March 27, 2020
On February 27th, 2020, our faculty began to prepare for Distance Learning. It was clear to us that there could be disruption in the academic year due to COVID-19. By March 4th, teachers were helping their students navigate the Google Classroom platform, which was already familiar to many. The two weeks of vacation have allowed teachers to continue their preparation. As they left for Spring Vacation, the girls already had a good understanding of how we would begin the Distance Learning term and knew what the schedule would entail.
The following information is designed to give you an idea of how student learning will progress during the initial two weeks of the Distance Learning term. Classes will begin on Tuesday, March 31st at 9 a.m.
During this time of Distance Learning, teachers will use a variety of evidence-based instructional methods to facilitate student learning and engagement. Using Google Classroom as the primary learning management system, teachers will curate, assign, and present a variety of content and activities. While the direct approach will vary by class level and academic discipline, students should expect a combination of synchronous (live) and asynchronous (not live) learning activities.
Using synchronous methods, teachers will invite students to participate in live video conference-style discussions using either Google Meet or Zoom. Video discussions may involve entire classes or smaller "breakout group" virtual spaces in which students will engage with an assigned discussion team. Invitations to live class meetings will be shared through the Google Classroom learning management platform. The timing of these live classes will follow the Distance Learning Class Schedule.
Asynchronous methods will enable teachers to harness a wide variety of student strengths, promote ongoing development of essential academic skills, and allow students to both review previously learned material and preview new topics that build on the prior knowledge base. Students should expect to complete reading assignments, watch videos created or curated by their teacher, conduct research, participate in discussion threads, progress in project-based work, respond to practice questions, and provide peer feedback on writing assignments and projects. Teachers may also embed content with formative assessment questions to help gauge each student's level of understanding. For each scheduled class period, students will be expected to submit work through Google Classroom, which will also serve as a means to record class attendance, and teachers will provide timely feedback to facilitate continued progress in writing, analytical thinking, and problem-solving skills.
For the first two weeks, teachers will take a mastery-based approach to grading by evaluating student work for completion and providing opportunities for students to revise and resubmit work that merits further attention or indicates a need for extra support to build understanding. As always, faculty will be available for help to the girls outside of class time, offering virtual office hours for students during the school day.
The following are some key points most useful to the girls:
- We are using the Distance Learning Class Schedule that was distributed to the students prior to vacation.
- At the beginning of each week, teachers will communicate via Google Classroom an outline of class meetings.
- Unless otherwise indicated, assignments will be due by the beginning of the next scheduled class meeting.
During the initial two weeks, teachers will be grading for completion.
A student should communicate with her teacher if she is unable to attend a class.
- Students should expect to devote approximately 2-3 hours per week total for each course, including both class meeting and homework time.
We ask families to communicate if a student is not able to connect to her coursework.
Teachers will respond to voicemails on their school phones from our parents during business hours.
We will reevaluate this plan after the initial two weeks of the Distance Learning term.
I hope that your daughter has enjoyed the communication from the Middle School homeroom teachers/TAG leaders and Upper School advisors.
I continue to pray for all of your families, with your health at the top of my list.
Sister Barbara Rogers