ANDOVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
AT HOME LEARNING PLAN FOR APS FAMILIES
April 3, 2020
On March 25, 2020 Governor Baker announced that public and private schools in Massachusetts must remain closed for in-person instruction until Monday, May 4 in order to prevent further spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). On Monday, March 30th, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) commissioner distributed a message to all district families in Massachusetts public schools. To view this message in Spanish, please click here.
In his message, DESE Commissioner Riley shared his guidance to districts in supporting our students during the closure. DESE’s recommendations are guided by three core beliefs: 1) Health, safety, and wellness are top priorities, 2) Districts should be mindful of equity concerns and work to reduce the potential disproportionate impact on our most vulnerable populations, 3) Districts’ commitment to maintain connections between school staff and students and help all students continue their learning.
With these beliefs in mind, the guidance from DESE recommended a remote learning model that was characterized by the following:
- DESE recommends that schools support students to engage in meaningful and productive learning for approximately half the length of a regular school day. DESE expects this learning to take place via a combination of educator-directed learning and student self-directed learning.
- DESE recommends that remote learning focus on reinforcing skills already taught this school year and applying and deepening those skills. We recognize, however, that in some cases, teachers and students may wish to continue with new material, particularly at the high school level. In those cases, schools should consider equity of access and support for all students.
- DESE recognizes that the individual student experience will vary depending on student age, individual and family needs, access and capacity for remote learning (including access to technology and the internet), and the ongoing health of students, families, and staff.To the extent practicable, teachers should provide feedback on student work completed at home.
In Andover Public Schools, we have separated the phases of closure by the Governor into phase 1 and phase 2.
- Phase 1 was March 16-April 3. Phase 1 learning included a wide range of practice and enrichment activities on the At-Home Learning Activities webpage.
- Phase 2 will be April 6-May 4. In phase 2, teachers will provide parents and students with broad learning targets for their grade or subject, as well as links to resources that may enable students to learn at home. Learning will be a combination of review, practice and reinforcement, as well as new learning. It will also include teacher-directed and student self-directed learning, and experiential and digital learning activities.
At all levels, PK-12, a student’s engagement and learning are strongly encouraged. At the elementary and middle school levels, learning will not be graded during the phase 1 and phase 2 periods of district closure. At the high school level, course work during quarter 4 will be evaluated on a pass/pass incomplete basis and students will receive comments of Pass/Exceeds Expectations, Pass/Meets Expectations, or Pass/Incomplete. Please see section Andover High School: Quarter 3 & 4 for more detail.
APS cares deeply about equitable learning opportunities for all students. To support our students, the district is making devices available to families upon their request. Teachers are designing learning activities that include teacher instruction, as well as independent learning activities that students can accomplish on their own. During phase 2, the At-Home Learning Activities page will remain available, offering PK-12 enrichment learning opportunities that are updated regularly. We are inviting and welcoming family feedback on how we can support students’ academic and social-emotional needs at home throughout the closure.
WHAT CAN APS FAMILIES ANTICIPATE FROM THEIR TEACHERS DURING PHASE 2?
- Teachers will share clear learning targets on a weekly basis with students and families.
- Teachers will provide students and families with materials and resources that enable students to work toward the learning targets. These could include activities for student engagement, readings, projects, links to online videos or simulations, etc.
- Teachers will provide directions that focus attention on the learning target such as a set of directions, video of an explanation or mini-lecture, a set of questions for students to focus on, etc.
- Teachers will engage directly in two-way communication with their students twice a week through such methods as morning meetings, office hours, chats, email, and video conferencing with individual students, small groups or whole class, etc.
- Teachers will provide students with multiple ways to demonstrate their learning such as reflective journals, answers to questions, reflective essays, projects or products, etc. These are not graded.
- Teachers will provide feedback on student work products or reflections that enable students to take next steps in learning.
- Students should expect to spend approximately three hours per day on learning for both teacher-directed and student self-directed activities. At the secondary level, students will spend approximately three hours a week on each subject, proportional to credit. With this more limited amount of time, expectations for learning targets and activities will be adjusted accordingly.
