July 8, 2020 (#2)
Dear Penngrove Families,
If you are a TK or K parent, you should have received an email from Yesenia today with a welcome letter from your child's teacher. Exciting! Please make sure you click on all the links so you don't miss out on any important sign-ups. TK and K families will also receive student iPad during Meet & Greets.
As we plan to invite you on campus by appointment for a 1st day of school greeting, please start having conversations with your children about following all social distancing protocols while at Penngrove. This includes temperature checks, maintaining at least 6 feet distance from others, washing hands frequently, being careful not to touch your face, and wearing a face covering at all times. As a reminder, you will have the opportunity to sign up for an on campus visit when you receive the welcome letter from your child's teacher via email on July 14th.
I know it's a lot. Together, we can do this. Deep breaths, belief in yourself and your village, and a whole lot of grace makes for a positive outlook.
Holding on to hope,
Distance Learning Parent Update
What are the Models of Instruction?
There are three different learning models we hope to see this year. We are planning to be flexible enough to move between models as health and safety concerns change.
Distance Learning: This is an online format where students learn from home. We ended last year in Distance Learning.
Hybrid Learning: This is a combination of in-person instruction with social distancing and Distance Learning. The students will attend school, but only in smaller cohort groups. Some of their instructional time will also need to be made up outside of school in Distance Learning.
Traditional Learning: This is the in-person instruction model without restrictions that we have used for years.
Why are we starting in Distance Learning?
We know the decision to open remotely or in-person deeply impact families and schools alike. These are challenging times that we weigh carefully. Our district team consistently reassesses the health status of our region and looks to make the best choices for the safety and education of our students. Considering the current trend of the pandemic, we are starting cautiously with a Distance Learning only model to ensure the safety of our students and staff. In order to move to Hybrid Instruction, public health will need to be more stable and staff need training on health and safety procedures. This is a temporary situation, and we intend to move towards in-person instruction as soon as it is safe for us to do so. We hope to progress from Distance Learning to Hybrid Learning and eventually Traditional Learning.
What did we learn from Distance Learning last spring?
We took away three important lessons from Distance Learning.
Instruction: In the area of instruction, we recognized that all students deserve daily and rigorous instruction no matter what district school they attend. The amount of instruction they receive should not vary depending on their teacher.
Learning Tools: We also learned that some learning tools are more beneficial in Distance Learning, and all students should have access to learning with them.
Communication: Finally, we learned how critical 2-way communication is in Distance Learning. Parents needed consistent, clear, and predictable communication from the classroom, school, and district office.
What we want you to know is that Distance Learning 2.0 will look dramatically different than Distance Learning 1.0 last spring. 67 teachers and administrators from across the district have been planning all summer and have held 20 meetings with more than 42 hours of work. We are developing thoughtful and consistent plans for all our district students.
How will Distance Learning be different?
You will see a number of changes in the area of instruction. The first big change you will see is an increase in teacher contact time with students. Teachers will meet with all students via video conference five days of the week. On four days (M, Tu, Th, F) teachers meet with students for three hours in a large group, small groups, and/or individual settings. This doesn’t mean that your child will be on a three hour video conference. One example may be that a teacher begins with a 30 minute whole group meeting and then works with portions of the class in small groups for the next hour. This means the teacher is meeting with students for three hours, but individual students might only be online with the teacher for a portion of that time. During these instructional blocks, your child may be attending a video conference with the teacher, watching a teacher-made video, or working independently.
Another change is an emphasis on daily instruction in reading, writing, and math. We have identified key standards in these subjects and are prioritizing them to ensure we focus on the most important content for our students.
The last instructional change you will see is the standard instructional minutes by grade. State legislation outlines required minutes for each grade level:
TK - K: 180 minutes or 3 hours each day
1st - 3rd: 230 minutes or 3.8 hours each day
4th - 6th: 240 minutes or 4 hours each day
Another change you will see this fall is that we have unified the learning tools used in our classes to provide predictability for our students. We noticed that many families were confused about the different tools used from class to class. We also saw that some tools were clearly superior and should be used universally. While teachers will use other tools as well, these are the very best, and all students will use them in the learning.
District video conference tool (TK-12)
Seesaw Learning Platform (TK-3)
Google Classroom (4-12)
Finally, we have realized that communication is even more critical in a Distance Learning model. To improve 2-way communication between home and school, we are adopting a district-wide communication tool. This one tool focuses on giving families the power to get school-related information the way they want it. For example, families can decide how often they want school communication (immediately or end of day digest) and the method of delivery (email, text, or post). Most importantly, families decide what language they want to receive their message in. Families can also communicate in their preferred language, and the tool will translate into English for the teacher or principal. All school related communication will go through this tool as a predictable and consistent channel for communication.
~Your Distance Learning Team on behalf of Team Penn
Nicole Moran (5th grade)
Angela Riley (2nd grade)
Cassie Alcocer (1st grade)
Adrienne Olufs (Instructional Coach)
Like our typical schedule, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday look the same with Wednesday having a separate schedule.
Let’s start with a look at a typical day. Here is the Elementary Distance Learning schedule for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
2 instructional blocks: Notice that there are two 90 minute instructional blocks with a 30 minute break between. Instructional blocks are times that families should know school will be in session. Your student will be in online meetings for portions of this time. Your child will also be working independently when the teacher is meeting with other students. Remember that instruction is flexible and teachers can use this time to meet with the whole group, in small groups, or with individual students to meet the needs of the class. Please plan on being “in school” during these two blocks.
Instructional minutes: In order to meet state instructional minute requirements, most students will need some additional work time in the afternoon. Teachers will combine the time they meet with students and the time students work independently to meet instructional minutes for each grade.
Office hours: Daily office hours are reserved for teachers or parents to schedule meetings and check-ins as needed.
Wednesday looks different than the other four days. This allows students and teachers a mid-week break from online conferencing. However, some students may be asked to meet with the teacher or other specialist on these days for more individualized instruction.
30 minute instructional block: We begin the day with a whole class online meeting to set the instructional tasks for the day.
Independent work: Students will work on assigned instructional tasks to meet state instructional minute requirements by grade.
Office hours: The office hours shift to the morning on Wednesday.
What are the Next Steps?
We find ourselves in a complex and changing situation, but our next steps are clear.
We will continue to work on improving our Distance Learning model. After the first month of instruction, we will look at what is working and what is not to review and revise our plans. With Hybrid Learning, we will continue to plan for the many details of in-person instruction, and we will communicate updates with our families as soon as we solidify our plan.
Thank you for your support of our teachers, schools, and district as we navigate these challenging times. We are grateful for our partnership with our families, and together we can tackle the challenges that lie ahead whatever they might be.
• Receive all school, classroom and group communication via email, text or app notification
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• Appreciate those who post messages (please give them generously!)