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Digital Learning for In-Person and Remote Learners
Digital Learning for In-Person and Remote Learners
Dr. Seth Miller
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Update on Digital Learning for In-Person and Remote Learners

We are three days into the school year and want to communicate how things are going so far for our in-person and remote learners at WHS and WJHS.  We understand this is new and can be frustrating and confusing to students, teachers, and parents alike.

Things to Remember about the Digital Curriculum

We have been focusing very early on at WHS and WJHS with making sure students know how to log-in to their online curriculum and access their materials.  The purpose of doing this so quickly at the start of this school year has been to prepare in-person students on how to access their work in the event that students individually and/or as a school have to shift to remote learning.  There will be much greater emphasis with teachers to support in-person learners and our remote learners as we move into next week and we all become more familiar with how this school year will work.

How do I learn more about the online curriculum?

All of our students (in-person learners and remote learners) will have the same learning expectations.  This has been a point of emphasis as we have started this school year due to a significant portion of families who have concerns about returning to school for live instruction.  Our district has adopted an online learning platform to support our students.

If you have not had a chance to preview the online curriculum click the link below:

Edgenuity Preview for WHS and WJHS Online Curriculum

Why is the district using a digital curriculum?

There is so much unknown about how long we can sustain in-person learning, the district wanted a curriculum resource that was intuitive and able to support our students in the event the district has to go to remote instruction.  Many school districts have already made the decision to go entirely remote and/or had significant portions of their students put into isolated quarantine due to COIVD-19 exposure events. 

One of the benefits of using an online curriculum is that remote learners have the ability to access their courses at a time and location that works for their family’s needs.  Remote learners do not have to “log-in” at a certain time to participate in the materials.  They can login when the have access and availability to complete coursework as their families’ schedules allow, understanding that some materials have timelines and may be due by the end of the first quarter.  While it is still new, it is our hope as time goes by students, teachers, and parents will become more familiar with this learning platform and better informed about how to utilize it to assist with student-learning.

Is there a benefit to in-person learning if the curriculum is online?

In-person learners will also be accessing the same online curriculum as remote learners.  The students coming to WHS and WJHS will be logging into their Chromebooks and participating in the same curriculum; however, teachers will be able to address topics and issues for students who are coming in-person in real time.  As we get into the next several weeks, teachers will be intentionally working with in-person learners to discuss online content and clarify issues that emerge.  It is entirely likely teachers will begin introducing a class topic and learning objective that will be followed up with a video from the online curriculum.  The teachers may introduce the topic, point out particular points within the videos and presentation for students to focus attention.  Students may then watch the video and have classroom discussion to clarify the video instruction and ask questions about issues that may remain unclear.  Teachers may also begin setting up Zoom discussions to include our remote learners into these classroom opportunities, so remote learners can participate if they are able.  By introducing content and clarifying student questions teachers can help ensure students are getting the individual attention they need.  After these discussions and videos, time will be set aside for students to work on online assignments and projects during class time so that the teachers are accessible and available to help answer questions in real-time so that few issues emerge after hours when students are at home.

As teachers become more familiar with the digital curriculum as a learning tool, they will adapt and find ways to use these tools for the student’s advantage for in-person learners.  The roll-out for in-person learners may still be a little bumpy as we are all still learning, but we have confidence as the days and weeks go by we will “Find a Way” to serve our students with these resources.

Is it too late to make a decision about In-Person and/or Remote Learning?

We all understood from the beginning we would need some grace the first two weeks for students, teachers, and parents to really understand the challenges we face with the 2020-21 school year.  Students and families may continue to evaluate the option that works best for them.  Those decisions need to be finalized by the end of next week Friday September 4.  Students who are in remote-learning can still make a decision to come in-person (or give it another try), but they need to do so by September 4.  Students who are in-person learning will always have an option to convert to entirely remote until the end of the semester.

If parents are still trying to make their decision, it may be worth considering to send students in-person throughout the middle of next week.  With a couple of more days under our belt, teachers and students may start to find that in-person learning with a digital curriculum looks different, but if we are creative and patient we can find a way to make it work better.

 How do remote learners get extra-individual support?

Teachers will be reaching out to our remote learners to invite them “into” virtual classroom discussions and study sessions that will begin for in-person learners as well.  Remote learners will not be penalized if they do not participate in these interactive opportunities, but participation in these will undoubtedly improve the student’s understanding and provide access to the teacher in real-time.  Additionally, teachers are available every day after in-person learners are dismissed for office hours to work one-on-one with remote learners over the phone, email, and individual Zoom sessions.

Updates on Giacoma Chromebooks and Device Launch

We are still eagerly waiting for our Chromebooks and devices to arrive.  Although, the Chromebooks for Giacoma students were ordered back in early July the district is still waiting for final delivery (the devices shipped on August 11 and we expect them soon).  We will communicate a day and location for Chromebook distribution as soon as they arrive and are inventoried.  In the meantime, much of the first week for in-person learners will be spent learning the procedures and routines for the new school year.  We anticipate that for the first few days there will be much for in-person learners to understand about how school will operate.  The students learning in-person will not be moving into their digital curriculum any sooner than our remote learners.  When our devices arrive for ALL our Giacoma students (remote and in-person), we will provide instructions and launch our academic curriculum for everyone at the same time so that no one is left behind.