Can Blocking Be Your New Normal?

Can “Blocking” be your new normal?

By Jessica Sullivan

In an online school environment, independence and responsibility are two big factors that you need to have in order to be successful. But how do you learn how to be those two things if you’ve never had the opportunity (or necessity) to do so?

In each course, the school provides you with a 90 Day Calendar. This gives you the official run down of the course and what you should be completing daily (or weekly in some cases). Besides this calendar, there is typically nothing else provided for you and it is your responsibility to keep up with your calendar as well as look ahead to see what is coming up.

Why is this so hard? I’ll tell you why! Because many students have never had the opportunity or needed to have the opportunity to set their own schedule! If they are coming from a regular brick and mortar school, then schedules have always been set for them. If they have tricky every day schedules, it may be hard for them to sit down and work on every single class, every single day of the school week. Being responsible for your own schedule and completing all courses each day can be an overwhelming task for anyone…but do not fret, there may be a solution!

Blocking could just change your life! The essence of blocking is that you work on a few select courses each day, and then repeat, in order to hit every class and all assignments each week.

A history department instructor, Ms. Kristine Hawk, introduced the idea at a recent Staff Meeting, and I must say that it has taken off! She has used this concept in her classes with several students. Here’s what she had to say:

“What I believe [blocking] does is allow for student to learn organizational skills. They have to look at their calendars each week to set up. It also allows them to work on time management skills. They have two hours to complete the two days of assignments, if they finish early then can do Wednesday’s assignment or do a makeup assignment or, start working on a writing assignment that might be in the future (like Thursday).

It also allows students to focus on three subjects a day, which many students could use.

Those who are at partner schools and who only have two computer block times a day, can now focus on one particular class and complete the assignments to the best of their ability in the morning lab, then in the afternoon lab can focus again. And then after school (if they don’t complete it all during the two lab times). Many of my partner athletes are ahead because of this schedule. It allows them to go to a tournament and not have to worry.”

Responses to Blocking have been great!

“As this semester winds down for student, I just want to let you know that the block scheduling you set up for student completely saved us. Before you took the time to help student set this up, she was struggling terribly. Once you set up her individual plan, and she worked the plan, she was able to stay on track much better.”

“The block schedule that Mrs. Hawk showed me has helped my time management, and also my academics. I have had a few slip ups, where I just go back to a normal schedule, and do my work in traditional form, but I am getting used to catching myself and restarting. I have talked to a few other students about the schedule, and how it has helped me. Overall I have found the block schedule to be a great tool in my schooling, and hope that I will be able to continue using it for as long as I can.”

I’ve provided examples below of how YOU can use Blocking for yourself. Try it out – see if it works! It just might change your life!

Possible Schedule Option 1:


Monday-Math (2 hrs), Science (2 hrs), Language (2 hrs)

Monday and Tuesday’s work

Tuesday- History (2 hrs), English (2 hrs), Elective (2 hrs)

Monday and Tuesday’s work

Wednesday- Math (2 hrs), Science (2 hrs), Language (2 hrs)

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s work

Thursday- History (2 hrs), English (2 hrs), Elective (2 hrs)

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s work

Friday- Math (1 hr), Science (1 hr), Language (1 hr) History (1 hr), English (1 hr), Elective (1 hr)

Possible Schedule Option 2:

(This modified schedule can be made to suit those scenarios in which you have classes you need or want to do each day and some that you don’t.)

Modified Block Schedule

Monday-Math (1 hr), Language (1 hr)


Science (2 hrs), Elective (2 hrs)

Monday and Tuesday’s work

Tuesday- Math (1 hr), Language (1 hr)


History (2 hrs), English (2 hrs)

Monday and Tuesday’s work

Wednesday- Math (1 hr), Language (1 hr)


Science (2 hrs), Language (2 hrs)

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s work

Thursday- Math (1 hr), Language (1 hr)


History (2 hrs), English (2 hrs), Elective (2 hrs)

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s work

Friday- Math (1 hr), Language (1 hr), History (1 hr), English (1 hr), Elective (1 hr) Science (1 hr)

7 Reasons Gratitude Matters


By Our Positive Living and Wellness Club

If you attended our club meeting this month (click here to access), you saw firsthand the impact that a grateful attitude has on so many aspects of life.  From the smile on your face to the length of your life, gratitude matters!

Click HERE to read all the ways that appreciating the good in your life matters.

