Virtual Learning Academy Staff

Brian Seymour
Brian Seymour
Director of Instructional Technology
614.920.6140

Virtual Learning Academy Overview

Pickerington Local School District is proud to continue to offer the Virtual Learning Academy as an entirely virtual option to our families.  All courses are designed to match the same standards and curriculum accessed in the traditional instructional model.  Because it is fully virtual, resources and learning activities may slightly vary.  This instructional model is not an exact match to a traditional school day.  The framework allows for some fluidity to attend to learning activities and work completion.  While it is encouraged to engage during regular school hours in order to connect with your teacher, flexibility is provided to best meet a family’s needs.

Younger students will likely need a parent or other adult for daily facilitation.  This adult is responsible for supporting and helping the student complete online activities and assessments.  We encourage a daily routine to support student learning.  The classes will be structured to help establish routines, but creating a schedule at home will help optimize a student’s success.  If you need support to help your child, the PLSD VLA will have an administrator to lead the virtual school, as well as an elementary and secondary counselor.  A partnership between the school and family is important.  

As students move into middle school and junior high, they may need some support transitioning to a learning environment that allows for more flexibility than a structured elementary schedule.  The Junior High School and High School schedules will follow the in-building schedules. Classes will be expected to meet during their scheduled period. Consistent routines and daily/weekly schedules are still very important.  Adult support may include monitoring the completion of learning activities, monitoring comprehension of content, and turning in assignments.

High school students can expect to work more independently and/or self-paced.  High school core courses will be taught by PLSD teachers that are fully virtual learning academy teachers.  While elective courses will be taught by PLSD teachers that are also teaching traditional courses. Elective teachers will have less flexibility with their schedule to meet and support students outside of the scheduled daily time. Students should expect to build a schedule around when their teachers will be available. Teachers will organize synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities, provide ongoing feedback to support learning, and offer office hours to students and or families.

For the 2021-2022 school year, Pickerington Schools will offer the Virtual Learning Academy to grades K -12. As we worked through the creation of the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy during the 2020-2021 school year we have learned a great deal about virtual and online learning.  We have put more structure, more research-based instructional models, and more resources into place to continue to offer all PLSD students a high-quality learning experience.

Official enrollment into the 2021-2022 PLSD Virtual Learning Academy will take place from April 26th - May 9th
Enrollment process will happen within the Infinite Campus Parent Portal
VLA 2021-22 Timeline image

Five Questions for Parents to Think About Before Enrolling into the Pickerington Schools’ Virtual Learning Academy

  1. Why are you seeking a virtual learning educational environment?  – Clearly defining your family’s overall educational goals will help you better understand if the virtual learning academy will work for you and your children. Are you looking for a more challenging curriculum? Greater control of your child’s education? Increased scheduling flexibility? Acceptance into a four-year college?
  2. Will the virtual learning academy meet your children’s individual needs?Every child has his or her own unique learning style. Does your elementary-age child perform better with hands-on lessons? Is your son an auditory learner who needs extra time to complete reading assignments? Perhaps your daughter requires an accelerated pace for some subjects, but not for others. When evaluating enrolling into the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy, consider what options are available to personalize your child’s learning experience to help your child thrive. Please continue to read below.
  3. Does the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy offer a high-quality curriculum?  – Virtual public schools are required to meet state and national education standards. Beyond these benchmarks, most parents also want a curriculum to challenge and prepare their children for success in life. The PLSD Virtual Learning Academy will follow the same courses of study as are used in our traditional classrooms. The PLSD VLA will use the same curriculum frameworks and digital resources that are available in traditional classrooms. Some small changes will be made to pacing guides and lessons to account for the virtual learning aspect.
  4. Will the school provide opportunities to succeed and grow offline?Research proves that kids need a well-rounded learning experience with opportunities to experience success and a sense of accomplishment. The PLSD VLA will offer engaging educational opportunities during the school day. We are working to build ways for classmates and families to be able to connect socially and to create additional learning experiences that can occur offline.  Students in grades 7-12 will also be able to participate in sports, clubs and activities with their home buildings.
  5. Are you prepared for direct involvement in your child’s education?  – Before deciding on enrolling in the PLSD VLA, parents should give serious thought to the level of involvement required. Take into account how much time you are able to spend monitoring and coaching your child’s online education. You may want to talk to other parents about their experiences with online learning.

