Overview and Enrollment
WHAT IS GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL?
Great Minds Virtual is a fully accredited, tuition-free independent school. It is an alternative to traditional schools and offers flexible online learning with synchronous live classes supplemented by asynchronous (out-of-class) educational experiences.
WHAT SETS GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL APART?
At many online schools, learning takes place asynchronously. But at Great Minds Virtual, learning happens in much the same way it would in a brick-and-mortar school. Students learn together, synchronously, in small classes. They interact in real time with their teachers and classmates. We offer this style of learning because students build knowledge most effectively by speaking, listening, and interacting with others.
Our teachers are subject-matter and online-learning experts trained to use evidence-based instructional methods that engage all learners.
We use only the highest quality knowledge-rich instructional materials.
We’ve removed barriers to an excellent education, including tuition and materials expenses, because we believe that knowledge belongs to everyone.
HOW DO I ENROLL MY CHILD?
We are currently accepting applications for Grades 6 and 7 for 2023–2024 school year. Apply today
WHY DO YOU ONLY HAVE GRADES 6 AND 7 RIGHT NOW?
At Great Minds Virtual we know that building a world-class school in a virtual setting takes time and care. We’re choosing to start small with one grade in 2022–2023, and we’ve formed a research partnership to ensure high academic achievement, teacher excellence, and strong student outcomes.
We started with grade 6 because it’s a significant and sometimes difficult transition year for students. In grade 6, many students move from elementary to middle school and, for the first time, have multiple teachers. Our small class sizes and advisory sessions (dedicated time for students to connect with peers and an adult mentor) can help young adolescents flourish during this transition.
Each year, a new grade will be added to GMV until we are a grade 6-12 school.
WHEN WILL YOU HAVE OTHER GRADES AVAILABLE?
We anticipate enrolling an additional grade each year until Great Minds Virtual is a fully operational 6–12 school.
DOES GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL FOLLOW A TRADITIONAL SCHOOL YEAR AND DAY CALENDAR? WHAT DOES THE DAILY SCHEDULE LOOK LIKE?
The Great Minds Virtual school year goes from September to June. We take breaks after each quarter for our students to rest and rejuvenate and for our staff to prepare for the next quarter of instruction.
Students start each school day with 30 minutes in their small-group (6–10 students) advisory session. Mornings are spent in structured, subject-specific live classes. The synchronous day ends with another short advisory group session. Afternoons are dedicated to asynchronous learning and student support hours. This structure offers flexibility in the afternoon for students to focus on extracurriculars, such as sports practice, music rehearsals, and leadership activities.
DOES "TUITION FREE" REALLY MEAN TUITION FREE?
There is no out-of-pocket cost to enroll in Great Minds Virtual. In many states families can use public education funds to choose a school that works best for them. For students in states without school choice funds, there is no cost to attend Great Minds Virtual. You can learn more about school choice here.
DO WE HAVE TO LIVE IN THE U.S.?
Our families can live anywhere in the world they would like as long as their GMV student is a U.S. citizen and is able to adhere to U.S. time zones.
ARE THERE ANY FEES OR EXPENSES? WHAT IF I CAN'T AFFORD THEM?
There are no fees at Great Minds Virtual. Great Minds Virtual covers all tuition and curriculum resources. We offer grants for families in need of internet services or devices.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL IS A NONPROFIT SCHOOL?
Great Minds Virtual is an initiative of Great Minds. Founded in 2007, Great Minds is a nonprofit organization revolutionizing education and the way students learn. It has a high reputation for creating exemplary instructional materials used in classrooms across the country.
As a nonprofit independent school, Great Minds Virtual offers a high-quality education for all students, regardless of background. There is no out-of-pocket cost for families to enroll their students in Great Minds Virtual.
HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU FOR MORE INFORMATION?
For more information, you can reach us at 202.892.6447 or by email at [email protected].
Teaching and Learning
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS LEARNING?
