Virtual School Meanderings

April 21, 2017

REMINDER: iNACOL Webinar | 4/27: An Overview of K-12 Competency-Based Education for Education Leaders and Teachers

And from the neo-liberals…

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An Overview of K-12 Competency-Based Education for Education Leaders and Teachers

Thursday, April 27, 2017
3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET (register)

On Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) will host a webinar on an introduction to K-12 competency-based education and its potential benefits.

Educators across the country are beginning to realize the promise of competency-based education, designed to help students successfully master skills at each step, year after year, by ensuring they advance after they demonstrate proficiency. The concept behind competency education is simple: learning is best measured by students demonstrating mastery of learning targets with the supports they need, rather than the number of hours spent in a classroom with variable amounts of actual learning.

Join this webinar to hear from competency education experts andCompetencyWorks co-founders, Susan Patrick and Chris Sturgis for an introduction to competency education in K-12 education systems. Explore the definition of competency education, understand the field’s trends and why districts and schools are making this transition, and learn how competency-based approaches more effectively prepare students for post-secondary success.

iNACOL CEO Susan Patrick said, “Competency-based education systems are an important foundation for ensuring innovation for equity. The trends point to more and more states offering flexibility for personalized, competency-based instructional designs that ensure students master lessons before advancing, forming a solid foundation for their next steps in learning. To address equity, education systems must provide the resources, supports and commitment to progress on goals for all students realizing successful outcomes indicated by readiness for college and preparedness for future employment.”

MetisNet Principal Chris Sturgis said, “Across the country, districts are turning to competency education because the transparency and intentionality engages and motivates students while enabling a much richer collaboration among teachers.”

This webinar is free to attend — participants are invited to register here for final details and login information.

Webinar Title: An Overview of K-12 Competency-Based Education for Education Leaders and Teachers


  • Chris Sturgis, Principal, MetisNet; Co-Founder, CompetencyWorks
  • Susan Patrick, President and CEO, iNACOL; Co-Founder,CompetencyWorks

Share this Webinar on Twitter:

  • April #Webinar: An Overview of #K12 #CompetencyBased #Education for #EdLeaders & #Teachers @nacol@CompetencyWorks 

About iNACOL

The mission of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is to catalyze the transformation of K-12 education policy and practice to advance powerful, personalized, learner-centered experiences through competency-based, blended and online learning. iNACOL is a non-profit organization focusing on research, developing policy for student-centered education to ensure equity and access, developing quality standards for emerging learning models using competency-based, blended, and online education, and supporting the ongoing professional development of school and district leaders for new learning models. Visit our website, like us on Facebookconnect with us on LinkedInand follow us on twitter.

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Learning Differences; Strategic Planning; And Quality Questioning

A notice from one of the RELs from yesterday’s inbox.

April 2017

Spotlight on Instruction
Improve, accelerate, and innovate your instructional practices across content areas and grade levels. McREL can help you with strategies to challenge students, develop positive relationships, and consistently deliver high-quality learning experiences for all students. Learn more about our services that support instruction.

Contact us today for consulting services, professional learning sessions, and customized solutions, or request a free strategic session with one of our experts. No fee, no obligations, just good ideas and inspiration for quick wins and game changers to keep your school, district, agency, or system on track for success.

Let us know how we can help!

New from McREL

Blog Post | Differences, not disabilities
In this blog post, Bryan Goodwin and Heather Hein examine the growing paradigm shift from learning disabilities to learning differences. The key takeaway, they say, is for teachers to reflect on their approach to instruction planning and delivery for each student. Read their blog post.

White Paper | Finding Simplicity on the Other Side of Complexity: A Strategic Planning Process Streamlines District Work and Improves the System for All
Managing a school district has become an increasingly complex endeavor. But district leaders who take a systems approach to strategic planning can simplify their work and increase the success of their principals, teachers, and students. In this white paper, Jay Harnack, the superintendent of Sublette County School District #1, and Matt Seebaum, senior director at McREL, show how a strategic planning process reduces redundancy and workload by integrating district goals, strategic planning, and school improvement into one streamlined process. Read the white paper.

