Columbus Elementary School Addresses DLP Questions

https://www.mps02155.org/2020/05/22/columbus-elementary-school-addresses-dlp-questions/

Medford Public Schools District Learning Plan, 2.0  – For the Period of May 16th – June 15th 

A Time of Challenge 

Goals  To establish structure and expectations.  Provide opportunities for students to connect with their teachers and classmates. We want our students to be well, feel safe, and maintain their relationships with teachers & peers.  Focus on the essential standards in the content areas as outlined by DESE.  Provide opportunities to engage in the specials of art, technology, music, digital literacy, library media, and wellness.  Build the specific skills, strategies, and content knowledge that students need in each discipline or content standard to continue to the next course or grade level.  Remote learning may include, but is not limited to, online learning platforms, asynchronous instruction, synchronous instruction, work packets, small and/or large group video or audio conference calls, 1:1 phone or video calls, email, projects, reading lists, and other resources to effectively engage your children. 

Timeline 

 March 12, 2020, students last day of school. 

 March 13, 2020, teachers plan for enrichment work for a two-week school closure. 

 March 26, 2020, school closure extended until at least May 4th, teaching should offer deeper review and refinement. 

April 24, 2020, DESE expanded their initial guidance to define the recommended elements of a quality remote learning program. 

 Revised DLP shared with the Medford Teachers Union and the Medford School Committee. 

 May 5, 2020, Teachers Unions gives stamp of approval. 

 May 14, 2020, Medford SC approved the submitted DLP. 

 May 15, 2020, teachers notified of DLP approval. 

Guiding Principals 

1.Supporting your child’s social and emotional well-being during these uncertain times. 2.Balance the need for flexibility with the responsibility to educate your children. 3.Support our community with the many ways this virus affects the family. 4.Allow equitable learning opportunities to occur, despite differences. 5.Rinse, repeat, revise! 

Stress! 

  • Think of how YOU handle stress. Recall your symptoms: ➢Physical ➢Emotional ➢Cognitive ➢Behavioral
  • Now think about your child. Understand that regression DOES happen during times of stress. 
  • Mindfulness Activities – Progressive Muscle Relaxation 
  • TAKE EACH DAY ONE STEP AT A TIME! 

Connections 

 This pandemic brings with it a sense of grieving – missing friends, family, school, freedom of movement, etc.  It is important to regulate, relate, and then reason.  With teacher support, encourage your child to share something at a virtual meeting that they might not otherwise be able to share if we were in school. (Of course, make sure they have your permission to share this item!) This may reduce some stress associated with participating on the virtual meet up.  Reflectively listen – regular practice may help repair connections after an “issue” or slow them down before they get out of hand.  Try Laughter Yoga – You Tube – many options to visit. Books by Dr. Madan Kataria as well. 

Elementary Level 

 All students have a gmail account on the Medford Public Schools domain 

 All lessons MUST be anchored in Google Classroom 

 Online meetings: Google Meet or ZOOM 

 The guiding core principles -care, communication, equity, and flexibility! 

 Engage students in meaningful & productive activities 

 Flexible combination of educator-directed and student self-directed learning 

 Equitable Learning & Assessment Foundation 

Expectations 

 Approximately 1⁄2 the length of the regular school day = 3 hours  Tools: Group video, email, work-packets, projects, reading lists, online platform, paper and pencil tasks, etc.  Teacher feedback on student work – written, verbal (phone, video, Face Time), or in terms of a “score”  Participation in virtual class meeting and/or lesson assigned  Complete posted work on Google Classroom  Ask for help as needed by emailing or attending virtual sessions or teacher “office” hours  Try your BEST! 

Grading 

 Kindergarten Term 2 began in February. End of year reporting will include from February until March 12th and then from May 16th until the end of school 

 Grades 1 – 4 Term 3 began as the pandemic struck. 

Teachers will grade according to the DLP rubric – only from May 16th until the end of school. 

