Together or Apart Deeper Learning Continues

Together or Apart Deeper Learning Continues
Posted on 09/13/2020
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As part of our strategic plan, the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District continues its commitment to teaching and learning that involves Deeper Learning and Equity.  We are working to develop school cultures where all students, teachers, and families are valued and empowered to learn and grow.  “Apart or together, we are working to provide high quality education during this historic time,” said Superintendent, Dr. Marty Lexmond. “We are focused on how to protect the health, safety, and well-being of students, teachers, other school staff, their families, and communities as we prepare for education this fall.” 
Return to School Committee To assist in the development of the framework, a stakeholder committee of teachers, parents, district leaders, and community public health officials was formed.  The Returning to School Committee is a group of 46 individuals advising on the formulation of a plan to safely reopen our schools during a time of a global health crisis.  The committee has been meeting each Friday for weeks and working on individual tasks that will be part of an overarching plan.
The plan is based on an established set of principles: Safety & Well Being Learning That Works for All Responsiveness & Flexibility Practicality of Implementation
The planning process also included review of guidance from state and local agencies and consultation with local health departments.  We are currently receiving guidance from some of our health partners about what health metrics need to be in place to move up in phases.
City of West Allis Department of Health City of Greenfield Health Department Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
Framework for Return to School The 2020-2021 year school begins with Virtual Learning. From there, depending on health metrics, we will move to Distance learning and children can attend school two days per week.  Finally (and again depending on health metrics) we will move to In-Person learning.
Enhanced Virtual Learning includes a Focus on Deeper Learning and Equity Last spring, when we went into emergency virtual learning during the Safe-at-Home order, we did not have much time to prepare.  While we were incredibly impressed with what many of our staff and students did during that time, we are now better prepared to provide a more robust, rigorous online learning experience.
No matter where we are (learning from home or back in the classroom), we will continue our focus on the goals of our Strategic Plan and the principles of our Return to School Plan: Learning that Works for All.  Just like in-person learning, our virtual instruction is guided by our Equity Non Negotiables.  Each of our learning communities is centered on learner-driven, evidenced informed practice that embeds the Deeper Learning Competencies across all subject areas.  Students are empowered to live life on their own terms by developing skills in content mastery, problem solving, communication, collaboration, becoming self-directed, and developing an academic mindset. 
Synchronous and Asynchronous Instruction As we begin the year in virtual learning, we will be offering a full day of “synchronous” instruction.  This means learners will access instruction in live time during the school day.  We will also be recording instruction and posting it nightly on Schoology.  This means learners can also access “asynchronous” instruction (e.g., previously taped) in the evenings or on the weekend.  Families can choose what works best for their child and their family schedule.
Using Schoology Schoology is a learning management system that provides a virtual learning environment for K-12 schools that allows users to create, manage, and share academic content.  Schoology allows us to keep all learning activities and coursework in one place.  Each student will have a login.  Parents/guardians will have one too.  It will allow parents to track their child’s learning and communicate with teachers.  
lementary Elementary students will rotate through a variety of instructional settings consisting of whole group activities (where the entire class will be together online), small group activities (where the class will be meeting in small groups to work on activities or meet with the teacher to clarify learning), conferring where students meet with the teacher one-on-one to get feedback, and independent practice wherein the students will have a list of very specific tasks to complete.  Elementary students will also have specials that include art, music, physical education, technology class, and social-emotional learning.   
Secondary At the secondary level, we have made some alterations to the daily schedule to allow for more time with each teacher and less logging in and out of classes for students.  More information about the specifics of your child’s schedule will be coming soon.  We will be offering a full day of synchronous instruction (e.g., in live time during a typical school day).  There will be a balance of whole group and small group instruction along with time for individual practice.  Students will have the opportunity to meet with teachers on Wednesdays during “office hours” and connect with other students that they are working with on class activities.  
“Our goal as a District is to ensure that all students are college, career, and life ready when they graduate. Mastering the Deeper Learning competencies in an equitable environment truly prepares students for the opportunities and challenges they will experience in life,” said Lexmond. “Whether we’re virtual or in-person, Deeper Learning and Equity is a commitment that’s at the heart of what we’re doing in our schools.”
Learn more about Deeper Learning competencies HERE Why is Deeper Learning Important? Deeper Learning Competencies