April 16, 2020
Dear K-3 Parents,
On Tuesday, all school families received a Remote Learning update letter. The letter focused on grades 4-8 because of the upcoming posting of grades for 4-8 in SchoolSpeak this afternoon. My apologies for that correspondence, which frustrated our primary level parents, because it basically addressed issues for students in grades 4-8 and left little, if any, guidance for children in kindergarten thru third grade.
Yesterday, we held a Zoom meeting with the primary teachers to discuss Remote Learning and the input and feedback they have been receiving from you. Each of them shared their gratitude for the parent support they are receiving during this new method of instruction. The teachers understand that a lot of the Remote Learning responsibilities for primary students falls on the shoulders of the parents. The teachers also realize that many of our parents are fortunately still working remotely or at their place of employment during this pandemic. Undoubtedly, this makes it more challenging for our youngest students and their parents, or perhaps grandparents, or babysitters, who are charged with assisting them with their schoolwork. As a result, we would like to offer some explanation of how Remote Learning will continue for the primary grades.
Much of what teachers work on in the primary grades are important foundational skills. At this young age, reading, writing, spelling, and math skills are best practiced in short chunks every day rather than only twice a week. Additionally, for the primary students, the curriculum of the various subjects overlap. Because of their age, our K-3 students thrive on routine. So, we are trying to keep our work schedule as consistent as possible in this very abnormal situation.
We realize asking the students to work on multiple subjects can prove to be more of a challenge to organize and hope that the emails you are receiving from their teachers help in that regard. The emails have the information listed in one place, and the students/parents can use it as a checklist. Primary teachers will continue to send emails, SchoolSpeak posts, Seesaw posts, and Google Classroom posts (3rd grade) but will not need to create a monthly calendar. If you find that some assignments are causing stress or confusion, that is natural and please know that we are here to help!
The primary teachers have made suggestions on daily and weekly learning materials. It is understandable that the materials could be too challenging for some students and not demanding enough for others. Teachers are trying their best to provide lessons for learners of various abilities. Please understand that this is a new situation for everyone and we are learning as we go, and will adjust as necessary.
Since we left our students on March 13, it was the teachers’ hope that we would return to school and be able to give in-person end-of- the-year assessments and evaluations during the month of May. Moving forward, should we not be able to return to school in May, assessments will continue to be based on work that is turned into the teachers electronically and from the learning packets. Students that are participating and submitting completed weekly assignments, with pride, during remote learning will see their grades from the prior trimester maintain or improve.
Finally, we will soon begin to hold articulation meetings across grade levels. This will ensure that the expectations of what students need to know as they come into a new grade level in August, will be met during these last six weeks of the school year.
As educators, we share common goals with parents, to enhance your child’s educational journey by increasing their understanding that they are a child of God who is deeply loved by our Creator and to utilize the talents they have been given to succeed academically. Thank you for your continued support from home and for working with us to make remote learning as successful as possible and helping your child maintain their academic skills.
We know your children miss seeing their friends and teachers and we share in that frustration. However, learning must continue and we will do all we can to ensure that all of our children will be adequately prepared for a new grade level in the fall.
I hope your family had as nice an Easter holiday as present circumstances would allow.
When our students went from face-to-face instruction to Distance Learning on March 18, we all were hopeful it was likely a short-term way of addressing a terrible health concern in our state. No one would have imagined that we would be in a position that required a drastic change in how and where we learn, work, shop, worship and basically live our lives.
Yet here we are, faced with at least three more weeks of what is now being referred to as “Remote Learning.” The Diocese of Joliet has also been conducting weekly meetings with the principals and has provided guidelines on how we are to proceed moving forward.
Last Thursday our faculty met after that day’s remote learning sessions were completed. For more than an hour they offered their input, opinions, feedback and ideas as to how this new format is going to date. Here are some of the decisions that were agreed to:
- In grades 4-8, we will continue the same format of covering three subjects a day. None of the teachers feel they are watering down their curriculum and are monitoring feedback from students to determine how much material each class can cover in any given day or week.