 Formal Assessments will NOT be given as fidelity of results cannot be assured. Reporting will encompass the student’s ability to meet the DLP expectations. 

 Specialists Grading – will certainly take on more of a general reporting; take into account the child’s participation in the present and participation during the rest of the school year. 

Special Education & English Language Learners 

 All behavioral plans are taken into account. Children on an IEP have “Student Remote Learning Plans” designed to provide ongoing educational/therapeutic resources, access to curricular materials, the accommodations/modifications that are required for individual student’s needs, & ongoing communication. 

 Teachers of EL students follow guidelines for the student’s establish plans determined by the language proficiency level of the student. This will include opportunities to engage in reading, writing, listening, & speaking activities. 

THE COLUMBUS ADMINISTRATION HAS ATTENDED BI- WEEKLY GRADE LEVEL MEETINGS – ALL STAFF SUPPORTING YOUR CHILDREN HAVE BEEN PRESENT. 

Four Category Grading System 

 Consistent with Distinction (CD) – Student demonstrated proficient progress as outlined in the “Prerequisite Content Standards for Success” by completing assignments consistently, asked questions of the teacher (virtually or by email/phone) to gain clarity if needed, & exceeded expectations. 

 Consistent (C) – Student demonstrated proficient progress as outlined in the “Prerequisite Content Standards for Success” by completing assignments on time consistently and asked questions of the teacher (virtually or by email/phone) to gain clarity if needed. 

 Sometimes (S) – Student demonstrated some progress as outlined in the “Prerequisite Content Standards for Success” by completing assignments, but not on time or consistently, and may have asked questions of the teacher (virtually or by email/phone) to gain clarity if needed. 

 Rarely (R) – Student did not demonstrate adequate progress as outlined in the “Prerequisite Content Standards for Success” due to not completing assignments consistently – if at all, and not asking questions of the teacher (virtually or by email/phone) to gain clarity. 

Resources 

Medford Public Schools Distance Learning Plan Technology Training for families – Medford Public Schools Remote Learning Site Columbus Website, Extended Closure Activities, Principal Kay’s Remote Learning Site Specialists websites and recommendations Teacher websites and recommendations 

We are ALL here for you! Communication is KEY!  PLEASE REACH OUT TO:  Your child’s homeroom teacher.  Any support, service provider, or specialist teacher who works with your child.  The Guidance Department: Ms. Lepore, Mrs. Fader, Mrs. Anderson, Mrs. Mahoney, Ms. Mattuchio  Mrs. Sherman-Hudson  Ms. Kay

 

Responses to Questions collected for PTO Meeting – Thursday May 21, 6:30 PM 

We will create a Q & A document and post to the website and the Principal’s Remote Learning Site that will attempt to address these many questions. However, for the sake of time this evening, we pulled the questions we felt vital for this venue to address. If you submitted a question and it was not addressed this evening, please refer to the soon to be posted Q & A document. 

Also, you can refer to district documents posted on the MPS website for more insight. They are posted under the COVID-19 Updates, titled Medford Public Schools Distance Learning Plan 

General Clarifying Questions about the DLP: 

  1. Why was this sent out a month before the end of semester? 

RESPONSE: On April 25th, the DESE released its guidelines for the next phase of school closure beginning May 4th. At that time, the district began the revision of the Medford DLP to include the DESE guidelines. This document required approval from the Teachers Union and the Medford School Committee. The SC did not approve it at its first meeting. Hence, the reason teachers received the revised DLP on May 13th. A version for families needed to be created and was sent on May 16th. 2. Why is grading required at all? 

RESPONSE: The DESE’s guidance recommended academic content be graded so as to provide incentives for continuous learning while acknowledging the challenging situation we face. Therefore, the grading system you received was developed with this in mind and is specific to the elementary schools. MS and HS have a different system of grading. 3. What grading criteria are other districts using? How did Medford come to decide 

on this one? RESPONSE: I can’t speak specifically to what other districts are using, but it is my understanding that the DLP Team touched based with surrounding communities when creating the system for our schools. They also requested input from the elementary principals. 4. What is the reasoning for taking attendance at the meetings? 

