Quick Start

Everything parents and students need to know to get started with CVA.

What do I need to know first?

Essential information to help you get started.

What do I need to know first?

Written Student Learning Plan (WSLP):

  • Please verify that all WSLP courses are correct.
  • We begin processing instructional resources 30 days before courses begin. If you wish to check the status of your student’s curriculum shipment, please see these instructions. 
  • Most online courses do not require additional instructional resources and they are available to registered students on their first day of school.
  • Teachers will help determine whether or not any supplemental materials should be used.

Initial Teacher Contact:

  • Homeroom teachers will send an introductory message prior to the first day of school.
  • Homeroom teachers will call no later than the first week of school to answer your questions and help you get started. 

CVA Help Center

  • This website contains a wealth of information about CVA and there are links to Help Center on each of our websites.
  • Teachers are the first point of contact for support during the school year, but if additional assistance is needed, please submit a support request.

CVA.org is where parents:

  • complete registrations;
  • view school calendars;
  • browse the course catalog;
  • review learning plans;
  • view instructional resources;
  • view progress reviews; and
  • access other CVA resources.

CVA Buzz is where students:

  • gain access to online classes (grades 6-12);
  • submit work samples for text-based courses (grades K-8);
  • view performance in each course; and
  • read school, teacher and class announcements.

* Parents can observe student activity in Buzz by logging in with parent accounts.

i-Ready is a K–12 adaptive diagnostic tool for reading and mathematics that pinpoints student needs down to the sub-skill level. CVA uses i-Ready to determine course and curriculum placement and for ongoing progress monitoring. See the i-Ready Parent Letter for more information.

Office 365 is a collection of services that allows students to collaborate and share schoolwork. The service includes Outlook, Skype, Office Online (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote), unlimited OneDrive storage, Yammer, and SharePoint sites. Students can install the full Office applications on up to 5 PCs or Macs for free. See this support article for more information.

Navigating CVA websites is very easy once you understand a few key principles:

  • Parent accounts only have access to student information on cva.org and the option to observe students in Buzz. Parent accounts will not work for iReady, Learning A-Z and Office 365.
  • We use Microsoft's Single Sign-On (SSO) service for all CVA websites. This means a student can log into one CVA website and have immediate access to other CVA websites while using the same web browser. On shared computers, students must sign out of CVA accounts before other students in the family can sign in.

What's all the Buzz?

Agilix Buzz is optimized to engage students, teachers, and parents in the learning process.

What's all the Buzz?

Agilix Buzz is the learning management system platform that CVA uses to host online courses and facilitate student-teacher communications for online and text-based courses. Buzz courses will be available to students on the first day of school.

Student Orientation Video Coming Soon...

 

What do I need to get connected?

See if your technology meets the minimum requirements.

What do I need to get connected?

High-Speed Internet Connection, such as Fiber, Cell Data, Cable or DSL. Satellite Internet is not supported.

Minimum Hardware:

Microsoft Windows Apple OS X
CPU: Core i3 2.5 GHz or Better CPU: Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz
RAM: 2 GB RAM: 2 GB
Video RAM: 256 MB Video RAM: 256 MB
   

Supported Browsers (latest 2 versions):

  • Google Chrome
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple Safari
  • Microsoft Edge

Check your browser here

Minimum Screen Width: 1024 pixels

Mobile Devices: Phones, tablets, and Chromebooks may work with CVA systems, but some elements are incompatible.

Is the learning environment important?

Creating distraction-free zones will result in more effective learning.

Is the learning environment important?

Create a Good Environment for Studying at Home by Art Markman

A core goal of education is to create lifelong learners. Success in the workplace requires an ability to pick up new high-quality knowledge. The foundation for these learning skills is the study habits that are acquired from early in school. After all, most learning in life takes place outside of the classroom.

We use the term study habits all the time, but we do not often take both parts of that term seriously. Clearly, we want students to study, but what about the habit component?

Habits are actions that people perform automatically and without thinking. The human mind is a habit creation machine that looks for actions performed consistently in a particular environment and allows those actions to be performed again in the same environment without thinking. For example, you don't have to think about where the light switch is in your bedroom, how to press the gas and brake pedals in your car or how to type letters on your computer keyboard. You have done these actions so many times that they have become habits.

The study environment needs to harness the power of habits. We want students to think about the concepts they are learning, but we don't want the environment to suggest other actions that will get in the way of studying. Here are three things that can make studying more effective.

Minimize the Habits of Distraction

In the modern world, children are attached to iPods, smart phones, text messages, Facebook and instant message. From early on, children have developed the habit of checking these sources several times hourly. Those habits break into a child's concentration during study, reminding him or her that it is time to check the phone or computer.

Unfortunately, this multitasking gets in the way of acquiring high quality knowledge. It takes time to shift attention from homework to some other source of information and additional time to shift attention back. Not only does that constant shifting influence the amount of time it takes to get work done, it also affects the quality of the study itself.

