Greetings parent(s)/guardian(s): This has been a fall term like no other. Distance learning has presented numerous challenges for students, parents, teachers, and administrators. Some of these challenges relate to our weekly subjects commonly referred to as “Specials”, e.g. PE/Health, Science Lab/Garden, STEM, Art, Music. The teachers responsible for these “Specials” have been posting asynchronous lessons on Canvas for your child(ren) each week, to be completed at the designated time on each child’s schedule. We intentionally maximize impact by allowing asynchronous lessons to remain in place for the remainder of the week, and often beyond. In addition, Specials teachers are pleased to now offer LIVE sessions to students on a rotating basis. During this trial phase they are fine-tuning the experience to maximize the benefits.
Attendance Expectations for Classes known as “Specials”: We are aware that, for some students and families, attending required Specials is challenging under these circumstances. Some parents have had concerns about the amount of screen time their children are exposed to, while others have faced resistance from their child(ren) about any distance learning and have had to prioritize Math, ELA and/or other core academic experiences. To be clear, we expect that all students will attend all Specials, whether asynchronous or LIVE. Specials are also considered core subjects and are therefore an important aspect of your child’s education. This said, we do understand that in some circumstances, it may not be reasonable for your child(ren) to attend every Special.
Submitting Assignments & Responding to Student Work: A distinctive challenge when using asynchronous platforms has been the feasibility of holding all children accountable for turning in or completing assignments, especially for our youngest, pre-reading and emergent writing students. Please know that every effort has been made this term to capture and respond to student work submissions via email, Teams, and Canvas. Most of our Specialists spend their mornings working with small groups of students to support their Math and ELA learning. This additional role has placed demands on their time above and beyond the lengthy process of creating and posting asynchronous lessons and responding to student work and questions. The addition of LIVE Specials has increased demands on time resources. Make no mistake, Specialists are working hard in your child(ren)’s best interest. On the student end, we realize that many students may be participating in lessons but not turning in work due to difficulties in doing so. We are collaborating on ways to make the submission of assignments easier and more consistent across Specials. Our collective effort leads us to further clarify our approach to the question of equitable grading.
Equitable Grading Policy: Awarding student grades, especially for Asynchronous Specials, has presented unique challenges. We are working on ways to make assessing learning easier for all, but for this first term we have noted the difficulties and we will not penalize students for missing assignments. You may see a grade of NM (No Mark) on Report Cards for this reason. However, in an effort to recognize the hard work of students who have turned in significant work and participated in classes, we have provided grades of either 3 (meets the standard for the grade level) or 4 (exceeds the standard for the grade level).
Note that Science/Garden and Math Interventionists work in conjunction with classroom teachers to determine grades in their respective content areas as follows:
- Our Science Lab Specialist, Mrs. Schneider, works in conjunction with classroom teachers. Science grades reflect her recommendations plus the classroom teacher’s input based on mutual expectations. Grades do not reflect science activities done with Mr. Ben or other classroom aides, which are separate enrichment activities not necessarily associated with Next Generation Science Standards.
- Our STEM teacher/Math Interventionist, Mr. Morris provides input to all teachers whose students he works with. His input is reflected in the grades given by classroom teachers.
- PE/Health has not required submission of student work this term. However, students who have shown a high level of participation will receive a grade.
Parent Feedback: We welcome thoughtful and constructive feedback directly to specific Specialists via email. Specialists have posted email addresses on each lesson for your convenience and they are posted below as well.
We know that Distance Learning has been a heavy lift for parents as well as teachers, and we appreciate all that you do to support your child(ren) as we work together to make the most of this new learning environment.
All the best,
Principal Bryant, AP Villegas & Stoddert Specialists Team
Julie.email@example.com – Science Lab
Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org – Music
Lisa.email@example.com – PE/Health
firstname.lastname@example.org – STEM