SUPPORTING AT-HOME LEARNING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY
The APS Digital Learning team has curated a collection of applications and learning platforms to help teachers share, connect, and engage with content with students at home. Although there are many ways to accomplish remote learning, the most common tools APS teachers will use are Flipgrid, Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Slides, Google Meet, Padlet, and Seesaw. Students can access online learning resources through the APS ClassLink Portal, which connects students with our suite of learning applications. How-to instructions have been made available for parents on the At-Home Learning Website, under parent resources. If you need additional help, you can contact your building’s Digital Learning Specialist or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VIDEO PERMISSION FOR STUDENTS
Andover Public Schools will utilize online resources to provide educational support to students. These resources include, where appropriate, video conferencing between educators and classes, as well as with small groups and individual students.
APS has asked families to log onto the Family Connection portal accessible through ASPEN, in order to review a video permission form that allows teachers to connect with students. In ASPEN, this form will be in the same portal parents and guardians use to register new students or complete “back to school” forms. Teachers will be able to view these permissions in ASPEN.
While teachers are not required to use live video to communicate with students, we know many are prepared to engage with their class remotely. Live videos will be recorded and posted on Google Classroom for students within that class to review at a later time.
Additionally, if a student does not have permission to participate in live-interactive video class, other methods will be determined by the student’s teacher to provide access to activities.
THE OFFICE OF STUDENT SERVICES
The Office of Student Services is committed to doing everything possible to overcome the barriers presented by this situation. Much in the same way the educational experience and time on learning has changed for regular education students, time on learning and services have had to change for students with special needs as well. Over the next few days, student services staff will be contacting every family to get your input on the most critical goals and services on which to target an individualized home learning plan. Services on the at-home learning plan cannot replicate services provided in a full day of school by direct intervention from a team of specialists, but we will provide a combination of supports carefully targeted toward maintaining critical skills and advancing new learning as is feasible.
Student services teachers will provide some interventions via adaptive software, some through virtual class activities, and some through the at-home learning digital content sent home every week (with accommodations or multiple entry points). Some students may continue to receive specialized contracted services through teletherapy or phone consultation, and other students may need individualized learning materials sent home for more hands-on applications. The student services team has prepared a District remote learning plan as a companion to this document. The plan is on a website so that families can translate the pages and view some of the learning applications and tools described in the plan. Student Services’ families are invited to visit the Andover Student Services At-Home Learning Plan website to view the District plan.
Shawsheen Preschool will follow the Student Services At-Home Learning Plan. Shawsheen families will be contacted for input into the development of individualized at home learning plans. Families with children receiving clinic-only services will also be contacted to determine a time for consultative services from our speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists. Shawsheen School families are invited to visit the Student Services PreK and Andover Student Services At-Home Learning Plan website.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS (K-5)
Elementary teachers will provide up to three hours each day of teacher-directed and student self-selected learning activities. This is equivalent to approximately 30-minutes of learning in each content area daily. A teacher-directed activity may include a posted activity such as a reading task or problem-solving that the teacher would like all students to complete, whereas a student self-selected activity is when a student chooses learning activities from a choice board or menu.
Priority standards across all content standards have been determined from the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. These select standards will be the common instructional focus for all K-5 students during the period of district closure.
Each Friday at 3:00 p.m., an elementary APS At-Home Learning Template will be e-mailed by the student’s classroom teacher home to students’ families. This template will list the priority standards for the week, as well as the corresponding instructional activities. Resources and web links will be provided on the template.
Teachers will continue to utilize online means of connecting with their students, which may include applications such as SeeSaw, Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Chat and Google Meet, as examples. A sample schedule will be provided to parents/guardians as only one suggestion of how a student’s learning day could be organized. This schedule will be distributed with Friday’s weekly email.
To support students, teachers may integrate video class meet-up opportunities and outdoor activities, for example, to help promote connection and wellness.
Student work that is completed and submitted to the teacher will be acknowledged and given feedback. At this time elementary student grades will reflect student progress only up until March 13, 2020.
Parent/teacher conferences that were originally scheduled for March/April 2020 will no longer take place. Instead, elementary teachers will reach out to parents by telephone or e-mail to be of support during this district closure period.
MIDDLE SCHOOLS (6-8)
Middle school teachers will provide up to three hours each day of teacher-directed and student self-selected learning activities. This is equivalent to approximately 30-minutes of learning in each content area daily. A teacher-directed activity may include a teacher posted activity such as a reading task or problem-solving that the teacher would like all students to complete, whereas a student self-selected activity is when a student chooses learning activities from a choice board or menu.
Priority standards across all content standards have been determined from the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. These select standards will be the common instructional focus for all students in grades 6-8 during the period of district closure.
