Distance Learning Plan
Distance Learning Plan
Great Expectations School (GES) enrolls students in kindergarten through eighth grade and is committed to providing families an excellent educational opportunity, regardless of circumstances. As required by the Governor of Minnesota, we are currently providing families with 3 modes of instruction over the 2020-2021 school year: in person learning, a hybrid in which students participate in distance learning 2 days a week and a learn-at- home model which is described in more detail below. Development of this plan has considered developmentally-appropriate alternatives for all students, as well as the technology, independence, and academic requirements necessary to ensure all students have equitable access to an appropriate, rigorous, and engaging education.
Efforts to ensure educational equity include the regular use of telephone and email communications with families to communicate school plans and expectations as well as receive input and queries from families. These modes of communication are available to all our families and are simply extensions of proven strategies from our previous learning environment. An initial survey of family technology and communication resources has allowed us to follow up on any shortcomings ahead of needing to implement systems for learning. Subsequent communications have provided the means to address any issues that have (or may) develop.
Our priority remains developing strong relationships between teachers and children, as well as between the children in each classroom, as these form the foundation for healthy learning communities. The use of appropriate technology, including telephone and internet-based communication, will provide the opportunity for daily interaction between teachers and each student they serve. Applications such as Google Classroom, Seesaw, and Zoom will be used to help organize and facilitate much of the work while students are away from school. These are not new to many students, as they have been introduced and practiced together over the first several months of the school year.
Within these frameworks - and in addition to paper-based resources -- students will have access to online instructional and reference applications such as IXL, Kahn Academy, Sumdog, and many more. Most of these systems are familiar to students from their on-site experiences, so will be relatively easy to migrate to this new setting. All are designed to support remote student learning while maintaining security and safety for children and data.
Great Expectations School has always worked to create learning opportunities that are responsive to an individual child’s strengths, interests, and abilities. Our learn-at-home approach allows us to differentiate assignments so students will continue to have engaging, relevant learning opportunities. We will be using both online and paper assessments to track student work and will be providing a year-end progress report based in large part on their time in this setting. For the 3rd - 8th grade, we will likely also conduct the NWEA Measures of Academic Performance assessments which we have used as our primary norm-referenced measure of student achievement for years.
Another priority for the school has been to work with community resources to provide the best learning environment for children. Currently, we are working with organizations and agencies including our authorizer (Audubon Center of the North Woods / Osprey Wilds), the Minnesota Department of Education, Minnesota Department of Health, Cook County, Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Sawtooth Mountain Clinic, and others to ensure a coordinated, current, and effective framework for community health. This work extends to the mental health of students and staff who are engaged with service providers from a variety of agencies.
These external resources all rely on the school staff staying connected with our students and families. In addition to the classroom teachers, paraprofessionals will be checking in with children and their families to track and report attendance, monitor academic progress, and coordinate with Special Education teachers and outside service providers.
Administrative employees will be working with families, educators, and outside agencies to ensure appropriate follow-up on any issues related to attendance, engagement, or academic progress. They will report to the GES School Board, which will revise our plan as necessary.
Educators are at the core of our learn-at-home plan. They have worked to develop competence in a variety of new systems and processes in order to carry out high-quality instruction in this new mode. Support for their continued development has been built into the schedule for educator time. Individually and as a group, they have built schedules and systems that help set expectations, deliver instruction, monitor progress, and report on student achievement. They have established contact with families and students alike, and have created plans that provide for ensuring understanding of the key elements of this new learning environment.
Support for children extends to those who are served via Special Education or 504 education plans. Special Education case managers have revised IEPs to account for changes in the learning environment and will continue to work with families, educators, paraprofessionals, and students to ensure all children have equitable access to the resources and supports they need as part of a free, appropriate public education.
At this point, no student at GES qualifies as an English Language Learner or is experiencing homelessness. We remain vigilant in working with our families - existing and new - to support any needs in these areas should they arise.
Beyond the environment supporting students at home, GES is providing childcare at the school to the elementary children of designated essential workers. These students will be under the supervision of paraprofessional staff and provided safe, effective work and recreational opportunities to participate from school in their class’ activities and assignments. We have implemented safety procedures - including wearing of face coverings, frequent hand washing and sanitizing, socially-distanced work spaces, and monitoring of student temperatures - to proactively support student and staff health.
Questions regarding this plan should be referred to the school Director, Peter James, at Peter.James@GreatExpectationsSchool.com or via phone at 218-387-9322.