also use online teachers. These teachers are either certified or highly qualified. At SPAA, students will initially be onsite at the school five days a week and will take the online elective courses at the school. Direct instruction and support for these electives may be delivered through live online sessions at the school via Blackboard Collaborate or other similar online meeting tools. Online teachers also regularly email their students and speak to them via telephone or via computer. Each student is provided with a headphone with a microphone for the elective courses using online teachers. This type of intervention also enables off-site instruction to take place and enrich each student’s academic experience.
At some point in the scheduled day, SPAA students will have 30 minutes a day to attend an “Advisory” period. During this period, students create their week’s schedule, discuss relevant current topics (i.e. ACT, college planning, state testing preparation, etc.), learn social and emotional skills, and plan out the day’s work and make sure they understand what has to be completed that week. The advisory group is made up of ten to thirteen students with a wide range of backgrounds and learning levels. When possible, students will be grouped by grade level in an effort to engage in similar discussions and topics that are appropriate to their grade level. The advisor will support each student until the student graduates, creating a way for each staff member to take special interest in a group of students and to shepherd them through this unique SPAA learning experience. The advising model also allows teachers to create a learning experience that addresses each student’s academic strengths and weaknesses so he/she can be properly supported throughout the years.
Flexible Online and Offline Academic Work
Students engage in online and offline curriculum units, lessons, and activities in a library-like setting, interacting with an immense amount of information and experiences using technology as an instructional tool. The courses are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, so they can continue their work at home or wherever they are at night, weekends and vacations. Students can also access academic work at home at night to get ahead, catch up, or remain on-track.
Some of the curriculum activities are online, while some of them are offline. Novels and supplemental textbooks can be read in the form of a hardcopy textbook or an electronic one. When accessing the online environment students can go to a collaboration room to work on a project with other students or, with permission, read in one of the social areas set aside for that purpose.
On-site teachers and online learning systems make it clear when students have to complete their work; however, if students are welcome to complete their work prior to those deadlines, it is up to them. Students are productively engaged throughout the learning process and also receive electronic notifications detailing how they are doing and what areas need additional attention. Everything is clearly laid out for students and families in a manner that invites and encourages all stakeholders to play a vital role as partners in the educational process.
Students Get Help When Needed
Students can receive academic assistance right when they need it- something that is often difficult to support in a traditional school model. Students in the SPAA center are first encouraged to ask a classmate for help, a skill that will be very useful at work and in life. They just need to speak quietly, as in a library. Next, they can raise their hand (or a color coded card) for assistance from an academic coach.
In addition, there are also specific times during the day that the Focused Intervention Team (F.I.T) is scheduled to provide students with an additional layer of support. Teachers use the data available within the platform, informal and formal classroom assessments, and through classroom instructional observations, to conduct small group and one-on-one sessions with students. If the students need further assistance, they can get help from a teacher by sending a school email and/or scheduling a time during the teacher’s office hours.