- What can you expect from staff and what is being asked of students and families?
- What does distance learning look like?
- Technology concerns
- Essential Tools for Facilitating Distance Learning
- Supporting English Language Learners
Governor Walz’s Executive Order 20-41 declares that public school districts and charter schools will continue to implement distance learning plans through the end of their planned 2019-20 school calendar year.
Following this order, Richfield Public Schools instituted a distance learning plan on April 4, 2020, that focused on the following priorities:
- Equitable access to technology and internet access
- Equitable access to rich and rigorous curricula
- Uninterrupted academic guidance and support in a virtual setting as it was in a physical setting.
What is Distance Learning?
Distance learning is defined by the Minnesota Department of Education as students interacting daily with their licensed teacher(s), and with appropriate educational materials to continue their learning. This learning is to be a full replacement for face-to-face instruction and is to abide by all IEPs, 504s, and other instructional needs of students.
We asked our staff to stop for a moment and reflect upon what work would look like and feel like if staff and students were not on-site at RPS, but instead were at their homes providing instruction and instructional support synchronously (in real-time) and asynchronously (pre-recorded).
How did Richfield Public Schools Staff Prepare for Distance Learning?
First, we asked staff to be learners for eight days. This was a must. We needed staff to not only plan curriculum, and hone their digital lesson delivery skills, but we also needed them to build their capacity on adult-to-adult and adult-to-student digital connection. We taught them through a number of online learning sessions to become facilitators of synchronous and asynchronous digital learning that would take place through our two learning management platforms - Seesaw (PreK-5) and Schoology (6-12). These systems are designed to be learning delivery platforms that allow for online and offline work to be completed, captured, and shared, as well as for teachers and students to communicate and collaborate effectively and safely.
Before the start of the day
- Teachers will ensure that content and directions are posted on the learning management system (either Seesaw or Schoology).
During regular school hours
- Attendance will be taken each day.
- Staff will check and respond to email and voicemail twice a day (at minimum), in the morning and the afternoon, and will communicate office hours to students and families.
- Be present for learning each day. Distance learning is a direct substitute for in-person learning. Attendance is mandatory.
- Complete work on time. Teachers must share due dates with students on Seesaw and Schoology. Learning may occur whenever it’s most convenient for students throughout the day.
- If students need help with their work, their teacher is expected to check emails twice each day before 4 p.m. If students need help or are falling behind, they should message their teacher by email, through Seesaw, or in Schoology right away to let them know. Calling their teachers is also an option because they will be checking their voicemail daily. Finally, all teachers will be holding digital office hours. How to access teachers during those hours will be determined and shared by individual teachers.
- Assist in the guidance and facilitation of student learning, as well as hold children accountable on the student expectations listed above.
- Parents/guardians are being asked to be DIRECT partners in distance learning. Hands-on, not hands-off.
For PreK-5 Learners
- Staff will post announcements, updates, and learning opportunities to Seesaw (or Google Classroom for some STEM classes) in the morning. Then students complete them and submit them via technology applications.
- Some sessions such as interventions and special services will be completed face-to-face on Hangouts Meet or Zoom.
For grade 6-8 Learners
- Staff will post announcements, updates, and learning opportunities to Schoology in the morning. Then students complete them and submit them asynchronously.
- Some sessions such as AP or advanced classes, interventions, and special services will be completed face-to-face on Hangouts Meet, Schoology Conferences, or Zoom.
- Daily attendance is any form of student contact on a school day. This includes a student login into Schoology, Seesaw, personal phone contact, email exchange, text message exchange, google conferencing, or other direct student contact.
What if we don’t have good internet, we have a broken device or some other roadblock for access to digital learning opportunities?
- Richfield Public Schools pledges to get paper or alternative resources to students who cannot access learning opportunities via our technology.
What if we don’t have a good learning device?
- We pledge to issue devices to all students in grades 6-12 via our 1:1 device program and to provide a Chromebook to all elementary families in need. Contact the technology help desk at 612-798-6050 if you need a device.
School employee-to-family phone calls
- Google Voice
- E-5: Gmail, Seesaw (if possible)
- 6-12: Schoology messages (preferred), Gmail (Ok, but steer them to Schoology)
- All district staff: Phone calls and alerts will be used by the district with contact information that is in our student information system (Synergy).
Synchronous learning connections (live, face-to-face)
- Schoology / Schoology Conferencing
- Google Hangouts Meet joined via a link (enable microphone and camera)
- E-5: Seesaw (preferred), occasionally Google Classroom
- 6-12: Schoology
Best modes of communication for families to contact staff
- Voicemail (Instructions)
Essential district-supported learning applications
- Schoology: Learning management
- Seesaw: Learning management
- Reading A-Z: Leveled readers for EC-5
- Dreambox Learning: Personalized math learning modules for each student
- Flipgrid: Student video responses to teacher prompts
- EdPuzzle: Formative assessment tool that allows teachers to add questions to videos in order to check for understanding
- Screencastify: Screen recording
- Pear Deck: Formative assessments in a presentation
- NewsELA: Current events articles for students able to be adjusted for appropriate Lexile scores
- CPM Math: Online textbook and manipulative for secondary students
- Kami: PDF editor for all
During distance learning, our EL teachers will focus on family communication and support, then shift to student instruction as more students engage.