Thanksgiving Around the World


By Jessica Sullivan

The eating season….errrr…holiday season is upon us and to really “kick it off” in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving. Many people celebrate Thanksgiving in different ways. In my family, every other year we go to my uncle’s farm and spend the day eating, catching up with family, and watching sports. The smell of pumpkin pie fills the air!

Within the United States, Thanksgiving can be attributed to several different events. The first “Thanksgiving” is considered the first harvest celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. There was a mixture of Pilgrims as well as Native Americans in attendance, and the purpose was to celebrate a productive growing season. However, Thanksgiving was not a national holiday until 1863. President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving and prayer on the last Thursday in November, and it has been celebrated by the United States ever since.

Many may not know, however, that Thanksgiving is not something that is just celebrated in the United States. Many other countries and cultures celebrate their own version of Thanksgiving in various ways. It is important that we take a look at other countries celebrations in order to learn more about them and grow a sense of respect and understanding.

In China, Thanksgiving can be equated with the August Moon Festival. This is considered the time when the moon is the roundest and brightest, and people use this time to celebrate the way they feel about one another. The virtues of warmth and compassion, commonly associated with women, are honored at this time.

Cerelia is a festival in Rome that takes place on October 4th. This honors the Goddess of Ceres who was the goddess of corn. As is tradition, fruits, grains and animals are gifted to the goddess and celebrations take place in forms of music, parades, and sporting events.

On August 15th, Korea celebrates Chu-Sok which means “fall evening.” This event continues for three days and includes a traditional meal called Songpyon. As is customary, before the food is consumed, the family gathers to remember those gone before them.

Though this definitely does not encompass all of the Thanksgiving customs around the world, this allows you to get a glimpse of other cultures traditions. Isn’t it interesting that each culture tends to have a day of thanks and giving back?

How do you celebrate Thanksgiving? We all have different customs and traditions, but that’s what makes us all unique.

Hopefully for all of you, Thanksgiving will kick off a wonderful holiday season!

“Thanksgiving Around The World.” Around The World Thanksgiving. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

“Thanksgiving (United States).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.

Planning Your Novel during National Novel Writing Month

Planning Your Novel for National Novel Writing Month
by Lucas Humphrey

Okay, so you’ve chosen a genre for your novel. Now what? How do you plan to effectively use your time? (We’re two weeks in so hopefully you have some ideas by now!) Here are some suggestions:

1. Commit yourself. Dedicate to spend a specific amount of hours working on your novel each day no matter what! Determine when you’ll have free time in your schedule, and what is realistic. Also, decide how long your novel will be—or at least have a general idea.

2. Develop your characters and backstory. What makes them interesting? How will you introduce their past and make them complex? Which characters will be static, and which ones will be dynamic? What major changes will these dynamic characters undergo in the story?

3. Establish your setting, and build your world around it. Will your story take place in a real setting? If so, what do you know about it, and how can you be sure you portray it accurately? How can you provide vivid imagery around your setting as well, and how can you make it believable and unique?

4. Have a solid idea of your plot and conflict. Write an outline or develop a detailed plot triangle. What will the rising action be? The climax? The falling action? Will there be a clear resolution to the story? Will there be a twist? How will it all fit together? How does the conflict build and resolve? These are all questions to consider at this stage of novel writing.

Best of luck with your novel.

We will check in on progress next week. Here’s to happy writing!

National Novel Writing Month Week 1

National Novel Writing Month: Week 1 – Choosing a Genre

By Lucas Humphrey

Welcome to NaNoWriMo! By the end of this month, your goal is to have a complete novel written and ready to share out to the world after a few finishing touches. Let’s get started!

The first step you’ll want to take is to choose a genre, or category in which you’d like to write. Will it be nonfiction, such as a memoir or personal narrative? Or will you choose fiction—and write a fantasy novel, mystery novel, children’s book, a scary story, etc.? It’s completely up to you.

You’ll want to write what you love. What genres do you enjoy reading? What ideas have been floating around in your head that you finally want to get out on paper? Given the fact that you only have a month to write this novel, you’ll want to choose a genre that hooks you and doesn’t let go.

You’ll also want to understand the style and characteristics of the genre you choose. Examine some common examples of other books within this genre. What do they all seem to have in common in terms of their archetypes, motifs, mood, tone and style? Take note of these—you can, of course, be nontraditional and break from these conventions, but you should be aware of them so that you have a template in which to work.

Lastly, make a commitment! This week, go ahead and set some time aside each day to write—whether it’s brainstorming, planning, or drafting. Get your ideas out on paper! Stick to it, and come back every day to add something to your novel.