RESPONSE: Same as above, the DESE’s guidance recommended academic content be graded so as to provide incentives for continuous learning while acknowledging the challenging situation we face; to keep students motivated to continue their learning. 5. Is any kid going to be retained, or will ALL kids move into their next grade next 

year? RESPONSE: As in ANY year, we do not take grade repetition decisions lightly. This choice is ALWAYS made on a case by case basis. Having said that, grade repetition will only be discussed for a student if the educators working with the child felt this was the most beneficial option WELL BEFORE the pandemic 

struck. NO CHILD WILL BE RETAINED BASED ON THEIR PERFORMANCE DURING THIS REMOTE LEARNING PERIOD! 6. How will you determine whether kids are learning from this new online platform? 

How will they determine Consistent with Distinction, etc.? RESPONSE: The DESE has recommended, “Move all students toward consistent engagement in remote learning, with a focus on connectedness & on the content standards most critical for success in the next grade level.” The MPS has agreed that educators need to collect information to understand each student’s level of engagement & provide support to further engage all students, with a focus on meeting foundational student needs. 

  1. Students are expected to: b. Participate in virtual class meetings, c. Complete work posted in the Google Classroom, d. Ask for help as needed by emailing teacher or visit with teacher during 

set office hours, e. Continue to try their best! As the teacher would do with your child’s work in the traditonal classroom, students will receive supportive & meaningful feedback based on the work they complete – this may be collected online or through the mail – student dependent. Feedback may be written, verbal – phone call or video chat, or represented in terms of a score on submitted work. Newly Decided Grading System: Rubric as discussed. 

o Consistent with Distinction o Consistent o Sometimes o Rarely We can only move all students towards consistent engagement in the core remote learning program by identifying & addressing the specific barriers they are facing. This requires collecting information; assessing its impact, and mving forward accordingly. Teachers do (and have done) this every day anyway, regardless of how instruction is delivered. 

  1. Questions about assignments/schoolwork: 
  2. We haven’t been doing every single assignment so far. Do we have to go back 

and complete all assignments that we haven’t done since the beginning of quarantine? RESPONSE: In a word, NO! Work from May 13th forward is what will be considered in the revised grading system. 9. What is the best method for kids to ask clarifying questions about the 

assignments? RESPONSE: This question is really best put to the individual teacher. An email or phone call would work, ask the teacher during any virtual gathering or during teacher’s office hours. 10. Why haven’t the kids received any feedback about the work they turn in? 

RESPONSE: Communication is the key. Please speak to the classroom teacher if your child is not receiving feedback. There have been some examples of students receiving email reminders and feedback that parents may not be receiving. 11. Is there a system to communicate/remind kids about the work that needs to be done or any help to prioritize these assignments? Is there a system to keep parents informed of the work their kids are (or aren’t) doing? RESPONSE: Yes, the new DLP requires that all teachers anchor their teaching in the Google Classroom platform. Most teachers present the work in some format that lays out the week’s expectations. The assumption is that all the work will be completed and so prioritizing should not really be an issue. Many teachers are not posting/assigning due dates so that children may work at their own pace. But the expectation is that all assignments will be completed before June 15th. Teachers also make supplemental recommendations & offer enrichment work – if you are prioritizing – this should come last. 

PLEASE NOTE, some teachers may be using other communication systems with families because Google Classroom was not the directive at the onset of school closure on March 12th. Several teachers felt the system they started school closure with, for example, Bloomz, was working well and did not want to change course mid-stream. The teachers are free to continue using these alternative forms of communication, but only if the information is ALSO posted on the Google Classroom. Anchoring everything is one platform was agreed upon to make it consistent across the district and for families. 