Webinar | Quality Questioning: A catalyst for thinking and learning
Did you miss our last webinar on quality questioning? Learn more about how teachers can use “quality questioning” to stimulate student thinking and support classroom dialogue and why dialogue is essential to meaningful formative feedback. Jackie Walsh and Beth Sattes, authors of the new 2nd edition of Quality Questioning: Research-Based Practice to Engage Every Learner, explored these questions in our February webinar (originally recorded on February 28, 2017). View the webinar.

Events & Opportunities

Weeklong Chats on Twitter

Looking to grow your PLN? Join us for our weeklong Twitter chats, where participants share best practices, strategies, and common (or uncommon) struggles and successes. Follow us on Twitter and use the hashtag #McRELchat to share your thoughts and ideas on each week’s theme with other educators. Our weeklong “slow chats” begin on Mondays and end on Sundays.

Instructional coaching
April 17-23

Question: How do you benefit from an instructional coach’s advice and insight?

Social and emotional supports
April 24-30

Question: What social and emotional supports are in place for your students?

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
May 1-7

Question: What has been your biggest struggle with Bring Your Own Device?

Professional Learning with McREL

Make significant changes in teaching, leading, and learning, and gain research-based, best-practice strategies to help you —- and your students —- flourish. Join us in Denver for these engaging sessions.

Classroom Instruction That Works® 
June 19-21
New session! Classroom Instruction That Works
June 26-28

Classroom Instruction That Works Authorized Facilitator Training
June 19-23
New session! Classroom Instruction That Works Authorized Facilitator Training
June 26-30

Balanced Leadership® for School-Level Leaders
July 11-14

District Leadership That Works® 
July 17-18

Classroom Instruction That Works with English Language Learners®

July 19-20

Upcoming Conferences

ACSA North State Spring Conference
April 28-30 | Reno, Nevada
McREL president Bryan Goodwin will deliver conference sessions, and a luncheon keynote on Saturday, April 29 titled “Are we doing too little…or too much? Finding our beacon in the fog.” He’ll boil decades of research down to one key focal point for school leadership and offer practical ways to turn that focus into results —- not by working longer hours or browbeating teachers, but rather, by flipping our leadership paradigm and getting everyone to work together with single-minded focus. To learn more and register, please visit the conference website.

American Indian/Indigenous Teacher Education Conference
June 15-17 | Flagstaff, Arizona
McREL consultant Dr. Terri Bissonette will be among the keynoters for this conference for preschool, K-12, college, and university educators and concerned community members to share ideas for improving the lives and education of Indigenous children. Dr. Bissonette is a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community of Anishinaabeg in Brimley, Michigan. To learn more and register, please visit the conference website.

ASCD Conference on Teaching Excellence
June 30-July 2 | Denver, Colorado
Let us know if you’re attending ASCD’s Conference on Teaching Excellence in Denver this summer. McREL’s Denver office staff are available for onsite strategy sessions about great teaching practices —- and we can share our favorite restaurants and sightseeing tips. To learn more and register, please visit the conference website.

Visit our Events page or contact McREL to learn more
about other upcoming conferences and events.
Are you a thought leader who’s committed to improving student achievement? We are now hiring for several research and consulting positions in our Honolulu office.
McREL: Helping educators flourish
“Now all teachers and principals, as they go about creating and implementing improvement plans in their schools, know what the focus should be —-  and that focus is the highest quality instructional practice.”
Sarah Salem, Lincoln Public Schools Director of Continuous Improvement
and Professional Learning, Nebraska
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FLVS Corkboard: April Highlights

From yesterday’s inbox…

April Highlights

April showers may bring May flowers, but both months ultimately mean…we’re sailing into summer!