Good luck! Now that you’ve chosen a genre, we’ll talk more about planning your novel next week.

5 Reasons To Be Thankful

5 Reasons To Be Thankful For Online Private K12 Schools

By Anna Peacock-McLaughlin

This is the season to be thankful. Truthfully, we have so much to be thankful for as stakeholders in the virtual education community. This platform is just so forward….so amazing….so brilliant. I’m so thankful to be a part of online education.

1. My mother (and grandmother) always said, "If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all." But, let’s face it, everyone does not abide by that wonderful old saying. Indeed, bullying is a HUGE social issue students around the globe are talking about. Thankfully, K12 is taking a stand against bullying! #zerobullying

2. The teachers rock! As a teacher, I’m a bit biased! However, there are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. We are well educated. We are from diverse backgrounds all over the states and sometimes world. Most of all, we are growing as masters in our online education profession. The training we receive is top notch and I’m always impressed with our ongoing educational opportunities. Thankfully, K12 hires the best of the best educational faculty.

3. "How do you and your students have social interaction if you are at online school?" is the number one question people ask me when they find out I’m an online educator. I’ve heard it thousands of times. Thankfully, social interaction is built into our virtual schools! First of all, we have tons of clubs. From knitting clubs to school newspapers to running clubs and even classic clubs like National Junior Honor Society. Additionally, social interaction happens daily in live interactive classes, with other students, from the awesome teachers (mentioned above). Lastly, but certainly not the end of methods of social interaction at school, many times you see your teachers face to face through a live one on one video/audio conferences.

4. Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility. Thankfully, K12 offers such vast possibilities for flexibility. O’ let me count the ways. I could write an entire blogpost about the ways you can have flexibility in online education. To list just a few flexible outcomes of virtual education: Students, you can catch up or get ahead in a course or two or all of them. You can school around your daily schedule during your school year. Have a training schedule or a flight to catch? No worries. Thankfully, you can take your school with you anywhere you go.

5. Que the sweet, emotional classical music. I’m thankful for you. My students, learning coaches and fellow teachers. I know it sounds so cheesy….but I say it in almost every class, "Thanks for being willing to learn. Teachers would be nonexistent without students who are willing to learn. So, thank you for attending today." Indeed, you are willing to learn, coach and teach. You are choosing to be part of this awesome online platform for education! For you I’m am thankful to be part of virtual learning!

What else do you want to add to the list? Why are you thankful to have virtual education at K12 International Academy or any other online school?

Think Happy!

What does it take to be truly happy?  Is there a magic formula?  On days when you feel down, you may find yourself wishing that there was.  Good news though!  According to research, happier people tend to have several things in common –  items within our own lives that we can change.

If you took the quiz noted above, you’ll find more than a dozen pieces of this puzzle, and while you may not be able to sort and arrange all the pieces in the perfect order all the time, there are things you can do every day to ensure a higher happiness level.

To take the quiz and read more about how to be happy visit the International Academy  Positive Living and Wellness Club Blog HERE

5 Back To School “Life Hacks” for Virtual School


5 Back To School “Life Hacks” for Virtual School

By Anna Peacock-McLaughlin

You are awesome! You’ve decided to be part of our virtual school family! Our lives are different than those of our “brick and mortar” counterparts. We are a virtual school, and we need our very own set of back to school life hacks to make a smooth transition from summer play mode back to school.

  1. Make an “every day” schedule for yourself with alarms in your phone.

Yes, your online school will populate with your assigned tasks…but it’s up to you to make sure they are all checked off daily. Make a plan for your day. Here is an example:

  • 7am Wakeup, eat, take a bike ride.
  • 8am Math
  • 10 min break
  • 9am English
  • 10 min break
  • 11am History
  • Break for lunch/siesta
  • 1pm Science and Electives
  • 2pm afternoon activity
  • 7pm prep for tomorrow, check kmail, meet with your Learning Coach to make sure all daily tasks are complete
  1. Place your phone in the kitchen so that every time your alarm goes off, you have to get up to get it–just like you are switching classes. Change location with your laptop. Head to the living room, then to the dining room, and don’t forget your hammock outside!
  2. Set up a “school station’’.” in your home.

Ok. Let’s admit that none of us work at a desk sitting in a chair all day…but it’s nice to have a desk to keep your school books, notebooks your laptop and the oh, so important charging station for your computer, phone and other devices ;)!

  1. Place a pitcher of water and a glass by your work station. When your pitcher is gone–you’ve done well!
  2. Take breaks often to jump, dance, move, take the trash out, walk the dog, etc. Pick a song. Play it loudly in your school space. And when the song is over, get back to work.

