Teaching and Learning
The school calendar typically includes one or more staff-only days before students arrive at school. Acknowledging the challenges that our teachers and staff have faced this spring delivering remote instruction under stressful circumstances, the district will focus these in-service days on providing support to staff in the areas of social-emotional health and technology integration. As of July 31st, the district is evaluating the school calendar in anticipation of pushing back the start date for students by 1 or 2 days to front load professional development days for staff.
The first few weeks of the school year will focus on the social emotional needs of the students. Teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, creating a sense of community, and supporting students with the transition back to school. This time will allow students to develop the relationship necessary for a successful school year. During this time, students will learn social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels.
When a remote or hybrid learning model is necessary, certain groups of students will be prioritized for in-person learning to the greatest extent possible. This includes, but is not limited to, special education students, English language learners, students who did not engage in remote learning during the spring of 2020, and students with technology or connectivity needs.
Assessing student learning gaps or areas of need will be critical. Formative assessment before a unit of instruction to assess student understanding of pre-requisite skills will be common practice.
Acknowledging that the typical content in a given grade level or course may need to be adjusted, content will be prioritized to ensure that students receive instruction for the prioritized learning standards, key understandings, and skills necessary for students’ success in future study.
Grading practices will be designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. Grading at the elementary level will follow a standards-based framework. The district is currently investigating equitable practices for secondary feedback, evaluation and grading. Secondary students may return to a numeric system based on a 100 point scale.
For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website.
Parents/Guardians will be asked to make a decision on the mode of instruction for their children by the end of the business day on August 10th if possible. Choices include In-Person (K-6) and Hybrid Learning (7-12) or Completely Remote Learning (7-12). The commitment will be for the trimester (elementary)/semester (secondary). The district is gathering data to assess if we can restructure resources to meet the needs of the students utilizing district staff or if we would have the need to outsource instruction to a BOCES run program.
Upon reopening, the number of students in each of our classrooms will be reduced to adhere to CDC guidance regarding proper social distancing. Class size will reflect the need to ensure that students’ desks/seats are positioned no less than six feet apart. Accommodating a six-foot radius around students will necessitate the identification of additional rooms and common-area spaces that can be converted into elementary classrooms.
Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing. For common branch classrooms (K-5), where large group instruction spacing is not available, students will be grouped into smaller cohorts and provided a classroom teacher and a supervisory staff person. The classroom teacher will provide direct instruction to one cohort, while the other cohort is completing independent work under the supervision of the staff person. The district is currently exploring the option of live streaming instruction between the two locations. In this case, a teacher would livestream his/her teaching from one learning space to the other so that all students receive instruction from the classroom teacher at the same time. The classroom teacher would alternate his/her location for the livestreaming between the two rooms, with math being broadcast from one location and language arts streamed from the other location during the same day. In this way, students will be engaging with, and receiving instruction from, their classroom teacher daily in reading, writing, and mathematics. Sixth grade students will also be able to receive daily in-person instruction. Students will be grouped in a cohort and core teachers will rotate into the classrooms to provide instruction. Special area teachers will use a push-in model where possible. With these schedules, all students will be able to interact with, and receive feedback from, their individual teachers.
Full in-person instruction will not be available for students in grades 7-12. Grades 7-12 are planning for a hybrid model that includes a 3-day rotation of students by grade level (cohort). The 3-day rotation is dependent on facilities, health and safety, and staffing.
All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
Our schools will minimize the movement of students. This potentially means having students eat lunch in their classroom instead of the cafeteria and eliminating assemblies, field trips and other large-group activities. Special-area subjects (e.g., art, music, physical education) may be pushed into the classroom. Whenever possible students will utilize outside space for physical education instruction. The district will adhere to the guidance of 12 feet between students when engaging in physical activity.
To the extent possible, students will remain in small cohorts if/when leaving the classroom, such as for recess or any necessary transition, so as to reduce their exposure to additional students.
For information on school schedules, visit the School Schedules section of our reopening plan.
For information about how in-person instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.
Given the possibility that communities may experience spikes in COVID-19 cases at any point during the school year, which may prompt short or long-term school closures, our district has developed a hybrid/blended learning model and schedule that can continue as is in a fully remote environment.
Instruction will not focus only on “core” subject areas to the exclusion of elective courses. Consideration has been given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings. All instruction will continue to be aligned to the New York State Learning Standards.
As noted previously, student schedules will remain the same whether instruction is in person or remote so that students do not encounter conflicts wherein synchronous lessons for different subjects are offered simultaneously.
Remote learning opportunities for secondary students will include a greater emphasis on synchronous instruction, with teachers finding ways to provide live instruction and lessons to students. While recording of live lessons is still essential for students unable to attend at a scheduled time, teachers will ensure that their students are directly engaged with them and their class peers in experiential learning on a regular basis.
To ensure high-quality remote learning experiences, we will standardize the use of a single online learning platform, Google Classroom, to the greatest extent possible, and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.
Grading practices will be designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. The elementary school will follow a standards-based framework. The district is currently investigating equitable practices for secondary feedback, evaluation and grading. Secondary students may return to a numeric system based on a 100 point scale.
Elementary School: The District is currently developing models for remote/hybrid instruction. One possible approach is to utilize the potential of live streaming. Because common branch teachers may be livestreaming his/her teaching into a second location already during in-person learning, this instruction could also be streamed out to families who are in need of remote instruction on a temporary basis. This may also be recorded for asynchronous instruction for parents who are unable to have students log in as the lesson is being taught. If a mandatory closure is necessary for a class, an individual, or the school, the elementary teachers could continue streaming these daily lessons, and provide virtual follow up in small group sessions.
Secondary Level: A synchronous model of instruction will provide flexibility and equity to all students. Regardless of whether students have chosen to participate in the hybrid learning model or will remain at home for 100% Complete Virtual Learning (CVL), the synchronous streaming of lessons will allow students to receive the same high quality level of instruction and will transfer easily to a 100% Complete Virtual Learning experience should the need arise. Density and the risk of contact exposure will be greatly lessened by limiting the cohorts who are physically on campus each day; therefore, only one or two grade levels will be scheduled to attend on any one day. Students will follow their traditional nine period schedule while learning virtually or in-person. All courses will be aligned to current NYS standards and, where appropriate, the district will work to create new models to ensure that these standards are met. For example, a blend of hands-on and virtual science lab experiences are currently being developed by a district science team to ensure that all secondary students will have high quality opportunities to learn through application and meet lab practice requirements.
Teachers will have daily interactions with students, and synchronous learning will be a priority. One option the district is exploring provides a portion of time in each and every class for synchronous learning. Teachers might begin class by stating the learning target, providing an overview of the lesson, and modeling examples of any expected student activities (10-20 min). After that, all students could begin their independent classwork. In this way, teachers are available for “office hours” during this class time, providing immediate feedback and support to their students. By continuing to stream out through Google Classroom, students at home would have an opportunity to ask follow up questions and receive immediate answers from the teacher. This model works for both the hybrid and 100% Complete Remote Learning. It ensures equity of learning opportunities for students who have chosen either method of instruction and allows for an easy transition to complete remote learning should that need arise.
For information about how remote/hybrid instruction information will be communicated to students and families, visit the Communication/Family and Community Engagement section of our reopening plan.