Training for the Google Classroom platform can be found at:Medford Public Schools Remote Learning Site 

Questions about assessment / grading: 

  1. Will assessment/grading be determined ONLY by the work done in these 4 

weeks? RESPONSE: For grades 1-5, school closure began at the beginning of the 3rd term. These teachers are asked to grade/assess what is submitted from the time the newly revised DPL was approved. Kindergarten’s second term began in February. They will assess/grade from that time until closure (March 12th) and then again from the revised DPL until school closes. 13. How will specials be graded? Some of them (like music, PE) haven’t required any 

work to be “turned in”, so there is nothing to assess. RESPONSE: This can only really be completed on a general basis. 

  1. How will grading be determined if there are no tests? (how can you assess 

“proficient progress”?). Will the grading be determined only by whether they attend the virtual classes and whether they complete assignments? What about participation during the virtual meetings? The “rubric” in the DLP is very vague. 

RESPONSE: Grading is never based solely on assessment/tests. The teachers take MANY factors into consideration when preparing report cards each term and at year end. Grading will encompass the many things as addressed above. 15. Will parents get any qualitative feedback about their kid(s)’ progress this year? RESPONSE: Qualitative feedback is usually presented within the comment section of the Report Card. If you have questions prior to the end of the year, please reach out to the teacher now so they may address your concerns. Email is best, but some teachers may have told you their personal preference. If so, use that method. 16. What will happen to the kids that are not able to attend all the online meetings, or 

the kids who are not able to complete all assignments? RESPONSE: Students will be graded according to the set expectations by the teacher/district. Keeping the well-being of the whole child in mind, if there is some special circumstance for you and/or your child, it needs to be shared with the classroom teacher(s) or the guidance department so that we can support accordingly. Ms Lepore – alepore@medford.k12.ma.us, Mrs. Fader – kfader@medford.k12.ma.us, Mrs. Liz Anderson – eanderson@medford.k12.ma.us. 17. Will parents be provided with assessment tools that we can use at home to 

determine whether our kids are ready for next year? RESPONSE: No, this would not be a valid form of assessment. 

Questions about access/equity: 

  1. How can you guarantee that grading is equitable when the working environment and supports can vary so widely? For example, what about, kids who don’t have access to the online content? RESPONSE: Since the beginning of Remote Distance Learning, the district has offered 3 Chromebooks opportunities – Administrators and teachers have been reaching out to families asking if they have: 
  • Internet access 
  • Chromebooks MANY teachers have been creative in finding other ways to connect students to a form of distance learning. It may look very different from the student who can access learning online. If you do not have access to the above tools, PLEASE contact your child’s teacher ASAP. 19. Kids who don’t have any help/support at home to be able to complete 

assignments? RESPONSE: Communication is the key. This needs to be shared with the classroom teacher so that accommodations can be made for each child and the given situation. There is never too much help from parents, with that said this can be a problem with any at home assignments. If the parent is doing the assignments for their child, know that teachers are aware of the standard of work that a student typically submits. If you find you are needing to complete the work because your child refuses, this MUST be reported to the classroom teacher and accommodations can the be discussed. 

  1. Kids who need special accommodations for learning? 

RESPONSE: Students are still being serviced remotely either through ZOOM meetings or documents sent to the home. 21. Kids who can’t be on the computer for too long? Kids who don’t learn well online? RESPONSE: The DLP states, “The engagement of students will occur through caring, meaningful, and productive learning activates for approximately half the length of a regular school day.” Instructional tools include, but are not limited to: group video, email, work-packets, projects, reading lists, online learning platform, and other resources to engage with students. “Not all learning needs to include screen time; activities can be designed so that students work on them at their own pace – keeping in mind the work should take half the time as a regular school session.” Office hours can be used to support students with assignments or their well-being. “Student expected hours for engagement in ALL aspects of work is targeted at 15 hours/week.” Communication is key. Issues need to be shared with the classroom teacher or guidance department, so that accommodations can be made for each situation. 22. Kids who refuse to engage in learning without their teacher present? 

