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Estimated Completion Time

18 Weeks


This course will introduce you to useful, real-world information by learning to read legal, insurance, employment, and vehicle related documents. You will also explore media bias, trends in journalism, word structures, and research strategies while developing critical reading skills, outline building skills, and identifying good sources of information. This course builds life and study skills, setting you up for success as an adult and post-secondary preparation.

Major Topics and Concepts

Unit 1 Navigating the Information Age

  • Identify why critical reading is an important life skill
  • Learn strategies for implementing critical reading into your life
  • Understand the differences between the types of writing and communication
  • Examine how motivation and purpose changes the way we communicate
  • Discuss how people get information in the digital age and how that contrasts with previous generations

Unit 2: Information for the Masses

  • Understand how the elements of visual texts convey meaning
  • Describe how news and journalism have changed and the challenges those changes have created
  • Identify the ideals at the heart of good journalism and how they work in practice
  • Examine media bias and its potential for real world effects, especially in politics
  • Explain what “fake news” is and strategies to avoid being manipulated by it

Unit 3: Reading in the Real World

  • Identify good sources for official information and understand how to use that information to accomplish goals
  • Narrow your research questions to determine neighborhoods, budget, and potential housing options
  • Analyze rental ads and rental applications to ensure understanding
  • Read and understand utility bills, with the goal of saving as much money as possible
  • Navigate the process of establishing legal residency

Unit 4: The First Day on the Job

  • Identify key workplace documents, understanding their place in your day-to-day duties
  • Use strategies for reading to help understand new and complex information
  • Analyze new documents based on previous knowledge and understanding
  • Understand how to navigate an employee handbook, including how to find policies and procedures related to your workplace
  • Describe how different types of writing applies to the workplace

Unit 5: Signing on the Dotted Line

  • Employ strategies to read and understand complex legal and financial documents
  • Describe the basic structure of words in order to decode them, including root words, affixes, and etymology
  • Explore key documents related to essential transactions to answer questions and guide decisions
  • Distinguish between important and unimportant information based on needs and goals

Unit 6: Changing the World Through Writing

  • Use graphic organizers to harness and plan ideas
  • Adapt ideas to a specific type of writing, which focuses on defining and proposing a solution to a problem
  • Identify the common challenges associated with problem-solving writing modes
  • Synthesize, summarize, and analyze reliable source material
  • Utilize strategies for reading research material to maximize efficiency

Unit 7: Moving from Ideas to An Action Plan

  • Understand the importance of outlining based on the structure of your argument
  • Organize your ideas and initial research into a thorough outline
  • Explain the purpose of the introduction and thesis statement
  • Analyze your audience to determine their concerns and address those concerns in your draft
  • Use figurative language, syntax, and style to persuade your audience that your proposal is logical and feasible

Unit 8: The Final Countdown

  • Identify the two types of revision
  • Develop a strategy for revising your own work
  • Analyze structural elements based on how well they meet assignment requirements
  • Evaluate word choice and style to ensure that your ideas are being communicated well
  • Understand how your argument creates inferences in the reader’s mind




The Experiences Pathway allows students to demonstrate mastery of competencies and earn credit through experiences, such as internships, travel, service learning, entrepreneurship, or independent study. Students may elect to meet all competencies in a particular competency group (i.e., English 1 or Economics) or they can master competencies in multiple discipline areas. Once a student enrolls, a VLACS instructor will work with the student to refine the Experience, identify the competencies that will be met, and determine products that will demonstrate mastery of each competency.

In Experiences students will:

  1. Use google drive.
  2. Meet weekly or every two weeks with their instructor.
  3. Secure an outside expert.
  4. Plan the experience prior to completing it. (Credit is not awarded for experiences completed prior to enrollment and completion of the planning process.)

Here is how to enroll in an Experience.

  1. Identify the course(s) that matches most closely with your Experience.
  2. Click “Enroll Now” from or from our learning catalog.
  3. From the enrollment page, navigate to the course that matches your Experience.
  4. Select all competencies that you hope to meet through your Experience. Do not worry if you are unsure of the exact competencies, they can be adjusted.
  5. Select the Experience bubble.
  6. If there are additional competencies from other discipline areas you hope to meet, enroll in these in the same manner.
  7. Your parent/guardian will receive an email asking for approval of your enrollment. This must be completed before we can assign you an instructor.
  8. You will receive a welcome email from your instructor within five days, given that space is available.

Independent Study

By signing up for an independent study, you will be able to direct your own learning, identifying what you want to learn and how you will demonstrate that you mastered your learning objectives.


Internships allow you to gain professional experience, make connections, and become familiar with a career, while working on site with mentors and professionals in a career of your interest.


While travel can be a great experience for learning life lessons, it is also an excellent way to acquire the knowledge and skills that allow you to demonstrate mastery in a variety of competencies.  The world is a classroom and travel experiences will connect your real world experiences to the learning that you seek.

Service Learning

In Service Learning, you collaborate with members of your community to address issues to improve your community. You will connect your service with discipline specific content so that learning can takes place through problem solving and collaboration.


Starting your own business is a great way to learn. This type of experience allows you to engage in an entrepreneurial experience and receive credit for competencies you master through this experience.

Credits .5


  • Writing as Effective Communication
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of writing as effective communication by evaluating information in context, analyzing written communication, and explaining critical reading.
  • Consuming Information Critically
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of being a critical reader by describing visual rhetoric and explaining news and journalism changes and challenges.
  • Reading in the Real World
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of reading for comprehension by explaining how to use critical reading skills to accomplish real-world goals.
  • Reading in the Workplace
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of reading in the workplace by explaining how to use critical reading skills in the workplace as well as reading comprehension strategies.
  • Reading for Detail
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of reading for detail by explaining how to use critical reading skills with legal and financial documents.
  • Reading and Writing to Solve Problems
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of reading and writing to solve problems by explaining to find problems and propose solutions.
  • Drafting a Proposal
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of how to draft a proposal by creating an outline and plan for drafting a proposal and analyzing rhetorical features.
  • Making Revisions
    Students will demonstrate an understanding of making revisions by explaining how to plan for revisions as well as considerations for making global and sentence-level revisions.



Attend a virtual open house

We offer regular online open house webinars where VLACS staff members provide parents and students with an overview of our programs and answer questions about online learning.