• Ardsley Continual Learning Plan Update - March 27, 2020

    Dear Ardsley Families,

    As our first full week of Continuous Learning through online structures comes to a close, I want to give you an update on our progress, how our work and our support methods will continue to evolve, and answer some of your questions with the most up to date information.  

    Two Areas of Shift in the Ardsley Continual Learning Plan:  

    Last week, we set a foundation and launched learning opportunities with initial expectations for support and feedback. Early concerns are that the lessons were too self-directed and focussed on review. We are actively working in each school to build upon this initial platform and enhance the learning experiences in two ways.

    Robust Student-Teacher Connections for Building Community, Feedback, and Support:  Principals and curriculum leaders are working with teachers to increase the frequency and the responsiveness of their feedback and support. This work is ongoing and requires professional development for teachers. Some of the technology currently being used and listed on Panthers Link includes the following.

    • Google Classroom allows us to create lessons, distribute assignments and provide feedback. This tool will be a new addition for grades K-4 and more information will come home next week.
    • FlipGrid allows us to foster short video-based discussions on classroom topics and create a shared community learning experience.
    • Castle Learning offers a comprehensive instructional support platform for in class, homework, review, and testing available both online and offline.
    • Padlet is an application to create an online bulletin board that is used to display information for any topic, or use as a soundboard for student participation.
    • Dreambox offers adaptive online software that focuses on mathematics education at the elementary and middle school level.

    In addition, we continue to look for other proven technological solutions to improve our connections with students.

    Implementation of New Instruction:  Although the length of the closure is still uncertain, we are currently preparing for an extension of our Continuous Learning program. Feedback from other districts has shown us that new material cannot always be introduced in the same formats or volume as in conventional schooling. Over the coming weeks, teachers will be working to breakdown lessons and reorganize units. This will  ensure that the curriculum is fully covered and properly assessed in order that course requirements and standards are met. Specific guidelines on the volume and pace of new instruction will vary by grade level and will follow in the coming days and weeks.

    Update On Attendance:

    Teachers expect students to check-in daily through google classroom. If your child is sick or cannot check-in, please contact your child’s schools as follows:

    CRS: vadinaro@ardsleyschools.org

    AMS: preid@ardsleyschools.org

    AHS: cwhite@ardsleyschools.org

    If we have not heard from you or your child after 3 days, someone from the school will reach out to you to make sure that you and your child are OK. While we do not intend to use attendance in a disciplinary way, we are obligated to keep attendance and hold students accountable for “attending school” and maintain our State mandates. 

    Time Management - Support for Students and Parents:

    Feedback from families has often fallen into the category of time management. Without the routines and structures of “regular school”, we know that families are struggling to help students of all ages to plan their days and to manage their work. Starting this week, we have asked teachers and guidance counselors to make planning and time management a priority in their support. This will come in the form of suggested ways to approach assignments and set up their day.  

    We are also working to make adjustments to the workload. Principals are implementing surveys to get system-wide feedback. We plan to use this information to make necessary adjustments to the amount of work and to the frequency it is being implemented. We are also working with leaders around the region to build our collective understanding of best practices and what is working for students and families.

    If your family is struggling with ANY expectations, please reach out to your teacher and your principal and we will help. As many of us are parents ourselves who are now working from home, we understand the unique challenges that New York’s Shelter In Place mandate has placed on all of us. Our Continuous Learning Plan has been created to be flexible and to evolve over time. Our goals are to keep learning central to every student’s daily life while also prioritizing your family’s health and wellbeing at all times.

    Update on Assessments:  

    There have been a number of changes to regularly scheduled assessments. They are outlined briefly below with more detail to be posted early next week:

    • NYS 3-8 Tests: Have been canceled for 2020
    • NYS Regents: Have NOT changed. More info is pending
    • AP’s: Have been adjusted - follow this LINK.  More info is coming on April 3.
    • ACT’s and SAT’s have been postponed. Schedules will be updated next week.
    • Local Exams: Will be updated as we formulate our 4th Quarter Plans.

