Guest Post, Online Learning, Sevenstar

Middle Schoolers and Online Courses

Middle SchoolGuest Post By: Dr. Mark Beadle (CEO of Sevenstar)

Isn’t it all about expectations? If I expect my hotel to be 5 star (and would only pay for a 2 star), I am still disappointed if it is not wonderful in every way. It is the same for middle schoolers and online courses. We have trained them for at least six years that the teacher is in control and they respond to teacher directions. They have sat in rows and sometimes even did what the teacher asked! The teacher decided what was learned and when.

So six years of training about how to learn in school. But the world is changing and education is also changing; albeit in a slow fashion. Middle schools now are sometimes offering online courses. Here are popular middle school online courses with Sevenstar (available to you via CSIonline Academy):

  • Thinking and Learning Strategies Course – it’s like ACT or SAT prep for middle school students.
  • Electives like Digital Photography, Forensics, Health, Game Design, or an App Inventor course.
  • Advanced Math and Science courses like Geometry or Marine Biology
  • Expanded Foreign Language options like Latin or Chinese
  • Remedial courses for those that are behind

We know most students love computers. Recently we were in an elite school in Puerto Rico and I asked “How many would like to take an online class?” You would have thought I said “Would you like some candy?” Almost every hand went up.

Their expectations about online classes were not informed. They likely expected them to be easy and for the teacher to still be in charge. That leads to disappointment like I had with my hotel room.

Middle school online classes require a different student approach. First of all, students and parents can actually choose which class they want and even when they want it to start. They can choose the pace they progress within certain limits. They can choose where and when they work.

We find that middle school students often need more external support, especially at the beginning of the class.  We have changed the way they have been taught to learn. Now they are required to be engaged through discussion questions (where every student answers and replies to two other posts). Mrs. Bird, the Sevenstar Principal, says: “Middle schoolers who have parental involvement can do as well as High School students online if the parents (or school or some tutor) is involved in a positive way to help the student stay on track and work consistently.”  The power of positive reinforcement works well with middle schoolers! Accountability is also needed.

While we certainly want independent learners, we can’t just change the expectations and expect success.  We need to provide middle schoolers with support.

This post was republished with permission and was previously shared on Sevenstar’s blog.

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