And speaking of cruising…

Shakespeare Fest 2017 was a great success! Want to catch up on a session you missed? Recordings can be found here.

Thank you to all of the teachers, sponsors, and student presenters who helped to make this such a spectacular event!

Teacher Appreciation Week

While we’re on the subject of thanking teachers, don’t forget that Teacher Appreciation Week begins Monday, May 1. If you have an outstanding teacher you’d like to give a shout out to, consider posting a personal message on the FLVS Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter using hashtag #FLVSTAW.

They appreciate YOU and your words of encouragement so much!

Another great event FLVS is proud to be part of is Teen Driving Day!

In support of National Safety Council’s Distracted Driving Awareness month, FLVS is hosting an educational Safe Driving and Family Day in partnership with Waterford Lakes Town Center on Saturday, April 29, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event will feature guest speakers and vendors providing safety tips to parents and students, family activities, treats, and more. FLVS volunteers will be on-hand with giveaways and information including our Driver’s Education/Traffic Safety course.

The Florida Highway Patrol will also be in attendance with a variety of activities, including the simulated roll over vehicle. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and enjoy the fun.

View Event
Earth Day is an annual event celebrated on April 22. Various events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970. Today, more than 193 countries participate in events coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network.

Once again, FLVS STEM Club students had the opportunity to participate in the Sally Ride EarthKAM mission where students can choose locations on Earth and have a picture taken by the International Space Station as it passes over.

Students from around the world took more than 8,000 photos. View the full gallery here.

Here are a few simple suggestions for how you can make a difference on Earth Day:

  • Go for a bike ride or a long walk instead of using a car
  • Set up a recycling center in your home or school
  • Gather family and friends for cleaning up litter in your neighborhood or community
  • Hold a nature “scavenger hunt” and invite others to find specific items at a local park

We’ll be sharing more ideas on the blog this Saturday, so be sure to subscribe for updates!

Subscribe to the Blog
Look back at this year’s events and activities, student spotlights, and more in our annual yearbook created by the FLVS Yearbook Club, Unbound.

Orders for your print copy must by submitted by the end of April! Learn more here.

Order a Yearbook
Summer is just around the corner—time to register for courses at FLVS! It’s a great time for students to get ahead, make up a credit, take a course that isn’t offered at school, or satisfy their online graduation requirement.

Check out our featured courses for summer!

Sign Up for Summer
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IVS – We need your Feedback!

Another item from Wednesday’s inbox…

Illinois Virtual School Requests Your Feedback!
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Illinois Virtual School


Illinois Virtual School (IVS) is interested in hearing from our school partners regarding the IVS programs and services offered.  We use this information to better understand how the IVS program is being used in schools; the school satisfaction level of our program; areas of improvement; and future planning.  Please take a moment to complete the 23-question survey using the link below.


Your feedback is very important to us!


Cindy Hamblin

Illinois Virtual School
Our mailing address is:
10112 W. Dubois Rd
PO Box 103
Edwards Il, 61528
Phone: 309.676.1000
Copyright © 2016 Illinois Virtual School, All rights reserved.
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Illinois Virtual School · 10112 W Dubois Rd. · P.O. Box 103 · Edwards, IL 61528 · USA

Pinwheels for Prevention

Also from Wednesday’s inbox…

The Virtual Voice has published a new blog post!
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Pinwheels for Prevention

This post was written in recognition of Child Abuse Prevention Month. My first realization that not all parents behave as loving parents was in the third grade with news that Penny’s mom had hit her over the head with a trophy. It was shocking, as child abuse was not a topic you typically heard of […]

Read full article »

By Suzan Kurdak on Apr 18, 2017 03:30 pm

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Recent Articles:

FLVS Day at the Capitol
Make, Bake, Partake – Volunteering at School
Making Connections for the Future
Why Libraries Still Matter
Be the “Good” Kid

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