Volume 27, September 1, 2020

Principal's Message

Welcome to School Year 2020-2021! As we plan for a beginning like no other we have seen, our focus as a faculty and staff will still be to ensure that every child, every day, is finding a way to feel connected, challenged, and cared for.

The spring of 2020 required our staff and students to engage in a different form of teaching and learning, connect in new ways, and support from afar. I witnessed a high level of professionalism and commitment from our teachers as our students continued to work hard, and our parents supported their children, however possible. This reinforced what I appreciate most about OLHS – we are a caring community.

At Ocean Lakes High School, our staff prides itself on ensuring that our students have many educational and extra-curricular opportunities. We are committed to maintaining the highest standards so that there will be no shortage of opportunities for your student to feel challenged with high-quality instruction and have a wide variety of options to connect to the school and fellow students. We must make sure every child knows that when they need a caring adult, OLHS will provide. It is our mission that Ocean Lakes, in partnership with family and community, will provide a safe, challenging, and innovative learning environment in which all students are encouraged and empowered to achieve their full potential.

I remain committed to communicating important information to our families. Please be on the lookout for additional 2020-2021 school year information in the coming weeks via the OLHS website, AlertNow, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Important Information Regarding Schedules for 2020-2021

  • VBCPS has moved to a 4X4 schedule. Students can take up to 4 classes in the Fall/1st Term (Sept. 8 – Jan. 29) and up to 4 different classes in the Spring/2nd Term (Feb. 2 – June 18).
  • In Student VUE and Parent VUE, you see TERM 1 ONLY. Your child has the 3 or 4 other classes he/she selected in Term 2.
  • 12th Grade Excused Block requests are honored if scheduling allows.
  • OLHS is leveling classes, and course loads and schedules are subject to change as a result.
  • Academic Support is not a class your child will attend. This is on your schedule to show you who your counselor is.
  • A/B It’s Academic is a study block. There will be tutoring support available in each block.

*Please refer to this document if you have questions regarding schedule changes.*

The 4x4 Schedule

A 4x4 block schedule has students attending the same four classes every day for 90 days (a term). By going to each class every day, instead of every other day in an A/B block schedule, students complete the equivalent of four 180-day courses every 90 days (term). After the first term ends, students take four new classes in the second 90-day session (term). Although students can take only four classes at a time, they can earn up to 8 credits per year.

The 4x4 has advantages over the traditional A/B block schedule. For students and teachers, the 4x4 provides a more manageable schedule. Teachers in schools using a traditional A/B block schedule teach five or six classes at a time with a total of about 150 students. In a 4x4 schedule, teachers teach six classes but have only three each term with about 75 students each term. In addition to fewer class preparations and fewer students per term, 4x4 teachers can devote 25 percent of their day to planning instruction.

For students, the 4x4 offers a simpler schedule. Students can earn up to 32 credits over four years of high school. Conversely, students have twice as many opportunities to complete the required courses if they fail a subject. Students have fewer classes per term, which means they can remain more focused on their studies. Finely, crucial amid COVID 19 and requirements for social distancing, fewer classes per term decreases the number of opportunities students have for mixing.

Both students and teachers may feel initial stress at the thought of introducing a 4x4 schedule. However, after it becomes the new normal, the culture within the school can be more relaxed.

Some Expectations for the Virtual Classroom

  • Students attend class on time, per their daily class schedule.
  • Students will be appropriately dressed.
  • Students should be ready to engage and learn following the daily schedule.
  • Students should have a designated, distraction-free workspace to engage in learning.
  • At a minimum, students will show their face on the screen to check in with the teacher.
  • Students will use their school-issued Chromebook as opposed to their personal devices.
  • Students will participate in class activities, discussions, and assignments.
  • Daily synchronous and asynchronous assignments are to be independently completed unless instructed otherwise.
  • Students will use a variety of technology resources in their daily activities and independent practice, including, but not limited to (whatever is appropriate for your class).

Secondary Schools Attendance for students when in a Virtual Environment Class

Even in a virtual learning environment, students and parents/legal guardians must comply with compulsory attendance requirements. Thus, students should make every effort to attend their classes as missing will put them at a disadvantage. Attendance will be taken at the start time of each block. Students who do not report to the class within the first 15 minutes will be marked absent. Students who report to class after attendance is taken, but within 15 minutes of the start of class, will be marked tardy unexcused. Parents may submit notes to the attendance office by email to change to the tardy to be excused. If students do not log into the class but complete the assigned work, they will be marked tardy excused. Students should communicate with teachers if they are going to be absent to ensure they make plans to receive the content they will miss. Students with special needs or unique circumstances that affect the student’s ability to comply with attendance requirements should consult with their school regarding accommodations or other arrangements.

School in the Virtual Setting

When considering a block of instruction (75-minutes) in the virtual setting, it may be helpful to consider the different types of interactions in a class: Learner to Teacher, Learner to Learner, Learner to Content. Learner to Teacher is when the Teacher delivers instruction, provides feedback, guides the Learner, and provides opportunities for students to ask questions. Learner to Learner occurs in an environment where students can participate, offer responses, and form relationships with their peers. Learner to Content is when students interact deeply with the content and can own how they consume the content. You also want to consider how much of the block will be synchronous ("Live") and how much will be asynchronous ("On Demand"). My suggestion to our teachers is that the 75-minute block consists of synchronous learning experiences for 45-60 minutes, coupled with independent activities and practice for the remainder of the block (15-30 minutes). Of course, the students will have access to the teacher throughout the 75-minute block. See below for an example of how a block may be structured.

  • (5-10 min) An engaging anticipatory set to pique students' interest, build relevance, etc. (Learner to Teacher, Learner to Learner)
  • (15-20 min) Some kind of direct instruction, where the Teacher delivers the day's lesson through a lecture (in small doses, this is okay!), doing a demonstration, showing a video, having students read through some kind of text, or do an interactive online lesson. (Learner to Teacher, Learner to Content)
  • (30 min) Student application of the content. This might take the form of individual practice, reciprocal learning, or some other kind of group work. (Learner to Learner, Learner to Content)
  • (15-20 min) An assessment of the content or skill followed perhaps by re-teaching to those who need it and an extension activity for students who met the standard. (Learner to Teacher, Learner to Content)
  • (5-10 min) A reflection or other kind of wrap-up, where the value of the lesson is reinforced. (Learner to Content)

My advice for teacher pacing is that teachers plan to ensure they cover the essential standards and build in time for re-teaching and extension when necessary.

Teacher Office Hours

There is an expectation that teachers will make themselves available to students throughout the week. As of right now, teachers will use Mondays for planning, professional development, meetings, and office hours. All teachers will have posted office hours. I have asked teachers to post a total of two hours a week of office hours. To schedule a meeting outside of those times, students will have to email (or direct message) the teacher for an appointment.

Advice for Students in Virtual School

  • Prepare a space in which to work with a full set of supplies
  • Use a planner or calendar in which to write your assignments
  • Put your phone on silent when in school or doing school work
  • Participate in class
  • Get your assignments done on time
  • Ask questions and get extra help if needed
  • Take good care of yourself