Guiding Principles and Commitments

VLA Guiding Principles
  • All students and families will have access to high-quality, research-based educational materials and to the supports needed to successfully access those materials.
  • Students will have access to meaningful/high-quality educational materials that align with Ohio’s standards.
  • The structure of the Virtual Learning Academy will consist of both synchronous and asynchronous learning and students will be required to attend Google Meets with teachers.
  • Students and teachers will maintain a personal connection that supports necessary, rigorous academic work in a manner that is respectful of students’ contexts (their mindset, feelings, responsibilities, home considerations, etc.).
  • Simplicity is best during this time—the simplicity of the framework, communication structures, and expectations.
  • Support the whole child—their mental health, nutritional needs, and safety needs.
  • Parents and other caregivers need access to clear information and ample resources.
  • Teachers may need support, encouragement, and compassion to ensure their success and resilience.
  • Virtual Learning Academy will be taught by Pickerington School teachers.
Educator Commitments

Pickerington School Virtual Learning Educators will commit to:

  • Provide both synchronous and asynchronous instructional opportunities for students
  • Provide a range of meaningful learning opportunities and resources that engage and meet the needs of all learners.
  • Be available to students and families via phone (3CX on phones or Chrome app), text (through Talking Points), email, Google Meet, LMS for a similar amount of time as traditional schools. 
    • Electronic communication platforms will be used in accordance with District guidelines.
  • Provide feedback to students in a timely manner.
  • Collaborate with colleagues (Teachers, Instructional Coaches, Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, Librarians, etc) to address needs that arise along the way.
  • Participate in required weekly TBT meetings with their co-teachers, grade level teams, departments, and/or other collaboration groups. 
    • The exact days/times will be determined at the building level by VLA Principal.
  • Communicate with the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy Principal.
  • Connect families with educational resources that support English Language Learners (including necessary language supports) and students with IEPs/504s.
  • Complete all required tasks, including verifying attendance, providing instruction via the learning management system for the VLA and through instructional videos and/or live instruction/office hours on Google Meet, checking on students’ emotional wellbeing, and offering feedback on student learning.
Student and Family Commitments

As students and families are enrolling in the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy, are agreeing to the following commitments:

  • One year enrollment into the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy
  • Having students establish and follow regular daily routines to the greatest extent possible.
  • Ensuring students get enough sleep.
  • Designating a specific space to work on virtual learning academy activities.
  • Follow the syllabus and monitor the progress of your child.
  • Setting sensible time limits for students’ technology use.
  • Reviewing communication from the District and buildings as frequently as possible, but at least weekly.
  • Completing assigned activities to the greatest extent possible.
  • Discussing remote learning experiences and needs and communicating these with our staff. 
  • Bring students into the physical building for assessment purposes (local, state and national testing) when there is not a virtual option.
Virtual Learning Academy Student and Parent/Guardian Agreement

This agreement is to inform families of the expectations associated with the Virtual Learning Academy (VLA).