RESPONSE: Communication is the key. This problem needs to be shared with the classroom teacher or guidance department so that plans can be created to help support this situation. 23. Kids whose families don’t speak English? 

RESPONSE: The EL teachers are aware of the learning needs of our EL students. These teachers are following the guidelines for established plans. 24. How much are teachers reaching out to families of kids who don’t seem to be 

participating or turning their work in? RESPONSE: On April 13th a letter was shared with the Columbus staff to be sent to families of students who are not engaging in the distance learning. All of our families were reached within the first two weeks of school closure. While engagement may vary since that time, the Columbus has not yet needed the Medford Police Department to make Wellness Visits to homes; however this support can be called upon if needed. 25. Since students receiving special education services, particularly in academic 

content areas, do not have the benefit of having all the support they do at school – aides, classroom, and special education teachers, manipulatives, graphic organizers, etc., I am wondering how communication has been going in general with these families. Do teachers and special educators find they are able to provide them with what they need? RESPONSE: 

  • Students/caregivers will be provided with ongoing educational/therapeutic resources, access to curricular materials, the accommodations/modifications that are required for individual student’s needs, and ongoing communication/support. 
  • Minute for minute remote services (as dictated by the IEP grid) are not expected per DESE and United States Department of Education (USED), it is not feasible for schools to provide services in the manner they are typically provided pursuant to students’ IEPs. 
  • Both Special Education and General Education staff are encouraged to participate in Special Education meetings. This is consistently taking place among the staff at the Columbus. 
  • Special education services will be provided as defined by applicable “Student Remote Learning Plans”. 

Questions about Teacher Professional Development: QUESTIONS BELOW HAVE BEEN COMBINED & ANSWERED IN ONE RESPONSE. 

  • What PD has been offered to teachers already? 
  • What is being offered before the end of the year, and specifically, do the PDs cover Google Suite/Classroom, Zoom, and general distance-learning techniques? YES, Google Classroom has been offered to ALL staff. ZOOM offers its own training and the DESE has MANY distance learning teaching offerings. 

o Curriculum Directors have created a standing weekly meeting. Any and all district 

staff members are invited to address questions, raise concerns that have developed during this remote learning period. o Both ZOOM and Google Classroom continuously email us with PD opportunities 

for staff members to learn about their platforms. On March 30th, Alison Guilmette collated teachers classroom links to one central site for families to access. Ms. Guilmette has also sent links on how to better utilize the Google Classroom platform, along with teachers working collaboratively on how to use google slides and other google classroom features. o Many staff members already had online communication platforms with their 

families and are now able to link these platforms with Google Classroom. It has been a learning curve for everyone involved and we all look forward to future professional development opportunities to help teachers and students gain new skills with remote learning activities. 

Suggestions/feedback about schoolwork so far: 

RESPONSE: As previously stated, communication is key. Many of these comments should be directly shared/asked of the classroom teacher. 

  • Teachers have been sending a variety of lessons both on and off line. 
  • During this time period there have been some project based activities,.(e.g. Fifth graders are currently working on the The Get Rich Quick Club). Could more be designed in this way? 
  • Could the assignments please include more daily life tasks instead of worksheets? For example, count the animals you see outside, count how many dishes/spoons are in your house, etc? 
  • Could the teachers think about including projects that are more meaningful for kids at this time? Maybe not in addition to the regular schoolwork, but maybe as an alternative for kids who just cannot do regular worksheets all day? Great idea, but please keep in mind that “projects” do not always easily translate into the required “Prerequisite Content Standards for Success” 

provided by the DESE on April 24, 2020. I think kids should be able to demonstrate that they are learning in a different way, not just following the online school work, because this is such a different learning environment. Consistency so the students are prepared for the new school year is important too. 

