ICCSD Online K-12 Program

Bi-Weekly Sync ~ October 31, 2022

About Our Program

  • The Iowa City Community School District’s K-12 Online Learning Program (ICCSD Online) offers an exceptional learning experience for students in grades K-12. ICCSD Online is open to all students in Iowa and provides a high-quality, at-home alternative to the District’s traditional classroom setting. Designed and taught by District teachers and administrators, the program provides students the ability to engage in rigorous coursework offered through a supportive online environment. ICCSD Online provides families the ability to choose the academic setting that is best for their students without having to sacrifice the traditional benefits of working directly with teachers and classmates.

ICCSD Online K-12 Principal Message

Dear ICCSD Online Owl Families,

I hope you and your family are well. Autumn in Iowa has been on full display. The sunshine and comfortable temperatures are appreciated. Autumn reminds us that every thing has a season or a cycle. We all know the change that will come after autumn has finished its glorious run. The seasons will change; we can't stop it from happening but we might prepare for the change.

Some people might prepare by putting things away or cleaning things up in their outdoor space. There could be the change of apparel and clothing to be more suited to the temperatures. There could be changes in routine like meal preparations, wake up times, bedtimes or weekly activities. We know the change is coming. We can't stop it but we can learn to anticipate or prepare for it.

Our program experienced an unexpected change with Zoom a couple of weeks ago. It definitely affected some students and families. Change is hard. It is causing students to learn a new pathway to their zoom link or communicate with teachers and adults about what is not working. Learning how to handle change can be a useful life long skill. It would be easy to complain about why it shouldn't have changed and why it wasn't needed. Most of the zoom updates are actually very positive but the implementation of the updates did cause some unusual side effects. Being calm, sharing information, seeking help and demonstrating patience are all helpful strategies in dealing with change. I am so proud of the students who were able to communicate with teachers and staff to help us pinpoint what was working and what was not working. I know it was frustrating in the moment, however, I think we all learned how to better handle technology changes; both expected and unexpected. Students and staff demonstrated that they could be wise and powerful in the ways they handle the situation. Students definitely followed different synchronous and asynchronous PBIS expectations such as I can communicate with trusted adults and I can use technology responsibly. A special thank you to junior high students, Jeffrey and Ivan, for their leadership in working with Mr. Dankert and I to show us what was happening.

Thank you for your continued partnership as we seek to become more wise, more powerful and more diverse in our skills and knowledge!


Laura Mayer

PBIS Core Values and Expectations

During community learning time, teachers are supporting students and helping them to understand what is means to be OWLS. O stands for online and on time. W stands for with materials. L stands for learner ready and S stands for supportive, inclusive and receptive. The specific skills connected to these expectations are:

  • I can show respect for differing views of my classmates. I can understand how my words and actions affect others.
  • I can work cooperatively within a group or the community. I can provide input on the learning goals and support so that others around me are also successful.
  • I can recognize and value my role in differing communities. I can have healthy relationships in my family, school and community.
  • I can work and interact with those who are similar and different from me. I can interact respectfully and consider the needs of my family, school and community.

These expectations require students to develop social awareness and relationship skills. The community expectations are present within student use of the camera, chat, microphone and their active participation in shared platforms and digital resources during synchronous learning. These community expectations will support students during their academic career. They will require students to engage in their own learning and build solid relationships with their classmates and teachers.

Zoom Updates

Zoom communications has made some updates to their video communications tool. We experienced some disruptions between Oct.14th and Oct. 21st. The company is ending the use of the Zoom app and moving solely to a web based platform. The tech department was helpful in working through the unexpected outcomes of this update. Here are some best practices and basic troubleshooting tips to be aware of when there is a tech issue. Please contact the Help Desk if you continue to experience disruptions with Zoom or error messages.

Best Practices for Chromebooks

  • Charge the device regularly and allow the battery to expend itself to support functional battery life. It is not necessary to leave it plugged into the charging cord daily. Report charging issues, such as not being able to hold a consistent charge, to our librarian and media secretary to replace or exchange items.

  • Perform a regular shut down and restart of the device; could be daily or weekly. This allows the system to complete the full updates as they are pushed out.

  • Close your apps and browser each day before shutting down the Chromebook or closing the screen. Note: Closing the screen is not the same as performing a “shut down”

  • Clear the cache and cookies stored from the browser; this could be every six months to a year

  • Check to make sure the chromebook is operating with the most updated ChromeOS version

Basic Troubleshooting for Chromebooks

  1. Close apps, tabs and browser and then log in again.

  2. Shut down and restart the Chromebook; this action should be performed regularly so the device can complete any updates that are available.

  3. Clear the cache and cookies from the browsing history of the device.

  4. Check for any updates in the ChromeOS that need to be completed.

  5. Check the login pathway for accessing established teacher/course Zoom links.

  6. Review the ClassLink or Canvas login pathways to make sure you are using the pathways synced with the icstudents.org provided for student use on district devices.