    Update on Grading:  

    Grading in an online environment presents many challenges to traditional grading, and we acknowledge that the nature of the closure was disruptive to the 3rd Quarter in grade 5-12 and disruptive to the Parent-Teacher Conferences at Concord Road. Our goal with our grading plans and policies are intended to:

    1. Maintain the integrity of our assessment and grading practices so they are transparent and fair for all.
    2. Remain flexible enough so that no student’s grades are unfairly impacted by the challenges of working remotely.
    3. Remain in compliance with State regulations around credits, promotion requirements and graduation requirements.

    Grading and Reporting at CRS:  At this point the March Parent-Teacher Conferences have been canceled. However, teachers are available to check in with any families with any concerns.  End of Year report cards will be adjusted as needed. We will update you closer to the end of the year. 

    Grading and Reporting at AMS:  At this point, the 3rd Quarter will be graded Pass/Fail and will be based on the completion of collected assignments since schools closed on 3/16. Graded work collected prior to 3/16 will be carried over to the 4th Quarter. More detail on 4th Quarter Grades will be released next week.

    Grading and Reporting at AHS:  At this point, the 3rd Quarter will be graded Pass/Fail and will be based on the completion of collected assignments since schools closed on 3/16. Graded work collected prior to 3/16 will be carried over to the 4th Quarter.  More detail on 4th Quarter Grades will be released next week.

    Looking Farther Ahead: 

    As the likelihood of a prolonged closure comes into focus, there are many unanswered questions that, like you, we have identified, but put on hold until we have more information and the time to plan thoughtfully. Here are some of the issues that we are beginning to tackle. Some will be answered centrally, others by your building principals. We ask for your patience as we work to answer your concerns.

    • Field Trips, Concerts, Traditions and Other Events
    • Athletics and Extra-curriculars
    • Senior Class Events:
      • Externships
      • Senior Cruise
      • Prom
    • All Graduation Ceremonies

    With so many things changing by the day, we know the flow of information has been frustrating for many. Moving forward, there will be weekly updates from this office as well as regular timely updates from principals who are in constant contact with teachers. In addition, teachers are working to have daily contact with your students. 

    Finally, we are creating a web-page to house all Continual Learning Plan information in one location as a reference. This information will be updated as new information becomes available. As always, we need and welcome your feedback and questions. Specific course questions should always go to teachers, but other questions can be directed to your child’s principal or to me directly (dwilson@ardsleyschools.org).

    Thank you for your continued support in these challenging times,

    Dr. Duncan Wilson

    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction

    dwilson@ardsleyschools.org

     

    Ardsley Continual Learning Plan - March 19, 2020

    Dear Ardsley Families,

    During any period of prolonged school closure, the District will take measures to ensure that there is some continuity in the lives of all students. While continual learning through remote experiences cannot replicate the rich learning environment of our classrooms, labs, studios, gymnasiums, and libraries, we can provide experiences that will challenge students' thinking, tap into their abilities to work independently, and keep them current with curriculum content whenever possible. 

    What to Expect from Your Teachers: Given the broad range of ages in our schools, we understand that students have different needs, levels of independence, and stamina. That is why we have outlined the basic expectations for students based on their school. More detailed plans can be found by grade level in the elementary years on the Concord Road School website and by subject area or course in the secondary grades.

    Concord Road:  You will be able to find learning opportunities for your children on the Concord Road home page. These will be updated every Friday.  

    • The general structure is to provide daily work in three areas- Reading, Writing, Mathematics, as well as work in Science and Social Studies weekly. 
    • These assignments are designed to give students 15-25 minutes of work per subject per day; with the understanding that time on task will vary for each child. 
    • In addition, your child’s teacher will reach out to you and your child by e-mail to indicate if any work should be submitted for feedback.  
    • Classroom teachers and administrators are available to answer questions via email.
    • Special area teachers will provide learning opportunities and suggestions for students in their respective subjects on the home page (Art, Music, P.E., Computer Science, Science).   
    • The Guidance/Psychology department has provided opportunities to support students with Social-Emotional Learning.  

