Teaching and Learning

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 is considering frontloading all Superintendent Conference Days to support staff in the areas of social-emotional health, technology integration and understanding the necessary safety precautions and protocols associated with COVID-19. Adapting the calendar can provide teachers with four full days of training to ensure they have a complete understanding of expectations and feel comfortable navigating the different landscapes of the learning models:  Remote, hybrid and in-person. 

If calendar changes are approved, student orientation would then occur on September 10 and/or 11, 2020, depending on each student’s individual assignment. This time will allow small groups of students to meet with their new teacher and begin to establish the relationship necessary for a successful school year and to also understand the expectations of the learning models.  Teachers will be encouraged to spend time building relationships, supporting students with the transition back to school and teaching social distancing etiquette at developmentally appropriate levels. 

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.  We will utilize iReady and the Fountas and Pinnell Benchmarking System three times per year at the K-8 levels as one option for our formative assessments.  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.  The Office of Instruction will work collaboratively with schools to ensure pacing calendars/scope and sequences are modified as needed. 

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content.  Reporting structures across the PreK-12 continuum will remain the same. 

We are working with our outside PreK agencies to ensure they have measures in place indicating that they are following health and safety guidelines outlined in the NYSED guidance and required by the NYSDOH. Each agency will have a continuity of learning plan that addresses in-person, remote and hybrid models of instruction.  We will invite each agency for our opening trainings in technology. 

For information relating to teaching and learning in BOCES special education and Career and Technical Education programs, please see the BOCES website.

In-person Instruction

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. Current staffing levels may be insufficient to accommodate the expanded number of classrooms needed to ensure social distancing.

Our schools will minimize the movement of students at the elementary level. 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. We will adhere to 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 to reduce their exposure.

Specifically, this model may include, but is not limited to:

  • Instruction aligned to the NYS Learning Standards
  • Instruction will be planned in compliance with NYS guidelines, students’ IEPs, 504 plans and ENL regulations
  • Collaboration between teachers for aligned lesson planning
  • Substantive interaction between students and teachers
  • Clear opportunities for instruction that are accessible to all students – i.e. differentiation
  • Scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from teachers
  • Morning meetings where teachers will connect with all students to take attendance, review daily expectations/logistics, do a check and connect for social emotional well being and ensure all students have resources and needed materials
  • PreK -12 will utilize existing grading policies. Infinite Campus will be used to take attendance and report grades
  

Remote/Hybrid Instruction

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 only focus 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 students will include a mix of synchronous and asynchronous instruction.  Teachers may provide live/recorded instruction and lessons to students. 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 and develop a common, coordinated set of guidelines for teachers to follow when using the platform with students.

Grading practices will follow a standards-based framework designed to provide direct feedback regarding students’ mastery of course content. We will use our current report cards and grading criteria at all levels to indicate student progress.   

Specifically, this model may include, but is not limited to:

  • Instruction aligned to the NYS Learning Standards
  • Instruction will be planned in compliance with NYS guidelines, students’ IEPs, 504 plans and ENL regulations, to the greatest extent possible
  • Collaboration between teachers for aligned lesson planning
  • A combination of synchronous and asynchronous instruction may occur, which includes but is not limited to:Live video, recorded lessons/chats, 1:1 check ins, differentiated groups and small group engagement
  • Student schedules at the middle and high school levels 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
  • Substantive interaction between students and teachers
  • Clear opportunities for instruction that are accessible to all students – i.e. differentiation
  • Consideration will be given to prioritizing hands-on and lab-based activities while students are onsite in school buildings
  • Scheduled times for students to interact and seek feedback and support from teachers
  • Morning meetings where teachers will connect with all students to take attendance, review daily expectations/logistics, do a check and connect for social emotional well-being and ensure all students have resources and needed materials  
  • PreK -12 will utilize existing grading policies
  • Infinite Campus will be used to take attendance and report grades
  • Wednesdays will be full remote learning for students. Teachers will use this day to interact with students, provide small group instruction, intervention or enrichment, collaborate with grade levels, PLCs and plan/record weekly lessons
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