Why Joining The Monitor News and Other Online Clubs and Activities…
The school year is starting soon, and it’s time to prepare for the whirlwind of planning, organizing, and back-to-school shopping that leads up to the first day. While you and your student get ready to start a new grade, don’t forget to plan another important kind of learning experience—the extracurricular activity.
It’s a lot easier for your child to get involved at online school than you might expect. That’s because our clubs and activities give your child flexibility, independence, and opportunities to grow. If you want to start with a comprehensive overview of our student organizations, check out our FAQ on how online clubs and activities help virtual school students socialize.
To give you an inside look at how our activities work, let’s focus on one of our organizations in more depth. The Monitor is our student newspaper written completely by students, and I had a chance to talk to Jaime Fike, the supervisor and a member of the clubs and activities team. Take a look below to see how clubs are designed to support our students.
Finding Activities that Fit Your Interests and Needs
Are you worried that your student won’t be able to fit online school clubs and activities into his or her busy schedule? At Connections Academy, we offer onetime student activities and special events as well as ongoing clubs so students can choose what they have time for. Some organizations including The Monitor also allow for different levels of participation. Students can choose how many articles they can write in a week, up to four per issue, but they can skip a week if they’re too busy to contribute.
When it comes to student interests, clubs and activities cover a vast range of topics, from pet care to robotics to debate. Students also have a wide variety of choices when it comes to writing an article for The Monitor.
“I think it’s important that students understand they can choose what they write about,” says Jaime. Instead of assigning topics to students, she simply approves the topics that students come up with. Article topics can cover world news, sports, reviews, and advice. The newspaper even has a “Just for Fun” section for comic strips, recipes, crafts, and more. “There’s a place for anyone interested in writing on The Monitor,” Jaime adds.
Getting Involved and Learning New Things
The best thing about joining a club or organization is the chance to connect with the broader community. Although all activities are online, they’re designed so that students can easily interact with other students who share their interests.
Each month, students involved in The Monitor have the opportunity to collaborate on an article in a LiveLesson® session. After writing a piece together, students can choose to deliver the article as broadcast news using their webcams. This helps students learn more about the writing process and also practice their speaking skills. New contributors can get great experience this way before they start writing articles independently.
Even in an online organization, however, students can find ways to stay connected to their local community. Jaime says she encourages students to write about activities that are occurring in their local schools. Students have written about local news, fairs, and field trips. Tackling these topics challenges writers to expand on their ideas so that students from other parts of the country can relate to the topics as well. For example, an article about a recent field trip to the zoo could include tips on planning a visit to a local zoo.
“My hope is that focusing on local events will encourage students to take advantage of the opportunities offered at their local Connections Academy, as well as participate in other clubs and activities by writing for The Monitor,” says Jaime.
Encouraging Student Leadership, Independence, and Growth
We want students to become independent learners in the virtual school classroom, and the same goes for our online clubs and activities. The Monitor has recently added leadership roles that allow members to volunteer as student editors.
The extra responsibilities of student editors are to:
- Supervise a section of The Monitor
- Review articles submitted to their section
- Offer feedback to other writers
- Write articles for any section of the newspaper
- Find pictures for articles when possible
Student editors must take on more responsibility and devote more time to the paper, and as a result they gain valuable skills and experience.
Jaime is very impressed by how much the writers grow by joining the newspaper staff. “One of my favorite things about supervising The Monitor is seeing the students helping each other and coming together to better their writing skills. I was so proud of our student editors last year; they understood their role in the production process and gave excellent feedback to the writers, which made the quality of the new writing coming in rise to the next level. As the year went on, I saw that they understood outlining, note-taking, citing sources, and article flow much better after working together to create these articles.”
How to Sign Up for a Club or Activity
Connections Academy students receive a newsletter through WebMail providing details on all club activities and upcoming events. New members can join ongoing clubs each October, and parents or Learning Coaches can help students join by signing up on the caretaker homepage. If you have questions about signing up, contact your teacher for more information.
Do you have any suggestions for new activities or events this year? Let us know what you’re interested in!