Like all our neighboring districts, when we initially closed for two weeks we built a suite of Home Learning Resource Sites to support families in keeping your children’s minds and bodies engaged. On Wednesday afternoon last week, Governor Baker announced that schools would be closed until May 4. On Thursday, principals met with Jess Rose, Assistant Superintendent, and me to plan for remote learning during this extended closure.
Our goal has appropriately shifted to create structured learning and growth for our students. On Friday and today all faculty attended virtual faculty meetings and held Common Planning Times to prepare materials and systems for this next phase. Our approach has been informed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE’s) Remote Learning Recommendations released at the end of last week and feedback from families based on last week’s survey. We will continue to refine our approach as we learn what works through this initial closure extension.
This week we are launching Learning at Home Together (LHT), our remote learning program during the school closure, built to address our families' various needs. We acknowledge that every family exists in a different situation with a very different quantity and intensity of stressors--and of resources and opportunities. Our families communicated that they need a range of resources including:
- Daily/weekly assignments or virtual lessons with chances to get feedback from faculty
- Opportunities for students to see one another and maintain community & connection
- Targeted instructional activities for students who are behind on basic skills
- Individualized services (from Special Educators, EL Teachers, and Related Service Providers)
- More robust projects that would take students a few days to accomplish
- Resources that help families construct a daily schedule, maintain classroom routines, and utilize the Home Learning Resource Sites, including opportunities to sign up for “office hours” with faculty for families who have questions about how to support their child academically
DESE’s guidance to us describes remote learning as:
“Remote learning is not synonymous with online learning. Remote learning can take place in a multitude of ways, including by helping students engage with resources in their everyday lives and in the natural world around them. Remote learning also provides unique opportunities to further engage students in the arts or interdisciplinary work. Finally, we must be conscious of the effects of increased screen time and seek balance between learning through technology and remote learning that happens offline to support students’ curiosity and understanding.”
We will follow DESE’s guidelines that “districts support students to engage in meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day.” This total time could include any combination of the following:
- Students log-on to Google Meet for a live session
- Students watch a short clip from a teacher who introduces the learning before they do their independent work
- Students independently work on their assignment for the day that was posted to Google Classroom, Schoology, or Seesaw
- All K-8 students will have a live “Morning” Meeting or Advisory session three times per week and will receive communications to foster community on the other two days each week. The majority of learning offerings will not be “live” lessons, allowing families to maintain significant flexibility to schedule their days as they need them. Preschool families will be sent a separate communication about their Learning at Home Together plan that best meets their unique needs, given the age and ability to be independent.
- Students should expect to have a week’s worth of assignments or projects that they could work on daily. The times listed are approximate, will shift from day to day, and could be different for individual children. Students will also receive feedback on their work from teachers each week.
Suggested schedule for daily use with activities tied to learning targets for each week.
Literacy -- 30 min
Math -- 30 min
Science -- 20 min
Social Studies/FLES -- 20 min
Daily Special -- 30 min
Math -- 30 min
ELA -- 30 min
Science -- 30 min
Social Studies -- 30 min
World Language -- 30 min
Daily Special -- 30 min
No formal assessments or grades will be given to students during this time and all children will be held harmless of any content or skills they do not acquire during this time. Components of our Learning at Home Together (LHT) program will begin on Wednesday 4/1 and we expect to be fully up and running by Monday 4/6. Principals and teacher teams will be reaching out to share how you and your child(ren) can access these resources. We will layer on additional, optional learning opportunities and tools throughout the coming days and weeks and will share those offerings when they are ready.
All the best,
Becky McFall, Superintendent