The Belin-Blank Center still has professional development opportunities for educators available this summer!
See the schedule (in chronological order) and learn more about getting registered for any of the remaining opportunities this summer.
If you’re thinking about professional learning for the fall semester, we’ll be updating our the link above in late July with the fall schedule.
Mentors are a key component of the Iowa Online AP Academy model. These individuals may or may not have expertise in the content areas their students are studying, and in most of our courses, mentors are not expected to provide instruction on the course content. (The mentor’s role for AP Computer Science Principles is slightly different; future posts will address this, or you can contact IOAPA staff with questions.) Instead, IOAPA mentors provide support and encouragement for students, assist them in determining where and how to seek help, and monitor progress in course materials and intervene when necessary.
What should I do to be an effective mentor?
- Build positive relationships with students. According to the University of Minnesota’s mentoring model, checking in with students frequently can promote strong relationships.
- One study cited in a research synthesis found that “facilitators that are directly working with students day by day are key to the success of the program” and that the physical presence of mentors can motivate students to engage (cited in Borup & Drysdale, 2014).
- Connect students with resources. Mentors are not expected to have all the answers for students’ questions, but helping them determine where to find support, or how to ask for help, can be beneficial. Check out our blog post on supporting struggling students for more info.
- This may include serving as a “communication link” between students and their course instructors (Borup & Drysdale, 2014).
- Communicate with other mentors. Whether for emotional support or professional guidance, your fellow IOAPA mentors are a great resource for new and veteran mentors alike. Check out the IOAPA mentor support network information in the IOAPA Handbook.
- Encourage healthy work habits. We all need occasional reminders to take breaks and prioritize, and IOAPA students are no exception. Mentors can help students set priorities, schedule time for relaxation, and promote stress management. The University Counseling Service at the University of Iowa developed a list of stress management strategies that may be useful.
Do you have suggestions for other IOAPA mentors? Share them with us in the comments or on Twitter using #IOAPA. Also, look out for our mentor survey at the end of the semester to share your thoughts!
Have you visited the Iowa Online AP Academy website lately? Our site has undergone a re-design to make it easier to navigate and access from mobile platforms. Look for:
- Easier step-by-step process for site coordinators when registering students for IOAPA courses and Exam Review
- Support materials, FAQs, and the IOAPA handbook for guidance during the semester
- A newly redesigned course catalog for high school and middle school courses offered by our course vendors
- additional information on professional development through APTTI and links to above-level testing information (recommended for students considering middle school IOAPA courses)
We hope you’ll take some time to look around our new site. Make sure to check out our changes at belinblank.org/ioapa!
Iowa students have a wide range of options when it comes to online learning, and it can be hard to distinguish between what the best options might be for students. One particular program, Iowa Learning Online, offers online programming like IOAPA, but what makes these two programs different?
Target Audience: The Iowa Learning Online program and Iowa Online AP Academy offer very different courses intended for specific student groups. Specifically, Iowa Learning Online courses aim to supplement student learning at their current grade level. IOAPA’s courses are geared towards providing above-level opportunities for high ability students in Iowa.
Advanced Curriculum: Likewise, because Iowa Learning Online seeks to serve all Iowa students, their class offerings do not include AP or other advanced learning options. The Iowa Online AP Academy’s primary goal is to offer above-level coursework to middle and high school students (through the use of AP courses for students in grades 9-12 and courses intended for high school students for students in grades 6-8).
Costs: Iowa Online AP Academy courses are offered at NO cost for Iowa students. IOAPA’s primary goal has always been (and continues to be) to provide access to AP and other advanced coursework for students whose schools do not offer these courses on-site. The Belin-Blank Center does not oversee the Iowa Learning Online program, and thus cannot provide information on their current or future associated costs.
To learn more about IOAPA, check out our website or follow us on Twitter (@kflanaryIOAPA)!