- EL teachers will deliver instruction to students in levels 1-4 through Seesaw (grades K-5) and Google Classroom or Schoology (grades 6-12).
- EL teachers will meet regularly with classroom teachers to ensure instruction, assignments and assessments build language proficiency and provide clear expectations for EL students.
To support all EL students, all teachers will:
- Provide clear instruction on essential learning targets
- Communicate clear expectations for students
- Provide feedback to students and/or families regarding mastery of standards
- Follow intervention guidelines for struggling students
- Contact instructional coaches or EL teachers for support
Communicating with our Multilingual Families
- Outreach workers (Spanish-speaking, Somali-speaking, American Indian) are available to communicate with families.
- Language Line is available for languages other than Spanish or Somali.
- Communications from the District will be sent in English and Spanish.
- Our Somali outreach worker can be contacted for individual follow up with families.
- Tips for Successful Distance Learning
- Video conference guidelines for students
- Distance learning platforms
- Student Support Staff
- Set up a work area for your child that is away from the television or other distractions.
- Create a schedule, but let your child have input. Set aside study times, break times and recreation times that make the most sense for you and your child. Distance learning doesn’t have to be between regular school hours (although some teachers may have set times for specific activities or video conferences).
- Recommended time to spend on schoolwork each day:
- Pre-k through grade five: 1-2 hours per day
- Middle school: 2-3 hours per day
- High school: 3-4 hour per day
- During study time, consider limiting phone/social media access. We know when the phone is nearby focusing on schoolwork declines substantially. There may be times when phone access is appropriate during study time, like a group project or study session over the phone with friends.
- Distance learning is a family event. Any support that parents can give will make the learning experience more rich and rigorous.
- Not all distance learning will be online. Some will require offline work and online submission.
- Good questioning techniques have a strong positive effect on student learning, whether in a classroom or a distance learning environment. Here are some of the benefits of good questions:
- They encourage students to engage in the work and motivate them to want to learn more
- They help students process the learning
- They help build critical thinking skills
- They allow the adults (teachers, support personnel, families) to check for understanding
- Read more about good questioning and find sample questions (English | Spanish)
- Students should be dressed and wear clothes that they would normally wear to school.
- All students who join the video conference should be in a common area within their home. Bedrooms and bathrooms are strongly discouraged.
- If a teacher witnesses something inappropriate in the background, the student may be removed from the video conference or the video conference may be stopped altogether.
- Students must use their district Google account to join the call and students from outside of our district are not allowed to join the video conference.
Students in pre-k through grade 5 will work through Seesaw for their distance learning content and instruction at https://app.seesaw.me.
- Access the site using either the Chrome or Firefox browser.
- If your child has difficulties signing in to Seesaw, viewing or completing assignments, email their teacher. Include what device you are using and any details about the problem in your email.
- If families are using a tablet or smartphone, download the Seesaw Class App. It may also be called “Seesaw: The Learning Journal.” (Note: There are two Seesaw apps. Students must use the “Class App.” There is a Seesaw family app that is intended for families to use when kids are at school. You can learn more here: https://web.seesaw.me/parents.
- Typically this platform is implemented with students in school. We anticipate some connectivity issues when we begin on April 6. We will work with you to resolve these issues. You can check the status of the platform here: https://status.seesaw.me/
Students in grades 6-12 work through Schoology for their distance learning content and instruction.
- We do not have parent accounts created in Schoology, so we ask grade 6-12 parents to work together with your child to view the Schoology account and content.
- If you have specific questions on an assignment or activity on Schoology, contact your child’s teacher first and then the IT Helpdesk.
- If Schoology is performing strangely, please check the site’s status site: https://status.schoology.com/.
Even though school buildings are closed, our outreach workers, school social workers and counselors are available to families and students to provide support, resources and course planning. Support staff will continue to be available to you and your students via phone, email and text. Visit the student support services page on your child's school website for contact information.
- How is student attendance tracked?
- Where do I go if I have technology problems or questions?
- How do students submit completed assignments?
- How can I contact my child's teacher?
Daily attendance is any form of student contact on a school day. This includes a student logging into Schoology, Seesaw, personal phone contact with a teacher/school staff, email exchange, text message exchange, Google conferencing or other direct student contact with their teacher. Each school has identified a time by which attendance needs to be reported on a daily basis. If a student does not sign in or engage by the designated time, the student is considered absent for that day. Parents and guardians are expected to report absences through the attendance line or email. If a parent or guardian does not report an absence, the absence will be unexcused.
- The IT Helpdesk will be staffed from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. from April 6-10, and from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. from that point forward. Evening Helpdesk voicemails are addressed immediately the following morning so please make sure to leave a detailed message with callback information.
- Phone: 612-798-6050
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless your child's teacher has provided alternate means of communication, the best way to connect with teachers is through their district phone or email. You can find your child’s teacher(s) on our staff directory.