Student Agreement

I will follow the expectations outlined in the Pickerington School Virtual Learning Academy Plan, including:

  • One year commitment into the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy
  • Record attendance each day or period, as appropriate.
  • Participate in structured learning activities – including asynchronous activities as well as whole group, small group, and individualized synchronous virtual sessions.
  • Attend all required Google Meets, including large group, whole class, small group, and targeted intervention and enrichment
  • Be accountable for completing and submitting lessons, activities, assessments in a timely fashion in alignment with the classroom syllabus
  • Attend all synchronous class meetings and instructional activities.
  • Communicate with teachers via shared communication methods, including office hours to seek help or support.
  • Participate in district and state assessments; schedule in-person appointments as appropriate.
  • I understand that I must follow the expectations of the PLSD Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
  • Maintain a working Chromebook or request that it be repaired through the PLSD Technology Department.
  • Maintain working WIFI or request a hotspot through the PLSD Technology Department

Parent/Guardian Agreement

I will follow the expectations outlined in the Pickerington School Virtual Learning Academy Plan, including:

  • One year commitment into the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy
  • Support my child to record attendance each day or period, as appropriate.
  • Support my child to participate in structured learning activities – including asynchronous activities as well as whole group, small group, and individualized synchronous virtual sessions.
  • Support my child to communicate with the teacher via shared communication methods to seek help or support as needed.
  • Support my child to establish and follow regular daily routines to the greatest extent possible.
  • Designate a specific space to work on virtual learning academy activities.
  • Follow the syllabus and monitor the progress of your child.
  • I understand the 100% remote learning environment may impact service options available through an IEP or 504 as well as services for EL and gifted students, among others.
  • Review communication from the District and buildings as frequently as possible, but at least weekly.
  • Discuss remote learning experiences and needs and communicating these with PLSD staff. 
  • I acknowledge that my student and I are to follow the expectations in the PLSD Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) and that a violation of these guidelines could result in the student facing disciplinary action.

Classes Being Offered in the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy

Elementary Classes Offered
Grade Language Arts Math Science  Social Studies  Electives
Kindergarten ELA – K Math – K Science – K Social Studies – K Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
1st Grade ELA – 1 Math – 1 Science – 1 Social Studies – 1 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
2nd Grade ELA – 2 Math – 2 Science – 2 Social Studies – 2 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
3rd Grade ELA – 3 Math – 3 Science – 3 Social Studies – 3 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
4th Grade ELA – 4 Math – 4 Science – 4 Social Studies – 4 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
Middle School Classes Offered
Grade Language Arts Math Science Social Studies Electives
5th grade ELA – 5 Math – 5 Science – 5 Social Studies – 5 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
6th Grade ELA – 6 Math – 6 Science – 6 Social Studies – 6 Art, Music, Physical Education, & Technology
Junior High School Courses Offered
Grade Language Arts Math Science Social Studies Electives for 7th & 8th Grade
7th Grade ELA 7

Gifted English 8*

Math 7

Advanced Math 7/8*

Algebra 1*

Science 7

Advanced Science 7/8*

Social Studies 7 Physical Education

Fitness & Nutrition

Health

Exercise Science

FLEX

Social Justice

Music Appreciation

Personal Development

Band**

Orchestra**

8th Grade ELA 8

Gifted English 9*

Math 8

Algebra 1*

Honors Geometry*

Science 8

Integrated Science*

Social Studies 8

NOTES:

*For enrollment into Advanced, Honors, and Gifted courses students must qualify for the specific course and have the required prerequistes to take the course

** Band and Orchestra will be available to VLA students, but only in a face-to-face environment.  Students that wish to take band will have band scheduled during first period. Students that wish to take orchestra will have orchestra scheduled the last period of the day. Parents/guardians will need to provide transportation for the student for band and orchestra. Student’s schedules will be reduced by one elective as that time will serve as travel time.

High School Courses Offered
Grade  English Language Arts Mathematics Science Social Studies Virtual Electives
High School ELA 9

ELA 10

ELA 11

ELA 12

Algebra 1

Geometry

Algebra 2

Statistics

Integrated Science

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

World History

American History

Principles of Democracy

Economics

Psychology

Online CCP Courses**

Early IT Program

Graduation Alliance

see note about electives*

There are no honors or advance placement (AP) courses available in the VLA for the 2021-2022 school year.

NOTE ABOUT ELECTIVES:

High School VLA Becomes Daily Hybrid Model to offer Numerous electives to VLA students

The High School version of the PLSD Virtual Learning Academy will look a bit different than the K-8 VLA model. PLSD wants to make sure that all VLA students have the same elective opportunities as our traditional students. To provide those electives, the High School VLA will be modified into a daily hybrid model. High School students will take their core course virtually in the morning and then come into the buildings in the afternoons for electives.

High School students would choose from the below core courses to be taken in periods 1-4 in the morning virtually.

  • English – English, 9, 10, 11 or 12
  • Math – Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, or Statistics
  • Science – Integrated Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics
  • Social Studies – World History, American History, Principles of Democracy, Economics or Psychology

Then all VLA students would have an asynchronous “study hall” in which all of the VLA teachers would be available in office hours.

Period 6 would then be a lunch/travel period to the high school.

  • Students/families would need to provide this transportation.

Periods 7-9 would be electives for all VLA students.

** Online CCP courses are taught directly through the college provider and not by a PLSD staff member.

 

Virtual Learning Instructional Models

The Virtual Learning Academy courses will consist of both synchronous and asynchronous class and work times.  Attendance at Google Meets will be required this year of all students.

  • Asynchronous Learning – A student-centered teaching method that uses online resources to facilitate learning without requiring students and instructors to be in the same place at the same time.
  • Synchronous Online Learning – A real-time learning situation in which immediate two-way communication between the instructor and participants as possible.

Considerations For Teachers

  • When selecting the appropriate blend of synchronous and asynchronous time for your course should be informed by where learners are within their curriculum. To decide which model to implement, consider the following three questions:
    1. Where is my course situated within the overall academic program?
    2. How independent are my learners at this point in the program?
    3. What level of guidance or coaching will my learners need to be successful?
  • Articulating a clear rationale for the virtual instructional model and blended learning structure is critical.
  • Teachers need to take the time to consider which virtual instructional model best aligns with the needs of the learner and the learning outcomes of the course. 
  • Once the model has been selected, sharing the rationale with students and explaining how the strategies support the curriculum will help them better understand why part of the course is being delivered synchronously and part of the course is being delivered asynchronously, what the purpose and role of asynchronous learning is in the course, and how the asynchronous learning fits into the overall lesson plan.

The following virtual learning models are examples of models that the PLSD VLA teachers will be using.  Teachers will change to different models as the learning outcomes change.  For example, one unit might be in model #2 but another might be in model #5.  Or the model might change by the day or week.  Teachers will choose an appropriate blend of synchronous and asynchronous time depending on the learning outcomes, lessons, activities, and student needs.

