Overview of Extended Learning from the Principal

posted Jul 31, 2020, 1:59 PM by Kelli Knox

 

Dear Families and Students,

 

Welcome to the start of the 2020-21 school year.  We hope you are as excited as we are to begin the journey ahead, despite the unusual circumstances.  We are committed to providing you and your student the best we have to offer.  Please take a few minutes to read the information below about how this year will begin.   

 

Distance Learning to start the school year

The WESD Governing Board has determined that distance learning will be the delivery model for education until Labor Day weekend.  Between now and then, our district and the Governing Board are closely monitoring the conditions in Arizona.  The Governor, the Department of Education, and other health experts will inform the district in making future decisions about the model of learning. 

 

Class periods, sizes and times

Until things change, we will be teaching classes according to the WESD extended learning plan.  The WESD is taking into account research and recommendations for online learning routines and has recommended that students limit the time they are sitting in front of a screen.  Additionally, it is imperative that we increase engagement and interaction when possible.  To accomplish both of those recommendations, we will be cutting class periods in half and dividing students into smaller groups.  As a result, a single period math class with 30 students will now be broken into two 30 minute sessions.  Students with the last names A-L will log in to the first 30 minutes, and the students with the last names M-Z will go to the second session.  This creates a Period 1 A and Period 1 B. 

 

Day 1 and Day 2 Schedules (please see separate schedule)

Another way to limit time online is through a two day rotation.  Math and Language Arts will continue to meet every day, while other classes will alternate between days one and two.  Odd numbered periods will meet on Mondays and Thursdays.  Even numbered periods will meet on Tuesdays and Fridays.  This means students will not necessarily have their two electives, Social Studies and Science meetings every day.  Again, this is designed to lower the average time a student needs to be in front of their computer.  On Wednesdays, all classes will meet in shorter whole groups.

Interactive lessons and the proper technology

Each subject area has been busy creating very interactive lessons which will rely greatly on Google Classroom tools.  Each student will be included in their teachers’ Google Classrooms and be sent an invite.  When a student accepts the invitation to the classroom, they will have access to all of the Google Meeting links and materials.  Assignments will be submitted and graded through Google Classroom.  To this end, it is extremely important that students have access to the type of technology which will allow them to participate.   We are offering Chromebooks to families to use during this time.  At a minimum, students will need to have access to the Google Suite and an operating camera and speaker to allow visual and auditory interaction.  We all know spring was not ideal for learning.  Moving forward we are determined to do better. 

 

Independent Work

This new format will require students to work much more independently.  We ask that you create a space allowing them to work free of distractions.  We know that students may struggle during the independent time, so we have also established office hours and intervention times for students to reconnect with their teachers at different times in the day.  More information will come regarding those Office hours and supports.  

 

The Virtual School Day

  • Each day will begin with all students logging into Advisory (zero period on their schedules) at 8:55 am.  There will be The Pledge, announcements and Social Emotional Lessons created by the WESD social services department.  These research-based lessons will reconnect students in this challenging time. 
  • After Advisory, students will begin logging into their Core and Elective classes as assigned to them on their schedule.  We will have schedules posted on ParentVue and StudentVue and hope to have them ready by Chromebook distribution.  As explained above, Students will attend odd number periods one day and even number periods the next.  Math and Language Arts will be both days. 
  • A lunch break will be provided from 12:25 p.m. to 12:55 p.m. for both 7th and 8th grade students daily. 
  • Office hours and universal interventions will begin after 7th or 8th periods at 3:05 p.m. daily. 
  • All online activity will end by 4:15 p.m. 

 

Meet the Teacher and Open House Nights

We will have a virtual Meet the Teacher night on August 6 at 6:30 p.m.  Parents will log into the student’s advisory class to hear more about the day during a 15-minute presentation. 

Later in August, we will host a virtual Open House evening for parents to see each teacher as they follow their student’s schedule.   Teachers and students will be much more familiar with their meeting links, allowing for smoother transitions from class to class. 

 

Parent Connections

We encourage parents to stay up with their students by using the amazing tools we have to offer. 

  • ParentVue will be critical for seeing attendance, gradebooks, messages and schedules. 
  • The School website will have teacher emails and links to each teacher’s Google Site, as well as updated announcements. 
  • Teacher Google Sites will provide portals for students into the Google Classrooms.  We encourage parents to work with their students in those individual Google classrooms.    
  • Texting and Outdials.  Please make sure you have opted to receive the message text and emails from our School Messenger applications.  We must have an accurate email to send you information. 

 

As a staff, we have been learning and adjusting just like many of you, and we know how challenging all of this can be while being concerned with keeping families and staff safe.  I promise, we will work through this together.  Please keep in touch if you see concerns regarding your student during the coming school year. 

 

We hope to see all of you soon. 

Until then, your very proud principal

Perry Mason

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Kelli Knox,
Jul 31, 2020, 1:59 PM
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