We are WISE. We are POWERFUL. We are DIVERSE.

ICCSD Online Grading Practices: JH & HS

As part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion plans at the district level, a cohort of directors, administrators, curriculum coordinators and teachers began discussing and reframing grading expectations across the district to create more equitable outcomes for students. The district has adopted these grading practices.

  1. Any assignment that is essential to demonstrating proficiency of a standard should be accepted within the current grading term (trimester) without penalty. Late work will be accepted until Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. Trimester 1 ends Thursday, Nov. 17 and the final grades are due Friday, Nov. 18th
  2. All students will be allowed opportunities to reassess on summative tests/projects within the grading term (trimester) following additional practice and/or instruction. It is acceptable for a teacher to ask a student to complete certain assignment(s) before providing an opportunity to retake an assessment or redo a project.
  3. Homework is viewed as practice and formative learning opportunities for students. Daily homework will be weighted as 15% of the overall grade so that students are not penalized for their practice or misconceptions while they are developing understanding and working towards mastery.
  4. Missing assignments and/or assessments, during a unit of study, will be marked with a zero and a flag/comment to indicate what needs to be completed. At the end of the unit, any missing assignments will be marked as 50% until, a point in time, when the student has completed and turned in the missing work. Late work is accepted for full credit until 3 days prior to the end of the trimester.
  5. No extra credit will be provided. Students must complete, retake or resubmit posted assignments and assessments from previous units of study. These assignments and assessments are meant to develop student understanding and mastery of content.
  6. No portion of a grade will be awarded solely on a student's daily attendance, daily participation, or level of compliance or behavior in the learning environment.

ICCSD Online teachers are to maintain and keep online grade books up to date, entering assignments or assessments at least every two weeks. This approach will assist in maintaining accurate information regarding student progress that can be easily communicated to students, parents, and support staff, all of which in in alignment with the Iowa Teaching Standards.

Program Updates

Important updates are broken down into elementary, secondary or K-12 program items. K-12 Program items will apply to all levels.

Elementary K-6

  • Parent Teacher Conferences are coming soon. Please check your parent email on November 2nd for the information to sign up for a virtual conference.
  • Friday, Nov. 4th Grade 1 and 2 students will be participating in Iowa City's annual Author Visit experience. This year's guest is Juana Martinez Neal, an award winning Caldecott Medal illustrator. She will be speaking to students in person at Lincoln Elementary. Our students will have the opportunity attend in person or virtual. Check your parent email for more details.
  • Ms. Young's class is organizing a visit with KCRG meterologist Joe Winters to support their science instruction about air and weather.
  • Ms. McHugh's class has been working on their ability to ask and answer who, what, when, where questions because they became curious about yaks after a shared classroom reading experience.
  • Ms. Cabrera has been creating time and space for students to get to know each other by discussing different conversation prompts and then responding to others in writing. The class uses this routine weekly to support social emotional learning and positive relationship skills.

Secondary 7-12

  • There are 3 weeks left in the trimester. Trimester 1 will end on Nov. 17th. Students can submit any late or missing assignments for trimester 1 until Monday, Nov. 14th.
  • Our teachers want to know that students are well. Using cameras in a virtual classroom can be an important way to connect with teachers and students, show understanding of content and instruction or alert the teacher to other concerns the student may have. Please encourage your child to use their camera for the whole class period. It is acceptable to position the camera so that a portion of the face, forehead or shoulder is visible in the frame. Students need to be able to turn the camera on if asked by a teacher to do so, especially if there is no other forms of communication or presence being shown. If your child has serious concerns about camera usage, that have not already been addressed with the principal or counselor, please reach out with your question.
  • Please check the ICCSD Online website for details about excused and unexcused tardies or absences if there are concerns about a practice or policy.

K-12 Program wide Upcoming Events

  • No School Tuesday, November 8th This is a district wide professional development day for teachers.
  • K-6 Parent Teacher Conferences will be November 9, 17th and/or 18th. No School on November 18th for parent teacher conferences and end of trimester Grades 7-12 records.
  • No School November 23, 24 and 25th District offices are closed.
  • The last day of school before winter break is Friday, December 23rd. Winter breaks is December 26 - January 6th. School resumes on Monday, January 9th.
  • No School Monday January 16th: Observance of Martin Luther King Jr Day (district offices are closed).
  • No School Monday, January 23rd: District offices closed.

Non-Discrimination Statement

It is the policy of the Iowa City Community School District not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, religion, creed, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and socioeconomic status in its educational programs, activities, or employment practices. There is a grievance procedure for processing complaints of discrimination. If you have questions or a grievance related to this policy, please contact Eric Howard, Director of Equity and Employee Relations, 1725 N. Dodge St., Iowa City, IA 52245, 319-688-1000, howard.eric@iowacityschools.org.