- The teachers were unanimous in their opinion that, because students learn and work differently, it is difficult to put a range as to how much time, on average, students should be devoting to school work daily.
- Friday will continue to be a ‘catch-up’ day for students.
- Students who seek assistance from a teacher may continue to do so between the office hours of 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Inquiries received after that time may not be answered until the next morning.
- We will be working on constructing a monthly calendar for each grade level that identifies which subjects will be taught on any given day, including specials.
- We will continue to give our letter grades in grades 4-8. Beginning this Thursday, April 16, grades will be posted on School Speak for all students. This will give parents further information as to whether their children are devoting an ample amount of time in order to be successful in completing their assigned work.
- Due to the uncertainty as to when schools may re-open, it is difficult, at this time, to assure families that we will cover the same curriculum via Remote Learning as we would have with In Person teaching. That remains our goal, however.
- Despite this new way of teaching, students will not be allowed opportunities for re-testing.
- As service hours are a requirement for promotion and graduation, we will modify them as necessary as many students have already completed the minimum expectation. For those that have not yet met the requirement, and are no longer able to, given the current circumstances, they will be fully credited for what they have already done.
Remote learning is new for everyone and we expect varying degrees of success for teachers, students, and families. Your patience is much appreciated as teachers weekly refine the process of creating the videos and increase the frequency with more practice. We assure you that we are committed to reviewing, reflecting, and revising as necessary.
Our goal is for all 360 of our students to enjoy success, growth, and progress via remote learning. Our teachers are working hard to ensure that students are meaningfully engaged in their school work. If teachers are not recognizing positive (or any) interaction with a student, they will then reach out to that student and/or parent.
Our primary emphasis here is connection; we want to ensure that our students remain connected to their school and their teachers throughout the suspension of in-person instruction. We thank you for your patience and support during this pandemic.
Students will resume E-learning on Monday, April 6. Please watch your email for more information from Mr. Glowaty and the teachers regarding times to pick up new packets and needed textbooks. Thank you and enjoy the rest of your Spring Break!
March 24, 2020
This morning we held two faculty meetings (K-8 and K-2) to hear back from our teachers as to their perception as to how the three days of E learning went last week. First, I would like to thank all of you who emailed your appreciation to our staff on pivoting so quickly and effectively from in-person to distance learning. The teachers are working tirelessly and are grateful that you understand they are doing their best as ‘pioneers’ in this unique learning environment.
As I stated in my videos last week, today’s ZOOM sessions with our staff were designed to help us determine if we needed to adjust our delivery of instruction. We certainly know you did not sign up for home-schooling and we are grateful for how adept you’ve been in accepting the new responsibilities you’ve inherited.
The two main themes of discussion through both meetings had to do with the workload being assigned students and assessment of that work.
Kindergarten through third grade felt the delivery and pace of last week went well and do not contemplate any changes this week. Grades four through eighth felt the need to curtail their coursework and, basically, require the students to have work assigned in only three subjects every day, irrespective of specials. Their change will go into effect on Wednesday as follows:
Wednesday: Language Arts, Reading & Religion
Thursday: Math, Science and Social Studies
Friday: Catch up day
We are keeping our schedule the same as it has been. We have certain tasks
the students need to finish by Thursday afternoon. Friday will be a catch up day.
Wednesday- Language Arts, Social Studies &, Religion
Thursday- Math, Science, Reading
Friday- students check emails/messages/postings in case they are missing something as it is due by 2:00 pm today
As for assessment, the primary teachers felt they could grade their children’s work in accordance with the normal diocesan report card. The intermediate and upper grades will also maintain normal grading categories, although some of the Jr. High teachers are struggling to prepare adequate online tests and doing so in a manner that protects the integrity of the lesson. With only four days standing between us and ‘spring break’ the challenge of testing will be moot if we return to school in early April.
Should the restrictions currently in place for schools continue beyond April 6, however, we will reassess all teaching and assessment strategies and modify them as necessary.
Thank you for your continued cooperation and partnering in your children’s education. We are also mindful of all the stresses that everyone is experiencing and, in the coming days, will try to come up with ideas, suggestions, activities, and websites that can help alleviate those anxieties.