Curriculum and Instruction
The second key component of the Reopening Schools Plan is curriculum and instruction. In response to the core values, the centerpiece of the plan is a robust, consistent, and engaging curriculum that aligns with the District’s core values and can be successfully delivered both in a traditional school setting and online. In addition to the curriculum, component #2 prioritizes proactive assessment and academic intervention for students.
As schools reopen in August, if the State has not achieved Stage 4 and distancing and gathering restrictions still apply, the District may be required to implement a learning model where students will engage in a combination of on campus learning and online learning or in a 100% online approach. Even if Stage 4 is achieved prior to the start of the school year, some students will still require an online curriculum due to health and safety concerns. Therefore, it is critical that the District provides a consistent, flexible, and engaging curriculum and learning experience for students that includes daily, integrated social emotional learning and mental health support.
The Reopening Teams reviewed multiple options and models and solicited teacher and administrator feedback through two surveys when considering an online curriculum that effectively meets expectations. With the core values of rigor, engagement, consistency, and flexibility as guidance, the teams considered different approaches to an online curriculum for both elementary (K-5) and secondary (6-12) that will provide a quality educational experience for all students, including those who require additional support to be successful. Consensus was successfully reached by the Reopening Team, and Trustees approved staff recommendations at the June 24, 2020, Board meeting. The following is the plan for online curriculum for the 2020-2021 school year:
Canvas Learning Management System (K-12): Canvas is a cloud-based learning management system (LMS) that will be used in grades K-12. It equips educators and engages students in an efficient and effective way. The Canvas platform offers user-friendly functionality for online learning including standards-based grade books, customizable student assessments, course content authoring, mobile communication and more. Canvas allows educators to customize courses and monitor engagement with classes or individual students. Canvas also offers native mobile apps for iOS (Apple) and Android devices, allowing educators, students, and parents to view key information, share and receive updates, or submit results from anywhere at any time. Canvas will provide a solid management system for grades K-5 and will replace the current School Loop management system in grades 6-12.
Preschool and Transitional Kindergarten: The current curriculum for preschool and transitional kindergarten is the “Big Day” curriculum, and it is available online. Teachers would prepare for the possible contingencies of needing to move to online instruction should a school (or schools) need to close. A 100% online curriculum will not be offered as a separate option but only in case of closure.
Elementary (K-5): Courses are being created inside of Canvas for each grade level kindergarten through fifth in English Language Arts, Math, Science, Physical Education, Music, Social Emotional Learning, and Social Studies using current adopted curriculum. Online courses are also being developed for both the Mandarin and Spanish Immersion programs. The elementary online courses are created from a student’s perspective. This allows students to log in to their grade level course and follow the directions provided to go through the lessons independently. Within the lessons, the formatting is consistent, so that navigation will be comfortable and predictable for teachers, students and parents. The lessons will also include scaffolding and differentiation for students with special needs and our second language learners. A team of elementary teachers and curriculum specialists have completed the online modules for the first trimester and will have the second trimester completed by August 18, 2020. The final trimester will be completed by December 18, 2020.
Secondary (6-12): Secondary teachers will be utilizing a combination of District developed online curriculum and online curriculum developed by Apex Learning and UC Scout. Courses will be developed by District teachers for those classes that are not available in Apex Learning and UC Scout. These include several elective courses including Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), English Language Development, as well as language immersion courses. The courses will be designed so that students can engage in the learning independently without the support of a teacher. This will enable teachers to focus on more interactive activities when students are in attendance with them at school. A team of secondary teachers and curriculum specialists are developing the online modules and will have the first semester of courses built by August 1, 2020. The second semester will be completed by October 1, 2020.
Chromebooks for Every Student in Grades K-12 for Access to Online Curriculum
In order to ensure that every student has access to online curriculum and learning resources, staff recommends that the Board approves the purchase of additional Chromebooks so that every student in grades K-12 has access to their own device. Funds from the Federal CARES Act, which are one-time monies that must be spent prior to December 31, 2020, would be used to purchase the additional Chromebooks. In order for students to use Chromebooks during extended learning in outdoor classroom spaces, network coverage would be expanded to cover outdoor learning spaces where necessary. Outdoor wireless at all elementary sites would cost $215,000 and would be funded by the Federal CARES Act.
Staff strongly recommends the increase of Chromebook devices for students in grades K-12. By providing Chromebooks to every student, teaching and learning could easily shift from on campus to online in case of an increased surge of COVID-19. Additionally, elementary students could more easily access Canvas and reinforce classroom lessons during extended learning and students would not be required to share Chromebooks with others, thereby decreasing the amount of cleaning during the school day. Using the Federal CARES Act monies, increasing Chromebook access for all students significantly enhances equitable outcomes for all students through online instruction and increased access to internet resources.
The cost of additional Chromebooks for 2020-2021 will be funded using the Federal CARES Act monies and Trustees would need to commit to a multi-year plan to support the devices.
Online and On-campus Instructional Delivery: Blended Instructional Practices
The Reopening Lead Team reviewed different instructional models that would maximize the instructional time in both the elementary and secondary levels. It was recognized that different instructional strategies would be employed for different reasons, depending upon content and developmental levels of students. Therefore, blended instructional practices will be used by teachers in the Reopening Plan. Blended instructional practices include different instructional approaches, all of which emphasize the District’s “Great First Instruction” components of lesson preparation, strategies, interaction, and review and assessment. Teachers will utilize a variety of instructional approaches which may include: a flipped classroom model, where a student first learns the concept independently and then is provided opportunities for deeper understanding with the teacher; direct instruction, which is structured, sequenced, and led by the teacher; and small group intervention, where the teacher assesses the students for skill deficit and then develops differentiated lessons to address those skills. Teachers will communicate with their students the variety of instructional models and strategies that he or she plans to use.