Synchronous instruction is live instruction with a teacher. Asynchronous learning consists of independent tasks that can be completed at any time.
WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS WITH ASYNCHRONOUS-ONLY LEARNING?
Most virtual schools provide only asynchronous (out of class) learning. In this model, students have a fully self-paced experience where they can learn anywhere at any time. While this model is great for teaching basic skills, it doesn’t offer students a chance to engage and collaborate with their peers, develop problem-solving skills, or think creatively. Students miss critical opportunities for social and academic growth.
In addition, many asynchronous virtual schools assign one teacher to 100–150 students across multiple subject areas. This assigned teacher doesn’t teach lessons but instead ensures that students are on pace to complete assignments. This model does not typically provide adequate support for student learning, requiring many families to pay for one-on-one or small-group tutoring. Although many asynchronous virtual schools market themselves as tuition-free, many families must invest in outside tutoring for students to be successful.
WHY DOES GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL OFFER A BLENDED SYNCHRONOUS AND ASYNCHRONOUS MODEL?
Great Minds Virtual uses a blended-learning model in which students learn both synchronously (live, in class) and asynchronously (independently, out of class,). Students receive daily, in-person instruction in a small class (no more than 20 students) of their peers. Classes are complemented by purposeful out-of-class independent learning experiences.
Great Minds Virtual teachers only teach the content area they are certified in and are available to support students outside regular class hours, eliminating the need for paid tutoring that most asynchronous-only models require. This blended-learning model offers the flexibility of asynchronous learning along with the proven effectiveness of synchronous instruction with teachers and daily peer-to-peer interaction. Because so few virtual schools use a blended synchronous and asynchronous learning model, Great Minds Virtual truly stands out.
ARE GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL TEACHERS CERTIFIED? ARE THEY EXPERIENCED ONLINE TEACHERS?
Great Minds Virtual teachers hold professional teaching license and have experience in virtual and/or blended learning. Each teacher has demonstrated mastery in both their subject area and in online teaching. They teach only the content area in which they are certified. Great Minds Virtual teachers also engage in regular professional development focused on the best educational tools to facilitate deep learning in their classes.
WHAT CURRICULUM DOES GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL USE?
We have carefully selected the highest quality knowledge-rich instructional materials that receive top ratings from independent curriculum reviewers such as EdReports. Students in grades 6–8 use the following curriculum materials:
WILL MY CHILD TAKE STANDARDIZED TESTS?
Yes. Students at Great Minds Virtual take standardized assessments to provide insights on student growth to students, families, and teachers. We minimize assessment time for students and share all data with families.
HOW DOES GREAT MINDS VIRTUAL ENCOURAGE MY CHILD'S SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT?
Research shows that students learn best when teachers integrate academic, social, and emotional skills. Great Minds Virtual teachers foster a strong and joyful learning community, which is essential for students to feel comfortable taking the risks needed to learn.
Students begin every day with an advisory session—a small group of peers with a mentor teacher who facilitates building relationships and practicing social skills. Additionally, our academic curriculum fosters development of the five social-emotional competencies identified by CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning): self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.
WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST FOR MY CHILD TO SOCIALIZE?
The schedule at Great Minds Virtual allows and encourages daily social interaction among students. Each morning starts with an advisory where students learn more about each other and share their experiences. On Fridays, students participate in extracurricular clubs and activities. We also provide opportunities for students to eat lunch together in a virtual setting.
Parents and Families
WHAT IS REQUIRED OF PARENTS/GUARDIANS?
We ask that families partner with us to ensure their child’s success. We provide guidance on creating a safe and comfortable learning environment, and staff will regularly check in to make sure that families have what they need. We require that a guardian be present with the child to provide support during the school day.
WHAT SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE TO PARENTS/GUARDIANS?
Our staff leads family sessions throughout the school year that focus on supporting children at home and offer opportunities for parents to network with each other. These sessions take place virtually and at various times to allow parents to fit them into their busy schedules.