    Ardsley Middle School: Students will continue to use Google Classroom. Assignments and resources will be posted to Google Classroom and will be updated. 

    • Middle School work will be organized by subject area with the major subjects - ELA, Math, Science, and Social Studies giving assignments that can be spread out over the week but should last 20-30 minutes per subject per day. 
    • 7th and 8th grade will also have World Language assignments.  
    • Teachers will post their availability for questions and support.
    • In addition, teachers will reach out to students through Google Classroom to indicate if any work should be submitted for feedback.
    • Special area teachers will also send activities and suggestions for students in their respective subjects (Art, Music, PE, FACS, Health, Project Lead the Way, Digital Citizenship, Computer Science, and Guidance). These activities are designed to supplement the other work and give you and your children some choices for different learning experiences. 
    • The Guidance/Psychology department has provided opportunities to support students with Social-Emotional Learning.  

    Ardsley High School: Students will continue to use Google Classroom. Assignments and resources will be posted to Google Classroom and will be updated.

    • High School work will be organized by course and by assignments that can be spread out over the week but should last up to 40 minutes per subject per day. 
    • Teachers will also post their availability for questions and support. 
    • In addition, teachers will reach out to students through Google Classroom to indicate if any work should be submitted for feedback.
    • Special area teachers will also send assignments and suggestions for students in their respective subjects (Art, Music, PE, Health, Computer Science, and Guidance).  
    • Guidance will continue to offer support to students in transition planning, course selections, and wellness. 

    Below, you will find references for other specific supports and questions you might have. Also, know that you can contact me directly and I can help to direct you to whatever you or your child needs.

    Special Education and Section 504 Services: As our continual plan rolls out, Special Education providers will be reaching out directly to the families and students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and Section 504 plans. All direct and related service providers (speech, occupational/physical therapy, and psychologists) have met and developed plans that include the following:

    • Appropriate skill-building work and/or differentiation of classroom teacher assignments;
    • Clear guidance on how to contact them in case of questions or concerns; and
    • Regular check-ins to consult on how to help children structure their time and continue to review and advance their skills while at home.

    We encourage all parents who have questions to reach out to any of their providers via email. 

    ELL (English Language Learner) Support: The teachers of English Language Learners will be directly reaching out to our ELL students to provide the following resources and supports:

    • Checks of understanding for classroom assignments;
    • Activities for practice and skill-building; and
    • Opportunities to connect in case of questions and concerns.

    Technology Help: Students should first reach out to their teacher if they have a technical question or problem. Your principal can also help if you are having trouble reaching your child’s teacher. If the technical issue is at our end, we will set up tech support.

    As we launch the Ardsley Continual Learning Plan, we need your help setting initial expectations ; While we are confident that continuous learning at home holds great promise for all of our students, it is important to stress that it will also present challenges for students. No matter their grade, coming to school every day provides all students with the benefits of structure and routine. While we work hard at every grade level to foster independence and resilience, a prolonged school closure will be a disruption to those familiar structures and routines. We urge parents and caregivers to help students with this disruption. For our youngest students, that will be to help set up regular structures and routines to help them manage their work and to take breaks. For secondary students, parents and caregivers will still have to help students create a routine that works for them. If you or your child is struggling with this work, please reach out to your child’s teacher or counselor for help. In these challenging days and weeks, we may not be able to see each other, but we are here to support you and to help your children succeed as they keep learning a central part of their lives. 

    In closing, we want to emphasize that our shift away from classroom teaching to this Continual Learning Plan is a process, not a single event. Like other districts in the region, we know that our plans will evolve over time. We will send regular updates and will respond to your feedback. Please know you can contact your building principals and me directly if you have any questions.

    Thank you for your support,

    Duncan Wilson, Ed.D

    Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction