IVS Teacher Spotlight – Pam Shaw

This week’s IVS Teacher Spotlight is Pam Shaw. Pam has been IVS’ Music Appreciation teacher since 2012. Pam holds a Bachelor of Music in Instrumental Music from Trinity University and is currently working on a Master of  Education in Special Education with an emphasis on Gifted Education through the University of Missouri.

Pam is a music teacher and violinist by training. She has multiple part-time jobs working with students which allow her the flexibility to manage the ups and downs that come with parenting two twice exceptional kids. She works with students of all ages as a substitute teacher, homebound tutor, private music teacher, virtual school teacher, and online course reviewer. Her Illinois teaching endorsements include music, language arts, general science, and gifted education. Pam has a special interest in gifted and twice exceptional students. She served on the Illinois State Board of Education’s Gifted Advisory Council and is currently a board member of the Chicago Gifted Community Center. She also serves as a book reviewer for MiddleWeb.



Pam Shaw


Pam recently spent some time answering a few questions for IVS:


IVS: Why did you decide to begin teaching online?

PS: I moved from Connecticut to Illinois in 2011 and spent my first year here getting my Illinois teaching endorsements. In 2012, I started looking for a part-time job teaching music, and ran across a job posting for Illinois Virtual School.  I had never considered teaching online, but I thought, “Why not? I can do that.” I took the online teacher training courses offered by IVS that summer and started teaching my Music Appreciation course that fall.


IVS:What aspects about the online teaching and learning environment do you appreciate the most and why?

PS: I appreciate the flexibility of teaching and learning online.  I find that it is actually easier to provide personalized feedback and communication to students virtually, because I naturally focus on one student at a time, rather than having to manage an entire class of students all at the same like in a traditional classroom.


IVS: What benefits exist for students when taking an online course?

PS: In the past several years, I have had first-hand experience taking online courses, both to add additional endorsements on my teaching license as well as to pursue a fully online Master’s degree.  The primary benefit of taking an online course are the flexibility of having anytime, anywhere access to the course. Students are able to work around their schedule as needed. This does make it especially important to get into the habit of checking in and doing work for the online course on a regular basis!


IVS: What strategies do you use to keep your students motivated and engaged?

PS:  One thing I really enjoy is putting up interesting weekly news items on my course home page that are related to current events or our current unit of study.  I tend to include interesting videos, news articles, or classical music jokes and memes. I’m always on the lookout for things that my students might find interesting!

Another thing I do to keep students motivated is giving them the opportunity to edit or redo assignments based on my feedback.  For me, student learning is my primary focus, so if a student is willing to spend the time improving their work, I am excited for the additional opportunity for them to master the material and adjust their grade accordingly.


IVS: What advice may you offer to students who are not sure if the online environment is a proper fit for them?

PS: My advice to students would be that it can be a great experience to take an online course, and it is worth trying.  Online college classes and work training will almost certainly be a part of their future, so an experience now will get them a head start on adapting to the online learning environment.  To be successful, they should be sure to follow the suggested pacing schedule as much as they can, and don’t be afraid to reach out to teachers whenever they have a question or concern. That’s what we are here for, and we love to hear from our students!


IVS: How have you grown professionally through your online teaching experience?

PS: Teaching online has given a me new perspective on teaching and learning. I have become especially aware of the importance of making connections with students and being present in my course. The focus at IVS on continuous improvement through the Quality Matters (QM) program also presented me with additional opportunities for training, leading to my becoming a K-12 Master Reviewer for the Quality Matters organization.

I help IVS with internal quality initiatives to prepare courses for official QM reviews, as well as lead review teams for QM that certify course quality for course publishers and virtual schools throughout the country. I have also become interested in the use of educational technology and blended learning in the brick-and-mortar classroom, which led me to apply to become a judge for the CODiE Education Technology awards this year.  I was able to review three different Ed Tech products in the Best Solution for Exceptional Students category. Being able to view other online courses through doing QM reviews and educational technology solutions through CODiE judging have led to even deeper knowledge and focus on what a quality course looks like.


IVS: Why is IVS a special place to be part of?