What Will Instruction Look Like

K-4 Virtual Learning Academy
  • Attendance will be tracked by participation in learning activities in each class and daily check-in through Infinite Campus, the same process as followed during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Teachers will be using an entirely online curriculum directly tied to the current on-site curriculum; learning activities will vary.
  • Teachers are certified PLSD teachers but may not be specifically credentialed in the grade level/subjects taught.
  • Classes will be available through a new Learning Management System – Canvas.
  • Students have some flexibility in their schedule to complete learning tasks within the day.
  • Students will experience synchronous small group learning sessions and check-ins through Google Meet.  
  • Asynchronous learning (video recordings) will include mini-lesson delivery, opportunities for independent practice, and demonstrations of mastery.
  • Teachers will provide ongoing feedback synchronously and through digital platforms.
  • A variety of assessment methods will be utilized.  Grading procedures are consistent with a traditional grading system.
  • Students will be responsible for district-wide assessments.
  • Teachers will hold office hours for students to ask questions and receive additional support.
  • Teachers will require activities to complete offline.  Consideration should be given to needed additional materials.
  • The learning environment may impact service options available through an IEP or 504 as well as services for EL and gifted students, among others.
  • Specials classes will be tied to state standards and will be modified to fit the 100% remote learning environment.  This content may also be embedded into the four core courses as appropriate.
  • Families must commit to this plan for a full year.
  • Students will need to come into the buildings for any state and/or national level testing that does not allow for a virtual option.
5-12 Virtual Learning Academy
  • Attendance will be tracked by participation in learning activities in each class and daily check-in period for each period through Infinite Campus, the same process as followed during the 2020-2021 school year.
  • Instruction is delivered entirely online following the content standards and pace of current on-site classes; learning activities will vary.  Intervention and enrichment will be provided as necessary.
  • Students are required to enroll in at least five classes or five credits. 
  • Classes will be available through a new Learning Management System – Canvas.
  • Students have some flexibility in their schedule to complete learning tasks within the day.  It is highly recommended to set a consistent schedule to complete work and maintain appropriate progress in each course.
  • Students will be required to participate in synchronous small group learning sessions and check-ins through Google Meet.  
  • Asynchronous learning will include mini-lesson instruction,, opportunities for independent practice, and demonstrations of mastery.
  • Teachers will provide ongoing feedback synchronously through digital platforms.
  • A variety of assessment methods will be used.  Grading procedures are consistent with those of on-site courses.
  • Students will take  for district-wide assessments, such as Ohio’s State Tests, the junior year ACT, and common course assessments
  • Teachers will hold office hours for students to ask questions and receive additional support.
  • Students will be expected to complete learning tasks offline and outside the school day as homework.  Consideration should be given to needed additional materials.
  • The learning environment may impact service options available through Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan as well as services for English Learners and gifted students, among others.
  • All students will have the same learning experience/courses.  Courses will not be identified as honors, gifted, etc.
  • Advanced Placement courses will not be available in a virtual option.
  • Families must commit to this plan for a full year.
  • Related arts classes will be based on state standards and modified to fit the remote learning environment. 
  • Students will report to the buildings for state and/or national level testing that does not allow for a virtual option.
  • HIGH SCHOOL ONLY – Core courses (math, English, science, and social studies) will be taught virtually, all electives will be taught face to face.
    • Periods 1 – 4 will be virtual core courses
    • Period 5 will be virtual work period /office hours for students/teachers 
    • Period 6 will be travel and lunch period for students
      • Students/guardians will be responsible for the middle of the day travel
    • Periods 7-9 will be in-building electives
      • Online College Credit Plus (CCP) courses will be available for those students that qualify.
      • University of Cincinnati Early IT Program virtual courses are available
      • Graduation Alliance virtual courses are available.
    • More virtual elective courses will be created as part of our five-year VLA plan.

Exceptional Student Services

Gifted Services

Gifted Services will be provided in the VLA. The service will be the same, but the delivery of it might look different. For example, a student who qualifies for Gateway will be offered gifted services in math and reading, but will not be offered gifted science or social studies if they are not identified in those areas. 

Any gifted services provided in PLSD will be provided to qualifying VLA students.

Current gifted services in PLSD (subject to change from year-to-year):

  • 3rd thru 6th-grade reading clusters
  • 6th-grade math clusters
  • 4th thru 6th grade Math Plus
  • 4th thru 6th grade Gateway
  • 7th-grade Algebra
  • 8th-grade Geometry
  • 7th thru 9th grade Gifted ELA

Teachers offering gifted services are licensed in gifted intervention or would complete  15 hours of Highly Qualified Professional Development (HQPD) specific to gifted.

If you are unsure whether your child qualifies for service, please refer to the gifted page on the PLSD website https://www.pickerington.k12.oh.us/gifted-services/

Note: Gifted testing conducted in a remote setting cannot be used for gifted identification purposes.  Tests must be administered in a secure testing environment in order to be valid for gifted identification.

Special Education Services

IEP and 504 services will be offered and provided to students in VLA. The services and accommodations will be provided as indicated on their IEPs or 504s.  Team meetings will continue to  be conducted to determine needed services. 

