Avoca West News

Week of September 25, 2020


At-Home Learning & Attendance

As a public school, we have to take (and report) attendance to the state. This past spring, remote learning was so new to us all and the guidance from the state was to give a lot of flexibility to families as they balance learning at home. We know that many of our students had a difficult time managing learning with their classroom teacher and juggling specials classes (like drama, art, and other offerings).

One of the major changes this year is to provide a structured day on the remote learning days so that students and families are acutely aware of the schedule for the day and what needs to be accomplished. We also adjusted our specials classes so that they are blocked for a four week rotation, allowing for less confusion at home and for our teachers to engage more deeply with students in their Creative Arts & Sciences (CA&S) area of study. Learn more about our Creative Arts & Sciences options for this year HERE. This was also emailed home from Mrs. Bowman last week and is shared on its own below.

Next week, students will begin their second rotation of CA&S classes, so it's the PERFECT time to be sure our families understand that attendance on remote learning days is recorded and reported in our system. How? Our CA&S teachers note which students are present on their Zoom -- one class in the morning, and another in the afternoon. If your child is absent for one or both of the Zoom classes he/she will be marked absent for either a full or half day.

Our staff has worked hard to make sure that at-home learning is valuable and is intentionally planned! We are expecting our students to engage in that learning just as we would on days when they are at school in person. The hours of learning for both at school and at home each day are from 9:00-2:30 (and listed in the Remote Learning Hub Agendas. We recognize tech issued can arise, but communication with your child's CA&S teacher is important if something comes up. Please be sure to report your child's absence to his/her teacher or to our health office if you know he/she will be absent.

RL Hub Info and Updates

Kudos to our teachers for adjusting to posting in the Hub to keep our families at home up to date on what our students are doing at school and what they should be doing at home. We know it's a lot of work! We have also heard some worries about having Zoom links posted publicly and are working through some ideas. Keep in mind the following things:

  • The purpose of the Hub is for our parents to have an idea of whether their child is keeping up with things on remote days. The addition of the times and schedule for the day also helps our students organize their day so they don't miss times with teachers.
  • 3rd-5th graders are more familiar with navigating Google Classroom. That is where students should find instructions about what to do and other specifics. The Hub can simply contain the time, subject, and to-do/task/assignment. In the Hub agenda, teachers may point out where students can find the assignment/activity -- which will also encourage students to be more independent during their at-home learning.
  • K-2nd graders are notably far less independent. Now that our K & 1st graders have their own iPads we are looking to really build routines and habits for students so that they know how to navigate Seesaw and other platforms as independently as possible. The goal is that we can eventually put just general tasks on the Hub instead of putting very parent-heavy language in the document. Thanks to our tech team and classroom teachers for working and supporting our youngest learners in this learning curve.
  • Removal of Zoom Links will happen as soon as we see that our kids are independent in finding them (for classroom and for specials and other teachers).

As with all things, we are learning right alongside our parents and students this year. Thank you for your patience and support along the way as we adjust our practices and procedures.

Student Assessment Update

The start of this school year has put a large emphasis on student and adult social emotional learning. We know that times are stressful, our learning situation is unique, and making connections and caring for ourselves is more important than ever. As we wrap up the fourth week of school at AW, we are weaving in various assessments to get a snapshot of where our students are at this fall. Some things are the same as previous years, while others have been adjusted to really capture the most important benchmark information. We're working through ways to refine our processes and procedures to make sure the data we're gathering is used and useful in supporting kids. We know that especially this year, time is something that we can't expend without really being thoughtful! Here's what's happening:

  • Heggerty Phonemic Awareness (K-2) - Our reading specialist is Zooming in and assessing students on specific sub-tests to learn how students can make sense of the sounds they hear (an important first step in learning to read and write).
  • Aimsweb (K-3...though we can and will add more for progress monitoring) - Short, quick battery of 2-3 tests for reading foundational skills and reading fluency. Along with Heggerty, this will help us identify places to target for our students who are
  • iXL Diagnostic (K-5) - iXL is new to us this school year, so we're learning more as we go along. Though the diagnostic assessment is a long one, we look forward to seeing what data looks like. As students continue using the platform throughout the year, the data will continually update as to give us real time information about their progress. It will also recommend skills for students for those cases where teachers haven't assigned specific items/standards.
  • MAP (2-5) - This will give us some consistent data to compare against last winter's scores. In order to preserve instructional time, we will be giving only the Survey/Screener for Reading and Math. Testing will take place the week of October 5th. Parents in 2nd-5th grades will receive an additional email from me with more information.

As in the past, teachers will also using curriculum based assessments (like Bridges assessments) and other standards-based assessments to see where students are at in learning. Those components are helpful and important in painting a holistic picture!

Return-to-School survey for Dr. Osburn

We are hoping to capture input from as many stakeholders as possible. Please share your feedback!

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Questions? Comments?

Please feel free to reach out to ask any of our office staff for help!