Hope these awesome back to school life hacks for virtual school help you have an awesome start to the year! Please share your own virtual school life hacks in the comments below!




Jane Swift Keynotes Graduation Ceremony for K12 International Academy Class of 2015


By Miriam Rube

K12 International Academy Commencement Program 2015

K12 International Academy is home to a diverse population of students. Our students span the globe.  Students interact and develop relationships with their peers around the world with varied interests and talents.  Class Connects, Virtual Field Trips, clubs, and College Counseling sessions are only a few examples of where these connections are made and established for our students, their teachers and academic coaches.  With shared experiences their differences are celebrated and find common ground in their future plans and life goals.  The atmosphere we create aligns with the mission of k12 and the International Academy as we are committed to bringing individualized learning to all kinds of minds, and removing barriers that keep children from reaching their true potential.  This global perspective will hopefully translate in their lives after graduation, as they meet and interact with others around the world.  We were fortunate to have an exceptional advocate for children joining us on our graduation day.

Jane Swift earned her place in history as the first woman to serve as Governor of Massachusetts and as the first governor in our nation’s history to give birth while in office – to twin girls.  Swift’s term as Governor capped more than a decade in public service as a state senator, a lieutenant governor, a cabinet secretary and a governor. Today, Swift is the Chief Executive Officer of Middlebury Interactive Languages, LLC.  Middlebury Interactive is a joint venture between K12, Inc., the largest virtual school provider in the United States, and Middlebury College.  Middlebury Interactive provides exceptionally high quality world language learning programs, on line and in person, to the Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade market.  Swift currently serves on the boards of Suburban Propane (SPH), Sally Ride Science, and the Inclusion Advisory Council for Deloitte and Touche.

Swift has been featured on national television programs such as 60 Minutes, The Early Show on CBS, The Today Show on NBC, The View on ABC, and Inside Politics on CNN. Glamour magazine once declared her “One of 11 Women Who Could Change the Country.”

Swift, who has received seven honorary doctorates and numerous awards, received a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies from Trinity College, in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1987.  She is currently the Class of 1948 Distinguished Lecturer in Leadership Studies at Williams College.  She lives in Shelburne, Vermont with her husband, Chuck, and their three teenage daughters.

This year’s Valedictorian is Haley J. Justice.

Haley Justice is a graduating senior with K12 International Academy.  In addition to studying with K12 International Academy, she is a jazz and contemporary dance trainee with the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC, New York.  Haley’s passions include dance, fitness, travel, and cooking.

After graduation she will be attending Kingston University in England to study dance.  For her future, Haley intends to combine her academic excellence with her passion for leading an active lifestyle.  Haley’s ultimate goal is to financially support herself with a fulfilling and flexible fitness career; one that allows her to enjoy global travel while giving back to the community.

See what all of our International Academy students have planned after graduation.

If you enjoyed this video click HERE to see our International Academy Students in action.  To view the entire recorded graduation ceremony click HERE

Congratulations class of 2015!

Interested in seeing last year’s keynote speaker click HERE



Class Acts: Valedictorian Bound for London


This article was originally published in Learning Liftoff.

Learning Liftoff’s Class Acts series profiles inspiring online education graduates.  Their stories showcase how individualized, award-winning curriculum and technology combine to greatly influence student success and help propel the pursuit of post-graduate dreams.

Haley Justice has always been an academically driven student. When her family lived in Vietnam, the grading scale was one through seven versus the A–F scale used in the United States. She received a five in physical education and was devastated. Haley was determined to receive a seven, and she worked daily to improve her skills.

Her efforts triggered an interest in fitness, so she joined the basketball and volleyball teams. It wasn’t until her freshman year that she decided to focus on dancing.

Haley’s passion for fitness and dancing grew, and she was eventually accepted into New York’s Joffrey Ballet School her junior year. From the fundamentals of ballet and jazz to hip hop and contemporary, Haley performed them all.

Through K12 International Academy, Haley was able to excel in both her dancing and educational pursuits. She took the AP classes she wanted, and was more determined than ever to be successful in all of her courses. She achieved her goals, and this year she graduated first out of a class of 250 to be named iCademy’s 2015 valedictorian!

She’ll start in the fall as a freshman at Kingston University in London, England, where she’ll be studying dance, of course. She hopes to dance as long as she can and eventually become a manager or director one day.

To watch a video of Haley and read the full article click HERE

To read more about our student athletes click HERE