To create a more effective work environment, create a distraction-free zone during work time. Park the portable technology elsewhere in the house. Keep the smart phones and iPods out of arm's reach. Remove instant messaging from the computer and ban Facebook during study time.

Create a Consistent Work Space for Study

The habits children create reach all the way down to the level of where they should look to find the tools and supplies they need to study. That means children's work space should be set up so that they do not need to search each day for pencils, erasers or calculators. Children who study at a desk should keep that desk set up the same way each day. Children who study at a communal table at home should have a nearby bin or tray with supplies where they can regularly find what they need without having to spend a lot of time thinking about how to prepare for studying.

Find an Effective Location and Posture for Studying

Modern technology is so flexible that it does not place many constraints on where or how children study. It is common to see a child writing briefly at a desk, then working from a laptop computer on the floor, and then lying down on the couch to read a book.

It is hard to maintain the same level of concentration when lying on the floor or propped up in bed as when sitting at a desk. The body's habit when lying down is to relax and sleep. It is not helpful for a child to have to fight that tendency when studying. In addition, lying down promotes passive reading. It is hard to take notes or type while lying down. So students who are lying down are playing a less active role in their learning than those who are sitting up.

The advantage of promoting these behaviors is that after a while the habit system kicks in. Eventually, sitting in a consistently structured environment free of distracting technology is simply how studying gets done -- now and for life.

Do I really need a daily schedule?

Creating a daily routine is a great way to give direction to your learning.

Do I really need a daily schedule?

Creating a Daily Routine for Your Homeschool by Jessica Fisher.

Creating a daily routine for your homeschool can add structure and direction to your homeschool day, help you and your students be more productive, and make the school year more fun.

Ready to teach your kids at home? You’ve researched until you’re blue in the face; you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop; you’re all tooled up for homeschooling. Now’s when the rubber hits the road.

But, how do you get things done? Where do you start? How do you stay on track?

Creating a daily schedule or routine can be a great thing to add structure and direction to your homeschool day. There are families who will be drawn to a minute-by-minute schedule, while others will lend themselves to a basic outline that can be tweaked on a day-to-day basis.

What you choose will should ultimately be determined by what works best for your family. What works best will change with the seasons.

Yeah, you knew that successful homeschooling was a moving target, right? However, if you don’t have a target, you’ll hit nothing. So, set a schedule or daily routine for the beginning of the year, realizing that it will need some tweaking as the year progresses.

A schedule or routine is the basic guideline for how your school days will go. Here’s an example:

  • BREAKFAST: 7 am
  • Morning meeting: talk about the day, read alouds, etc.
  • Math
  • Science
  • SNACK
  • Reading
  • History
  • LUNCH
  • Handwriting/Language Arts
  • Art/Music
  • Quitting Time and Clean up: 3:00

Time blocking is important, just remember that it may get frustrating if math takes 60 minutes instead of 45 and your whole day goes wonky as a result. Give yourself lots of margin and remember to hold things loosely.

Here are some things to consider as you create your daily schedule or routine:

  1. What time of day are you and your kids strongest?
    Go with your strengths and set up your school day for when you and especially your kids are at your collective best. Homeschooling gives you lots of freedom to choose, particularly what time of day you start and when you call it quits.

  2. What activities take the most energy?
    If Math is a breeze, but Language Arts is a little slower going, be strategic in when you cover each subject. There are several options. Perhaps you start easy to get some traction on the day. Or maybe you tackle the tougher topic first so that the hard stuff is out of the way. Eat the frog, as they say.

    Test out the different theories and see what works best for you. It may be that you just mix it up from day to day.

  3. Are you including regular breaks and “fun school”?
    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Make sure that you are including snack breaks, “recess,” and some more “fun” educational activities throughout the day.

    Play a game like Bingo, Boggle, or Trivial Pursuit Family Edition. Watch a short video on the topic of history you’re currently studying. Mix up the media that you use for learning.

    Get everyone outside several times a day. Consider taking a walk around the block to get the blood pumping and the lungs refreshed. Everyone will feel better for it and concentration will be improved.

  4. Have you scheduled quitting time?
    In my early years of homeschooling, I would decide on the things we needed to do in a day and keep at it, regardless of the time. If we started late, then we worked late. But, when the sun went down (albeit early on a Kansas winter night) and my kid was still doing his math, I realized that enough was enough.

    Nowadays, we try to wrap up by 3:30 at the latest so that we can have an official quitting time. If someone’s been lagging throughout the day, then they do homework later in the evening.

  5. Don’t forget happy hour.
    Since we don’t school in a “traditional” manner, my kids aren’t coming home for an after school snack. That doesn’t mean we don’t need one. My husband is usually home by 3, making it a perfect time to reconnect as a family, switch gears from “working,” clean up school work, and enjoy a healthy snack to hold us over until dinnertime.

