Charter School Program Undergoes Makeover

 
 

BY CORRIE CLAPSADDLE, NCS INTERN
THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

Natomas Charter School’s Independent Learning Program recently underwent a makeover.

Known on campus now as the Virtual Learning Academy, students whose learning needs are not met by the traditional classroom environment can now access Natomas Charter School online.

“We want to create a small school environment where students can be supported and not get lost in the system,” said VLA coordinator Laura Bariel.

Students access their assignments electronically through Moodle.org, which creates an interactive online classroom.

Assignments are given on a weekly basis and students meet with their academic coach once every two weeks to look at grades and areas where they may need help. Students are also required to come to the Natomas Charter School campus Tuesdays and Thursdays if they have a workshop to attend. On non-workshop days, students may come in and work on assignments in the school learning center computer lab for up to three hours.

The Virtual Learning Academy is built on the idea of the “flipped classroom,” where students take in the information outside of class and then come in to work with a teacher. Lessons are delivered in the form of recorded lectures, power points, readings, and videos.

This new concept of education is ideal for students who are heavily involved in extracurricular activities, focused on the arts, competitive sports, or working. Students who have ADHD or ADD may also benefit from the academy since they can choose what they want to work on and when.

“The academy provides a helpful format for students who don’t necessarily fit the norm,” said Bariel. “Students have the option to work and learn at the same time, while still being able to participate in school wide social events like dances, lunches, and rallies.”

Seventy-five students are currently enrolled in the VLA program and said they have noticed how lessons and skills taught through the academy have had an effect on their everyday lives.

Senior Seabaze Whitmore said the program “helps to make you more responsible and independent. You have to keep track of your assignments because, since you’re not in class, the teacher is not there to remind you everyday. Not being around all of the drama from regular school helps also – it keeps me from getting distracted.”

Fellow senior Kathryn Smith, who has been enrolled in the academy since she was a freshman, said “the one-on-one with the teacher really helps, along with the small working group environment. I’m definitely more organized now and I do my homework everyday. I am a little sad that I missed out on regular school socializing, but I think the trade off is worth it.”

Added Bariel, “Natomas Charter’s Virtual Learning Academy is focused on helping students succeed and meeting their particular needs.”