PS: I appreciate that the IVS team is extremely supportive, even though we don’t see each other face-to-face very often. Our Professional Learning Communities and Educational Coaches help to facilitate relationships between the faculty and staff.  Students might be surprised that our teachers also engage in our own discussion board assignments!


Thanks for all you do, Pam!



You Still Have Time to Enroll in an IVS Summer Term.

There is Still Time to Enroll in IVS Summer Terms

summer school

Remaining Full Service Enrollment Dates:

June 6 (9 weeks)

June 12 (8 weeks)

Are you trying to free up time in your school schedule next year? Are you trying to gain additional credits for early graduation? Do you want to take a course that isn’t offered at your school? Do you want to stay on top of your education while school is out of session? If you answered ‘yes‘ to any of these questions, then Illinois Virtual School can help! Check out the SUMMER COURSE FLYER for more information. If you already know what course you’d like to take then visit the GETTING STARTED page to learn how to create a student account and request a course.

IVS Credit Recovery Courses are offered on a ‘Rolling Enrollment’ basis, which means students can start any day of the week.

TEACHERS! Did you know IVS offers Self-Paced online PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT courses? Click HERE to see a list of our available PD Courses. Or you can VIEW A COURSE to see if IVS will be right for you!

IVS Guest Blog Post: Nancy A. Hinnen – Heart of Illinois United Way


Illinois Virtual prides itself on forming partnerships to enhance and transform education for students and professionals. We believe we can achieve more together than we can alone. Through intentional and purposeful collaboration, we can elevate our educational communities beyond what a single entity can accomplish individually.

Below is a guest blog post from one of our partners, Heart of Illinois United Way. We thank you for our partnership and appreciate all you do to support and empower others to continuously improve.

Guest Blog Post

By Nancy A. Hinnen, Success By 6 Program Coordinator; Heart of Illinois United Way


Illinois Virtual School has our heads “in the clouds” with the launch of Math: Right from the Start Live Stream Professional Development! Heart of Illinois United Way Success By 6 just completed the winter/spring 2019 semester course using an Adobe Connect platform that was created and managed through Illinois Virtual School. The live professional development was held at SAL Child Care Connection in Peoria, IL and was streamed to Tazewell-Woodford Head Start in East Peoria, IL. Along with the live training using a web camera and PowerPoint presentation, demonstration video clips on how to use instructional materials were dropped into the presentation. Illinois Virtual School also coordinated group interaction between host sites using Snowball microphones and also imported photos of each site’s work into the virtual instruction so participants could share “live” comments/reflections on strategies learned within minutes of creating them. Amazing!

Funded through PNC Foundation, Math: Right from the Start provides a blended model of face-to-face and online professional development, e-coaching, and support materials that equip early childhood educators to implement research-validated, cognitively appropriate mathematical thinking strategies that enhance early math foundational skills. Illinois Virtual School has served as the online vendor since the course was created in 2013. The online portion of the course includes instructional videos, handouts and resources that are easily accessed when participants enroll in the course.  Upon completion of the course, “graduates” have continuous access to the original course content as well as any updated/new instructional materials. Illinois Virtual School participates in course planning meetings, creates the online platforms, attends orientation to help participants enroll online, manages online hours of participation, manages the live-stream professional development, and provides professional development certificates upon course completion. The role of Illinois Virtual School is essential for the success of the online and live-stream professional development!

Our vision is to reach larger audiences of early childhood educators so together we can enhance early math thinking . . . Right from the Start! Results from a 2018 research study funded through the PNC Ruby K. Worner Charitable Trust showed that preschool children in classrooms of teachers who participated in Math: Right from the Start had overall early math foundational growth of 8.32 correct responses whereas students of teachers who did not participate in Math: Right from the Start had overall early math foundational growth of 2.04 correct responses. (Wolffe, Nugent, Antola Crowe, 2018). Therefore, students of teachers who participate in Math: Right from the Start show statistically significant growth compared to those students of teachers who do not participate in Math: Right from the Start.

We applaud Illinois Virtual School for embracing the importance of early math thinking. Thank you for collaborating on behalf of giving teachers and their student’s foundational math skills for school success!