Support and Program Planning
Fundamentals, Core Content Areas, Student Assessments, and Intervention
In addition to an online curriculum that addresses the District’s core values, and instructional practices to enhance student learning, the Reopening Schools Plan emphasizes the need for: a renewed focus on the fundamentals of literacy and numeracy in the primary and elementary grades; core content areas in the secondary grades; and assessing students to determine areas of need, and proactive academic intervention. Therefore, the plan includes:
Focus on Fundamentals of Literacy, Numeracy, and Core Content Areas: To ensure that all students have a strong foundation in math and reading, a renewed focus on fundamentals will focus on instruction that prioritizes literacy and numeracy in kindergarten through fifth grade. Master scheduling in middle and high schools will emphasize the core content areas of math, language arts, science, and social science while continuing to offer engaging electives that provide career pathways with a focus on opportunities and services for juniors and seniors. With class sizes reduced by half, there is a significant opportunity for teachers to differentiate and “personalize” support for students who need additional intervention.
Prioritized Services for Juniors and Seniors: As part of the Reopening Schools Plan, Staff is continuing work to fully develop prioritized services for juniors and seniors to prepare them for postsecondary options. One strategy for supporting juniors and seniors is by temporarily adjusting graduation requirements with proposed temporary Board policy. In addition, policy language will permit students to take courses at community colleges allowing for students to have more flexibility in meeting requirements. Futureology counselors and high school advisement teams will pay particular attention to scheduling, transcripts and opportunities for our juniors and seniors to ensure they are on track for college and/or career. Staff will meet and collaborate with high school principals to identify additional ways to prioritize services for juniors and seniors and will report to Trustees at the August 19, 2020, Board meeting.
Student Assessments to Identify Potential Deficits and Provide Interventions: Staff will work closely with site programs to ensure that teachers develop assessment strategies to ascertain the content area and skill proficiency of students when they return to school in the fall. Diagnostic assessments will be given to students to identify current strengths, weaknesses, knowledge, and skills prior to instruction. Results will provide an important snapshot of information to help individualize instruction. To the greatest extent possible, District benchmark testing including i-Ready, DIBELS, English Language Arts Common Interim Assessments, History Social Science Document Based Question assessments will be completed earlier in the school year to provide additional data to help staff understand each student's specific learning needs as early as possible to provide needed support.
Academic Interventions: Due to closures and the loss of instructional time students experienced, plans for the upcoming school year will emphasize the priority standards (standards that are essential for students to master) that teachers in their Professional Learning Communities (PLC) have identified, and to focus their assessment and intervention efforts on those areas. Sites will continue to develop systematic approaches to support students with targeted intervention and extension activities based on assessment data. Staff have scheduled release days to provide time for teachers to develop these systems. Teachers will continue to be required to support students’ individual needs within their own classroom setting and sites will use traditional supports that are provided at sites, including tutoring and established tutorial time that is part of the instructional day. Additionally, if restrictions permit, students who need additional support will be provided increased time on campus for in person support. At elementary schools, in both online and on campus learning, teachers will still be required to provide small group intervention for students not meeting standards and students who need instruction in English Language Development.
Support Special Education Assessments: Additional support will be provided to school psychologists, speech and language pathologists, and education specialists so that they are able to provide assessments to students whose assessments were paused during closure. Individualized Education Plan meetings will be scheduled early in the school year with families to review assessment data and ensure that goals and services are appropriate to accommodate changing student learning needs.
Make-up Services and Intervention for Students with IEPs: IEP teams will meet to review new assessment data and determine if their student experienced regression, or loss of learning and lack of progress on goals, during distance learning. Staff is developing make-up service and intervention options to be provided face to face, both during and after the school day, to the greatest extent possible as per physical distancing and gathering restrictions. With many special education services being delivered one on one or in small groups, distancing and gathering restrictions are not as limiting as they are for general education classrooms; however, some students with more significant disabilities may not be able to attend “on campus” learning due to health concerns.
Initial and Ongoing Training for Teachers and Staff in Online Curriculum and Blended Instructional Delivery: A new curriculum requires approximately 4-6 hours of training for teachers through online modules. In addition to initial training to learn about the new curriculum, further training would also be provided by District staff to show how the online curriculum can be supplemented with current curriculum, how the new curriculum can be augmented with face to face instruction, and continued reinforcement of best practices for online and in class blended instructional practices. To support teachers’ competency with online teaching strategies, staff developed a series of 4 professional learning modules based on the National Standards for Quality Online Learning. The modules are Organizing Content, Instructor-Learner Interaction, Learner-Learner Interaction, Assessing Learning. All modules will be available to teachers during summer Professional Learning Academy and in the fall. Finally, training for the new Canvas Learning Management System will be provided for staff and families prior to the start of the school year.
Secondary Registration Procedures: Staff have currently planned for registration to take place in late July and early August. Students would be provided with appointment times where they would arrive and work through registration either in person or in vehicles depending on restrictions that are in place at the time.
Calendar Revisions In Case of Increase in COVID-19 Cases: Staff proposes that calendar revisions, such as extending winter recess by two weeks, be analyzed and considered. An extension of the calendar at winter recess, where an additional two weeks was added to the current recess, could be beneficial in case of a surge in COVID-19 cases. Staff will complete additional analysis and provide recommendations at a fall 2020 Board meeting.