    Now, of course, if you’re teaching more than one child at home, you’ll have more factors to think about and more personalities to mix into the fold. Every day looks different when you teach your kids at home.

  6. Make adjustments for special days.
    This year we’ve got five kids in four different away-from-home science classes as well as a Community Bible Study class for everyone. This means that co-op Mondays look different than regular at-home Mondays. The same is true for the other days when we have away-from-home activities.

    This year, in addition to my weekly time budget, I’ve created a time-blocked daily routine for the different kinds of school days. In this way I don’t have to figure out every day fresh. I can just turn to that day in my binder (see photo at top) to get a picture of my day.

    Creating a daily routine can be a great way to give direction to your homeschool days. It just may be the organizational tool you’ve been missing. If you don’t have a routine set up, consider it this school year!

Where do I begin with the curriculum?

You are excited to get started with your curriculum but may wonder where to begin.

Where do I begin with the curriculum?

All Subjects:

Calvert - Welcome to Calvert

Moving Beyond the Page

Online - Getting started video coming soon! 

Language Arts:

CVA Language Arts - we integrated several outstanding learning resources to create a complete Language Arts curriculum. 

  • Explode the Code
  • Bob Books
  • Soaring with Spelling and Vocabulary
  • Ready Reading
  • Ready Writing

Math:

Saxon Math

Math-U-See

Science:

Studies Weekly Science

Singapore MPH Science

Prentice Hall Science Explorer

Social Studies:

Studies Weekly Social Studies

The Story of the World

History Odyssey

McGraw Hill TimeLinks

Your first day!

How to prepare for your first day of school.

Your first day!

  • Set up your computer for a good beginning. Firefox or Google Chrome web browsers work best for CVA websites.
  • Check your printer and ink and make sure your scanner is ready.
  • You should already have your login information to access CVA websites. See this support article if you forgot your password.
  • It is best not to save your CVA password in the web browser if parents and students share a computer. Parents and students should sign out of web browsers when done with CVA websites so it is ready for another family member to use.
  • When logging into Buzz, be sure to select your school first from the drop down menu in the upper right hand corner of the Buzz landing page. Become familiar with the navigation of the Buzz learning management system and note the welcome section in each course.
  • Develop a notebook or folder that includes:
    • Your CVA school calendar
    • Teachers name(s) and contact information (phone, email). 
    • Login information and passwords.
    • Create a daily schedule and routine for each subject. Discuss these expectations with your child and post the schedule in their study area and in the notebook.
  • Look for a welcome email message from your homeroom teacher. You can imagine how busy the first days are for your teacher. If you call your teacher and they do not answer, be sure to leave a detailed message including your full name and phone number so your call can be returned. Often in the first few days, email is the best way to contact your teacher as the phones get pretty busy.
  • Online students should become familiar with each of their courses. Look for teacher announcements in each course for further information. You will see a list of modules on the left side of your screen. This list is much like a table of contents in a book. Each module is similar to a unit with a number of lessons and activities. You will complete lessons in order. Do not bounce around or skip over lessons.

Your first week!

What to expect during your first week of school.

Your first week!

Your homeroom teacher will be calling you on the telephone.

Refer to your calendar on a regular basis and notice how the schedule you created is working out. The key to success is constantly monitoring how your schedule is working for your student and adjust accordingly. Can they take on more or do they need more breaks?

Initial Contact Activity: Your first submission in Buzz

  • Students using text-based curriculum will receive get-to-know-you questions then begin working on the first lessons
  • Online students will begin working on first assignment.

How to access and navigate online courses:

  • Log into Buzz using your student account and password.
  • Select the appropriate course.
  • On the left side of the screen in the gray bar there is a list of modules. This is similar to the table of contents of a traditional textbook. Module is another word for ‘unit.’ You will find module folders under ‘announcements’ and ‘to-do.’ Please navigate your course from this list and NOT the to-do list. The to-do list will only open assignments.

Your first month!

How to summarize your first month of school.

Your first month!

Your homeroom teacher will schedule your first student led conference and Monthly Progress Review. 

Review the schedule you set for your student, ask yourself the following questions and make the necessary adjustments to the schedule:

  • Was my student stressed?
  • Was my student able to complete the scheduled work?
  • Was my student bored?
  • Could my student complete more work than we scheduled?
  • If my student kept this pace, would he or she finish by the end of the school year?

Always keep track of what your student completed and note his or her understanding of the concepts using grades or some other documentation that works for you.

Discuss with your teacher any questions or concerns you have regarding student progress/pacing and any personalization you think is necessary to meet your child’s needs. Your CVA teachers’ primary goal is to help you and your student be successful!

© 2018 Columbia Virtual Academy