Teachers will continue to utilize online means of connecting with their students, which may include applications such as Google Classroom, Google Sites, Google Chat, Google Meet, and Padlet, as examples. On Monday morning of each week, middle school teachers will provide learning and a suggested schedule for the week that integrates the priority standards.
Similar to the elementary school, middle school teachers may integrate video class meet-up opportunities and outdoor activities, for example, to help promote connection and wellness.
Term 2 for all middle schools closed on March 13, 2020. Teachers will enter grades in ASPEN through April 6, and grades will be available to students on April 8. IEP progress reports will be mailed home. In Term 3, all student learning activities are voluntary, but strongly encouraged. Student work that is completed and submitted to the teacher will be acknowledged and given feedback. Middle school teachers will be available to parents/guardians for questions through APS e-mail.
ANDOVER HIGH SCHOOL (9-12)
At-Home Learning Schedule:
- AHS has set up four (4), forty-five (45) minute periods each day. This schedule helps avoid scheduling conflicts for students and teachers, and allows each class an opportunity to meet synchronously, if appropriate. Students will engage in approximately three-hours/day of teacher-directed and student self- selected learning activities.
- Andover High School’s modified schedule (below) creates times when students can meet with their teacher knowing that they will not have another AHS conflict.
- Teacher-Student Communication: AHS faculty and staff care about maintaining communication during this period of closure. Teachers and staff will reach out to students through a variety of means such as e-mail and Google Classroom. We encourage students to stay in communication with us, and parents to email teachers and staff as well. This will allow us to guide, support, and encourage our students.
- Video Conferences / Chats: Teachers may sometimes elect to use live video to communicate with their students. As stated in the parent/guardian permission form, live videos will be recorded and posted on Google Classroom for students within that class to review at a later time if needed.
- Attendance: Teachers will take attendance and post it weekly to ASPEN. A student is considered present for a class if they interact remotely during that week, which can include but is not limited to, Google Meet, Google Chat, posting on Google classroom or interacting online with the teacher or the class. Students are expected to attend remote learning sessions, participate in online discussions, view synchronous and asynchronous material, and submit completed work. Should your student have difficulty participating, please reach out to a guidance counselor or assistant principal for support.
- Learning: Each course or content area (i.e. World History, Grade 9 English, etc.) will emphasize one to two priority standards that students should know and be able to do each week, and these will be integrated into the learning accordingly.
- Feedback to Students: Students are expected to complete the work provided by their teachers, however no grades for work completion or summative assessments will be provided. Each week, teachers will check for student understanding of their learning and provide formative feedback on their work. Students will be provided with multiple ways to demonstrate their understanding of a topic.
- Office Hours: Staff will hold office hours three days/week. Students will sign up for office hours through the Enriching Students software. Office hours will be held during H-Blocks (Days 2 and 5) and all day on Wednesdays (Day 3).
- Quarter 3 & Quarter 4:
- Quarter 3: AHS will end quarter three (Q3) as of Friday, March 13, 2020. Students will receive a letter grade for quarter three (Q3). Missing work submissions will be allowed and graded for all students until Friday, April 17, 2020 for quarter three (Q3). If a student is missing an assessment, teachers will allow the student to make up the assessment or provide an alternative assessment assignment.
- Quarter 4: The end date of quarter four (Q4) is subject to change. At this time, only academic courses or portions of courses taken during the first three quarters will be calculated in the student’s GPA. Course work during quarter 4 (Q4) will receive comments of Pass/Exceeds Expectations, Pass/Meets Expectations, or Pass/Incomplete and will not be calculated in the GPA. This assessment system is subject to change if additional closures occur.
- Class of 2020 Graduation: At this time, the AHS graduation date and ceremonial event have not been changed. As soon as more information becomes available, it will be communicated to students and families.
- Counseling Services: Guidance counselors will continue to support our students and families through remote learning tools. Grade level Google classrooms have been created to provide counseling updates and resources to all students. All students will be invited to join these classrooms. Guidance Seminars will take place in the form of group or one-to-one audio and/or video conferencing. Students can schedule individual appointments with their guidance counselor during the dedicated office hours. As always, counselors are available by email.
- Standardized Testing Updates:
- At this time, MCAS is postponed. The MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is awaiting a decision from the MA legislature regarding next steps for MCAS.
- On March 20th, the AP/College Board issued guidance for students.