Coaching Online Students for High School Success (Part 2): Holding Students Accountable
While online high school gives students the opportunity to develop independence, parent or Learning Coach involvement is still important. The time commitment for the parent of a student at the high school grade levels is typically minimal, but students benefit from ongoing guidance and encouragement as they prepare to enter the next stage in their life.
In the first blog post in this series, we addressed making a plan for coaching high school students to success. In today’s post, we’ll examine effective ways to hold high schoolers accountable for their learning.
Awareness Before Your Student Begins
In a traditional bricks-and-mortar high school, parents don’t get to see what students are learning, and in many cases, may only have contact with teachers when there’s a problem. With online high school, parents and Learning Coaches can easily stay up-to-date on their student’s studies.
Experienced Learning Coaches recommend briefly looking at the lesson screens before each day’s scheduled lessons so you know what activities are involved and can encourage your student to complete lessons appropriately. Here are some of the things you might look for:
- lesson activities that require a student response
- key vocabulary words, lesson objectives, and assignments that will require your student to take notes
- portfolio directions indicating that a portfolio or a part of a portfolio will need to be completed
- signs that a lesson is a review lesson in preparation for a test, or if a lesson includes a quiz or other type of assessment
- worksheets, concept maps, or other documents that are part of the lesson and need to be downloaded or printed
- lesson screens that featurequestions your student should answer
It’s also important—and convenient!—to check up on your student’s progress. For example, at Connections Academy®–supported schools, parents have easy 24/7 access to a student’s grade book, and can see the teacher’s feedback on portfolios, assessments, quizzes, and other graded work.
As your student works throughout the day, it’s a good idea to touch base periodically. Some students need very little supervision, whereas others need significant nudging—either overall, or just for a particularly disliked course. If you decide it’s necessary, you can use the information that you gleaned from previewing the lessons to hold your student accountable.
One good question to ask is “Are you on track to finish by end of day?” If you receive a one-word answer, you may want to ask about specific lessons and corresponding assignments. A student who seems to zip through lessons much too quickly may not be doing all of the required work, so be sure to ask questions. When too much time passes without progress, your student may need a reminder to contact the teacher for help with a lesson.
Where long-term portfolio projects are concerned, high school students can become overwhelmed. If you see no signs that your student is working on an assigned portfolio, you might consider offering your help to create a schedule by breaking the project into smaller chunks. If your student seems stumped, remind him or her to carefully read the instructions, to use any rubrics or graphic organizers provided, and to direct questions to the teacher.
Verify Student Work
Once your student finishes a lesson, he or she marks it complete in the online learning system. At Connections Academy, parents or Learning Coaches then have another checkpoint opportunity—lessons remain in the “pending” stage until you provide approval.
Before approving a lesson, it’s important to verify that it has been done as directed and that your student has a complete understanding of the concept or skill. You should also evaluate whether your student’s work shows the proper level of effort. To ensure student comprehension, consider taking the following actions before you approve your student’s lessons:
- Check your student’s note-taking for thoroughness.
- Ensure lesson documents were downloaded or printed and then completed.
- Check for the completion of any portfolio work.
- Ask your student a few questions from the lesson and review the answers together.
- Open graded assessments and review the correct answers to any missed questions.
If your student does not demonstrate effort or an understanding of lesson content, have him or her go back and complete the lesson appropriately, or encourage him or her to contact the teacher for clarification regarding lesson concepts.
While it may seem like a significant commitment, the time and energy you devote to being your high school student’s Learning Coach is worth it. Holding students accountable will help them succeed in both school and life by teaching them to be independent learners and preparing them for adult responsibilities!
How do you hold your high school student accountable for his or her learning? Share your advice in the comments.