Some IEPs and 504s may need to be amended and other options considered due to the environmental change.  Accommodations will be delivered in a variety of ways. Because all elementary VLA students will be assigned an electronic device,  technology accommodations will be used more at the elementary levels than in the past. 

Each student’s individual needs will be considered and the team should make adjustments to the IEP or 504 when necessary.

English Learner Services

The EL Department will provide asynchronous and synchronous lessons once a week and virtual assignments based on the needs and proficiency levels of the students in each domain, as determined by the EL Service plans. 

Meetings will include google meet lessons with small groups and weekly virtual assignments focusing on the four language domains. The EL teacher will also provide inclusion services by joining different google meets to work in break-out rooms with EL students. The EL teacher will also work with the classroom teacher(s) to modify lessons and will be available for instructional consultation.

FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

Will VLA students’ fees be reduced?

At this time, student fees for VLA will be substantially the same as those in the PLSD Hybrid Cohorts. However, the district is examining fees associated with specific courses that may need adjustments. Fees may also be repurposed to provide for digital tools and resources needed in an entirely remote learning environment.

Will there be a VLA school supplies list?

No, there will not be a VLA separate school supplies list.  The VLA is using the same district curriculum and resources, so it is likely that supplies will be needed.  Should adjustments be needed based on an entirely remote learning environment, students will be informed by their individual teachers.

Will the district be posting a comparison of PLSD courses and VLA courses?

PLSD will be offering the standard courses for students in grades K-6. There are some changes to course offerings in grades 7-12 between the VLA and traditional buildings.  The VLA will not be able to offer courses that are heavily project-based or heavily lab-based courses. Please see the list above that shows which junior high school and which high school courses are offered in the VLA. Additionally, offering a course is always contingent on enrollment and available staffing.

When will I find out who my child’s teacher(s) is?

The district plans to release traditional and VLA students’ schedules through Infinite Campus prior to school in August through Infinite Campus.

When will we receive schedules?

We know that parents are curious to see their child’s daily schedule.  Individual teachers and teacher teams will share specific schedules with students upon the start of school.  Families should expect for the instructional day to be similar to that of a “regular” day, but there is likely variability among grade levels and subject areas – in part because of the unique staffing and enrollment adjustments. 

VLA teachers are working their regular contractual day.  Therefore, the VLA school schedule will parallel the “regular” schedule.  Although our intention is to allow for fluidity and flexibility to complete learning tasks and course assignments, students should still plan to follow a typical school schedule – which will include synchronous whole group, small group, and one-on-one virtual conferences.  The exact schedule will be provided by the classroom teacher or teacher team.  Classroom teachers in grades K-8 (with the exception of grades 7 / 8 electives) are working in the VLA 100%.  At the high school level, the core teachers are working in the VLA 100%, with high school elective teachers picking up VLA periods during the school day, so students will be able to determine exactly when they will receive teacher guidance and support.

Teacher Contractual Day

High School: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Junior High: 7:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Middle School:  7:40 AM – 3:40 PM

Elementary: 8:15 AM – 4:15 PM

Does my child have to complete district and/or state assessments?

Yes.  Additionally, where assessments cannot be administered virtually, families will need to make an appointment to come into the building to complete the test.

My student is enrolled in the VLA for the 20-21 school year, but I want them back in the building for 21-22. What do I do?

There is nothing you need to do if you want your student(s) to return back to the “traditional” school environment.  All students that do not sign up for the VLA option will be placed back in their home buildings for the 2021-2022 school year.

We live in Pickerington, but our students do not currently attend Pickerington Schools and we would like to enroll our students into the PLSD VLA. What is the process?

The first step would be to enroll your student(s) into Pickerington Schools.  Please contact the PLSD Welcome Center to start the enrollment process, let the Welcome Center know that you would like to be enrolled into the Virtual Learning Academy.