  • The work assigned from specialist teachers is too much. I think it should all be optional. Our experience, and I’ve heard the same from others, is that getting the general coursework done takes a great deal of time and effort, and if you add the assignments from specialists, it gets to be too much. Some kids would rather do their own artwork, singing, and exercise. Maybe teachers can post a suggested activity each week and children can do that OR just say what they have been working on and submit pictures, if appropriate. 

Questions/Suggestions about end of the year/next year: 

  1. Are kids going to virtually meet prospective teachers for next year? (To replace the usual “trip” to the next grade classrooms that Columbus usually does at the end of the year). RESPONSE: This question cannot be answered at this time. Much depends on the CDC, Governor Baker, and Commissioner of Education, Jeffrey Riley recommendations about school re-opening. Please know that the administration is working on a safe way for the students to first have some closure with their current teacher when our doors re-open. We are working on proposals for what the new school year might look like, with a variety of scenarios in mind. 27. Are there plans to help the kids transition from their current class/teacher in the fall? Could they spend some period of time in their current classroom (with their old classmates and old teacher) before moving up? I know some other schools are doing this to help the kids with the transition. RESPONSE: This has been discussed during administrative meetings; see above. 28. Are there plans to use a more robust online learning platform (other than Google 

Classroom) for the Fall in case we cannot go back to school physically? RESPONSE: This has been discussed during administrative meetings; see above. 

Suggestions for long term online learning: 

  1. Can the teachers work out together to figure out a way to set up classes and 

assignments so they are consistent across teachers/grades/subjects? Same with communication with students and families. RESPONSE: Streamlining links and grade levels planning have been the main objective at the Columbus, as has using one platform, currently Google Classroom. 30. If remote learning takes place next year, can support services be done remotely? 

Even if they don’t exactly meet the IEP grid requirements? 

RESPONSE: Students can still be serviced remotely either through ZOOM meetings or documents sent to the home. Please refer to the similar question above. 

General Reactions/Feedback: 

  • There should be no grades during this time. 
  • This new plan is really stressful for parents. 
  • I wish this plan was implemented sooner or not implemented at all. At this point in time families have established a routine schedule of sorts and are making it work. 
  • Sooner notification of this new plan would also have been helpful. 
  • This is an awful plan to put onto parents right before the end of the school year. This does not take into consideration parents who are still working. Children need to get a pass for the rest of the year. 
  • I’ve been very disappointed with the lack of information from my child’s teacher during distance learning. Other communities have had a plan all along it seems like Medford’s plan has been very mediocre and this latest communication is more ever. As a teacher myself I understand how hard this pandemic has been on all educators but what we’ve received from our children’s teachers has been at best lackluster. 
  • I’m glad kids will finally have the opportunity to virtually connect with classmates and teachers, hopefully this will help with the social/emotional aspect. 
  • I’m thankful that our teacher has been supportive and understanding of our situation so far. 
  • Thank you, Dr. Kay for how hard you are working at this time. We are thankful that the students will finally have a chance to connect face-to-face with their teachers and peers through google meet. I am assuming that at this point all of this is really just practice for what school may need to look like in the fall. We appreciate the first grade teachers for working hard and facilitating a meeting with parents. It is apparent that the teachers really need professional development on how to use platforms such as Google Classroom. We hope that the school and district will make pd for teachers a priority. I am also worried about ways in which the school is able to check in on students whose families are not able to help them engage through the platforms that have been provided. If there are ways the community can help I know many would be willing. 
  • Assignments require a LOT of parent involvement and support. This is very hard on families that cannot dedicate hours and hours of their time on school work. Also, families and children are required computer proficiency that is not average (for example, submitting work into google classroom is hard! or remembering all the passwords for things, printing assignments, etc). 

My kids have been tolerating quarantine as well as can be expected, and have been able to follow along with any work provided. I’d love to see more work that does not involve screen time, but that’s a minute detail. I’m more worried about classmates we aren’t seeing in google classroom, etc.

 

 

 

Source: Medford Public Schools, https://www.mps02155.org/2020/05/22/columbus-elementary-school-addresses-dlp-questions/

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